[An unfortunate allergy to the excessively mannered drawing-room comedies of Jane Austen has always prevented me from actually finishing a whole one of her novels, a dire situation only partially ameliorated by their numerous film and television adaptations; I can, without too much trouble, get through a whole one of them, however - such as Ang Lee's 1995 film Sense and Sensibility (which won an Oscar for its screenwriting star Emma Thompson) and this 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice starring the all-too lovely Keira Knightley - mainly because once my brain glazes over at the intricacies of Regency-era social discourse I can continue to admire the costumes, scenery, art direction and/or whatever bit of scrummy is portraying the cause of the heroine's busted corset stays, in this case Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy.]
814 CE - Charlemagne died; he was succeeded by his son Louis the Pious.
1077 - Following the Walk to Canossa, the excommunication of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV was lifted as easily as the gates to Canossa Castle were opened to him, settling the Investiture Controversy between himself and Pope Gregory VII.
1521 - The Diet of Worms began, presided over by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V; it would last until May 25th, and in the process judge Martin Luther guilty of Protestantism for the heresies apparently contained in his 95 Theses, which had already been condemned by Pope Leo X in the papal bull Exsurge Domine, issued the year before.
1547 - England's King Henry VIII died; he was succeeded by his nine year old son, who became Edward VI, and the first of that country's truly Protestant Kings.
1573 - The articles of Warsaw Confederation were signed, sanctioning freedom of religion in Poland.
1621 - Pope Paul V died; he would be succeeded by Gregory XV on February 9th.
1624 - Britain's first Caribbean colony, at Saint Kitts, was founded by Sir Thomas Warner.
1754 - Horace Walpole coined the word 'serendipity' in a letter to Horace Mann.
1813 - Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, was first published in the United Kingdom by T. Egerton of Whitehall.
1846 - The Battle of Aliwal, marking a turning point in the First Anglo-Sikh War, saw Ranjodh Singh Majithia defeated by the British troops of Sir Harry Smith.
1878 - Yale Daily News became the first daily college newspaper in the United States.
1902 - The Carnegie Institution was founded in Washington, DC, with a $10 million gift from robber baron turned philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
1917 - The first municipally owned streetcars began service in San Francisco.
1922 - The Knickerbocker Storm - the worst snowfall in the history of Washington, DC - caused the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater to collapse, which is the single most fatal event in the city's history.
1932 - Japanese forces attacked Shanghai.
1933 - The name Pakistan was coined by Choudhary Rehmat Ali Khan and was accepted by the Indian Muslims, who then adopted it for the Pakistan Movement, which was seeking independence from the United Kingdom.
1965 - The current design of the Flag of Canada - chosen by an act of Parliament after several years of occasionally acrimonious debate - was proclaimed by Elizabeth II in her role as Queen of Canada; designed by George F. G. Stanley and John Matheson, it was first flown on February 15th of that year, which is marked by the little-celebrated holiday National Flag of Canada Day.
1977 - The first day of the Great Lakes Blizzard of 1977 - which affected much of Upstate New York, but Buffalo, Syracuse, Watertown, and surrounding areas especially - with each of these areas accumulating close to 10 feet of snow in a single day.
1986 - The Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after liftoff, killing all seven astronauts on mission STS-51-L.
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