[Although named for Edmond Halley - who not only posited in 1705 that a comet he observed in 1682 was the same one recorded by Petrus Apianus in 1531 and in 1607 by Johannes Kepler but that it would return in 1758 (which it did, 16 years after his death) - Halley's Comet has been both delighting and scaring the crap out out of humans every seven decades or so since before recorded time. It's set to make its next perihelion in July 2061.]
1450 - Agnès Sorel, mistress of France's King Charles VII, died under mysterious circumstances at the age of 28; although the nobleman and merchant Jacques Coeur has always taken the blame for what was suspected as a poisoning even then, history has largely exonerated him. Recent forensic analysis has revealed, however, that while the woman famed as Dame de beauté did probably die of mercury poisoning, mercury was then widely used in cosmetics, and her own vanity may have been to blame for her untimely demise.
1555 - John Hooper, Bishop of Gloucester and Worcester, was burned at the stake as a Marian martyr during the reign of England's Queen Mary I; it's because of things like this she's better known as Bloody Mary.
1621 - Gregory XV became the last Pope to be elected by acclamation, following the death of Paul V.
1822 - The newly created Dominican Republic was invaded by Haiti's Jean-Pierre Boyer; the island of Hispaniola would remain thus united until 1843.
1825 - John Quincy Adams was appointed President by Congress when none of the four candidates in the running was able to claim a majority of Electoral College votes.
1861 - Jefferson Davis was elected the Provisional President of the Confederate States of America.
1870 - The US National Weather Service was established.
1904 - The Battle of Port Arthur - the opening engagement of the Russo-Japanese War - ended with Russia's Oskar Victorovich Stark having sustained the greater losses, giving Japan's Admiral Heihachiro Togo and Vice Admiral Shigeto Dewa no more victory than a tactical stalemate.
1950 - In a Second Red Scare US Senator Joseph McCarthy accused the State Department of being filled with Communists.
1960 - Joanne Woodward was the first recipient of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1964 - The Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show before a record-breaking television audience of 73 million.
1966 - The National Hockey League expansion doubled in size from its original six teams; the new franchises were Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Minnesota North Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Oakland Seals, and Pittsburgh Penguins.
1969 - The Boeing 747 made its first test flight, with test pilots Jack Waddell and Brien Wygle at the controls and Jess Wallick at the flight engineer's station.
1971 - Satchel Paige was admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the first player from the Negro League and first African-American to be so honoured.
1986 - Halley's Comet reached perihelion - its closest approach to the sun - during its second visit to the inner solar system in the 20th century.
1995 - Space Shuttle astronauts Bernard A. Harris, Jr. and Michael Foale became the first African American and first Briton (respectively) to perform spacewalks as part of mission STS-63.
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