[The Ålesund Fire actually had a positive outcome for the town; the original city centre was both over-crowded and served by only rudimentary sanitation, whereas after being rebuilt it had such improved 'mod cons' that it was able to better handle the influx of tourists that have been flocking there ever since.]
1368 - In a coronation ceremony Zhu Yuanzhang ascended the throne as the Hongwu Emperor, supplanting the Yuan Dynasty with the Ming Dynasty, which would rule China for the next three centuries.
1556 - An earthquake in China's Shaanxi province may have killed as many as 830,000 people (about 60% of the region's population); its epicenter was near Mount Hua. It's been estimated that the quake was an 8 on the Richter Scale, and remains the deadliest earthquake in human history.
1570 - The assassination of James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray, at the hands of James Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh precipitated a civil war in Scotland; for his good governance on behalf of James VI, the infant son of Mary, Queen of Scots (then imprisoned in England) he was known as 'The Good Regent'. Which is why they killed him, obviously...
1571 - London's Royal Exchange was opened by Elizabeth I.
1579 - The Union of Utrecht formed the Protestant Republic of the Seven United Netherlands in Holland, although the new nation would not be recognized by its former Spanish overlords until the Twelve Years' Truce in 1609.
1656 - Blaise Pascal published the first of his Lettres provinciales.
1719 - The Principality of Liechtenstein was created within the Holy Roman Empire; its first prince, Anton Florian, never even visited.
1789 - Georgetown College - the first Roman Catholic university in the United States - was established in Washington, DC.
1855 - The first permanent bridge over the Mississippi River opened in what is now Minneapolis, a crossing made today by the Father Louis Hennepin Bridge.
1870 - US cavalrymen in Montana led by Maj. Eugene Baker killed 173 Piegan Blackfeet Indians - mostly women and children - in the Marias Massacre.
1897 - Elva Zona Heaster was found dead in Greenbrier County, West Virginia; the resulting murder trial of her husband is perhaps the only case in US history where the alleged testimony of a ghost helped secure a conviction.
1904 - The Norwegian coastal town Ålesund was devastated by fire, leaving 10,000 people homeless and one person dead; it was Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II - a frequent visitor to the town - who not only funded the rebuilding of the town in Jugendstil style but sent the first relief ships even as the embers were still smoldering.
1958 - The government of Venezuelan President Marcos Pérez Jiménez was overthrown by the commander of that country's Navy, Wolfgang Larrazábal.
1973 - US President Richard Nixon announced the Paris Peace Accord which brought an end to the Vietnam War.
1977 - The miniseries Roots, based on the best-selling book by Alex Haley, began on ABC.
1986 - The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first members: Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.
2002 - John Walker Lindh - the so-called 'American Taliban' - returned to the US from Afghanistan in FBI custody.
2003 - NASA made its last contact with Pioneer 10, when it was 7.5 billion miles from Earth.
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