[There are few things as crushing to the human spirit as a coal mine, and likewise few things as poisonous to the planet (not to mention the human body) as coal; anyone who tells you coal is still a viable energy source today is on the take from the coal industry, and must be stopped before their greed kills us all. In the meantime, for a sensitive look at the life and travails of coal miners, read George Orwell's 1937 book The Road To Wigan Pier.]
1041 - Zoe, Empress of Byzantium, elevated her husband's nephew - whom they had adopted as their son - to the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire as Michael V following the death of her husband and his uncle/father Michael IV.
1394 - A son was born to Scotland's King Robert III and his queen Annabella Drummond at Dunfermline Palace who would ascend the throne in April 1406 as James I.
1508 - The League of Cambrai was founded by Pope Julius II, France's Louis XII, the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, and Ferdinand II of Aragon in order to balance the power of the Republic of Venice; initially successful, with so many princely egos at the table it was bound to fail, which it did in 1510.
1541 - Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham were hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn for their alleged adulteries with Catherine Howard, the 'fifth' wife of Henry VIII; Howard herself would be confined to the Tower of London and executed in February 1542.
1665 - The Royal Netherlands Marine Corps was established by Michiel de Ruyter.
1684 - Isaac Newton's derivation of Kepler's laws from his theory of gravity, contained in the paper De motu corporum in gyrum, was read to the Royal Society by Edmund Halley.
1817 - Mississippi became the 20th US state.
1864 - Major General William Tecumseh Sherman's Union Army troops reached the outskirts of Savannah during Sherman's March to the Sea.
1865 - Widower of Britain's ill-fated Heiress Presumptive Princess Charlotte and favourite uncle of Queen Victoria Léopold I, first King of the Belgians, died; he was succeeded by his second son, who assumed the throne as Leopold II, his elder son Louis-Philippe having died in May 1834.
1898 - The Treaty of Paris was signed, officially ending the Spanish-American War.
1901 - The first Nobel Prizes were awarded on the fifth anniversary of the death of their benefactor, Alfred Nobel.
1906 - President Theodore Roosevelt became the first American to win any Nobel Prize; in his case, the Nobel Peace Prize.
1907 - A nighttime battle in London's Trafalgar Square between 1,000 medical students and 400 police - which came to be known as the Brown Dog Riots - was actually the culmination of an escalating struggle over a memorial to animals used in vivisection, which had been heavily vandalized before being secretly taken down in 1910; a new memorial was finally erected in Battersea Park in 1985.
1927 - The Grand Ole Opry premiered on radio under that name, having debuted on Nashville's WSM as WSM Barn Dance in October 1925.
1932 - Thailand's new constitution was signed by King Prajadhipok, making him both the last absolute ruler and the first constitutional monarch in that country's history; the event is still celebrated in that country as Constitution Day.
1948 - The UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the day is now celebrated as Human Rights Day around the world.
1968 - The biggest heist in Japanese history - the 300 million yen robbery - was committed against a branch of the Nihon Shintaku Ginko bank in Tokyo's Kokubunji district by a man dressed as a police officer; despite seven years of investigation, also the largest in Japanese history, the crime was never solved.
1993 - The last shift left Wearmouth Colliery in Sunderland; the closure of the 156-year-old pit marked the end of the old County Durham coalfield, which had been in operation since the Middle Ages - or more than 800 years!
2007 - Led Zeppelin reunited for the first time in three decades when they appeared at the Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert; nearly thirty years after the band's dissolution following the death of John Bonham in September 1980, the seat behind the drum kit for this legendary gig was occupied by his son, Jason Bonham.
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