[When Elvis Presley visited Richard Nixon in the White House he gave the President a gift: a hand gun. It was accepted but for security reasons not presented, depriving the King of an ideal opportunity to do us all a favour.]
69 CE - The Year of the Four Emperors occurred when Vespasian was proclaimed the fourth Emperor of Rome within twelve months - following Galba, Otho and Vitellius.
1192 - England's King Richard I - better known as Richard the Lionhearted - was captured by forces loyal to Leopold V of Austria outside Vienna and held captive for 16 months at Dürnstein Castle before legend has it he was rescued by the troubadour Blondel.
1598 - At the Battle of Curalaba in southern Chile Mapuche warriors, led by cacique Pelentaru, inflicted a major defeat on the Spanish troops of the royal governor Martín García Oñez de Loyola, who died in battle alongside all but 2* of the 350 men in his party.
*Only a priest, Bartolomé Pérez, and a badly wounded soldier, Bernardo de Pereda, are known for certain to have survived, although since some 300 of his men were auxiliaries of Amerindian descent, their fates could possibly have gone unrecorded.
1844 - England's Rochdale Pioneers opened their cooperative for business.
1872 - The HMS Challenger, commanded by Captain George Nares, sailed from Portsmouth in order to undertake the Challenger Expedition... Over the next four years those on board would sail nearly 70,000 nautical miles (130,000 km) surveying and exploring, and in doing so bring to light some 4,000 previously undocumented species; these findings were published by John Murray, in a work rather windily entitled Report Of The Scientific Results of the Exploring Voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873-76 in December 1911. Not only did the voyage lay the groundwork for the modern study of oceanography, the vessel on which it occurred has since leant its name to various successors in exploration including the Space Shuttle Challenger.
1883 - The first Permanent Force cavalry and infantry regiments of the Canadian Army were formed - namely, The Royal Canadian Dragoons and The Royal Canadian Regiment.
1898 - Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium.
1913 - The first crossword puzzle, created by Arthur Wynne, was published in the New York World.
1937 - Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs had its world premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles.
1958 - Charles de Gaulle was elected President of the French Fifth Republic; his Union des Démocrates pour la République received 78.5% of the vote.
1962 - Norway's first national park was established, at Rondane.
1964 - Lenny Bruce was convicted of obscenity and sentenced to four months in the workhouse.
1967 - Louis Washkansky, the world's first recipient of a heart transplant, died at Cape Town's Groote Schuur Hospital 18 days after his groundbreaking surgery on December 3rd.
1968 - NASA launched the Apollo 8 mission, its first to the moon.
1969 - The Gay Activists Alliance was formed in New York City by dissident members of the Gay Liberation Front following that summer's Stonewall Riots.
1970 - President Richard Nixon met with Elvis Presley in the Oval Office to discuss the war on drugs.
1971 - Kurt Waldheim was elected to replace U Thant as Secretary-General of the United Nations - on his 54th birthday.
1979 - The Lancaster House Agreement - an arrangement whereby Rhodesia would gain its independence - was signed in London by Britain's Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, Sir Ian Gilmour, Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and S.C. Mundawarara.
1988 - Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing everyone onboard and 11 on the ground - 270 in all. Although one might think the Scottish Government would like to hold those responsible to account for the crime, in August 2009 the only man ever found guilty in conjunction with the Lockerbie Bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, was released from jail and returned to Libya.
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