457 CE - Leo I was crowned emperor of the Byzantine Empire following the death of Marcian.
1045 - Japan's Emperor Go-Suzaku died; he was succeeded by his son, who would reign as Emperor Go-Reizei.
1074 - Pandulf IV of Benevento was killed by invading Norman forces at a battle outside the Italian castle town of Montesarchio.
1497 - The so-called bonfire of the vanities occurred, in which supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burned thousands of objects like cosmetics, art, and books in the central piazza in Firenze.
1799 - Qianlong, Emperor of China, died; he was succeeded by his son, who reigned as Jiaqing Emperor.
1807 - During the Napoleonic Wars, at the Battle of Eylau, troops of Napoléon's French Empire began fighting against Russian and Prussian forces of the Fourth Coalition at Eylau in Poland; by the time the battle ended the following day the Grande Armée would sustain massive casualties to send the much larger force commanded by Generals Bennigsen and L'Estocq into retreat and gain nothing but a muddy, blood-soaked field for their trouble.
1837 - King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden - who'd been forced to abdicate in March 1809 - died; he'd been succeeded by his uncle, who reigned as Charles XIII, in June 1809.
1842 - At the Battle of Debre Tabor Ras Ali Alula, Regent of the Emperor of Ethiopia, defeated warlord Wube Haile Maryam of Semien.
1863 - HMS Orpheus sank off the New Zealand coast near Auckland, killing 189 of the 259 crew on board.
1878 - Blessed Pope Pius IX - with a papacy of nearly 32 years the longest serving pontiff in history - died; he was succeeded by Leo XIII on February 20th.
1898 - Émile Zola was brought to trial for libel for publishing J'Accuse, which condemned the government of Félix Faure for its anti-Semitism in the court-martial and unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus on charges of espionage.
1979 - The final session of the Iranian National Consultative Assembly prior to the Islamic Revolution was held.
1984 - The XIV Winter Olympic Games were opened in Sarajevo (which was then in Yugoslavia and is now in Bosnia and Herzegovina); only the second Olympic Games in history to be held in a Communist country (the first being the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, which were boycotted by some 64 countries including the US in protest of the 1979 Soviet war in Afghanistan), they were nonetheless dominated by athletes from Communist countries - namely East Germany and the Soviet Union.
1986 - Twenty-eight years of one-family rule ended in Haiti when President Jean-Claude Duvalier and his wife Michèle fled the Caribbean nation they'd spent years plundering; Duvalier was succeeded by Henri Namphy, who served as President of the country's National Council of Government.
1991 - Haiti's first democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was sworn in.
1992 - The Maastricht Treaty was signed, which led to the creation of the European Union from the European Community.
1995 - Ramzi Yousef - mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center - was arrested in the Pakistani city of Islamabad.
1999 - Crown Prince Abdullah become the King of Jordan on the death of his father, King Hussein.
2009 - Bushfires in Victoria left 173 dead in the worst natural disaster in Australia's history.
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