[The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, has long fascinated storytellers - likely because Her Majesty's own flair for the dramatic was very much on display that morning; emerging from her chamber shrouded in black and clutching a Bible, once on the dais she threw off her cloak to reveal a crimson dress and a vast expanse of white neck and shoulder, to audible gasps... And that was just for starters! The most vivid portrayal of this moment in history I've ever seen was enacted by Samantha Morton in the 2007 film Elizabeth: The Golden Age; only time will tell if Scarlett Johansson can go her one better when she becomes the latest in a string of beautiful ladies to assay the role.]
421 CE - Constantius III became co-Emperor of the Western Roman Empire alongside his brother-in-law Honorius, having married Galla Placidia in 417 CE.
1587 - Mary, Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay Castle for suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to murder her cousin, England's Queen Elizabeth I.
1601 - Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, marched out of London's York House at the head of an army determined to force an audience with Elizabeth I - as vividly depicted in the 2005 miniseries Elizabeth I, in which Essex was played by Hugh Dancy and the Queen by Helen Mirren. The abortive Essex Rebellion was quickly crushed and Essex was tried, convicted, and executed for treason within three weeks.
1807 - Following the Battle of Eylau Napoleon defeated a Russian army under General Count von Benigssen.
1817 - Juan Gregorio de las Heras crossed the Andes from Argentina with an army to join José de San Martín in liberating Chile from Spanish rule.
1855 - The Devil's Footprints mysteriously appeared in southern Devon.
1879 - Sandford Fleming first proposed the adoption of Universal Standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute in Toronto.
1887 - The Dawes Act authorized the President of the United States to survey Native American tribal land in Oklahoma and divide it into individual allotments. Named for Massachusetts Senator Henry L. Dawes, the act was amended in 1891 and again in 1906 by the Burke Act; it remained on the books until 1934.
1904 - The Battle of Port Arthur - a surprise torpedo attack by Japanese Admiral Heihachiro Togo and Vice Admiral Shigeto Dewa against a Russian fleet commanded by Oskar Victorovich Stark and anchored at China's Port Arthur - incited the Russo-Japanese War.
1915 - D.W. Griffith's controversial film The Birth of a Nation (based on Thomas Dixon's novel-cum-play The Clansman) had its world premiere in Los Angeles; the film glorifies that fine Christian organization the Ku Klux Klan and their efforts to protect the flower of white womanhood from the black man, yet offers no solutions as to how to protect those same women from their far more dangerous white male relatives.
1949 -Hungary's Jószef Cardinal Mindszenty was sentenced to life in prison for having committed treason against that country's Communist government, which exacted 'proof' of his treason under torture. He remained imprisoned until the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.
1952 - Elizabeth II proclaimed herself Queen of the United Kingdom in a ceremony at St. James's Palace in London.
1962 - At the so-called Charonne Massacre 9 trade unionists were killed by police at the instigation of Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, then chief of Paris' Prefecture of Police.
1969 - The Allende Meteorite fell near Pueblito de Allende, in Mexico's Chihuahua state.
1974 - After 84 days in space, the crew of the first American space station Skylab returned to Earth; Skylab itself joined them in July 1979, when it famously burned up following re-entry of the Earth's atmosphere and scattered debris on the town of Esperance in Western Australia.
1983 - A dust storm hit Australia's second largest city, Melbourne - a result of the worst drought on record and following a day of severe weather conditions; within an hour the 320m deep dust cloud had enveloped the city, turning day to night, and serving as an ominous precursor to the Ash Wednesday fires which occurred one week later.
1986 - Arleigh McCree and his partner Officer Ronald Ball of the LAPD's Firearms and Explosives unit were killed while trying to dismantle two pipe bombs when they responded to a call in North Hollywood; at the time of his death McCree was recognized as one of the top explosives experts in the world.
1994 - London's Metropolitan Police Service announced an investigation into the death of Stephen Milligan, the Conservative MP for Eastleigh, who'd been found dead the previous day.
1996 - The Communications Decency Act, passed by the US Congress a week earlier, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
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