[Today the Chinese occupiers of Tibet operate Lhasa's Potala Palace as a museum; until the flight into exile of the 14th Dalai Lama on this day in 1959 it served as his official residence. Begun by the 5th Dalai Lama, Lozang Gyatso, in 1645, it wouldn't be finished in 1694, 12 years after his death; it was the 6th Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso, who was first to use it, which he did as a winter palace. Slightly damaged in the uprising of 1959, it was spared total destruction during the Cultural Revolution of 1966 by Zhou Enlai although as many 100,000 of its literary and artistic treasures were destroyed.]
1762 - French Huguenot Jean Calas, who had been wrongly convicted of killing his son Marc-Antoine, died after being tortured on the Catherine wheel; the event inspired Voltaire to begin a campaign for religious tolerance and legal reform, which would later lead to Calas' posthumous exoneration in March 1765, when it became clear the younger Calas had committed suicide and not been murdered.
1814 - Napoleon was defeated by the Prussian forces of Blücher at the Battle of Laon.
1846 - Prince Osahito, fourth son of deceased Emperor Ninko of Japan, became Emperor Kōmei.
1864 - The Red River Campaign began as Union troops under Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks reached Alexandria, Louisiana; there they would clash with a Confederate army led by Major-General Richard Taylor until May, with the aim of cutting off supply lines from Texas.
1906 - The Courrières mine disaster - Europe's worst ever - killed 1099 miners in Northern France's Pas-de-Calais département.
1945 - American forces conducted the firebombing of Tokyo; the resulting firestorm killed more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians.
1952 - Fulgencio Batista led a successful coup in Cuba.
1990 - Prosper Avril was ousted 18 months after seizing power in Haiti following the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier; he was succeeded by Herard Abraham.
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