[To my mind, Ludwig van Beethoven never had a greater booster than Schroeder, of Peanuts fame; the most famous version of the composer's Für Elise is arguably the one that appears in A Charlie Brown Christmas (as well as on its soundtrack) was actually played by the nimble jazz keyboardist Vince Guaraldi.]
1296 - At the Battle of Dunbar 40,000 Scots led by their King John Balliol were defeated by England's Edward I and John de Warenne, 7th Earl of Surrey, with just 12,000 troops; it was the first major battle of the First War of Scottish Independence.
1521 - At the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines, explorer Ferdinand Magellan was killed by natives led by chief Lapu-Lapu; at the time Magellan was about halfway through his seagoing circumnavigation of the world.
1565 - Cebu was established, making it the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.
1578 - During the French Wars of Religion the so-called Duel of the Mignons claimed the lives of two favourites of France's King Henri III and two favourites of his heir and chief rival Henri I, Duke of Guise; while engaged in a re-enactment of the battles of the Horatii and the Curiatii Jacques de Caylus, Louis de Maugiron and Jean d'Arcès (representing the party of the King) fought with Charles de Balzac, Ribérac, and Georges de Schomberg (representing the party of the Guises). Maugiron and Schomberg were killed almost immediately, Ribérac died of wounds the following noon, d'Arcès was wounded in the head and convalesced in a hospital for six weeks, while Caylus sustained as many 19 wounds and passed away after 33 hours of agony. Only Balzac got off with a mere scratch on his arm.
1749 - The first performance of George Frideric Handel's Fireworks Music - commissioned by George II - was given in London's Green Park.
1777 - In the midst of the American Revolution, at the Battle of Ridgefield, a British invasion force commanded by then Royal Governor of the Province of New York, Major General William Tryon (with the assistance of Brigadier General William Erskine and Brigadier General James Agnew) engaged and defeated Continental Army regulars and militia irregulars under Major General David Wooster and Brigadiers-General Gold S. Silliman and Benedict Arnold at Ridgefield, Connecticut.
1805 - During the First Barbary War US Marines under General William Eaton and their allies the Berbers marched 500 miles across the Libyan Desert and attacked the city of Darnah; the ensuing Battle of Darnah is commemorated in the line 'shores of Tripoli' which occurs in the Marines' Hymn.
1810 - Ludwig van Beethoven composed his famous piano piece, Für Elise.
1840 - The foundation stone for London's new Palace of Westminster was laid by Sarah, the wife of the building's principal architect Sir Charles Barry; much of the old palace (except for Westminster Hall, the Jewel Tower, the crypt of St Stephen's Chapel and the cloisters) was destroyed by a catastrophic fire in October 1834.
1865 - While under the command of Captain J.C. Mason the steamboat Sultana, carrying 2,400 passengers, sank on the Mississippi River after one of its four boilers exploded; most of the 1,800 casualties were Union survivors returning home from Confederate prisoner-of-war camps at Andersonville and Cahawba. It remains the worst maritime disaster in American history, but its impact at the time was moderated by the recent assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
1904 - The Australian Labor Party became the first such party to form a national government anywhere in the world, under Chris Watson (shown, at right) who became the third Prime Minister of Australia; lasting just under four months, Watson's government was itself short-lived - it didn't for instance, have the chance to introduce a budget - but has exerted a strong influence over successive Labor governments nonetheless.
1909 - The Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid II, was overthrown; he was succeeded by his brother, Mehmed V.
1941 - Nazi troops entered and occupied Athens.
1961 - Sierra Leone was granted its independence from the United Kingdom, with Milton Margai serving as the first Prime Minister; representing his cousin Elizabeth II at the ceremony was HRH the Duke of Kent, who was the first to unfurl and raise the country's new flag.
1982 - Former police officer Woo Bum-kon ended his own life following a drunken eight-hour shooting spree in South Korea's Gyeongsangnam-do province during which he killed 57 people.
1984 - The Libyan Embassy Siege in London ended; it had been sparked by the shooting of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher eleven days earlier.
1992 - The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia - comprising Serbia and Montenegro - was proclaimed.
1994 - The first truly democratic general election in the history of South Africa - namely one in which the country's black majority could also vote - was held; the African National Congress, headed by Nelson Mandela, just missed the two-thirds vote required to form a clear majority, and so opted to form the so-called Government of National Unity with the Inkatha Freedom Party and the National Party - which had, under the leadership of Frederik Willem de Klerk, done away with apartheid. The anniversary of the day is now a public holiday in South Africa, known as Freedom Day.
2006 - Construction began on the Freedom Tower portion of the new World Trade Center in New York City, a mere four and a half years after its predecessors were destroyed.
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