[Currently on display in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens next to a working model of it made and offered to the museum by Derek de Solla Price, the Antikythera mechanism is easily one of the wonders of the ancient world and at least a thousand years ahead of its time.]
1521 - Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, was executed for treason - a scene rather graphically depicted in the first season of The Tudors, in which Buckingham is played by Steven Waddington.
1536 - George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford and four other men - Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton - were executed on Tower Hill for treason; in Rochford's case the charges were especially dire, since they involved allegations he'd had sexual relations with his own sister, Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort of England's King Henry VIII. His Lordship's wife, Jane Parker, has ever since borne the appellation 'the notorious Lady Rochford', although a recent biography of her by Julia Fox has sought to rehabilitate her image; as for her husband, he's been frequently portrayed of late: as long ago as 1970 he was played by Jonathan Newth in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and more recently by Steven MacKintosh in the 2003 TV version of The Other Boleyn Girl based on the novel by Philippa Gregory, Jim Sturgess in the 2008 film The Other Boleyn Girl, and by Padraic Delaney in the television series The Tudors.
1590 - Anne of Denmark was crowned Queen of Scotland in the Abbey Church at Holyrood; the wife of James VI would later be crowned queen consort of England, and was the mother of the ill-fated Charles I.
1642 - Legend has it Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve founded the Ville Marie de Montréal.
1792 - The New York Stock Exchange was formed when 24 brokers signed the Buttonwood Agreement beneath a buttonwood tree at 68 Wall Street.
1814 - The Constitution of Norway was signed and the Danish Crown Prince Christian Frederik was elected King of Norway by the Norwegian Constituent Assembly.
1849 - A fire burnt much of St. Louis, Missouri, to the ground.
1900 - During the Second Boer War, British troops arrived to relieve the town of Mafeking, which had endured a 217-day siege; the hero of the action was Robert Baden-Powell, who later went on to found the Scouting Movement.
1902 - Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais discovered the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient mechanical analog computer possibly used for navigation, in a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera.
1933 - Vidkun Quisling and Johan Bernhard Hjort formed Nasjonal Samling - the Nazi party of Norway.
1943 - No. 617 Squadron of the RAF executed the Dambuster Raids by bombing German dams.
1954 - The US Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark case in the US Civil Rights movement and one which President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously labelled 'crummy'.
1974 - Police in Los Angeles led by Captain Mervin King raided the Symbionese Liberation Army's headquarters at 1466 East Fifty-fourth Street in the riotous Watts neighbourhood, following a botched robbery by members at Mel's Sporting Goods Store in Inglewood the previous day; the resulting exchange remains one of the most heated police shootouts in US history, involving over 9000 rounds of ammunition on both sides and killing six SLA members in the process, including Camilla Hall, Nancy Ling Perry, Angela Atwood, Willie Wolfe, Donald DeFreeze, and Patricia Soltysik, most of whom perished in a fire which broke out during the action and eventually destroyed the house.
1978 - Charlie Chaplin's coffin was found, his body still inside it; it had been stolen eleven weeks earlier from its grave near Lake Geneva in an attempt to extort money from his family. He was reburied beneath two metres of concrete to prevent a repeat of the indignity.
1980 - General Chun Doo-hwan of South Korea declared martial law in order to suppress student demonstrations.
1987 - An Iraqi fighter jet fired two missiles into the American warship USS Stark (FFG-31), killing 37 and injuring 21 of her crew.
1992 - The so-called Black May began when Thai police and protestors started attacking one another; by midnight, the Thai government of General Suchinda Kraprayoon had declared a state of emergency, and military troops opened fire on protestors. All told, fighting lasted for three days.
1995 - After 18 years as the mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac took office as President of France.
2006 - The aircraft carrier USS Oriskany was intentionally sunk in the Gulf of Mexico for use as an artificial reef.
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