This Day in History

October 16


690      Empress Wu Zetian ascends to the throne of the Tang dynasty and proclaims herself ruler of the Chinese Empire   1329
1384      Jadwiga is crowned King of Poland rather than "Queen"   635
1555      Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley burned at the stake in Oxford, England for their religious teachings   464
1758      American lexicographer Noah Webster is born in West Hartford, Connecticut   261
1793      Marie Antoinette, age 37, guillotined   226
1793      Battle of Wattignies in France ends with French army forcing Habsburg Austrian forces to lift the seige of Maubeuge and withdraw   226
1814      vat failure at Meux Horse Shoe Brewery in London floods area with 9000 barrels of beer, nine killed   205
1817      Giovanni Battista Belzoni discovers the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I of the Nineteenth Dynasty (KV17) in the Valley of the Kings   202
1834      fire destroys both houses of Parliment in Westminster   185
1841      Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, is founded by the Church of Scotland with a royal charter from Queen Victoria   178
1843      quaternions occur to William Hamilton as an extension of complex numbers   176
1859      John Brown leads a raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry   160
1869      Girton College is established as the first women's residential college in England   150
1869      the Cardiff Giant is discovered in Cardiff, New York   150
1875      Brigham Young University founded in Provo, Utah as Brigham Young Academy   144
1881      New York, Chicago and St. Louis Railroad (Nickel Plate Road) runs its first train   138
1916      Margaret Sanger founds Planned Parenthood by opening the first U.S. birth control clinic   103
1923      Roy and Walt Disney found The Walt Disney Company   96
1934      Long March begins—retreat by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China to evade the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) army   85
1937      English student statistician William Sealy Gosset dies, age 61   82
1940      Germany establishes the Warsaw Ghetto and force Jews from the surrounding city into it   79
1946      ten Third Reich officials convicted of war crimes in the Nuremberg trials are hanged   73
1951      first Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan assassinated, age 56   68
1958      Blue Peter debuts in the U.K.—longest running children's television program in the world   61
1962      Cuban Missile crisis begins   57
1964      China becomes fifth nuclear nation with successful explosion of a nuclear device   55
1975      launch of NASA's first Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) to provide meteorological data   44
1980      world's last atmospheric nuclear test, conducted by China   39
1986      Reinhold Messner becomes the first person to climb all 14 "eight-thousanders" (mountains 8,000 m above sea level)   33
1995      Skye Bridge opens linking the Isle of Skye with the mainland of the Scottish Highlands   24
1996      estimated 50,000 fans attempt to attend the 37,500 capacity Estadio Mateo Flores stadium in Guatemala City—83 killed, over 140 injured   23
1997      American author James Albert Michener dies in Austin, Texas, age 90   22
1998      American computer scientist, instrumental in the development of the internet, Jonathan Bruce Postel dies, age 55   21
2001      American jazz singer Etta Jones dies in Mount Vernon, New York, age 72   18
2002      Bibliotheca Alexandrina commemorating the ancient Library of Alexandria is officially inaugurated   17
2004      American journalist, author, and politician Pierre Emil George Salinger dies in Cavaillon, France, age 79   15
2007      Scottish-born film, theatre, and television actress Deborah Jane Kerr-Trimmer (Deborah Kerr) dies in Suffolk, England, age 86   12
2010      American film, television, voice, and stage actress Barbara Billingsley (born Barbara Lillian Combes) dies in Los Angeles, age 94   9
2012      MLB player and coach Edward "Eddie" Frederick Joseph Yost dies in Weston, Massachusetts, age 86   7
2012      discovery of Alpha Centauri Bb, closest extrasolar planet to Earth discovered   7
2015      Scott Kelly reaches the U.S. total record of 383 days in space surpassing total set by Michael Fincke in 2011   4
2016      Canadian computer scientist called the "Father of Computing" in Canada Calvin Carl "Kelly" Gotlieb dies in Toronto, age 95   3
2016      Canadian Ed Whitlock becomes the first 85-year old to run a sub-4 hour marathon breaking the record by 40 minutes—Toronto Marathon   3
2016      Air India sets the commercial passenger record of 9506 mi (15,300 km) for a scheduled nonstop flight—Delhi to San Francisco   3
2017      British actor and Tony Award winner Roy Dotrice dies in London, age 94   2
2017      Maltese journalist, writer, and anti-corruption activist Daphne Anne Caruana Galizia is killed by a car bomb, age 53   2
2017      Ophelia comes ashore in Ireland as a hurricane-force European windstorm with gusts of up to 191 km/h (119 mph)   2

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

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