December 17 in history

497 BC – The first Saturnalia festival was celebrated in ancient Rome.

546 – Siege of Rome: The Ostrogoths under king Totila plundered the city, by bribing the Byzantine garrison.

942 Assassination of William I of Normandy.

1398 – Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud‘s armies in Delhi were defeated byTimur.

1531 – Pope Clement VII established a parallel body to the Inquisition in Lisbon, Portugal.

1538  Pope Paul III excommunicated Henry VIII.

1577  Francis Drake set sail from Plymouth on a secret mission to explore the Pacific Coast of the Americas for Queen Elizabeth I.

1583 – Cologne War: Forces under Ernest of Bavaria defeated the troops under Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg at the Siege of Godesberg.

1586 – Emperor Go-Yozei became Emperor of Japan.

1600 – Marriage of Henry IV of France and Marie de’ Medici.

1637 – Shimabara Rebellion: Japanese peasants led by Amakusa Shiro rose against daimyo Matsukura Shigeharu.

1773 At Wharehunga Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, 10 men who were with James Cook’s navigator Tobias Furneaux died at the hands of Ngati Kuia and Rangitane, led by their chief, Kahura.

Ten crew of Cook's ship killed and eaten

1819  Simón Bolívar declared the independence of the Republic of Gran Colombia in Angostura (now Ciudad Bolívar in Venezuela).

1834 The Dublin and Kingstown Railway, the first public railway in Irelandopened.

1853 – Pierre Paul Émile Roux, French physician, co-founded the Pasteur Institute (d. 1933)

1865 First performance of the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert.

1874 – William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canadian economist and politician, 10th Prime Minister of Canada was born(d. 1950)

1889 New Zealand’s Eifel tower opened at the South Seas Exhibition.

New Zealand’s own Eiffel Tower opens

1904 Paul Cadmus, American artist, was born (d. 1999).

1915 André Claveau, French singer, was born (d. 2003).

1918 Culmination of the Darwin Rebellion as some 1000 demonstrators march on Government House in Darwin.

1935 First flight of the Douglas DC-3 airplane.

1936  Tommy Steele, English singer and actor, was born.

1937 Kerry Packer, Australian businessman, was born (d. 2005).

1938  Peter Snell, New Zealand runner, was born.

Peter Snell and Murray Halberg win Olympic gold

1939  Battle of the River Plate – The Admiral Graf Spee was scuttled by Captain Hans Langsdorff outside Montevideo.

Graf Spee at Spithead.jpg

1944 Major Major, No. 1 Dog, 2NZEF, and member/mascot of 19 Battalionsince 1939, died of sickness in Italy. He was buried with full military honours at Rimini.

Major Major, mascot of 19 Battalion, dies of sickness

1945 – Jacqueline Wilson, English author and academic, was born.

1947  First flight of the Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber.

1961 Sara Dallin, English singer (Bananarama), was born.

1967  Prime Minister of Australia Harold Holt disappeared while swimming near Portsea, Victoria and was presumed drowned.

1969 The SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) began.

1969  Project Blue Book: The United States Air Force closed its study of UFOs, stating that sightings were generated as a result of “A mild form of mass hysteria, Individuals who fabricate such reports to perpetrate a hoax or seek publicity, psychopathological persons, and misidentification of various conventional objects.”

1983 The IRA bombed Harrods Department Store killing six people.

1989 Pilot episode of The Simpsons aired in the United States.

2003  SpaceShipOne flight 11P, piloted by Brian Binnie, made its first supersonic flight.

2005 – Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne as King of Bhutan.

2009 – MV Danny F II sank off the coast of Lebanon, resulting in the deaths of 44 people and over 28,000 animals.

2010 – Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. This act became the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring.

2013 – The anti-corruption operation in Turkey begins with high profile detainments.

2014 – The United States and Cuba re-established diplomatic relationsafter severing them 55 years ago.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.

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