On This Day … 21 December


  • AD 69: The Roman Senate declares Vespasian emperor of Rome, the last in the Year of the Four Emperors.
  • 1140: Conrad III of Germany besieges Weinsberg.
  • 1237: The city of Ryazan is sacked by the Mongol army of Batu Khan.
  • 1361: The Battle of Linuesa is fought in the context of the Spanish Reconquista between the forces of the Emirate of Granada and the combined army of the Kingdom of Castile and of Jaén resulting in a Castilian victory.
  • 1598: Battle of Curalaba: The revolting Mapuche, led by cacique Pelentaru, inflict a major defeat on Spanish troops in southern Chile.
  • 1826: American settlers in Nacogdoches, Mexican Texas, declare their independence, starting the Fredonian Rebellion.
  • 1832: Egyptian–Ottoman War: Egyptian forces decisively defeat Ottoman troops at the Battle of Konya.
  • 1861: Medal of Honour: Public Resolution 82, containing a provision for a Navy Medal of Valour, is signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln.
  • 1872: Challenger expedition: HMS Challenger, commanded by Captain George Nares, sails from Portsmouth, England.
  • 1883: The Royal Canadian Dragoons and The Royal Canadian Regiment, the first Permanent Force cavalry and infantry regiments of the Canadian Army, are formed.
  • 1907: The Chilean Army commits a massacre of at least 2,000 striking saltpeter miners in Iquique, Chile.
  • 1923: United Kingdom and Nepal formally signed an agreement of friendship, called the Nepal–Britain Treaty of 1923, which superseded the Treaty of Sugauli signed in 1816.
  • 1936: First flight of the Junkers Ju 88 multi-role combat aircraft.
  • 1941: World War II: A formal treaty of alliance between Thailand and Japan is signed in the presence of the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew, Thailand.
  • 1970: First flight of F-14 multi-role combat aircraft.
  • 1973: The Geneva Conference on the Arab–Israeli conflict opens.
  • 2004: Iraq War: A suicide bomber killed 22 at the forward operating base next to the main U.S. military airfield at Mosul, Iraq, the single deadliest suicide attack on American soldiers.
  • Armed Forces Day (Philippines).

People (Births)

  • 968: Minamoto no Yorinobu, Japanese samurai (d. 1048).
  • 1714: John Bradstreet, Canadian-English general (d. 1774).
  • 1830: Bartolomé Masó, Cuban soldier and politician (d. 1907).
  • 1832: John H. Ketcham, American general and politician (d. 1906).
  • 1866: Maud Gonne, Irish nationalist and political activist (d. 1953).
  • 1896: Konstantin Rokossovsky, Marshal of the Soviet Union during World War II (d. 1968).
  • 1918: Donald Regan, American colonel and politician, 11th White House Chief of Staff (d. 2003).
  • 1918: Kurt Waldheim, Austrian colonel, war criminal, and politician; 9th President of Austria (d. 2007).
  • 1949: Thomas Sankara, Burkinabé captain and politician, 5th President of Burkina Faso (d. 1987).
  • 1973: Irakli Alasania, Georgian colonel and politician, Georgian Minister of Defence.

People (Deaths)

  • 1581: Jean de la Cassière, 51st Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitaller (b. 1502).
  • 1807: John Newton, English soldier and minister (b. 1725).
  • 1920: Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, Somalian general, founded the Dervish movement (b. 1856).
  • 1945: George S. Patton, American general (b. 1885).
  • 1998: Ernst-Günther Schenck, German colonel and physician (b. 1904).
  • 2013: John Eisenhower, American historian, general, and diplomat, 45th United States Ambassador to Belgium (b. 1922).

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