- 1567 – The Battle of Oosterweel, traditionally regarded as the start of the Eighty Years’ War.
- 1591 – At the Battle of Tondibi in Mali, Moroccan forces of the Saadi dynasty, led by Judar Pasha, defeat the Songhai Empire, despite being outnumbered by at least five to one.
- 1697 – Nojpetén, capital of the last independent Maya kingdom, fell to Spanish conquistadors, the final step in the Spanish conquest of Guatemala.
- 1809 – Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden is deposed in the Coup of 1809.
- 1848 – The German revolutions of 1848–1849 begin in Vienna.
- 1862 – The Act Prohibiting the Return of Slaves was passed by the United States Congress, effectively annulling the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and setting the stage for the Emancipation Proclamation.
- 1881 – Alexander II of Russia is assassinated.
- 1884 – The Siege of Khartoum begins. It lasts until January 26, 1885.
- 1900 – British forces occupy Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, during the Second Boer War.
- 1920 – The Kapp Putsch briefly ousts the Weimar Republic government from Berlin.
- 1943 – German forces liquidate the Jewish ghetto in Kraków.
- 1954 – The Battle of Điện Biên Phủ begins with an artillery barrage by Viet Minh forces under Võ Nguyên Giáp; Viet Minh victory lead to the end of the First Indochina War and French withdrawal from Vietnam.
- 1957 – Cuban student revolutionaries storm the presidential palace in Havana in a failed attempt on the life of President Fulgencio Batista.
- 1979 – The New Jewel Movement, headed by Maurice Bishop, ousts the Prime Minister of Grenada, Eric Gairy, in a coup d’état.
- 1719 – John Griffin, 4th Baron Howard de Walden, English field marshal and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Essex (d. 1797).
- 1763 – Guillaume Brune, French general and diplomat (d. 1815).
- 1862 – Paul Prosper Henrys, French general (d. 1943).
- 1886 – Albert William Stevens, American captain and photographer (d. 1949).
- 1914 – Edward O’Hare, American lieutenant and pilot, Medal of Honour recipient (d. 1943).
- 1923 – Dimitrios Ioannidis, Greek general (d. 2010).
- 1938 – Robert Gammage, American captain and politician (d. 2012).
- 1946 – Yonatan Netanyahu, American-Israeli colonel (d. 1976).
- 1271 – Henry of Almain, English knight (b. 1235).
- 1823 – John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent, English admiral and politician (b. 1735).
- 1833 – William Bradley, English lieutenant and cartographer (b. 1757).
- 1842 – Henry Shrapnel, English general (b. 1761).
- 1901 – Benjamin Harrison, American general and politician, 23rd President of the United States (b. 1833).
- 2014 – Reubin Askew, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 37th Governor of Florida (b. 1928).