714: Pepin of Herstal, mayor of the Merovingian palace (essentially prime minister but under the Pippinids de facto king) dies leaving his wife Plectrude, politically powerful in her own right, to be regent until his grandson comes of age to rule.
755: An Lushan revolts against the Tang Chancellor Yang Guozhong. This began the An Lushan Rebellion which would last for over a decade, involve foreign powers into Chinese affairs and devastate China.
1497: Vasco da Gama sails by the Great Fish River in South Africa, where Bartolomeu Dias had previously turned back to Portugal. He then continued on to initiate first contact between the Portugese and Indians at Calicut
1598: The Battle of Noryang is the last major battle of the Japanese invasion of Korea 1592-1598. A total of 150 allied Chinese-Korean fought 500 Japanese ships, destroying or capturing half. In the midst of the battle, the legendary admiral Yi Sun-sin died from a stray bullet, after defending his homeland for two decades and never losing a single naval battle in his life.
1653: Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland during the republican period of the English Interregnum
1773: The Boston Tea Party, a political protest of the British taxation of tea on the American colonies, occurs, becoming a major event leading up to the American Revolution. The event involved dozens of men, among them several figures that would become prominent during the Revolution, dressed as Mohawks who boarded a ship, dumping its tea overboard.
1920: The Haiyuan earthquake devastates the Chinese province Ningxia killing over 200,000 people.
1944: The Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive of World War II, begins as a surprise blitz, overrunning front line troops. Hitler believed that if he could destroy Allied armies and force a peace treaty he could refocus on the approaching Soviet Army.
1770: Ludwig van Beethoven, world famous composer and pianist
1775: Jane Austen, major English novelist, writer of Pride and Prejudice
882: Pope John VIII, known for spending his reign on curbing Muslim expansion into Italy. Also, the first pope to be assassinated.