* 38 BC – Octavian divorces his wife Scribonia and marries Livia Drusilla, ending the fragile peace between the Second Triumvirate and Sextus Pompey.
* 395 – Emperor Theodosius I dies at Milan, the Roman Empire is re-divided into an eastern and a western half. The Eastern Roman Empire is centered in Constantinople under Arcadius, son of Theodosius, and the Western Roman Empire in Mediolanum under Honorius, his brother, at the age of 10.
* 1287 – King Alfonso III of Aragon invades Minorca.
* 1377 – Pope Gregory XI moves the Papacy back to Rome from Avignon.
* 1524 – Giovanni da Verrazzano sets sail westward from Madeira to find a sea route to the Pacific Ocean.
* 1562 – France recognizes the Huguenots under the Edict of Saint-Germain.
* 1595 – Henry IV of France declares war on Spain.
* 1608 – Emperor Susenyos of Ethiopia surprises an Oromo army at Ebenat; his army reportedly kills 12,000 Oromo at the cost of 400 men.
* 1648 – England's Long Parliament passes the Vote of No Addresses, breaking off negotiations with King Charles I and thereby setting the scene for the second phase of the English Civil War.
* 1773 – Captain James Cook and his crew become the first Europeans to sail below the Antarctic Circle.
* 1781 – American Revolutionary War: Battle of Cowpens – Continental troops under Brigadier General Daniel Morgan defeat British forces under Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton at the battle in South Carolina.
* 1799 – Maltese patriot Dun Mikiel Xerri, along with a number of other patriots, is executed.
* 1811 – Mexican War of Independence: In the Battle of Calderón Bridge, a heavily outnumbered Spanish force of 6,000 troops defeats nearly 100,000 Mexican revolutionists.
* 1852 – The United Kingdom recognizes the independence of the Boer colonies of the Transvaal.
* 1873 – A group of Modoc warriors defeats the United States Army in the First Battle of the Stronghold, a part of the Modoc War.
* 1885 – A British force defeats a large Dervish army at the Battle of Abu Klea in the Sudan.
* 1893 – The Citizen's Committee of Public Safety, led by Lorrin A. Thurston, overthrows the government of Queen Liliuokalani of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
* 1899 – The United States takes possession of Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean.
* 1903 – El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico becomes part of the United States National Forest System as the Luquillo Forest Reserve.
* 1904 – Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard receives its premiere performance at the Moscow Art Theatre.
* 1912 – Captain Robert Falcon Scott reaches the South Pole, one month after Roald Amundsen.
* 1913 – Raymond Poincaré is elected President of France.
* 1917 – The United States pays Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
* 1918 – Finnish Civil War: The first serious battles take place between the Red Guards and the White Guard.
* 1929 – Popeye the Sailor Man, a cartoon character created by Elzie Segar, first appears in the Thimble Theatre comic strip.
* 1929 – Inayatullah Khan, king of the Emirate of Afghanistan abdicates the throne after only three days into his reign.
* 1941 – Franco-Thai War: French forces inflict a decisive victory over the Royal Thai Navy.
* 1944 – World War II: Allied forces launch the first of four battles with the intention of breaking through the Winter Line and seizing Rome, an effort that would ultimately take four months and cost 105,000 Allied casualties.
* 1945 – World War II: Soviet forces capture the almost completely destroyed Polish city of Warsaw.
* 1945 – The Nazis begin the evacuation of the Auschwitz concentration camp as Soviet forces close in.
* 1945 – Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is taken into Soviet custody while in Hungary; he is never publicly seen again.
* 1946 – The UN Security Council holds its first session.
* 1949 – The Goldbergs, the first sitcom on American television, first airs.
* 1950 – The Great Brinks Robbery – 11 thieves steal more than $2 million from an armored car Company's offices in Boston, Massachusetts.
* 1961 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivers a televised farewell address to the nation three days before leaving office, in which he warns against the accumulation of power by the "military-industrial complex".
* 1961 – Former Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba is murdered in circumstances suggesting the support and complicity of the governments of Belgium and the United States.
* 1966 – A B-52 bomber collides with a KC-135 Stratotanker over Spain, dropping three 70-kiloton nuclear bombs near the town of Palomares and another one into the sea in the Palomares incident.
* 1969 – Black Panther Party members Bunchy Carter and John Huggins are killed during a meeting in Campbell Hall on the campus of UCLA.
* 1977 – Convicted murderer Gary Gilmore is executed by a firing squad in Utah, ending a ten-year moratorium on Capital punishment in the United States.
* 1981 – President of the Philippines Ferdinand Marcos lifts martial law eight years and five months after declaring it.
* 1982 – "Cold Sunday" - in the United States temperatures fell to their lowest levels in over 100 years in numerous cities.
* 1983 – The tallest department store in the world, Hudson's, flagship store in downtown Detroit closes due to high cost of operating.
* 1989 – Cleveland School massacre: Patrick Purdy opens fire with an assault rifle at the Cleveland Elementary School playground in Stockton, California, killing five children and wounding 29 others and one teacher before taking his own life.
* 1991 – Gulf War: Operation Desert Storm begins early in the morning. Iraq fires 8 Scud missiles into Israel in an unsuccessful bid to provoke Israeli retaliation.
* 1991 – Harald V becomes King of Norway on the death of his father, Olav V.
* 1992 – During a visit to South Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa apologizes for forcing Korean women into sexual slavery during World War II.
* 1994 – 1994 Northridge earthquake: A magnitude 6.7 earthquake hits Northridge, California.
* 1995 – The Great Hanshin earthquake: A magnitude 7.3 earthquake hits near Kobe, Japan, causing extensive property damage and killing 6,434 people.
* 1996 – The Czech Republic applies for membership of the European Union.
* 1997 – A Delta 2 carrying a GPS2R satellite explodes 13 seconds after launch, dropping 250 tons of burning rocket remains around the launch pad.
* 1998 – Lewinsky scandal: Matt Drudge breaks the story of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair on his website The Drudge Report.
* 2001 – U.S. President Bill Clinton posthumously raises Meriwether Lewis' rank from Lieutenant to Captain.
* 2002 – Mount Nyiragongo erupts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, displacing an estimated 400,000 people.
* 2007 – The Doomsday Clock is set to five minutes to midnight in response to North Korea nuclear testing.
* 2008 – British Airways Flight 38 crash lands just short of London Heathrow Airport in England with no fatalities. It is the first complete hull loss of a Boeing 777.
* 2010 – Rioting begins between Muslim and Christian groups in Jos, Nigeria, resulting in at least 200 deaths.