* 250 – Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. Pope Fabian is martyred.
* 1265 – In Westminster, the first English parliament conducts its first meeting held by Simon de Montfort in the Palace of Westminster, now also known colloquially as the "Houses of Parliament".
* 1320 – Duke Wladyslaw Lokietek becomes king of Poland.
* 1356 – Edward Balliol abdicates as King of Scotland.
* 1502 – The present-day location of Rio de Janeiro is first explored.
* 1523 – Christian II is forced to abdicate as King of Denmark and Norway.
* 1576 – The Mexican city of León is founded by order of the viceroy Don Martín Enríquez de Almanza.
* 1649 – Charles I of England goes on trial for treason and other "high crimes".
* 1783 – The Kingdom of Great Britain signs a peace treaty with France and Spain, officially ending hostilities in the American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of Independence).
* 1788 – The third and main part of First Fleet arrives at Botany Bay. Arthur Phillip decides that Botany Bay is unsuitable for the location of a penal colony, and decides to move to Port Jackson.
* 1801 – John Marshall is appointed the Chief Justice of the United States.
* 1839 – In the Battle of Yungay, Chile defeats an alliance between Peru and Bolivia.
* 1841 – Hong Kong Island is occupied by the British.
* 1885 – L.A. Thompson patents the roller coaster.
* 1887 – The United States Senate allows the Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base.
* 1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union is founded.
* 1921 – The first Constitution of Turkey is adopted, making fundamental changes in the source and exercise of sovereignty by consecrating the principle of national sovereignty.
* 1929 – In Old Arizona, the first full-length talking motion picture filmed outdoors, is released.
* 1934 – Fujifilm, the photographic and electronics company, is founded in Tokyo, Japan.
* 1936 – Edward VIII becomes King of the United Kingdom.
* 1941 – A Nazi officer is murdered in Bucharest, Romania, sparking a rebellion and pogrom by the Iron Guard, killing 125 Jews and 30 soldiers.
* 1942 – World War II: At the Wannsee Conference held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, senior Nazi German officials discuss the implementation of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question".
* 1945 – World War II: Hungary agrees to an armistice with the Allies.
* 1945 – World War II: Germany begins the evacuation of 1.8 million people from East Prussia, a task which will take nearly two months.
* 1949 – Point Four Program a program for economic aid to poor countries announced by United States President Harry S. Truman in his inaugural address for a full term as President.
* 1954 – The National Negro Network is established with 40 charter member radio stations.
* 1959 – The first flight of the Vickers Vanguard.
* 1960 – Hendrik Verwoerd announces a plebiscite on whether South Africa should become a Republic.
* 1969 – East Pakistani police kill student activist Amanullah Asaduzzaman. The resulting outrage is in part responsible for the Bangladesh Liberation War.
* 1972 – Pakistan launched its Nuclear detterent program few weeks after its defeat in Bangladesh Liberation War and Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
* 1981 – Twenty minutes after Ronald Reagan is inaugurated, at age 69 the oldest man ever to be inaugurated as U.S. President, Iran releases 52 American hostages.
* 1986 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated as a federal holiday for the first time.
* 1987 – Church of England envoy Terry Waite is kidnapped in Lebanon.
* 1990 – On Black Saturday, the Red Army kills Azerbaijani civilians in Baku.
* 1991 – Sudan's government imposes Islamic law nationwide, worsening the civil war between the country's Muslim north and Christian south.
* 1992 – Air Inter Flight 148 crashes near Strasbourg, France, killing 82 passengers and five crew members.
* 1999 – The China News Service announces new government restrictions on Internet use, aimed especially at Internet cafés.
* 2001 – Philippine president Joseph Estrada is ousted in a nonviolent 4-day revolution, and is succeeded by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
* 2006 – Witnesses report seeing a bottlenose whale swimming in the River Thames, the first time the species had been seen in the Thames since records began in 1913.
* 2007 – A three-man team, using only skis and kites, completes a 1,093-mile (1,759 km) trek to reach the southern pole of inaccessibility for the first time since 1958 and for the first time ever without mechanical assistance.