250 - Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. Pope Fabian was martyred. Afterwards the Donatist controversy over readmitting lapsed Christians disaffects many in North Africa.
1265 - In Westminster, the first English parliament conducts its first meeting in the Palace of Westminster, now also known 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 Almansa.
1649 - Charles I of England goes on trial for treason and other "high crimes".
1667 - The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth cedes Kiev, Smolensk, and left-bank Ukraine to Imperial Russia in the treaty of Andrusovo.
1783 - The Kingdom of Great Britain signs a peace treaty with France and Spain, officially ending hostilities in the Revolutionary War.
1788 - The third and main part of First Fleet arrives at Botany Bay. Arthur Phillip decides Botany Bay is unsuitable for 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 a Peruvian and Bolivian alliance.
1840 - Dumont D'Urville discovers Adélie Land, Antarctica.
1840 - Willem II becomes King of the Netherlands.
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.
1892 - At the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, the first official basketball game is played.
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 film filmed outdoors, is released.
1936 - Edward VIII becomes King of the United Kingdom.
1937 - Franklin Roosevelt is inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. This is the first inauguration scheduled on January 20, following adoption of the 20th Amendment. Previous inaugurations were scheduled on March 4.
1942 - World War II: Nazis at the Wannsee conference in Berlin agree on the "final solution to the Jewish problem".
1944 - World War II: The Royal Air Force drops 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin.
1945 - Hungary ends its involvement in the Second World War, agreeing to an armistice with the Allies.
1954 - The National Negro Network is established with 40 charter member radio stations.
1960 - Hendrik Verwoerd announces a plebiscite on whether South Africa should become a Republic.
1961 - John Fitzgerald Kennedy was inaugurated as the youngest man, and first ever Roman Catholic to become elected President of the United States.
1968 - The Houston Cougars defeat the UCLA Bruins 71-69 to win the Game of the Century.
1981 - Iran releases 52 American hostages twenty minutes after Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as U.S. President.
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 - Black January - crackdown of Azerbaijani pro-independence demonstrations by Soviet army 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 5 crew.
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.
2009 - Barack Obama, inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America, becomes the first African-American ever to hold the office.