- 1577 - Sir Francis Drake sets out from Plymouth, England, on his round-the-world voyage.
- 1862 - American Civil War: At the Battle of Fredericksburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee defeats the Union Major General Ambrose E. Burnside.
- 1941 - World War II: Hungary and Romania declare war on the United States.
- 1974 - Malta becomes a republic.
- 1996 - Kofi Annan is elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
- 2002 - Enlargement of the European Union: The European Union announces that Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia will become members from May 1, 2004.
- 2003 - Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit
- 2007 - Treaty of Lisbon, modifying the European Union is signed