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12 December: On this day in history

What events happened on 12 December in history? Dominic Sandbrook rounds up the events, births and deaths…

Published: December 12, 2021 at 6:05 am
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12 December 627

The Byzantine emperor Heraclius defeats the Persians at Nineveh.


12 December 1098

The Syrian town of Ma'arrat is sacked by a crusading army under Raymond of Toulouse and its inhabitants are put to the sword. According to contemporary chroniclers, some are eaten by the starving crusaders.

12 December 1781

In the second battle of Ushant, a British naval squadron led by Sir Richard Kempenfelt in HMS Victory captured 15 French transport ships after they became separated from the fleet escorting them.

12 December 1870

Joseph H Rainey, a South Carolina Republican, became the first African-American to serve in the United States House of Representatives.

12 December 1889

Poet Robert Browning died in Venice, aged 78, on the same day that Asolando, his last volume of poetry, was published. He is buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.


12 December 1942

The Germans launched their Winter Storm counter-offensive, which aimed, unsuccessfully, to free von Paulus’s 6th Army from encirclement at Stalingrad.

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Dominic SandbrookHistorian and presenter

Dominic Sandbrook is historian and presenter, and a regular contributor to BBC History Magazine


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