12 February 1440

Lincolnshire magnate John Beaumont was created a viscount, the first ever in England. An ally of Margaret of Anjou, he was killed by the Yorkists at the battle of Northampton in July 1460.


12 February 1541

Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded the Chilean city of Santiago. The full name he gave to the city was Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura, after St James and Extremadura, Valdivia's birthplace in Spain.

12 February 1637

Jan Swammerdam, the first person to describe red blood cells, is born in Amsterdam.

12 February 1809

Pioneering British naturalist Charles Darwin is born at Mount House, Shrewsbury, on the same day that future US president Abraham Lincoln is born in Kentucky.

12 February 1818

Bernardo O'Higgins declares Chile's independence from Spain on the first anniversary of his and General Jose de St Martin's victory over the Spanish at the Battle of Chacabuco.

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12 February 1843

Birth in Llanelli, south Wales of sports administrator and journalist John Graham Chambers. A noted sportsman in his own right, he coached Cambridge crews for the boat race, staged a wide range of sporting events, promoted the 1873 FA Cup final and rowed alongside Captain Webb as he swam the Channel in 1875. Chambers established the Amateur Athletic Club and was closely involved in drawing up the Marquess of Queensberry rules for boxing, including three-minute rounds, the required use of gloves and the 10-count for knockdowns.

12 February 1909

Horrified by the rise of lynching, black activists and white reformers meet to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, designed “to promote equality of rights and to eradicate caste or race prejudice” in the US.


12 February 1912

Six-year-old Hsian-T'ung, the last emperor of China, was forced to abdicate following Sun Yat-Sen's republican revolution. Better known as Puyi, he was allowed to remain in the Imperial Palace until he was exiled in 1924.

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