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21 December: On this day in history

What events happened on 21 December in history? Dominic Sandbrook rounds up the events, births and deaths…

Published: December 21, 2021 at 6:05 am
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21 December 1409

By forcing the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, to resign as Henry IV's chancellor, Prince Henry, the future Henry V, briefly gained control of his father's council.

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21 December 1808

British hussars under Henry Lord Paget rout a French cavalry brigade at Sahagun, northern Spain. Paget is an able commander but his career will not be helped by his subsequent decision to elope with the sister-in-law of the future Duke of Wellington.


21 December 1811

Archibald Campbell Tait was born in Edinburgh. After studying at Balliol College, Oxford, and a spell as headmaster at Rugby School, Tait was appointed dean of Carlisle Cathedral in 1849, bishop of London in 1856, and archbishop of Canterbury in 1868.


21 December 1872

Under the captaincy of Welsh sailor George Nares, HMS Challenger set sail from Portsmouth on a three-and-a-half-year scientific voyage to measure the physical characteristics of the ocean water and floor, and record deep-water fauna and flora. The expedition visited 362 observation stations around the world and the onboard naturalist John Murray described the results as the “greatest advance in the knowledge of our planet...” Most of the specimens collected during the expedition are housed in London’s Natural History Museum.


21 December 1910

A massive underground explosion at Lancashire's Hulton Colliery Number 3 Bank Pit, known locally as the Pretoria Pit, killed 344 men and boys. It was the third worst mining disaster in British history.

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21 December 1937

First screening of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. | Read more about how Disney has shaped our perceptions of the past

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Authors

Dominic SandbrookHistorian and presenter

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

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