1778: Francois-Marie Arouet (pen name Voltaire) died in Paris aged 83.
1879: Vanessa Bell, painter and member of the Bloomsbury Group, was born at Hyde Park Gate in London. She was the daughter of Sir Leslie Stephen, the first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography.
1431: Aged 19, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic in the old market place in Rouen. She had inspired the French victory at Orleans in 1429 but had been captured by the Burgundians in the following year and subsequently sold to the English. Joan had been instrumental in securing the coronation of Charles VII as king of France and, by securing her condemnation, the English were hoping to undermine Charles’s legitimacy as monarch.