Highlights in history on this date: 1494 – Forces of France’s King Charles VIII enter Rome.
1526 – Croat nobility chooses Habsburg rule and Croatia becomes part of the Habsburg monarchy.
1775 – The British repel an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec. Montgomery is killed.
1799 – The Dutch East India Company’s territories in Indonesia are taken over by the Dutch Administration in Batavia, now Jakarta.
1810 – Russia’s Czar Alexander introduces new tariffs aimed at French goods.
1851 – Austrian Constitution is abolished.
1857 – Britain’s Queen Victoria decides to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.
1879 – U.S. inventor Thomas A. Edison gives first demonstration of his electric incandescent light at Menlo Park, New Jersey.
1919 – Britain, Japan and United States sign an agreement on East Siberia.
1956 – President Sukarno proclaims a state of siege in Sumatra, Indonesia.
1961 – Lebanon’s army prevents coup attempt in Beirut by Syrian Popular Party; the U.S. Marshall Plan expires after distributing more than $12 billion in foreign aid.
1963 – Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland is dissolved.
1964 – Indonesia’s President Sukarno threatens to quit the United Nations if Malaysia is given a seat on the U.N. Security Council.
1966 – United States says it will halt bombing of North Vietnam when Hanoi gives assurance that it will discuss peace terms seriously.
1968 – U.N. Security Council censures Israel unanimously for helicopter commando raid on airport at Beirut, Lebanon.
1974 – Private U.S. citizens are allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
1978 – Taiwanese diplomats strike their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, marking the end of diplomatic relations with the U.S.
1986 – A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, kills 97 and injures 140 people.
1987 – Violent protests erupt in Jerusalem’s West Bank as Palestinians prepare to observe the Jan. 1 anniversary of the PLO’s main guerrilla group.
1988 – India and Pakistan agree not to attack each others’ nuclear facilities.
1990 – Israeli air force attacks a PLO base near Sidon, Lebanon killing 12 guerrillas belonging to Yasser Arafat’s Al Fatah faction.
1991 – Representatives of North Korea and South Korea agree not to use nuclear weapons.
1992 – Clans allied with the two main warlords in Mogadishu, Somalia, shell one another with mortars as U.S. President George Bush visits a U.S. Navy ship offshore.
1993 – The teenage granddaughter of Cuban leader Fidel Castro arrives in the United States for a reunion with her mother, who defected from Cuba the previous week.
1994 – A New Year’s Eve assault by Russian forces on Grozny, Chechnya, produces one of the bloodiest days of the war. Both sides claim success.
1996 – For the first time in Peru’s two-week hostage crisis, Tupac Amaru guerrillas allow journalists inside the Japanese ambassador’s residence.
1997 – Hong Kong authorities finish up the slaughter of 1.3 million chickens and other fowl to prevent an outbreak of a deadly strain of bird flu in humans.
1998 – Eleven European nations usher in the New Year and the euro.
1999 – Russian President Boris Yeltsin announces his resignation.
2000 – Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak draws the bottom line in any peace deal with the Palestinians: no transfer of sovereignty over Jerusalem’s revered Temple Mount to the Palestinians, and no right of return for Palestinian refugees.
2001 – Pakistan arrests the leader and more than two dozen members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of two Muslim militant groups that India blamed for an attack on Parliament that killed 14 people.
2002 – Asylum-seekers being detained at the Villawood detention center in western Sydney, Australia riot, set fires and attack guards in an apparent attempt to break out.
2003 – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that an outbreak of influenza reached epidemic levels in 45 states and has already killed at least 42 children.
2004 – Locked doors at a nightclub in Buenos Aires, Brazil, block or slow the exit of many concertgoers fighting to escape a fire that kills 186 people and injures hundreds.
2005 – British subway workers walk out in a 24-hour strike, disrupting the London Underground as tens of thousands of revelers throng in the capital to celebrate the New Year.
2006 – Nine bombs explode across Bangkok as the Thai capital celebrates New Year’s Eve, killing two people and capping a year of unrest in Thailand, including a military coup and an increasingly violent Muslim insurgency in the south.
2007 – Parliamentary elections in Pakistan are set to be postponed by several weeks a day after Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal Zardari, is chosen to succeed her as chairman of her opposition party and despite opposition demands elections go ahead as planned on Jan. 8.
2008 – The alleged ringleaders of a Chinese counterfeiting gang that sold at least $2 billion worth of bogus Microsoft Corp. software are sentenced to prison terms of up to 6 1/2 years, in what is believed to be the harshest penalties yet under China’s tightened piracy laws.
2009 – A U.S. judge dismisses all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in a crowded Baghdad intersection in 2007.
2010 – A top ally of Ivory Coast’s internationally recognized leader says that the country is already in a “civil war situation,” while the incumbent leader who refuses to step down after the disputed election accuses world leaders of launching a coup to oust him.
2011 – Yemen’s outgoing president decides to stay in the country, reversing plans to leave in an apparent attempt to salvage his control over the regime, which has appeared to unravel in the face of internal revolts and relentless street protests.
Jacques Cartier, French explorer (1491-1557); Henri Matisse, French artist-sculptor (1869-1954); Nathan Milstein, Russian-born violinist (1903-1992); Gottfried August Burger, German poet (1748-1794); Anthony Hopkins, English actor (1937–); Sarah Miles, British actress (1941–); Donna Summer, U.S. singer (1948–2012); Ben Kingsley, British actor (1943–).