1520 - Martin Luther publicly burned the papal edict. The papacy demanded that he recant or face excommunication. Luther refused and was formally expelled from the church in January 1521.
1787 - Thomas H. Gallaudet, a pioneer of educating the deaf, was born in Philadelphia.
1845 - British civil engineer Robert Thompson patented the first pneumatic tires.
1901 - The first Nobel prizes were awarded.
1941 - Japan invaded the Philippines.
1941 - The Royal Naval battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk by Japanese aircraft in the Battle of Malaya.
1948 - The United Nations General Assembly adopted its Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
1964 - In Oslo, Norway, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize. He was the youngest person to receive the award.
1984 - South African Bishop Desmond Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize.
1995 - The first U.S. Marines arrived in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo to join NATO soldiers sent to enforce peace in the former Yugoslavia.
1996 - South Africa's President Mandela signed into law a new democratic constitution, completing the country's transition from white-minority rule to a non-racial democracy.