On This Day

Deaths in History on December 31

MurderCommodus

192 Commodus, Emperor of Rome (180-192), murdered at 31

Roman Emperor Commodus
Roman Emperor
Commodus
  • 335 St. Silvester I, Catholic Pope, dies in office
  • 406 Godigisel, King of the Vandals, dies in battle
  • 439 Melania the Younger, Roman monastery founder/saint, dies at about 56
  • 1164 Margrave Ottokar III of Styria (b. 1124)
  • 1194 Duke Leopold V of Austria (killed at a tournament) (b. 1157)
  • 1297 Humphrey de Bohun, 3rd Earl of Hereford, English soldier (b. 1249)
  • 1302 Frederick III, Duke of Lorraine (b. 1238)
  • 1382 Daigaku, Zen teacher/46th head of Engakuji, dies in Kamakura Japan
  • 1384 John Wycliffe, English religious reformer/bible translator, dies
  • 1424 Thomas Beaufort, 1st Duke of Exeter, English military leader
  • 1460 Edmund, Earl of Rutland, brother of Kings Edward IV of England and Richard III of England, executed at 17
  • 1460 Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury, English politician (b. 1400)
  • 1510 Bianca Maria Sforza, wife of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, dies at 38
  • 1535 William Skeffington, Lord Deputy of Ireland (b. 1465)
  • 1568 Shimazu Tadayoshi, Japanese warlord, dies at 75

  • 1575 Pierino Belli, Italian soldier and jurist (b. 1502)
  • 1583 Thomas Erastus, Swiss physician and theologist, dies at 59
  • 1610 Ludolph van Ceulen, German mathematician (b. 1540)
  • 1616 Jacques Le Maire, pirate/explorer (Lemaire Strait), dies at 31
  • 1650 Dorgon, Chinese emperor (b. 1612)
  • 1652 Frances Cecil, 2nd wife of English earl of Shaftesbury, dies
  • 1673 Oliver St John, English statesman and judge
  • 1679 Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, Italian physiologist and physicist (b. 1608)
  • 1691 Dudley North, English economist (b. 1641)
  • 1719 John Flamsteed, 1st Astronomer Royal, dies at 73
  • 1733 Hubert K Poot, Dutch poet (Akkerleven), dies at 44
  • 1742 Charles III Philip, Elector Palatine (1716-42), dies at 81
  • 1775 Richard Montgomery, Irish General in Continental Army during American Revolutionary War, dies in attack on Quebec at 37
  • 1783 Gualtherus van Doeveren, Zealand-Flanders physician, dies at 53
  • 1799 Jean-François Marmontel, French historian and writer, dies at 76
  • 1802 Francis Lewis, Welsh/American merchant/signer (Declaration of Independence), dies at 89
  • 1862 James Edward Rains, American lawyer and Brigadier General (Confederate Army), dies in Battle of Stone's River at 29
  • 1862 Joshua Woodrow Sill, US Union brigadier general, dies in Battle of Stone's River at 31
  • 1864 George Mifflin Dallas, American politician (11th Vice President of the United States) and United States Minister to Russia, dies at 72
  • 1872 Aleksis Kivi, Finnish writer and poet (Kanervala), dies at 38

  • 1877 Gustave Courbet, French realist painter (Demoiselles the la Seine), dies at 58
  • 1880 Arnold Ruge, German political philosopher and writer, dies at 78
  • 1882 Leon Michel Gambetta, French attorney and 37th Prime Minister of France (1881-82), dies at 44
  • 1888 Samson Raphael Hirsch, German Orthodox rabbi and intellectual founder of the Torah im Derech Eretz school of contemporary Orthodox Judaism, dies at 80
  • 1889 Ion Creanga, Romanian (fairy tales) author, dies at 52
  • 1890 Pancha Carrasco, Costa Rican war heroine (Costa Rica's first woman in the military), dies at 74
  • 1893 Jacob Gijsbert de Hoop Scheffer, Dutch vicar and theologian, dies at 74
  • 1894 Thomas J Stieltjes, mathematician (Stieltjes-integral), dies at 38
  • 1907 Jules de Trooz, Belgium PM, dies at 63
  • 1910 John Moisant, American aviator (b. 1868)
  • 1910 Archibald Hoxsey, American pioneer aviator (worked for the Wright brothers), dies at 26
  • 1910 John Bevins Moisant, American pioneer aviator, first to cross English Channel with passenger and a cat, killed in New Orleans whose present day airport was originally name for him, dies at 42
  • 1916 Alice Ball, African American chemist (developed treatment for leprosy), dies at 24
  • 1920 Albert Roelofs, Dutch painter/etcher, dies at 43
  • 1921 Boies Penrose, American politician (U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania (1897-1921)), dies at 61
  • 1921 József Kiss, Hungarian literary (Zsido Dalok), dies at 78
  • 1936 Miguel de Unamuno Jugo, Span philosopher/poet (Cancionero), dies at 72
  • 1936 William FA Ellison, Irish clergyman/astronomer, dies at 72
  • 1938 Richard Nicolaas Roland Holst, Dutch artist and painter, dies at 70
  • 1947 Franz X Ritter von Epp, German General (SW Africa), dies at 79
  • 1950 Karl Renner, Austrian President (1918-20, 45-50), dies at 80
  • 1951 Maxim M Litvinov, [Meyer H Wallach], Russian diplomat, dies at 75
  • 1951 Philipp Abraham Kohnstamm, Dutch philosopher and physicist, dies at 76
  • 1953 Albert Plesman, Dutch aviation pioneer and founder (KLM), dies at 64
  • 1964 Ólafur Thors, Icelandic Prime Minister (5 times between 1942-63), dies at 72
  • 1966 Pieter Geyl, Dutch historian (History of the Dutch Race), dies at 79
  • 1971 Vikram Sarabhai, Indian physicist (b. 1919)
  • 1977 Sabah III Al-Salim Al-Sabah, ruler of Kuwait (b. 1924)

Person of interestMarshall McLuhan

1980 Marshall McLuhan, Canadian writer (Medium is the Message), dies at 69

Philosopher of Communication Theory Marshall McLuhan
Philosopher of Communication Theory
Marshall McLuhan
  • 1980 Raoul Walsh, American director (High Sierra), dies at about 88
  • 1987 [Gordon] Randall [P D] Garrett, author (Lord Darcy), dies at 60
  • 1990 Vasily Grigoryevich Lazarev, cosmonaut (Soyuz 12, 18A), dies at 62
  • 1993 Lambert Fokkema, founder Dutch Export Combination, dies at 80
  • 1993 Thomas J. Watson Jr., American businessman and politician (President of IBM, 1952-1971, US Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1979-1981), dies of a stroke at 79
  • 1993 Zviad Gamsachurdia, President of Georgia SSR (1991-1993), suicide at 54
  • 1993 Brandon Teena, American trans man and hate crime victim, murdered at 21
  • 1994 BAM "Bob" Schreiner, airline owner (S Aviation Group), dies at 79
  • 1994 Harri Webb, Welsh poet and nationalist, dies at 74
  • 1994 Leigh Bowery, designer, dies at 33
  • 1995 Calvin/Hobbes, (comic strip), dies
  • 1995 John Powell, campaigner, dies at 75
  • 1996 61 law enforcement officers, killed by felons in US this year
  • 1996 Ann Susan Hills, freelance journalist, dies at 55
  • 1996 Michael Roberts, English historian, dies at 88
  • 1996 Philip Manson-Bahr, English zoologist and specialist in tropical medicine, dies at 85
  • 1997 76 law enforcement officers, killed by felons in US this year
  • 1997 Dominique de Menil, arts patron/human rights advocate, dies at 89
  • 1997 Michael Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, dies in ski accident at 39
  • 1999 Elliot Richardson, American politician (b. 1920)
  • 2000 Alan Cranston, American politician (b. 1914)
  • 2001 John Grigg, 2nd Baron Altrincham, British writer and historian, dies at 77
  • 2003 Arthur R. von Hippel German physicist (pioneer in the study of dielectrics, ferromagnetic and ferroelectric materials, and semiconductors and was a codeveloper of radar during World War II), dies at 105
  • 2004 Gérard Debreu, French-American economist (Nobel 1983), dies at 83
  • 2005 Phillip Whitehead, British politician (b. 1937)
  • 2007 Michael Goldberg, American painter (b. 1924)
  • 2007 Milton L. Klein, Canadian politician (b. 1910)
  • 2007 Ettore Sottsass, Italian architect and designer (b. 1917)
  • 2008 Donald E. Westlake, American author (The Hunter), dies at 75