|February 21 in recent years
February 21 is the 52nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 313 days remaining until the end of the year (314 in leap years).
- 362 - Athanasius returns to Alexandria.
- 1245 - Thomas, the first known Bishop of Finland, was granted resignation after having confessed to torture and forgery.
- 1440 - The Prussian Confederation is formed.
- 1543 - Battle of Wayna Daga - A combined army of Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeated a Muslim army led by Ahmed Gragn.
- 1613 - Mikhail I is elected unanimously as Tsar by a national assembly, beginning the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia.
- 1743 - The premiere in London of George Frideric Handel's oratorio, "Samson".
- 1804 - The first self-propelling steam locomotive makes its outing at the Pen-y-Darren ironworks in Wales.
- 1842 - John Greenough is granted the first U.S. patent for the sewing machine.
- 1848 - Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish the Communist Manifesto.
- 1874 - The Oakland Daily Tribune publishes its first newspaper.
- 1878 - The first telephone book is issued in New Haven.
- 1885 - The newly completed Washington Monument is dedicated.
- 1893 - Thomas Edison receives two U.S. patents for a "Cut Out for Incandescent Electric Lamps" and for a "Stop Device"
- 1907 - 125 people perish when the s.s. Berlin sinks near Hoek van Holland.
- 1916 - World War I: In France the Battle of Verdun begins.
- 1918 - The last Carolina parakeet dies in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.
- 1925 - The New Yorker publishes its first issue.
- 1937 - Initial flight of the first successful flying car, Waldo Waterman's Arrowbile.
- 1937 - The League of Nations bans foreign national "volunteers" in the Spanish Civil War.
- 1943 - Battle of Guadalcanal ended.
- 1945 - World War II: Japanese Kamikaze planes sink escort carrier Bismarck Sea and damage the Saratoga.
- 1947 - In New York City Edwin Land demonstrates the first "instant camera", the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.
- 1948 - NASCAR is incorporated.
- 1952 - The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolishes Identity Cards in the UK to "set the people free".
- 1952 - In Dhaka, East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) police opened fire on a procession of students, who demanded the establishment of Bengali as the official language, killing four people and starting a country-wide protest which led to the recognition of Bengali as one of the national languages of Pakistan. The day was later declared as "International Mother Language Day" by UNESCO.
- 1953 - Francis Crick and James D. Watson discover the structure of the DNA molecule.
- 1958 - Peace symbol designed and completed by Gerald Holtom, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.
- 1960 - Cuban leader Fidel Castro nationalizes all businesses in Cuba.
- 1965 - Malcolm X is assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.
- 1970 - Swissair Flight 330: A mid-air bomb explosion and subsequent crash kills 38 passengers and nine crew members near Zürich, Switzerland.
- 1971 - The Convention on Psychotropic Substances is signed at Vienna.
- 1972 - President Richard Nixon visits the People's Republic of China to normalize Sino-American relations.
- 1972 - The Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 lands on the Moon.
- 1973 - Over the Sinai Desert, Israeli fighter aircraft shoot down a Libyan Airlines jet killing 108.
- 1974 - The last Israeli soldiers leave the west bank of the Suez Canal in carrying out a truce with Egypt.
- 1975 - Watergate scandal: Former United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman are sentenced to prison.
- 1995 - Steve Fossett lands in Leader, Canada becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.
- 2004 - The first European political party organization, the European Greens, is established in Rome.
- 2007 - Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigns from office. His resignation is rejected by the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano.
- 1484 - Elector Joachim I of Brandenburg (d. 1535)
- 1556 - Sethus Calvisius, German calendar reformer (d. 1615)
- 1675 - Franz Xaver Josef von Unertl, Bavarian politician (d. 1750)
- 1688 - Queen Ulrike Eleonora of Sweden (d. 1741)
- 1705 - Edward Hawke, British naval officer (d. 1781)
- 1721 - John McKinly, American physician (d. 1796)
- 1723 - Louis-Pierre Anquetil, French historian (d. 1808)
- 1728 - Tsar Peter III of Russia, husband of Catherine the Great (d. 1762)
- 1783 - Princess Catharina of Württemberg, Quuen consort of Westphalia (d. 1835
- 1791 - Carl Czerny, Austrian composer (d. 1857)
- 1794 - Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Mexican president (d. 1876)
- 1801 - John Henry Newman, English Catholic cardinal (d. 1890)
- 1817 - Jose Zorrilla y Moral, Spanish dramatist (d. 1893)
- 1821 - Charles Scribner, American publisher (d. 1871)
- 1836 - Léo Delibes, French composer (d. 1891)
- 1844 - Charles-Marie Widor, French composer (d. 1937)
- 1860 - Karel Matěj Čapek-Chod, Czech journalist (d. 1927)
- 1865 - John Haden Badley, English school founder (d. 1967)
- 1867 - Otto Hermann Kahn, German millionaire (d. 1934)
- 1875 - Jeanne Calment, French supercentenarian and longest-lived human on record (d. 1997)
- 1876 - Pyotr Konchalovsky, Russian painter (d. 1956)
- 1878 - The Mother, Indian spiritual leader (d. 1973)
- 1880 - Waldemar Bonsels, German writer (d. 1952)
- 1885 - Sacha Guitry, Russian dramatist (d. 1957)
- 1888 - Clemence Dane, British novelist and playwright (d. 1965)
- 1893 - Celia Lovsky, Russian-born actress (d. 1979)
- 1893 - Andrés Segovia, Spanish guitarist (d. 1987)
- 1895 - Carl Peter Henrik Dam Danish biochemist, Nobel laureate (d. 1976)
- 1900 - Madeleine Renaud, French theater actress (d. 1994)
- 1903 - Fairfax M. Cone, American advertising executive (d. 1977)
- 1903 - Anaïs Nin, French writer (d. 1977)
- 1903 - Raymond Queneau, French poet and novelist (d. 1976)
- 1907 - W. H. Auden, English poet (d. 1973)
- 1910 - Douglas Bader, British pilot (d. 1982)
- 1910 - Carmine Galante, Italian-born gangster (d. 1979)
- 1910 - Eddie Waring, British sports commentator (d. 1986)
- 1913 - Roger Laurent, Belgian racing driver (d. 1997)
- 1915 - Ann Sheridan, American actress (d. 1967)
- 1917 - Lucille Bremer, American actress (d. 1996)
- 1924 - Robert Mugabe first President of Zimbabwe
- 1925 - Sam Peckinpah, American director (d. 1984)
- 1927 - Erma Bombeck, American humorist (d. 1996)
- 1927 - Hubert de Givenchy, French fashion designer
- 1927 - Pierre Mercure, French-Canadian musician and composer (d. 1966)
- 1929 - Roberto "Chespirito" Carlos Bolanõs, Mexican actor
- 1929 - James Beck, English actor (d. 1973)
- 1933 - Nina Simone, American singer (d. 2003)
- 1934 - Rue McClanahan, American actress
- 1935 - Mark McManus, Scottish actor (d. 1994)
- 1935 - Jean Pelletier, French Canadian political operative
- 1936 - Barbara Jordan, American politician (d. 1996)
- 1937 - King Harald V of Norway
- 1937 - Gary Lockwood, American actor
- 1940 - John Lewis, American politician
- 1940 - Peter Gethin, British racing driver
- 1941 - James Wong, Hong Kong composer (d. 2004)
- 1942 - Margarethe von Trotta, German actress and film director
- 1943 - David Geffen, American record producer
- 1945 - Paul Newton, British musician (Uriah Heep)
- 1945 - D'Anna Fortunato, American mezzo-soprano
- 1946 - Tyne Daly, American actress
- 1946 - Anthony Daniels, British actor
- 1946 - Alan Rickman, English actor
- 1946 - Bob Ryan, Boston sports columnist
- 1946 - Vito Rizzuto, Sicilian-born alleged mafia boss
- 1947 - Johnny Echols, American musician (Love)
- 1947 - Olympia Snowe, American politician
- 1947 - Victor Sokolov, Russian journalist (d. 2006)
- 1949 - Jerry Harrison, American musician (Talking Heads)
- 1949 - Ronnie Hellström, Swedish footballer
- 1951 - Vince Welnick, American musician (The Grateful Dead) (d. 2006)
- 1952 - Jean Jacques Burnel, British musician (The Stranglers)
- 1953 - Christine Ebersole, American actress
- 1953 - William Petersen, American actor
- 1954 - Mike Pickering, English disc jockey and musician (Quando Quango, M People)
- 1954 - Ivo Van Damme, Belgian athlete (d. 1976)
- 1955 - Sir Steven Fayburgh, British diplomat
- 1955 - Kelsey Grammer, American actor
- 1958 - Jake Burns, Irish singer (Stiff Little Fingers}
- 1958 - Mary Chapin Carpenter, American singer
- 1958 - Jack Coleman, American actor
- 1958 - Alan Trammell, baseball player and manager
- 1959 - José María Cano, Spanish musician (Mecano)
- 1959 - Emmett McAuliffe, American radio show host and lawyer
- 1960 - Steve Wynn, American singer (The Dream Syndicate)
- 1961 - Davey Allison, American race car driver (d. 1993)
- 1961 - Christopher Atkins, American actor
- 1961 - Martha Hackett, American actress
- 1961 - Bertha Faye, American wrestler (d. 2001)
- 1962 - Vanessa Feltz, British television presenter
- 1962 - Chuck Palahniuk, American writer
- 1962 - David Foster Wallace, American writer
- 1963 - William Baldwin, American actor
- 1964 - Mark E. Kelly and Scott J. Kelly, American astronauts
- 1964 - Jane Tomlinson, British cancer campaigner (d. 2007)
- 1967 - Leroy Burrell, American runner
- 1969 - James Dean Bradfield, Welsh musician (Manic Street Preachers)
- 1969 - Tony Meola, American footballer
- 1969 - Eric Wilson, American musician (Sublime)
- 1970 - Michael Slater, Australian cricketer
- 1972 - Seo Taiji, Korean musician
- 1973 - Heri Joensen, Faroese musician (Týr)
- 1973 - Bowie Tsang, Taiwanese singer and TV host
- 1974 - Iván Campo, Spanish footballer
- 1974 - Roberto Heras, Spanish cyclist
- 1975 - Chris (CP) Powell, American columnist
- 1976 - Ryan Smyth, Canadian hockey player
- 1977 - Steve Francis, American basketball player
- 1977 - Chad Hutchinson, baseball and football player
- 1977 - Kevin Rose, American television host and Internet entrepreneur
- 1978 - Park Eun-hye, South Korean actress
- 1978 - Kim Ha Neul, South Korean actress
- 1978 - Nicole Parker, American actress
- 1979 - Pascal Chimbonda, French footballer
- 1979 - Carly "Carlito" Colón, Puerto Rican professional wrestler
- 1979 - Lonnie Ford, American football player
- 1979 - Jennifer Love Hewitt, American actress
- 1980 - Brad Fast, Canadian ice hockey player
- 1980 - Tiziano Ferro, Italian singer
- 1982 - Bernhard Auinger, Austrian racing driver
- 1983 - Braylon Edwards, American football player
- 1983 - Franklin Gutiérrez, Venezuelan baseball player
- 1984 - Andrew Ellis, New Zealand rugby union player
- 1984 - David Odonkor, German footballer
- 1985 - Bob Burton, American speedcuber
- 1985 - Georgios Samaras, Greek footballer
- 1986 - Charlotte Church, Welsh singer
- 1986 - Prince Amedeo of Belgium
- 1987 - Ellen Page, Canadian actress
- 1987 - Anthony Walker, British murder victim (d. 2005)
- 1988 - Daniel Rose, English footballer
- 1989 - Corbin Bleu, American actor and singer
- 1989 - Kristin Herrera, American actress
- 1989 - Josh Walker, English footballer
- 1437 - King James I of Scotland (b. 1394)
- 1471 - John of Rokycan, Czech Catholic archbishop
- 1513 - Pope Julius II (b. 1443)
- 1543 - Ahmed Gragn, Sultan of Adal
- 1554 - Hieronymus Bock, German botanist (b. 1498)
- 1595 - Robert Southwell, English Jesuit priest and poet (executed)
- 1668 - John Thurloe, English Puritan spy (b. 1616)
- 1677 - Baruch Spinoza, Dutch philosopher (b. 1632)
- 1715 - Charles Calvert, Governor of the Province of Maryland (b. 1637)
- 1730 - Pope Benedict XIII (b. 1649)
- 1788 - Johann Georg Palitzsch, German astronomer (b. 1723)
- 1821 - Georg Friedrich von Martens, German diplomat (b. 1756)
- 1824 - Eugène de Beauharnais, son of Napoleon's wife, Josephine (b. 1781)
- 1846 - Emperor Ninko of Japan (b. 1800)
- 1862 - Justinus Kerner, German poet (b. 1786)
- 1901 - George Francis FitzGerald, Irish mathematician (b. 1851)
- 1920 - Jacinta Marto, witness of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima (b. 1910)
- 1926 - Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, Dutch physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1853)
- 1938 - George Ellery Hale, American astronomer (b. 1868)
- 1941 - Frederick Banting, Canadian physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1891)
- 1944 - Ferenc Szisz, Hungarian-born race car driver (b. 1873)
- 1945 - Eric Liddell, Scottish runner (b. 1902)
- 1946 - José Streel, Belgian World War II collaborator (b. 1911)
- 1949 - Tan Malaka, Indonesian nationalist activist and communist leader (b. 1894)
- 1958 - Duncan Edwards, English footballer (b. 1936)
- 1960 - Jacques Becker, French film director and screenwriter (b. 1906)
- 1965 - Malcolm X, American black activist (b. 1925)
- 1966 - Paul Comtois, French Canadian politician (b. 1895)
- 1967 - Charles Beaumont, American writer (b. 1929)
- 1968 - Howard Walter Florey, Australian-born pharmocologist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1898)
- 1972 - Bronislava Nijinska, Polish-Russian ballet dancer (b. 1891)
- 1972 - Eugène Tisserant, French Catholic candinal (b. 1884)
- 1974 - Tim Horton, Canadian hockey player (b. 1930)
- 1978 - Mieczysław Żywczyński, Polish historian and priest (b. 1901)
- 1980 - Alfred Andersch, German writer
- 1982 - Murray the K, American impresario and disc jockey (b. 1922)
- 1984 - Michail Aleksandrovich Sholokhov, Russian writer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1905)
- 1985 - Louis Hayward, British actor (b. 1909)
- 1986 - Helen Hooven Santmyer, American writer (b. 1895)
- 1986 - Shigechiyo Izumi, Japanese sugarcane farmer, also the world's oldest man ever (b. 1865)
- 1989 - Alex Thépot, French footballer (b. 1906)
- 1991 - Dame Margot Fonteyn, English ballet dancer (b. 1919)
- 1994 - Johannes Steinhoff, German fighter pilot & NATO commander (b.1913)
- 1996 - Morton Gould, American composer (b. 1913)
- 1999 - Gertrude B. Elion, American scientist, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (b. 1918)
- 1999 - Wilmer David Mizell, baseball player (b. 1930)
- 2000 - Antonio Díaz-Miguel, Spanish basketball coach (b. 1933)
- 2002 - Harold Furth, Austrian-born physicist (b. 1939)
- 2002 - John Thaw, English actor (b. 1942)
- 2003 - Eddie Thomson, Scottish football player and coach (b. 1947)
- 2004 - John Charles, Welsh footballer (b. 1931)
- 2004 - Guido Molinari, Canadian artist (b. 1933)
- 2005 - Ara Berberian, American opera singer (b. 1930)
- 2005 - Gérard Bessette, Quebec novelist and poet (b. 1920)
- 2005 - Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Cuban novelist (b. 1929)
- 2005 - Eugene Scott, American religious broadcaster (b. 1929)
Holidays and observances
In the Roman Catholic Church:
115 Familypedia people were born on February 21
117 Familypedia people died on February 21
83 Familypedia people were first married on February 21