December 13 is the 347th day of the year (348th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 18 days remaining.
- 1545 - Council of Trent begins
- 1577 - Sir Francis Drake sets out from Plymouth, England, on his round-the-world voyage
- 1642 - Abel Janszoon Tasman reaches New Zealand.
- 1643 - English Civil War: The Battle of Alton takes place in Hampshire.
- 1862 - American Civil War: At the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Army of Northern Virginia under Confederate General Robert E. Lee defeats the Union Army of the Potomac under Major General Ambrose E. Burnside.
- 1937 - Battle of Nanjing concludes with the Japanese victory and the fall of the city which became the site of the Nanjing Massacre
- 1938 - 100 deportees from Sachsenhausen build the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg
- 1939 - The Battle of the River Plate, the first major naval battle of World War II, begins.
- 1949 - The Knesset votes to move the capital of Israel to Jerusalem
- 1959 - Archbishop Makarios becomes the first President of Cyprus
- 1972 - A chartered Spanish airliner crashes on takeoff from the Canary Islands, killing 155
- 1974 - Malta becomes a republic
- 1977 - A United States government DC-3 crashes after takeoff at Evansville, Indiana, killing 29, including the University of Evansville basketball team
- 1978 - The first Susan B. Anthony dollar enters circulation
- 1981 - General Wojciech Jaruzelski declares martial law in Poland
- 1996 - Kofi Annan elected as Secretary-General of the United Nations.
- 2000 - The Texas 7 escape from a Texas prison and go on a crime spree.
- 2001 - Parliament of India attacked by armed militants. Attempt foiled.
- 2002 - The European Union announces the addition of ten new members in Copenhagen: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. The countries' membership became effective May 1, 2004.
- 2003 - Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit.
- 2004 - A moderate 5,4 Richter Scale earthquake is felt all over Portugal, with its epicenter in the Atlantic Ocean, southwest of São Vicente's Cape (Algarve), with no losses reported.
- 2004 - Former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet is put under house arrest, after being sued under accusations over 9 kidnapping actions and manslaughter during the Operation Condor. The same day, the house arrest is lifted by efforts of an appeal presented by Pinochet's lawyers.
- 2004 - Scott Peterson is sentenced to the death penalty in the murder case of his wife, Laci Peterson, and unborn son, Connor.
- 1521 - Pope Sixtus V, religious leader (d. 1590)
- 1533 - King Eric XIV of Sweden (d. 1577)
- 1553 - King Henry IV of France (d. 1610)
- 1797 - Heinrich Heine, German poet (d. 1856)
- 1798 - Joseph Walker, explorer
- 1813 - David Spangler Kaufman, American politician, first Jewish Congressman from Texas (d. 1851)
- 1816 - Werner von Siemens, German engineer, inventor and industrialist (d. 1892)
- 1818 - Mary Todd Lincoln, First Lady of the United States (d. 1882)
- 1829 - Hugo von Ziemssen , physicist (d. 1902)
- 1836 - Franz von Lenbach, painter (d. 1904)
- 1854 - Thomas Watson, telephone pioneer
- 1864 - Emil Seidel, politician, mayor of Milwaukee, Socialist vice-presidential candidate (d. 1947)
- 1874 - Josef Lhévinne, pianist (d. 1944)
- 1887 - George Polya, mathematician (d. 1985)
- 1887 - Alvin York, U.S. soldier of World War I, known as 'Sergeant York' (d. 1964)
- 1897 - Drew Pearson, journalist, political columnist (d. 1969)
- 1903 - Carlos Montoya, guitarist (d. 1993)
- 1906 - Her Royal Highness Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent (d. 1968)
- 1906 - Laurens van der Post, South African author (d. 1996)
- 1910 - Van Heflin, actor (d. 1971)
- 1911 - Kenneth Patchen, American poet and painter (d. 1972)
- 1913 - Archie Moore, world champion boxer (d. 1998)
- 1915 - Curd Jürgens, actor (d. 1982)
- 1915 - Ross Macdonald, author (d. 1983)
- 1923 - Larry Doby, Baseball Hall of Famer (d. 2003)
- 1925 - Dick Van Dyke, actor, comedian
- 1926 - George Rhoden, Jamaican athlete
- 1927 - Christopher Plummer, actor
- 1934 - Richard D. Zanuck, American motion picture producer
- 1943 - Ferguson Jenkins, Baseball Hall of Famer
- 1948 - Ted Nugent, musician
- 1948 - Brian Wilson (politician)
- 1950 - Tom Vilsack, Governor of Iowa
- 1953 - Bob Gainey, Hockey Hall of Famer
- 1957 - Steve Buscemi, actor
- 1957 - Jean-Marie Messier, French businessman
- 1958 - Lynn-Holly Johnson U.S Figure Skater and actress For Your Eyes Only
- 1961 - Harry Gregson-Williams, film composer
- 1967 - Jamie Foxx, actor
- 1974 - Nicholas McCarthy, guitarist Franz Ferdinand (band)
- 1975 - Tom Delonge Guitarist - blink-182
- 1981 - Amy Lee, Evanescence frontwoman
- 1048 - Al-Biruni, Persian mathematician (b. 973)
- 1124 - Pope Callixtus II
- 1204 - Maimonides, sephardi philosopher (b. 1135)
- 1250 - Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (b. 1194)
- 1312 or 1313 - John Parricida of Habsburg (b. 1290)
- 1565 - Konrad von Gesner, naturalist (b. 1516)
- 1784 - Samuel Johnson, essayist
- 1881 - August Senoa, Croat writer (b. 1838)
- 1944 - Wassily Kandinsky, artist (b. 1866)
- 1961 - Grandma Moses, artist (b. 1860)
- 2001 - Leonardo Mondadori , publisher
- 2001 - Chuck Schuldiner, musician
- 2002 - Zal Yanofsky, member of Lovin' Spoonful music group
- 2003 - William V. Roth, Jr., United States Senator from Delaware
- 2004 - David Wheeler, Computer Scientist (b. 1927)
- 2004 - Andre Rodgers, Major League Baseball player (b. 1934)
- 2004 - Alex Soria , guitarist for the Nils (b. 1965)
Holidays and observances
December 12 - December 14 - November 13 - January 13 -- listing of all days
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