August 31, 1535: Pope Paul II excommunicates English King Henry VIII, who had been declared by an earlier pope as "Most Christian King" and "Defender of the Faith" (see issue 48: Thomas Cranmer).
August 31, 1688: English Puritan writer and preacher John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress, dies at age 60. Though one of England's most famous authors even in his own day, he maintained his pastoral duties to his death, which was caused by a cold he caught while riding through the rain to reconcile a father and son (see issue 11: John Bunyan).
July 18, 64: The Great Fire of Rome begins, and to direct suspicion away from himself, young Emperor Nero blames the city's Christians. A persecution followed in which Christians were (among other punishments) burned alive (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).
July 18, 1504: Henry Bullinger, Ulrich Zwingli's successor as chief pastor of Zurich and a close associate of Cranmer, Melanchthon, Calvin, and Beza, is born in Switzerland (see issue 4: Ulrich Zwingli).