January 24, 1076: Germany's Henry IV convenes the Synod of Worms to secure the deposition of Pope Gregory VII. The Synod charged the pope with serious crimes, called upon Rome to depose him, and issued other anti-papal statements. The pope quickly excommunicated Henry. One year later, Henry traveled to Canossa, Italy, and stood three days in the snow in an attempt to gain Gregory's forgiveness. Gregory granted it, but the two men soon fought again; Henry set up an antipope in Gregory's place.
January 24, 1573: English poet and preacher John Donne, dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, is born. One of the most prominent preachers of his day and one of the greatest English poets, he is known for such famous lines as "No man is an island," "For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for thee," and "Death be not proud.
February 20, 1469: Thomasso de Vio Cajetan, the most learned of the Roman Catholic dignitaries sent to silence Martin Luther in the early years of the Protestant Reformation, is born. He was also one of the cardinals who convinced Pope Clement VII to reject Henry VIII's request to divorce Catherine of Aragon (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).
February 20, 1895: Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the first African-American to hold high political office, dies. After escaping to freedom in 1838, he ...