Historical Events on April 17

  • 858 Benedict III's reign as Catholic Pope ends with his death
  • 1387 Geoffrey Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" characters begin their pilgrimage to Canterbury (according to scholars)

Canterbury Tales

1397 Geoffrey Chaucer tells the "Canterbury Tales" for the first time at the court of English King Richard II

Columbus' Contract with Spain

1492 Christopher Columbus signs a contract with the Spanish monarchs to find the "Indies" with the stated goal of converting people to Catholicism. This promises him 10% of all riches found, and the governorship of any lands encountered.

  • 1524 Florentine navigator Giovanni Verrazano on a voyage for France is the first European to discover New York harbour

Thomas More Locked in the Tower

1534 Thomas More confined in the Tower of London

  • 1555 Siena surrenders to Spanish troops
  • 1596 Albert VII Archduke of Austria occupies Calais

Hudson Departs London

1610 English explorer Henry Hudson departs London, England aboard Discovery on his fourth, final and fatal voyage to discover a north west passage to the Pacific

Francis Bacon Charged with Bribery

1621 Lord Chancellor of England Francis Bacon is charged with 23 counts of bribery and corruption by a parliamentary committee on the administration of the law

Charles VI

1711 Charles VI becomes Holy Roman Emperor after the death of his brother Joseph I

  • 1747 French troops occupy Zeeuws-Flanders, Netherlands
  • 1758 Francis Williams, 1st US black college graduate, publishes poems
  • 1774 First Unitarianism church service in England held by Theophilus Lindsey at the Essex Street Capel in London
  • 1797 Sir Ralph Abercromby attacks San Juan, Puerto Rico, one of the largest invasions of Spanish territories in America

Bayonne Decree

1808 Bayonne Decree by Napoleon I of France orders seizure of US ships

  • 1824 Russia abandons all North American claims south of 54° 40'N
  • 1839 Guatemala forms a republic
  • 1851 Clipper Marco Polo launched at St Johns, New Brunswick - then the fastest ship in the world [1]
  • 1853 Johan Rudolf Thorbecke's government in the Netherlands resigns
  • 1853 US Marine Hospital at Presidio, San Francisco forms

Police Halt Boxing Match

1860 Champion of England Tom Sayers and American John Heenan fight out brutal 2 hour, 27 minute draw near Farnborough, England; police stop fight acknowledged as first world title bout

  • 1861 Indianola TX - "Star of West" taken by Confederacy
  • 1861 Virginia secedes from the Union (US Civil War)
  • 1863 Grierson's raid begins as Colonel Grierson and 1700 horse troopers set off from La Grange, Tennessee
  • 1864 Battle of Plymouth, North Carolina
  • 1864 Bread revolt in Savannah, Georgia
  • 1864 Grant suspends prisoner-of-war exchanges

Mary Surratt Arrested

1865 Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in Abraham' Lincoln's assassination

  • 1875 Modern Snooker invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain, a bored British officer in Jabalpur, India
  • 1892 1st Sunday NL baseball game, Reds beat Cards 5-1
  • 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki is signed ending the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95)
  • 1899 3rd Boston Marathon won by Lawrence Brignolia in 2:54:38
  • 1900 7 high chiefs of American Samoa sign Instrument of Cession
  • 1905 9th Boston Marathon won by Fred Lorz in 2:38:25.4
  • 1905 US Supreme Court judges maximum work day unconstitutional in Lochner v. New York by declaring the "right to free contract" implicit in the due process clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution
  • 1907 Ellis Island, New York records 11,745 immigrants

Boston Marathon

1911 15th Boston Marathon won by Clarence DeMar in race record 2:21:39.6; first of 7 race victories

Music History

1912 1st unofficial gold record (Al Jolson's "Ragging The Baby To Sleep")

  • 1916 20th Boston Marathon won by Arthur Roth in 2:27:16.4
  • 1922 26th Boston Marathon won by Clarence DeMar in race record 2:18:10; his 2nd race victory; first of 3 consecutive wins
  • 1923 Longest NL opening game, Phillies & Dodgers tie 5-5 in 14
  • 1924 Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures & Louis B Mayer Co merged to form Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM)

Baseball History

1925 NY Yankee Babe Ruth has ulcer surgery

  • 1925 Paul Painlevé succeeds Edouard Herriot as French premier
  • 1927 Japan's Wakarsoeki government falls, Baron Tanaka becomes premier
  • 1930 Abkhazian ASSR forms in Georgian SSR
  • 1930 DuPont scientist Elmer K. Bolton invents neoprene using Julius Nieuwland's divinyl acetylene

Haile Selassie Ends Slavery

1932 Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia ends slavery

  • 1933 37th Boston Marathon won by Leslie Pawson in 2:31:01.6
  • 1933 Chicago Bears win their 1st NFL Game beating NY Giants 23-21
  • 1934 Fenway Park in Boston re-opens after a major renovation including a hand-operated electronic scoreboard, though it didn't help the Red Sox who lost to the Washington Senators 6-5
  • 1935 Provincial-National elections (Musserts NSB achieves 7.9%, 44 chairs)
  • 1939 43rd Boston Marathon won by Ellison Brown in 2:28:51.8; his second victory in the event

Joe Louis KOs Jack Rope

1939 In his 6th title defense, world heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis KOs Jack Roper in 1 at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, California

  • 1939 SN Behrman's "No Time for Comedy" premieres in NYC
  • 1941 British troop land in Iraq
  • 1941 Egyptian steamer SS Zamzam attacked and later scuttled by German cruiser Atlantis (all on board rescued)
  • 1941 US Office of Price Administration forms (handled rationing)
  • 1941 World War II: The Kingdom of Yugoslavia surrenders to Germany.
  • 1942 12 Lancasters bomb MAN factory in Augsburg
  • 1942 Operations begin to destroy Sobibor Concentration Camp
  • 1942 POW French General Henri Giraud escapes from his castle prison in Festung Königstein

Event of Interest

1943 Marshal Admiral Yamamoto flies from Truk to Rabaul

  • 1943 SS General Jürgen Stroop arrives in Warsaw
  • 1944 48th Boston Marathon won by Gerard Cote of Canada in 2:31:50.4; second straight victory; 3rd of 4 titles
  • 1945 8th Air Force bombs Dresden

Event of Interest

1945 Benito Mussolini flees from Salò to Milan

  • 1945 German occupiers flood Wieringermeer, Netherlands
  • 1945 US troops land in central Mindanao, Philippines during Battle of Mindanao
  • 1946 Syria declares independence from French administration

Sports History

1947 Jackie Robinson bunts for his 1st major league hit

Event of Interest

1948 Elpidio Quirino assumes the Presidency of the Philippines, taking his oath of office two days after the death of President Manuel Roxas

  • 1950 54th Boston Marathon won by Kee Yong Ham of South Korea in 2:32:39

Sports History

1951 NY Yankee Mickey Mantle's 1st game, he goes 1 for 4

  • 1953 Mickey Mantle hits a 565' (172 m) HR in Washington, D.C.'s Griffith Stadium
  • 1956 Bulgaria premier Valko Chervenkov resigns
  • 1956 Premium Savings Bonds introduced in Great Britain
  • 1956 USSR's Cominform (Parliament) dissolves
  • 1956 Willie Mosconi sinks 150 consecutive balls in a billiard tournament

Event of Interest

1958 Brussels World Fair opens in Belgium, with a model by chemist Rosalind Franklin who had died of cancer the day before

  • 1960 American Samoa sets up a constitutional government

Baseball Trade

1960 MLB Cleveland Indians trade reigning home run champion Rocky Colavito to Detroit Tigers for reigning AL batting champion Harvey Kuenn; fans are unhappy

Event of Interest

1961 1,400 Cuban exiles land in Bay of Pigs in a doomed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro

Academy Awards

1961 33rd Academy Awards: "Apartment" wins best film, Burt Lancaster & Elizabeth Taylor win best actor, actress

  • 1961 65th Boston Marathon won by Eino Oksanen of Finland in 2:23:39; his 2nd event title

Film & TV History

1961 Jimmy Stewart accepts an honorary Oscar on behalf of his friend Gary Cooper, who is too ill to attend

  • 1964 1st game at Shea Stadium, NY Mets lose to Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3
  • 1964 Albert Hague and Marty Brill's musical "Cafe Crown", starring Theodore Bikel, opens at Martin Beck Theater, NYC; runs for 3 performances
  • 1964 Ford Mustang formally introduced ($2,368 base)
  • 1964 Jerrie Mock becomes 1st woman to fly solo around the world
  • 1966 100th international soccer match between Netherlands and Belgium (3-1)
  • 1967 71st Boston Marathon: Dave McKenzie of New Zealand wins in 2:15:45; American Bobbi Gibb 1st woman for 2nd straight year in 3:27:17 (unsanctioned)

Sports History

1967 Italian boxer Nino Benvenuti beats American Emile Griffith in a 15 round points decision to win world middleweight crown at Madison Square Garden; start of famous trilogy of fights between the pair

  • 1967 Shortwave Radio NY Worldwide goes back on the air after a week off
  • 1967 Surveyor 3 launched; soft lands on Moon, April 20
  • 1968 A's 1st game in Oakland-Alameda Stadium, lose 4-1 to Baltimore Orioles

Musical Finale

1968 Betty Comden & Adolph Green and Jule Styne's musical "Fade Out-Fade In", featuring Carol Burnett, Dick Shawn, and Tina Louise, closes at Mark Hellinger Theater NYC after 271 performances

Event of Interest

1969 Alexander Dubček forced to resign as first secretary of Czechoslovakia's Communist Party

  • 1969 Mont Expos Bill Stoneman no-hits Phillies, 7-0
  • 1969 People's Democracy activist Bernadette Devlin becomes the youngest woman Member of Parliament ever elected to Westminster at 21 years old
  • 1969 The Band (formerly The Hawks), perform their 1st concert, at Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, California
  • 1970 Apollo 13 limps back safely, Beech-built oxygen tank no help


1970 Paul McCartney releases his 1st solo album "McCartney"

  • 1971 Egypt, Libya & Syria form federation (FAR)
  • 1972 76th Boston Marathon: Olavi Suomalainen of Finland wins men's race in 2:15:39; American Nina Kuscsik takes inaugural women's title in 3:10:26; first year women's race officially sanctioned
  • 1972 Kiteman attempting to throw out 1st ball in Phillie Vet crashes into centerfield seats
  • 1972 Revised Dutch constitution proclaimed
  • 1973 German counter-terrorist unit GSG 9 founded
  • 1974 Bundy victim Susan Rancourt disappears from CWU, Ellensburg, Washington
  • 1974 Muslim fundamentalists assault military academy in Heliopolis, Egypt
  • 1975 The Khmer Rouge captures Phnom Penh, Cambodia marking the end of the Cambodian Civil war (Kampuchea National Day)

Sports History

1976 Australian tennis star Evonne Goolagong Cawley wins her second WTA Tour Championship at the Los Angeles Sports Arena; beats Chris Evert 6–3, 5–7, 6–3

Baseball Record

1976 NL greatest comeback: trailing 12-1, Philadelphia Phillies beat Chicago Cubs, 18-16 in 10 innings at Wrigley Field; Mike Schmidt hits 4 consecutive HRs

  • 1977 "I Love My Wife" opens at Barrymore Theater NYC for 864 performances
  • 1977 Christian-democrats win Belgium parliamentary election
  • 1978 63,500,000 shares traded on NY stock exchange (record)
  • 1978 82nd Boston Marathon: US double; Bill Rodgers wins his 2nd men's title in 2:10:13; Gayle Barron women's champion in 2:44:52

Event of Interest

1978 Pulitzer prize awarded to Carl Sagan for "Dragons of Eden"

  • 1979 Brian Clark's stage drama "Whose Life is it Anyway?" starring Tom Conti and Phillip Bosco, and directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, opens at the Trafalgar Theatre, NYC; runs for 223 performances, winning Conti a Tony Award
  • 1979 Four Royal Ulster Constabulary officers are killed by a Provisional Irish Republican Army van bomb in Bessbrook, County Armagh; the bomb is believed to be the largest PIRA bomb used up to that point

Music History

1981 Carl Gottlieb's movie "Caveman", starring Ringo Starr, Shelley Long, Barbara Bach, Dennis Quaid, Jack Gilford, and John Matuszak premieres

  • 1981 New York Islander Dennis Potvin's 3 playoff power-play goals vs Edmonton Oilers tie NHL record
  • 1981 Ranger's Anders Hedberg is 2nd to score on a Stanley Cup penalty shot

Event of Interest

1982 Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth II sign 'Proclamation of the Constitution Act', establishes Charter of Rights and Freedoms as part of the country’s new Constitution

Music History

1982 Country music legend Johnny Cash hosts Saturday Night Live, participates in skits, performs medley of hits; Elton John is additional musical guest

  • 1982 US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
  • 1983 1st National Coin Week begins
  • 1983 Grete Waltz runs female world record marathon (2:25:29)
  • 1983 In Warsaw, police route 1,000 Solidarity supporters
  • 1983 India entered space age launching SLV-3 rocket

Baseball Record

1983 Nolan Ryan strikes out his 3,500th batter

  • 1983 NY Islanders tie NHL record with 3 shorthanded playoff goals vs NY Rangers
  • 1984 Braves pitcher Pascual Perez suspended due to cocaine usage
  • 1984 During Libyan Embassy demonstration in London, British police officer Yvonne Fletcher shot dead
  • 1986 Netherlands & Scilly Islands sign peace treaty (war of 1651)
  • 1986 Pulitzer prize awarded to Larry McMurtry for "Lonesome Dove"

Sports History

1987 Julius Erving becomes 3rd NBA (and ABA) player to score 30,000 points

  • 1987 Richard Wilbur appointed as American poet laureate
  • 1987 USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
  • 1988 Ethiopian Belayneh Densimo runs world record marathon (2:06:50)
  • 1989 93rd Boston Marathon: Abebe Mekonen of Ethiopia takes men's race in 2:09:06; Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway wins her 2nd women's title in 2:24:33
  • 1989 Maximum NY State unemployment benefits raised to $245 per week
  • 1989 Polish labor union granted legal status
  • 1989 Soviet-US agreement allows Soviets to fight US pros
  • 1990 Gas explosion on passenger train in Kumrahar India, 80 die
  • 1991 Dow Jones closes above 3,000 for 1st time (3,004.46)
  • 1991 Railroad workers go on strike in US
  • 1993 STS-56 (Discovery) lands

Rodney King Riots

1993 Two Los Angeles police officers convicted in federal court of violating Rodney King's civil rights and sentenced to prison, while two others are acquitted,

  • 1994 "Little More Magic" closes at Belasco Theater NYC after 30 performances
  • 1994 "Twilight - Los Angeles 1992" opens at Cort Theater NYC for 72 performances
  • 1994 Aruba government of Oduber falls

Senior PGA Championship

1994 Senior PGA Championship, PGA National GC: Lee Trevino beats Jim Colbert by 1 stroke for his second title in the event

  • 1995 99th Boston Marathon: Cosmas Ndeti of Kenya claims 3rd straight title in 2:09:22; Uta Pippig of Germany wins 2nd consecutive women's event in 2:25:11
  • 1997 John Bell aged 115 receives a new pacemaker

Sports History

1997 NJ Devil Martin Brodeur is 2nd NHL goalie to score in a playoff game

  • 1999 NFL Draft: University of Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch first pick by Cleveland Browns

Music Concert

1999 Rock for the Rainforest benefit concert held at Carnegie Hall, NYC; performers include: Sting, Elton John, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Don Henley, Ricky Martin and Charles Aznavour

  • 2000 104th Boston Marathon: Kenyan double; Elijah Lagat wins men's race in 2:09:47; Catherine Ndereba takes women's title in 2:26:11

Event of Interest

2001 A letter between Gale Norton and Jeb Bush is released, stating that the Bush administration has decided to go ahead with plans to auction 6 million acres of potentially oil-and-gas-rich seabed in the Gulf of Mexico

  • 2002 Four Canadian Forces soldiers are killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire from two United States Air Force F-16s, the first deaths in a combat zone for Canada since the Korean War
  • 2005 51st British Academy Television Awards: "Little Britain" Best Comedy, "Sex Traffic" Best Drama
  • 2006 110th Boston Marathon: Kenyan double; Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot wins 2nd men's title in 2:07:14; Rita Jeptoo takes women's title in 2:23:38

Helen Clark Appointed to Head UNDP

2009 Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark becomes the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the first woman to lead the organization

Game of Thrones

2011 "Game of Thrones", based on the fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin premieres on HBO


2011 "Thor", directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, premieres in Sydney, Australia

St. Cuthbert Gospel

2012 The 8th century St. Cuthbert Gospel, Europe's oldest intact book, is purchased by the British Library for 9 million pounds

  • 2013 15 people are killed and 100 are injured after a fertilizer plant explodes in West, Texas
  • 2013 5 people are killed in Wana, Pakistan, by a United States drone attack
  • 2013 North Korea blocks a South Korean supply delegation from the Kaesong joint industrial zone
  • 2013 Same-sex marriage is legalized in New Zealand

Event of Interest

2014 Abdelaziz Bouteflika wins a fourth term as President of Algeria

Music Concert

2014 Rock for the Rainforest benefit concert held at Carnegie Hall, NYC; performers include: Sting, Elton John, James Taylor, Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, Bruno Mars, Jennifer Hudson, and Bryn Terfel

Music History

2015 American jazz composer and saxophonist John Coltrane is awarded a posthumous Special Citation by the Pulitzer Prize board

  • 2015 James Anderson becomes the highest wicket-taking bowler in England's test cricket history
  • 2015 Marianne Winkler finds "message in a bottle" on the shore of the German island of Amrum; it had been dropped in the North Sea by British marine scientist George Parker Bidder on November 30th, 1906, making its length of time spent adrift 108 years, 138 days
  • 2017 121st Boston Marathon: Kenyan double; Geoffrey Kirui takes men's title in 2:09:37; Edna Kiplagat women's champion in 2:21:52
  • 2017 1st living giant shipworm at 3 ft found in the Philippines, really a type of clam

Historic Publication

2018 Former F.B.I. director James Comey publishes his political autobiography “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership”

  • 2018 Protests across India at the rape and murder of an 8-year old Muslim girl in Kathua, Bengalu
  • 2019 10 babies with "bubble boy disease" cured using a gene therapy made from HIV at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, according to new study


2019 Beyoncé releases a live album of her 2018 Coachella performance on the same day as her Netflix documentary "Homecoming"

  • 2019 Research showing pigs brains partially brought back to life at Yale University, published in "Nature"
  • 2019 Terror alert closes schools in Denver, Colorado, due to 18 year-old woman obsessed with Columbine massacre, who is then found dead
  • 2020 WHO warns Africa could be next epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 300,000 deaths, pushing 30 million into poverty as it records nearly 1000 deaths and 19,000 cases to date
  • 2021 Canada registers more new daily COVID-19 cases than the US for the first time as infections surge in Ontario [1]

COVID-19 Pandemic

2021 Funeral of Prince Philip, consort to Queen Elizabeth II, held under COVID-19 restrictions at Windsor Palace, England

  • 2021 Global COVID-19 death toll passes three million (Johns Hopkins University figures)
  • 2021 San Jose Sharks forward Patrick Marleau ties Gordie Howe's NHL record for most regular season games played at 1,767

Film & TV History

2022 Alex Jones' companies including website Infowars, file for bankruptcy in the US after losing defamation suits filed by families of the Sandy Hook Massacre (which he called a hoax)

  • 2023 New Research shows the Great Pacific Garbage Patch now has coast creatures living and breeding in it, including jellyfish, sponges and worms raising concerns about the spread of invasive species [1]