On This Day

Historical Events on May 20

  • 325 1st Christian ecumenical council opens at Nicaea, Asia Minor
  • 1217 Second Battle of Lincoln fought near Lincoln, England, resulting in the defeat of Prince Louis of France by William Marshal, 2nd Earl of Pembroke
  • 1293 Earthquake strikes Kamakura Japan, 30,000 killed
  • 1293 King Sancho IV of Castile creates the Study of General Schools of Alcalá
  • 1303 Treaty of Paris restores Gascony to the English and arranges marriage of English Prince Edward to French Princess Isabella
  • 1310 Shoes were made for both right & left feet
  • 1347 Rienzo calls Rome for people's tribunal
  • 1495 French King Charles VIII leaves Naples

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1498 Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrives at Calicut, India becoming the first European to reach India by sea

Explorer Vasco da Gama
Vasco da Gama
  • 1501 Joao da Nova Castell discovers Ascension Islands
  • 1521 Ignatius Loyola seriously wounded by a cannon ball
  • 1524 Duke of Albany leaves Scotland
  • 1571 Venice, Spain & Pope Pius form anti-Turkish Saint League

Book releaseHistoric Publication

1609 Shakespeare's Sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by publisher Thomas Thorpe

  • 1631 Magdeburg in Germany seized by forces of the Holy Roman Empire under earl Johann Tilly, most inhabitants massacred, one of the bloodiest incidents of the Thirty Years' War
  • 1639 Dorchester Massachusetts forms 1st school funded by local taxes

  • 1690 England passes Act of Grace, forgiving followers of James II
  • 1704 Elias Neau forms school for slaves in NY
  • 1734 1st Jockey Club forms in South Carolina
  • 1774 Britain gives Quebec, Labrador & territory north of Ohio
  • 1774 The British pass the second of the Intolerable Acts: the Massachusetts Government Act, giving British-appointed governor wide-ranging powers
  • 1775 Citizens of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina declare independence from Britain
  • 1784 Britain & Netherlands sign peace treaty (Peace of Paris)
  • 1825 Charles X becomes King of France
  • 1830 1st railroad timetable published in newspaper (Baltimore American)
  • 1830 D Hyde patents fountain pen
  • 1835 Otto is named the first modern king of Greece
  • 1840 York Minster badly damaged by fire
  • 1845 1st legislative assembly convenes in Hawaii
  • 1845 HMS Erebus and HMS Terror with 134 men under John Franklin sail from the River Thames in England, beginning a disastrous expedition to find the Northwest Passage. All hands are lost.
  • 1861 Cornerstone of University of Washington laid in Seattle
  • 1861 Kentucky proclaims its neutrality in Civil War
  • 1861 North Carolina becomes 11th and last state to secede from the Union
  • 1861 US Marshals, in search of secessionist evidence, seize the previous year's telegraph dispatches
  • 1862 US Homestead Act becomes law which provides cheap land for the settlement of the American West
  • 1864 Battle at Ware Bottom Church, Virginia, 1,400 killed or injured

  • 1864 Spotsylvania campaign in US Civil War ends after 10,920 killed or injured

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1867 British parliament rejects John Stuart Mills' proposals on women's suffrage

Philosopher and Political Economist John Stuart Mill
Philosopher and Political Economist
John Stuart Mill

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1867 Royal Albert Hall of Arts & Sciences foundation laid by Queen Victoria in London

Queen of the United Kingdom Queen Victoria
Queen of the United Kingdom
Queen Victoria
  • 1868 Republican National Convention, meets in Chicago, nominates Grant
  • 1870 Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament abolishes capital punishment in The Netherlands

InventionHistoric Invention

1873 Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patent the first blue jeans with copper rivets

Fashion Designer Levi Strauss
Fashion Designer
Levi Strauss
  • 1875 International Bureau of Weights & Measures forms by treaty
  • 1879 5th Kentucky Derby: Charlie Shauer aboard Lord Murphy wins in 2:37
  • 1882 Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy sign the Triple Alliance
  • 1882 Henrik Ibsen's "Ghosts" (Gengangere) premieres in Chicago
  • 1882 Gotthard rail tunnel between Switzerland & Italy opens

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1891 History of cinema: The first public display of Thomas Edison's prototype kinetoscope to members of the National Federation of Women's Club

Inventor Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
  • 1892 George Sampson patents clothes dryer
  • 1895 1st commercial movie performance (153 Broadway, NYC)
  • 1896 The six ton chandelier of the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris falls on the crowd resulting in the death of one and the injury of many others
  • 1897 British Open Men's Golf, Royal Liverpool GC: English amateur Harold Hilton wins 2nd Open title by 1 stroke from Scot James Braid
  • 1899 First speeding infraction by a New York cabbie driving an electric car - 12mph down Lexington Street
  • 1900 II Summer (Modern) Olympic Games open in Paris (last 5 months)
  • 1902 United States withdraws its troops from Cuba as the first Cuban president, Tomas Estrada Palma takes power
  • 1903 Britain's House of Commons begins a debate on the charges of poor administration and ill treatment of natives in Belgium's colony in the Congo Free State

Meeting of InterestNine Kings in One Room

1910 Funeral for Britain's King Edward VII held in Westminster Abbey, has one of the largest assemblages of European royalty
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Nine sovereigns of Europe meet at the funeral of Edward VII
Nine sovereigns of Europe meet at the funeral of Edward VII
  • 1911 Edwin Boaler Alletson hits 189 in 90 mins Notts v Sussex
  • 1913 38th Preakness: James Butwell aboard Buskin wins in 1:53.4
  • 1915 Bataafsche Petroleum Me begins oil extraction of Maracaibo
  • 1916 Codell, Kansas hit by tornado (also on same date in 1917 & 1918)
  • 1916 Saturday Evening Post cover features Norman Rockwell painting
  • 1917 Turkish government authorizes Jews to return to Tel Aviv & Jaffa
  • 1918 1st electrically propelled warship (New Mexico)
  • 1920 Policemen raid the Cubs' bleachers & arrest 24 fans for gambling
  • 1920 Mexican President Venustiano Carranza, under attack by American petroleum companies, faces an armed rebellion by right-wing Sonoro triumvirate after nationalizing subsoil rights
  • 1922 "Egypt" sinks off Ushant after colliding with "Seine" killing 90

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1922 Babe Ruth & Bob Meusel, suspended on October 16, 1921, by Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, return to the NY lineup & go hitless

Baseball Legend Babe Ruth
Baseball Legend
Babe Ruth
  • 1926 Belgian government of Jaspar takes power
  • 1926 Congress passes Air Commerce Act, licensing of pilots & planes
  • 1926 Railway Labor Act became law in USA
  • 1926 Thomas Edison says Americans prefer silent movies over talkies

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1927 At 7:40 AM, Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York to cross the Atlantic for Paris, aboard Spirit of St Louis (1st non-stop flight)

  • 1927 Saudi Arabia becomes independent of Great Britain in the Treaty of Jeddah
  • 1930 1st airplane catapulted from a dirigible, Charles Nicholson, pilot
  • 1930 University of California dedicates $1,500 to research on prevention & cure of athlete's foot

PlaneAmelia Earhart Flies Across the Atlantic

1932 Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland on her journey to become the 1st woman to fly solo and nonstop across the Atlantic
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Amelia Earhart not long after she landed in Ireland in 1932, becoming the first woman to fly non-stop solo across the Atlantic
Amelia Earhart not long after she landed in Ireland in 1932, becoming the first woman to fly non-stop solo across the Atlantic
  • 1932 Engelbert Dollfuss becomes chancellor of Austria
  • 1939 "3 Little Fishies" by Kay Kyser swam to #1
  • 1939 1st regular transatlantic airmail (Pan Am: NY to Marsseille France)
  • 1940 German General Guderian's tanks reach the English Channel (British expeditionary army)
  • 1940 Soccer team HZVV forms in Hoogeveen
  • 1940 Trailing 7-1 in 9th to Pitts, Phils win 8-7
  • 1941 Archer's "Christian Calendar & Gregorian Reform" published
  • 1941 Former Dutch PM Colijn says Neth Indies not ready for independence
  • 1941 Germany begins airbourne invasion of Crete
  • 1941 White Sox Taft Wright sets AL record of RBIs in 13 consecutive games
  • 1942 US Navy 1st permitted black recruits to serve
  • 1943 French, British and US victory parade in Tunis, Tunisia
  • 1944 US Communist Party dissolves
  • 1945 Keith Miller scores 105 in the 1st Victory Test Cricket at Lord's

  • 1946 Cubs Claude Passeau makes his 1st error since September 21, 1941, ending pitcher's fielding record of 273 consecutive errorless chances
  • 1948 Cleveland Indians tie AL record of 18 walks (beat Red Sox 13-4)
  • 1950 75th Preakness: Eddie Arcaro aboard Hill Prince wins in 1:59.2

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1954 Chiang Kai-shek becomes president of Nationalist China

Chinese Military and Political Leader Chiang Kai-shek
Chinese Military and Political Leader
Chiang Kai-shek
  • 1955 Argentine parliament accepts separation of church and state
  • 1956 Atomic fusion (thermonuclear) bomb dropped from plane at Bikini Atoll
  • 1956 Jordan government of Samir resigns
  • 1958 US performs nuclear test at Enwetak (atmospheric tests)
  • 1959 Ford wins battle with Chrysler to call its new car "Falcon"
  • 1959 Japanese-Americans regain their citizenship

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1959 Shah of Persia Mohammad Reza Pahlavi visits Netherlands

Last Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Last Shah of Iran
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
  • 1959 Yanks sink to last place, 1st time since May 25, 1940
  • 1960 Baseball game in Milwaukee postponed due to dense fog

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1960 13th Cannes Film Festival: "The Sweet Life" directed by Federico Fellini wins the Palme d'Or

Film director, Scriptwriter Federico Fellini
Film director, Scriptwriter
Federico Fellini
  • 1961 86th Preakness: Johnny Sellers aboard Carry Back wins in 1:57.6
  • 1961 Henzes opera "Elegy for Young Lovers," premieres in Schwetzingen
  • 1961 Mauritania adopts constitution
  • 1961 White mob attacks "Freedom Riders" in Montgomery, Alabama

AppointmentAppointment of Interest

1963 Sukarno appointed president of Indonesia

1st President of Indonesia Sukarno
1st President of Indonesia
  • 1964 Buster Mathis defeats Joe Fraizer to qualify for US Olympic team
  • 1965 Pakistani Boeing 720-B crashes at Cairo Egypt, killing 121
  • 1965 Yorkshire all out for 23 v Hampshire at Middlesbrough
  • 1966 19th Cannes Film Festival: "A Man and a Woman" directed by Claude Lelouch and "The Birds, the Bees and the Italians" directed by Pietro Germi jointly awarded the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film
  • 1967 10,000 demonstrate against war in Vietnam
  • 1967 92nd Preakness: Bill Shoemaker aboard Damascus wins in 1:55.2
  • 1967 BBC bans the Beatles' "A Day in the Life" because of drug references

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1968 Terence O'Neill, then Northern Ireland Prime Minister, is showered with eggs, flour and stones after a meeting of the Woodvale Unionist Association, a loyalist vigilante group

Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terence O'Neill
Northern Ireland Prime Minister
Terence O'Neill
  • 1969 US troop capture Hill 937/Hamburger Hill in Vietnam
  • 1970 100,000 march in NY supporting US policies in Vietnam
  • 1970 2 die and 70 injured when 2 NYC subway trains crash in Queens

  • 1970 Beatles' "Let it Be" movie premieres in UK
  • 1971 Pentagon reports blacks constitute 11% of US soldiers in SE Asia
  • 1972 "Different Times" closes at ANTA Theater NYC after 24 performances
  • 1972 "Hard Job Being God" closes at Edison Theater NYC after 6 performances
  • 1972 5th ABA Championship: Indiana Pacers beat NY Nets, 4 games to 2
  • 1972 97th Preakness: Eldon Nelson aboard Bee Bee Bee wins in 1:55.6
  • 1972 Republic of Cameroon declared as its constitution is ratified
  • 1973 "2 Gentlemen of Verona" closes at St James Theater NYC after 613 performances

Film tv awardsEmmy Awards

1973 25th Emmy Awards: Waltons, All in the Family & Mary Tyler Moore win

  • 1974 Soyuz 14 returns to Earth
  • 1976 USSR performs nuclear test at Sary Shagan USSR
  • 1978 103rd Preakness: Steve Cauthen wins aboard Affirmed for the 2nd-leg of the Triple Crown
  • 1978 3 PFLP members kill a police officer near El Al airlines in Orly Airport, Paris
  • 1978 US launches Pioneer Venus 1; produces 1st global radar map of Venus
  • 1979 "I Love My Wife" closes at Barrymore Theater NYC after 864 performances

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1979 Elton John is the 1st western pop star to tour USSR

Singer Elton John
Elton John
  • 1980 710 families in Love Canal area (Niagara Falls NY) are evacuated
  • 1980 Drummer Peter Criss quits rock band Kiss
  • 1980 Fire in nursing home in Kingston Jamaica, kills 157
  • 1980 In a referendum, 59.5% of Quebec voters reject separatism

Sport defeatBoxing Title Fight

1983 American heavyweight boxer Larry Holmes beats countryman Tim Witherspoon by split decision to retain his WBC title at the Dunes Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas

WBC Heavyweight Champion Larry Holmes
WBC Heavyweight Champion
Larry Holmes

Sport defeatBoxing Title Fight

1983 Michael Dokes & Mike Weaver fight to a draw in 15 for heavyweight boxing title

WBA World Heavyweight Champion Mike Weaver
WBA World Heavyweight Champion
Mike Weaver
  • 1983 Phillies Steve Carlton passes W Johnson with 2nd most strike outs
  • 1983 "Every Breath You Take" single released by The Police (Billboard Song of the Year 1983)
  • 1984 "On Your Toes" closes at Virginia Theater NYC after 505 performances

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1984 Boston's Roger Clemens beats Twins, 5-4, for his 1st victory

MLB Pitching Legend Roger Clemens
MLB Pitching Legend
Roger Clemens
  • 1985 Dow Jones industrial avg closes above 1300 for 1st time
  • 1985 FBI arrests John A Walker Jr, convicted of spying for USSR
  • 1985 Indians-Brewers game at Cleve Stadium is 1st rain-out of 1985, ends record string of 458 ML games since Opening Day without a rain-out
  • 1985 Larry Holmes beats Carl Williams in 15 for heavyweight boxing title

  • 1985 US began broadcasts to Cuba on Radio Marti
  • 1985 38th Cannes Film Festival: "When Father Was Away on Business" directed by Emir Kusturica wins the Palme d'Or
  • 1986 Christy Fichtner, 23, (Texas), crowned 35th Miss USA
  • 1986 Flintstones 25th Anniversary Celebration airs on CBS-tv
  • 1987 Wrestler Jerry Lawler sues WWF & Harley Race for trademark name "king"
  • 1988 Howard Stern fans disrupt WMMR's & John DeBella's "Louie Louie" parade

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1988 Mike Schmidt hits his 535th HR, moving into 8th place

MLB Third Baseman Mike Schmidt
MLB Third Baseman
Mike Schmidt
  • 1989 114th Preakness: Pat Valenzuela aboard Sunday Silence wins in 1:53.8
  • 1989 China declares martial law in Beijing

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1989 Toonces The Cat takes the wheel on "Saturday Night Live"

Actor Phil Hartman
Phil Hartman
Television Producer Lorne Michaels
Television Producer
Lorne Michaels
  • 1989 Walter McConnel, 57, is oldest to reach 27,000' Mt Everest top
  • 1990 "Truly Blessed" closes at Longacre Theater NYC after 33 performances
  • 1990 Hubble Space Telescope sends its 1st photographs from space

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1991 Chicago Bull Michael Jordan, named NBA's MVP

Basketball Superstar Michael Jordan
Basketball Superstar
Michael Jordan
  • 1991 Jeff Reardon gains his 300th career save
  • 1991 Soviet parliament approves law allowing citizens to travel abroad
  • 1991 44th Cannes Film Festival: "Barton Fink" directed by Ethan and Joel Coen wins the Palme d'Or
  • 1992 India launches its 1st satellite independently
  • 1992 Rap singer raps 597 syllables in under 60 seconds

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1992 At height of "Black May' political crisis in Thailand TV interview broadcast of King Bhumibol Adulyadej demanding Generals Suchinda and Chamlong work together

King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej
King of Thailand
Bhumibol Adulyadej
  • 1992 36th European Cup: Barcelona beats Sampdoria 1-0 at London
  • 1993 10m meteor comes within 150,000 km of Earth (1993KA)
  • 1993 274th & final "Cheers" episode on NBC
  • 1994 Bobcat Goldthwait charged with misdemeanors for fire on Tonight Show
  • 1994 Sushmita Sen from India is crowned the 43rd Miss Universe at 18 years old
  • 1994 Sony Theaters & Cineplex (NYC) hike movie ticket prices to $8.00
  • 1995 120th Preakness: Pat Day aboard Timber Coutry wins in 1:54.4
  • 1995 CBS News fires co-anchor Connie Chung
  • 1995 Twins Marty Cordova ties rookie record of HRs in 5 consecutive games
  • 1996 UN and Iraq agree to Resolution 986, which provides Iraq with the opportunity to sell $1 billion of oil for 90 days for a 180-day trial period; proceeds from the sale would be used for humanitarian purposes

  • 1996 49th Cannes Film Festival: "Secrets & Lies" directed by Mike Leigh wins the Palme d'Or
  • 1997 Cosmos Zenit-2 Launch (Russia), Failed
  • 1997 Thor-2A Delta 2 Launch (Norway/USA), Successful
  • 1997 White Sox Frank Thomas reaches base safely for 15th straight time

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1997 US President Clinton signs an executive order barring new US investment in Burma (also known as Myanmar), effective May 21 and renewable annually

42nd US President Bill Clinton
42nd US President
Bill Clinton
  • 1998 6th UEFA Champions League Final: Real Madrid beats Juventus 1-0 at Amsterdam
  • 2000 125th Preakness: Jerry Bailey aboard Red Bullet wins in 1:56.00
  • 2000 English FA Cup Final, Wembley Stadium, London (78,217): Chelsea beats Aston Villa, 1-0; Roberto Di Matteo scores 73' winner
  • 2002 The independence of East Timor is recognized by Portugal, formally ending 23 years of Indonesian rule and 3 years of provisional UN administration (Portugal itself was the former colonizer of East Timor until 1976)

Appears on tv showTelevision Debut

2003 The reality series "America's Next Top Model", created by Tyra Banks, debuts on UPN

Supwemodel & Actress Tyra Banks
Supwemodel & Actress
Tyra Banks
  • 2006 131st Preakness: Javier Castellano aboard Bernardini wins in 1:54.65
  • 2006 51st Eurovision Song Contest: Lordi for Finland wins singing "Hard Rock Hallelujah" in Athens
  • 2007 53rd British Academy Television Awards: "That Mitchell and Webb Look" Best Comedy, "The Street" Best Drama
  • 2009 Mexico is the first Latin American country to officially enter recession
  • 2012 6.0 magnitude earthquake kills 6 and injures dozens in northern Italy
  • 2012 Tomislav Nikolić elected president of Serbia

Music awardsMusic Awards

2012 20th Billboard Music Awards: Adele, 21 win

Singer-songwriter Adele
  • 2013 133 people are killed and 283 are injured in a continued wave of insurgency in Iraq
  • 2013 2 people are killed and 20 are injured after a hot air balloon crashes in Cappadocia, Turkey