Deaths in History on May 20

  • 685 King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (b. 645)
  • 1277 John XXI [Petrus Juliani/Hispanus], Portuguese Pope (1276-77), dies. (b. 1215)
  • 1285 John II of Jerusalem, King of Cyprus (b. 1259)
  • 1444 Bernardino of Siena, Italian priest and Franciscan missionary, dies at 63
  • 1449 Peter, Duke of Coimbra and writer (Virtuosa Benfeitoria), dies at 56
  • 1503 Lorenzo de Medici, Italian patron (b. 1463)

Christopher ColumbusChristopher Columbus (1451-1506)

Italian explorer and navigator who discovered the "New World" for Spain and initiated European colonization, dies around the age of 54

  • 1509 Catharina Sforza, Italian duchess of Forli, dies at 45
  • 1550 Ashikaga Yoshiharu, Japanese shogun (b. 1510)
  • 1597 Dutch commander Matthijs Heldt, dies in battle
  • 1622 Osman II, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1618-22), dies at 17
  • 1648 Władysław IV Vasa, King of Poland (1632-48), dies of kidney stones at 52
  • 1669 Joris van der Hagen, landscape painter, dies
  • 1677 George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol, English statesman (b. 1612)
  • 1713 Thomas Sprat, English writer (b. 1635)
  • 1717 John Trevor, British statesman (b. 1637)
  • 1722 Sébastien Vaillant, French botanist, dies at 52
  • 1732 Thomas Boston, Scottish church leader (b. 1676)
  • 1782 William Emerson, British mathematician (b. 1701)
  • 1793 Charles Bonnet, Swiss naturalist and writer, dies at 73
  • 1795 Ignác Martinovics, Hungarian physicist/revolutionary, beheaded
  • 1825 Papaflessas, Greek priest and government official (b. 1788)
  • 1834 Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert de Motier, nobleman, dies

Marquis de LafayetteMarquis de Lafayette (1757-1834)

American patriot and French revolutionary, dies at 76

  • 1841 Joseph Blanco White, theological writert, dies
  • 1847 Mary Lamb, British writer (Tales from Shakespeare), dies at 82
  • 1864 John Clare, English poet (Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery), dies at 70
  • 1873 Sir George-Étienne Cartier, French Canadian statesman (b. 1814)
  • 1875 Amalia of Oldenburg, Queen of Greece, German born consort of King Otto of Greece, dies at 58
  • 1876 Harold, grandson of English queen Victoria, dies at 8 days old
  • 1876 Khristo Botev, Bulgarian poet, dies
  • 1880 Eugene LFC prince the Ligne, Belgian prince of Ambise, dies at 76
  • 1883 William Chambers, Scottish author and publisher (Basis of Communication & Coding), dies at 83
  • 1917 Philipp von Ferrary, Italian philatelist (compiled world's most complete stamp collection), dies at 67
  • 1917 Valentine Fleming, Scottish politician (b. 1887)
  • 1923 Hans Goldschmidt, German chemist, dies
  • 1932 Bipin Chandra Pal, Indian nationalist and freedom fighter, dies at 73
  • 1935 Ivans [Jacob van Schevichaven], Dutch lawyer and detective writer, dies at 68
  • 1940 Joris van Severen, Flemish politician and founder of the Alliance of Dietsche National Solidarists, dies at 45
  • 1940 Verner von Heidenstam, Swedish poet and novelist (Charles Men, Nobel 1916), dies at 80
  • 1942 Hector Guimard, French Art Nouveau architect and designer (entrances to Paris Metros),
  • 1946 Jacob Ellehammer, Danish watchmaker and inventor (powered flight), dies at 74
  • 1947 Philipp Lenard, Austrian physicist (Nobel 1905), dies at 84
  • 1949 Randolph West, American biochemist, known for the Dakin-West reaction (b. 1890)
  • 1956 Max Beerbohm, English caricaturist, writer and parodist (Saturday Review), dies at 83
  • 1959 Alfred Schütz, Austrian-American architect and philosopher, dies at 60
  • 1961 Josef "Pips" Priller, German fighter ace (b. 1915)
  • 1961 Nannie Helen Burroughs, American educator and civil rights activist (founded National Training School for Women and Girls), dies at 82
  • 1968 Kees van Dongen, Dutch-French painter (Fauves style), dies at 91
  • 1971 Waldo Williams, Welsh poet (b. 1904)
  • 1972 Cornelis Jakob van der Klauw, Dutch biologist and zoologist, dies at 78
  • 1975 Dame Barbara Hepworth, English sculptor, dies in fire at 72
  • 1976 Zelmar Michelini, Uruguayan politician, member of the Christian-Democrat party, and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz "disappeared"
  • 1986 Willem Pee, Belgian linguist, dies at 83
  • 1989 Erzsébet Galgoczi, Hungarian writer, dies at 58
  • 1989 John R. Hicks, English economist (Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences 1972), dies at 85
  • 1992 Roger Keith Coleman, American murder who protested his innocence, is executed at 33
  • 1993 Max Klein, inventor (paint by numbers), dies at 77
  • 1994 Dallas Pratt, American collector (The American Museum in Britain), dies at 79
  • 1994 Vivien John, English painter and daughter of Augustus John, dies at 79
  • 1996 George Malcolm Thomson, British journalist, dies at 96
  • 1996 Janaki Ramachandran, Indian politician, Chief Minister of Indian state of Tamil Nadu (1988), dies at 72
  • 1996 Julius Marmur, American biochemist and geneticist (DNA research), dies at 70
  • 1996 Lewis B Combs, American civil engineer and US Navy officer (1917-45), founding member and commander of the "Seabees", dies at 101
  • 1997 Virgilio Boat, president of Colombia (1986-90), dies
  • 1999 Robert Rhodes James, British politician historian (Gallipoli), dies at 66

Stephen Jay GouldStephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)

American paleontologist and popular science writer, dies of cancer at 60

  • 2004 Lord Murray of Epping Forest, British labour politician and union leader, dies of emphysema and pneumonia at 82
  • 2005 Paul Ricoeur, French philosopher (b. 1913)
  • 2005 William Seawell, United States Army Brigadier General (b. 1918)
  • 2007 Stanley Miller, American chemist (created 'primordial soup' experiment to show how life might have originated on earth), dies at 77
  • 2008 Ali Sadikin, Indonesian politician and governor of Jakarta (1966-77), dies at 79
  • 2008 Hamilton Jordan, former Carter White House Chief of Staff (b. 1944)
  • 2009 Arthur Erickson, Canadian architect (b.1924)
  • 2012 Abdel Basset Ali Al-Megrahi, convicted bomber (Pan Am 103), dies from prostate cancer at 60
  • 2015 Brian Cubbon, British senior civil servant, dies at 87
  • 2020 Howard Curtis Nielson, American politician (Rep-R-UT, 1983-91), dies at 95