On This Day

Events in History 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
  • 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

Event of interestEvent of Interest

1862 US President Abraham Lincoln signs into law the Homestead Act to provide cheap land for the settlement of the American West (80 million acres by 1900)

16th US President Abraham Lincoln
16th US President
Abraham Lincoln
  • 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
  • 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
  • 1892 George Sampson patents clothes dryer
  • 1899 First speeding infraction by a New York cabbie driving an electric car - 12mph down Lexington Street
  • 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
  • 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 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
  • 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

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

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 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 airborne invasion of Crete
  • 1942 US Navy 1st permitted black recruits to serve
  • 1943 French, British and US victory parade in Tunis, Tunisia
  • 1944 US Communist Party dissolves

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
  • 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
  • 1965 Pakistani Boeing 720-B crashes at Cairo Egypt, killing 121
  • 1965 Yorkshire all out for 23 v Hampshire at Middlesbrough
  • 1967 10,000 demonstrate against war in Vietnam

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
  • 1971 Pentagon reports blacks constitute 11% of US soldiers in SE Asia
  • 1972 Republic of Cameroon declared as its constitution is ratified
  • 1974 Soyuz 14 returns to Earth
  • 1976 USSR performs nuclear test at Sary Shagan USSR
  • 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
  • 1980 710 families in Love Canal area (Niagara Falls NY) are evacuated
  • 1980 Fire in nursing home in Kingston Jamaica, kills 157
  • 1980 In a referendum, 59.5% of Quebec voters reject separatism
  • 1985 Dow Jones industrial avg closes above 1300 for 1st time
  • 1985 FBI arrests John A Walker Jr, convicted of spying for USSR
  • 1985 US began broadcasts to Cuba on Radio Marti
  • 1988 Howard Stern fans disrupt WMMR's & John DeBella's "Louie Louie" parade
  • 1989 China declares martial law in Beijing
  • 1989 Walter McConnel, 57, is oldest to reach 27,000' Mt Everest top
  • 1990 Hubble Space Telescope sends its 1st photographs from space
  • 1991 Jeff Reardon gains his 300th career save
  • 1991 Soviet parliament approves law allowing citizens to travel abroad
  • 1992 India launches its 1st satellite independently

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
  • 1993 10m meteor comes within 150,000 km of Earth (1993KA)
  • 1994 Bobcat Goldthwait charged with misdemeanors for fire on The Tonight Show
  • 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
  • 1997 Cosmos Zenit-2 Launch (Russia), Failed
  • 1997 Thor-2A Delta 2 Launch (Norway/USA), Successful

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
  • 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)

  • 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
  • 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
  • 2013 The Church of Scotland votes to allow openly gay men and women to be ministers
  • 2013 Yahoo purchases Tumbler for $1.1 Billion
  • 2015 Journal Nature publishes findings of the oldest human-made tools from Kenya’s Turkana basin - 3.3 million years, 1st found to pre-date the Homo genus
  • 2015 5 major world banks (JPMorgan, Barclays, Citigroup, RBS and UBS) fined US$5.7bn for manipulating currency markets - some of the largest ever fines

Event of interestEvent of Interest

2017 US President Donald Trump begins his 1st foreign trip arriving in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

45th US President, Businessman and TV Personality Donald Trump
45th US President, Businessman and TV Personality
Donald Trump
  • 2018 Two cyclists attacked by a cougar, 1 dies, in North Bend, Washington State

Electoral defeatElection of Interest

2018 President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela wins a second term in an election marked by boycotts and acussations of vote rigging

President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro
President of Venezuela
Nicolás Maduro
  • 2019 Google stops support for Huawei's Android system in an escalation of the tech war between US and China
  • 2019 Bangladesh imposes a 65-day ban on coastal fishing to conserve fish stocks
  • 2020 WHO reports most new cases in a single day - 106,000 worldwide of coronavirus COVID-19
  • 2020 Cyclone Amphan comes ashore in West Bengal, East India and Bangladesh, with winds of 185 km per hour (115 mph) killing at least 84 people