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|<<||Selected anniversaries for May||>>|
|An archive of historical anniversaries that appeared on the Main Page|
2021 day arrangement
- 1707 – Under the terms of the Acts of Union, the Kingdoms of England and Scotland merged to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, with a single parliament and government based in Westminster.
- 1941 – Citizen Kane (scene pictured), a widely acclaimed film by actor and director Orson Welles, premiered.
- 1991 – In Major League Baseball, Rickey Henderson broke the record for stolen bases on the same night that Nolan Ryan broke his own record for no-hitters.
- 2016 – The evacuation of nearly 88,000 people began when a wildfire swept through Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, and burned for another 14 months, becoming the costliest disaster in Canadian history.
- 1559 – Presbyterian clergyman John Knox (pictured) returned from exile to lead the Scottish Reformation.
- 1863 – American Civil War: Confederate general Stonewall Jackson was wounded by friendly fire during the Battle of Chancellorsville, leading to his death by pneumonia eight days later.
- 1964 – Vietnam War: An explosion caused by Viet Cong commandos led USNS Card to sink in the port of Saigon.
- 1999 – Mireya Moscoso became the first woman to be elected President of Panama.
- 2011 – Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 in a private residential compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
- 1491 – Nkuwu Nzinga, the ruler of the Kingdom of Kongo, was baptised as João I by Portuguese missionaries.
- 1848 – The Benty Grange helmet (pictured), a boar-crested Anglo-Saxon helmet similar to those mentioned in the contemporary epic poem Beowulf, was discovered in Derbyshire, England.
- 1921 – Under the British Government of Ireland Act, Ireland was partitioned into two self-governing territories, Northern and Southern Ireland.
- 1963 – Police in Birmingham, Alabama, used high-pressure water hoses and dogs against civil-rights protesters, bringing scrutiny on racial segregation in the southern United States.
- 1971 – Erich Honecker became First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the governing party of East Germany.
- 1436 – Swedish nobleman Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson was assassinated while leading a rebellion against Eric of Pomerania.
- 1780 – The first running of the Epsom Derby horse race took place, won by Diomed, owned by Sir Charles Bunbury.
- 1942 – World War II: The Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Allied naval forces at the Battle of the Coral Sea, the first fleet action in which aircraft carriers engaged each other.
- 1974 – An all-female Japanese team reached the summit of Manaslu (pictured) in the Himalayas, becoming the first women to climb a peak higher than 8,000 metres (26,247 ft) above sea level.
- 1654 – Cromwell's Act of Grace, which pardoned the people of Scotland for any crimes committed during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, was proclaimed in Edinburgh.
- 1936 – Second Italo-Ethiopian War: Italian troops captured the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa unopposed.
- 1961 – Project Mercury: American astronaut Alan Shepard (pictured) made a sub-orbital spaceflight on board Freedom 7, becoming the second person to travel into outer space.
- 1981 – After a 66-day hunger strike, Irish republican Bobby Sands died of starvation in HM Prison Maze.
- 1991 – Riots broke out in Washington, D.C., after a rookie police officer shot a Salvadoran man in the chest.
- 1757 – English poet Christopher Smart was admitted to St Luke's Hospital for Lunatics in London, beginning his six-year confinement to mental asylums.
- 1782 – Construction began on the Grand Palace (pictured) in Bangkok, the official residence of the king of Thailand.
- 1882 – Irish civil servants Thomas Henry Burke and Lord Frederick Cavendish were stabbed to death by members of the radical Irish National Invincibles in Phoenix Park, Dublin.
- 1941 – American entertainer Bob Hope performed his first show with the United Service Organizations, beginning a 50-year involvement with them.
- 1991 – Time magazine published the article "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power" by Richard Behar criticizing the Church of Scientology, leading to years of legal conflict.
- 1685 – Great Turkish War: Ottoman forces defeated Venetian irregulars at the Battle on Vrtijeljka.
- 1895 – Alexander Stepanovich Popov (pictured) presented his lightning detector, one of the first radio receivers in the world, to the Russian Physical and Chemical Society.
- 1931 – New York City police engaged in a two-hour-long shootout with Francis Crowley, witnessed by 15,000 bystanders, before he finally surrendered.
- 1946 – Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita founded the telecommunications corporation Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo, later renamed Sony.
- 2009 – Police in Napier, New Zealand, began a 40-hour siege of the home of a former New Zealand Army member who had shot at officers during the routine execution of a search warrant.
- 1821 – Greek War of Independence: At the Battle of Gravia Inn, a 120-man Greek force led by Odysseas Androutsos repulsed an Ottoman army of 8,000 soldiers.
- 1842 – A train derailed and caught fire (depicted) near Versailles, France, killing at least 52 people.
- 1957 – South Vietnamese president Ngô Đình Diệm began a state visit to the United States, his regime's main sponsor.
- 1972 – Four members of Black September hijacked Sabena Flight 571 to demand the release of 315 convicted Palestinian terrorists.
- 1987 – A British Special Air Service unit ambushed a Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit in Loughgall, Northern Ireland, killing eight IRA members and one civilian.
- 1877 – An earthquake struck northern Chile, leading to the death of 2,385 people, mostly victims of the ensuing tsunami, as far away as Hawaii and Fiji.
- 1901 – The first Parliament of Australia opened (depicted) in the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne, exactly 26 years before it moved to Canberra's Provisional Parliament House, and exactly 87 years before it moved into the Parliament House in Canberra.
- 1961 – In a speech to U.S. broadcasters, FCC chairman Newton Minow described commercial television programming as "a vast wasteland".
- 2001 – Police at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra, Ghana, fired tear gas to quell unrest at a football match, leading to a stampede that killed 126 people.
- 1849 – A personal dispute between actors Edwin Forrest and William Macready in New York City devolved into a riot that left at least 22 dead and more than 120 injured.
- 1916 – Ernest Shackleton and five companions arrived at South Georgia, completing a 1,300 km (800 mi) lifeboat voyage (launch pictured) over 16 days to obtain rescue for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
- 1941 – World War II: German Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess parachuted into Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the British government.
- 1997 – An earthquake registering 7.3 Mw struck near Qaen, Iran, killing at least 1,567 and leaving around 50,000 others homeless.
- 2005 – Vladimir Arutyunian attempted to assassinate U.S. president George W. Bush and Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili in Tbilisi using a hand grenade, which failed to detonate.
- 868 – A copy of the Diamond Sutra was printed in Tang-dynasty China, making it the world's oldest dated printed book.
- 1867 – The major powers of Europe signed the Treaty of London to resolve a crisis over the political status of Luxembourg between France and Prussia.
- 1894 – In response to a 28-percent wage cut, 4,000 Pullman Palace Car Company workers went on strike in Illinois, bringing rail traffic west of Chicago to a halt.
- 1981 – Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats (performers pictured), the first megamusical, opened at the New London Theatre to become an unprecedented commercial success.
- 1998 – India began the Pokhran-II nuclear-weapons test, its first since the Smiling Buddha test 24 years earlier.
- 1588 – Catholic Parisians under Henry I, Duke of Guise, protested the moderate policies of Henry III.
- 1881 – Under threat of invasion, Muhammad III as-Sadiq, Bey of Tunis, signed the Treaty of Bardo to make Tunisia a French protectorate.
- 1941 – German engineer Konrad Zuse presented the Z3 (replica pictured), the first working programmable and fully automatic computer, to an audience of scientists in Berlin.
- 2008 – An earthquake registering approximately 8.0 Ms struck the Chinese province of Sichuan, killing at least 69,000 people, injuring at least 374,000, and leaving at least 4.8 million others homeless.
- 1779 – Russian and French mediators negotiated the Treaty of Teschen to end the War of the Bavarian Succession.
- 1862 – American Civil War: Robert Smalls (pictured) escaped from slavery in Charleston, South Carolina, by commandeering the CSS Planter and sailing it from Confederate-controlled waters to the Union blockade.
- 1909 – The first edition of the Giro d'Italia, a long-distance multiple-stage bicycle race, began in Milan, with Italian professional road racing cyclist Luigi Ganna becoming the eventual winner.
- 1958 – Algerian War: A group of French military officers led a coup in Algiers, demanding the formation of a government of national unity headed by Charles de Gaulle to defend French control of Algeria.
- 2005 – Uzbek Interior Ministry and State Security Service troops fired at protesters in Andijan, killing between 187 and 1,500 people.
- 1796 – English physician Edward Jenner (portrait shown) inoculated eight-year-old James Phipps, testing his hypothesis that cowpox infection would protect a patient from smallpox.
- 1804 – Led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, the Corps of Discovery left Camp Dubois near present-day Hartford, Illinois, to begin the first overland expedition to the West Coast of the United States and back.
- 1940 – World War II: The bulk of Dutch forces surrendered to the German Wehrmacht, ending the Battle of the Netherlands.
- 1980 – Salvadoran Civil War: Refugees trying to flee El Salvador across the Sumpul River to Honduras were attacked by both Salvadoran and Honduran forces, resulting in at least 300 deaths.
- 1525 – Insurgent peasants led by preacher Thomas Müntzer were defeated at the Battle of Frankenhausen, ending the German Peasants' War.
- 1836 – English astronomer Francis Baily observed Baily's beads (example pictured), a phenomenon during a solar eclipse in which the rugged topography of the lunar limb allows sunlight to shine through.
- 1945 – The British Army directed fleeing Croatian soldiers to surrender to the Yugoslav Partisans, beginning the Bleiburg repatriations.
- 1970 – Police opened fire during a confrontation with a group of Jackson State College students, killing two students and injuring twelve others.
- 2010 – Upon her return to Sydney three days before her 17th birthday, Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail non-stop and unassisted around the world.
- 1811 – Peninsular War: Allied British, Spanish, and Portuguese forces clashed with French troops at the Battle of Albuera south of Badajoz, Spain.
- 1866 – The United States Congress authorized the minting of the Shield nickel, the country's first five-cent piece to be made of a copper–nickel alloy.
- 1943 – Second World War: The Royal Air Force's "Dambusters" squadron embarked on an attack on German dams using bouncing bombs designed by Barnes Wallis.
- 1960 – American physicist Theodore Maiman (pictured) operated the first working laser at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California.
- 2014 – At least 12 people were killed and 70 others injured when two bombs exploded in a market in Nairobi, Kenya.
- 1590 – Anne of Denmark was crowned queen consort of Scotland in a ceremony at Holyrood Abbey in Edinburgh.
- 1642 – The Société Notre-Dame de Montréal founded Fort Ville-Marie, a permanent mission that eventually grew into the Canadian city of Montreal.
- 1947 – After renegotiating a contract with the makers of her signature Chanel No. 5 perfume, Coco Chanel (pictured) received a share of wartime profits from its sale, making her one of the richest women in the world.
- 2000 – Following the killing of two English football fans by Galatasaray supporters in the previous month, British and Turkish hooligans rioted on the day of the UEFA Cup Final in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- 1388 – At the Battle of Buir Lake, a Ming Chinese army led by general Lan Yu defeated the forces of Tögüs Temür, the Mongol khan of Northern Yuan.
- 1926 – Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson was reportedly kidnapped near Venice Beach in Los Angeles before reappearing five weeks later in Mexico.
- 1944 – The Soviet Union forcibly deported hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars to the Uzbek SSR and elsewhere in the country.
- 1980 – Mount St. Helens explosively erupted (pictured), killing approximately 57 people in southern Washington state, reducing hundreds of square miles to wasteland, and causing more than US$1 billion in damage.
- 639 – Ashina Jiesheshuai of the Eastern Turkic Khaganate failed in an attempt to assassinate Emperor Taizong of the Chinese Tang dynasty and was killed by pursuers.
- 1776 – American Revolutionary War: A Continental Army garrison west of Montreal surrendered to British troops at the Battle of the Cedars.
- 1845 – Captain John Franklin (engraving shown) departed Greenhithe, England, on an expedition to the Canadian Arctic; all 129 men were later lost when their ships became icebound in Victoria Strait.
- 2015 – A corroded oil pipeline near Refugio State Beach, California, spilled 142,800 U.S. gallons (3,400 barrels) of crude oil onto one of the most biologically diverse coastlines of the U.S. West Coast.
- 685 – The Picts defeated the Northumbrians at the Battle of Dun Nechtain, severely weakening the latter's power in northern Great Britain.
- 1570 – The "first modern atlas", Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (world map pictured) by Abraham Ortelius, was published.
- 1741 – War of Jenkins' Ear: Having lost more than 9,500 men, mostly from yellow fever, British forces were forced to withdraw, ending the two-month-long Battle of Cartagena de Indias against Spain.
- 1882 – The Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy was formed.
- 1996 – In deciding Romer v. Evans, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an amendment in Colorado that prevented protected status under the law for homosexuals or bisexuals.
- 1403 – King Henry III of Castile sent an embassy to the Timurid court to discuss a potential alliance against the Ottoman Empire.
- 1703 – English writer Daniel Defoe was imprisoned for seditious libel after publishing a pamphlet that was perceived to satirise the Tories.
- 1851 – The Congress of Colombia passed a law abolishing slavery in the country, to take effect at the beginning of the new year.
- 1924 – University of Chicago students Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb (both pictured) murdered a 14-year-old boy in a thrill killing out of a desire to commit a "perfect crime".
- 1998 – Indonesian president Suharto resigned following the collapse of support for his presidency amid economic and political crises.
- Tommaso Campanella (d. 1639)
- Harriet Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland (b. 1806)
- Leonidas Vasilikopoulos (b. 1932)
- 1856 – U.S. representative Preston Brooks attacked Senator Charles Sumner in retaliation for a speech in which Sumner fiercely criticized slaveholders.
- 1897 – The first Blackwall Tunnel (construction pictured) under the River Thames was opened to improve commerce and trade in the East End of London.
- 1960 – The most powerful earthquake ever recorded, registering approximately 9.5 Mw, struck near Valdivia, Chile, generating tsunamis that reached Hawaii and Japan.
- 1980 – Location testing for Pac-Man, a Japanese arcade game that became an icon of 1980s popular culture, began in Shibuya, Tokyo.
- 2010 – Upon landing in Mangalore, Air India Express Flight 812 overshot the runway and fell down a hillside, killing 158 of the 166 people on board.
- 1430 – Hundred Years' War: Joan of Arc was captured by Burgundian forces at the Siege of Compiègne.
- 1533 – Thomas Cranmer (portrait shown), Archbishop of Canterbury, annulled Henry VIII's marriage to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, beginning a chain of events that would culminate in the English Reformation.
- 1934 – American criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed by police on a desolate road near their hideout in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
- 2008 – The International Court of Justice awarded the Middle Rocks to Malaysia and Pedra Branca to Singapore, resolving a 29-year-old territorial dispute in the Singapore Strait.
- 1667 – Led by King Louis XIV, the French army invaded the Spanish Netherlands, beginning the War of Devolution.
- 1873 – Patrick Francis Healy (pictured) became the first black president of a predominantly white university in the United States.
- 1930 – English aviator Amy Johnson landed in Darwin, becoming the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
- 1970 – On the Kola Peninsula in Russia, drilling began on the Kola Superdeep Borehole, which eventually reached a depth of 12,262 metres (40,230 ft), making it the deepest borehole ever drilled and the deepest artificial point on Earth.
- 2014 – A gunman who had links to radical Islamists opened fire at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, killing four people.
- 1787 – The Constitutional Convention (depicted) met in Philadelphia with the intention of revising the Articles of Confederation of the United States.
- 1810 – The Primera Junta, the first independent government in Argentina, was established in an open cabildo in Buenos Aires, marking the end of the May Revolution.
- 1878 – Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore opened at the Opera Comique in London.
- 1962 – The Baltimore Steam Packet Company, the last overnight steamboat service in the U.S., went out of business.
- 2012 – SpaceX's Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to rendezvous and berth with the International Space Station.
- 1328 – English friar William of Ockham, who popularised the methodological principle known as Occam's razor, secretly left Avignon under threat from Pope John XXII.
- 1822 – The deadliest fire in Norwegian history occurred at a church in Grue, killing at least 113 people.
- 1938 – The House Un-American Activities Committee was established to investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities by people or organizations in the U.S. suspected of having communist or fascist ties.
- 2002 – Barges being towed destroyed part of a bridge (aftermath pictured) near Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, causing 11 vehicles to fall into Robert S. Kerr Reservoir on the Arkansas River.
- 1199 – King John, who posthumously became known as one of the most reviled English monarchs, was crowned at Westminster Abbey.
- 1799 – War of the Second Coalition: Austrian forces defeated troops of the French Army of the Danube, capturing the strategically important Swiss town of Winterthur.
- 1917 – Pope Benedict XV promulgated the Pio-Benedictine Code, the first official comprehensive codification of Latin canon law.
- 1940 – World War II: Ninety-seven soldiers of the British Royal Norfolk Regiment were killed after surrendering to German forces.
- 1995 – American actor Christopher Reeve (pictured) was thrown from his horse, leaving him quadriplegic; he later became an activist on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries.
- 1802 – In an attempt to resist the reintroduction of slavery in Guadeloupe, Louis Delgrès (bust pictured) and hundreds of his followers blew themselves up, killing many French troops in the process.
- 1892 – Scottish-American preservationist John Muir founded the environmental organization Sierra Club in San Francisco, California.
- 1901 – Mozaffar ad-Din, the shah of Persia, granted exclusive rights to prospect for oil in the country to William Knox D'Arcy.
- 1987 – Mathias Rust, a West German aviator, flew his Cessna 172 from Helsinki, Finland, through Soviet air defences, landing illegally near Red Square in Moscow.
- 2010 – A train derailment and collision in the West Midnapore district of West Bengal, India, caused the deaths of at least 148 passengers.
- 1176 – Wars of the Guelphs and Ghibellines: Troops of the Lombard League defeated forces of the Holy Roman Empire near Legnano in present-day Italy.
- 1416 – A squadron of the Venetian navy captured many Ottoman ships at the Battle of Gallipoli, confirming Venetian naval superiority in the Aegean Sea for the next few decades.
- 1900 – N'Djamena (monument pictured), now the capital of Chad, was founded as Fort-Lamy by French commander Émile Gentil.
- 1954 – Diane Leather became the first woman to run a mile in less than five minutes.
- 1431 – Hundred Years' War: After being convicted of heresy, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen, France.
- 1899 – Pearl Hart, one of the few female outlaws of the American Old West, committed one of the last recorded stagecoach robberies, about 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Globe, Arizona.
- 1959 – The Auckland Harbour Bridge (pictured), spanning Waitematā Harbour between the Saint Marys Bay and Northcote suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand, officially opened.
- 2005 – American student Natalee Holloway disappeared while on a high-school graduation trip to Aruba.
- 1223 – Mongol invasion of Kievan Rus': Mongol forces defeated a combined Rus' army at the Kalka River in present-day Ukraine.
- 1775 – American Revolution: The Committee of Safety of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, adopted the Mecklenburg Resolves, which annulled and vacated all laws originating from the authority of the King or Parliament.
- 1902 – The Second Boer War came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging in Pretoria, South Africa.
- 1935 – An earthquake registering 7.7 Mw struck Balochistan in the British Raj, now part of Pakistan, killing between 30,000 and 60,000 people.
- 2005 – An article in the magazine Vanity Fair revealed that the secret informant known as "Deep Throat", who had provided information about the Watergate scandal, was former FBI associate director Mark Felt (pictured).