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|<<||Selected anniversaries for May||>>|
|An archive of historical anniversaries that appeared on the Main Page|
2020 day arrangement
- 880 – The Nea Ekklesia church in Constantinople, on which many later cross-in-square Orthodox churches were based, was consecrated.
- 1169 – Norman mercenaries landed at Bannow Bay in Leinster, beginning the Norman invasion of Ireland.
- 1794 – War of the Pyrenees: France regained nearly all the land it lost to Spain the previous year with its victory in the Second Battle of Boulou.
- 1931 – New York City's Empire State Building (pictured), at the time the tallest building in the world, opened.
- 1994 – Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna, a three-time Formula One World Champion, was killed in a crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
- 1194 – King Richard I of England gave the city of Portsmouth its first Royal Charter.
- 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.
- 1945 – World War II: General Helmuth Weidling, commander of the German troops in Berlin, surrendered the city to Soviet forces led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, ending the Battle of Berlin.
- 1999 – Mireya Moscoso (pictured) became the first woman to be elected President of Panama.
- 2014 – Two mudslides in Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan, killed at least 350 people.
- 1791 – The Polish–Lithuanian Constitution of May 3, the oldest codified national constitution in Europe, was adopted by the Great Sejm.
- 1855 – American William Walker and a group of mercenaries sailed from San Francisco to conquer Nicaragua.
- 1939 – Subhas Chandra Bose formed the All India Forward Bloc of the Indian National Congress in opposition to Gandhi's tactics of nonviolence.
- 1971 – Erich Honecker (pictured) was elected First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, remaining in power until 1989.
- 1999 – A Doppler on Wheels team measured the fastest winds recorded on Earth (301 ± 20 mph, or 484 ± 32 km/h) in a tornado near Bridge Creek, Oklahoma, U.S.
- 1836 – The Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic fraternal organization, was founded in New York City.
- 1886 – During a peaceful labor rally in Chicago, an unknown assailant threw a bomb into a crowd of police, which resulted in the deaths of seven police officers and at least four bystanders.
- 1979 – Margaret Thatcher (pictured) became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, following the defeat of James Callaghan's incumbent Labour government in the previous day's general election.
- 2015 – The Parliament of Malta moved from the Grandmaster's Palace to the purpose-built Parliament House.
- 1654 – Cromwell's Act of Grace, which pardoned the people of Scotland for any crimes they may have committed during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, was proclaimed in Edinburgh.
- 1809 – Mary Dixon Kies became the first woman to receive a patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
- 1936 – Second Italo-Abyssinian War: Italian troops captured Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, unopposed.
- 1981 – After a sixty-six day hunger strike, Irish republican Bobby Sands died of starvation in HM Prison Maze.
- 1994 – American teenager Michael P. Fay was caned in Singapore for theft and vandalism, a punishment that the United States deemed to be excessive for a teenager committing a non-violent crime.
- 1536 – The army of Inca Emperor Manco Inca Yupanqui began a 10-month siege of Cusco against a garrison of Spanish conquistadors and Indian auxiliaries led by Hernando Pizarro.
- 1801 – French Revolutionary Wars: The outmanned and outgunned HMS Speedy captured the 32-gun Spanish frigate El Gamo.
- 1954 – At Oxford's Iffley Road Track, English runner Roger Bannister (pictured) became the first person to run the mile in under four minutes.
- 1991 – Time magazine published "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power", an article highly critical of Scientology, leading to years of legal conflict.
- 2013 – Amanda Berry escaped from the Cleveland, Ohio, home of her captor Ariel Castro having been held there with two other women for ten years.
- 1685 – Great Turkish War: Ottoman forces prevailed over Venetian irregulars in the Battle on Vrtijeljka.
- 1763 – Pontiac of the Odawa Native American tribe led an attempt to seize Fort Detroit from the British, marking the start of Pontiac's War.
- 1946 – Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita founded the Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corporation, which later changed its name to Sony (headquarters pictured).
- 1999 – During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, the United States bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
- 2009 – Police in Napier, New Zealand, began a 40-hour siege of the home of a former New Zealand Army member who shot at officers during the routine execution of a search warrant.
- 1842 – A train derailed and caught fire (pictured) in Paris, killing between 52 and 200 people.
- 1927 – French aviators Charles Nungesser and François Coli aboard the biplane L'Oiseau Blanc, attempting to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight, took off from Paris for New York, only to disappear before arrival.
- 1942 – World War II: The Axis launched a major counteroffensive, turning the tide of the Battle of the Kerch Peninsula.
- 1963 – In Huế, South Vietnam, soldiers opened fire into a crowd of Buddhists protesting against a government ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag on Vesākha, killing nine and sparking the Buddhist crisis.
- 1972 – Four members of Black September hijacked Sabena Flight 571 to demand the release of 315 convicted Palestinian terrorists.
- 1864 – Second Schleswig War: The Battle of Heligoland took place between Danish and Austro-Prussian fleets, the last naval battle fought by squadrons of wooden ships.
- 1877 – An 8.5 Ms earthquake struck northern Chile, resulting in the death of 2,385 people, mostly victims of the ensuing tsunami, as far away as Hawaii and Fiji.
- 1955 – Kermit the Frog, the first and most famous Muppet by Jim Henson (pictured), made his debut on the television show Sam and Friends.
- 1979 – Prominent Iranian Jew Habib Elghanian was executed after having been convicted by a revolutionary tribunal of various charges, triggering a mass exodus of Jews from Iran.
- 2001 – After a football match between Ghana's two most successful teams, police fired tear gas into the crowd to quell some unrest, causing a stampede that killed 126 people.
- 1824 – The National Gallery in London opened to the public, in the former townhouse of the collector John Julius Angerstein.
- 1837 – Banks in New York City suspended specie payments, triggering a seven-year recession in the United States.
- 1916 – Ernest Shackleton and five companions completed one of history's greatest small-boat journeys (launch pictured) when they arrived at South Georgia after sailing 800 miles (1,300 km) in a lifeboat.
- 1940 – British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigned and formally recommended Winston Churchill as his successor.
- 2005 – Armenian 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 (frontispiece pictured) was printed in China, making it the world's oldest dated complete printed book.
- 1745 – War of the Austrian Succession: French forces defeated those of the Pragmatic Allies at the Battle of Fontenoy in the Austrian Netherlands in present-day Belgium.
- 1889 – An attack upon a U.S. Army paymaster and escort resulted in the theft of over $28,000 and the award of two Medals of Honor.
- 1997 – Deep Blue became the first computer to win a match against a world chess champion, when it defeated Garry Kasparov in six games.
- 2013 – Two car bombs by unknown perpetrators exploded in Reyhanlı, Turkey, resulting in 52 killed and 140 injured.
- 1510 – Zhu Zhifan, the Prince of Anhua (in modern Shaanxi, China), began an unsuccessful rebellion against the reign of the Zhengde Emperor.
- 1863 – American Civil War: The Confederates were routed in the Battle of Raymond, a small battle that had an inordinately large impact on the Vicksburg Campaign.
- 1941 – German engineer Konrad Zuse presented the Z3 (replica pictured), the world's first working programmable, fully automatic computer, to an audience of scientists in Berlin.
- 1967 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience released the critically acclaimed and widely influential debut album Are You Experienced.
- 2006 – A cartoon that allegedly compared Iranian Azeris to cockroaches was published in a magazine, sparking riots throughout the country.
- 1779 – Russian and French mediators negotiated the Treaty of Teschen to end the War of the Bavarian Succession.
- 1861 – The Australian astronomer John Tebbutt discovered the Great Comet of 1861 (depicted), through the tail of which the Earth passed later that year.
- 1940 – Three days after becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill gave his "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" speech to the House of Commons.
- 1995 – Alison Hargreaves became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest without the aid of Sherpas or bottled oxygen.
- 2014 – The worst mining disaster in Turkish history took place when an explosion caused an underground mine fire at a coal mine in Soma, Manisa, leaving 301 people dead.
- 1264 – Second Barons' War: King Henry III was defeated at the Battle of Lewes and forced to sign the Mise of Lewes, making Simon de Montfort the de facto ruler of England.
- 1868 – Boshin War: Troops of the Tokugawa shogunate withdrew from the Battle of Utsunomiya Castle and retreated north towards Nikkō and Aizu.
- 1939 – In Lima, Peru, Lina Medina became the youngest confirmed mother in history, giving birth at the age of five years, seven months and twenty-one days.
- 1973 – The NASA space station Skylab (pictured) was launched from Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral, Florida.
- 1980 – Salvadoran Civil War: Refugees trying to flee El Salvador were attacked by both Salvadoran Armed Forces and the Honduran military, resulting in at least 300 deaths.
- 1836 – English astronomer Francis Baily first observed "Baily's beads", a phenomenon during a solar eclipse in which the rugged lunar limb topography allows beads of sunlight to shine through.
- 1869 – Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (both pictured) founded the National Woman Suffrage Association, breaking away from the American Equal Rights Association which they had also previously founded.
- 1904 – Russo-Japanese War: After striking several mines off Port Arthur, the Japanese battleships Hatsuse and Yashima sank.
- 1948 – One day after the Israeli Declaration of Independence, Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia invaded Israel to begin the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
- 2004 – Arsenal became the first football team in England's top flight to finish a season undefeated since Preston North End did so in 1888–1889.
- 1811 – Peninsular War: An allied force of British, Spanish, and Portuguese troops clashed with the French at the Battle of Albuera south of Badajoz, Spain.
- 1929 – The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held at The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles.
- 1960 – American physicist Theodore Maiman operated the first working laser (pictured) at the Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California.
- 1961 – The Military Revolution Committee, led by Park Chung-hee, carried out a bloodless coup against the government of Yun Posun, ending the Second Republic of South Korea.
- 1975 – Japanese climber Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
- 1395 – An outnumbered Wallachian army repulsed an Ottoman invasion force in the Battle of Rovine.
- 1865 – The International Telecommunication Union, an international organization that standardizes and regulates international radio and telecommunications, was founded as the International Telegraph Union in Paris.
- 1954 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing racial segregation in public schools because "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" and therefore unconstitutional.
- 1974 – The Troubles: The Ulster Volunteer Force detonated a series of car bombs in Dublin and Monaghan, Ireland, killing 34 people and injuring almost 300 more.
- 2009 – Dalia Grybauskaitė (pictured) became the first woman to be elected as President of Lithuania, receiving 69.1% of the vote.
May 18: Flag and Universities Day in Haiti; Day of Revival, Unity, and the Poetry of Magtymguly in Turkmenistan
- 1388 – During the Battle of Buir Lake, General Lan Yu led a Chinese army forward to crush the Mongol hordes of Toghus Temur, the khan of Northern Yuan.
- 1863 – American Civil War: General Ulysses S. Grant led his Army of the Tennessee across the Big Black River in preparation for the Siege of Vicksburg.
- 1965 – Eli Cohen, a spy who is credited with gathering significant intelligence for Israel in the Six-Day War against Syria, was publicly hanged after having been captured four months earlier.
- 1980 – The stratovolcano Mount St. Helens erupted, killing 57 people in southern Washington State, reducing hundreds of square miles to wasteland, and causing over US$1 billion in damage.
- 2009 – The Sri Lanka Army killed Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader and founder of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, to bring an end to the 26-year Sri Lankan Civil War.
- 1051 – Anne of Kiev married King Henry I to become Queen of France.
- 1655 – Anglo-Spanish War: England invaded Spanish Jamaica, capturing it a week later.
- 1845 – Captain John Franklin (pictured) and his ill-fated expedition departed from Greenhithe, England; all 129 men were lost when their ships became icebound in the Canadian Arctic.
- 1911 – Parks Canada, the world's first national park service, was established as the Dominion Parks Branch under the Department of the Interior.
- 1991 – With the local Serb population boycotting the polls, voters in Croatia passed a referendum supporting independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
- 1570 – The first modern atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (world map pictured) by cartographer Abraham Ortelius, was issued.
- 1609 – Thomas Thorpe published the first copies of Shakespeare's sonnets, possibly without William Shakespeare's consent.
- 1875 – Representatives from seventeen countries signed the Metre Convention, which set up an institute for the purpose of coordinating international metrology and for coordinating the development of the metric system.
- 1882 – The Triple Alliance was created between the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Italy.
- 1993 – "One for the Road", the series finale of American television sitcom Cheers, was watched by 42.4 million American households on its original airing.
- 878 – Arab–Byzantine wars: The city of Syracuse was captured by the Aghlabids, during the Muslim conquest of Sicily.
- 1894 – The Manchester Ship Canal, linking Manchester in North West England to the Irish Sea, officially opened, becoming the world's largest navigation canal at the time.
- 1911 – Mexican President Porfirio Díaz and the revolutionary Francisco Madero signed the Treaty of Ciudad Juárez to end the fighting between the forces of both men, concluding the initial phase of the Mexican Revolution.
- 1939 – King George VI and Queen Elizabeth dedicated Canada's National War Memorial in Ottawa.
- 2005 – The world's tallest roller coaster, Kingda Ka (pictured), opened at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, U.S.
- 1629 – Albrecht von Wallenstein and King Christian IV of Denmark signed the Treaty of Lübeck to end Danish intervention in the Thirty Years' War.
- 1816 – A riot broke out in Littleport, Cambridgeshire, England, over high unemployment and rising grain costs, spreading to Ely the next day.
- 1960 – An earthquake measuring ~9.5 MW – the strongest ever recorded – devastated Valdivia, Chile (damage pictured), and generated destructive tsunamis that reached Hawaii and Japan.
- 1980 – Pac-Man, an arcade game that became an icon of 1980s popular culture, made its debut in Japan.
- 2002 – Washington, D.C., police announced that the skeletal remains of Federal Bureau of Prisons intern Chandra Levy, who had been missing for a year, were found in Rock Creek Park.
- 1706 – War of the Spanish Succession: The Grand Alliance armies routed the Franco-Spanish-Bavarian army in Ramillies, present-day Belgium.
- 1895 – Backed by Samuel J. Tilden, the Astor and Lenox libraries agreed to merge and form the New York Public Library (pictured in 1908), now the second-largest in the U.S.
- 1951 – Delegates of the 14th Dalai Lama and the government of the newly established People's Republic of China signed the Seventeen Point Agreement, affirming Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.
- 1999 – Professional wrestler Owen Hart died immediately before a match after dropping 70 feet (21 m) onto the ring during a botched entrance.
- 1567 – The mentally ill King Erik XIV of Sweden and his guards murdered five incarcerated nobles, including some members of the influential Sture family.
- 1683 – Oxford University's Ashmolean Museum, the world's first university museum, opened.
- 1913 – Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia (pictured) married Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover, one of the last great social events of European royalty before World War I began fourteen months later.
- 1982 – The port city of Khorramshahr was liberated by Iranian forces during the Iran–Iraq War after 575 days.
- 2006 – An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary film that has been credited for raising international public awareness of climate change and re-energizing the environmental movement, was released.
- 1644 – Ming general Wu Sangui let the invading Manchus pass through the Great Wall of China (pictured), allowing them to capture Beijing, leading to the foundation of the Qing dynasty.
- 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.
- 1979 – During takeoff from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, an engine detached from American Airlines Flight 191, causing a crash that killed 273 people, the deadliest aviation accident in United States history.
- 2009 – North Korea conducted a nuclear test and several other missile tests that were widely condemned by the international community and led to sanctions from the United Nations Security Council.
- 1644 – Portuguese Restoration War: Portuguese and Spanish forces both claimed victory in the Battle of Montijo.
- 1822 – The deadliest fire in Norwegian history took place at a church in Grue, Norway, with at least 113 deaths.
- 1865 – American Civil War: General Edmund Kirby Smith negotiated the surrender of his army, the only significant Confederate Army force remaining in the war.
- 1940 – Second World War: The mass evacuation of British, French and Belgian troops cut off by the German army during the Battle of Dunkirk began (pictured).
- 1999 – Manchester United won the UEFA Champions League to become the first English football club to win three major championships in the same season.
- 1096 – The largest of the Rhineland massacres took place in Mainz, where at least 1,100 Jews were killed by the People's Crusade.
- 1644 – Manchu regent Dorgon (pictured) defeated rebel leader Li Zicheng of the Shun dynasty at the Battle of Shanhai Pass, allowing the Manchus to enter and conquer the capital city of Beijing.
- 1923 – French drivers André Lagache and René Léonard won the first running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race.
- 1975 – The deadliest road accident in England took place when the brakes on a coach failed and it crashed in North Yorkshire, killing 32 people.
- 1995 – American actor Christopher Reeve was thrown from his horse, leaving him a quadriplegic; he later became an activist on behalf of people with spinal cord injuries.
- 621 – Li Shimin defeated and captured Dou Jiande in the Battle of Hulao, leading to a Tang dynasty victory in the civil war that followed the collapse of the Sui dynasty.
- 1608 – Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi debuted his second opera L'Arianna, now one of his lost works, at a royal wedding in Mantua.
- 1830 – U.S. President Andrew Jackson (pictured) signed the Indian Removal Act into law, authorizing him to negotiate with Native Americans for their removal from their ancestral homelands.
- 1977 – A fire at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, killed 165 patrons.
- 2010 – A train derailment and collision in the Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal, India, caused the deaths of at least 148 passengers.
- 1453 – With the conquest of Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottomans.
- 1852 – Swedish operatic soprano Jenny Lind (pictured) concluded a successful concert tour of the United States under the management of showman P. T. Barnum.
- 1935 – The Messerschmitt Bf 109, the most-produced fighter aircraft in history, made its first flight.
- 1942 – Bing Crosby recorded his version of the song "White Christmas", which went on to become the best-selling single of all time, with more than 50 million copies sold.
- 1954 – The first annual Bilderberg Meeting of leaders from European countries and the United States opened in Oosterbeek, Netherlands.
- 1854 – The Kansas–Nebraska Act became law, establishing the U.S. territories of Nebraska and Kansas, and allowing their settlers to determine if slavery would be permitted.
- 1914 – RMS Aquitania, the last surviving four-funnelled ocean liner, departed from Liverpool on her maiden voyage to New York City.
- 1963 – Buddhist crisis: A protest against pro-Catholic discrimination was held outside South Vietnam's National Assembly, the first open demonstration against President Ngô Đình Diệm.
- 2008 – The Convention on Cluster Munitions, prohibiting the use, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster bombs, was adopted.
- 1293 – The forces of Raden Wijaya won a major victory in the Mongol invasion of Java, which is considered to be the founding date of the city of Surabaya.
- 1795 – French Revolution: The Revolutionary Tribunal (pictured), a court instituted by the National Convention for the trial of political offenders, was suppressed.
- 1935 – An earthquake of magnitude 7.7 Mw struck Balochistan in the British Raj, now part of Pakistan, killing between 30,000 and 60,000 people.
- 1981 – An organized mob of police and government-sponsored paramilitias began burning the public library in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, destroying more than 97,000 items in one of the most violent examples of ethnic biblioclasm of the 20th century.
- 2009 – American physician George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions, was shot and killed by Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion activist.