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|<<||Selected anniversaries for May||>>|
|An archive of historical anniversaries that appeared on the Main Page|
2020 day arrangement
- 1576 – Stephen Báthory and Anna Jagiellon were crowned as the elected rulers of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
- 1625 – Dutch–Portuguese War: Portuguese and Spanish forces recaptured the Brazilian city of Bahia, which had previously been captured by the Dutch Republic.
- 1786 – The Marriage of Figaro (audio featured), an opera buffa by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, premiered at the Burgtheater in Vienna.
- 1950 – Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
- 1974 – Argentine president Juan Perón expelled Montoneros from a demonstration in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, forcing the group to become a clandestine organization.
- 1559 – Presbyterian clergyman John Knox returned from exile to lead the Scottish Reformation.
- 1889 – The Treaty of Wuchale was signed, ending the Italo-Ethiopian War, but differences in translation later led to another war.
- 1945 – World War II: General Helmuth Weidling, the German commander of Berlin, surrendered to Soviet forces led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, ending the Battle of Berlin (aftermath pictured).
- 1995 – Croatian War of Independence: Serb forces began rocket attacks on the Croatian capital Zagreb, killing 7 people and injuring around 200 others.
- 2011 – The Conservative Party of Canada won enough seats in the federal election to establish their first majority government.
- 1481 – The largest of a series of earthquakes struck the island of Rhodes, causing an estimated 30,000 casualties.
- 1616 – The Treaty of Loudun was signed, ending a war that originally began as a power struggle for the French throne.
- 1920 – Russian Civil War: Relying on Red Army troops in neighboring Azerbaijan, the Bolsheviks attempted to stage a coup d'etat in Georgia.
- 1945 – Second World War: The German ocean liner Cap Arcona (pictured), afloat in the Bay of Lübeck with thousands of concentration camp survivors on board, was attacked and sunk by the Royal Air Force.
- 1960 – The Off-Broadway show The Fantasticks premiered, eventually becoming the world's longest-running musical, with 17,162 performances across 42 years.
- 1493 – Pope Alexander VI issued the papal bull Inter caetera, establishing a line of demarcation dividing the New World between Spain and Portugal.
- 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.
- 1990 – The Supreme Soviet of the Latvian SSR declared the restoration of Latvia's independence, stating that the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and the Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 were illegal.
- 2000 – Ken Livingstone took office as the first mayor of London.
- 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.
- 1904 – Pitching for the Boston Americans, Cy Young (pictured) threw the first perfect game in modern professional baseball.
- 1945 – World War II: The citizens of Prague spontaneously rose up against the city's German occupiers.
- 1980 – The British Special Air Service recaptured the Iranian embassy in London after a six-day siege by Iranian Arab separatists.
- 1536 – Spanish conquest of Peru: Sapa Inca emperor Manco Inca Yupanqui's army began a ten-month siege of Cusco against a garrison of Spanish conquistadors and Indian auxiliaries led by Hernando Pizarro.
- 1782 – Construction began on the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the official residence of the king of Thailand.
- 1937 – The German airship Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed (newsreel featured) during an attempt to dock at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey, killing 36 people.
- 1941 – American entertainer Bob Hope performed his first show with the United Service Organizations, beginning a career that lasted 50 years.
- 2010 – Exacerbated by high-frequency traders using strategies that have since been banned, major U.S. stock indices dropped nearly 9 percent and quickly rebounded.
- 1697 – The 13th-century Tre Kronor castle in Stockholm burned down; plans for the current royal palace (pictured) were presented within the year.
- 1794 – French Revolution: Maximilien Robespierre established the Cult of the Supreme Being as the new state religion of the French First Republic.
- 1940 – A three-day debate began in the British House of Commons, which resulted in Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain being replaced by Winston Churchill.
- 1960 – Cold War: Nikita Khrushchev announced that the Soviet Union was holding American pilot Francis Gary Powers, whose spy plane had been shot down six days earlier.
- 2010 – A draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome was published, demonstrating that today's humans have Neanderthal ancestors.
- 1842 – A train derailed and caught fire (depicted) near Paris, killing between 52 and 200 people.
- 1924 – Lithuania signed the Klaipėda Convention, making the Klaipėda Region (taken from East Prussia) into an autonomous region under Lithuanian rule.
- 1945 – A parade in Sétif, French Algeria, celebrating the end of World War II in Europe became a riot and was followed by a massacre carried out by colonial authorities.
- 1970 – Construction workers attacked students and others who were protesting the Vietnam War in New York City.
- 328 – Athanasius took office as Patriarch of Alexandria.
- 1915 – World War I: British forces launched the Battle of Aubers Ridge, an offensive on the Western Front, as part of the larger Second Battle of Artois.
- 1960 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it would approve the use of Searle's Enovid, the first combined oral contraceptive pill (example pictured).
- 2018 – The Barisan Nasional coalition, which had governed Malaysia since independence in 1957, was voted out of power.
- 1833 – Siamese–Vietnamese wars: Lê Văn Khôi escaped from prison to begin a revolt against Emperor Minh Mạng, primarily to avenge his adoptive father, Vietnamese general Lê Văn Duyệt.
- 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.
- 1997 – An earthquake registering 7.3 Mw struck near Qaen, Iran, killing at least 1,567 and leaving around 50,000 others homeless.
- 2013 – The final component of the spire of One World Trade Center in New York City was installed, bringing the building, the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, to a height of 1,776 feet (541 m).
- 1813 – William Lawson, Gregory Blaxland and William Wentworth departed westward from Sydney on an expedition to become the first confirmed Europeans to cross the Blue Mountains (depicted).
- 1880 – A land dispute between the Southern Pacific Railroad and settlers in Hanford, California, turned deadly when a gun battle broke out, leaving seven dead.
- 1997 – Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in six games, becoming the first chess computer to win a match against a world champion.
- 2010 – David Cameron took office as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom as the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats formed the country's first coalition government since the Second World War.
- 907 – Zhu Wen forced Emperor Ai to abdicate, ending the Tang dynasty after nearly three centuries of ruling China.
- 1846 – The Donner Party, an American pioneer group which became known for resorting to cannibalism when they became trapped in the Sierra Nevada, left Independence, Missouri, for California.
- 1942 – World War II: Soviet forces under Marshal Semyon Timoshenko (pictured) launched a major offensive in eastern Ukraine, but were encircled and destroyed by German troops two weeks later.
- 1982 – Juan María Fernández y Krohn attempted to assassinate Pope John Paul II with a bayonet in Fátima, Portugal.
- 1998 – Four students were shot and killed by Indonesian soldiers at Trisakti University in Jakarta, which led to widespread riots and eventually the resignation of President Suharto nine days later.
- 1373 – English mystic Julian of Norwich recovered from a severe illness, during which she experienced a series of intense visions of Christ, which she later described in the first known English-language book written by a woman.
- 1638 – Construction began on the Red Fort (gate pictured) in Delhi, the main residence of the Mughal emperors, now an iconic symbol of India.
- 1969 – Sino-Malay race riots began in Kuala Lumpur, leaving at least 190 people dead, with the government declaring a state of emergency and suspending the Parliament of Malaysia until 1971.
- 2000 – A fireworks factory in Enschede, Netherlands, exploded, resulting in 23 deaths and approximately €450 million in damage.
- 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.
- 1830 – The nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was first published as a poem by Sarah Josepha Hale.
- 1930 – English aviator Amy Johnson (pictured) 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).