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Wikipedia defines history as the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. It came from the Greek word ‘historia’ – which means ‘inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation’.

Today In HistoryThis website utilizes entries from Wikipedia to extract historical events from 3761 BC up to the present. There are 105,062 records in the database that include events, births and deaths of popular individuals. The present day Gregorian calendar was adopted to show dates of interest.

Let us begin with what happened today in history. You may also enter a specific day using the form on the right sidebar.

What happened on May 20? There are more than 272 events that were made this day in history. Here are the important historical events, facts, and some myths about this day.

Interesting Facts & Myths About May 20

May 20 is the 140th day of the year 2018. There are 225 days remaining until the end of this year. The day of the week is Sunday. This day falls under the 20th week of the year 2018.

On this day in Toledo, Ohio 43601 sunrise will occur at 11:09 AM and sunset will occur at 01:52 AM (local time).

The zodiac sign of a person born on this day is Taurus. The modern birthstone for this month is Emerald while the mystical birthstone is Sapphire.

According to the Chinese calendar, there are 261 days remaining before the start of the next Chinese New Year (February 5, 2019).

Birthday curiousity Is May 20 your birthday? Are you not curious to find some fun facts about your birthday? Find out ‘what my birthday mean’ and what was the number one song on my day of birth. Get a free ninja poster! (Sponsored link)

Historical Events For May 20

  • 325
    The First Council of Nicea – the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church is held.
  • 526
    An earthquake kills about 300,000 people in Syria and Antiochia.
  • 685
    The Battle of Dun Nechtain is fought between a Pictish army under King Bridei III and the invading Northumbrians under King Ecgfrith, who are decisively defeated.
  • 1217
    The Second Battle of Lincoln is fought near Lincoln, England, resulting in the defeat of Prince Louis of France by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke.
  • 1293
    King Sancho IV of Castile creates the Study of General Schools of Alcalá.
  • 1497
    John Cabot sets sail from Bristol, England, on his ship Ship looking for a route to the west (other documents give a May 2 date).
  • 1498
    Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrives at Kozhikode (previously known as Calicut), India.
  • 1521
    Battle of Pampeluna: Ignatius Loyola is seriously wounded.
  • 1570
    Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues the first modern atlas.
  • 1609
    Shakespeare’s sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by the publisher Thomas Thorpe.
  • 1631
    The city of Magdeburg in Germany is seized by forces of the Holy Roman Empire and most of its inhabitants massacred, in one of the bloodiest incidents of the Thirty Years’ War.
  • 1775
    Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence signed in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • 1802
    By the Law of 20 May 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte reinstates slavery in the French colonies, revoking its abolition in the French Revolution
  • 1813
    Napoleon Bonaparte leads his French troops into the Battle of Bautzen in Saxony, Germany, against the combined armies of Russia and Prussia. The battle ends the next day with a French victory.
  • 1840
    York Minster is badly damaged by fire
  • 1861
    American Civil War: The state of Kentucky proclaims its neutrality, which will last until September 3 when Confederate forces enter the state. Meanwhile, the State of North Carolina secedes from the Union.
  • 1862
    U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act into law.
  • 1864
    American Civil War: Battle of Ware Bottom Church – in the Virginia Bermuda Hundred Campaign, 10,000 troops fight in this Confederate victory.
  • 1873
    Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive a U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets.
  • 1875
    Signing of the Metre Convention by 17 nations leading to the establishment of the International System of Units.
  • 1882
    The Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy is formed.
  • 1883
    Krakatoa begins to erupt. The volcano’s final and most notable explosion occurs on August 26.
  • 1884
    Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo becomes the king of the Zulu Nation.
  • 1891
    History of cinema: The first public display of Thomas Edison’s prototype kinetoscope.
  • 1896
    The six ton chandelier of the Palais Garnier falls on the crowd below resulting in the death of one and the injury of many others.
  • 1902
    Cuba gains independence from the United States. Tomás Estrada Palma becomes the country’s first President.
  • 1908
    Budi Utomo organization is founded in Dutch East Indies, beginning the Indonesian National Awakening.
  • 1916
    The Saturday Evening Post publishes its first cover with a Norman Rockwell painting (Boy with Baby Carriage).
  • 1920
    Montreal, Quebec radio station XWA broadcasts the first regularly scheduled radio programming in North America.
  • 1927
    At 07:52 Charles Lindbergh takes off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, on the world’s first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. He touched down at Le Bourget Field in Paris at 22:22 the next day.
  • 1927
    Treaty of Jedda: the United Kingdom recognizes the sovereignty of King Ibn Saud in the Kingdoms of Hejaz and Nejd, which later merge to become the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • 1932
    Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland to begin the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot, landing in Ireland the next day.
  • 1940
    Holocaust: The first prisoners arrive at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz.
  • 1941
    World War II: Battle of Crete – German paratroops invade Crete.
  • 1948
    Chiang Kai-shek elected to be the first President of the Republic of China.
  • 1949
    In the United States, the Armed Forces Security Agency, the predecessor to the National Security Agency, is established.
  • 1956
    In Operation Redwing (shot Cherokee), the first United States airborne hydrogen bomb is dropped over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean;
  • 1965
    PIA Flight 705, a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 720 – 040 B, crashes while descending to land at Cairo International Airport, killing 119 of the 125 passengers and crew.
  • 1969
    The Battle of Hamburger Hill in Vietnam ends.
  • 1980
    In a referendum in Quebec, the population rejects by a 60% vote the proposal from its government to move towards independence from Canada.
  • 1983
    First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS in the journal Science by Luc Montagnier.
  • 1985
    Radio Martí, part of the Voice of America service, begins broadcasting to Cuba.
  • 1989
    The Chinese authorities declare martial law in the face of pro-democracy demonstrations, setting the scene for the Tiananmen Square massacre.
  • 1990
    The first post-Communist presidential and parliamentary elections are held in Romania.
  • 1996
    Gay rights: The Supreme Court of the United States rules in Romer v. Evans against a law that would have prevented any city, town or county in the state of Colorado from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to protect the rights of gays and lesbians.
  • 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 is the former colonizer of East Timor until 1976).

Who Were Born On May 20?

  • 1315
    Bonne of Luxembourg, wife of John II of France (d. 1349)
  • 1470
    Pietro Bembo, Italian cardinal (d. 1547)
  • 1554
    Paolo Bellasio, Italian composer (d. 1594)
  • 1593
    Salomo Glassius, German theologian (d. 1656)
  • 1660
    Andreas Schlüter, German sculptor (d. 1714)
  • 1663
    William Bradford, British-born printer (d. 1752)
  • 1706
    Seth Pomeroy, American gunsmith and soldier (d. 1777)
  • 1726
    Francis Cotes, English painter (d. 1770)
  • 1737
    William Petty Fitzmaurice, British statesman (d. 1805)
  • 1759
    William Thornton, West Indian-born architect (d. 1828)
  • 1768
    Dolley Madison, First Lady of the United States (d. 1849)
  • 1769
    Andreas Vokos Miaoulis, Greek admiral and politician (d. 1835)
  • 1772
    Sir William Congreve, English inventor (d. 1828)
  • 1776
    Simon Fraser, Canadian explorer (d.1862)
  • 1799
    Honoré de Balzac, French novelist (d. 1850)
  • 1806
    John Stuart Mill, English philosopher (d. 1873)
  • 1818
    William Fargo, American pioneer expressman, co-founder of Wells, Fargo & Co. (d. 1881)
  • 1822
    Frédéric Passy, French economist, Nobel Peace Prize laureate (d. 1912)
  • 1824
    Cadmus M. Wilcox, American Confederate general (d. 1890)
  • 1830
    Hector Malot, French writer (d. 1907)
  • 1838
    Jules Méline, French statesman (d. 1925)
  • 1851
    Emile Berliner, German-born recording pioneer (d. 1929)
  • 1860
    Eduard Buchner, German chemist, Nobel laureate (d. 1917)
  • 1882
    Sigrid Undset, Norwegian author, Nobel laureate (d. 1949)
  • 1883
    King Faisal I of Iraq (d. 1933)
  • 1886
    Ali Sami Yen, Turkish founder of Galatasaray Sports Club (d. 1951)
  • 1889
    Karin Molander, Swedish actress (d. 1978)
  • 1894
    Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, Indian Hindu sage, Jivanmukta (d. 1994)
  • 1895
    R. J. Mitchell, British aircraft designer (d. 1937)
  • 1897
    Diego Abad de Santillán, Spanish anarchist (d. 1983)
  • 1899
    Alexander Deyneka, Ukrainian painter (d. 1969)
  • 1899
    John Marshall Harlan II, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (d. 1971)
  • 1901
    Max Euwe, Dutch chess player (d. 1981)
  • 1906
    Giuseppe Siri, Italian Catholic cardinal (d. 1989)
  • 1908
    James Stewart, American actor (d. 1997)
  • 1911
    Annie M. G. Schmidt, Dutch writer (d. 1995)
  • 1911
    Gardner Fox, American writer (d. 1986)
  • 1913
    William Hewlett, American engineer (d. 2001)
  • 1914
    Corneliu Coposu, Romanian politician (d. 1995)
  • 1914
    Hideko Maehata, Japanese swimmer (d. 1995)
  • 1915
    Moshe Dayan, Israeli general (d. 1981)
  • 1915
    Peter Copley, British actor (d. 2008)
  • 1916
    Alexei Petrovich Maresiev, Russian flying ace (d. 2001)
  • 1916
    Trebisonda Valla, Italian athlete (d. 2006)
  • 1917
    Bergur Sigurbjörnsson, Icelandic politician (d. 2005)
  • 1917
    Guy Favreau, French Canadian lawyer (d. 1967)
  • 1918
    Edward B. Lewis, American geneticist, Nobel laureate (d. 2004)
  • 1919
    George Gobel, American comedian (d. 1991)
  • 1919
    Gerhard Barkhorn, German fighter pilot (d. 1983)
  • 1920
    Betty Driver MBE, English singer and actress (d. 2011)
  • 1920
    John Cruickshank, Scottish airman, Victoria Cross recipient
  • 1921
    Hal Newhouser, American baseball player (d. 1998)
  • 1921
    Wolfgang Borchert, German writer (d. 1947)
  • 1923
    Edith Fellows, American actress d. 2011
  • 1924
    Zelmar Michelini, Uruguayan reporter and politician (d. 1976)
  • 1925
    Chester Ludgin, American baritone (d. 2003)
  • 1926
    Bob Sweikert, American race car driver (d. 1956)
  • 1926
    John Lucarotti, English-born Canadian TV writer (d. 1994)
  • 1927
    Bud Grant, American football coach
  • 1927
    David Hedison, American actor
  • 1927
    Franciszek Macharski, Polish Catholic cardinal
  • 1929
    Ahmed Hamdi, Egyptian soldier, who fought in Yom Kippur(d. 1973)
  • 1930
    Sam Etcheverry, American football player and coach (d. 2009)
  • 1931
    Ken Boyer, American baseball player (d. 1982)
  • 1931
    Paul Evans, American furniture designer and sculptor (d. 1987)
  • 1932
    Bob Florence, American jazz pianist, composer, arranger (d. 2008)
  • 1933
    Constance Towers, American actress
  • 1935
    José Mujica, President of Uruguay
  • 1936
    Anthony Zerbe, American actor
  • 1938
    Marinella, Greek singer and actress
  • 1940
    Sadaharu Oh, Japanese baseball player
  • 1940
    Shorty Long, American musician (d. 1969)
  • 1940
    Stan Mikita, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1941
    Goh Chok Tong, Singaporean Senior Minister
  • 1941
    John Strasberg, American actor
  • 1941
    Manuel Isaias Lopez, Mexican child psychiatrist
  • 1942
    Carlos Hathcock, American Marine Corps sniper (d. 1999)
  • 1942
    Jill Jackson, American singer (Paul & Paula)
  • 1943
    Al Bano, Italian singer
  • 1944
    Boudewijn de Groot, Dutch singer
  • 1944
    Dietrich Mateschitz, Austrian businessman
  • 1944
    Joe Cocker, British singer
  • 1945
    Vladimiro Montesinos, Peruvian politician
  • 1946
    Cher, American singer & actress
  • 1946
    Dave Despain, American racing commentator
  • 1946
    Robert Chua, Hong Kong TV Entrepreneur
  • 1947
    Greg Dyke, British broadcast executive
  • 1947
    John Corapi, American Catholic prelate
  • 1949
    Dave Thomas, Canadian comedian and actor
  • 1950
    Reinaldo Merlo, Argentine footballer
  • 1950
    Yvon Lambert, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1951
    Mike Crapo, American politician
  • 1952
    Roger Milla, Cameroonian footballer
  • 1953
    Robert Doyle, Australian politician
  • 1954
    Cindy McCain, American businesswoman, wife of John McCain
  • 1954
    David Paterson, American politician
  • 1954
    Guy Hoffman, American musician (Violent Femmes)
  • 1954
    Robert Van de Walle, Belgian judoka
  • 1955
    Zbigniew Preisner, Polish film composer
  • 1956
    Dean Butler, American actor
  • 1956
    Ingvar Ambjørnsen, Norwegian author
  • 1956
    William Michaelian, American novelist and poet
  • 1957
    Yoshihiko Noda, Prime Minister of Japan
  • 1958
    Jane Wiedlin, American singer (The Go-Go’s)
  • 1958
    Ron Reagan, American talk show host
  • 1959
    Bronson Pinchot, American actor
  • 1959
    Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, Hawaiian singer (d. 1997)
  • 1959
    Susan Cowsill, American musician
  • 1960
    John Billingsley, American actor
  • 1960
    Tony Goldwyn, American actor
  • 1961
    Clive Allen, English footballer
  • 1962
    Mike Jeffries, American soccer coach
  • 1963
    David Wells, American baseball player
  • 1965
    Stu Grimson, Canadian ice hockey player
  • 1965
    Ted Allen, American television host
  • 1966
    Dan Abrams, American TV reporter
  • 1966
    Mindy Cohn, American actress
  • 1967
    Gabriele Muccino, Italian film director
  • 1967
    Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece
  • 1967
    Ramzi Yousef, Kuwaiti-born Pakistani terrorist
  • 1968
    Timothy Olyphant, American actor
  • 1968
    Waisale Serevi, Fijian rugby union and rugby sevens footballer
  • 1969
    Brian Gerard James (“Road Dogg” Jesse James), American professional wrestler
  • 1970
    Louis Theroux, British television presenter
  • 1970
    Terrell Brandon, American basketball player
  • 1971
    Šárka Kašpárková, Czech athlete
  • 1971
    Tony Stewart, American race car driver
  • 1972
    Busta Rhymes, American rapper and actor
  • 1972
    Tina Hobley, British television actress
  • 1973
    Elsa Lunghini, French singer and actress
  • 1975
    Andrew Sega, American musician
  • 1975
    Isaac Gálvez, Spanish cyclist (d. 2006)
  • 1975
    Juan Minujín, Argentine actor
  • 1975
    Mark Zupan, American wheelchair rugby player and actor
  • 1975
    Tahmoh Penikett, Canadian actor
  • 1976
    Ramón Hernández, Venezuelan baseball player
  • 1976
    Tomoya Satozaki, Japanese baseball player
  • 1977
    Angela Goethals, American actress
  • 1977
    Chad Muska, American professional skateboarder
  • 1977
    Leonardo Noeren Franco, Argentine footballer
  • 1977
    Matt Czuchry, American actor
  • 1977
    Miriam Parrish, American television actress
  • 1977
    Tiger Tyson, American pornographic actor
  • 1977
    Vesa Toskala, Finnish ice hockey player
  • 1978
    Hristos Banikas, Greek chess player
  • 1978
    Pavla Hamáčková-Rybová, Czech athlete
  • 1979
    Jayson Werth, American baseball player
  • 1980
    Austin Kearns, American baseball player
  • 1981
    Iker Casillas, Spanish footballer
  • 1981
    Lindsay Taylor, American basketball player
  • 1981
    Mark Winterbottom, Australian racing driver
  • 1981
    Morgan Knabe, Canadian swimmer
  • 1982
    Candace Bailey, American actress
  • 1982
    Imran Farhat, Pakistani cricketer
  • 1982
    Petr Čech, Czech footballer
  • 1983
    N. T. Rama Rao Jr., Indian film actor
  • 1983
    Roger Huerta, American mixed martial artist
  • 1984
    Keith Grennan, American football player
  • 1984
    Kenny Vasoli, American singer and bassist (The Starting Line)
  • 1984
    Mauro, Brazilian footballer
  • 1984
    Naturi Naughton, singer (3LW) and actress
  • 1984
    Patrick Ewing, Jr., American basketball player
  • 1985
    Chris Froome, British cyclist
  • 1986
    Dexter Blackstock, English footballer
  • 1986
    Jiřina Ptáčníková, Czech pole vaulter
  • 1987
    Julian Wright, American basketball player
  • 1988
    Carla Humphries, Filipino actress
  • 1991
    Mara Lopez, Filipino actress
  • 1992
    Cate Campbell, Australian swimmer
  • 1993
    Caroline Zhang, American figure skater
  • 1995
    Brandon Zibaka, English football player

Who Died On May 20?

  • 685
    King Ecgfrith of Northumbria (b. 645)
  • 1277
    Pope John XXI (b. 1215)
  • 1285
    John II of Jerusalem, King of Cyprus (b. 1259)
  • 1444
    Saint Bernardino of Siena, Italian Franciscan missionary (b. 1380)
  • 1503
    Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici, Italian banker, politician and patron of the arts (b. 1463)
  • 1506
    Christopher Columbus, Italian explorer (b. 1451)
  • 1550
    Ashikaga Yoshiharu, Japanese shogun (b. 1510)
  • 1622
    Osman II, Ottoman Sultan (b. 1604)
  • 1648
    King Wladislaus IV of Poland (b. 1595)
  • 1677
    George Digby, 2nd Earl of Bristol, British statesman (b. 1612)
  • 1713
    Thomas Sprat, English writer (b. 1635)
  • 1717
    John Trevor, British statesman (b. 1637)
  • 1722
    Sébastien Vaillant, French botanist (b. 1669)
  • 1732
    Thomas Boston, Scottish church leader (b. 1676)
  • 1782
    William Emerson, British mathematician (b. 1701)
  • 1793
    Charles Bonnet, Swiss naturalist (b. 1720)
  • 1812
    Count Hieronymus von Colloredo, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg (b. 1732)
  • 1825
    Papaflessas, Greek priest and government official (b. 1788)
  • 1834
    Gilbert du Motier, French statesman (b. 1757)
  • 1841
    Joseph Blanco White, British theologian (b. 1775)
  • 1873
    Sir George-Étienne Cartier, French-Canadian statesman (b. 1814)
  • 1880
    Ana Néri, Brazilian nurse (b. 1814)
  • 1896
    Clara Schumann, German pianist and composer (b. 1819)
  • 1909
    Ernest Hogan, American comedian and musician, one of the creators of ragtime (b. 1859)
  • 1917
    Philipp von Ferrary, Italian philatelist (b. 1850)
  • 1917
    Valentine Fleming, Scottish politician (b. 1887)
  • 1940
    Verner von Heidenstam, Swedish writer, Nobel laureate (b. 1859)
  • 1946
    Jacob Ellehammer, Danish inventor (b. 1871)
  • 1947
    Georgios Siantos, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece (b. 1890)
  • 1947
    Philipp Lenard, German physicist, Nobel laureate (b. 1862)
  • 1949
    Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens (b. 1891)
  • 1949
    Randolph West, American biochemist, known for the Dakin-West reaction (b. 1890)
  • 1956
    Max Beerbohm, English theatre critic (b. 1872)
  • 1961
    Josef “Pips” Priller, German flying ace (b. 1915)
  • 1971
    Waldo Williams, Welsh poet (b. 1904)
  • 1973
    Jarno Saarinen, Finnish motorcycle racer (b. 1945)
  • 1975
    Barbara Hepworth, British sculptor (b. 1903)
  • 1976
    Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, Uruguayan National Party politician (b. 1934)
  • 1976
    Syd Howe, Canadian ice hockey player (b. 1911)
  • 1976
    Zelmar Michelini, Uruguayan Christian-Democrat Party politician (b. 1924)
  • 1989
    Gilda Radner, American comedian and actress (b. 1946)
  • 1989
    John Hicks, English economist, Nobel laureate (b. 1904)
  • 1992
    Roger Keith Coleman, American convict (b. 1958)
  • 1996
    Jon Pertwee, British actor (b. 1919)
  • 2000
    Jean-Pierre Rampal, French flutist (b. 1922)
  • 2000
    Malik Sealy, American basketball player (b. 1970)
  • 2001
    Renato Carosone, Italian musician (b. 1920)
  • 2002
    Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist (b. 1941)
  • 2005
    Paul Ricoeur, French philosopher (b. 1913)
  • 2005
    William Seawell, U.S. Army Brigadier General (b. 1918)
  • 2007
    Norman Von Nida, Australian golfer (b. 1914)
  • 2008
    Hamilton Jordan, American White House Chief of Staff under President Carter (b. 1944)
  • 2009
    Arthur Erickson, Canadian architect (b.1924)
  • 2009
    Lucy Gordon, British model and actress (b. 1980)
  • 2011
    Randy Savage, American Pro-Wrestler (b. 1952)


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