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20th May: Find Out What Happened On This Day In History

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20th May is the 140th day of the year (141st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 225 days remain until the end of the year. Today also marks World Bee Day and World Metrology Day. Find out some of the events that occurred on this day, 20th May, in history.


Historical events

325 — The first 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 the marriage of English Prince Edward to French Princess Isabella.

1310 — Shoes were made for both right and left feet.

1498 — Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrives at Calicut, India becoming the first European to reach India by sea.

1501 — Joao da Nova Castell discovers Ascension Islands.

1521 — Ignatius Loyola seriously wounded by a cannonball.

1571 — Venice, Spain & Pope Pius form anti-Turkish Saint League.

1609 — Playwright William Shakespeare’s Sonnets are first published in London, perhaps illicitly, by publisher Thomas Thorpe.

1639 — Dorchester Massachusetts forms the first school funded by local taxes.

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 and the Netherlands sign peace treaty (Peace of Paris).


20th May in the 19th Century

1825 — Charles X becomes King of France.

1830 — The first railroad timetable published in a newspaper (Baltimore American).

1830 — D Hyde patents fountain pen.

1835 — Otto is named the first modern king of Greece.

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.

1862 — US Homestead Act becomes law which provides cheap land for the settlement of the American West.

1867 — British parliament rejects philosopher and political economist John Stuart Mills’ proposals on women’s suffrage.

1867 — Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences foundation laid by Queen Victoria in London.

1870 — Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament abolishes capital punishment in The Netherlands.

1873 — Fashion designer Levi Strauss and tailor Jacob Davis receive a US patent for the first men’s blue jean work pants made with copper rivets.

1891 — History of cinema: The first public display of inventor Thomas Edison’s prototype kinetoscope to members of the National Federation of Women’s Club.

1892 — George Sampson patents clothes dryer.

1895 — First commercial movie performance (153 Broadway, NYC).

1896 — The six-ton chandelier of the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris falls on the crowd resulting in the death of one and the injury of many others.

1900 — The second modern Olympic games opens in Paris (lasted 5 months).


20th May in the 20th Century

1910 — Funeral for Britain’s King Edward VII held in Westminster Abbey, has one of the largest assemblages of European royalty.

1916 — Codell, Kansas hit by a tornado (also on the same date in 1917 and 1918).

1916 — Saturday Evening Post cover features Norman Rockwell painting.

1918 — First electrically propelled warship (New Mexico).

1926 — Congress passes Air Commerce Act, licensing of pilots and planes.

1930 — The University of California dedicates $1,500 to research on prevention and cure of athlete’s foot

1932 — Amelia Earhart leaves Newfoundland on her journey to become the 1st woman to fly solo and nonstop across the Atlantic.

1939 — First regular transatlantic airmail (Pan Am: NY to Marsseille France).

1956 — My Fair Lady’s Special Day: This was a day to remember for Eliza Doolittle, the ‘My Fair Lady’ of the stage and film musical that won and broke hearts.

1956 — Atomic fusion (thermonuclear) bomb dropped from a plane at Bikini Atoll.

1959 — Japanese-Americans regain their citizenship.


More dates

1967 — BBC bans the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” because of drug references.

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.

1972 — The Republic of Cameroon declared as its constitution is ratified.

1973 — 25th Emmy Awards: Waltons, All in the Family and actress Mary Tyler Moore win.

1979 — Singer Elton John is the first western pop star to tour USSR.

1983 — “Every Breath You Take” single released by The Police (Billboard Song of the Year 1983).

1986 — Flintstones 25th Anniversary Celebration airs on CBS-tv.

1989 — China declares martial law in Beijing.

1992 — India launches its 1st satellite independently.

1992 — Rap singer raps 597 syllables in under 60 seconds. American recording artist Twista holds the title of fastest rapper in the world, according to Guinness World Records in 1992, being able to pronounce 598 syllables in 55 seconds.

1994 — Sushmita Sen from India crowned the 43rd Miss Universe at 18 years old.

1997 — US President Clinton signs an executive order barring new US investment in Burma (also known as Myanmar), effective May 21 and renewable annually


20th May in the 21st Century

2003 — The reality series “America’s Next Top Model”, created by supermodel and actress Tyra Banks, debuts on UPN

2009 — Mexico is the first Latin American country to officially enter a recession.

2012 — 6.0 magnitude earthquake kills 6 and injures dozens in northern Italy.

2012 — 20th Billboard Music Awards: Adele, 21 win.

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 — David Letterman, after 33 years, hosts the “Late Show with David Letterman” for the last time.

2015 — Journal Nature publishes findings of the oldest human-made tools from Kenya’s Turkana basin. In 3.3 million years, it is the first found to pre-date the Homo genus.

2015 — Five major world banks (JPMorgan, Barclays, Citigroup, RBS and UBS) fined US$5.7bn for manipulating currency markets – some of the largest ever fines.

2018 — Two cyclists attacked by a cougar, 1 dies, in North Bend, Washington State.

2018 — President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela wins a second term. The election is marked by boycotts and accusations of vote rigging

2018 — K-pop boy band BTS is the first set of Koreans to perform at the Billboard Music Awards.

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