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May 20 Birthday Events Poster

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May 20 Historical Events

The following events took place on May 20. The list is arranged in chronological order.

Found 60 events. Showing 1 - 30.

  • 325
    The First Council of Nicea is formally opened, starting the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church.
  • 491
    Empress Ariadne marries Anastasius I. The widowed Augusta is able to choose her successor for the Byzantine throne, after Zeno (late emperor) dies of dysentery.
  • 526
    An earthquake kills about 250,000 people in what is now 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.
  • 794
    King Æthelberht II of East Anglia visits the royal Mercian court at Sutton Walls, with a view to marrying princess Ælfthryth. He is taken captive and beheaded.
  • 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.
  • 1449
    The Battle of Alfarrobeira is fought, establishing the House of Braganza as a principal royal family of Portugal.
  • 1497
    John Cabot sets sail from Bristol, England, on his ship Matthew looking for a route to the west (other documents give a May 2 date).
  • 1498
    Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama discovers the sea route to India when he arrives at Kozhikode (previously known as Calicut), India.
  • 1520
    The massacre at the festival of Tóxcatl takes place during the Fall of Tenochtitlan, resulting in turning the Aztecs against the Spanish.
  • 1521
    Ignatius Loyola is seriously wounded in the Battle of Pampeluna.
  • 1570
    Cartographer Abraham Ortelius issues Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 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.
  • 1645
    Yangzhou massacre: the 10-day massacre of 800,000 residents of the city of Yangzhou, part of the Transition from Ming to Qing.
  • 1775
    Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is 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 the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Italy is formed.
  • 1883
    Krakatoa begins to erupt; the volcano explodes three months later, killing more than 36,000 people.
  • 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.

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