May Historical Events
These are some of the many widely recognized historic events that occurred during the month of May, listed by year. Dates provided for events that occurred before the Common Era (BCE) may be approximate.
753 BCE, May 1 - According to legend, the city of Rome is founded by Romulus.
585 BCE, May 28 - A solar eclipse occurred during a battle between the Lydians and the Medes in what is now Turkey. It is one of the earliest recorded events in history.
431 BCE, May 7 - The Peloponnesian War begins between Athens and Sparta, marking the start of a decades-long conflict in Ancient Greece.
333 BCE, May 1 - The Battle of Issus takes place between Alexander the Great of Macedonia and Darius III of Persia, resulting in a decisive victory for Alexander.
218 BCE, May 4 - Hannibal of Carthage wins the Battle of the Trebia against the Roman Republic during the Second Punic War. More
325 , May 20 - First Council of Nicaea - the first ecumenical council of Christian bishops at Nicaea, Asia Minor.
330, May 11 - Byzantium was renamed Constantinople after Emperor Constantine.
1337, May 24 - Beginning of the Hundred Years' War - King Edward III of England formally declares war against King Philip VI of France, marking the start of a long-lasting conflict between the two kingdoms which is referred to as the Hundred Years' War which was eventually won by the French at the Battle of Castillon in 1453. This was largely due to the French use of guns against the English.
1348, May 10 - Siege of Calais begins: King Edward III of England surrounds the city of Calais during the Hundred Years' War, leading to a prolonged siege lasting over a year.
1360, May 8 - The Treaty of Brétigny is signed between England and France, marking a temporary end to the first phase of the Hundred Years' War and granting substantial territorial concessions to England.
1381, May 30 - Peasants' Revolt in England: The Peasants' Revolt, a major uprising against high taxes and social injustice, culminates in a confrontation between rebel forces and King Richard II at Smithfield in London.
1431, May 30 - Joan of Arc was burned at the stake for heresy by an English-dominated tribunal in Rouen. More
1498, May 20 - Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Trinidad during his third voyage to the Americas.
1498, May 20 - Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama becomes the first European to reach India via the Atlantic Ocean. Arriving in Calicut, where he erected a padrão (stone pillar) to prove he had reached India. More
1502, May 20 - Christopher Columbus sets sail on his fourth and final voyage to the New World.1536, May 19: Anne Boleyn was beheaded at the Tower of London after being found guilty of adultery and treason against King Henry VIII.
1506, May 2 - The cornerstone of the current St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is laid by Pope Julius II.
1527, May 6 - The Sack of Rome takes place, as troops of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, led by Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, pillage and destroy the city.
1536, May 19 - Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII of England, is executed on charges of adultery and treason.
1541, May 8 - Spanish conquistador and explorer Hernando De Soto reaches the Mississippi River at a point below Natchez. De Soto was the first European documented to have seen the river.
1543, May 24 - Nicolaus Copernicus publishes his book "On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres" which formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than Earth at its center. In all likelihood, Copernicus developed his model independently of Aristarchus of Samos, an ancient Greek astronomer who had formulated such a model some eighteen centuries earlier.
1559, May 2 - The Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis is signed, ending the Italian Wars and establishing peace between France and Spain.
1568, May 23 - The Eighty Years' War begins as the Dutch rebels, led by Louis of Nassau, defeat a Spanish force at the Battle of Heiligerlee.
1570, May 20 - The Siege of Famagusta begins during the Ottoman-Venetian War, with the city of Famagusta in Cyprus being besieged by the Ottoman Empire.
1588, May 29 - The Spanish Armada sets sail from Lisbon, Portugal, with the aim of invading England during the Anglo-Spanish War.
1593, May 7- Playwright Christopher Marlowe is killed in a dispute, possibly over a bill, at a tavern in Deptford, London.
1607, May 14 - The first permanent English settlement in America was established at Jamestown, Virginia.
1610, May 14 - French King Henry IV is assassinated by François Ravaillac in Paris.
1611, May 2 - The Authorized Version of the Bible (King James Version) was first published, and became the standard English language Bible.
1626, May 4 - Dutch explorer Peter Minuit arrives in New Netherland (present-day Manhattan) and establishes the colony of New Amsterdam.
1639, May 4 - The Fundamental Orders, often considered the first written constitution in North America, are adopted by the Connecticut Colony.
1642, May 29 - The city of Montreal is founded by French colonists under the direction of Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve.
1652, May 18 - The Battle of Dover takes place during the First Anglo-Dutch War, with the Dutch Republic gaining a decisive victory over England.
1660, May 29 - King Charles II of England is restored to the throne after the period of Commonwealth following the English Civil War.
1670, May 2 - The Hudson's Bay Company is chartered by King Charles II, granting it a monopoly over the fur trade in the region of Hudson Bay in North America.
1689, May 1 - The English Parliament passes the Act of Toleration, granting freedom of worship to Protestant nonconformists.
1692, May 14 - The witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts begin with the arrest of Sarah Osborne, Sarah Good, and Tituba.
1707, May 1 - The Union between England and Scotland is proclaimed. Whales had already been part of England since the 1500's.
1765, May 22 - The British Parliament passed the Quartering Act, which required American colonies to provide lodging and supplies to British troops.1841, May 3: New Zealand was declared a British colony.
1787, May 25 - The Constitutional Convention, which would draft the United States Constitution, began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1788, May 23 - South Carolina becomes the 8th State to Ratify the U.S. Constitution
1790, May 29 - Rhode Island becomes the 13th State to Ratify the U.S. Constitution
1792, May 17 - The NY Stock Exchange is born with the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement by 24 stockbrokers defining how stocks could be traded and establishing set commissions.
1804, May 14 - The Lewis and Clark Expedition, set out from St. Louis, Missouri traveling up the Missouri River on a mission to explore and map the newly acquired western territory of the United States. The group consisted of around 30 members, including soldiers, interpreters, scouts, and others. They faced numerous challenges, including harsh weather, treacherous terrain, encounters with Native American tribes, and logistical difficulties. The Lewis and Clark Expedition made significant contributions to American knowledge of the West. and it continues to be celebrated as a remarkable feat of discovery and an enduring symbol of the nation's westward expansion. More
1812, May 30 - The United States declared war on Great Britain, beginning the War of 1812.
1844, May 24 - Samuel Morse, inventor of the Telegraph sent the first official telegraph message, "What hath God wrought?" from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore.
1846, May 12 - The United States declares war on Mexico, beginning the Mexican-American War. More
1848, May 29 - Wisconsin was admitted to the Union of States and becomes the 30th State
1856, May 21 - Pro-slavery forces attacked and burned the free-state town of Lawrence, Kansas, in what became known as the "Sacking of Lawrence."
1858, May 11 - Minnesota was admitted to the Union of States and becomes the 32nd State
1861, May 20 - North Carolina became the last of the Confederate states to secede rom the United States, triggering the start of the American Civil War.
1862, May 5 - The Mexican army defeated French forces at the Battle of Puebla
1862, May 20 - President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act making millions of government owned acres in the west available to "homesteaders".
1863, May 3 - The Territory of Arizona is created by Congress with Prescott as capital.
1865, May 10 - 1865: Confederate President Jefferson Davis is captured by Union forces in Irwinville, Georgia. General, Robert E. Lee, had surrendered on April 9 at Appomattox in Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant.
1869, May 10 - The first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed, linking the East Coast and West Coast by rail.
1871, May 10 - The Treaty of Frankfurt am Main is signed, ending the Franco-Prussian War and leaving a stronger unified German state to influence European power politics and compete with England and France.
1873, May 20 - Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis obtained a U.S. patent on the process of putting rivets in men’s work pants for the very first time creating what we now call jeans.. More
1881, May 21 - The American Red Cross is founded in Washington, D.C. by Clara Barton and a circle of her acquaintances. Barton led the Red Cross for 23 years. More
1902, May 8 - Martinique's Mount Pelée erupts and destroys the town of Saint-Pierre, killing approximately 30,000 people, 15 percent of the island’s population. in the space of a few minutes. This is considered the worst volcanic disaster of the 20th century. Mount Pelée is still classified as an active volcano.
1915, May 7 - The passenger liner RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine during World War I, killing 1,198 people.
1915, May 23 - Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary.
1916, May 31 - June 1: Battle of Jutland - World War I’s biggest naval conflict off the coast of Denmark marks the first and only showdown between German and British naval forces during World War I.
1917, May 17 - First regular airmail service begins, with one round trip a day between Washington, DC, and New York.
1917, May 18 - Congress passed the Selective Service Act, which authorized the Federal Government to temporarily expand the military through conscription. The act eventually required all men between the ages of 21 to 45 to register for military service. More
1918, May 18 - Day of the proclamation of Independence of the Democratic Republic of Georgia from the Russian Empire.
1921, May 31 - The Tulsa race massacre began. A two-day-long riot when mobs of white residents, some of whom had been appointed as deputies and armed by city government officials, attacked black residents and destroyed homes and businesses of the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history. More
1927, May 20-21 - Charles Lindbergh becomes the first man to fly solo completed the first solo across the Atlantic Ocean, flying 3,610 miles from New York to Paris in his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis in 33 1/2 hours. More
1929, May 16: -The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in Hollywood.
1932, May 12 - The body of Charles Lindbergh Jr. son of aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was found in Hopewell Township, New Jersey.
1932, May 21 - Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. (May 20 - May 2021)
1934, May 11 - An enormous dust storm, 1,500 miles long and 600 miles wide, that originated on the west coast, moved eastward across the Great Plains. A total of 300 million tons of topsoil, parched to dust by drought were blown out of the Great Plains. More
1934, May 23 - Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary. When World War I began in July 1914, Italy was a partner in the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but decided to remain neutral. However, a strong sentiment existed within the general population and political factions to go to war against Austria-Hungary, Italy’s historical enemy.
1937, May 6 - The Hindenburg disaster occurs in Manchester Township, New Jersey, United States.
1937, May 12 - King George VI was crowned at Westminster Abbey, following the abdication of his older brother Edward who abdicated so he could marry American socialite Wallis Simpson.
1937, May 27 - In San Francisco, 200,000 people celebrated the grand opening of the Golden Gate Bridge by strolling across it.
1940, May 10 - Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He lead the U.K through the tumultuous years of World War II.
1941, May 24 - The German Battleship Bismarck sinks the battlecruiser HMS Hood during a naval engagement in the Second World War, resulting in the death of all but 3 of her crew of 1,418. During the engagement, the Bismarck‘s fuel tank was damaged and headed for occupied France to effect repairs. Two days later the Bismarck was attacked by torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal; rendering the battleship's steering gear inoperable. In her final battle the following morning, the already-crippled Bismarck was engaged by two British battleships and two heavy cruisers, and sustained incapacitating damage and heavy loss of life. The ship was scuttled to prevent her being boarded by the British, and to limit further casualties. There were 2,300 German casualties.
1942, May 6 - U.S. Lt. General Jonathan Wainwright surrenders all U.S. troops in the Philippines unconditionally to the Japanese. All surviving troops; 12,000 Americans and 66,000 Filipinos, were taken to a prison stockade in Manila. This was the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers ever to surrender.
1945, May 7 - Germany surrenders unconditionally to the Allied forces, bringing an end to World War II in Europe.
1946, May 25 - Jordan's Independence Day marking its independence from The United Kingdom.
1948, May 14 - Israel declared its independence from British rule.
1949, May 12 - Soviets end blockade of Berlin.
1949, May 23 - The Federal Republic of Germany (German: Bundesrepublik Deutschland) is established with the consolidation of the western sectors, controlled by France, the United Kingdom and the United States. On 7 October 1949, the Soviet Zone became the German Democratic Republic (GDR) When West and East Germany were reunited in 1990, West Germany’s constitution and official name (Federal Republic of Germany) were adopted by the former East German state.
1953, May 29 - Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay completed the first confirmed ascent of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. More
1954, May 7 - French defeated at Dien Bien Phu bringing an end to French colonial efforts in Indochina. Vietnam was partitioned by the Geneva Accords of 1954 into Communist North Vietnam and non-Communist South Vietnam. President Eisenhower sent some 700 military personnel as well as military and economic aid to the government of South Vietnam. In 1961, JFK authorized sending additional Special Forces troops and military advisors to South Vietnam. By the end of 1962, there were approximately 11,000 military personnel in South Vietnam and 16,000 by the end of 1963.
1954, May 17 - The Supreme Court of the United States hands down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.
1955, May 6 - The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) Joins NATO.
1955, May 14 - The Warsaw Treaty Organization (also known as the Warsaw Pact), a political and military alliance between the Soviet Union and several Eastern European countries. The Soviet Union formed this alliance as a counterbalance to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a collective security alliance concluded between the United States, Canada and Western European nations in 1949. More
1958, May 13 - Vice President Nixon’s motorcade was attacked in Caracas by angry Venezuelans during his goodwill trip through Latin America. The trip was characterized by Latin American anger over the U.S. Cold War policies. Earlier on the trip Nixon had engaged in loud and bitter debates with student groups during his travels through Peru and Uruguay.
1960, May 1 - An American U-2 spy plane flying at 60,000 feet was shot down over Sverdlovsk in central Russia. The pilot, CIA agent Francis Gary Powers, survived the crash, and was tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
1960, May 20 - Cameroon National Day. Cameroon gained independence on 1 January 1960, but does not celebrate that date. Instead, it celebrates the National Day on 20 May commemorating the 1972 Cameroonian constitutional referendum.
1960, May 22 - A magnitude 9.5 earthquake, The largest earthquake ever measured, - occurred along the coast of Chile causing a tsunami which radiated outward from a subduction zone along the coast. Its waves reached Hawaii in 15 hours and Japan in 22 hours. In Chile, the earthquake and the tsunami that followed took more than 2,000 lives and caused property damage estimated at $550 million (1960 dollars).The tsunami killed 61 people in Hawaii and 122 in Japan.
1961, May 5 - Alan Shepard became the first American in space. He piloted the spacecraft Freedom 7 during a 15-minute 28-second suborbital flight that reached an altitude of 116 miles (186 kilometers) above the earth.
1961, May 25 - United States President. John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade.
1966, May 26 - Guyana gains Independence from the United Kingdom.
1970, May 4 - Four students were killed and nine others were injured when National Guardsmen opened fire on a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War at Kent State University in Ohio, United States.
1972, May 26 - U.S. and Soviet Union sign strategic arms control agreement known as SALT I
1980, May 18 - Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state, killing 57 people. Hundreds of square miles of wilderness were reduced to wasteland,
1981, May 13 - Pope John Paul II was shot four times by Mehmet Ali Agca in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
1989, May 10 - Tens of thousands of Chinese students and civilians gathered in Tiananmen Square in Beijing to protest for democracy and government accountability, leading to a violent crackdown by the Chinese government.
1990, May 4 - Day of the Restoration of Latvian Independence after the end of occupation by the Soviet Union. The Supreme Council adopted the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia, and the Latvian SSR was renamed Republic of Latvia.
1991, May 19 - Somaliland Independence day. Officially the Republic of Somaliland,is an unrecognized de facto sovereign state in the Horn of Africa. Its claimed territory has an area of 68,000 square miles with approximately 5.7 million residents
1991, May 24 - Eritrea Independence day from Ethiopia.
1994, May 6 - The Tunnel, or “Chunnel,” built under the English Channel is officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II and French president, François Mitterrand. The Chunnel is 31 miles long, 23 of them underwater at an average depth of 150 feet below the sea bed, making it the world’s longest undersea tunnel. The Chunnel cuts travel time between England and France to 35 minutes.
1994, May 10 - Nelson Mandela becomes the first African president of democratic South Africa. .. More
2003, May 1 - United States President George W. Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, marking the conclusion of the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces.
2004, May 1 - Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, along with the island of Malta and the Greek portion of the island of Cyprus joined the EU,
2011, May 2 - Osama bin Laden is killed by US forces in Pakistan.