On This Day … 20 April


  • 1453 – Three Genoese galleys and a Byzantine blockade runner fight their way through an Ottoman blockading fleet a few weeks before the fall of Constantinople.
  • 1534 – Jacques Cartier begins his first voyage to what is today the east coast of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • 1653 – Oliver Cromwell dissolves the Rump Parliament.
  • 1657 – Admiral Robert Blake destroys a Spanish silver fleet under heavy fire at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
  • 1689 – Deposed monarch James II of England lays siege to Derry.
  • 1752 – Start of Konbaung–Hanthawaddy War, a new phase in the Burmese Civil War (1740–57).
  • 1770 – The Georgian king, Erekle II, abandoned by his Russian ally Count Totleben, wins a victory over Ottoman forces at Aspindza.
  • 1775 – American Revolutionary War: The Siege of Boston begins, following the battles at Lexington and Concord.
  • 1789 – George Washington arrives at Grays Ferry, Philadelphia while en route to Manhattan for his inauguration.
  • 1792 – France declares war against the “King of Hungary and Bohemia”, the beginning of French Revolutionary Wars.
  • 1800 – The Septinsular Republic is established.
  • 1809 – Two Austrian army corps in Bavaria are defeated by a First French Empire army led by Napoleon at the Battle of Abensberg on the second day of a four-day campaign that ended in a French victory.
  • 1810 – The Governor of Caracas, Venezuela declares independence from Spain.
  • 1818 – The case of Ashford v Thornton ends, with Abraham Thornton allowed to go free rather than face a retrial for murder, after his demand for trial by battle is upheld.
  • 1828 – René Caillié becomes the second non-Muslim to enter (and the first to return from) Timbuktu, following Major Gordon Laing.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army in order to command the forces of the state of Virginia.
  • 1876 – The April Uprising begins. Its suppression shocks European opinion, and Bulgarian independence becomes a condition for ending the Russo-Turkish War.
  • 1898 – U.S. President William McKinley signed a joint resolution to Congress for declaration of War against Spain, beginning the Spanish–American War.
  • 1902 – Pierre and Marie Curie refine radium chloride.
  • 1918 – Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. The Red Baron, shoots down his 79th and 80th victims, his final victories before his death the following day.
  • 1922 – The Soviet government creates South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within Georgian SSR.
  • 1945 – World War II: U.S. troops capture Leipzig, Germany, only to later cede the city to the Soviet Union.
  • 1945 – World War II: Führerbunker: On his 56th birthday Adolf Hitler makes his last trip to the surface to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.
  • 1946 – The League of Nations officially dissolves, giving most of its power to the United Nations.
  • 1961 – Cold War: Failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion of US-backed Cuban exiles against Cuba.

People (Births)

  • 1772 – William Lawless, Irish revolutionary and French general (d. 1824).
  • 1882 – Holland Smith, American general (d. 1967).
  • 1889 – Adolf Hitler, Austrian born German politician, Führer of Nazi Germany (d. 1945).
  • 1890 – Adolf Schärf, Austrian soldier and politician, 6th President of Austria (d. 1965).
  • 1896 – Wop May, Canadian captain and pilot (d. 1952).
  • 1899 – Alan Arnett McLeod, Canadian lieutenant, Victoria Cross recipient (d. 1918).
  • 1919 – Richard Hillary, Australian lieutenant and pilot (d. 1943).
  • 1920 – Ronald Speirs, American colonel (d. 2007).
  • 1931 – Michael Allenby, 3rd Viscount Allenby, English lieutenant and politician (d. 2014).
  • 1936 – Pat Roberts, American captain, journalist, and politician.
  • 1945 – Thein Sein, Burmese general and politician, 8th President of Burma.
  • 1947 – Viktor Suvorov, Russian intelligence officer, historian, and author.
  • 1950 – Alexander Lebed, Russian general and politician (d. 2002).

People (Deaths)

  • 1886 – Charles-François-Frédéric, marquis de Montholon-Sémonville, French general and diplomat, French ambassador to the United States (b. 1814).
  • 1969 – Vjekoslav Luburić, Croatian Ustaše official and concentration camp administrator (b. 1914).
  • 1996 – Trần Văn Trà, Vietnamese general and politician (b. 1918).

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.