On This Day … 05 May


  • 1215 – Rebel barons renounce their allegiance to King John of England – part of a chain of events leading to the signing of the Magna Carta.
  • 1260 – Kublai Khan becomes ruler of the Mongol Empire.
  • 1494 – Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Jamaica and claims it for Spain.
  • 1640 – King Charles I of England dissolves the Short Parliament.
  • 1654 – Cromwell’s Act of Grace, aimed at reconciliation with the Scots, proclaimed in Edinburgh.
  • 1762 – Russia and Prussia sign the Treaty of St. Petersburg.
  • 1811 – Peninsular War: In the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, the British-Portuguese Army repels an attempt by the French Army of Portugal to relieve the besieged city of Almeida.
  • 1821 – Emperor Napoleon dies in exile on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.
  • 1835 – The first railway in continental Europe opens between Brussels and Mechelen.
  • 1860 – Giuseppe Garibaldi sets sail from Genoa, leading the expedition of the Thousand to conquer the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and giving birth to the Kingdom of Italy.
  • 1862 – Cinco de Mayo: Troops led by Ignacio Zaragoza halt a French invasion in the Battle of Puebla in Mexico.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: The Battle of the Wilderness begins in Spotsylvania County.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: The Confederate District of the Gulf surrenders about 4,000 men at Citronelle, Alabama.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: The Confederate government was declared dissolved at Washington, Georgia.
  • 1866 – Memorial Day first celebrated in United States at Waterloo, New York.
  • 1877 – American Indian Wars: Sitting Bull leads his band of Lakota into Canada to avoid harassment by the United States Army under Colonel Nelson Miles.
  • 1886 – The Bay View massacre: A militia fires into a crowd of protesters in Milwaukee, killing seven.
  • 1936 – Italian troops occupy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
  • 1940 – World War II: Norwegian refugees form a government-in-exile in London.
  • 1940 – World War II: Norwegian Campaign: Norwegian squads in Hegra Fortress and Vinjesvingen capitulate to German forces after all other Norwegian forces in southern Norway had laid down their arms.
  • 1941 – Emperor Haile Selassie returns to Addis Ababa; the country commemorates the date as Liberation Day or Patriots’ Victory Day.
  • 1945 – World War II: The German surrender at Lüneburg Heath becomes effective, encompassing all German armed forces opposing the 21st Army Group in northwestern Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
  • 1945 – World War II: Dönitz gives Löhr permission to seek an armistice with the Western Allies to preserve a communist free Austria and recognising first, from a German standpoint, the separation of Austria from Germany undoing the Anschluss.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Prague uprising begins as an attempt by the Czech resistance to free the city from German occupation.
  • 1945 – World War II: A Fu-Go balloon bomb launched by the Japanese Army kills six people near Bly, Oregon.
  • 1945 – World War II: Battle of Castle Itter, the only battle in which American and German troops fought cooperatively.
  • 1946 – The International Military Tribunal for the Far East begins in Tokyo with twenty-eight Japanese military and government officials accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • 1955 – The General Treaty, by which France, Britain and the United States recognise the sovereignty of West Germany, comes into effect.
  • 1961 – Alan Shepard becomes the first American to travel into outer space, on a sub-orbital flight.
  • 1980 – Operation Nimrod: The British Special Air Service storms the Iranian embassy in London after a six-day siege.
  • 1985 – Ronald Reagan visits the military cemetery at Bitburg and the site of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where he makes a speech.
  • 1987 – Iran–Contra affair: Start of Congressional televised hearings in the United States of America.
  • 1994 – The signing of the Bishkek Protocol between Armenia and Azerbaijan effectively freezes the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
  • 2006 – The government of Sudan signs an accord with the Sudan Liberation Army.
  • Cinco de Mayo (Mexico).
  • Liberation Day (Denmark and the Netherlands).

People (Births)

  • 1542 – Thomas Cecil, 1st Earl of Exeter, English soldier and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Northamptonshire (d. 1623).
  • 1764 – Robert Craufurd, Scottish general and politician (d. 1812).
  • 1883 – Archibald Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell, English general and politician, 43rd Governor-General of India (d. 1950).
  • 1887 – Mervyn S. Bennion, American captain, Medal of Honour recipient (d. 1941).
  • 1889 – Herbie Taylor, South African cricketer and soldier (d. 1973).
  • 1919 – Georgios Papadopoulos, Greek colonel and politician, 169th Prime Minister of Greece (d. 1999).

People (Deaths)

  • 1306 – Constantine Palaiologos, Byzantine general (b. 1261).
  • 1671 – Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester, English general and politician, Lord Chamberlain of the United Kingdom (b. 1602).
  • 1821 – Napoleon, French general and emperor (b. 1769).
  • 1907 – Şeker Ahmed Pasha, Turkish soldier and painter (b. 1841).
  • 1916 – John MacBride, Irish soldier and rebel (b. 1865).
  • 2002 – Hugo Banzer, Bolivian general and politician, 62nd President of Bolivia (b. 1926).
  • 2011 – Claude Choules, English-Australian soldier (b. 1901).

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