- 1568 – Battle of Langside: The forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, are defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, Earl of Moray, her half-brother.
- 1779 – War of the Bavarian Succession: Russian and French mediators at the Congress of Teschen negotiate an end to the war. In the agreement Austria receives the part of its territory that was taken from it (the Innviertel).
- 1787 – Captain Arthur Phillip leaves Portsmouth, England, with eleven ships full of convicts (the “First Fleet”) to establish a penal colony in Australia.
- 1804 – Forces sent by Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli to retake Derna from the Americans attack the city.
- 1830 – Ecuador gains its independence from Gran Colombia.
- 1846 – Mexican–American War: The United States declares war on the Federal Republic of Mexico following a dispute over the American annexation of the Republic of Texas and a Mexican military incursion.
- 1861 – American Civil War: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a “proclamation of neutrality” which recognises the Confederacy as having belligerent rights.
- 1862 – The USS Planter, a steamer and gunship, steals through Confederate lines and is passed to the Union, by a southern slave, Robert Smalls, who later was officially appointed as captain, becoming the first black man to command a United States ship.
- 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Resaca: The battle begins with Union General Sherman fighting toward Atlanta.
- 1865 – American Civil War: Battle of Palmito Ranch: In far south Texas, the last land battle of the Civil War ends with a Confederate victory.
- 1880 – In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electric railway.
- 1912 – The Royal Flying Corps, the forerunner of the Royal Air Force, is established in the United Kingdom.
- 1940 – World War II: Germany’s conquest of France begins as the German army crosses the Meuse. Winston Churchill makes his “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech to the House of Commons.
- 1940 – Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands flees her country to Great Britain after the German invasion. Princess Juliana takes her children to Canada for their safety.
- 1941 – World War II: Yugoslav royal colonel Dragoljub Mihailović starts fighting against German occupation troops, beginning the Serbian resistance.
- 1943 – World War II: Operations Vulcan and Strike force the surrender of the last Axis troops in Tunisia.
- 1948 – Arab–Israeli War: The Kfar Etzion massacre is committed by Arab irregulars, the day before the declaration of independence of the state of Israel on May 14.
- 1954 – The anti-National Service Riots, by Chinese middle school students in Singapore, take place.
- 1958 – May 1958 crisis: A group of French military officers lead a coup in Algiers demanding that a government of national unity be formed with Charles de Gaulle at its head in order to defend French control of Algeria.
- 1971 – Over 900 unarmed Bengali Hindus are murdered in the Demra massacre.
- 1972 – The Troubles: A car bombing outside a crowded pub in Belfast sparks a two-day gun battle involving the Provisional IRA, Ulster Volunteer Force and British Army. Seven people are killed and over 66 injured.
- 1998 – India carries out two nuclear weapon tests at Pokhran, following the three conducted on 11 May. The United States and Japan impose economic sanctions on India.
- 2005 – Andijan uprising, Uzbekistan; Troops open fire on crowds of protesters after a prison break; at least 187 people were killed according to official estimates.
- 1753 – Lazare Carnot, French general, mathematician, and politician, French Minister of the Interior (d. 1823).
- 1830 – Zebulon Baird Vance, American colonel, lawyer, and politician, 37th Governor of North Carolina (d. 1894).
- 1912 – Judah Nadich, American colonel and rabbi (d. 2007).
- 1929 – John Galvin, American general (d. 2015).
- 1930 – Mike Gravel, American lieutenant and politician.
- 1573 – Takeda Shingen, Japanese daimyō (b. 1521).
- 1807 – Eliphalet Dyer, American colonel, lawyer, and politician (b. 1721).
- 1974 – Arthur J. Burks, American colonel and author (b. 1898).
- 2014 – J. F. Coleman, American soldier and pilot (b. 1918).