On This Day … 31 May


  • 455 – Emperor Petronius Maximus is stoned to death by an angry mob while fleeing Rome.
  • 1223 – Mongol invasion of the Cumans: Battle of the Kalka River: Mongol armies of Genghis Khan led by Subutai defeat Kievan Rus’ and Cumans.
  • 1293 – Mongol invasion of Java was a punitive expedition against King Kertanegara of Singhasari, who had refused to pay tribute to the Yuan and maimed one of its ministers. However, it ended with failure for the Mongols. Regarded as establish City of Surabaya.
  • 1775 – American Revolution: The Mecklenburg Resolves are adopted in the Province of North Carolina.
  • 1790 – Manuel Quimper explores the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
  • 1795 – French Revolution: The Revolutionary Tribunal is suppressed.
  • 1805 – French and Spanish forces begin the assault against British forces occupying Diamond Rock.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: Peninsula Campaign: Confederate forces under Joseph E. Johnston and G.W. Smith engage Union forces under George B. McClellan outside Richmond, Virginia.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: Overland Campaign: Battle of Cold Harbor: The Army of Northern Virginia engages the Army of the Potomac.
  • 1884 – The arrival at Plymouth of Tāwhiao, King of Maoris, to claim the protection of Queen Victoria.
  • 1902 – Second Boer War: The Treaty of Vereeniging ends the war and ensures British control of South Africa.
  • 1910 – The South Africa Act comes into force, establishing the Union of South Africa.
  • 1911 – The President of Mexico Porfirio Díaz flees the country during the Mexican Revolution.
  • 1916 – World War I: Battle of Jutland: The British Grand Fleet engages the High Seas Fleet in the largest naval battle of the war, which proves indecisive.
  • 1941 – Anglo-Iraqi War: The United Kingdom completes the re-occupation of Iraq and returns ‘Abd al-Ilah to power as regent for Faisal II.
  • 1942 – World War II: Imperial Japanese Navy midget submarines begin a series of attacks on Sydney, Australia.
  • 1961 – The South African Constitution of 1961 becomes effective.
  • 1971 – In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the US Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May for the first time, rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.
  • 1973 – The United States Senate votes to cut off funding for the bombing of Khmer Rouge targets within Cambodia, hastening the end of the Cambodian Civil War.
  • 1991 – Bicesse Accords in Angola lay out a transition to multi-party democracy under the supervision of the United Nations’ UNAVEM II mission.
  • 2010 – Israeli Shayetet 13 commandos boarded the Gaza Freedom Flotilla while still in international waters trying to break the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip; nine Turkish citizens on the flotilla were killed in the ensuing violent affray.
  • Anniversary of Royal Brunei Malay Regiment (Brunei).

People (Births)

  • 1835 – Hijikata Toshizō, Japanese commander (d. 1869).
  • 1892 – Erich Neumann, German lieutenant and politician (d. 1951).
  • 1892 – Gregor Strasser, German lieutenant and politician (d. 1934).
  • 1927 – James Eberle, English admiral (d. 2018).
  • 1927 – Michael Sandberg, Baron Sandberg, English lieutenant and banker (d. 2017).
  • 1948 – Duncan Hunter, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician.

People (Deaths)

  • 455 – Petronius Maximus, Roman emperor (b. 396).
  • 1408 – Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, Japanese shōgun (b. 1358).
  • 1558 – Philip Hoby, English general and diplomat (b. 1505).
  • 1809 – Jean Lannes, French general (b. 1769).
  • 1945 – Odilo Globocnik, Italian-Austrian SS officer (b. 1904).
  • 1957 – Stefanos Sarafis, Greek general and politician (b. 1890).
  • 2011 – John Martin, English admiral and politician, Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey (b. 1918).

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