On This Day … 20 July


  • AD 70 – Siege of Jerusalem: Titus, son of emperor Vespasian, storms the Fortress of Antonia north of the Temple Mount. The Roman army is drawn into street fights with the Zealots.
  • 792 – Kardam of Bulgaria defeats Byzantine Emperor Constantine VI at the Battle of Marcellae.
  • 911 – Rollo lays siege to Chartres.
  • 1189 – Richard I of England officially invested as Duke of Normandy.
  • 1225 – Treaty of San Germano is signed at San Germano between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX. A Dominican named Guala is responsible for the negotiations.
  • 1398 – The Battle of Kellistown was fought on this day between the forces of the English led by Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March against the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles under the command of Art Óg mac Murchadha Caomhánach, the most powerful Chieftain in Leinster.
  • 1402 – Ottoman-Timurid Wars: Battle of Ankara: Timur, ruler of Timurid Empire, defeats forces of the Ottoman Empire sultan Bayezid I.
  • 1592 – During the first Japanese invasion of Korea, Japanese forces led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi captured Pyongyang, although they were ultimately unable to hold it.
  • 1715 – Seventh Ottoman–Venetian War: The Ottoman Empire captures Nauplia, the capital of the Republic of Venice’s “Kingdom of the Morea”, thereby opening the way to the swift Ottoman reconquest of the Morea.
  • 1738 – Canadian explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes et de La Vérendrye reaches the western shore of Lake Michigan.
  • 1799 – Tekle Giyorgis I begins his first of six reigns as Emperor of Ethiopia.
  • 1807 – Nicéphore Niépce is awarded a patent by Napoleon for the Pyréolophore, the world’s first internal combustion engine, after it successfully powered a boat upstream on the river Saône in France.
  • 1810 – Citizens of Bogotá, New Granada declare independence from Spain.
  • 1831 – Seneca and Shawnee people agree to relinquish their land in western Ohio for 60,000 acres west of the Mississippi River.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of Peachtree Creek: Near Atlanta, Georgia, Confederate forces led by General John Bell Hood unsuccessfully attack Union troops under General William T. Sherman.
  • 1866 – Austro-Prussian War: Battle of Lissa: The Austrian Navy, led by Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, defeats the Italian Navy near the island of Vis in the Adriatic Sea.
  • 1871 – British Columbia joins the confederation of Canada.
  • 1903 – The Ford Motor Company ships its first automobile.
  • 1917 – World War I: The Corfu Declaration, which leads to the creation of the post-war Kingdom of Yugoslavia, is signed by the Yugoslav Committee and Kingdom of Serbia.
  • 1920 – The Greek Army takes control of Silivri after Greece is awarded the city by the Paris Peace Conference; by 1923 Greece effectively lost control to the Turks.
  • 1922 – The League of Nations awards mandates of Togoland to France and Tanganyika to the United Kingdom.
  • 1932 – In the Preußenschlag, German President Hindenburg places Prussia directly under the rule of the national government.
  • 1934 – West Coast waterfront strike: In Seattle, police fire tear gas on and club 2,000 striking longshoremen. The governor of Oregon calls out the National Guard to break a strike on the Portland docks.
  • 1936 – The Montreux Convention is signed in Switzerland, authorising Turkey to fortify the Dardanelles and Bosphorus but guaranteeing free passage to ships of all nations in peacetime.
  • 1940 – Denmark leaves the League of Nations.
  • 1941 – Soviet leader Joseph Stalin consolidates the Commissariats of Home Affairs and National Security to form the NKVD and names Lavrentiy Beria its chief.
  • 1944 – World War II: Adolf Hitler survives an assassination attempt led by German Army Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg.
  • 1949 – The Israel–Syria Mixed Armistice Commission brokers the last of four ceasefire agreements to end the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
  • 1950 – Cold War: In Philadelphia, Harry Gold pleads guilty to spying for the Soviet Union by passing secrets from atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs.
  • 1954 – Germany: Otto John, head of West Germany’s secret service, defects to East Germany.
  • 1960 – Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) elects Sirimavo Bandaranaike Prime Minister, the world’s first elected female head of government.
  • 1960 – The Polaris missile is successfully launched from a submarine, the USS George Washington, for the first time.
  • 1961 – French military forces break the Tunisian siege of Bizerte.
  • 1964 – Vietnam War: Viet Cong forces attack the capital of Định Tường Province, Cái Bè, killing 11 South Vietnamese military personnel and 40 civilians (30 of whom are children).
  • 1968 – The first International Special Olympics Summer Games are held at Soldier Field in Chicago, with about 1,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities.
  • 1969 – A cease fire is announced between Honduras and El Salvador, six days after the beginning of the “Football War”.
  • 1974 – Turkish invasion of Cyprus: Forces from Turkey invade Cyprus after a coup d’état, organised by the dictator of Greece, against president Makarios.
  • 1977 – The Central Intelligence Agency releases documents under the Freedom of Information Act revealing it had engaged in mind-control experiments.
  • 1982 – Hyde Park and Regent’s Park bombings: The Provisional IRA detonates two bombs in Hyde Park and Regent’s Park in central London, killing eight soldiers, wounding forty-seven people, and leading to the deaths of seven horses.
  • 1985 – The government of Aruba passes legislation to secede from the Netherlands Antilles.
  • 1989 – Burma’s ruling junta puts opposition leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest.
  • 1997 – The fully restored USS Constitution (a.k.a. Old Ironsides) celebrates its 200th birthday by setting sail for the first time in 116 years.
  • 2013 – Seventeen government soldiers are killed in an attack by FARC revolutionaries in the Colombian department of Arauca.
  • Independence Day, celebrates the independence declaration of Colombia from Spain in 1810.

People (Births)

  • 356 BC – Alexander the Great, Macedonian king (d. 323 BC).
  • 1774 – Auguste de Marmont, French general (d. 1852).
  • 1873 – Alberto Santos-Dumont, Brazilian pilot (d. 1932).
  • 1893 – George Llewelyn Davies, English soldier (d. 1915).
  • 1920 – Elliot Richardson, American lieutenant and politician, 11th United States Secretary of Defence (d. 1999).
  • 1945 – Larry Craig, American soldier and politician.

People (Deaths)

  • 1514 – György Dózsa, Transylvanian peasant revolt leader (b. 1470).
  • 1616 – Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, Irish nobleman and rebel soldier (b. 1550).
  • 1704 – Peregrine White, English-American farmer and soldier (b. 1620).
  • 1923 – Pancho Villa, Mexican general and politician, Governor of Chihuahua (b. 1878).
  • 1944 – Ludwig Beck, German general (b. 1880).
  • 1956 – James Alexander Calder, Canadian educator and politician, Canadian Minister of Militia and Defence (b. 1868).
  • 1976 – Joseph Rochefort, American captain and cryptanalyst (b. 1900).
  • 1983 – Frank Reynolds, American soldier and journalist (b. 1923).
  • 1987 – Richard Egan, American soldier and actor (b. 1921).
  • 2008 – Dinko Šakić, Croatian concentration camp commander (b. 1921).

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