On This Day … 20 January


  • 1265 – The first English parliament to include not only Lords but also representatives of the major towns holds its first meeting in the Palace of Westminster, now commonly known as the “Houses of Parliament”.
  • 1356 – Edward Balliol surrenders his claim to the Scottish throne to Edward III in exchange for an English pension.
  • 1567 – Battle of Rio de Janeiro: Portuguese forces under the command of Estácio de Sá definitively drive the French out of Rio de Janeiro.
  • 1576 – The Mexican city of León is founded by order of the viceroy Don Martín Enríquez de Almanza.
  • 1649 – The High Court of Justice for the trial of Charles I begins its proceedings.
  • 1783 – The Kingdom of Great Britain signed preliminary articles of peace with France, setting the stage to the official end of hostilities in the American Revolutionary War later that year.
  • 1785 – Invading Siamese forces attempt to exploit the political chaos in Vietnam, but are ambushed and annihilated at the Mekong river by the Tây Sơn in the Battle of Rạch Gầm-Xoài Mút.
  • 1788 – The third and main part of First Fleet arrives at Botany Bay. Arthur Phillip decides that Port Jackson is a more suitable location for a colony.
  • 1839 – In the Battle of Yungay, Chile defeats an alliance between Peru and Bolivia.
  • 1841 – Hong Kong Island is occupied by the British.
  • 1877 – The last day of the Constantinople Conference results in agreement for political reforms in the Balkans.
  • 1887 – The United States Senate allows the Navy to lease Pearl Harbour as a naval base.
  • 1921 – The British K-class submarine HMS K5 sinks in the English Channel; all 56 on board die.
  • 1921 – The first Constitution of Turkey is adopted, making fundamental changes in the source and exercise of sovereignty by consecrating the principle of national sovereignty.
  • 1936 – King George V of the United Kingdom dies. His eldest son succeeds to the throne, becoming Edward VIII. The title Prince of Wales is not used for another 22 years.
  • 1941 – A German officer is killed in Bucharest, Romania, sparking a rebellion and pogrom by the Iron Guard, killing 125 Jews and 30 soldiers.
  • 1942 – World War II: At the Wannsee Conference held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, senior Nazi German officials discuss the implementation of the “Final Solution to the Jewish question”.
  • 1945 – World War II: The provisional government of Béla Miklós in Hungary agrees to an armistice with the Allies.
  • 1945 – World War II: Germany begins the evacuation of 1.8 million people from East Prussia, a task which will take nearly two months.
  • 1972 – Pakistan launched its nuclear weapons program, a few weeks after its defeat in the Bangladesh Liberation War, as well as the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
  • 1973 – Amílcar Cabral, leader of the independence movement in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, is assassinated in Conakry, Guinea.
  • 1991 – Sudan’s government imposes Islamic law nationwide, worsening the civil war between the country’s Muslim north and Christian south.
  • 2001 – President of the Philippines Joseph Estrada is ousted in a nonviolent four-day revolution, and is succeeded by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
  • Armed Forces Day (Mali).
  • Army Day (Laos).

People (Births)

  • 1436 – Ashikaga Yoshimasa, Japanese shōgun (d. 1490).
  • 1500 – Jean Quintin, French priest, knight and writer (d. 1561).
  • 1755 – Sir Albemarle Bertie, 1st Baronet, English admiral (d. 1824).
  • 1902 – Kevin Barry, Irish Republican Army volunteer (d. 1920).
  • 1930 – Buzz Aldrin, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut.
  • 1939 – Paul Coverdell, American captain and politician (d. 2000).
  • 1947 – Cyrille Guimard, French cyclist and sportscaster.
  • 1956 – John Naber, American swimmer.
  • 1964 – Jack Lewis, American soldier and author.
  • 1978 – Sonja Kesselschläger, German heptathlete.
  • 1980 – Philippe Gagnon, Canadian swimmer.
  • 1987 – Janin Lindenberg, German sprinter.

People (Deaths)

  • 924 – Li Jitao, Chinese general of Later Tang.
  • 1940 – Omar Bundy, American general (b. 1861).
  • 1980 – William Roberts, English soldier and painter (b. 1895).
  • 1984 – Johnny Weissmuller, American swimmer and actor (b. 1904).
  • 2018 – Naomi Parker Fraley, American naval machiner (b. 1921).

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