On This Day … 15 May

Events

  • 495 BC – A newly constructed temple in honour of the god Mercury was dedicated in ancient Rome on the Circus Maximus, between the Aventine and Palatine hills.
    • To spite the senate and the consuls, the people awarded the dedication to a senior military officer, Marcus Laetorius.
  • 221 – Liu Bei, Chinese warlord, proclaims himself emperor of Shu Han, the successor of the Han dynasty.
  • 392 – Emperor Valentinian II is assassinated while advancing into Gaul against the Frankish usurper Arbogast.
    • He is found hanging in his residence at Vienne.
  • 1525 – Insurgent peasants led by Anabaptist pastor Thomas Müntzer were defeated at the Battle of Frankenhausen, ending the German Peasants’ War in the Holy Roman Empire.
  • 1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stands trial in London on charges of treason, adultery and incest; she is condemned to death by a specially-selected jury.
  • 1648 – The Peace of Münster is ratified, by which Spain acknowledges Dutch sovereignty.
  • 1718 – James Puckle, a London lawyer, patents the world’s first machine gun.
  • 1776 – American Revolution: The Fifth Virginia Convention instructs its Continental Congress delegation to propose a resolution of independence from Great Britain, paving the way for the United States Declaration of Independence.
  • 1791 – French Revolution: Maximilien Robespierre proposes the Self-denying Ordinance.
  • 1792 – War of the First Coalition: France declares war on Kingdom of Sardinia.
  • 1793 – Diego Marín Aguilera flies a glider for “about 360 meters”, at a height of 5-6 metres, during one of the first attempted manned flights.
  • 1796 – War of the First Coalition: Napoleon enters Milan in triumph.
  • 1849 – The Sicilian revolution of 1848 is finally extinguished.
  • 1850 – The Bloody Island massacre takes place in Lake County, California, in which a large number of Pomo Indians are slaughtered by a regiment of the United States Cavalry.
  • 1850 – The Arana-Southern Treaty is ratified, ending “the existing differences” between Great Britain and Argentina.
  • 1864 – American Civil War: Battle of New Market, Virginia: Students from the Virginia Military Institute fight alongside the Confederate army to force Union General Franz Sigel out of the Shenandoah Valley.
  • 1904 – Russo-Japanese War: The Russian minelayer Amur lays a minefield about 15 miles off Port Arthur and sinks Japan’s battleships Hatsuse, 15,000 tons, with 496 crew and Yashima.
  • 1911 – More than 300 Chinese immigrants are killed in the Torreón massacre when the forces of the Mexican Revolution led by Emilio Madero take the city of Torreón from the Federales.
  • 1919 – Greek occupation of Smyrna. During the occupation, the Greek army kills or wounds 350 Turks; those responsible are punished by Greek commander Aristides Stergiades.
  • 1932 – In an attempted coup d’état, the Prime Minister of Japan Inukai Tsuyoshi is assassinated.
  • 1933 – All military aviation organizations within or under the control of the RLM of Germany were officially merged in a covert manner to form its Wehrmacht military’s air arm, the Luftwaffe.
  • 1934 – Kārlis Ulmanis establishes an authoritarian government in Latvia.
  • 1940 – USS Sailfish is recommissioned. It was originally the USS Squalus.
  • 1940 – World War II: After fierce fighting, the poorly trained and equipped Dutch troops surrender to Germany, marking the beginning of five years of occupation.
  • 1940 – Richard and Maurice McDonald open the first McDonald’s restaurant.
  • 1941 – First flight of the Gloster E.28/39 the first British and Allied jet aircraft.
  • 1942 – World War II: In the United States, a bill creating the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) is signed into law.
  • 1943 – Joseph Stalin dissolves the Comintern (or Third International).
  • 1945 – World War II: The Battle of Poljana, the final skirmish in Europe is fought near Prevalje, Slovenia.
  • 1948 – Following the expiration of The British Mandate for Palestine, the Kingdom of Egypt, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia invade Israel thus starting the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
  • 1957 – At Malden Island in the Pacific Ocean, Britain tests its first hydrogen bomb in Operation Grapple.
  • 1966 – Vietnam War: After a policy dispute, Prime Minister Nguyễn Cao Kỳ of South Vietnam’s ruling junta launches a military attack on the forces of General Tôn Thất Đính, forcing him to abandon his command.
  • 1969 – Vietnam War: People’s Park: California Governor Ronald Reagan has an impromptu student park owned by the University of California at Berkeley fenced off from student anti-war protestors, sparking a riot.
  • 1970 – President Richard Nixon appoints Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington the first female United States Army generals.
  • 1972 – The Ryukyu Islands, under US military governance since its conquest in 1945, reverts to Japanese control.
  • 1974 – Ma’alot massacre: Members of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine attack and take hostages at an Israeli school; a total of 31 people are killed, including 22 schoolchildren.
  • 1987 – The Soviet Union launches the Polyus prototype orbital weapons platform. It fails to reach orbit.
  • 1988 – Soviet-Afghan War: After more than eight years of fighting, the Soviet Army begins to withdraw 115,000 troops from Afghanistan.
  • 1997 – The United States government acknowledges the existence of the “Secret War” in Laos and dedicates the Laos Memorial in honour of Hmong and other “Secret War” veterans.
  • Army Day (Slovenia).
  • Earliest date on which Armed Forces Day (United States) can fall, while May 21 is the latest; celebrated on the third Saturday of May.
  • Independence Day (Paraguay), celebrates the independence of Paraguay from Spain in 1811.
    • Celebrations for the anniversary of the independence begin on Flag Day, 14 May.
  • International Conscientious Objectors Day.

People (Births)

  • 1786 – Dimitris Plapoutas, Greek general and politician (d. 1864).
  • 1803 – Juan Almonte, son of José María Morelos, was a Mexican soldier and diplomat who served as a regent in the Second Mexican Empire (1863-1864) (d. 1869).
  • 1841 – Clarence Dutton, American commander and geologist (d. 1912).
  • 1892 – Charles E. Rosendahl, American admiral (d. 1977).
  • 1894 – Feg Murray, American hurdler and cartoonist (d. 1973).
  • 1895 – Prescott Bush, American captain, banker, and politician (d. 1972).
  • 1895 – William D. Byron, American lieutenant and politician (d. 1941).
  • 1899 – Jean Étienne Valluy, French general (d. 1970).
  • 1902 – Sigizmund Levanevsky, Soviet aircraft pilot of Polish origin (d. 1937).
  • 1918 – Arthur Jackson, American lieutenant and target shooter (d. 2015).
  • 1925 – Carl Sanders, American soldier, pilot, and politician, 74th Governor of Georgia (d. 2014).
  • 1949 – Frank L. Culbertson Jr., American captain, pilot, and astronaut.
  • 1962 – Lisa Curry, Australian swimmer.
  • 1970 – Ben Wallace, English captain and politician.
  • 1979 – Daniel Caines, English sprinter.
  • 1982 – Veronica Campbell-Brown, Jamaican sprinter.

People (Deaths)

  • 1585 – Niwa Nagahide, Japanese samurai (b. 1535).
  • 1954 – William March, American soldier and author (b. 1893).
  • 2012 – Zakaria Mohieddin, Egyptian soldier and politician, 33rd Prime Minister of Egypt (b. 1918).
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