On This Day … 20 January


  • 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.
  • 1783 – The Kingdom of Great Britain signs preliminary articles of peace with France, setting the stage for 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.
  • 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 – World War II: 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 launches its nuclear weapons programme, a few weeks after its defeat in the Bangladesh Liberation War, as well as the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
  • 1974 – China gains control over all the Paracel Islands after a military engagement between the naval forces of China and South Vietnam.
  • 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.
  • 2018 – A group of four or five gunmen attack The Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, sparking a 12-hour battle.
    • The attack kills 40 people and injures many others.
  • 2018 – Syrian civil war: The Government of Turkey announces the initiation of the Afrin offensive and begins shelling Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) positions in Afrin Region.
  • 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).
  • 1909 – Gōgen Yamaguchi, Japanese martial artist (d. 1989).
  • 1930 – Buzz Aldrin, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut.
  • 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)

  • 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).
  • Sibusiso Moyo, Zimbabwean politician, army general (b. 1960).

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