MAY 20 ~ ON THiS DAY in History

0325 ~ The 1st Council of Nicea and the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church were held on the 20th May 0325.

1498 ~ Vasco da Gama the Portuguese explorer discovered the sea route to India when he arrived at Kozhikode in India on the 20th May 1498 (previously known as Calicut).

Vasco da Gama explorer landing Calicut India 20May 1498 rowboat ships ocean sea watercolour painting Luís de Camões
Vasco da Gama landing at Calicut, India on the 20th May 1498 ~ watercolour painting 1880 by Luís de Camões

1506 ~ Christopher Columbus the Italian explorer and discoverer of the Americas died on the the 20th May 1506 (born 1451).

1570 ~ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum the first modern atlas was issued by Cartographer Abraham Ortelius on the 20th May 1570. 

1609 ~ Shakespeare’s sonnets were first published in London on the 20th May 1609, perhaps illicitly, by Thomas Thorpe the publisher.

1663 ~ William Bradford the English printer was born on the 20th May 1663 (died 1752).

1726 ~ Francis Cotes the English painter was born on the 20th May 1726 (died 1770).

1759 ~ William Thornton the West Indian born architect was born on the 20th May 1759 (died 1828).

1799 ~ Honoré de Balzac the French novelist was born on the 20th May 1799 (died 1850).

1813 ~ Napoleon Bonaparte led his French troops into the Battle of Bautzen in Saxony, Germany on the 20th May 1813, against the combined armies of Russia and Prussia. The battle ended the next day with a French victory.

1818 ~ William Fargo the American businessman and co-founder of Wells Fargo and American Express (died 1881).

1840 ~ York Minster was badly damaged by fire on the 20th May 1840.

1851 ~ Emile Berliner the German-American inventor that invented the Gramophone record was born on the 20th May 1851 (died 1929).

1873 ~ Levi Strauss & Jacob Davis received a U.S. patent for blue jeans with copper rivets on the 20th May 1873.

1875 ~ The Treaty of the Metre (Metre Convention) was signed by 17 nations on the 20th May 1875, leading to the establishment of the International System of Units.

1882 ~ Sigrid Undset the Norwegian author and Nobel Prize laureate was born on the 20th May 1882 (died 1949).

1883 ~ Krakatoa began to erupt on the 20th May 1883, resulting in the volcano exploding 3 months later, killing more than 36,000 people.

1891 ~ Thomas Edison‘s kinetoscope prototype was first put on public display on the 20th May 1891.

1895 ~ R. J. Mitchell the English aircraft designer of the Supermarine Spitfire was born on the 20th May 1895 (died 1937).

1899 ~ The 1st Traffic ticket in the US was issued on the 20th May 1899, to New York City taxi driver Jacob German was arrested for speeding while driving 12 miles per hour on Lexington Street.

1913William Reddington Hewlett the American engineer and co-founder of Hewlett-Packard was born on the 20th May 1913 (died 2001).

1916 ~ The Saturday Evening Post published its first cover on the 20th May 1916, with a Norman Rockwell painting (Boy with Baby Carriage).

1920Betty Driver the English singer, actress and author was born on the 20th May 1920 (died 2011).

1920 ~ XWA the Montreal radio station broadcasted the first regularly scheduled radio programming in North America on the 20th May 1920.

1927 ~ Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field in Long Island, New York, on the world’s first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on the 20th May 1927. He touched down at Le Bourget Field in Paris the next day.

1932 ~ Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland to begin the world’s first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean by a female pilot on the 20th May 1932, landing in Ireland the next day.

1940 ~ The Holocaust first prisoners arrived at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz on the 20th May 1940.

1944 ~ JOE COCKER the English singer-songwriter was born on the 20th May 1944.

1944Dietrich Mateschitz the Austrian businessman and co-founder of Red Bull GmbH was born on the 20th May 1944.

1946 ~ CHER the American singer, actress, producer and director was born on the 20th May 1946. Cher became prominent in 1965 with her husband in their duo known as Sonny & CherCher singing Gypsys, Tramps And Thieves (1971) YouTube video…

1953 ~ Robert Doyle the Australian politician was born on the 20th May 1953.

1954 ~ Guy Hoffman the American drummer from  the Violent Femmes was born on the 20th May 1954. Blister in the Sun YouTube video…

1955Anton Corbijn the Dutch photographer, music video director, and film director was born Anton Johannes Gerrit Corbijn van Willenswaard  in Strijen in the Netherlands on the 20th May 1955. Anton Corbijn was the creative visual director of Depeche Mode and U2 for almost 3 decades. Some of his works include music videos for Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence (1990), U2’s One (1991), Bryan Adams’ Do I Have to Say the Words? and Nirvana’s Heart-Shaped Box (1993) and others. Anton Corbijn’s official website:

1956 ~ Operation Redwing: The first United States airborne hydrogen bomb was dropped over Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean on the 20th May 1956.

1958Jane Wiedlin the American musician from The Go-Go’s was born on the 20th May 1958.

1970Louis Theroux the English broadcaster was born on the 20th May 1970.

1983 ~ First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes AIDS were published on the 20th May 1983 in the journal Science by Luc Montagnier.

2011 ~ “Macho Man” Randy Savage the American professional wrestler died on the 20th May 2011 (born 1952).

2012ROBiN GiBB the singer and songwriter from the BEE GEES died on the 20th day of May in 2012 aged 62. ♪♫ Robin is stayin’ alive in the songs he wrote and sung with his brothers ♪♫… 

Robin Gibb's 1985 4 Track 7inch vinyl record ~ Amiga Quartett label (East Germany pressing)
Robin Gibb’s 1985 4 Track 7inch vinyl record ~ Amiga Quartett label (East Germany pressing)

2013Ray Manzarek the American rock musician and founder of The Doors died on the 20th May 2013.

2013 ~ The MOORE TORNANDO hit MOORE, OKLAHOMA CiTY killing over 24 people, including 9 children, and injuring more than 240 others. The violent  EF5 tornado with winds at 340 km/h (210 miles per hour) touched down at 2:45 p.m. CDT (19:45 UTC) west of Newcastle in Oklahoma and stayed on the ground for about 50 minutes over a 27 km (17 mile) path, and 2.1 km (1.3 miles) wide at its peak. This YouTube video s a recording of the local KFOR broadcast of the deadly Moore, Oklahoma tornado from its origination just outside of Newcastle to the final spinning rope nearly 40 minutes later near Lake Stanley Draper…

Today in History for May 20th ~ video presented by the Associated Press

WORLD METROLOGY DAY is celebrated on the 20th May to celebrate the signature by representatives of 17 nations of the Metre Convention on the 20th May 1875. The Convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and in its industrial, commercial and societal application. The original aim of the Metre Convention was for the worldwide uniformity of measurement, which remains as important today as it was in 1875. See the official website:

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