It happened today – this day in history – April 17

1397: Geoffrey Chaucer tells the “Canterbury Tales” for the first time at the court of Richard II.

1492: Christopher Columbus signs a contract with the Spanish monarchs to find the “Indies” with the stated goal of converting people to Catholicism. This promises him 10 per cent of all riches found, and the governorship of any lands encountered.

1534: Sir Thomas More is confined in the Tower of London.

1790: Death of inventor and US founding father Benjamin Franklin aged 84.

1808: Napoleon orders the seizure of US ships.

1860: Acknowledged as first world title bout, champion of England Tom Sayers and American John Heenan fight out a brutal 2 hour, 27 minute draw near Farnborough before police stop the fight.

1865: Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

1875: Modern Snooker invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain, a bored British officer in Jabalpur, India.

1932: Emperor Haile Selassie ends slavery in Ethiopia.

1939: Joe Louis KOs Jack Roper in Round 1 for the heavyweight boxing title.

1941: British troops land in Iraq. On the same day, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia surrenders to Germany.

1945: Italian leader Benito Mussolini flees from Salò to Milan.

1948: Elpidio Quirino becomes President of the Philippines following the death of President Manuel Roxas.

1956: Premium Bonds are introduced in Britain.

1960: American singer Eddie Cochran was killed when the taxi he was travelling in crashed into a lamppost on Rowden Hill, Chippenham. Fellow passenger Gene Vincent survived.

1961: 1,400 Cuban exiles land in Bay of Pigs in a doomed attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.

1964: Jerrie Mock becomes the first woman to fly solo around the world.

1967: Italian boxer Nino Benvenuti beats American Emile Griffith in a 15 round points decision to win world middleweight crown at Madison Square Garden.

1969: Alexander Dubcek is forced to resign as first secretary of Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party. On the same day, Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Sen Robert Kennedy and Bernadette Devlin becomes the youngest woman Member of Parliament elected to Westminster at 21 years old.

1970: Apollo 13 successfully limps back to earth after an oxygen tank exploded while in space.

1975: The Khmer Rouge captures Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

1979: Four Royal Ulster Constabulary officers are killed by a Provisional IRA van bomb in Bessbrook, County Armagh.

1983: Felix Pappalardi, producer of Cream and bass player with American rock band Mountain was shot dead by his wife Gail Collins. On the same day, Grete Waltz runs female world record marathon (2:25:29).

1984: Police officer Yvonne Fletcher is shot dead during a demonstration outside the Libyan Embassy in London.

1987: Reggae drummer and percussion player Carlton Barrett, of The Wailers was shot dead outside his house in Kingston, Jamaica.

1993: Two Los Angeles police officers are convicted in federal court of violating motorist Rodney King’s civil rights.

1998: Linda McCartney died after a long battle with cancer.

2005: Little Britain wins the BAFTA for best comedy.

2008: Danny Federici, the longtime keyboard player for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, died of cancer at the age of 58.

2009: Morrissey walked off stage during his set at the Coachella festival in California after declaring he could ‘smell burning flesh’ coming from nearby barbecues.

2012: The 8th century St. Cuthbert Gospel, Europe’s oldest intact book, is purchased by the British Library for £9 million.

2013: Same-sex marriage is legalised in New Zealand.

2014: Death of writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez aged 87.

2015: Jimmy Anderson becomes the highest wicket-taking bowler in England’s test cricket history.

2018: Former First Lady Barbara Bush dies aged 92.

2019: Alan García, former President of Peru, commits suicide by shooting himself as police try to arrest him on corruption charges.

BIRTHDAYS: Chris Barber, trombonist/bandleader, 90; David Bradley, actor, 78; Roy Estrada, bassist (Frank Zappa/Little Feat) 77; Henry Kelly, broadcaster, 74; Jan Hammer, keyboardist (Mahavishnu Orchestra) 72; Olivia Hussey, actress, 69; Michael Sembello, songwriter/musician, 66; Nick Hornby, writer, 63; Sean Bean, actor 61; Maynard James Keenan, singer (Tool), 56; Liz Phair, singer-songwriter, 53; Jennifer Garner, actress, 48; Claire Sweeney, actress, 48; Victoria Beckham, fashion designer/former Spice Girl, 46; Mikael Åkerfeldt, guitarist/singer (Opeth), 46; Eliza Doolittle (Caird), singer-songwriter, 32.

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]