1492: Christopher Columbus is given royal commission by Spanish monarchs Isabella I and Ferdinand II to equip his fleet to the New World.
1527: Henry VIII and Francis I of France sign the Treaty of Westminster, pledging to combine their forces against Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in an attempt to win War of the League of Cognac.
1563: Jews are expelled from France by order of Charles VI.
1763: Member of Parliament and journalist John Wilkes is confined in the Tower of London, charged with seditious libel.
1789: George Washington is inaugurated as the first President of the USA.
1803: Chancellor Robert Livingstone and future president James Munroe sign the Louisiana Purchase Treaty in Paris at a cost of $15 million, doubling the size of the USA.
1859: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is first published in weekly instalments in literary periodical “All the Year Round”.
1871: Camp Grant Massacre of Apaches in Arizona Territory.
1883: Death of French impressionist painter Édouard Manet, aged 51.
1897: English physicist J J Thomson announces his discovery of the electron in a lecture to the Royal Institution.
1900: Casey Jones dies heroically in a train wreck at Vaughn, Mississippi, while driving the Cannonball Express.
1902: Debussy’s only completed opera “Pelléas et Mélisande” premieres in Paris.
1904: The ice cream cone makes its debut.
1920: Britain ends conscription.
1938: The first televised FA Cup Final takes place between Huddersfield Town and Preston North End.
1943: Noel Coward’s “This Happy Breed” premieres in London.
1945: The Red Army opens an attack on the German Reichstag building in Berlin. On the same day, Adolf Hitler commits suicide along with his new wife Eva Braun in the Fuhrerbunker.
1947: The Boulder Dam is renamed in honour of Herbert Hoover.
1955: Element atomic number 101, Mendelevium, announced.
1961: Lee Harvey Oswald marries Marina Prusakova in Minsk, USSR.
1970: Twiggs Lyndon, road manager for The Allman Brothers Band, was arrested for murder after he stabbed a club manager during an argument over a contract. At the ensuing trial, Lyndon’s lawyers argued that he had been temporarily insane and that touring with The Allman Brothers would drive anyone insane. Lyndon was acquitted. On the same day, US troops invade Cambodia.
1973: President Nixon announces the resignations of Haldeman, Ehrlichman and others in the Watergate scandal.
1975: North Vietnamese troops capture Saigon, ending the Vietnam War.
1976: Keith Moon paid nine cab drivers to block-off both ends of a New York street so he could throw the contents of his hotel room out of the window. On the same day, Muhammad Ali beats Jimmy Young in 15 rounds for the world heavyweight boxing title.
1980: Terrorists seize the Iranian Embassy in London. On the same day, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, abdicates on her 71st birthday and Princess Beatrix becomes Queen.
1983: Blues legend Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield) died in his sleep at his home in Westmont, Illinois, aged 68.
1988: Celine Dion wins the Eurovision Song Contest for Switzerland singing “Ne partez pas sans moi” in Dublin. On the same day, Tom Hanks marries actress Rita Wilson.
1989: The World Wide Web is first launched in the public domain by CERN scientist Tim Berners-Lee. On the same day, Sergio Leone, director who invented the spaghetti western, dies aged 60.
1993: The World Wide Web source code is released by CERN, making the software freely available to all. On the same day, Virgin Radio launches in the UK.
1994: Driver Roland Ratzenberger is killed during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.
1997: Big Ben stops at 12:11pm for 54 minutes.
1999: Three former members of Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley, Steve Norman and John Keeble lost a court case against songwriter Gary Kemp for £1 million in lost royalties. On the same day, Nazareth drummer Darrell Sweet died aged 52, after suffering a fatal heart attack before a show in New Albany, Indiana.
2004: New child abuse charges were made against Michael Jackson, including a count of conspiracy, covering allegations of child abduction, extortion and false imprisonment. A new court date of May 28 was set. On the same day, US media release graphic photos of American soldiers abusing and sexually humiliating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison.
2008: Skeletal remains found near Ekaterinburg, Russia, are confirmed by Russian scientists to be the remains of Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia and one of his sisters, killed during the Russian Revolution. On the same day, Mariah Carey married actor Nick Cannon in the Bahamas following a whirlwind two-month romance.
2009: A failed attack on the Dutch Royal Family results in 7 deaths. On the same day, Britain formally ends combat operations in Iraq.
2013: Willem-Alexander becomes the first male monarch of Netherlands in 123 years, following the abdication of his mother, Queen Beatrix.
2014: Guitarist Wilko Johnson had a major operation in an attempt to treat his previously diagnosed terminal pancreatic cancer.
2015: Ben E King, (Benjmin Earl Nelson), soul and R&B singer with The Drifters, died aged 76. On the same day, US Senator Bernie Sanders announces he will seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for President.
2018: Sajid Javid is named Home Secretary by Prime Minister Teresa May.
2019: Emperor Akihito of Japan declares his abdication at a ceremony in Tokyo. On the same day, former Level 42 guitarist Boon Gould died age 64. On the same day, Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) dies aged 74.
BIRTHDAYS: Chloris Leachman, actress, 94; Wayne Kramer, guitarist (The MC5), 72; Merrill Osmond, singer/bassist (The Osmonds) 67; Jane Campion, film director, 66; Lars von Trier, film director, 64; Barrington Levy, reggae artist, 56; Adrian Pasdar, actor, 55; Johnny Galecki, actor, 45; Sam Heughan, actor, 40; Justin Vernon, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer (Bon Iver), 39; John O’Shea, footballer, 39; Kunal Nayar, actor, 39; Kirsten Dunst, actress, 38; Stevie Aiello, musician, (30 Seconds to Mars), 37; Gal Gadot, actress, 35; Dianna Agron, actress, 34.