It happened today – this day in history – May 17

1510: Death of painter Sandro Botticelli.

1536: Anne Boleyn’s supposed “four lovers” are executed shortly before her own beheading two days later.

1590: Anne of Denmark is crowned Queen of Scotland.

1733: Britain passes Molasses Act, putting high tariffs on rum and molasses imported to the colonies from a country other than British possessions.

1749: Birth of Edward Jenner, father of immunology.

1756: Britain declares war on France (Seven Years War).

1792: 24 merchants form the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street.

1824: Lord Byron’s diaries are burnt by six of the poet’s friends – sometimes described as “the greatest crime in literary history”.

1861: The first colour photograph of a tartan ribbon is shown by Scottish scientist John Clerk Maxwell to the Royal Institution in London.

1884: Alaska becomes a US territory.

1895: Cricketer W G Grace completes his 100th century for Gloucestershire against Somerset at Bristol.

1897: The first successful submarine able to run submerged for any considerable distance and combining electric and gasoline engines is launched in the US by its designer John Philip Holland.

1899: The foundation is laid to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

1900: British troops relieve the Cape colony of Mafeking. On the same day, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum is first published.

1915: The last Liberal government of Herbert Asquith falls.

1916: British Summer Time is introduced.

1926: Chiang Kai-shek is made supreme warlord in Canton.

1940: Germany occupies Brussels, Belgium, and begins the invasion of France.

1943: Howard Hughes crashes into Lake Mead, while test flying his Sikorsky S-43, killing CAA inspector Ceco Cline and Richard Felt.

1949: The British government recognises the Republic of Ireland.

1955: Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden presents the largest-scale election broadcast ever seen on television.

1960: The much-heralded Big Four summit in Paris fails after U2 spy plane recriminations.

1961: Cuban leader Fidel Castro offers to exchange Bay of Pigs prisoners for 500 bulldozers.

1966: During a Bob Dylan concert at Manchester Free Trade Hall, a member of the audience famously shouts “Judas” at the singer, unhappy with his move to electric instruments.

1967: Working at EMI Studios in Abbey Road, St John’s Wood, The Beatles begin recording the skittish You Know My Name (Look Up the Number). The song is not finished until November 1969, and appears as the B-side of the Let it Be single in March 1970.

1972: The IRA fires on workers leaving the Mackies engineering works in west Belfast.


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1973: The Senate Watergate Committee begins its hearings. On the same day, five British Army soldiers are killed by a Provisional IRA booby-trap bomb in Omagh, County Tyrone.

1974: The UVF detonates four bombs in Dublin, killing 33 civilians and wounding 300.

1975: Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy, becomes the first album ever to be certified platinum on its day of its release.

1976: Thousands are killed in an earthquake in Uzbekistan.

1977: Menachem Begin’s Likoed party wins election in Israel.

1978: The coffin containing the body of Charlie Chaplin – missing since his grave was pillaged weeks before, is found in a field about a mile away from the Chaplin home near Lausanne, Switzerland. Two men are arrested.

1984: Prince Charles calls the proposed addition to the National Gallery, a “monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.”

1987: Fire destroys singer-songwriter Tom Petty’s house in Los Angeles.

Singles chart:

  1. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship
  2. A Boy From Nowhere – Tom Jones
  3. Can’t Be With You Tonight – Judy Boucher
  4. (Something Inside) So Strong – Labi Siffre
  5. Shattered Dreams – Johnny Hates Jazz
  6. Incommunicado – Marillion
  7. Living In A Box – Living In A Box
  8. Another Step Closer To You – Kim Wilde and Junior
  9. Big Love – Fleetwood Mac
  10. I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston
1987: So – Peter Gabriel

Album chart:

  1. It’s Better To Travel – Swing Out Sister
  2. Keep Your Distance – Curiosity Killed The Cat
  3. Solitude Standing – Suzanne Vega
  4. Running In The Family – Level 42
  5. Tango In The Night – Fleetwood Mac
  6. So – Peter Gabriel
  7. Raindancing – Alison Moyet
  8. The Joshua Tree – U2
  9. Now That’s What I Call Music! 9 – Various Artists
  10. F.L.M – Mel and Kim

1993: Intel’s new Pentium processor is unveiled.

1996: Blues guitarist Johnny Guitar Watson dies of a heart attack while on tour in Japan. According to eyewitness reports, he collapsed mid guitar solo. His last words were “ain’t that a bitch.”

2000: Royal Marine commandos, Corporal Alan Chambers and Marine Charlie Paton, are the first Britons to reach the geographical North Pole without outside support.

2002: Songwriter Sharon Sheeley, girlfriend of Eddie Cochran and survivor of the 1960 car crash that took his life, dies aged 62.

2003: Arsenal beats Southampton 1-0 with a goal from Robert Pires to win the FA Cup final at the MillenniumStadium, Cardiff.

2005: Kylie Minogue is diagnosed with breast cancer.

2006: Paul McCartney and Heather Mills announced their separation. On the same day, Barcelona beats Arsenal 2-1 to win the Champions League.

2007: Trains from North and South Korea cross the 38th Parallel in a test-run for the first time since 1953.

2008: Portsmouth beat Cardiff City, 1-0 (Kanu) to win the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium.

2012: Disco diva Donna Summer dies of lung cancer, an illness she believed she contracted from inhaling toxic particles released after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York.

2014: Arsenal beat Hull City, 3–2 after extra time to win the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. On the same day, St Johnstone win the Scottish Cup for first time in 130 years, defeating Dundee Utd 2-0.

2015: A gun fight between rival biker gangs and police in Waco, Texas leaves 9 dead and 18 injured.

2019: Novelist Herman Wouk dies aged 103.

BIRTHDAYS: Taj Mahal (Henry Saint Claire Fredericks), multi-instrumentalist/composer, 79; Bill Bruford, drummer (King Crimeson/Yes/U.K.) 73; Alan Johnson, former politician, 71; Simon Hghes, politician, 70; Sugar Ray Leonard, boxer, 65; Paul Whitehouse, comedy writer/actor, 63; Simon Fuller, manager/TV and record producer, 61; Enya )Ni Bhraonain), singer-songwriter, 60; Craig Ferguson, US TV host, 59; Trent Reznor, singer-songwriter/soundtrack composer (Nine Inch Nails) 56; Jeremy Vine, broadcaster, 56; Henrik Larsen, footballer, 55; Simon Friend, guitarist (The Levellers) 54; Jordan Knight, singer, (New Kids On The Block) 51; Vernie Bennett, singer (Eternal) 50; Josh Homme, guitarist/singer/producer/songwriter (Queens of the Stone Age), 48; Andrea Corr, singer/actress (The Corrs) 47; Ayda Field (Williams), actress/TV presenter, 42; Leon Osman, footballer, 40; Christine Ohoruogu, athlete, 37; Derek Hough, dancer, 36; Erin Richards, actress, 35; Johanna Konta, tennis player, 30.

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