It happened today – this day in history – May 23

1430: Joan of Arc is captured at Compiegne and sold to the English.

1533: Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon is declared null & void by authority of the English clergy, not the Pope.

1568: The Netherlands declares independence from Spain.

1701: Captain William Kidd is hanged in London after being convicted of piracy and murder.

1785: Benjamin Franklin announces his invention of bifocals.

1813: Simon Bolivar enters Mérida, leading the invasion of Venezuela, and is proclaimed El Libertador.

1906: Death of playwright Henrik Ibsen aged 78.

1915: Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary.

1931: Whipsnade Zoo opens in Bedfordshire.

1934: Gangsters Bonnie and Clyde are killed by police in an ambush near Sailes, Louisiana.

1939: Adolf Hitler declares his intention to invade Poland.

1941: Joe Louis beats Buddy Baer for the heavyweight boxing title.

1945: The Allies arrest the members of the Nazi Flensburg government, including Admiral Karl Donitz, formally dissolving Nazi Germany. On the same day, propaganda broadcaster Lord Haw Haw (William Joyce) is arrested at the Danish border and head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler commits suicide while in Allied custody.

1949: The Federal Republic of [West] Germany is created out of the American, British and French occupation zones.

1954: England lose 7-1 to Hungary in Budapest, a result which is still their record international defeat.

1958: Mao Zedong starts the “Great Leap Forward” movement in China. Millions die of starvation as a result.

1962: A military court in Paris imposes a life sentence on Raoul Salan, leader of an extremist group violently opposed to Algerian independence. On the same day, Scott Carpenter orbits the Earth three times in Aurora 7.


1966: The government declares a state of emergency a week after the nation’s seamen go on strike.

1969: The BBC orders 13 episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. On the same day, “If…”, directed by Lindsay Anderson and starring Malcolm McDonald, wins the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film at the Cannes Film Festival.

1974: George Harrison announces the launch of his own record label, ‘Dark Horse.’

1977: More than 100 children and six teachers are taken hostage by South Moluccan terrorists in a primary school in northern Holland.

1984: An explosion at a water treatment plant in Abbeystead, near Lancaster, kills nine people immediately with a further seven dying later of their injuries. On the same day, “Paris, Texas”, directed by Wim Wenders, wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

1992: Freddie Mercury’s attorneys reveal that the singer had bequeathed the majority of his estate to his former girlfriend and long-term confidante Mary Austin.

1993: Singles chart:

  1. All That She Wants – Ace Of Base
  2. (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You – UB40
  3. Sweat ( A La La La La Long) – Inner Circle
  4. Five Live EP – George Michael and Queen with Lisa Stansfield
  5. Tribal Dance – 2 Unlimited
  6. That’s The Way Love Goes = Janet Jackson
  7. I Don’t Wanna Fight – Tina Turner
  8. Jump Around – House of Pain
  9. In These Arms – Bon Jovi
  10. Everybody Hurts – REM
1993: Janet Jackson – Janet

Album chart:

  1. Janet – Janet Jackson
  2. Automatic For the People – REM
  3. No Limits – 2 Unlimited
  4. Breathless – Kenny G
  5. Republic – New Order
  6. So Close – Dina Carroll
  7. On The Night – Dire Straits
  8. Home Movies: The Best Of – Everything But The Girl
  9. Keep The Faith – Bon Jovi
  10. Live At The Royal Albert Hall – Wet Wet Wet

1994: “Pulp Fiction” directed by Quentin Tarantino, wins the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

1998: Prime Minister, Tony Blair, welcomes the resounding “yes” vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland.

2000: Noel Gallagher walks out on Oasis during a European tour after a series of bust ups with brother Liam.

2004: Part of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport’s Terminal 2E collapses, killing four people.

2006: The King of Sweden presents the surviving members of Led Zeppelin and the daughter of late drummer John Bonham with the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm recognising them as “great pioneers” of rock music.

2007: AC Milan beats Liverpool, 2-1 to win the Champions League.

2017: Actor Roger Moore dies aged 89.

2019: Richard Ashcroft regained the rights to his song Bitter Sweet Symphony after more than two decades. The Verve singer had lost the rights to his most recognisable song because the strings sample from an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones song The Last Time was used without permission resulting in all writing royalties being awarded to former Stones/Beatles manager Allen Klein’s company ABKO.

BIRTHDAYS: Dame Joan Collins, actress, 88; Don Warrington (Williams), actor, 70; Anatoly Karpov, chess grandmaster, 70; Dillie (Louise) Keane, actress/comedian, 69; Gerry Armstrong, footballer, 67; Simon Gilbert, drummer (Suede) 56; Phil Selway, drummer (Radiohead), 54; Jewel (Kilcher) singer-songwriter, 47; Richard Jones, bassist (Stereophonics) 47; Richard Ayoade, comedy actor/director/writer, 44; Heidi Range, singer, (Sugarbabes) 38; Angelo Ogbonna, footballer, 33; Joe Gomez, footballer, 24.