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.

1971: Singles chart:

  1. Knock Three Times – Dawn
  2. Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones
  3. Indiana Wants Me – R Dean Taylor
  4. My Brother Jake – Free
  5. Malt And Barley Blues – McGuinness Flint
  6. Heaven Must Have Sent You – The Elgins
  7. Jig-A-Jig – East of Eden
  8. It Don’t Come Easy – Ringo Starr
  9. Un Banc, Un Arbre, Une Rue – Severine
  10. Double Barrel – Dave and Ansel Collins
1971: The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers

Album chart:

  1. Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones
  2. Motown Chartbusters Vol 5 – Various Artists
  3. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel
  4. Mud Slide Slim And The Blue Horizon – James Taylor
  5. Four Way Street – Crosby Stills Nash and Young
  6. Split – The Groundhogs
  7. Home Lovin’ Man – Andy Williams
  8. Symphonies For The 70s – Waldo de Los Rios
  9. Good Book – Melanie
  10. Songs Of Love And Hate – Leonard Cohen

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.

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 regains the publishing 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.

2021: 21 runners die in freezing conditions during an ultramarathon in Yellow River Stone Forest Park, Gansu Province, China. On the same day, Belarus is accused of “state-sponsored hijacking” after diverting commercial Ryanair flight to Minsk to arrest dissident journalist Roman Protasevich.

BIRTHDAYS: Dame Joan Collins, actress, 89; Don Warrington (Williams), actor, 71; Anatoly Karpov, chess grandmaster, 71; Dillie (Louise) Keane, actress/comedian, 70; Gerry Armstrong, footballer, 68; Simon Gilbert, drummer (Suede) 57; Phil Selway, drummer (Radiohead), 55; Jewel (Kilcher) singer-songwriter, 48; Richard Jones, bassist (Stereophonics) 48; Richard Ayoade, comedy actor/director/writer, 45; Heidi Range, singer, (Sugarbabes) 39; Angelo Ogbonna, footballer, 34; Joe Gomez, footballer, 25.