May 13th in History

This day in history

May 13 is the 133rd day of the year (134th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 232 days remaining until the end of the year.



In 1373,  Julian of Norwich has visions which are later transcribed in her Revelations of Divine Love.

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Mary Tudor, Queen of France

In 1515,  Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk are officially married at Greenwich.

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Mary Stuart Queen

In 1568,  Battle of Langside: the forces of Mary, Queen of Scots, are defeated by a confederacy of Scottish Protestants under James Stewart, Earl of Moray, her half-brother.

In 1619,  Dutch statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt is executed in The Hague after being convicted of treason.

In 1648,  Construction of the Red Fort at Delhi is completed.

In 1779,  War of Bavarian Succession: Russian and French mediators at the Congress of Teschen negotiate an end to the war. In the agreement Austria receives the part of its territory that was taken from it (the Innviertel).

In 1780,  The Cumberland Compact is signed by leaders of the settlers in early Tennessee. The Cumberland Compact was a forerunner of the Tennessee State Constitution, signed on May 13, 1780, by settlers when they arrived on the Cumberland River and settled Fort Nashborough, which would become Nashville, Tennessee. In 1846 the only surviving copy was discovered in a trunk that once belonged to Samuel Barton. This copy now in Tennessee State archives is slightly damaged, the first page is gone, and the second page ripped. Other than these blemishes, the document is intact and legible. The Cumberland Compact was composed and signed by 256 colonists. Only one, Revolutionary War soldier James Patrick of Virginia, was illiterate and marked his name by an “X”. This constitution called for a governing council of twelve judges who would be elected by the vote of free men 21 years of age or older. Unique to the times, the Compact included a clause that these judges could be removed from office by the people. Government salaries were to be paid in goods. Governorship was worth 1,000 deer skins. Secretary was to be paid 450 otter skins, and county clerk was valued at 500 raccoon skins. The constable received one mink skin for every warrant served. All males sixteen or older were subject to militia duty.

In 1787,  Captain Arthur Phillip leaves Portsmouth, England, with eleven ships full of convicts (the “First Fleet”) to establish a penal colony in Australia.

In 1804,  Forces sent by Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli to retake Derna from the Americans attack the city.

In 1830,  Ecuador gains its independence from Gran Colombia.

John Nash.jpgIn 1835,  John Nash, English architect, designed the Royal Pavilion (b. 1752) dies. He was a British architect responsible for much of the layout of Regency London under the patronage of the Prince Regent, and during his reign as George IV. Nash was also a pioneer in the use of the Picturesque in architecture. His best-known buildings are the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Buckingham Palace (though the facade facing The Mall is an early 20th-century remodelling by Aston Webb of an 1850s wing by Edward Blore, and thus is not Nash’s work).

In 1846,  Mexican-American War: The United States declares war on Mexico.

In 1848,  First performance of Finland’s national anthem.

In 1861,  American Civil War: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a “proclamation of neutrality” which recognizes the breakaway states as having belligerent rights.

In 1861,  The Great Comet of 1861 is discovered by John Tebbutt of Windsor, New South Wales, Australia.

In 1861,  Pakistan’s (then a part of British India) first railway line opens, from Karachi to Kotri.

In 1864,  American Civil War: Battle of Resaca – the battle begins with Union General Sherman fighting toward Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1865,  American Civil War: Battle of Palmito Ranch – in far south Texas, more than a month after Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, the last land battle of the Civil War ends with a Confederate victory.

Joseph Henry (1879).jpgIn 1878,  Joseph Henry, American scientist (b. 1797) dies. He was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, as well as a founding member of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution. He was highly regarded during his lifetime. While building electromagnets, Henry discovered the electromagnetic phenomenon of self-inductance. He also discovered mutual inductance independently of Michael Faraday, (1791-1867), though Faraday was the first to publish his results. Henry developed the electromagnet into a practical device. He invented a precursor to the electric doorbell (specifically a bell that could be rung at a distance via an electric wire, 1831) and electric relay (1835). The SI unit of inductance, the henry, is named in his honor. Henry’s work on the electromagnetic relay was the basis of the practical electrical telegraph, invented by Samuel F. B. Morse, (1791-1872), (who was also an accomplished artist) and Sir Charles Wheatstone, (1802-1875), separately. Henry excelled at his studies (so much so, that he would often help his teachers teach science) and in 1826 was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at The Albany Academy by Principal T. Romeyn Beck. Some of his most important research was conducted in this new position. His curiosity about terrestrial magnetism led him to experiment with magnetism in general. He was the first to coil insulated wire tightly around an iron core in order to make a more powerful electromagnet, improving on William Sturgeon‘s electromagnet which used loosely coiled uninsulated wire. Using this technique, he built the strongest electromagnet at the time for Yale. He also showed that, when making an electromagnet using just two electrodes attached to a battery, it is best to wind several coils of wire in parallel, but when using a set-up with multiple batteries, there should be only one single long coil. The latter made the telegraph feasible. Henry was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in the Georgetown section of northwest Washington, D.C. John Phillips Sousa wrote the Transit of Venus March for the unveiling of the Joseph Henry statue in front of the Smithsonian Castle.

In 1880,  In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electric railway.

In 1888,  With the passage of the Lei Áurea (“Golden Law”), Brazil abolishes slavery.

In 1895, John J. Williams began a map of Madison County to show the necessity of a good road system.

In 1909,  The first Giro d’Italia starts from Milan. Italian cyclist Luigi Ganna will be the winner.

In 1912,  The Royal Flying Corps (now the Royal Air Force) is established in the United Kingdom.

In 1917,  Three children report the first apparition of Our Lady of Fátima in Fátima, Portugal.

In 1923,  Robert Bellarmine, a Doctor of the Catholic Church, is beatified.

In 1939,  The first commercial FM radio station in the United States is launched in Bloomfield, Connecticut. The station later becomes WDRC-FM.

In 1940,  World War II: Germany’s conquest of France begins as the German army crosses the Meuse. Winston Churchill makes his “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech to the House of Commons.

In 1940,  Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands flees her country to Great Britain after the Nazi invasion. Princess Juliana takes her children to Canada for their safety.

In 1941,  World War II: Yugoslav royal colonel Dragoljub Mihailović starts fighting with German occupation troops, beginning the Serbian resistance.

In 1943,  World War II: German Afrika Korps and Italian troops in North Africa surrender to Allied forces.

In 1948,  1948 Arab-Israeli War: the Kfar Etzion massacre is committed by Arab irregulars, the day before the declaration of independence of the state of Israel on May 14.

In 1950,  The first round of the Formula One World Championship is held at Silverstone.

In 1951,  The 400th anniversary of the founding of the National University of San Marcos is commemorated by the opening of the first large-capacity stadium in Peru.

In 1952,  The Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament of India, holds its first sitting.

In 1954,  The anti-National Service Riots, by Chinese Middle School students in Singapore, take place.

In 1954,  The original Broadway production of The Pajama Game opens and runs for another 1,063 performances. Later received three Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, and Best Choreography.

In 1958,  During a visit to Caracas, Venezuela, Vice President Richard Nixon’s car is attacked by anti-American demonstrators.

In 1958,  The trade mark Velcro is registered. I started working with the material in the design of a photo album in 1977.

In 1958,  May 1958 crisis: a group of French military officers lead a coup in Algiers demanding that a government of national unity be formed with Charles de Gaulle at its head in order to defend French control of Algeria.

In 1958,  Ben Carlin becomes the first (and only) person to circumnavigate the world by amphibious vehicle, having travelled over 17,000 kilometres (11,000 mi) by sea and 62,000 kilometres (39,000 mi) by land during a ten-year journey

In 1960,  Hundreds of University of California, Berkeley students congregate for the first day of protest against a visit by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Thirty-one students are arrested, and the Free Speech Movement is born.

In 1963,  The U.S. Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland is decided.

In 1967,  Dr. Zakir Hussain becomes the third President of India. He is the first Muslim President of the Indian Union. He holds this position until August 24, 1969.

In 1969,  Race riots, later known as the May 13 Incident, take place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

In 1972,  Faulty electrical wiring ignites a fire underneath the Playtown Cabaret in Osaka, Japan. Blocked exits and non-functional elevators lead to 118 fatalities, with many victims leaping to their deaths.

Dan Blocker - 1966.jpgIn 1972,  Dan Blocker, American actor (b. 1928) died in Los Angeles of a pulmonary embolism following gall bladder surgery. Blocker was born Bobby Dan Davis Blocker in De Kalb in Bowie County in northeastern Texas, son of Ora Shack Blocker (1895–1960) and his wife Mary Davis Blocker (1901–1998). The family moved to O’Donnell, south of Lubbock in west Texas, where they operated a store. He attended Texas Military Institute and in 1946 played football at Baptist-affiliated Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. He graduated from Sul Ross State Teacher’s College in Alpine, where he earned a master’s degree in the dramatic arts. (Although the “Hoss” character on Bonanza was conceived as lovable but slow-witted, Blocker was the only cast member with a graduate degree). Blocker was a high school English and drama teacher in Sonora, Texas, a sixth-grade teacher and coach at Eddy Elementary School in Carlsbad, New Mexico and finally, a teacher in California. He had worked as a rodeo performer and as a bouncer in a beer bar while a student. He is remembered from his school days for his size of 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and weight of 300 pounds (140 kilograms; 21 stone 6 pounds), and for being good-natured despite his intimidating size. Because of his large size combined with his pleasant nature, Dan was dubbed “Hollywood’s Gentle Giant.”

In 1972,  The Troubles: a car bombing outside a crowded pub in Belfast sparks a two-day gun battle involving the Provisional IRA, Ulster Volunteer Force and British Army. Seven people are killed and over 66 injured.

In 1980,  An F3 tornado hits Kalamazoo County, Michigan. President Jimmy Carter declares it a federal disaster area.

In 1981,  Mehmet Ali Ağca attempts to assassinate Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The Pope is rushed to the Agostino Gemelli University Polyclinic to undergo emergency surgery and survives.

In 1985,  Police storm MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia to end a stand-off, killing 11 MOVE members and destroying the homes of 250 city residents.

In 1989,  Large groups of students occupy Tiananmen Square and begin a hunger strike.

In 1992,  Li Hongzhi gives the first public lecture on Falun Gong in Changchun, People’s Republic of China.

In 1994, Johnny Carson makes his last television appearance on Late Show with David Letterman. Bette Midler performs the last song.


In 1995,  33-year-old British mother Alison Hargreaves became the first woman to conquer Everest without oxygen or the help of sherpas.

In 1996,  Severe thunderstorms and a tornado in Bangladesh kill 600 people.

In 1998,  Race riots break out in Jakarta, Indonesia, where shops owned by Indonesians of Chinese descent are looted and women raped.

In 1998,  India carries out two nuclear tests at Pokhran, following the three conducted on May 11. The United States and Japan impose economic sanctions on India.

In 2000,  In Enschede, the Netherlands, a fireworks factory explodes, killing 22 people, wounding 950, and resulting in approximately €450 million in damage.

In 2005,  The Andijan Massacre occurs in Uzbekistan.

In 2005,  The Binh Bridge opens to traffic in Hai Phong, Vietnam.

In 2006,  2006 São Paulo violence: a major rebellion occurs in several prisons in Brazil.

In 2008,  The Jaipur bombings in Rajasthan, India results in dozens of deaths.

In 2011,  In the 2011 Charsadda bombing in the Charsadda District of Pakistan, two bombs explode, resulting in 98 deaths 140 wounded.

In 2012, 49 dismembered bodies are discovered by Mexican authorities on Mexican Federal Highway 40.

In 2014,  An explosion at an underground coal mine in south-western Turkey kills 301 miners.

In 2014,  Major floods in Southeast Europe kill at least 47 people.

In 2015,  An industrial fire in Valenzuela, Philippines killing 72 people.

In 2018, Nine people die after the suicide bombing of three Indonesian churches in Surabaya, Indonesia.

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