The First Foot Guards
We are a Revolutionary War
reenactment group based in Boston MA,
accurately portraying the royal household regiment that is now known as
The Grenadier Guards
This Date in History: May
Graeme Marsden's collection
of significant dates in American and European history,
organized by Month and by Day.
Most references are from the 18th century, and there is a preference for military occurrences, especially those of The First Foot guards.
Check out 'What happened
on this day?'
In England this is traditionally a day of great merry-making - the most well-known celebration being dancing around the maypole. Another custom was for young men and women to go out on May Day Eve to collect may (hawthorn) blossom, flowers and blackthorn blossom. A young girl was elected Queen of the May and she presided over the May Day celebrations. Gingerbread was traditionally eaten on this day.
1 May 1517
In 'Evil May Day' riots in London, apprentices attacked foreign residents. Cardinal Wolsey suppressed the rioters, of whom 60 were hanged.
1 May 1707
The Union of England and Scotland was proclaimed by an Act of the English Parliament, and The Kingdom of Great Britain established: the largest free-trade area in Europe at the time.
To be correct, you must refer to 'England' and 'Scotland', before this date, "Great Britain" after this date. "The United Kingdom" came later with the incorporation of Ireland in 1801.
1 May 1851
Queen Victoria opened the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, London.
1 May 1898
Just before 6:00am on the morning of 1 May 1898, Commodore George Dewey commenced the Battle of Manila Bay, uttering the famous command: "You may fire when ready, Gridley."
Within six hours, Dewey's squadron of six ships, including the flagship USS Olympia, had sunk every ship in the Spanish fleet. There were few casualties and no loss of life on the American side. On 13 August 1898, US troops occupied Manila, bringing the United States closer to an ultimate victory in the Spanish-American war.
Dewey's decisive victory at Manila is credited with bringing recognition of the US as a major naval power. The acquisition of the Philippines gave the United States a strong presence in the Pacific. Commodore Dewey became a national hero, and his triumphant homecoming in 1899 was celebrated with wild enthusiasm. Dewey was born in Montpelier VT.
1 May 1851
Queen Victoria opened the great exhibition of the works of industry of all nations ("Crystal Palace" exhibition) in Hyde Park in London.
2 May 1536
Anne Boleyn, second wife of England's King Henry VIII, was comitted to the Tower of London.
2 May 1611
The Authorized Version of the Bible (King James Version) was first published.
2 May 1670
The Hudson Bay Company was incorporated by King Charles II.
2 May 1808
Residents of Madrid revolted against the French occupation of Spain in the Peninsular War. This culminated in a fierce battle at the Puerta del Sol, Madrid's central square. The Spanish rebels were defeated, and during the night hundreds of Spaniards were executed in retaliation. The massacre led the artist Francisco Goya to paint the extremely graphic "The 2nd of May, 1808" and "The 3rd of May, 1808": The French were eventually driven out of the Iberian Peninsula in 1813 by British forces assisted by Spanish and Portuguese guerillas.
3 May 1381
The weavers of Ghent, led by Philip van Artevelde, took Bruges; other Flemish towns revolted.
3 May 1493
Pope Alexander VI published the first bull Inter cetera dividing the New World between Spain and Portugal.
3 May 1497
A rising broke out in Cornwall, provoked by taxation. James Tutchet, Lord Audley, led an army of 15,000 from Taunton through the southern counties to attack London.
3 May 1692
Battle of Steinkirk, in which the first Foot Guards took part.
3 May 1747
The Battle of Cape Finisterre took place, at which the British defeated the French.
3 May 1808
A duel was fought from two hot-air balloons over Paris, the first of its kind.
4 May 1471
The Battle of Tewkesbury, the last battle in the Wars of the Roses, took place; the Yorkists defeated the Lancastrians.
4 May 1626
Dutch explorer Peter Minuit landed on present-day Manhattan Island.
4 May 1776
Rhode Island declared its freedom from England, two months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
5 May 1525
The Peasants' Revolt in south Germany was suppressed and the Anabaptist preacher Thomas Münzer was hanged a few days later.
5 May 1646
English Civil War: Facing defeat, King Charles I fled to Scotland.
5 May 1751
Portuguese foreign secretary Sebastia Pombal curbed the power of the Inquisition in Portugal by decreeing that no auto da fé should take place without government approval. The auto da fé or 'act of faith' was a public confession followed by a burning at the stake of the victim. The Inquisition continued unabated in Spain well into the next century.
5 May 1760
Earl Ferrers was hanged at Tyburn, in London. This was not your usual hanging of the riff-raff. Ferrers was convicted of shooting his steward. He traveled from the prison in a richly appointed carriage, was finely dressed in embroidered clothes, and was hanged with a silken rope. This was the last hanging of a nobleman.
Tyburn was the location for London hangings for many years until the Newgate prison was built, with its own gallows. Tyburn was originally a hanging tree, but was superseded by a triple gallows (three ropes, no waiting!). The location name is not even used nowadays. It's referred to as Hyde Park Corner, and is a stylish address, notably that of the Duke of Wellington.
5 May 1799
In the First Mahratta War (India) the redcoats stormed the fortress of Seringapatam, and killed their enemy, Tipoo Sahib. The Tipoo was buried with full military honors. At the time, Lord Cornwallis was in charge of military operations in India, being succeeded by Wellington. The town is now called Sriringapatna.
5 May 1821
Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France and conqueror of much of Europe, died a British prisoner on the island of St. Helena. According to one accepted theory, Bonaparte died of a stomach ulcer. More recent theories argue that he died of arsenic poisoning. In 1840, Bonaparte's remains were transferred to Paris.
6 May 1527
The Sack of Rome, when imperialist troops under Charles, Duke of Bourbon (who was killed), mutinied, pillaging the city and killing some 4,000 of the inhabitants. Valuable art treasures were looted, and law was not restored until February 1528.
6 May 1576
The Fifth War of Religion in France ended; the Huguenots were granted freedom of worship in all places except Paris.
6 May 1626
Dutch settler Peter Minuit bought the island of Manhattan from native Americans for goods worth about $25.
6 May 1889
The Paris Exposition formally opened, featuring the just-completed Eiffel Tower
7 May 1793
The second partition of Poland was effected, with Russia taking Lithuania and W Ukraine, and Prussia taking Danzig, Thorn, Posen, Gnesen, and Kalisch.
7 May 1821
The Africa Company was dissolved because of heavy expenses incurred, and Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Gold Coast were taken over by the British government to form British West Africa.
7 May 1832
Greece became an independent kingdom.
May 8 1779
Spain entered the war on the American side.
May 8 1794
French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier was guillotined in Paris for his former role as tax collector. Lavoisier, often regarded as the founder of modern chemistry, demonstrated the role of oxygen in chemical processes and made key observations about respiration. He coined the word 'oxygen'.
9 May 1386
The Treaty of Windsor, between the English and Portuguese kings, made a perpetual alliance between England and Portugal. The treaty is still in place, and Portugal is the UK's oldest ally. It also might account for the revered status in England of porto, or port.
9 May 1502
Christopher Columbus left Cadiz, Spain, on his fourth and final trip to the Western Hemisphere.
9 May 1671
Thomas Blood, an Irish adventurer better known as Colonel Blood, stole the crown jewels from the Tower of London with the help of his friends. The gang managed to make their way out of the Tower, but were soon apprehended. Tried and found guilty, Blood convinced King Charles II that his death would set off a revolution and was subsequently pardoned. Some believe that Blood worked as a double agent.
9 May 1695
The Scottish Parliament met and enquired into the massacre of Glencoe
9 May 1754
The first published political cartoons in the American colonies appeared in The Pennsylvania Gazette, a newspaper
founded by Benjamin Franklin. Many of the early cartoons did not have the element of satire so common in today's political cartoons.
10 May 1774
Louis the XVI ascended the throne of France.
10 May 1775
Colonials under Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold seized the British-held Fort Ticonderoga and on 12 May, Crown Point.
10 May 1804
William Pitt the younger, British Prime Minister, returned to office.
10 May 1857
A revolt of sepoys at Meerut began the Indian Mutiny against British rule.
11 May 1534
English King Henry VIII made peace with his nephew, James V of Scotland. This was important, for his grandson James later succeeded to the combined English-Scottish throne as James I.
11 May 1573
Henry of Anjou became the first elected king of Poland.
11 May 1689
French and English navies battled at Bantry Bay (Southwest Ireland)
11 May 1690
In the first major engagement of King William’s War, British troops from Massachusetts seized Port Royal in Acadia (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) from the French.
11 May 1709
The first mass emigration of Germans from the Palatinate to North America began.
11 May 1745
French forces defeated an Anglo-Dutch-Hanoverian army at Fontenoy, near Tournai in Belgium.
against France 1744-1748
Battle of Fontenoy
In memory of the officers who died in battle:
Captain GW Harvey, First Foot Guards
Captain Henry Berkeley, First Foot Guards
Captain Francis Brereton, First Foot Guards
Ensign Sir Alexander Cockburn, First Foot Guards
11 May 1775
The Battle of
Fort Ticonderoga NY
Called "The Gibraltar of America," Fort Ticonderoga was the first clear-cut American victory of the war. The fort was captured by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold without a single shot fired.
11 May 1792
The Columbia River was discovered by Captain Robert Gray.
11 May 1812
British prime Minster Spencer Perceval was shot by a bankrupt banker in the lobby of the House of Commons. He is the only Prime Minister who was assassinated (many have been politically assassinated!).
Perceval went from a successful private law practice to the House of Commons
as a Tory in 1796, and held senior cabinet posts as solicitor general
and attorney general starting in 1801.
But Spencer Perceval's term as Prime Minister ended when he was shot in the lobby of the House of Commons. The assassin was John Bellingham, an insurance broker who blamed Perceval for his business losses. Although judged insane, Bellingham was executed a week after the assassination. Historians have rated Spencer Perceval as a generally effective, if somewhat inflexible and intolerant political leader.
11 May 1824
British forces took Rangoon, Burma.
11 May 1857
Indian mutineers seized Delhi.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________12 May 1780
After a long siege, Crown forces took Charleston SC and its entire garrison of 5400 men. General Benjamin Lincoln (of Hingham) surrendered his sword, but on being exchanged was finally able to accept the British sword of surrender at Yorktown.
12 May 1536
Sir Francis Weston, Mark Smeaton and other alleged lovers of Anne Boleyn were tried for treason; they were executed on the 17th.
12 May 1809
Arthur Wellesley defeated the French under Soult at Oporto and forced them to retreat from Portugal.
13 May 1607
Riots took place in Northamptonshire and other Midland counties of England in protest at widespread enclosure of common land. 'Enclosure' was the progressive change from the medieval system of strip farming (with land held in common) to land held in discrete fields (In private hands). It gave rise to many things: the 'squirearchy' ; better agricultural practices; and disenfranchisement of subsistence farmers.
13 May 1607
The English colony at Jamestown VA was settled.
13 May 1643
Oliver Cromwell defeated the Royalists at Grantham, England.
13 May 1846
Formal declaration of war by USA against Mexico.
14 May 1080
Walcher, Bishop of Durham and Earl of Northumberland was murdered; William (the Conqueror) consequently ravaged the area; he also invaded Scotland and built the castle at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
14 May 1264
The English barons under Simon de Montfort defeated King Henry III at the Battle of Lewes.
Nonetheless, his 25 year old son Edward (later the great warrior king Edward I) led a heroic cavalry charge that temporarily scattered the opposition.
14 May 1610
French King Henri IV (Henri de Navarre) was assassinated by François Ravillac, a fanatical monk.
14 May 1607
The first permanent English settlement in what is now the US took place in Jamestown, Virginia. Named after King James I, the town had an original population of 104 settlers.
14 May 1643
Louis XIV (The Sun King) became King of France at age 4 upon the death of his father, Louis XIII.
14 May 1796
English physician Edward Jenner gave the first successful smallpox vaccination
14 May 1804
The Lewis and Clark expedition left St. Louis to explore the Louisiana Territory.
15 May 1567
Mary Queen of Scots married Bothwell in Edinburgh.
15 May 1602
Cape Cod was discovered by English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold.
15 May 1848
A communist rising began in Paris, after news of suppression of Polish revolt; workers overturned the government and set up a provisional administration that immediately collapsed.
16 May 1152
Henry II of England married Eleanor of Aquitaine.
16 May 1203
Baldwin, Count of Flanders, was crowned Latin Emperor of Constantinople.
16 May 1220
Henry III of England laid the foundation stone of a new Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey, thus beginning the new abbey-church (1245).
16 May 1770
The Dauphin of France, age 14, (later Louis XVI) married Marie Antoinette, daughter of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria who was 15.
16 May 1804
Napoleon was declared Emperor.
17 May 1215
The English barons in revolt against King John took possession of London.
17 May 1527
Archbishop Warham began a secret inquiry at Greenwich into Henry VIII's marriage with Catherine of Aragon, the first step in divorce proceedings.
17 May 1536
Archbishop Cranmer declared Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn invalid; she was executed on the 19th.
18 May 1642
The Canadian city of Montreal was founded.
17 May 1792
24 New York brokers signed an agreement to trade with one another and charge a uniform commission rate to their
customers. The New York Stock Exchange emerged from that agreement. According to legend, in good weather the brokers met beneath a Buttonwood tree, and in bad weather they met at a nearby coffeehouse.
18 May 1804
French military commander Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself Emperor of France, becoming Napoleon I. Months later, Pope Pius VIII ratified Napoleon's title. He remained emperor until 1815 when Louis XVIII replaced him.
18 May 1302
A French garrison was massacred in the 'Matins of Bruges', when the Flemings revolted against the French occupation.
18 May 1764
The British Parliament amended the Sugar Act from a commercial to a fiscal measure, to tax American colonists.
19 May 1536
Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of England's King Henry VIII, was beheaded after being convicted of adultery. In this case, the charge was well founded,
king has been very good to me. He promoted me from a simple maid to be a marchioness.
Then he raised me to be a queen. Now he will raise me to be a martyr."
[Anne Boleyn, on her way to the scaffold.]
19 May 1585
English shipping in Spanish ports was confiscated as a reprisal for depredations of Spanish shipping. This served as a declaration of war on England.
19 May 1643
The Confederation of New England was formed by Connecticut, New Haven, Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colony, whose representatives met in Boston.
19 May 1649
England was declared a Commonwealth. Thus started England's Puritan republic, which lasted until shortly after the death of its leader Oliver Cromwell. Certainly it was a noble republican experiment, with high ideals, but the populace had had enough of the strict and repressive regime, and the King was invited back in 1660, giving rise to the artistic burgeoning of 'The Restoration".
19 May 1662
The Act of Uniformity gave consent to the revised English Prayer Book and denied the right to take up arms against the king; Presbyterianism in the Church was destroyed and many ministers who did not confirm were ejected. A Licensing Act forbade imports of literature contrary to Christian faith.
20 May 1191
Richard I 'the Lion Heart' conquered Cyprus from its independent Greek ruler, then joined the Crusaders at Acre in N W Israel.
20 May 1506
Christopher Columbus died in poverty in Spain.
20 May 1631
Flemish commander Count Tilly's imperialist army sacked Magdeburg; terrible carnage ensued and the city caught fire, leaving only the cathedral standing.
21 May 1542
Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto died while searching for gold along the Mississippi River.
21 May 1620
Present-day Martha's Vineyard was first sighted by Captain Bartholomew Gosnold.
21 May 1662
England's Charles II married Catherine de Braganza, daughter of John IV of Portugal.
21 May 1775
"The Battle of Grape Island" In the period between Lexington & Concord and Bunker Hill, Crown Forces visited Boston harbor islands to seize cattle and hay. They were resisted by the locals. The first skirmish took place at Grape Island, the second at Hogg Island on 27 May.
Grape and Hog islands (Hog is now 'Spinnaker Island') are both close to Hull. Spinnaker is now covered with condos, while Grape is relatively pristine and under the care of state authorities. Grape Island is worth a visit.
21 May 1767
Townshend introduced taxes on imports of tea, glass, paper, and dyestuffs in American colonies to provide revenue for colonial administration.
21 May 1840
Britain claimed complete sovereignty over New Zealand.
21 May 1851
Gold was first discovered in Australia.
22 May 853
Olaf the White, son of the King of Norway, received the submission of Vikings and Danes in Ireland and made Dublin his capital.
22 May 1455
In the Wars of the Roses, Richard of York and the Nevilles attacked the court at St Albans, capturing Henry VI and killing Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset.
22 May 1498
A death sentence was pronounced on Savonarola, former Prior of St Mark's and effective ruler of Florence, who had been excommunicated in June 1497 for attempting to seek the deposition of Pope Alexander VI.
23 May 878
The Saxon King Alfred defeated the Danes at Edington; under the peace of Wedmore, their leader, Guthrum, was baptized as a Christian.
23 May 1169
'The First Conquerors' landed in Ireland; they were Normans from Wales enlisted by Dermot MacMurrough to recover his kingdom of Leinster.
23 May 1430
Burgundian troops captured Joan of Arc and delivered her to the English.
23 May 1533
The marriage of England's King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon was declared null and void.
23 May 1568
William of Orange with German mercenaries defeated a Spanish force under Count Aremberg at Heiligerlee; this action marked the beginning proper of the Revolt of the Netherlands.
23 May 1618
Religious intolerance in central Europe resumed under the first Holy Roman emperor of the seventeenth century, Rudolf II (1576-1612). He destroyed many of Germany's Protestant churches, and used the Treaty of Augsburg as an excuse to tyrannize the Protestants in Hapsburg territory. Protestants tried to protect themselves by creating an alliance of princes and cities called the Evangelical Union (1608), and when an anti-Protestant alliance called the Catholic League was formed in the following year, the Empire was polarized to the point that another religious war became inevitable.
The Thirty Years War started on 23 May when a group of Calvinist leaders broke into the castle in Prague, seized two of royal ministers and their secretary, and threw them out of a third-story window. This event was called "the Defenestration of Prague." Catholics called it a miracle because the Hapsburg agents weren't seriously hurt. Protestants noted that they landed appropriately in a dung heap. In effect this was Bohemia's declaration of independence from Hapsburg rule.
The Thirty Years War consisted of a series of religious wars between Catholics and Protestants, but ultimately it was a struggle to alter the European balance of power.
Within four months of the Defenestration, two Hapsburg armies, one from Spain and one from Austria entered Bohemia to crush the rebels. To oppose this the Bohemians had a hastily recruited force of 16,000 men - quite inadequate to face this threat. The day was saved by the arrival of another Protestant army of 2,000 professional soldiers sent by Frederick of the Palatinate and Charles Emanuel, the Duke of Savoy; they were led by Ernst von Mansfeld, one of the greatest mercenary commanders of the day. With the arrival of this army, the imperial forces withdrew, but the disastrous war continued, ravaging much of Germany.
The brilliant but devious Cardinal Richelieu of France kept Germany disunited. Richelieu did this because he had high hopes of profiting from the continuation of the war, which was consuming the resources of France's rival, the Hapsburgs. Because he had subsidized the Dutch in their ongoing rebellion against the Spanish Hapsburgs, he now paid Sweden's Gustavus Adolphus to fight the Austrian Hapsburgs. Ironically, Cardinal Richelieu spent the rest of his life backing the Protestant cause.
24 May 1530
A list of heretical books was drawn up in London. Tyndale's Bible was burned.
24 May 1607
Captain Christopher Newport and 105 followers founded the colony of Jamestown at the mouth of the James River on the coast of Virginia.
24 May 1610
Sir Thomas Gates instituted "Laws divine, moral and marshal, " a harsh civil code for Jamestown.
24 May 1624
After years of unprofitable operation, Virginia's charter was revoked and it became a royal colony.
24 May 1726
Voltaire landed in England on his liberation from the Bastille (he returned to France in 1729).
24 May 1726
The first Circulating Library was opened by Allan Ramsay in Edinburgh, Scotland.
24 May 1689
English Parliament passed the Act of Toleration, protecting Protestants. Roman Catholics were specifically excluded from exemption.
24 May 1738
The Methodist Church was established.
24 May 1764
Boston lawyer James Otis denounced "taxation without representation," calling for the colonies to unite in opposition to Britain's new tax measures.
24 May 1798
Believing that a French invasion of Ireland was imminent, Irish nationalists rose up against the British government.
24 May 1830
The first passenger railroad in the United States began service between Baltimore and Elliott's Mills, Maryland.
24 May 1844
Samuel FB Morse transmitted the message, "What hath God wrought!" from Washington to Baltimore as he formally opened America's first telegraph line.
25 May 1524
England's Henry VIII and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, formed a new league to support the Duke of Bourbon in an attack on France.
25 May 1659
England's Richard Cromwell resigned; the Rump Parliament re-established the Commonwealth.
25 May 1768
James Cook sailed on his first voyage of discovery, on which he explored the Society Islands and charted the coasts of New Zealand and West Australia (through June 1771).
25 May 1775
Reinforcements arrived in Boston, including General William Howe and General John Burgoyne.
26 May 1520
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V visited Henry VIII at Dover and Canterbury, England
26 May 1521
Emperor Charles V issued an edict by which Martin Luther was banned from the Holy Roman Empire: The Edict of Worms. Luther was called a "madman plotting the manifest destruction of the holy church." The edict also prohibited the selling, buying, keeping, or reading of Luther's works.
26 May 1538
Jean Calvin was expelled from Geneva and settled in Strasbourg, France.
26 May 1659
Aurangzeb formally became Mogul Emperor.
26 May 1805
Napoleon was crowned king of Italy in Milan Cathedral.
27 May 1063
King Harold of Wessex began to conquer Wales.
27 May 1701
Captain William Kidd was hanged in London after he was convicted of piracy and murder.
27 May 1647
The first recorded American execution of a "witch" took place in Massachusetts.
27 May 1719
Emperor Charles VI founded the Oriental Company in Vienna to compete with Dutch trade in the Orient.
27 May 1813
US forces occupied Fort St George, and the British abandoned the entire Niagara frontier.
28 May 1358
In France the uprising known as the Jacquerie broke out - the peasants were protesting at their impoverished state after the ravages of the Hundred Years' War.
28 May 1539
Royal assent was given to an act (the Six Articles of Religion) 'abolishing diversity of opinions' in England, after Henry VIII personally intervened in the Lords' debate to argue with the Reforming bishops.
28 May 1863
The first black regiment from the North left Boston to fight in the Civil War. The regiment is celebrated in the magnificent Saint-Gaudens monument to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th regiment that stands on Beacon Hill facing the State House. A lesser-known fact: so great was the enrolment from the black community that the 55th Regiment was also formed.
28 May 1972
The Duke of Windsor, who had abdicated the English throne as King Edward VIII to marry Wallis Warfield Simpson, died in Paris at age 77. He is buried at Frogmore, close to Queen Victoria, his great-grandmother.
29 May 1651
Restoration of British monarchy . Royalists rejoice! This also recalls the day when future King Charles II escaped his Roundhead pursuers by hiding in an oak tree after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester.
29 May was also the birthday of King Charles II. He was born at St James' Palace 29 May 1630.
Joan of Arc was burnt as a heretic at Rouen.
30 May 1536
English king Henry VIII married Jane Seymour, his third wife.
31 May 1902
The Peace of Vereeniging ended the Boer War, in which British casualties numbered 5,774 killed (and 16,000 Deaths from disease) against 4,000 Boers killed in action.
31 May - 1 June
Battle of Jutland – only major naval battle between the British and German fleets
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