This Day in History

October 20


460      Greek Christian writer and Byzantine Empress Aelia Eudocia Augusta dies in Jerusalem, age around 59   1557
1524      English humanist scholar and physician Thomas Linacre dies, age around 64   493
1548      Nuestra Señora de La Paz, the current capital of Peru, is founded by Alonso de Mendoza   469
1631      German astronomer and mathematician Michael Maestlin dies, age 81   386
1632      birth of English architect Christopher Wren in Wiltshire   385
1720      Caribbean pirate John Rackham (Calico Jack) along with Anne Bonny and Mary Read are captured by the pirate hunter Jonathan Barnet   297
1728      fire starts in Copenhagen that becomes the largest fire in the city's history destroying roughly 28% of the city   289
1740      Maria Theresa becomes the Queen of Hungary on the death of Charles VI—only female ruler of the Habsburg empire   277
1781      Patent of Toleration—edict issued by the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II of Austria extending religious freedom to non-Catholic Christians   236
1803      the Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase Treaty   214
1818      Treaty of 1818 between the U.S. and the U.K. settling boundary issues between the U.S. and Canada is signed   199
1827      Naval Battle of Navarino—Ottoman armada is destroyed by fleet of British, French and Russian vessels   190
1890      English geographer and explorer Richard Francis Burton dies, age 69   127
1891      English physicist and Nobel laureate James Chadwick is born in Cheshire   126
1904      Treaty of Peace and Friendship is signed between CHile and Bolivia to determine their mutual boundary   113
1910      White Star liner RMS Olympic launched—first of three Olympic-class ships including RMS Titanic   107
1941      German army massacres male civilians of Kragujevac, Serbia, in retaliation of German's killed in battle—estimated 2300 killed   76
1943      U.S. forces sink German confiscated Sinfra at Suda Bay, Crete—some 2098 Italian prisoners of war die   74
1944      Douglas MacArthur strides ashore in the Philippines fulfilling "I shall return."   73
1964      Herbert Clark Hoover, 31st president, dies, age 90   53
1969      German paleontologist and geologist Werner Ernst Martin Janensch dies in Berlon, age 90   48
1972      American astronomer Harlow Shapley dies, age 86   45
1973      Sydney Opera House dedicated by Elizabeth II   44
1975      Venera 9 orbiter in inserted into orbit around Venus—first spacecraft to orbit Venus   42
1984      British physicist and Nobel laureate Paul A.M. Dirac dies, age 82   33
1984      the Monterey Bay Aquarium opens   33
1987      Soviet mathematician Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov dies in Moscow, age 84   30
1988      English aviatrix Sheila Scott, first person to fly a single-engine plane over the North Pole (1971), dies in London, age 68   29
1991      Oakland Hills firestorm destroys over 4000 homes in Northern California   26
1991      6.8 earthquake strikes the Uttarkashi region in northern India—1000 die and over 42,000 homes damaged   26
2003      with the docking of Soyuz TMA-3 Michael Foale becomes the first U.S. citizen to serve on both Mir and the ISS   14
2008      IBEX, to map outer boundary of solar system, launched   9
2012      Earth Day and creator and founder peace activist John McConnell dies, age 97   5
2013      American economist and Nobel laureate (1980) Lawrence Robert Klein dies, age 93   4
2015      Polish-Austrian economist Kazimierz Laski dies, age 93   2
2016      Uber self-driving truck packed with Budweiser makes first commercial delivery in Colorado—120 miles from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs   1

Dates are always somewhat ambiguous, the exact date depends on whether local time is used (and local time where) or Universal Time—for events on the surface of the Earth, local time is probably best but for an event that spans across the planet, it is not clear which local time to use!. For events in space it is more ambiguous. Further for dates after the original adoption of the Gregorian calendar but before it became accepted in different countries, the date given may be a Julian date or a Gregorian date depending upon where the event occurred. And, even the year may be different since the first of the year has not always been January 1 in all countries! The attempt is to use a date that is the one that is typically given.

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