This Day in History

May 21


515      estimated 8.0 earthquake destroys Antioch killing around 250,000   1504
1349      Duŝan's Code is promulgated at a state council in Skopje, the capital of the Serbian Empire   670
1471      Henry VI, King of England, dies in the Tower of London, age 49   548
1471      German painter, engraver, printmaker, and mathematician Albrecht Dürer is born in Nuremberg   548
1481      Christian I, King of Denmark, dies in Copenhagen after a reign of 33 years, age 55   538
1502      the island of Saint Helena in the south Atlantic is discovered by Portuguese explorer João da Nova   517
1542      explorer Hernando de Soto dies in present-day Arkansas, age about 45   477
1619      Italian anatomist and surgeon Hieronymus Fabricius, "the Father of Embryology" dies, age 82   400
1670      Italian Jesuit, astronomer, and physicist Niccolò Zucchi dies, age 83   349
1758      ten-year old Mary Campbell is abducted from her home in Pennsylvania by a band of Lenape—returned after six years   261
1786      Swedish Pomeranian pharmaceutical chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele dies, age 43   233
1792      collapse of the Mayuyama dome on the volcano Mount Unzen in southern Japan, results in a tsunami that kills 15,000 people   227
1856      Lawrence, Kansas, founded by anti-slavery settlers two years earlier, is attacked, sacked, and burnt by a pro-slavery possee   163
1863      Seventh-day Adventist Church formally organized in Battle Creek, Michigan   156
1881      Clara Barton establishes American Red Cross   138
1904      The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is formed in Paris   115
1911      Scottish astronomer Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming dies in Boston, age 54   108
1917      Great Atlanta Fire destroys 300 acres including 2000 homes, businesses, and churches   102
1927      Charles Lindbergh lands Spirit of St. Louis in Paris after first non-stop solo Atlantic flight   92
1932      Amelia Earhart lands in Northern Ireland to become first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic   87
1935      Jane Addams, the first U.S. woman recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize (1931), dies in Chicago, age 74   84
1935      Dutch botanist and one of the first geneticists Hugo Marie de Vries dies, age 87   84
1937      first Arctic drifting ice station, North Pole-1 established by Soviet scientists   82
1946      Louis Slotin receives a fatal dose of radiation in the second major nuclear criticality accident at Los Alamos   73
1950      Seventh-day Adventist television ministry Faith for Today debuts   69
1964      German physicist and Nobel laureate James Franck dies in Göttingen, age 81   55
1965      British aviation pioneer and aerospace engineer Geoffrey de Havilland dies in Hertfordshire, England, age 82   54
1972      Michelangelo's Pietá in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is damaged by a vandal   47
1994      founder of "Dutch-Paris" underground network to save Jews during WWII Johan Hendrik Weidner dies in Monterey Park, California, age 81   25
1996      Lake Victoria ferry MV Bukoba capsizes and sinks 30 nautical miles (56 km) off Mwanza killing 894   23
2000      English actor, theatre director and Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony winner Arthur John Gielgud dies, age 96   19
2000      English prolific author of romance novels Barbara Cartland dies in Hertfordshire, age 98   19
2002      French sculptor, painter, and film maker Niki de Saint Phalle dies in California, age 71   17
2003      6.8 earthquake in the Boumerdès Province in northern Algeria kills 2266 and injures 10,261 others   16
2005      tallest roller coaster in the world, Kingda Ka opens at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey   14
2006      American dancer, choreographer, author, educator, and social activist Katherine Mary Dunham dies in New York City, age 96   13
2010      launch of JAXA's IKAROS to test effectiveness of a solar sail on a trip to Venus and beyond   9
2012      Australian anthropologist Alan Gordon Thorne dies in Canberra, age 72   7
2012      bus plunges 80 metres (260 ft) off a cliff at Qafa e Vishës in Albania killing 13 and injuring 21, mostly students   7
2012      suicide bomber attacks Yemeni troops preparing for the annual Unity Day military parade in Sana'a, Yemen–kills over 120, injures 350   7
2014      National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City opens to the public   5
2017      final performance for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus—after 146 years   2
2018      American actor and singer Norman Eugene "Clint" Walker dies in Grass Valley, California, age 90   1
2018      China launches Chang'e 4 Relay satellite, Queqiao, to Earth-Moon L2   1
2018      Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society publishes discovery of first permanent interstellar exo-asteroid 2015 BZ509   1
2018      Gina Cheri Haspel becomes the first woman permanent Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)   1
2019      Sherpa mountaineer Kami Rita summits Mount Everest for a record 24th time and the second time in a week   0

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.

day before yesterdayyesterday tomorrowday after tomorrow