On this day, May 20

THE doomed cargo ship MS X-Press Pearl. Picture: IOL Archives

THE doomed cargo ship MS X-Press Pearl. Picture: IOL Archives

Published May 20, 2023


Novel idea – a left and a right shoe, who knew?; Da Gama is first to India; a man and a woman tackle flying the Atlantic, separately; and a world-record rap

325 The first Christian ecumenical council opens at Nicaea, Asia Minor (Turkey).

1217 The Second Battle of Lincoln is fought near Lincoln, England, resulting in the defeat of Prince Louis of France – who was laying claim to the English throne – by William Marshal, the second Earl of Pembroke, a knight of great skill and prowess, who serves as regent for the young King Henry.

1293 An earthquake in Kamakura, Japan, kills 30 000 people.

1310 Shoes are first made for both the left and right feet. Prior to that, they weren’t.

1498 Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama arrives at Calicut, India, becoming the first European to reach India by sea.

1645 The start of a 10-day massacre of Yangzhou’s 800 000 residents during the Manchu conquest of China.

1752 August Beutler’s expedition, which left the Cape in February, reaches the Boesmans River and leaves for the Keiskamma.

1802 Napoleon Bonaparte reinstates slavery in the French colonies, revoking its abolition during the French Revolution.

1873 Levi Strauss receives a patent for blue jeans with copper rivets.

1875 The Metre Convention is signed by 17 nations, leading to the establishment of the International System of Units.

1900 The second modern Olympics opens in Paris (and lasts five months).

1902 Cuba gains independence from the US, which captured it from Spain in 1898.

1927 Charles Lindbergh attempts to become the first man to fly across the Atlantic.

1932 Amelia Earhart attempts to become the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic.

1940 The 1st SA Infantry Brigade is the first South African unit called up for World War II.

1983 An Umkhonto we Sizwe car bomb in Pretoria kills 19 people and injures 217.

1989 China declares martial law in the face of pro-democracy demonstrations.

1992 Rapper Tung Twista (Chicago native Carl Terrell Mitchell) raps to a world-record 597 syllables in fewer than 60 seconds.

2018 Two cyclists, one of whom dies, are attacked by a cougar (mountain lion) in Washington State.

2021 Sri Lanka's worst ecological disaster begins as the new cargo ship MS X-Press Pearl, on only her third voyage, catches fire off the country's coast and begins spilling debris. By May 27 the ship is engulfed in flames and declared a total loss. After burning for 12 days, the vessel sinks on June 2 as it was being towed to deeper waters.