The Maiden of Orleans
1429 Joan of Arc arrived at the besieged city of Orleans to eventually lead her French forces to victory (on May 6th) over the English.
Many Lives of William III
1696 There were many attempts on the life of William III, King of England, who attracted opposition, in part because he was a foreigner. This day, three would-be assassins, Rookwood, Lowick and Cranbourne, were executed for an attempt that failed.
1879 Thomas Beecham, conductor and founder of the London Philharmonic was born. He was also closely associated with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé orchestras and was a major influence on the musical life of Britain.
Women at the Gate
1884 Oxford University agreed to admit female students to examinations. However, woman were not to be awarded degrees.
1909 In a revolutionary budget called ‘The People’s Budget’, Chancellor David Lloyd George introduced a new ‘supertax’ of sixpence in the pound for anyone earning more than £5,000 a year (£387.000 in today’s money). The new high level of supertax was to pay for old age pensions and re-armament of the forces.
1935 Just one year after their invention by Percy Shaw of Yorkshire, ‘cats’ eyes’ were being inserted into British roads.
Fred The Steeplejack
1938 The birth, in Bolton, Lancashire of Fred Dibnah MBE, English steeplejack. He had a fascination for steam vehicles and mechanical engineering and became a cult television personality.
1945 The German army in Italy surrendered to the Allies under the British General Alexander. The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, ‘Il Duce’, who, after a series of military misadventures, became unpopular even among his fellow Fascists, was captured while trying to flee Italy and was executed.
An Unhappy Couple
1945 Adolf Hitler married his longtime partner Eva Braun in a Berlin bunker and designated Admiral Karl Dönitz as his successor. Both Hitler and Braun committed suicide the next day.
Never Too Slim or Too Rich
1986 The Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, was laid to rest alongside her husband, the abdicated King Edward VIII, at Frogmore in Windsor.
1990 Snooker player Stephen Hendry beat Jimmy White, to become the youngest ever world champion, aged 21 years and 106 days.
A Happy Couple
2011 The marriage of Prince William, 2nd in line to the throne, and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey. The day was declared a bank holiday in celebration.