Births: Rudolf I of Hapsburg, King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor, 1218; Joseph Addison, diarist and essayist, 1672; Charles Macklin (McLaughlin), actor, 1690; George Inness, painter, 1825; Jules-Adolphe-Aime-Louis Breton, painter, 1827; Theodor Krause, composer and teacher, 1833; Hilaire, Comte de Chardonnet, inventor of rayon, 1839; Edith Somerville (Anna Oenone), author, 1858.

Deaths: Dermot MacMurrough (Diarmid MacMurchada), King of Leinster, 1171; Pope Pius V, 1572; John Dryden, poet, 1700; Jean-Francois de Troy, painter, 1730; Dr John Walker, inventor of the friction match, 1859; David Livingstone, missionary and explorer, 1873; Antonin Leopold Dvorak, composer, 1904; Joseph Goebbels, Nazi leader and propaganda chief, committed suicide 1945; Sir Harold George Nicolson, diplomat and biographer, 1968.

On this day: the Union of Scotland and England was proclaimed, 1707; the London Library, founded by Thomas Carlyle, WE Gladstone, Lord Macaulay and others, was officially opened, 1841; the Great Exhibition was opened by Queen Victoria in Hyde Park, London, 1851; Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India, 1876; Cyprus became a British Crown Colony, 1925; the first cooked meals were served on a British airline, Imperial Airways 1927; Professor Auguste Piccard made the first ascent into the stratosphere, a distance of just over 10 miles, 1931; the Empire State Building was opened, New York 1931; President Roosevelt signed the Neutrality Act, 1937; Berlin was captured by the Russians, 1945; the German Army in Italy surrendered, 1945; in Britain, the gas industry was nationalised, 1949; the USSR shot down a US U-2 aircraft piloted by Francis Gary Powers, 1960.

Today is May Day (Labour Day) and the Feast Day of St Amator or Amatre, St Briocus or Brieuc, St Joseph the Worker, St Peregrine Laziosi, St Sigismund of Burgundy and St Theodard of Narbonne.


Births: William Camden, antiquarian and historian, 1551; Pietro Alessandro Gaspare Scarlatti, composer, 1660; Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, 1729; Sir Humphry Repton, landscape architect, 1752; John Galt, novelist, 1779; The Rev Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, author of the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1810; Jerome K. Jerome, writer, 1859; 'Bing' Crosby, singer, 1904.

Deaths: Leonardo da Vinci, painter, sculptor and scientist, 1519, William Thomas Beckford, novelist, collector and spendthrift, 1844; Nancy, Viscountess Astor, the first woman to sit in Parliament, 1964; John Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, 1972.

On this day: the Authorised Version (King James) of the Bible was published, 1611; Prince William of Orange married Princess Mary, daughter of Charles I, 1641; the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed, 1668; Leopold II of the Belgians was proclaimed king of the Congo state, 1885; US forces arrived in Nicaragua to restore order after a coup, 1926; the Battle for Berlin ended, and the Germans surrendered, 1945; public VHF broadcasting was first introduced to Britain, 1955; Queen Elizabeth II sailed from Southampton on her maiden voyage, 1969.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Athanasius, Saints Exsuperius or Hesperus and Zoe, St Mefalda, St Ultan of Fosses, St Waldebert and St Wiborada.

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