May 7 Events in History

This article delves into significant historical events that occurred on May 7th, each highlighting a pivotal moment across various domains including technology, politics, culture, and art.

From groundbreaking space missions and significant political inaugurations to major mergers in the automotive industry and notable recoveries in the art world, these events showcase the diversity and impact of May 7th throughout history.

Whether it’s the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour, the election of world leaders, or the dramatic recovery of iconic artwork, each entry explores the circumstances and implications of these moments, reflecting their lasting influence on global developments and cultural narratives.

May 7th – On this Day in History

351 – The Jewish revolt against Constantius Gallus breaks out after Gallus had renounced the religious freedom given by his predecessor, Constantine the Great

The revolt occurred in the Eastern Roman Empire and was spurred by the resentment among Jewish communities towards the policies of Constantius Gallus, who was the Caesar of the East and a cousin of Emperor Constantius II.

Gallus had revoked several policies that protected Jewish rights, which his predecessor, Constantine the Great, had instituted.

The revolt is less documented than others but is indicative of the tensions between Jewish populations and Roman authorities due to religious and cultural clashes.

1274 – The Second Council of Lyon opens in France to regulate the election of the pope

The Second Council of Lyon was convened by Pope Gregory X in Lyon, France. One of its primary aims was to address the schism between the Eastern and Western Christian churches and to discuss the crusades in the Middle East.

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It also issued decrees for the election of future popes, stipulating that the election process (the papal conclave) should start ten days after a pope’s death and that the cardinals should be locked in seclusion (cum clave—hence “conclave”) until a decision was reached, a practice that continues to this day.

The Siege of Málaga

1487 – The Siege of Málaga commences during the Spanish Reconquista

This was an important event during the Spanish Reconquista, the long process in which Christian kingdoms sought to recapture territory from the Muslim Moors who had occupied parts of the Iberian Peninsula.

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The siege of Málaga was led by the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon. It began in May and lasted until August when the city surrendered. The capture of Málaga was significant because it was a major stronghold on the southern coast of Spain.

1664 – Louis XIV of France begins construction of the Palace of Versailles

King Louis XIV of France commissioned the expansion of a former hunting lodge into what would become the Palace of Versailles, one of the grandest and most famous palaces in the world.

Initially, it was intended as a retreat from the Parisian court, but over the decades, it was transformed into a symbol of the absolute monarchy of the Ancien Régime.

The construction and expansion continued throughout Louis XIV’s reign and became synonymous with the opulence and power of the French monarchy.

1718 – The city of New Orleans is founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville

New Orleans was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville on behalf of the French Mississippi Company. The city was strategically located to serve as a trading and strategic hub, taking advantage of its position near the Mississippi River.

New Orleans would go on to become a culturally rich city with significant French, Spanish, and African influences. Its founding marked the beginning of the major development of the Louisiana territory and it played a crucial role in the colonial history of North America.

1763 – Pontiac’s Rebellion begins in North America

Pontiac’s Rebellion was an uprising of Native American tribes against British post-war policies in the Great Lakes region following the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War).

The tribes, led by Pontiac, an Ottawa war leader, were dissatisfied with the British policies that restricted trade and treated the tribes as conquered people, unlike the more diplomatic French approaches.

The rebellion began with an unsuccessful attempt to seize Fort Detroit in May 1763 and spread to other British forts and settlements, many of which were captured or besieged.

The rebellion led to significant casualties on both sides and eventually prompted the British to issue the Proclamation of 1763, which limited colonial expansion west of the Appalachian Mountains.


1794 – Robespierre introduces the Cult of the Supreme Being in the French National Convention

During the French Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre, one of the leading figures during the Reign of Terror, introduced the Cult of the Supreme Being as a new state religion. This move was part of his efforts to provide a moral foundation to the revolution and to counteract the influence of atheism and deism.

The Cult of the Supreme Being was based on the ideas of deism, emphasizing virtue and the existence of a god but rejecting the traditional Christian conceptions and the corruption associated with the church.

A notable celebration of this cult was the Festival of the Supreme Being, held on June 8, 1794, designed to unite moral and civic principles with the revolutionary government.

1824 – World premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna, Austria

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony premiered on May 7, 1824, at the Kärntnertortheater in Vienna, Austria. This symphony is one of Beethoven’s greatest works and marked a significant development in the music world, being one of the first examples of a major composer using voices in a symphony.

The final movement of the symphony includes a setting of Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy,” a celebration of universal brotherhood. The symphony was groundbreaking not only for its length and complexity but also for its emotional depth and use of a choir and vocal soloists in a symphonic context.

1832 – Greece’s independence is recognized by the Treaty of London

The Treaty of London, signed on May 7, 1832, officially recognized Greece as an independent and sovereign nation after years of conflict involving the Ottoman Empire, and the intervention of the Great Powers (Britain, France, and Russia).

The treaty outlined the borders of the new state and established a monarchical government under a Bavarian prince, Otto, who was chosen to become the first king of Greece. This treaty was pivotal in the establishment of modern Greece, following a long struggle for independence that began in 1821.

1840 – The Great Natchez Tornado strikes Natchez, Mississippi, killing 317 people

The Great Natchez Tornado struck Natchez, Mississippi, on May 7, 1840, and is one of the deadliest tornadoes in United States history. It killed 317 people and caused immense destruction along the Mississippi River.

The tornado hit the town of Natchez directly and also caused severe damage to flatboats and other vessels on the river, contributing to the high death toll. This event highlighted the vulnerability of settlements along major waterways to natural disasters and had a lasting impact on the community involved.

1915 – The RMS Lusitania is sunk by a German U-boat off the Irish coast, killing 1,198

The RMS Lusitania, a British ocean liner, was sunk by a German U-boat off the southern coast of Ireland. The attack resulted in the deaths of 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard, including 128 Americans. The Lusitania was one of the largest and fastest ships of its time, and it was carrying both passengers and war munitions.

The sinking significantly swayed public opinion in neutral countries against Germany, contributing to the U.S. decision to enter World War I in 1917.

It highlighted the brutal nature of warfare and the use of unrestricted submarine warfare, which Germany temporarily halted and then resumed, leading directly to U.S. involvement in the conflict.


1945 – World War II: General Alfred Jodl signs unconditional surrender terms at Reims, France, ending Germany’s participation in the war

On May 7, 1945, Germany signed an unconditional surrender at Reims, France, effectively ending its participation in World War II. The document was signed by General Alfred Jodl, on behalf of the German High Command.

The surrender was accepted by representatives of the Allied forces, including the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and the United Kingdom.

This act took place a week after Adolf Hitler’s suicide and led to the official end of the war in Europe, which was celebrated on May 8, 1945, as Victory in Europe (VE) Day. The surrender marked the collapse of the Third Reich and the beginning of post-war recovery in Europe.

1954 – Indochina War: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu ends in a French defeat and a Vietnamese victory

The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was the climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War between the French Union’s French Far East Expeditionary Corps and Viet Minh communist-nationalist revolutionaries. After a grueling siege that lasted 56 days, the French garrison was overrun by the Viet Minh forces under General Vo Nguyen Giap.

The defeat at Dien Bien Phu was a turning point that led to the withdrawal of France from Indochina, and the Geneva Accords later that year, which divided Vietnam into North and South.

This battle is highly significant as it was the first time a colonial power was defeated by a nationalist force in a major conflict, signaling the decline of colonialism in Southeast Asia.

1960 – Leonid Brezhnev becomes President of the Soviet Union

Leonid Brezhnev took over as President of the Soviet Union in 1960, succeeding Nikita Khrushchev as the leader of the country. Brezhnev would become one of the longest-serving Soviet leaders, his tenure lasting until his death in 1982.

Under his leadership, the Soviet Union entered a period of political stability and modest economic growth but also of increased corruption and stagnation, particularly in the 1970s.

Brezhnev’s foreign policy was marked by the détente with the United States and the invasion of Afghanistan, which had long-lasting effects on global politics.

1986 – Patrick Henry Hughes, American multi-instrumentalist and motivational speaker, is born

Patrick Henry Hughes was born on May 7, 1986, in Louisville, Kentucky. He is known for his musical talents despite being born blind and with a rare genetic disorder that physically limited his mobility. Hughes gained national attention for playing in the University of Louisville marching band while his father pushed him in his wheelchair.

His story is one of remarkable achievement in the face of adversity, and he has been featured on multiple national television programs, inspiring many with his determination and talent.

1992 – The Space Shuttle Endeavour is launched on its first mission, STS-49

The Space Shuttle Endeavour was launched on its first mission, STS-49, on May 7, 1992. The mission’s primary objective was to capture and repair the Intelsat VI F-3 communications satellite, which had been stranded in an unusable orbit since its launch in 1990.

This was the first three-person spacewalk and it required an unprecedented three spacewalks to attach a new rocket motor to boost the satellite to the correct orbit. The mission was hailed for its complexity and the astronauts’ skills in making the necessary repairs.

The success of STS-49 highlighted the capabilities of the Space Shuttle program in supporting space repair missions and satellite maintenance.

1994 – Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” is recovered undamaged after being stolen from the National Gallery of Norway in February

On May 7, 1994, Edvard Munch’s famous painting “The Scream” was recovered nearly three months after it was stolen from the National Gallery of Norway. The theft occurred in February 1994, during the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, when thieves broke into the museum and left a note saying, “Thanks for the poor security.”

The painting, one of the most iconic images in the art world, representing human anxiety and existential fear, was recovered undamaged. The recovery was a significant relief to the art community and highlighted the issues of security in museums around the world.

1998 – Mercedes-Benz buys Chrysler for $40 billion USD and forms DaimlerChrysler in the largest industrial merger in history

On May 7, 1998, the German automobile company Mercedes-Benz, part of Daimler-Benz, announced the acquisition of the American auto manufacturer Chrysler. The deal was valued at approximately $40 billion USD, making it the largest industrial merger in history at that time.

The merged entity was named DaimlerChrysler, aiming to leverage the strengths of both companies in the global automotive market. The merger was intended to create a transatlantic automotive powerhouse, combining luxury and mass-market engineering.

However, cultural and operational differences led to significant challenges, and the merger was eventually deemed unsuccessful, leading to its dissolution in 2007.

2000 – Vladimir Putin is inaugurated as president of Russia

Vladimir Putin was inaugurated as president of Russia on May 7, 2000. His ascent to the presidency marked the beginning of a new era in Russian politics.

Putin, a former KGB officer, was seen as a stabilizing figure after the turbulent 1990s that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union. His first term was noted for economic recovery, the consolidation of power, and significant changes to the political system.

Putin’s leadership has been characterized by both significant economic growth and criticism regarding human rights and democracy. His tenure has profoundly shaped Russia’s domestic policies and its relationship with the world.

2007 – Nicolas Sarkozy is elected President of France

Nicolas Sarkozy was elected President of France on May 7, 2007. He succeeded Jacques Chirac, with his presidency promising significant social, economic, and political reforms. Sarkozy was known for his energetic style and his focus on reforming the French economy, tough stances on crime and immigration, and his intent to rejuvenate France’s standing on the international stage.

His tenure also saw France rejoin NATO’s integrated military command, and he played a prominent role during the European financial crisis. Sarkozy’s presidency was marked by controversy and mixed public reception, reflecting the challenging global economic conditions during his term.