May 9 Events in History

May 9th has marked numerous significant events that have influenced the course of history. This article chronicles twenty key moments from this date, ranging from treaties and battles to pivotal technological and cultural milestones.

Each event offers insight into the dynamics of its time and contributes to our understanding of the broader historical narrative.

Explore these defining events that have occurred on May 9th, each shaping the contours of history in its unique way.

May 9th – On this Day in History

1386 – The Treaty of Windsor is ratified, establishing a long-standing alliance between Portugal and England

The Treaty of Windsor was ratified on May 9, 1386, forging one of the oldest diplomatic alliances in the world that still remains in effect. This treaty between Portugal and England was established to solidify the Anglo-Portuguese alliance with mutual commitments to military and commercial support.

Also Read: May 8 Events in History

Both nations pledged to aid one another against any attack, and the treaty was strengthened over the centuries by various marriages between the royal families of Portugal and England. This alliance has been invoked several times throughout history, including during the Napoleonic Wars and World War II.

The Treaty of Windsor

1450 – ‘Jack Cade’s Rebellion’: Kentishmen revolt against King Henry VI

On May 9, 1450, a significant uprising known as Jack Cade’s Rebellion began. It was led by Jack Cade, who adopted the name John Mortimer, aligning himself with the popular Yorkist cause against King Henry VI of England. The rebels issued a manifesto listing their grievances against the king’s corrupt officials and economic hardships.

Also Read: May 10th – On this Day in History

They succeeded in entering London and initially had some success in enforcing their demands before the rebellion was suppressed. The rebellion was part of the widespread discontent that eventually led to the Wars of the Roses.

1671 – Thomas Blood, disguised as a clergyman, attempts to steal England’s Crown Jewels from the Tower of London

Colonel Thomas Blood, an Irish adventurer, famously attempted to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London on May 9, 1671. Dressed as a clergyman, Blood convinced the jewel keeper to show him and his accomplices the jewels.

They then ambushed the keeper, stole the jewels, and attempted to escape. However, the plot was foiled, and they were caught. Surprisingly, King Charles II pardoned Blood, possibly amused by the audacity of the attempt, and even granted him land in Ireland.

1726 – Five men arrested during a raid on a molly house in London for homosexual acts

On May 9, 1726, a raid took place on a molly house, a term used in 18th century England to describe meeting places for homosexual men. These establishments were often taverns, public houses, or coffee houses. The raid resulted in the arrest of five men.

The event is notable as it highlights the perilous environment facing homosexual men in England at the time, where sodomy was a capital crime. This incident illustrates the early struggles of the LGBT community against legal and social persecution.

1864 – Second War of Schleswig: The Danish navy defeats the Austrian-Prussian fleet in the Battle of Heligoland

The Battle of Heligoland, fought on May 9, 1864, was a naval battle during the Second War of Schleswig, involving the Danish Navy and the combined fleets of Austria and Prussia.

The Danish forces, outnumbered and outgunned, managed a strategic victory by causing significant damage to the Austrian ship SMS Schwarzenberg and Prussian ship SMS Preußen.

The battle underscored Denmark’s resilience and tactical prowess despite the overwhelming odds, although Denmark eventually lost the war and ceded territory to Prussia and Austria.

Battle of Heligoland

1877 – The first Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show opens in New York City

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, first held on May 9, 1877, is one of the oldest and most prestigious continuous sporting events in the United States, second only to the Kentucky Derby. The initial show was hosted at Gilmore’s Garden (which later became Madison Square Garden) in New York City.

It was primarily meant to showcase hunting dogs, particularly Setters and Pointers, to an audience that included wealthy pet owners and breed enthusiasts. This event has grown to include a wide variety of breeds and has become a significant event in the canine competition world, celebrated annually.

1911 – The works of Gustav Mahler premiered in the U.S. by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra

On May 9, 1911, just days after Gustav Mahler’s death, his compositions were performed by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, marking the U.S. premiere of his works. Mahler, who had served as the conductor of the Philharmonic before his death, had significantly influenced the musical landscape of New York.

The performance included his Symphony No. 4, helping to solidify his legacy as a key figure in the late-Romantic period in music. Mahler’s compositions, characterized by their emotional depth and complexity, gradually gained immense popularity and critical acclaim worldwide.

1915 – World War I: Second Battle of Artois between German and French forces begins

The Second Battle of Artois, which began on May 9, 1915, was part of a series of French attempts to break through German defenses in northern France during World War I. This offensive was aimed at capturing the high ground of Vimy Ridge and advancing through the Artois region to force the Germans to retreat.

The battle was marked by intense and bloody fighting, and although it resulted in some initial gains for the French, including the capture of the town of Vimy, the overall objectives were not achieved. The battle highlighted the brutal nature of trench warfare and the high cost in human lives for minimal territorial gains.

1926 – Admiral Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett claim to have flown over the North Pole (later disputed)

On May 9, 1926, American explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd, together with pilot Floyd Bennett, claimed to have flown over the North Pole in a Fokker tri-motor aircraft, a feat celebrated as a major achievement in aviation. However, this claim has been subject to controversy and skepticism over the years.

Subsequent examinations of Byrd’s navigational data suggested that he may not have actually reached the pole. Despite the disputes, this flight contributed to Byrd’s reputation as a pioneering aviator and explorer, and he went on to lead several more significant expeditions to Antarctica.

1936 – Italy formally annexes Ethiopia after taking the capital Addis Ababa

On May 9, 1936, Italy, under the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, formally annexed Ethiopia after its forces captured Addis Ababa. This event marked the end of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War and led to the establishment of Italian East Africa, which also included Eritrea and Italian Somaliland.

The annexation was part of Mussolini’s broader ambitions to build an Italian empire in Africa, mirroring the colonial expansions of other European powers.

The occupation was harsh and marked by significant resistance from the Ethiopian people, ultimately ending in 1941 with the restoration of the Ethiopian Empire under Emperor Haile Selassie, assisted by Allied forces during World War II.


1941 – World War II: The British Royal Navy captures the German submarine U-110, with its Enigma cipher machine

On May 9, 1941, during World War II, the British Royal Navy captured the German submarine U-110, along with its Enigma machine and codebooks. This event was a significant intelligence breakthrough for the Allies.

The Enigma machine, used by the Germans to encrypt military communications, was considered nearly unbreakable. The capture allowed British cryptologists at Bletchley Park, including Alan Turing, to decipher German naval codes.

This contributed crucially to the Allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic, as it enabled the interception of German U-boat positions and strategies.

1946 – King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy abdicates and is succeeded by Umberto II

On May 9, 1946, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy abdicated the throne amidst widespread disapproval of his association with the Fascist regime during Benito Mussolini’s rule. His reign had seen Italy through two World Wars and the rise and fall of Fascism.

He was succeeded by his son, Umberto II, who became the last King of Italy. Umberto’s reign was short-lived, as Italy held a referendum on June 2, 1946, which resulted in the establishment of a republic, ending the monarchy after nearly 85 years.

1950 – Robert Schuman presents his proposal on the creation of an organized Europe, indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations (Schuman Declaration)

On May 9, 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman presented a proposal, known as the Schuman Declaration, which laid the foundation for the European Coal and Steel Community, the precursor to the European Union.

The plan proposed the pooling of coal and steel production under a common high authority as a way to ensure economic cooperation and prevent future conflicts between European nations, particularly between France and Germany. This date is now celebrated as Europe Day, marking Schuman’s vision of a united and peaceful Europe.

1955 – Cold War: West Germany joins NATO

On May 9, 1955, in the context of the Cold War, West Germany was admitted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This move was part of the Western bloc’s strategy to deter Soviet influence in Europe by strengthening its defensive alliance through the inclusion of Germany.

The entry of West Germany into NATO prompted the Soviet Union to consolidate its hold over Eastern Europe, leading to the formation of the Warsaw Pact shortly thereafter. This intensified the military standoff between the NATO and Warsaw Pact nations.

1960 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the birth control pill

On May 9, 1960, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the first oral contraceptive pill, commonly known as “the pill.” This approval marked a significant milestone in reproductive rights and women’s health, providing an effective means of birth control.

Developed by biologist Gregory Pincus and funded by women’s rights activist Katharine McCormick, the pill had a profound impact on society, fueling the sexual revolution and significantly altering social and familial structures by giving women control over their fertility.

1974 – The House Judiciary Committee begins formal impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon

On May 9, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee officially opened impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon, marking a critical phase in the Watergate scandal.

These proceedings were initiated following allegations of obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress related to the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up.

The process led to the revelation of additional evidence, including damaging tape recordings made in the Oval Office. Nixon, facing almost certain impeachment and conviction, resigned on August 8, 1974, becoming the first U.S. president to do so.

1980 – The Norco shootout, an armed confrontation between five heavily armed bank robbers and deputies of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in Norco, California

The Norco shootout occurred on May 9, 1980, and is one of the most violent bank robberies in U.S. history. Five heavily armed robbers attempted to rob the Security Pacific Bank in Norco, California, leading to a deadly confrontation with Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies. The shootout and subsequent pursuit left one deputy dead and several others wounded.

The chase spanned 25 miles, involved multiple car hijackings and exchanges of gunfire. The incident profoundly impacted law enforcement tactics and protocols regarding high-risk situations and the militarization of police equipment.

1987 – Lotus 1-2-3, the best-selling spreadsheet software, releases version 2.01

On May 9, 1987, Lotus 1-2-3, one of the leading spreadsheet applications of its time, released version 2.01. This software was crucial in the popularity of the IBM PC in the business world during the 1980s. Lotus 1-2-3 was known for integrating spreadsheet functions with database management and graphing and charting capabilities.

Version 2.01 included enhancements that further solidified its position as a vital tool for business and financial professionals, helping to define the software standards for office productivity.

1992 – Armenian forces capture Shusha, marking a pivotal point in the Nagorno-Karabakh War

On May 9, 1992, during the Nagorno-Karabakh War, Armenian forces captured the strategic town of Shusha. This victory was significant as Shusha was considered a cultural and strategic stronghold within the disputed region, predominantly populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis.

The capture of Shusha turned the tide in favor of Armenian forces in the conflict, leading to a series of military successes that culminated in a ceasefire in 1994. The fall of Shusha had a lasting impact on the region’s geopolitical landscape and remains a contentious issue in Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.

2013 – Russia holds its first large-scale Victory Day military parade in Red Square, Moscow, to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II

On May 9, 2013, Russia conducted a large-scale military parade in Red Square, Moscow, to commemorate the 68th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

This event marked the continuation of a tradition dating back to the Soviet era, where Victory Day is celebrated with great fanfare and patriotism.

The parade showcased Russia’s military might, featuring a display of troops, armored vehicles, and aerial flyovers. It served both as a reminder of Russia’s historical role in defeating Nazism and as a demonstration of national strength in the contemporary geopolitical arena.