On This Day in History: May 17

On May 17, 1536, five men were executed for crimes they may never have committed. Here’s a look at history today throughout the ages.

1337: Creation of the First English Duchy

Edward the Black PrinceThe first English duchy was created on this day in history. Edward, the Black Prince, was made the Duke of Cornwall. As the eldest son of Edward III of England, he was supposed to become king. However, Edward died before his father, leaving the crown to his young son, Richard. Two weeks after Edward, the Black Prince’s death, the duchy passed to his 9-year-old son. Edward III also created two other duchies at this time, the Duke of Lancaster (given to Henry of Grosmot and later John of Gaunt) and the Duke of Clarence (give to Lionel of Antwerp and later George Plantagent). By 1485 there were 31 duchies in England.

1536: The Executions of George Boleyn, Mark Smeaton, and Others

The five men accused of adultery with Queen Anne Boleyn (one of them accused of incest) were executed today in history. George Boleyn would have been the first, considering his higher rank, with Sir Henry Norris, Sir Francis Weston, Sir William Brereton, and Mark Smeaton following. Out of all five men, only Smeaton confessed and many historians believe the confession was false and extracted through torture or promises of a more merciful death (than being hung, drawn and quartered) to bring down the Boleyn faction.

1863: The Battle of Big Black River Ends with Confederate Defeat

The Battle of Big Black River, Mississippi came to an end with the defeat of the Confederate army in history today. The Union Army, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, made its way through the riverfront defenses to get south of Vicksburg and then into Jackson. The forces would split to take over the Confederate holding. It was Confederate leader Pemberton’s second defeat in two days, losing 1,752 troops in this battle alone, while the Union army only lost 279. Pemberton attempted to avoid total defeat by burning the Big Black River bridge down, but Grant found another way around.

2000: Series Finale of ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ Airs

James IV of ScotlandToday, Beverly Hills 90210 fans said goodbye to their favorite characters. The show ended with Donna Martin and David Silver saying their vows and Kelly Taylor and Dylan McKay reuniting. The teen drama ran for 10 seasons and was the first of a string of teenage-focused shows on the Fox network. While covering teenage and young adult life, the show looked into learning disabilities, drug abuse, date rap, AIDS, gay rights, suicide, and much more. The show was brought back with a revival 90210 on The CW Network decades later, with some of the original cast members reprising their roles.

Famous Birthdays on May 17

Emperor Shijō of Japan—1231

King James IV of Scotland—1473

Church leader Thomas Boston—1676

Ohm’s Law discoverer George Simon Ohm—1787

Composer Horace Wadham Nicholl—1848

Chard Somerset, 1st female Cabinet minister—1873

Singer Nat “King” Cole—1919

Founding father of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman—1922

Apollo 15 astronaut James Benson Irwin—1930

American serial killer John Wayne Gacy—1942

Actor Bill Paxton—1955

Singer Enya—1961

The 100 actress Paige Turco–1965

NCIS actress Sasha Alexander–1973

Dancing with the Stars professional dancer Derek Hough—1985

YouTuber PiinkSparkles—1990

Grey’s Anatomy and The Hunger Games actress Leven Rambin—1990

Cheerleader Ashley Wilson—1998

Sources:

Featured image from Deposit Photos

Birthdays from OnThisDay.com and FamousBirthdays.com

Edward, the Black Prince: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward,_the_Black_Prince#/media/File:Cernoch.jpg

James IV of Scotland: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:James_IV_of_Scotland.jpg#/media/File:James_IV_of_Scotland.jpg


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