World Facts

What Happened On May 31st In...?

The Mongol hordes defeated the Kievan Rus, the largest naval battle in World War I began, and an asteroid came close to earth.

May 31st is the 151st day of most years and the 152nd day in leap years. May 31st is also an important date that is nationally recognized for its historical importance in some countries. Major events have taken place on this day particularly military battles. These battles have in many ways influenced later decisions and actions taken by the concerned nations. Some of these events, such as the burning of the Jaffna library in Sri Lanka, led to the destruction of important data.

Stoning of Western Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus

Petronius Maximus was stoned to death and his body was mutilated by an angry mob as he tried to flee from the Visigoths on May 31, 455 AD. He died 78 days after serving as the western roman emperor. Petronius is said to have engineered the assassinations of Valentinian III and Flavius Aëtius to have access to the throne.

Battle of Kalka River

The Battle of Kalka River was fought between the Mongol Empire and Sabutai the Valiant on May 31, 1223, resulting to the victory of the Mongols and the death of a large number of the Rus prince's army. The battle was part of the Mongol invasions of Central Asia.

Mecklenburg Resolves

The Mecklenburg Resolves were a set of statements adopted in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on May 31st, 1775, more than one year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, following civil unrest at Concord and Lexington in Massachusetts. The documents were open for reconciliation talks with parliament, and did not declare independence.

The Big Ben Clock Tower Begins to Keep Time

London, England's Big Ben Clock Tower is arguably the most recognizable landmark in the United Kingdom. The clock tower was completed and started working on May 31st, 1859 making it home to the most accurate four-faced chiming and striking clock in the world. The Clock Tower has British cultural icon and is one of the most outstanding symbols of the UK. It has featured prominently on films shot in London.

Battle of Cold Harbor

The battle was part of the American Civil War, and was fought between the Union Army of the Potomac and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. On May 31st, 1864, Grant’s Union Army was defeated by Lee’s Confederate Army. Grant, the Potomac army general, had the intention of weakening Lee’s army. A large number of people were killed in the bloody battle.

Battle of Jutland

The Battle of Jutland was fought between the British and Germans during the First World War, and was waged from May 31st until June 1st in 1916. The event would go down as the largest naval engagement in World War I, and one of the largest in history. The battle was fought in the North Sea off of the coast of the Jutland peninsula of Denmark.

Japanese Attack on Sydney Harbor

The Imperial Japanese Navy launched a seaward attack on Sydney Harbor in Australia on the night of May 31st, 1942, using three submarines. The submarines attempted to sink ships of the Allied warships but were attacked before they could reach the ships. During the war, 21 sailors were killed.

Completion of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline

The construction of the 800-mile-long Trans-Alaska pipeline began in 1975, and was completed on May 31st, 1977. The pipeline is important in transporting oil from the northern slopes of Alaska in Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.

Burning of the Jaffna Public Library

On May 31st, 1981, the Jaffna Library in Sri Lanka, one of the largest in Asia, was set afire by Anti-Tamil groups of Sinhalese origin, killing four people in the process. The arson attack was part of the Sri Lankan Civil War.

Asteroid 1998QE2 Comes Close to Earth

On May 31st, 2013, Asteroid 1998QE2 passed close by our Earth, at least by astronomical standards. This asteroid had been discovered on August 19, 1998, and had been monitored all along.The asteroid was important in radar astronomy where astronomists hoped to get high resolution images of the surface features of the asteroid. The asteroid measured 1.7 miles wide and was within 3.6 million miles from the earth. That was the closest it was to the earth and may take another 200 years for another close encounter.

What Happened On May 31st In...?

Notable Events Occurring on May 31st Through HistoryYear
Days before the Vandals sack Rome, Western Roman Emperor Petronius Maximus was stoned to death and mutilated by an angry mob as he tried to flee the city.455 AD
Genghis Khan's Mongols defeat the Kievan Rus in the Battle of the Kalka River in Ukraine.1223
The Mecklenburg Resolves were adopted in Charlotte, North Carolina more than one year before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.1775
The Big Ben clock tower commences timekeeping at the Palace of Westminster, London, England.1859
Lee's Confederates fight the Union forces of Grant and Meade in the Civil War Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia.1864
The British and German navies face off in the largest maritime engagement of World War I, the Battle of Jutland, off the coast of Denmark.1916
Japanese mini submarines begin their attacks on Australia's Sydney Harbor in World War II.1942
Construction of the Trans-Alaska pipeline is finished.1977
Four are killed by an Anti-Tamil mob in the burning of the Public Library in Jaffna, Sri Lanka during the Sri Lankan Civil War.1981
The asteroid 1998 QE2 came within 3,600,000 miles of planet earth.2013

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