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18 May: On this day in history

What events happened on 18 May in history? We round up the events, births and deaths…

Published: May 18, 2022 at 5:06 am
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18 May 1268

The Crusader city of Antioch falls to the Mameluke Sultan Baibars who razes it to the ground and kills or enslaves its inhabitants.

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18 May 1412

Henry IV and a group of French lords led by the Duke of Orleans signed the Treaty of Bourges. In exchange for the acceptance of his sovereignty over the Duchy of Aquitaine, Henry agreed to aid Orleanists against the Burgundians, and sent an army to France under the command of his son, the Duke of Clarence. But when a temporary peace was made with the Burgundians, Clarence was left isolated in Normandy. He responded by leading his army on a chevauchee (raid) on English-held Bordeaux.


18 May 1896: Tragedy strikes at Nicholas II’s coronation

Hundreds are crushed to death at Khodynka Field, Moscow

Dawn on 18 May 1896, and at Khodynka Field, a large military training ground on the edge of Moscow, the mood was electric with anticipation. Four days earlier, Nicholas II had been formally crowned Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias, and as was traditional, he had invited his people to a colossal celebration.

Despite the fact that the ground was etched with trenches, Khodynka was the only place large enough to hold the hundreds of thousands expected to flock to the city, so for days workmen had been busy putting up turnstiles and pavilions. The celebration was due to kick off on the 18th and by the previous night thousands had already arrived, looking forward to the promised gifts of bread, sausage, pretzels, gingerbread and a special commemorative cup. Everyone knew it would be a day to remember.

Some time around dawn, rumours swept the camping grounds that there were too many people and not enough presents. People started pushing towards the barricades, and though Cossack cavalrymen tried to push them back, the crowds were just too dense. A few people tripped and fell into the trenches across the field, then more. The crowds kept coming, a great and terrible wave, and still more fell beneath their feet. It all happened so quickly. By mid-morning, the Cossacks were already counting the bodies: in all, at least 1,300 people had been trampled to death.

Nicholas visited the field later that day, waving to the crowds as planned from the pavilion before retiring for dinner. | Written by Dominic Sandbrook


18 May 1897

Film director Frank Capra is born.


18 May 1911

Bohemian late-Romantic composer and conductor Gustav Mahler died of heart disease in the Low Sanatorium in Vienna.


18 May 1969

The Apollo 10 space mission is launched from Cape Kennedy. In a dry run for the lunar landings two months later, astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan will approach to within nine miles of the moon's surface.

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18 May 1980

A major volcanic eruption of Mount St Helens in Washington State caused the deaths of 57 people and completely destroyed over 200 square miles of forest.

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