3 May 1152

Matilda of Boulogne, the wife of King Stephen, died in Castle Hedingham. She had been an energetic supporter of her husband's cause during the war against the adherents of the Empress Matilda, his rival for the English throne.


3 May 1469

Civil servant and political theorist Niccolo di Bernado dei Machiavelli is born. Forced into retirement following the collapse of the Florentine Republic in 1512 he spends the last 15 years of his life as a writer of poetry, stories and political treatises. His work, Il Principe (The Prince), is a brutally pragmatic discussion of what a Renaissance ruler needs to do to maintain authority. It will be condemned by the papacy and give rise to the adjective 'machiavellian'.

3 May 1481

Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II 'the Conqueror' died, aged 49. During his life he had greatly expanded the Ottoman empire and in 1453 had overseen the capture of Constantinople.

3 May 1740

Elizabeth Branch and her daughter Betty were hanged at Ilchester, Somerset, for beating to death their 13-year old maidservant. Public outrage at the murder was such that the pair were executed at an unusually early time to prevent them being torn to pieces by the mob.

3 May 1813

Guided by escaped slaves, a squadron of British frigates under Rear Admiral George Cockburn mounted a surprise attack on the small Maryland town of Havre de Grace, burning 40 of the town’s 60 houses and destroying a nearby cannon foundry.

3 May 1849

In Dresden, Saxony, pro-democracy protesters launch the ill-fated May Uprising, often considered the last of the 1848 revolutions. After six days of pitched street battles, the revolt is put down.

3 May 1898

The birth in Kiev of Israeli politician Golda Meir. She will emigrate to the USA as a child and later settle in Palestine. After serving as ambassador to the USSR, minister of labour and foreign minister, she becomes Israeli prime minister in 1969.


3 May 1937

American writer Margaret Mitchell is awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Gone With The Wind.

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