This Day in History - 17th May
1215The country was in a state of Civil War and English barons, in revolt against King John, took possession of London.
1527Archbishop Warham began a secret inquiry into Henry VIII's marriage with Catherine of Aragon, the first step in divorce proceedings.
1536George Boleyn (an English courtier and nobleman, and the brother of queen consort Anne Boleyn) along with Viscount Rochford and four other men were executed for treason.
1649 Cromwell's troops captured 300 Levellers and locked them up in Burford church. (The Levellers believed in civil rights, a 'level' society and religious tolerance and Cromwell was determined to crush them.) Three of the Levellers were executed on Oliver Cromwell’s orders in Burford churchyard, Oxfordshire.
1749Edward Jenner, English pioneer of vaccination was born.
1836Joseph Norman Lockyer, English astronomer and co-discoverer of helium, was born.
1861A group of holidaymakers set off from London on the first foreign 'package trip' arranged by Thomas Cook. It was a six day holiday in Paris. Cook began his pioneering tour business 20 years previously when he organized the first publicly advertised railway excursion from Leicester to a temperance meeting at Loughborough (11 miles away).
1890The first weekly comic paper, Comic Cuts, was published by Alfred Harmsworth, in London.
1899Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
1900The siege of the British garrison at Mafeking by Boer forces was broken. The commander of the garrison, Colonel Robert Baden-Powell and his forces had held firm for 217 days.
1915The fall of the last all Liberal Party government. The poor British performance in the early months of the war forced Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith to invite the Conservatives into a coalition.
1916The Daylight-Saving Act (‘Summer Time’) was passed in Britain.
1969Tom McClean from Dublin left Newfoundland aboard Super Silver and completed the first transatlantic solo crossing in a rowing boat on 27th July when he arrived at Blacksod Bay, Co. Mayo.
1978The coffin containing the body of Charlie Chaplin, missing since his grave was pillaged nearly two months previously, was found.
1984Prince Charles called a proposed addition to the National Gallery, London, a 'monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend,' sparking controversies on the proper role of the Royal Family and the course of modern architecture.
1993Nurse Beverley Allitt was convicted of murdering four babies under her 'care' at the Grantham and Kesteven hospital.
2000Two Royal Marine commandos (Corporal Alan Chambers, 31, and Marine Charlie Paton, 29) became the first Englishmen to reach the geographical North Pole.