May 17 is the 137th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (138th in leap years). There are 228 days remaining.

  1. 1521 - Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham, is executed for treason.
  2. 1590 - Anne of Denmark is crowned Queen of Scotland.
  3. 1642 - Paul Chomedey, sieur de Maisonneuve (1612–1676) founds the Ville Marie de Montréal.
  4. 1673 - Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette begin exploring the Mississippi River.
  5. 1775 - American Revolutionary War: The Continental Congress bans trade with Canada.
  6. 1792 - The New York Stock Exchange is formed.
  7. 1809 - Napoleon I of France orders the annexation of the Papal States to the French Empire.
  8. 1814 - Occupation of Monaco changes from French to Austrian.
  9. 1814 - The Constitution of Norway is signed and the Danish Crown Prince Christian Frederik is elected King of Norway by the Norwegian Constituent Assembly.
  10. 1846 - The saxophone is patented by Adolphe Sax.
  11. 1849 - A fire threatens to burn St. Louis, Missouri, to the ground.
  12. 1863 - Rosalía de Castro publishes Cantares Gallegos, her first book in the Galician language.
  13. 1865 - The International Telegraph Union (the later International Telecommunication Union) is established.
  14. 1875 - Aristides wins the first Kentucky Derby.
  15. 1900 - Second Boer War: British troops relieve Mafeking.
  16. 1902 - Archaeologist Spyridon Stais finds the Antikythera mechanism.
  17. 1915 - The last British Liberal Party government (Herbert Henry Asquith) falls.
  18. 1918 - Almost the entire leadership of Sinn Féin are arrested.
  19. 1919 - Committee of One Thousand forms to oppose Winnipeg General Strike.
  20. 1933 - Vidkun Quisling and Johan Bernhard Hjort form Nasjonal Samling — the national-socialist party of Norway.
  21. 1940 - World War II: Germany occupies Brussels, Belgium.
  22. 1943 - The United States Army contracts with the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School to develop the ENIAC.
  23. 1954 - The United States Supreme Court hands down a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas.
  24. 1967 - Six-Day War: President Abdul Nasser of Egypt demands dismantling of the peace-keeping UN Emergency Force in Egypt.
  25. 1969 - Venera program: Soviet Venera 6 begins its descent into the atmosphere of Venus, sending back atmospheric data before being crushed by pressure.
  26. 1970 - Thor Heyerdahl sets sail from Morocco on the papyrus boat Ra II to sail the Atlantic Ocean.
  27. 1973 - Watergate scandal: Hearings begin in the United States Senate and are televised.
  28. 1974 - Police in Los Angeles, California, raid the Symbionese Liberation Army's headquarters, killing six members, including Camilla Hall.
  29. 1974 - Thirty-three people are killed by terrorist bombings in Dublin and Monaghan, Ireland.
  30. 1980 - General Chun Doo-hwan of South Korea declares martial law in order to suppress student demonstrations.
  31. 1983 - Lebanon, Israel, and the United States sign an agreement on Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon.
  32. 1984 - Prince Charles calls 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.
  33. 1987 - An Iraqi fighter jet fires two missiles into the U.S. warship USS Stark (FFG-31), killing 37 and injuring 21 of her crew.
  34. 1992 - In Thailand, the so-called Black May begins. Thai police and protestors start attacking one another. By midnight, the current Thai government declares a state of emergency, and military troops, equipped with M-16 rifles, open fire.
  35. 1994 - Malawi holds its first multiparty elections.
  36. 1995 - After 18 years as the mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac takes office as President of France.
  37. 1998 - David Wells of the New York Yankees pitches the 15th perfect game in baseball history against the Minnesota Twins at Yankee Stadium.
  38. 1999 - Ehud Barak is elected prime minister of Israel.
  39. 2004 - Massachusetts becomes the first state in the United States to legalize Same-sex marriage
  40. 2006 - The aircraft carrier USS Oriskany sunk in the Gulf of Mexico to be an artificial reef