On May 31, 455, the Roman Emperor Flavius Petronius Maximus dies, soon followed by the Vandal sack of Rome. In a system without terms or term limits for rulers, his 78 days at the top of the Western Roman Empire ended as so many did, in violence – in this case by being stoned by an angry mob while fleeing the capital. His body was flung into the Tiber.
Also on this day, Genghis Khan was born in 1162 AD. On a more positive note, other May 31 births include less violent folks such as composer Marin Marais (1656), poet Walt Whitman (1814), philosopher and economist Henry Sidgwick (1838), clergyman Norman Vincent Peale, and actors Don Ameche (1908), Alida Valli (1921), Denholm Elliott (1922), Clint Eastwood (1930), and Brooke Shields (1965).