This week in history

 On Oct. 15, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte arrived on the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean to begin his second exile from France. (the lost gallery/Flickr Creative Commons)

On Oct. 15, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte arrived on the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean to begin his second exile from France. (the lost gallery/Flickr Creative Commons)

Over the coming days we will see the anniversaries of several important events that helped shape the world we live in. Here is a quick rundown of this week in history.

On Oct. 15, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte arrived on the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean to begin his second exile from France. Napoleon was previously imprisoned on the small island of Elba in the Mediterranean Sea, but he managed to escape and return to lead his armies across Europe once again. The period of time from his escape and restoration of the French monarch King Louis XVIII was known as the Hundred Days, and he was finally defeated at the Battle of Waterloo at the hands of the Duke of Wellington. The French government could not afford to have Napoleon executed, as it would only make him a martyr and rally public support to his side. Their only option was to banish him to the distant island of St. Helena, where he would stay until his death in 1821.

On the same day in 1993, South African President F.W. de Klerk and African National Conference Leader Nelson Mandela were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end apartheid in South Africa. Mandela spent 27 years in jail for his involvement in a militant group in the 1960s and was convicted on charges of conspiracy. After his release, he worked closely with government leaders to ease racial tensions and foster reconciliation. In 1994, he became the first person under the new constitution to be elected president and served in that role until 1999. He spent the rest of his life involved in advocacy and foreign affairs work and passed away in 2013.

On Oct. 16, 1859, abolitionist John Brown led his guerilla raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia with the aim of starting a slave rebellion. There was a large armory located at Harpers Ferry and combined with the weapons and ammunition he had personally bought, Brown intended to arm any man that came to his cause and fight against the institution of slavery in the south. Only a few supporters joined him and the 19 abolitionists were quickly surrounded by thousands of militia. After a bitter 36 hours of fighting, John Brown was captured and most of his men were killed, including his son. He stood trial for murder and treason and was sentenced to death. News of this raid gripped the nation, and helped push the country closer to all out war. Brown was executed by hanging on Dec. 2 of the same year, and the list of people who stood as witnesses that would play their own part in history in the coming years included Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and one John Wilkes Booth.

Lastly, on Oct. 18, 1469, Ferdinand of Aragon married Isabella of Castile, effectively bringing all of Spain under one rule. Their marriage would see Spain become the leading power in Europe and they expanded Christianity throughout their lands, as well as founded the Spanish Inquisition. Immensely important in world history, they were also responsible for sponsoring Christopher Columbus’ expedition in 1492 and helped begin the new age of exploration.


Seamus McKeever is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at seamus.mckeever@uconn.edu.