This Week In History: Nov. 13 – Nov. 19 

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On this week in history, Lassy discusses meteor storms, the Crusades, and more! Illustration by Kaitlyn Tran/The Daily Campus

Hello fellow history buffs and welcome to another installment of This Week in History! November seems to be going by quickly, but this week is full of really significant events, so let’s dive right in! 

On Nov. 13, 1833, humans all across the globe would be shocked to see the night sky loaded with bright flashing lights. Unknown to most, they had just witnessed the Great Meteor Storm of 1833.  

The meteor storm itself would be the result of the Leonids, a meteor shower which produces impressive designs across the sky every 33 years. These storms tend to peak in mid-November each cycle, and are projected to next occur in 2034.  

While the modern age has lent science and information to more of the population, in 1833, onlookers who witnessed the bursts of nearly 100,000 meteors per hour were shocked and full of worries and doubts.  

For instance, the chaotic night skies were taken to be a symbol of the end times for many Christians. They believed that the meteors were crashing into Earth, spelling the final destruction of the planet. Additionally, Native Americans felt very connected to the event, with many tribes viewing it as a sacred sign, with some resetting their calendars or holding peace treaties with rivals. As a result, our modern timeline of Native American events revolves around the storms as a known point of reference. 

However, not everyone was so uncertain about the event, as a resident of Connecticut named Denison Olmstead would actually chronicle the events scientifically and accurately. He used newspapers to publicize his findings and even to crowdsource information to gain more data about the storm.  

While the later Leonid storm of 1966 would be even larger with nearly twice the amount of meteors per hour, the differing reactions from an unexpecting population show so much about people’s lives at the time.  

The next event for this week comes from thousands of miles away in the brutal desert campaigns of the Ninth Crusade. On Nov. 16, 1272, Prince Edward of England – long on campaign in the Middle East – became King Edward I of England after his father King Henry III died.  

While pronouncing a new king was a normal occurrence in the hectic history of the English monarchy, this instance was special, as King Edward would not know he was king for another two years.  

While on campaign, the Ninth Crusade (1271-1272) was to be the last attempt of the Crusaders to establish and defend their claims along the east coasts of the Mediterranean. Known as “Lord Edward’s crusade” after the prince turned king, his struggle would ultimately mark the decline of Crusader influence in the region, which would be officially brought to a close by the fall of Acre in 1291. 

Amazingly, while King Henry III died in office in England, the government was fairly stable, electing a council to govern affairs until King Edward could return. This is certainly shocking considering how many wars of succession occurred around this time, but thanks to a political change for Kings to be named in absence, Edward would return with little rivalry to his throne.  

Edward’s later notable acts would be the conquest of Wales, and his involvement suppressing Scottish rebels. While administrating in Scotland, Edward would die of dysentery on July 7, 1307. 

The next event of this week once again occurred thousands of miles away, in the British colonial occupation of India. While still in its early stages, British colonial rule had been openly opposed by Indian soldiers who would form the Sepoy Rebellion. As the rebellion gained traction, the British were forced out of cities and lost control of many territories.  

On Nov. 16, 1857, in a battle against the insurgent forces known as the “Second Relief of Lucknow,” the British awarded the most Victoria Crosses during a single day of combat. 

Lucknow had been a vital hub for British control and was almost completely overtaken by rebel sepoys, who had only barely been warded off by British forces. Eventually, the city would be under a bitter siege with essentially no way to break out.  

Following two separate brutal relief attempts, British and allied Indian troops finally broke through and evacuated the city; at a great sacrifice due to tough sepoy resistance. The troops had to struggle through several huge fortifications and had little support to deal with the fierce enemy sepoys. Victoria Crosses were distributed to numerous soldiers for their courage, numbering 24 in total. As the highest military honor in the Empire and only given out in extreme acts of bravery and heroism, the number of Victoria Crosses given only stands as a testament to the actions of so many that day. 

While the entire Sepoy Rebellion is full of tragedy and horrific atrocities, there were still noble acts of sacrifice on both sides, and the combined effort of the British and Indians in the Second Relief of Lucknow helps to reinforce that. Eventually, the rebellion was suppressed, and the British ruled India under the British Raj until 1947. 

With fierce battles and interstellar meteor showers, this week in history comes to a close. But another thing is worth mentioning; as Thanksgiving break is coming up next week, be sure to check out a special early issue of the column coming out this Friday, see you then! 

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