1902 Encyclopedia > Today in History > St. Olaf promulgates Christianity, Daniel Defoe in the pillory, and more

Today in History - July 29
• St Olaf Promulgates Christianity in Norway
• Writer Daniel Defoe Placed in the Pillory

-- Compiled by James Finlayson-Bald

Daniel Defoe in the pillory, 1703 (image)

Daniel Defoe in the pillory in July 1703, after having been convicted for seditious libel. His offence was principally that he had written a satirical pamphlet entitledThe Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church. The pamphlet had been an attack on High Church Tories and certain hypocritical Dissenters. This line engraving shows Defoe being offered flowers and being toasted -- instead of being pelted with noxious objects as was the usual fate of people put in the pillory. Artist: James Charles Armytage (died 1902).

On this date:

1030--St Olaf, King of Norway, was killed in the battle of Sticklestad. He propagated Christianity in his country with such severity that he was forced to take refuge in Russia (1028). Returning to Norway in 1030 he was defeated and killed in battle against King Cnut of Denmark. He became a hero of legend and saga and came to be considered the patron saint of Norway. He is commemorated by several churches (St. Olave's) and Tooley Street, London, Tooley being a corruption of his narne.

1099--Pope St.Urban II, died. In 1095 he proclaimed the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont. He followed this up with letters, exhortations and sermons, the result being the capture of Jerusalem (1099) and the establishment there of a very temporary feudal kingdom.

1644--Pope Urban VIII, Died. As Pope he was led by fear of the Habsburgs to support Richelieu and the German Protestants in the Thirty Years' War. He befriended writers and scholars, and it was with reluctance that he supported the proceedings against Galileo. The Barberini, the Florentine merchant family to which he belonged, rose to princely prominence with his support.

1703--Daniel Defoe entered the pillory. He was known at this time as a vigorous political pamphleteer and the issue of an ironic pamphlet which purported to be an attack on the Dissenters but in reality was directed against the Anglican High Church, resulted in imprisonment, bankruptcy and the pillory. At the age of 60 he began a new career as a novelist. "Robinson Crusoe" appeared in 1719 and was followed by several more titles.

1856--Robert Schumann, composer, died, in a lunatic asylum to which he had admitted himself two years previously.

1890--Vincent van Gogh committed suicide after prolonged insanity.

1902--Umberto I, King of Italy, was assassinated. The events of his reign included the war with Ethiopia which ended with the disastrous Italian defeat at Adowa (1896). The King himself was widely popular and there was deep distress when, having escaped earlier attempts on his life, he was killed at Monza by Gaetano Bresci, an American anarchist and weaver, who had saved his wages to travel from Patterson, New Jersey, to Italy.

Benito Mussolini, politician (1883-1945)
Dag Hammarskjold, UN Secretary-General (1905-1961)

"A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, he said, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. But we do be afraid of the sea, and we do be only drowned now and again." -- J. M. Synge, "The Islanders".

The above article was written by James Finlayson-Bald.
Edited and illustrations added by David Paul Wagner.

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