On this day on 2nd October

On this day in 1492 King Henry VII of England invades France. Henry VII inherited a kingdom that was smaller than it had been for over 400 years. For the first time since the 11th century the realm did not include one French province. The only part of France still held by the English was the Marches of Calais, a strip of territory around the town of Calais.

Henry VII, by unknown artist (1505)
Henry VII, by unknown artist (1505)

On this day in 1501 Catherine of Aragon (16) arrived in England on 2nd October 1501 to marry Prince Arthur (15). As a high-born Castilian bride, Catherine remained veiled to both her husband and her father-in-law until after the marriage ceremony. Henry would have been concerned by her size. She was described as "extremely short, even tiny". Henry could not complain as Arthur, now aged fifteen, was very small and undeveloped and was "half a head shorter" than Catherine. He was also described as having an "unhealthy" skin colour.

Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon
Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon

On this day in 1656 English North American colony of Connecticut passes law against Quakers. Over the next few years several Quakers were executed. On 1 June 1660, at nine in the morning, Mary Dyer was escorted to the gallows. While on the scaffold she was given the opportunity to save her life if she renounced her religious beliefs. She replied: "Nay, I cannot; for in obedience to the will of the Lord God I came, and in his will I abide faithful to the death. Nay, I came to keep blood guiltiness from you, desiring you to repeal the unrighteous and unjust law of banishment upon pain of death, made against the innocent servants of the Lord, therefore my blood will be required at your hands who willfully do it; but for those that do is in the simplicity of their hearts, I do desire the Lord to forgive them. I came to do the will of my Father, and in obedience to his will I stand even to the death."

Howard Pyle, Mary Dyer Being Led to The Scaffold (c. 1905)
Howard Pyle, Mary Dyer Being Led to The Scaffold (c. 1905)

On this day in 1800 Nat Turner was born. He was the property of Benjamin Turner, a prosperous plantation owner. Nat's mother and grandmother had been brought to America from Africa and had a deep hatred of slavery. Nat grew up sharing his mother's view of slavery. Taught to read by his master's son, Nat developed deep religious beliefs and encouraged by his parents, gradually began to believe that God had chosen him to lead his people out of slavery. In 1831 Turner was sold to Joseph Travis. In February of that year an eclipse of the sun convinced Turner that this was a supernatural sign from God to start an insurrection. However, it wasn't until August 21st that Turner and about seven other slaves killed Travis and his family to launch his rebellion. In all, about 50 whites were killed. Turner had hoped this his action would cause a massive slave uprising but only 75 joined his rebellion. Over 3,000 members of the state militia were sent to deal with Turner's rebellion, and they were soon defeated. In retaliation, more than a hundred innocent slaves were killed. Turner went into hiding but was captured six weeks later. Nat Turner was executed on 11th November, 1831.

Nat Turner Rebellion
Nat Turner Rebellion

On this day in 1871 US Mormon leader Brigham Young arrested for bigamy. A supporter of the doctrine of plural marriage, Young had 59 wives and had 59 children by 16 of his wives. Brigham Young died in Salt Lake City on 29th August, 1877. By this time he had acquired a considerable fortune and left over $2,500,000 to his wives and children.

Seven of Brigham Young's wives.
Seven of Brigham Young's wives.

On this day in 1931 Pope Pius XI encyclical on economic crisis caused by Wall Street Crash.

Pope Pius XI by Philip Alexius de László (1924)
Pope Pius XI by Philip Alexius de László (1924)

On this day in 1933 Eugene O'Neill's comedy Ah, Wilderness premieres in New York City. In 1936 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature and four years later he wrote the autobiographical play, Long Day's Journey Into Night. The action takes place during a single day in August 1912 at the summer home of the Tyrone family. The members of the family are the father, an actor, the drug-addicted mother, an alcoholic son and his younger brother suffering from tuberculosis (based on O'Neill himself). O'Neill left written instructions that stipulated that the play must not be made public until 25 years after his death.

Agnes Boulton, Eugene O'Neill and their son, Shane (1922)
Agnes Boulton, Eugene O'Neill and their son, Shane (1922)

On this day in 1935 Benito Mussolini sent in General Pietro Badoglio and the Italian Army into Abyssinia (Ethiopia). The League of Nations condemned Italy's aggression and in November imposed sanctions. This included an attempt to ban countries from selling arms, rubber and some metals to Italy. Some political leaders in France and Britain opposed sanctions arguing that it might persuade Mussolini to form an alliance with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Over 400,000 Italian troops fought in Ethiopia. The poorly armed Ethiopians were no match for Italy's modern tanks and aeroplanes. The Italians even used mustard gas on the home forces and were able to capture Addis Ababa, the capital of the country, in May 1936, forcing Emperor Haile Selassie to flee to England.

Adolf Hitler addresses the German people on radio on 31st January, 1933
John Heartfield, Face of Fascism (1928)

On this day in 1967 Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first black Supreme Court Justice. Charles Houston was one of Marshall's tutors at Howard University and in 1936 he advised Walter Francis White, executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), to appoint him to the organization's legal department. The two men now began the NAACP's campaign against segregation in transportation and publicly owned places of recreation, inequities in the segregated education system and restrictive covenants in housing. In 1939 Marshall became director of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Over the next few years Marshall won 29 of the 32 cases that he argued before the Supreme Court. This included cases concerning the exclusion of black voters from primary elections (1944), restrictive covenants in housing (1948), unequal facilities for students in state universities (1950) and racial segregation in public schools (1954). President John F. Kennedy nominated Marshall to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on 23rd September, 1961 but opposition from Southern senators delayed the appointment until 11th September, 1962.

Thurgood Marshall leading a demonstration againstracial segregation in public schools (1954)
Thurgood Marshall leading a demonstration againstracial segregation in public schools (1954)