On this day, April 23

The last hope for a Napoleon on the throne dies in Zululand. Picture: Wikipedia

The last hope for a Napoleon on the throne dies in Zululand. Picture: Wikipedia

Published Apr 23, 2024


Shock waves in Europe at Prince Imperial’s death, the prolific and influential Bard dies, the EPL’s fastest goal, Channel tunnel idea nixed, New Coke backfires

1516 Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria endorses ‘The German Beer Purity Law’ ensuring beer is brewed only from three ingredients – water, malt and hops.

1616 Prolific playwright William Shakespeare dies at the age of 52. The Oxford English Dictionary has credited him with introducing almost 3 000 words to the English language.

1729 Cape Governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt (48), reputedly the most hated of all Dutch governors, in the Cape Castle. He had overturned a lighter sentence of seven soldiers and instead sentenced them to death. One of the condemned men cursed him, and on the day they were executed the governor died in his office chair. The ghost said to haunt the castle, sometimes patrolling between the Leerdam and Oranje bastions, occasionally ringing the bell, is said to be that of Van Noodt.

1849 Revered and influential Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky and members of the Petrashevsky Circle are arrested in St Petersburg.

1867 Queen Victoria and France’s Napoleon III reject plans for a tunnel connecting England and Europe, via France. It will take another 127 years before one does open. When it does in 1994 after six years of construction, the Channel Tunnelis the longest undersea tunnel in the world at 50km, connecting Folkestone with Coquelles beneath the Strait of Dover.

1880 French Empress Eugenie arrives in Durban to visit the grave of her son, the Prince Imperial, who died in the Zulu War. The only child of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, the prince moved to England with his family after his father was dethroned in 1870. On his father's death in 1873, he was proclaimed Napoleon IV by the Bonapartist faction. In England, he trained as a soldier. Keen to see action, he persuaded the British to allow him to take part in the Anglo-Zulu War. His early death caused an international sensation and sent shockwaves throughout Europe, as he was the last serious dynastic hope for the restoration of the House of Bonaparte to the throne of France.

1914 The Afrikaans language receives its first official recognition when poet CJ Langenhoven addresses the Cape Provincial Council.

1950 Chiang Kai-shek evacuates Hainan, leaving mainland China to Mao Zedong.

1969 Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death for killing US Senator Robert F Kennedy, who is running for the presidency. His son Robert F Kennedy jr has just announced that the will run for the 2024 presidency.

1970 US President Richard Nixon signs the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, banning cigarette adverts on television and radio.

1984 Motown singer Marvin Gaye, 45, whose many hits include I Heard It Through the Grapevine, is shot dead by his father.

1985 Coca-Cola releases New Coke – to an unfavourable response. The original formula is back on the market three months later.

2005 The first YouTube video is posted. The 18-second clip, Me At The Zoo, shows co-founder Jawed Karim at San Diego Zoo.

2019 At least 54 jade miners are buried by a mudslide in Kachin state, Myanmar.

2019 Southampton striker Shane Long scores the fastest goal in English Premier League history when he nets after 7.69 seconds in a 1-1 draw at Watford.

2023 At least 100 bodies discovered in shallow graves in Shakahola forest, eastern Kenya. Believed to be members of Good News International Church, which encourages salvation through starvation.