15 July 1815

Napoleonic Wars: Napoleon Bonaparte surrenders aboard HMS Bellerophon.

The Napoleonic Wars were a series of major conflicts that took place between 1803 and 1815, primarily in Europe. These wars were fought by Napoleon Bonaparte, a French military and political leader, who aimed to establish French dominance across the continent and expand the French Empire. The wars had a profound impact on European history, leading to significant political, social, and territorial changes.

The conflict originated from the French Revolution and the subsequent rise of Napoleon as the First Consul and later the Emperor of the French. Napoleon’s military genius and ambition led him to wage war against various European powers, seeking to spread the revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity while also expanding French territorial control.

The Napoleonic Wars really consisted of several wars:

War of the Third Coalition (1803-1806): This phase began with the formation of the Third Coalition against France, led by Britain, Russia, and Austria. Napoleon scored several victories, including the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, which resulted in the dissolution of the coalition and the signing of the Treaty of Pressburg.

War of the Fourth Coalition (1806-1807): Napoleon’s domination continued as he defeated Prussia at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt in 1806 and occupied Berlin. The French forces also triumphed over Russia at the Battle of Friedland, leading to the Treaty of Tilsit, which established French influence over much of continental Europe.

Peninsular War (1808-1814): This conflict took place in the Iberian Peninsula, where Napoleon’s forces faced guerrilla warfare from Spanish and Portuguese resistance fighters, as well as British troops led by the Duke of Wellington. Despite initial French successes, the Peninsular War turned into a protracted and costly struggle for Napoleon, diverting valuable resources and weakening his position.

Invasion of Russia (1812): In an attempt to enforce his continental blockade against Britain, Napoleon invaded Russia with a massive army. However, the Russian army avoided direct confrontation and adopted a scorched-earth policy, leading to the devastating retreat of the French forces from Moscow. The Russian campaign severely weakened Napoleon’s military power and marked a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars.

War of the Sixth Coalition (1812-1814): Following the disastrous Russian campaign, an alliance was formed against Napoleon, including Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden, supported by Britain. The coalition defeated the French at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, also known as the Battle of Nations, leading to Napoleon’s forced abdication and exile to Elba in 1814.

Hundred Days and Battle of Waterloo (1815): Napoleon escaped from Elba and returned to France for a brief period known as the Hundred Days. However, he was ultimately defeated by the Seventh Coalition led by Britain, Prussia, and other European powers at the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon was captured and exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena, where he died in 1821.

The Napoleonic Wars resulted in significant territorial changes across Europe, the redrawing of borders, and the decline of old empires such as the Holy Roman Empire and the Spanish Empire. The wars also had a profound impact on military tactics, administration, and the development of nationalism throughout Europe.

15 July 1823

A fire destroyed the ancient Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, Italy.

At the beginning of the 4th century, with the end of the persecutions and the promulgation of the Edicts of Tolerance in favour of Christianity, Emperor Constantine ordered the excavation of the cella memoriae, the place where Christians venerated the memory of Saint Paul the Apostle, beheaded under Nero around 65-67 A.D. Above his grave, located along the Ostiense Way, about two kilometers outside the Aurelian Walls surrounding Rome, Constantine built a Basilica which was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324.

Between 384 and 395 the Basilica, under the emperors Theodosius, Valentinian II and Arcadius, was restored and enlarged according to an extensive project consisting of five naves opening out into an atrium, or courtyard with four rows of columns. Throughout the centuries the Basilica would not cease to be embellished and enhanced by the Popes. For example, the massive defensive wall was built to protect against invasions at the end of the ninth century, while the bell tower and the magnificent Byzantine door were constructed in the eleventh century. Other important additions include Pietro Cavallini’s mosaics in the façade, the beautiful Vassalletto family’s cloister, Arnolfo di Cambio’s celebrated Gothic baldachin and the Candelabrum for the Paschal candle attributed to Nicola d’Angelo and Pietro Vassalletto of the thirteenth century. This historical period represents the golden age of what had been the biggest Basilica of Rome, until the consecration of the new Basilica of St. Peter in 1626. This sacred place of Christian pilgrimage was well-known for its artistic works.

On the night of July 15, 1823, a fire destroyed this unique testimony to the Paleo-Christian, Byzantine, Renaissance and Baroque periods. The Basilica was reconstructed identically to what it had been before, utilizing all the elements which had survived the fire. In 1840 Pope Gregory XVI consecrated the Altar of the Confession and the Transept.

Other embellishments followed the reconstruction. In 1928 the portico with 150 columns was added. Contemporary work in the Basilica has uncovered the tomb of the Apostle, while other important and beneficial works are carried out, as in the past, thanks to the generosity of Christians from all over the world.

In the fifth century under the Pontificate of Leo the Great, the Basilica became the home of a long series of medallions which would to this day depict all the popes throughout history. This testifies, in an extraordinary way, to “the very great, the very ancient and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul”.

Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls constitutes an extra-territorial complex Motu Proprio by Pope Benedict XVI, 30 May 2005, administered by an Archpriest.

In addition to the Papal Basilica, the entire complex includes a very ancient Benedictine Abbey, restored by Odon of Cluny in 936. This Abbey remains active even today under the direction of its Abbot who retains his ordinary jurisdiction intra septa monasterii. The Benedictine Monks of the ancient Abbey, founded near the tomb of the Apostle by Pope Gregory II, attend to the ministry of Reconciliation and the promotion of special ecumenical events.

It is in this Basilica that every year on the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, January 25, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity solemnly opens. The Pope has specified two privileged tasks for this Papal Basilica: the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the development and organization of ecumenical initiatives.

On June 28, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Basilica and announced that the following year would be designated the “Pauline Year” to commemorate the bimillennium of the birth of Saint Paul. Thus, the “Pauline Year” was run from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009.

15 July 1922

The Japanese Communist Party is established in Japan.

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The Japanese Communist Party is a political party in Japan and is one of the largest non-governing communist parties in the world.The JCP advocates the establishment of a society based on socialism, democracy, peace and opposition to militarism. It proposes to achieve its objectives by working within a democratic framework in order to achieve its goals, while struggling against what it describes as “imperialism and its subordinate ally, monopoly capital”.

The party does not advocate violent revolution; it proposes a “democratic revolution” to achieve “democratic change in politics and the economy”, and “the complete restoration of Japan’s national sovereignty” . The JCP was founded on 15 July 1922, as an underground political association.