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Island History

Read about the history of our island

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The Universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
Muriel Rukeyser, in ‘The Speed of Darkness’ (1968)

This is a subset of our Island Detail pages which covers items of St Helena’s history.

Napoleon said “It must be recognized that the real truths of history are hard to discover.” Well, we’ve done our best, but if there is something about St Helena’s history that we have not covered please contact us and we’ll try to add it in.

Jamestown, by Melliss, 1857 [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

If what you’re looking for isn’t in this index, please consult our Information Index page (the master index) or use the Page Search facility (below).

To read more about the people behind our island’s histories, and download some of the documents, see our Historians of St Helena page.

Below: Information IndexSubject IndexHistoric Picture GalleryHistoric Images Slide ShowToday’s ImagesBoer Prisoners (1900-1902)The Briars PavilionA Brief HistoryBuilding St Helena AirportCharacters of St HelenaChronologyChurches of St HelenaCinemaDeliberately Sunken ShipsDiplomatic Wireless StationDiscovery of St HelenaThe East India CompanyExilesFamily And FriendsFamous VisitorsThe Flax IndustryForts and BatteriesThe Missing Fountain MysteryThe Friendly SocietiesGeology of St HelenaGhost Stories of St HelenaThe Governor of St HelenaThe Governor’s HatThe Great Wood WallGunsThe Historic Environment RecordHigh Knoll FortHistorians of St HelenaHistoric BuildingsHistoric Buildings In Brief - JamestownHistoric Buildings In Brief - CountryImportant PeopleIndustriesInvasion!Lace MakingLost and almost-lost BuildingsLost ShipsMaldivia GardensMaps of St HelenaMemories of St HelenaMyths Debunked!Napoleon BonaparteNapoleonic BicentenaryNapoleon’s TombOn This DayOther Military SitesPostcards of St HelenaQuincentenary of St HelenaRadio on St HelenaRadio St HelenaOur (Other) RailwayThe St Helena RegimentRollersSaint FM (2004-2012)Saint HelenaSaved BuildingsSlaves and slaveryOrigins of island surnamesTheatresTimeTitbits from the recordsTwo St Helenas?WhalingZzyzx

Information Index • Start here… [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Information Index

Start here…

Subject Index • These are the pages you are searching for [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Subject Index

These are the pages you are searching for

Historic Picture Gallery • Thumbnails that can be expanded to full size images [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Historic Picture Gallery

Thumbnails that can be expanded to full size images

Historic Images Slide Show • Automated historic image show in random sequence [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Historic Images Slide Show

Automated historic image show in random sequence

Today’s Images • Look at what we feature [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Today’s Images

Look at what we feature

Boer Prisoners (1900-1902) • Home-from-home - almost [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Boer Prisoners (1900-1902)

Home-from-home - almost

The Briars Pavilion • Napoleon’s Other House [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The Briars Pavilion

Napoleon’s Other House

A Brief History • How we got to here [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

A Brief History

How we got to here

Building St Helena Airport • Built and operating [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Building St Helena Airport

Built and operating

Characters of St Helena • Eccentric? Colourful? Mad? Criminal? You decide… [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Characters of St Helena

Eccentric? Colourful? Mad? Criminal? You decide…

Chronology • Search our events database [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Chronology

Search our events database

Churches of St Helena • And other religious buildings [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Churches of St Helena

And other religious buildings

Cinema • Let’s go to a movie [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Cinema

Let’s go to a movie

Deliberately Sunken Ships • Sent to the bottom [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Deliberately Sunken Ships

Sent to the bottom

Diplomatic Wireless Station • Or was it spying? [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Diplomatic Wireless Station

Or was it spying?

Discovery of St Helena • It’s not that simple [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Discovery of St Helena

It’s not that simple

The East India Company • John, to it’s friends [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The East India Company

John, to it’s friends

Exiles • Not all our visitors wanted to be here! [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Exiles

Not all our visitors wanted to be here!

Family And Friends • How to find people on St Helena [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Family And Friends

How to find people on St Helena

Famous Visitors • Let’s drop a few names [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Famous Visitors

Let’s drop a few names

The Flax Industry • Economic lifeline or ecological disaster? [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The Flax Industry

Economic lifeline or ecological disaster?

Forts and Batteries • Defensive military installations [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Forts and Batteries

Defensive military installations

The Missing Fountain Mystery • Where did it go? [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The Missing Fountain Mystery

Where did it go?

The Friendly Societies • Lending a hand [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The Friendly Societies

Lending a hand

Geology of St Helena • Upon this rock… [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Geology of St Helena

Upon this rock…

Ghost Stories of St Helena • Don’t look round, but… [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Ghost Stories of St Helena

Don’t look round, but…

The Governor of St Helena • The one at the top [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The Governor of St Helena

The one at the top

The Governor’s Hat • If you want to get ahead… [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The Governor’s Hat

If you want to get ahead…

The Great Wood Wall • Too little, too late [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The Great Wood Wall

Too little, too late

Guns • Old and older [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Guns

Old and older

The Historic Environment Record • A catalogue… [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The Historic Environment Record

A catalogue…

High Knoll Fort • Important, in the past and today [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

High Knoll Fort

Important, in the past and today

Historians of St Helena • Recording our past [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Historians of St Helena

Recording our past

Historic Buildings • A standing reminder [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Historic Buildings

A standing reminder

Historic Buildings In Brief - Jamestown • A sample [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Historic Buildings In Brief - Jamestown

A sample

Historic Buildings In Brief - Country • A sample [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Historic Buildings In Brief - Country

A sample

Important People • They made their mark [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Important People

They made their mark

Industries • It’s the economy, stupid [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Industries

It’s the economy, stupid

Invasion! • The only time St Helena has been captured [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Invasion!

The only time St Helena has been captured

Lace Making • Over 100 years of history [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Lace Making

Over 100 years of history

Lost and almost-lost Buildings • ‘In need of some work…’ [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Lost and almost-lost Buildings

‘In need of some work…’

Lost Ships • Our seabed is littered with wrecks [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Lost Ships

Our seabed is littered with wrecks

Maldivia Gardens • Fruit, flowers and much more…formerly [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Maldivia Gardens

Fruit, flowers and much more…formerly

Maps of St Helena • Finding your way around [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Maps of St Helena

Finding your way around

Memories of St Helena • ‘Well, back in the day…’ [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Memories of St Helena

‘Well, back in the day…’

Myths Debunked! • Everybody knows that… [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Myths Debunked!

Everybody knows that…

Napoleon Bonaparte • His imprisonment, his death, and some things you maybe don’t know about him [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Napoleon Bonaparte

His imprisonment, his death, and some things you maybe don’t know about him

Napoleonic Bicentenary • A reason to celebrate… [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Napoleonic Bicentenary

A reason to celebrate…

Napoleon’s Tomb • But not his final resting place [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Napoleon’s Tomb

But not his final resting place

On This Day • Today, in history [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

On This Day

Today, in history

Other Military Sites • …and related places [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Other Military Sites

…and related places

Postcards of St Helena • Old…and older [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Postcards of St Helena

Old…and older

Quincentenary of St Helena • ‘Looking Up - Looking Forward’ [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Quincentenary of St Helena

‘Looking Up - Looking Forward’

Radio on St Helena • A surprisingly large number of stations [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Radio on St Helena

A surprisingly large number of stations

Radio St Helena • The voice of the island for 45 years [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Radio St Helena

The voice of the island for 45 years

Our (Other) Railway • Useful; not quite as famous [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Our (Other) Railway

Useful; not quite as famous

The St Helena Regiment • ‘The Old Saints’ [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

The St Helena Regiment

‘The Old Saints’

Rollers • Rough Seas [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Rollers

Rough Seas

Saint FM (2004-2012) • The original heartbeat of St Helena [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Saint FM (2004-2012)

The original heartbeat of St Helena

Saint Helena • She gave our island her name [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Saint Helena

She gave our island her name

Saved Buildings • Almost lost; now restored [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Saved Buildings

Almost lost; now restored

Slaves and slavery • Part of what makes us what we are [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Slaves and slavery

Part of what makes us what we are

Origins of island surnames • How islanders got their family names [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Origins of island surnames

How islanders got their family names

Theatres • All the world’s a stage [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Theatres

All the world’s a stage

Time • Everything on St Helena starts 20 minutes late [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Time

Everything on St Helena starts 20 minutes late

Titbits from the records • To amuse and inform [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Titbits from the records

To amuse and inform

Two St Helenas? • Our mythical sister island [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Two St Helenas?

Our mythical sister island

Whaling • ‘Thar she blows!’ [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Whaling

‘Thar she blows!’

Zzyzx • Anything that didn’t fit in elsewhere [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Zzyzx

Anything that didn’t fit in elsewhere

 

Sunset over James’ Bay [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]
Sunset over James’ Bay

Read More

Article: “Napoleon skewered in new British exhibition

Published on The Local [FR] 5th February 2015{1}

A colourful new exhibition about French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is opening in London on Thursday, showing how artists and cartoonists shaped the way the British perceived ‘The Little Corporal’.

‘The Corsican spider in his web’ by Thomas Rowlandson, 1808 [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

Published in 1808, ‘The Corsican spider in his web’ by Thomas Rowlandson is one of dozens of drawings, posters and other prints on display at London’s British Museum until August 16th.

The exhibition, ‘Bonaparte and the British: prints and propaganda in the age of Napoleon’ charts the rise of the young general, ending with the downfall of the Emperor who once had Europe at his feet.

Bonaparte, who lived from 1769 to 1821, was a “charismatic enemy” with a reputation as a short, angry man: an irresistible subject for caricatures, according to historian Tim Clayton, a Napoleon expert.

He had the misfortune to come along at exactly the wrong moment,” Clayton said.

I don’t suppose anybody in history had been vilified and ridiculed in the way that Napoleon was vilified and ridiculed ever before.

Flattering portraits and memorabilia collected by British admirers in the 1790s gives way to mockery, as Napoleon becomes more of a threat to Britain.

‘The Corsican pest or Beelzebub going to supper’ by James Gillray, 1803 [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

By the time the two countries are at war in 1803, British cartoonist James Gillray portrays Napoleon being roasted over a fire by the devil in ‘The Corsican pest or Beelzebub going to supper’.

Mocking Napoleon as ‘Little Boney’ and perpetuating the idea he was small in stature helped diminish the feeling of threat.

Because you were frightened of him, you had to belittle him, make him seem not so frightening,” said curator Sheila O’Connell.

So you made him a little tiny person. And that is how he’s remained in the British consciousness ever since.

- Propaganda tool -

‘Little Boney’ appears again in 1812 as Napoleon’s Russian campaign turns into a disaster.

‘General Frost shaving Little Boney’ by William Elmes, 1812 [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

A cartoon by William Elmes called ‘General Frost shaving Little Boney’ shows the cold as a monster crushing the French armies and trapping Napoleon’s feet in ice.

Sold for an average of between 1 and 4 shillings each, the drawings were particularly popular in shops frequented by the London elite.

Used as a propaganda tool and sometimes controlled by the government, the satires helped forge a sense of British unity and shaped the way Napoleon was perceived through generations.

They do have an influence on shaping people image of Napoleon. The idea that Napoleon is a little, angry chap sticks,” Clayton said.

The fact that he was actually of average height seems to have escaped everybody’s attention.

Cartoonists are kinder when Napoleon is less of a threat, and at times some Britons displayed admiration for the emperor.

One example is a bronze bust of Napoleon, carved in the style of a Roman emperor with idealised features, and installed in 1818 in a British aristocrat’s garden.

Featured at the entrance to the exhibition, the bust has a call for the emperor to return from exile in Saint Helena engraved at its base.

More stories [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.

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Laugh at funny islandhistory humour - LOL [Saint Helena Island Info:Island History]


Footnotes:

{1} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.



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