On This Day
1575 – Leiden University is founded, and given the motto Praesidium Libertatis.
Leiden University (abbreviated as LEI; Dutch: Universiteit Leiden) is a public research university in Leiden, Netherlands. Founded in 1575 by William, Prince of Orange as a reward to the city of Leiden for its defense against Spanish attacks during the Eighty Years’ War, it is the oldest institution of higher education in the Netherlands, as well as one of the most reputed.[a]
Known for its historic foundations and emphasis on the social sciences, the university came into particular prominence during the Dutch Golden Age, when scholars from around Europe were attracted to the Dutch Republic due to its climate of intellectual tolerance and Leiden’s international reputation. During this time, Leiden became the home to individuals such as René Descartes, Rembrandt, Christiaan Huygens, Hugo Grotius, Baruch Spinoza and Baron d’Holbach.
The university has seven academic faculties and over fifty subject departments while housing more than 40 national and international research institutes. Its historical primary campus consists of buildings scattered across the college town of Leiden, while a second campus located in The Hague houses a liberal arts college and several of its faculties. It is a member of the Coimbra Group, the Europaeum, and a founding member of the League of European Research Universities.
Leiden University consistently ranks among the top 100 universities in the world by prominent international ranking tables. It was placed top 50 worldwide in thirteen fields of study in the 2020 QS World University Rankings: classics & ancient history, politics, archaeology, anthropology, history, pharmacology, law, public policy, public administration, religious studies, arts & humanities, linguistics, modern languages and sociology.
The university has produced twenty-one Spinoza Prize Laureates and sixteen Nobel Laureates, including Enrico Fermi and Albert Einstein. It is closely associated with the Dutch royal family, with Queen Juliana, Queen Beatrix and King Willem-Alexander being alumni. Ten prime ministers of the Netherlands are also alumni, including incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Internationally, Leiden University is associated with several leaders, including a President of the United States, two NATO secretaries general, a president of the International Court of Justice and a Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Born On This Day
1850 – Kate Chopin, American author (d. 1904)
Kate Chopin (/ˈʃoʊpæn/, also US: /ʃoʊˈpæn, ˈʃoʊpən/; born Katherine O’Flaherty; February 8, 1850 – August 22, 1904) was an American author of short stories and novels based in Louisiana. She is considered by scholars to have been a forerunner of American 20th-century feminist authors of Southern or Catholic background, such as Zelda Fitzgerald, and is one of the most frequently read and recognized writers of Louisiana Creole heritage. She is best known today for her 1899 novel The Awakening.
Of maternal French and paternal Irish descent, Chopin was born in St. Louis, Missouri. She married and moved with her husband to New Orleans. They later lived in the country in Cloutierville, Louisiana. From 1892 to 1895, Chopin wrote short stories for both children and adults that were published in such national magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, The Century Magazine, and The Youth’s Companion. Her stories aroused controversy because of her subjects and her approach; they were condemned as immoral by some critics.
Her major works were two short story collections and two novels. The collections are Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897). Her important short stories included “Désirée’s Baby” (1893), a tale of miscegenation in antebellum Louisiana, “The Story of an Hour” (1894), and “The Storm” (1898). “The Storm” is a sequel to “At the Cadian Ball,” which appeared in her first collection of short stories, Bayou Folk.
Chopin also wrote two novels: At Fault (1890) and The Awakening (1899), which are set in New Orleans and Grand Isle, respectively. The characters in her stories are usually residents of Louisiana, and many are Creoles of various ethnic or racial backgrounds. Many of her works are set in Natchitoches in north-central Louisiana, a region where she lived.
Within a decade of her death, Chopin was widely recognized as one of the leading writers of her time. In 1915, Fred Lewis Pattee wrote, “some of [Chopin’s] work is equal to the best that has been produced in France or even in America. [She displayed] what may be described as a native aptitude for narration amounting almost to genius.”
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