Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Reformation: Truth and Falsehood

From Eamon Duffy at The Telegraph:
For five centuries England has been in denial about the role of Roman Catholicism in shaping it. The coin in your pocket declares the monarch to be Defender of the Faith. Since 1558 that has meant the Protestant faith, but Henry VIII actually got the title from the Pope for defending Catholicism against Luther. Henry eventually broke with Rome because the Pope refused him a divorce, and along with the papacy went saints, pilgrimage, the monastic life, eventually even the Mass itself – the pillars of medieval Christianity.
To explain that revolution, the Protestant reformers told a story. Henry had rejected not the Catholic Church, but a corrupt pseudo-Christianity which had led the world astray. John Foxe embodied this story unforgettably in his Book of Martyrs, subsidised by the Elizabethan government as propaganda against Catholicism at home and abroad. For Foxe, Queen Elizabeth was her country’s saviour, and the Reformation itself the climax of an age-old struggle between God, represented by the monarch, and the devil, represented by the Pope.
Fear of Catholic Spain, the greatest power in Europe, gave Foxe’s story urgency. That fear escalated under the Stuart kings, for all of them married Catholics, and were suspected of favouring their wives’ religion. The prospect of a persecuting Catholicism imposed by an apostate monarchy fuelled Protestant anxiety. It led to Civil War, and the execution of King Charles I. Ironically, Charles was a loyal Anglican, but both his sons, Charles II and James II, did eventually embrace Catholicism.
In 1679 fear of Catholicism triggered a last orgy of persecution. The so called Popish Plot, to murder the king and seize the throne, was a paranoid fantasy concocted by Titus Oates, but it unleashed a wave of gruesome executions, including the judicial murder of the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Oliver Plunkett. (Read more.)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Queen of Scots as a Young Child

A drawing of Mary Stuart as the small girl who charmed the Court of France. Via Tiny-Librarian.

And HERE is an article about the four Maries. Share

The Problem with Carmen

From CBC Music:
George Bizet’s tale of love, lust and betrayal is one of opera’s most familiar stories. Carmen herself is arguably the most famous character in all of opera — but does anyone actually understand what makes her tick?

Canadian mezzo-soprano Allyson McHardy has sung the role a number of times throughout her career. “Carmen is very intelligent, extremely quick witted and tremendously fun,” she explains. “This is all part of her appeal.” But, McHardy surmises that any deeper knowledge of Carmen’s inner life is beside the point. “I don’t know that we want to know more about her,” she says. “We want to see that iconic femme fatale, period.”

That “femme fatale” interpretation is pretty much the default for Carmen, both onstage and onscreen. From Elīna Garanča’s anger to Anita Rachvelishvili’s joie-de-vivre to Julia Migenes’ smirking seductiveness, the character is known and celebrated for being the very embodiment of sex appeal, and is almost always portrayed with big hair, open shoulders, big bust, and bare feet. (Read more.)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Marie-Josephine of Savoy

An Edouard Gautier d'Agoty portrait of the Comtesse de Provence from 1777. Via Tiny-Librarian. Share

Alice von Hildebrand on Moral Courage

Via Mary Victrix:
This perverse view has been carefully prepared by a so called “education,” aiming at convincing us that there are no absolute moral truths: they are all relative and depend upon the time and the culture that one happens to live it. It was declared to be “high time” to liberate ourselves from paralyzing taboos which have kept us in bondage. This view also justifies “same sex marriage” – a moral abomination that threatens the very fabric of society and that a no- nonsense Italian peasant would condemn on the ground that “no door can be opened if lock and key are identical.” From time immemorial – starting with Genesis – marriage has been declared to be the union of a man and a woman – whose spiritual, intellectual, affective and biological structures are so admirably complementary. (Read more.)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Marie-Antoinette's Dairy

The dairy at the Queen's farm. It was a working dairy, not just a folly. Via Tiny-Librarian. Share

Death in the City

From The Guardian:
As well as sewerage, another “waste removal” problem plagued London in the 19th century: the disposal of the dead. There was little dispute about the means. Burial was the norm; cremation a peculiar foreign custom. The difficulty lay in finding room for an ever-increasing number of corpses. The capital’s burgeoning population, upon their decease, were filling up its small churchyards, burial grounds and vaults...Clearance of long-buried bones had always taken place; but the growing demand for burials in crowded grounds meant the work became ever more grisly.

Moreover, by the 1840s London’s overcrowded churchyards (and the older, small commercial grounds in the centre of the capital) were not only seen as posing a logistical challenge, but damned as a source of “miasma”. Sanitary reformers quite mistakenly believed that the stench from poorly interred decaying bodies was poisoning the metropolis. The practice of urban burial was touted as a profound menace to public health. (Read more.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Beehive Huts

In South West Kerry. To quote:
Beehive huts can be found in great numbers in County Kerry, Ireland. The most well known examples are to be found at the monastic settlement on Skellig Michael (Sceilig Mhichíl). A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this early Christian monastery clings to the steep cliffs of an isolated rocky island situated to the west of the mainland of the Iveragh Peninsula. A visitors centre on Valentia Island (Dairbhre) gives some excellent background on the monastic settlement, its structures, and the men that dwelt in them. From Valentia, the more intrepid explorer may travel by boat to the Skellig Isles and explore Skellig Michael by foot if they dare tackle the hundreds of steep steps leading to the monastery which was believed to have been founded between the 6th and 8th Centuries. (Read more.)