Friday, May 31, 2013
1.) Anne’s father was a Renaissance thinker. The assumption is that Anne grew up in a backward German duchy, too awkward and ignorant to impress a monarch who’d once moved a kingdom for the sophisticated charms of Anne Boleyn. But her father, Duke John, was a patron of Erasmus, the Dutch Renaissance scholar.Share
The Cleves court was liberal and fair, with low taxes for its citizens. And the duke made great efforts to steer a calm course through the religious uproar engulfing Germany in the 1520s and 1530s, earning the name John the Peaceful. He died in 1538, so his must have been the greatest influence on Anne, rather than her more bellicose brother, William. In Germany, highborn ladies were not expected to sing or play musical instruments, but Anne would have been exposed to the moderate, thoughtful political ideals espoused by William the Peaceful.
2.) Anne was born a Catholic and died a Catholic. Her mother, Princess Maria of Julich-Berg, had traditional religious values and brought up her daughters as Catholics, no matter what Martin Luther said. Their brother, Duke William, was an avowed Protestant, and the family seems to have moved in that direction when he succeeded to his father’s title.
Anne was accommodating when it came to religion. She did not hesitate to follow the lead of her husband Henry VIII, who was head of the Church of England. But in 1553, when her step-daughter Mary took the throne, she asked that Anne become a Catholic. Anne agreed. When she was dying, she requested that she have “the suffrages of the holy church according to the Catholic faith. (Read entire post.)
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Marcella Pattyn was born in the Belgian Congo on August 18 1920 and, as a child, dreamed of entering a missionary religious order. But as she was almost blind she was rejected by several communities. It was only when a rich aunt intervened with a donation that she was accepted into the beguinage of St Amandsberg in Ghent in 1941.
There, and at the beguinage of St Elizabeth at Courtrai, where she moved in 1960, she spent her days praying, knitting clothes, weaving and making Beguine dolls, which she sold to tourists. She played the organ in the chapel and gave comfort to the sick by entertaining them on the banjo or accordion. In her later years she became a familiar figure in the streets of Courtrai, whizzing around in a motorised wheelchair.
In 1960 she was one of a community of nine. By 2008, when she moved into a nursing home, she had become, officially, the only surviving Beguine in the world. (Read entire article.)
More about the Beguines, HERE. Share
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
America’s Catholic bishops started pressing for adequate health-care coverage for all of our nation’s people decades before the current administration took office. In the Christian tradition, basic medical care is a matter of social justice and human dignity. Even now, even with the financial and structural flaws that critics believe undermine the 2010 Affordable Care Act, the bishops continue to share the goal of real health-care reform and affordable medical care for all Americans.Share
But health care has now morphed into a religious liberty issue provoked entirely—and needlessly—by the current White House. Despite a few small concessions under pressure, the administration refuses to withdraw or reasonably modify a Health and Human Services (HHS) contraceptive mandate that violates the moral and religious convictions of many individuals, private employers and religiously affiliated and inspired organizations.
Coupled with the White House’s refusal to uphold the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and its astonishing disregard for the unique nature of religious freedom displayed by its arguments in a 9-0 defeat in the 2012 Hosanna-Tabor Supreme Court decision, the HHS mandate can only be understood as a form of coercion. Access to inexpensive contraception is a problem nowhere in the United States. The mandate is thus an ideological statement; the imposition of a preferential option for infertility. And if millions of Americans disagree with it on principle—too bad.
The fraud at the heart of our nation’s “reproductive rights” vocabulary runs very deep and very high. In his April 26 remarks to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the president never once used the word “abortion,” despite the ongoing Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia and despite Planned Parenthood’s massive role in the abortion industry.
Likewise, as Anthony Esolen recently noted so well, NARAL Pro-Choice America’s public statement on the conviction of abortionist Gosnell was a masterpiece of corrupt and misleading language. Gosnell was found guilty of murdering three infants, but no such mention was made anywhere in the NARAL Pro-Choice America statement. (Read entire article.)
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
The word commode can refer to a either a chest of drawers, or a chest that enclosed toilets. While it originally started out as a chest of drawers or a cabinet for storing personal items, in early 18th century France, later on a commode was also used to house chamber pots. Hence the use of commode to denote toilets.
The word commode derives from the French word for "convenient" or "suitable".
Commodes were introduced in the 18th century in France and were both decorative and useful. A French commode is a low cabinet or chest of drawers, often with elaborate decoration and usually standing on cabriole legs or short feet. Earlier commodes had a bombé or convex shape with a flat back that went against the wall. Later the shape became more rectilinear, with straighter legs.
Commodes were meant to stand against the wall and had greater width than height. This piece of furniture provided convenient storage for articles while also providing a surface on top for placing additional items.
A commode often had a marble slab top and was displayed prominently. Sometimes they were paired with mirrors, and matching pairs of commodes were often used in a room. (Read entire article.)Share
Haast's eagle (Harpagornis moorei) was discovered in swamp deposits by Sir Julius von Haast in the 1870s. But it was at first thought to be a scavenger because its bill was similar to a vulture's with hoods over its nostrils to stop flesh blocking its air passages as it rooted around inside carcasses.
But a re-examination of skeletons using modern technology, including CAT scans, by researchers at Canterbury Museum in Christchurch and the University of New South Wales in Australia showed it had a strong enough pelvis to support a killing blow as it dived at speeds of up to 80kph.
With a wingspan of up to three metres and weighing 18kg, the female was twice as big as the largest living eagle, the Steller's sea eagle. And the bird's talons were as big as a tiger's claws. "It was certainly capable of swooping down and taking a child," said Paul Scofield, the curator of vertebrate zoology at the Canterbury Museum. "They had the ability to not only strike with their talons but to close the talons and put them through quite solid objects such as a pelvis. It was designed as a killing machine."
Its main prey would have been moa, flightless birds which grew to as much as 250kg and 2.5 metres tall. "In some fossil sites, moa bones have been found with signs of eagle predation," Dr Scofield said.
New Zealand has no native land mammals because it became isolated from other continents in the Cretaceous, more than 65 million years ago. As a result, birds filled niches usually populated by large mammals such as deer and cattle. "Haast's eagle wasn't just the equivalent of a giant predatory bird," said Dr Scofield. "It was the equivalent of a lion." The eagle is thought to have died out after the arrival, 1,000 years ago, of humans, who exterminated the giant moa. The latest study shows it was a recent immigrant to the islands, related to the little eagle (Aquila morphnoides) an Australian bird weighing less than 1kg. (Read entire article.)Share
Monday, May 27, 2013
The Duchess' emerald tiara, a gift from her husband Louis Antoine, Duke of Angoulême, was made in 1819-1820 by Evrard and Frederic Bapst and was designed specifically to use unmounted stones from the crown jewels. There are 40 emeralds in total, all set in gold and totaling about 77 carats all together; 14 of those were the largest emeralds available from the crown stash and the rest were added to match. They were joined by 1,031 diamonds (176 carats in all) set in silver. The diamonds, all set on a curved base, form a pattern of scrolling foliage which surround and incorporate the various shapes of emeralds available.The Duchess also had a ruby parure:
Though made for the Duchess, the tiara was part of the crown jewels and was not her personal property. Before she departed for exile in 1830, following the abdication of her father-in-law Charles X and (20 minutes later) the abdication of her own husband from the French throne, she returned the tiara to the treasury. It remained a part of the French crown jewels through various changes of power; in particular, it was said to have been a favorite of Empress Eugénie, who had a special preference for emeralds and used the tiara during the reign of her husband Napoleon III (1853-1870)....Along with the rest of the crown jewels, it was displayed at the third Paris World's Fair in 1878 and at the Louvre in 1884. In 1887, it was sold at auction by the Third Republic along with most of the crown collection. (Read entire post.)
Once he reclaimed the throne, Louis XVIII had the crown jewels redone in the Restoration style instead of the Empire style. In 1816, the ruby parure was remade to suit the Duchess of Angoulême by Pierre-Nicholas Menière. The design came from Menière's son-in-law, Evrard Bapst, and kept some of the features of the original Nitot parure. The new parure was just as extensive as the old, including both a larger tiara (shown in color above) of rubies set in scrolling diamond foliage and a smaller comb/tiara. (Read more.)
|The Duchess of Angoulême|
I was thrilled to read this poem today at The Writer's Almanac. Whether or not Brahms and Clara Schumann had a sexual relationship has been speculated about for many years -- it is undeniable that they loved each other profoundly -- but, although they burned most of their correspondence, the evidence is against it. Brahms biographer Jan Swafford has suggested that, after the death of Robert Schumann in an insane asylum in 1856, the younger composer had the opportunity to propose marriage to Clara, but instead left her disappointed. The two remained friends, and Clara, one of the greatest pianists of her age, premiered many of Brahms's works.Share
The Intermezzi mentioned by Lisel Mueller are opp. 117, 118, 119. Brahms called the three op. 117 pieces, which he wrote while Clara was in her final illness, "cradle-songs of my sorrows." Here is the great German pianist Wilhelm Kempff playing op. 117, no. 1, with beautiful directness and simplicity. The piece was inspired by the text of a Scottish poem, "Lady Anne Bothwell's Lament," and Brahms inscribed in the score an excerpt from the poem in Herder's German translation. The English words are:"Sleep soft, my child, now softly sleep;My heart is woeful to see thee weep."
Next to the Knights Templar, probably the most well known group of Crusader knights is the Knights of Malta, also known as the Hospitallers and the Knights of St John. Alongside the Templars they were one of the preeminent defenders of the Christian presence in the Holy Land, mostly the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. Their names come from the fact that St John the Baptist was their patron saint (hence, Knights of St John) and because they originally ran a hospital for Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem they became known as the Hospitallers. Later, after the fall of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem they took the name of whatever their base of operations was, particularly Rhodes and finally Malta. The Knights of St John were one of the earliest military orders, founded around 1099 in the aftermath of the First Crusade and the capture of Jerusalem by the Christian forces. As their name suggests, they got their start simply running a hospital, founded by Blessed Gerard Thom, a native of southern Italy (exactly where is disputed) who became guardian of a hospital built in Jerusalem. Eventually, the need for military protection became more evident as his organization grew until it was granted official sanction by Pope Paschall II in 1113. This was because pilgrims became more and more in need of armed escorts to ensure their safety throughout the region but, it is important to note, even when they became a specifically military religious order, the Knights Hospitaller never lost their commitment to their humanitarian medical role. (Read entire post.)The Knights figure prominently in my novel, The Night's Dark Shade.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
|Caroline of Naples as a young widowed mother at Rosny, her country estate.|
BBC History Magazine features this story in its April 2013 issue and the BBC News website also covers the news: the Lambeth Palace Library staff noticed quite a few losses from the stacks starting in 1975--and they thought about 60 books had been stolen. As the Lambeth Palace Library website tells the story:Share
Early in 1975 the Lambeth Palace Librarian noticed a troubling gap on the shelves where some important books had been kept. The books could not be found and a search of the rest of the Library showed that this gap was not unique. On examining the card catalogue it was discovered that the catalogue cards for the missing items had also been removed. This made it difficult to ascertain exactly what was missing but it was thought that around sixty items had been removed from the Library. The police were informed and the bookselling community notified. None of the books was recovered, however, and the trail went cold.(Read entire post.)
ShareRichard the Lionhearted, or Richard "Oc et No" ("Yes and No" in the langue d'oc) as he was known during his lifetime. His Grace the King, as he was most often known in the last ten years of his life. Duke of Aquitaine from the age of fifteen. The greatest Western European general of his age, equaled only by the Saladin in the Levant.Richard was a man who gave his word and kept it, a man of honor in a world without. Though Richard almost always kept his word, others rarely kept their word to him. Betrayed by his father, his brothers, his "brother kings" while on Crusade and after, Richard only found honor in his constant companions and in his enemy, Saladin.After the Third Crusade, returning overland to his lands in Normandy and Anjou, Richard fell ill in Vienna. He was captured and held captive by his "brother king" Leopold of Austria, who quickly turned Richard over to the Holy Roman Emperor. After three years under guard, Richard was only released after his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, raised his exorbitant ransom, and after Richard swore an oath of fealty to the Holy Roman Emperor. The idea was that Richard would not make war on his lord, though he had made almost constant war on his father years before. (Read entire post.)
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Friday, May 24, 2013
Scientists have long known that it was a strain of Phytophthora infestans (or P. infestans) that caused the widespread devastation of potato crops in Ireland and northern Europe beginning in 1845. P. infestans infects the plant through its leaves, leaving behind shriveled, inedible tubers. The most likely culprit, they believed, was a strain known as US-1, which even today is responsible for billions of dollars of crop damage each year. To solve the mystery, molecular biologists from the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States examined DNA extracted from nearly a dozen botanical specimens dating back as far as 1845 and held in museum collections in the UK and Germany, which were then sent to the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, England. After sequencing the genome of the 19th century samples and comparing them with modern blights, including US-1, they were able to trace the genetic evolution of P. infestans around the world and across centuries.Share
The researchers concluded that it wasn’t in fact US-1 that caused the blight, but a previously unknown strain, HERB-1, which had originated in the Americas (most likely in Mexico’s Toluca Valley) sometime in the early 19th century before spreading to Europe in the 1840s. HERB-1, they believe, was responsible for the Great Famine and hundreds of other potato crop failures around the world. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that improvements in crop breeding yielded potato varieties that proved resistant to HERB-1 that the deadly infection was stopped in its tracks. Scientists believe that the HERB-1 strain is now extinct.
First domesticated in southern Peru and Bolivia more than 7,000 years ago, the potato began its long trek out of South America in the late 16th century following the Spanish conquest of the Inca. Though some Europeans were skeptical of the newly arrived tuber, they were quickly won over by the plant’s benefits. Potatoes were slow to spoil, had three times the caloric value of grain and were cheap and easy to grow on both large farms and small, backyard lots. When a series of non-potato crop failures struck northern Europe in the late 18th century, millions of farmers switched to the more durable spud as their staple crop. (Read entire article.)
ShareThe pillar matched monumental construction from the 9th or 8th centuries BCE — the time of the First Temple in Jerusalem. That signaled the presence of an important and previously unknown structure from that period. Buried under earth and rubble, the pillar was now two yards below the surface. The guide, Binyamin Tropper, notified antiquities officials. He was surprised when they encouraged him to leave the subject and the site alone, said Tropper, who works at an educational field school at Kibbutz Kfar Etzion. “They told me — we know about it, keep it quiet,” he said.The remains are in the politically charged West Bank, on the outskirts of an Arab village and on land privately owned by a Palestinian — all reasons the Israeli government might deem attempting an excavation there a major political headache to be avoided. When it became clear that antiquities officials did not intend to excavate what he believed to be a potentially huge find, Tropper went to the Hebrew press, where several reports have appeared on inside pages in recent weeks.Tropper has kept the location secret to avoid attracting the attention of antiquities thieves. Early this month, several prominent Israeli archaeologists were brought to inspect the site. Among them was Yosef Garfinkel, an archaeology professor from Hebrew University. There is no doubt the remains are those of monumental construction from the time of the First Temple, Garfinkel said. The top of the pillar, known as a capital, is of a type known as proto-aeolic, he said. That style dates to around 2,800 years ago. (Read entire post.)
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Sitting by her son’s hospital bed, Meleese worried and hoped. The doctor came and checked on him daily; every day, he would start by asking how Meleese younger daughter, then 7 months old, was doing, and he “checked her out from top to toe each time as well as examining my son”. After all, she was at risk too.
ShareMeleease’s son was only three. He had rotavirus. Rotavirus “is the most common cause of severe diarrhoeal disease in infants and young children globally. Rotavirus is responsible for approximately 527,000* deaths each year, with more than 85% of these deaths occurring in low-income countries in Africa and Asia, and over two million are hospitalized each year with pronounced dehydration.” ; and see here, for detailed numbers. No, it’s not just a stomach bug; According to the CDC “Rotavirus infection in infants and young children can lead to severe diarrhea, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and metabolic acidosis…. In the prevaccine era rotavirus infection was responsible for more than 400,000 physician visits, more than 200,000 emergency department (ED) visits, 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations each year, and 20 to 60 deaths.”This is what happened to Meleese’s son. At the time, there was no vaccine to prevent rotavirus. When the young boy started feeling bad his parents thought he had nothing but a stomach bug that caused diarrhea and vomiting. But the child was suffering, so they took him to the doctor. Three times. The doctor gave them a couple of prescriptions, but they did not help. He was getting worse: throwing up continuously, having severe diarrhea, weakening. The third time the doctor saw the child he sent him directly to the hospital. (Read entire post.)
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
LONDON.- Bonhams is to sell a rare Imperial soup tureen created by the most important artisan of silver objects of Viennese Neoclassicism during the Enlightenment (c.1650 to 1800). The tureen is being offered at as part of the Fine Silver and Gold Box Sale on June 19th at its New Bond Street saleroom. It is estimated at £150,000 to £200,000. Michael Moorcroft, Director of Bonhams Silver Department, comments: “The Sachsen-Teschen service has emerged from the shadows of the past to a glittering future”. The soup tureen was a wedding gift from Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the mother of Maria Christina and Marie Antoinette, to Archduchess Maria Christina and her husband, Prince Albert Casimir. “Mimi” (as Maria Christina was affectionately called by her mother) fell in love with her second cousin, Prince Albert, and was especially taken by his “interest in everything beautiful, in the fine arts, and in his idealistic dreams to do good”. In spite of his prestigious title, the Prince’s family had become impoverished in the Seven Years’ War and so Maria Christina’s marriage to the Prince would not be profitable. Besotted with Albert, “Mimi” manipulated her mother into allowing the marriage to go ahead. Not only did the couple get permission to marry, they also received a large dowry comprised of some of the most important gold and precious objects created during the Enlightenment. Large parts of the ensemble were made by Franz Caspar Wurth, including the First Sachsen-Teschen Service ever produced. This service was later to be melted to be replaced by an even more spectacular service by Caspar Wurth’s son, Ignatz, part of which is the present soup tureen being auctioned at Bonhams. Marie Antoinette was given a very similar service as a dowry made by Ignatz Wurth. While it is Marie Antoinette who has been immortalised by history, Maria Christina was Maria Theresa’s favourite child and for this she was excluded by the rest of the family, including sister Marie Antoinette. “Mimi” was given the cold-shoulder as she was the only daughter who was allowed to choose her own husband and marry Prince Albert for love. Indeed, the sisters never reconciled and it is believed that on the beheading of Marie Antoinette, Maria Christina remained cool and remarked that her sister should never have married. The soup tureen marks this special relationship between the mother and the daughter, but is also a symbol of the romantic love between Maria Christina and her husband.
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ONDON.- Bonhams is to sell a rare Imperial soup tureen created by the most important artisan of silver objects of Viennese Neoclassicism during the Enlightenment (c.1650 to 1800). The tureen is being offered at as part of the Fine Silver and Gold Box Sale on June 19th at its New Bond Street saleroom. It is estimated at £150,000 to £200,000. Michael Moorcroft, Director of Bonhams Silver Department, comments: “The Sachsen-Teschen service has emerged from the shadows of the past to a glittering future”. The soup tureen was a wedding gift from Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the mother of Maria Christina and Marie Antoinette, to Archduchess Maria Christina and her husband, Prince Albert Casimir. “Mimi” (as Maria Christina was affectionately called by her mother) fell in love with her second cousin, Prince Albert, and was especially taken by his “interest in everything beautiful, in the fine arts, and in his idealistic dreams to do good”. In spite of his prestigious title, the Prince’s family had become impoverished in the Seven Years’ War and so Maria Christina’s marriage to the Prince would not be profitable. Besotted with Albert, “Mimi” manipulated her mother into allowing the marriage to go ahead. Not only did the couple get permission to marry, they also received a large dowry comprised of some of the most important gold and precious objects created during the Enlightenment. Large parts of the ensemble were made by Franz Caspar Wurth, including the First Sachsen-Teschen Service ever produced. This service was later to be melted to be replaced by an even more spectacular service by Caspar Wurth’s son, Ignatz, part of which is the present soup tureen being auctioned at Bonhams. Marie Antoinette was given a very similar service as a dowry made by Ignatz Wurth. While it is Marie Antoinette who has been immortalised by history, Maria Christina was Maria Theresa’s favourite child and for this she was excluded by the rest of the family, including sister Marie Antoinette. “Mimi” was given the cold-shoulder as she was the only daughter who was allowed to choose her own husband and marry Prince Albert for love. Indeed, the sisters never reconciled and it is believed that on the beheading of Marie Antoinette, Maria Christina remained cool and remarked that her sister should never have married. The soup tureen marks this special relationship between the mother and the daughter, but is also a symbol of the romantic love between Maria Christina and her husband.
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LONDON.- Bonhams is to sell a rare Imperial soup tureen created by the most important artisan of silver objects of Viennese Neoclassicism during the Enlightenment (c.1650 to 1800). The tureen is being offered at as part of the Fine Silver and Gold Box Sale on June 19th at its New Bond Street saleroom. It is estimated at £150,000 to £200,000. Michael Moorcroft, Director of Bonhams Silver Department, comments: “The Sachsen-Teschen service has emerged from the shadows of the past to a glittering future”. The soup tureen was a wedding gift from Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the mother of Maria Christina and Marie Antoinette, to Archduchess Maria Christina and her husband, Prince Albert Casimir. “Mimi” (as Maria Christina was affectionately called by her mother) fell in love with her second cousin, Prince Albert, and was especially taken by his “interest in everything beautiful, in the fine arts, and in his idealistic dreams to do good”. In spite of his prestigious title, the Prince’s family had become impoverished in the Seven Years’ War and so Maria Christina’s marriage to the Prince would not be profitable. Besotted with Albert, “Mimi” manipulated her mother into allowing the marriage to go ahead. Not only did the couple get permission to marry, they also received a large dowry comprised of some of the most important gold and precious objects created during the Enlightenment. Large parts of the ensemble were made by Franz Caspar Wurth, including the First Sachsen-Teschen Service ever produced. This service was later to be melted to be replaced by an even more spectacular service by Caspar Wurth’s son, Ignatz, part of which is the present soup tureen being auctioned at Bonhams. Marie Antoinette was given a very similar service as a dowry made by Ignatz Wurth. While it is Marie Antoinette who has been immortalised by history, Maria Christina was Maria Theresa’s favourite child and for this she was excluded by the rest of the family, including sister Marie Antoinette. “Mimi” was given the cold-shoulder as she was the only daughter who was allowed to choose her own husband and marry Prince Albert for love. Indeed, the sisters never reconciled and it is believed that on the beheading of Marie Antoinette, Maria Christina remained cool and remarked that her sister should never have married. The soup tureen marks this special relationship between the mother and the daughter, but is also a symbol of the romantic love between Maria Christina and her husband.Share
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In late Medieval Florence, violence was common place but the most violent acts were perpetrated by the city’s chivalric elite. It was very different in degree, threatened the common good, and its sheer intensity made it hard to believe that it was part of government sanctioned violence to carry out vendettas. This paper sought to answer: Why was the violence of the chivalric elite so different? The chivalric elite had more access to resources, manpower and fortifications. They constantly rose to the challenges of threats to their status and honour and regularly interfered in administration and government. For example, in 1286 a large groups of knights prevented an official from executing a member of the chivalric elite. The degree of violence was the profound difference in the chivalric reality where martial prowess and honour were central to their identity. “It is worth more than life itself…For the chivalric elite, shame was a fate worse than death”. Violence became the ultimate vindication of honour. “To a Florentine, life without honour is a living death…on the field of honour, might is right”. How did the chivalric elite interpret the relationship between honour and violence? Sposato shared some medieval prose romances to provide answers, “The Tristano Riccardiano“. In the story, as soon as Tristan became a knight, he avenged his father nobly, but he wasn’t satisfied with simple vengeance and went to Brescia (where the knights came from) and killed all the men and women. Practicioners of chivalry were obliged to avenge honour or face a fate worse than death. The excessive violence depicted in such tales, like Tristano Riccardiano, was not frowned down upon, but lauded. A chivalric end more than justified the bloody means. (Read entire article.)Share
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Animals also served as vehicles for religious allegory and moral instruction. The Bestiary developed in medieval Europe in the twelfth century. Based on the Greek Physiologus of around the second century, often with important additions from Christian scholars like Saint Ambrose, Isidore of Seville, and Rabanus Maurus, the Bestiary is a collection of descriptions and interpretations of animals, intended as both a natural history and a series of moral and religious lessons. It was widely read in the Middle Ages and served as a source for artistic invention (22.58.1). In addition to providing intriguing interpretations of animals, bestiaries offered tales about the existence of bizarre and loathsome creatures, many of which appeared in medieval art. Legends associated with these imaginary creatures proved particularly enduring. The basilisk, for example, described in Pliny the Elder's Natural History of ca. 79, is mentioned in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales of the late fourteenth century. Equated with the devil, the basilisk reputedly could kill by its very smell, by a glance, or even by the sound of its hissing. The manticore, from Persian legend, with the face of a man, the body of a lion, and the tail of a scorpion, possessed a seductive voice likened to the sound of a fine flute. It represented the siren song of temptation that surrounded the Christian soul on its perilous journey through an earthly existence. The centaur of Greek mythology, with the body of a horse and the upper torso of a man, was deemed particularly lustful but sensitive enough to cry in sorrow (10.37.2). (Read more.)Share
In Pride and Prejudice, the complicated mutual attraction of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy is established through their behaviour towards each other at a succession of balls. They approach and retreat, tease and repel each other, as in an elaborate dance. Among the many media events marking the bicentenary of the publication of Austen's most popular novel, none is more elaborate than BBC2's restaging of the most important of these, the Netherfield ball given by Mr Bingley. It is a gorgeous, telegenic enactment, but also reveals the conventions on which Austen's narrative relies.Share
She takes it for granted that all her readers will know what a ball is like and will see the manoeuvres of her characters as clearly as she does herself. She does not tell us what dances were performed, what music was played, or what food was eaten. Yet from other publications of the age – including the copious instructions of contemporary dance masters – it is entirely possible to reconstruct such an event. We are used to the glimpses given in film adaptations, but never have dancers been made to perform exactly as Bingley's guests must have done. "Every savage can dance," observes Mr Darcy sardonically, and when you see it happening in a thronged ballroom you certainly notice the physicality. Individual dances last up to 15 minutes and, in a room lit only by candles, the heat soon rivals any Ibizan dancefloor. The performers are dance students from the University of Surrey, and probably more athletic than the average denizen of Meryton in 1813, but soon the sweat is pouring off them. You begin to feel the force of Austen's observations that, at the earlier assembly ball in Pride and Prejudice, Mr Bingley "danced every dance". He was clearly a thoroughly vigorous young man. (Read entire article.)
ShareThe terminology used on this website for African-Americans who served with the Confederate States Army range from: (1) Slave, (2) Negro, (3) Colored Man, (4) Body Servant/Bodyguard, (5) Black Confederate, and (6) Black Confederate Soldier. For research purposes, the definitions of a "Black Confederate" and a "Black Confederate Soldier" are as follows:
A "Black Confederate" is an African-American who served with the Confederate States Army, Navy or Civil Service of the Confederate States of America or gave Material Aid to the Cause during the American Civil War (1861-1865).
A “Black Confederate Soldier” is (1) an enlisted African-American in the Confederate States Army, (2) an African-American acknowledged by Confederate Officer(s) as engaged in military service, and/or (3) an African-American approved by the Confederate Board of Pension Examiners to receive a Confederate Pension for military service during the American Civil War (1861-1865).(Read more.)
Monday, May 20, 2013
Abraham Lincoln: [to Ulysses S. Grant] Each of us has made it possible for the other to do terrible things.~from Lincoln (2012)There is nothing quite like seeing a great actor and a great actress play opposite each other, such as Peter O'Toole and Katherine Hepburn in The Lion and Winter, and now Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field in Steven Spielberg's Lincoln. The tragedy which we call the Civil War was a tragedy for every family in America. Few families escaped suffering; the weight of sorrow fell heavily upon the family of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, a fact which the film powerfully demonstrates. Sally Field's Mary appears to embody in one small woman the full measure of loss, of brokenness, of insanity, of divided loyalties which rent America and caused lasting wounds. As the violence which was so much a part of the nature of slavery erupted and overwhelmed a continent, death became more a part of life than life itself for every citizen. The turmoil experienced by the Lincoln family was mirrored in thousands of ways throughout the two enemy nations.
The plot revolves around President Lincoln's struggle to drum up enough votes in congress to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which would theoretically bring an end to chattel slavery in America. The document previously published by Lincoln, known as the Emancipation Proclamation, did not free a single slave since it only applied to territory governed by the Confederacy. Lincoln was determined, by fair means or foul, to bring about the new amendment. The movie portrays the several shady characters who use bribery and threats to sway the congressmen into voting for the amendment. Thus the overwhelming message of the film is that the end justifies the means. In praising the workings of democracy, the leading characters were all in agreement that laws may be ignored as long as the cause is just. This raises many questions which still confront us today. In seeking to overthrow unjust laws, such as those which once permitted slavery and those which still permit abortion, to what extent are citizens bound to go? Let us remember that many Americans broke the law in order to rescue individuals from slavery, and for this we praise them. In the purely political sphere, however, graft and corruption win the day. Unfortunately, such methods are used to further unjust agendas as well as those which we deem just.
In a film which exudes authenticity there are several errors, according to The Daily Beast:
To be sure, there is no shortage of small historical bloopers in the movie. First Lady Mary Lincoln, for example, never planted herself in the House Gallery to observe the final tally on the amendment. (Michelle Obama may routinely attend the State of the Union address each year, but such a visit would have been unthinkable in 1865.) Nor did congressmen vote by state delegations—a device that conflates the traditions of national political conventions with those of the House of Representatives....
Lincoln’s presidential office was never adorned with a lithographic portrait of William Henry Harrison, of all people, the old Whig president who died in 1841, just a month after delivering the windiest inaugural address on the windiest inaugural day in American history. Lincoln may have given short, unmemorable speeches at countless flag-raising ceremonies in Washington, but never was he ever seen, as he is in the movie, fetching his manuscript from the lining of his top hat, or for that matter using a crank, not a system of ropes, to pull the flag up a pole....
In yet another scene, Lincoln’s young son Tad plays with glass negatives on loan from photographer Alexander Gardner’s gallery. But Gardner would never have sent one-of-a-kind, fragile plates to the rambunctious little “sprite” of the White House. Not long before, Tad had shown his contempt for photography by locking a camera operator out of a White House closet where he was developing portraits of the president, angry that he had appropriated one of his private hiding places without permission. By the time Lincoln fetched the key, the images had been all but ruined. Tad liked photos all right—paper prints—and his souvenir picture of Fido, the pet dog the family left behind when they headed to Washington, was, shall we say, dog-eared.
As for the Spielberg movie’s opening scene, in which a couple of Union soldiers—one white, one black—recite the words of the Gettysburg Address to the appreciative Lincoln, who is visiting the front toward the end of the war—it is almost inconceivable that any uniformed soldier of the day (or civilians, for that matter) would have memorized a speech that, however ingrained in modern memory, did not achieve any semblance of a national reputation until the 20th century.Would Mrs. Lincoln really have had her dressmaker sit next to her in the presidential box at the opera? Mrs. Keckley was a gifted and fascinating woman and confidante of Mrs. Lincoln but in those days she would not have been regarded as a social equal by Washington high society. Of course, Mrs. Lincoln loved to flout convention so I suppose just about anything is possible. However, I doubt that she or the President would have allowed their young son to play with photographic plates showing beaten slaves. Not that Tad would have been totally ignorant of such things; the slave market near the White House was going strong until April 1862 when the "peculiar institution" was finally abolished in the District of Columbia.
At any rate, every performance was mesmerizing and the actors became utterly lost in their parts. I did not recognize Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens until he removed his wig. The glimpse into the complicated psyche of Mary Lincoln made me want to take a refresher course on a lady who is probably one of the most intriguing characters in American history. The war ends as the film ends but her tragedy goes on. Share
Franklin was confident that his new alphabet would be easier to learn and, once learned, would drastically reduce bad spelling. He believed any difficulty in implementing a new alphabet would ultimately be overcome by its logic and simplicity. However, biographer Walter Isaacson has written that the alphabet “took his passion for social improvement to radical extremes.” But in the heady days after the Revolution, a national language seemed like a natural development for a new country. Franklin’s proposal found little support, even with those to whom he was closest. He did, however, manage to convert Webster, the pioneer of spelling reform. Webster supported standardizing American spelling but, until meeting Franklin, had advocated against its simplification. After reading Franklin’s “A Reformed Mode of Spelling,” however, Webster was inspired to draft a more conservative proposal for reforming the alphabet, which didn’t depend on creating new characters. The two men supported one another’s pursuits but found little interest from others. Franklin eventually abandoned his plan, while Webster persisted, even publishing books using his new orthography. His efforts were met with resistance and ridiculed by critics as an unsightly corruption of language – critiques that were likely also applied to Franklin’s abandoned scheme. (Read entire article.)Share
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Differentiated from the full-fledged Pierrot costume, the Pierrot as a shaped bodice flourished in that gasp of Rococo sensibility and extreme silhouette of about 1780 - 1790. The flared peplum extension of the jacket below the waist and asymmetrically around the back allows for the bulbous billowing skirt of the period. The bodice includes self-fabric ruffles, which would have embellished the skirt as well. The simple low-necked bodice is characteristic of the period, comparable to the "chemise à la reine." (Read more.)Share
Defense Department materials classifying Catholics and Evangelicals as extremists on par with jihadists came to light recently. The Pentagon pooh-poohed these materials, which were used for a U.S. Army Reserve presentation, as a random incident. But it wasn’t. Christians are routinely treated as extremists by Obama’s politically correct generals.Share
In 2010, Admiral Michael Mullen informed a Christian chaplain who opposed the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that “if you cannot get in line, resign your commission.” That same year Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick told “bigoted” soldiers to “get with the program” or “get out.” In 2011, the Army, until a backlash prevented the change, planned on tweaking its visiting guidelines at Walter Reed Medical Center to read: “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading materials and/or facts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.” In 2012, officials at the Air Force erased the Latin word for God, Dei, from the logo of the Rapid Capabilities Office. The logo had said in Latin “Doing God’s Work with Other People’s Money.” It was changed to: “Doing Miracles with Other People’s Money.”
The same Air Force that this week admitted to a “cancer” of sexual assault among its members evidently finds too much Christianity worrisome. In 2011, it cancelled a course on Just War theory that had been taught for 20 years on the grounds that it made use of the writings of St. Augustine and other theistic thinkers. Mikey Weinstein, president of an aggressively secularist group misnamed the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, led the lobbying for that change by the Air Force. Soldiers, he bragged, will no longer be exposed to the “Jesus loves nukes speech.” (Read entire article.)
Saturday, May 18, 2013
In the Tudor and Stuart periods, even armour followed fashion. The ornate set belonging to the 13-year-old Henry, Prince of Wales (c.1607) was designed to echo the full breeches and V-shaped doublets of the day. The armour was a gift from a French nobleman and a statement of great extravagance, particularly since the young Prince would soon have outgrown it. Heir to the English and Scottish thrones, Henry died of typhoid fever at the age of 18, and his younger brother succeeded him as the ill-fated Charles I.Share
Other works on display include a gold and diamond signet ring given to a young Henrietta Maria Queen by her husband Charles I in around 1628, three years after their marriage, and Mary II’s patch box made of enamelled gold set with diamonds. In the 17th century, black fabric patches were stuck to the face to emphasise the creamy white skin of the leisured class and to conceal blemishes. They were applied using saliva or adhesive and produced in a variety of shapes, from crescents and flowers to animals. (Read entire article.)
ShareIn fact, the study notes, marriage rates are between 13 percent and 30 percent higher than they’d be without the advent of broadband technology. The basic intuition here is that stuff like online dating makes it easier for people to find potential partners — or, as University of Montreal economist Andriana Bellou puts it, the Internet “has the potential to reduce search frictions.” That’s not utterly implausible. Researchers have already noted that the Internet allows us to find jobs and homes more easily. Why not spouses?To test this out, Bellou exploits the fact that broadband arrived in the United States unevenly during the 1990s and 2000s. And she compares the rates of adoption trends with Current Population Survey data on marriage rates for Americans aged 21-30. What she found was that “marriage rates grew on average more in states with greater increases in broadband penetration.” The data is awfully messy, but there does seem to be a correlation...(Read entire article.)
Friday, May 17, 2013
A cenobite, or cenobitic monk, according to Saint Benedict's description, lives in community with other monks, under a rule and an Abbot. Today, the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict is, more often than not, interpreted by a complementary text called Constitutions or Declarations. In a small monastery, such as ours, the Father of the community is called a prior, rather than an abbot. His responsibilities, however, are the same as those of an abbot. (Read entire post.)Share
Thursday, May 16, 2013
|Louis XIV and his brother Philippe|
In 17th century Europe, the sight of a little boy in a fluffy pink skirt wouldn’t have been frowned on in the least. Boys wore skirts from the time they could walk until the age of 6 or 7. Since zippers and elastic were centuries in the future, a 17th century mom couldn’t just slip a pair of pants over her squirming toddler’s legs. Breeches required buttons and buckles to hold them in place: two nimble, dexterous activities that toddler hands cannot perform on their own. Until a boy was considered mature and independent enough to handle his own dressing, he wore skirts. (Read entire post.)Share
Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, stood strongly opposed to Arius’s anti-Trinitarian teachings. That courageous stand proved costly for Athanasius — he was exiled from Alexandria five different times because he refused to compromise. Yet, during his forty-five years of ministry, Athanasius held the line of orthodoxy without wavering. As a result, in God’s providence, the truth about the Trinity was faithfully passed down to subsequent generations.Share
Arius died in 336, just eleven years after the Council of Nicaea. Significantly, the account of his death comes from none other than Athanasius. In a letter Athanasius wrote many years after the fact, the Alexandrian bishop not only explained how Arius died, but also extrapolated on why he died. I think you’ll agree it’s a pretty dramatic story. (Read entire post.)
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I felt that I was at a crossroads between a literary route, sanctioned by the review establishment and therefore desirable, and a commercial one, outside the purview of traditional booksellers, which might sell more copies but would change people's perception of my work.Share
So I began to do some research. In Europe, I found, paperback originals have been standard for years. In the 1960s, Beat writers in the United States were published only in paperback; I was surprised to learn that "Interpreter of Maladies," by Jhumpa Lahiri, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1999, was published only in paperback by Houghton Mifflin; "Cloud Atlas," by David Mitchell, was a Random House paperback original.
These books were the exception to the hardcover-first rule, but things are changing. Major national publications routinely feature paperback originals these days.
Book clubs, both online and in person, have become a large percentage of the reading public, and many of them won't consider reading books in hardcover. (Convincing people to shell out $25 for a hardcover book they've never heard of is very different from asking them to spend $12.) And they spread the word to an enormous engaged online community of readers via sites like Goodreads, She Reads, LibraryThing and Shelfari, not to mention Facebook and Twitter. Having the book-club army embrace you is a gift that keeps giving for years. (Read entire article.)
At the end of the chapter dedicated prayer, the then-archbishop Bergoglio says:Share
"David had been an adulterer and had ordered a murder, and nonetheless we venerate him as a saint because he had the courage to say: 'I have sinned.' He humbled himself before God. One can commit enormous mistakes, but one can also acknowledge them, change one's life and make reparation for what one has done. It is true that among parishioners there are persons who have killed not only intellectually or physically but indirectly, with improper management of capital, paying unjust wages. There are members of charitable organizations who do not pay their employees what they deserve, or make them work off the books. [. . .] With some of them we know their whole résumé, we know that they pass themselves off as Catholics but practice indecent behaviors of which they do not repent. For this reason, on some occasions I do not give communion, I stay back and let the assistants do it, because I do not want these persons to approach me for a photo. One may also deny communion to a known sinner who has not repented, but it is very difficult to prove these things. Receiving communion means receiving the body of the Lord, with the awareness of forming a community. But if a man, rather than uniting the people of God, has devastated the lives of many persons, he cannot receive communion, it would be a total contradiction. Such cases of spiritual hypocrisy present themselves in many who take refuge in the Church and do not live according to the justice that God preaches. And they do not demonstrate repentance. This is what we commonly call leading a double life.”
As can be noted, Bergoglio explained in 2010 his abstaining from giving communion personally with a very practical reason: "I do not want these persons to approach me for a photo."
As an experienced pastor and a good Jesuit, he knew that among those who receive communion there could be unrepentant public sinners who nonetheless professed themselves to be Catholics. He knew that at that point it would be difficult to deny them the sacrament. And he knew the public effects that that communion could have, if received from the hands of the archbishop of the Argentine capital.
One could infer that Bergoglio may sense the same danger as pope, indeed even more so. And for this reason he would be adopting the same prudential conduct: “I do not give communion, I stay back and let the assistants do it.”
The public sins that Bergoglio gave as examples in his conversation with the rabbi are the oppression of the poor and the withholding of just wages from the worker. Two sins traditionally listed among the four that “cry out to heaven for vengeance.”
But the reasoning is the same that in recent years has been applied by other bishops to another sin: public support for pro-abortion laws on the part of politicians who profess themselves to be Catholic. (Read entire post.)
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Now in the newly renovated suite of Mesdames at Versailles, the Sèvres porcelain vases belonged to Madame Victoire. (Via Louis XX.) To quote:
In 1772, Madame Victoire, one of the daughters of Louis XV, acquired these three vases for her bedroom in the Palace of Versailles. Madame Victoire in fact ordered a matching set of five vases with a green background from the Royal Porcelain Manufactory of Sèvres. The other two vases of the set are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.Share
These three vases are exceptional for their painted scenes and their shape. The cartouches are the work of Charles-Nicolas Dodin, one of the finest painters of figures in the Manufactory in the 18th century, to whom the Palace of Versailles dedicated an exhibition in 2012. Their unique shape had not yet been represented in the national collections. The central “beaded” vase has a cartouche based on a painting executed in 1737 for Louis XV, The Charms of Country Life. The scenes painted on the other two “laurel leaf” vases are The Lovers Surprised, based on an engraving by Gilles Demarteau, and Spring, inspired by one of the canvases of the Seasons painted in 1755 for Madame de Pompadour.
These vases have now been returned to their original place on the mantelpiece of Madame Victoire’s bedroom. (Read more.)
Stomachers were an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe beginning with a rise of pairs of bodices and stays (the ancestors of the corset). There is evidence that stomachers have been in use since the 16th century, but stomachers became a fashion staple between 1590 during the brief reign of the French wheel farthingale and the trend continued well into the 18th century. Bodices were made with open fronts and the stomacher was used to cover the stays and chemise behind the opening. The stomacher would be pinned to the lady’s stays or to the inside of the bodice to hold it in place. Some stomachers also have ties and silk tabs to help keep the stomacher in place. While many stomachers were made to blend seamlessly with a dress, other stomachers were made to compliment the dress with a contrasting patterns or color. Early stomachers were decorated with blackwork, polychrome silk embroidery, redwork, metal lace, and scads of jewels if you were rich enough to afford them. (Read entire post.)Share
In my lifetime, very little has changed to improve the lives of working parents and their children. In fact, almost all of it has become worse since I was a young woman of 22, then a new mother of 38. And this is the most depressing measure of the women’s movement. Women like myself thought we had won feminism’s big prize — equal opportunity. But in our excitement and individual victories, we failed to demand the structural and cultural changes needed to make it work. In that, we have failed our daughters.Share
There is no real safety net for working mothers.
The vast majority of American women do not have a choice about whether they will work. They will, and most will have to work full time to support their families. Full-time work in America today is, for the most part, not compatible with family life, especially if you are a professional and have ambitions. Today, almost 40 percent of men in professional jobs work 50 hours or more a week; the average working woman with a graduate degree works almost as long. That’s five 10-hour days, not counting the commute. (Read entire article.)
Monday, May 13, 2013
The Duchess, or María del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva, to give her the full name, is Spain's richest woman, has more recognised titles than any other noble in the world and is a distant relative of both Winston Churchill and Princess Diana.Share
As the head of the House of Alba, and the 18th Duchess, her property portfolio includes castles, palaces, country houses and land across Spain - with the most famous being the Liria Palace in Madrid, where she was born. As well as the eccentric Duchess, the palace is also thought to be home to 249 oil paintings by artists including Rembrandt, Goya, Van Dyck and Rubens, as well as the Alba Bible which dates back to 1430.
Sludge is a buoyant commodity. You can slap a fetid scrap of it with a long stick, but it bobs up again and floats your way. Floating our way again is a lecherous congressman from New York, who made of himself his own porn star for the internet, who resigned in shamelessness and resurfaces the same. But what’s the problem, eh? We are sixteen million million dollars in debt, and we overspend ourselves by more than a million million dollars a year. What’s one more liar in Congress, when our whole political life is woven from scraps and rag-ends of lies, that the Constitution is more than embossed tissue paper for the lavatories of the Capitol, that legislators legislate, that judges judge, and that the executive executes? Every four years we engage, at tremendous expense, in a charade of self-government, a mass selection of the American Idol, a celebrity in chief, with light and noise and not one sensible thing said.Share
In Ohio, an Amish man and his “accomplices” are sentenced to fifteen years in prison for disciplinary hair-cutting of some of their fellow Amish. The federal government, careless of the families being destroyed, steps in because the scissors was transported across state lines. A thousand renegade Amish barbers could clip away with abandon and not do as much harm to the common good as will one day’s worth of people crossing our borders illegally, but the Amish don’t have nearly the number of votes as do the latter. (Read entire article.)
Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world's largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.Share
You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that's trillion, with a "t") worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it "dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets." (Read entire article.)