Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Queen of Spain and Hemophilia

The tragedy of Queen Victoria's Catholic granddaughter, Victoria Eugenie, who in turn was the grandmother of King Juan Carlos. To quote:
The first half of the twentieth century seemed to be quite a dangerous time for some of the granddaughters of Victoria and the royal curse of haemophilia.

Victoria Eugenie known to the family and British public as Ena was no different and below I want to tell her story.

Victoria Eugenie was born on the 24th October 1887 at Balmoral Castle to Prince Henry of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom. She spent most of her childhood between Balmoral, Osborne House and Windsor Castle. As part of Victoria’s agreement for her daughter Beatrice to marry Henry she had to stay as her full time companion and personal secretary which meant Victoria Eugenie would spent a lot of her time as a child in Victoria’s household.

Victoria Eugenie was bridesmaid to Mary of Teck in her wedding to the future King George V in 1893. In 1896 her father died and in 1901 Queen Victoria herself also died. After this the Battenberg’s took up residence in Kensington Palace, London.

In 1905 King Alfonso XIII of Spain made an official visit to the United Kingdom and King Edward VII hosted a dinner at Buckingham Palace in his honour. It was known that Alfonso was looking for a suitable wife. It was thought that Princess Patricia, another of Edward VII’s nieces was the most suitable match for Alfonso but she was unimpressed by his advances and then his attention turned to Victoria Eugenie.

On his return to Spain Alfonso he wrote to Victoria Eugenie sending her numerous post cards. His mother Maria Christina didn’t approve of his interest in the British princess preferring for her son to marry from her own Habsburg family from Austria. There was also the issue of religion. Spain was a Roman Catholic country and Victoria Eugenie came from a Protestant background. The royal curse of haemophilia was also a concern.

This did not stop Alfonso and he would not be held back from his continued attention to the British princess and after about a year of communication and rumours about who Alfonso would marry, his mother finally caved in and agreed to the marriage. She wrote to Princess Beatrice telling her about the love her son had for Victoria Eugenie and things then moved quickly and a couple of days later at Windsor King Edward congratulated his niece on her future engagement. (Read more.)
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Pope Clement X's Letter to Mary of Modena

The Holy Father persuades the Italian Princess to marry the Catholic Duke of York, the future James II. From Nobility:
Dear daughter in Christ, noble Damsel, greeting etc. Since the design of the Duke of York to contract alliance with your Nobility reached our ears, We return thanks to the Father of Mercies who, knowing our solicitude for His Glory, is preparing for us, in the Kingdom of England an ample harvest of joy. Considering, in effect, the influence of your virtues, We easily conceived a firm hope that an end might come to the persecution still smoldering in that kingdom and that the orthodox faith, reinstated by you in a place of honor might recover the splendor and security of former days, an effect which no exterior power could accomplish and which might become due to the victory of your piety, the inheritance of your eminently religious family. You can therefore easily understand, dear daughter in Christ, the anxiety which filled Us when We were informed of your repugnance for marriage. For although we understood that it arose from a desire, most laudable in itself, to embrace religious discipline, reflecting that in the present occasion it opposes itself to the progress of religion, we were nevertheless sincerely grieved. (Read more.)
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Monday, September 29, 2014

Remembering Louis XVIII

Our friend in Oxford remembers the last King of France to die while on the throne. Two of his siblings died on the guillotine and one died in exile, Louis XVIII, the most unscrupulous of politicians, died in his bed. To quote:
As effective King of France from 1814-15 he was successful in re-establishing the traditional monarchy within a model of contemporary understandings of constitutionalism. That might well have been a basis for a longer term settlement than it turned out to be. He himself expressed his doubts as to whether his brother and heir, Charles Count of Artois, was going to be able to maintain that settlement. The fact that he did not prove able to do so has always invited comparison with King Charles II and King James II in England.
Cynical and calculating, a wary man, he was successful as a monarch, less attractive as an individual. Unlike the jibe about his dynasty he certainly had learned from the events of 1789 and thereafter, as indeed had King Charles X, even if they were different lessons. When it came to forgetting King Louis remained hostile to the House of Orleans in a way his supposedly more reactionary brother was not.

In some respects, including his appearance, he remained in many ways an eighteenth century figure, unlike King Charles X, who, although only two years younger, had embraced ideas and concepts of the times in which he found himself. King Louis XVIII had late eighteenth century cynicism, suited to the politics of any age, King Charles X possessed early nineteenth century romantic idealism, which is a less sure source of political strength in troubled times.
Louis XVIII
When King Charles X died in 1836 King Leopold I of the Belgians wrote to his niece Princess Victoria in England  "Poor Charles X is dead. history will state that Louis XVIII was a most liberal monarch, reigning with great mildness and justice to his end, but that his brother, from his despotic and harsh disposition, upset all the other had done and lost the throne. Louis XVIII was a clever, hard-hearted man, shackled by no principle, very proud and false. Charles X an honest man, a kind friend, an honourable master, sincere in his opinions and inclined to do everything that is right."  (Read more.)
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The Banning of Corrie ten Boom

Remember the book The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, about a Dutch family who hid and rescued hundreds of Jews during the Nazi occupation? It is now a banned book. To quote:
The ten Boom family are heroes by any standard, successfully hiding and saving the lives of some 800 Jews from the Gestapo. Eventually, the Nazis arrested the ten Booms. Corrie’s father was taken to Scheveningen prison, where he died. Corrie and her sister Betsie were taken to Ravensbrück, where Betsie died. Corrie survived and told the tale.

And what motivated the family’s self-sacrifice? Their Christian faith, something to which Corrie’s memoir amply testifies.

Countless Christians were similarly motivated by their faith to harbor Jews or otherwise resist the genocidal horror of the Nazis. Take, for example, Japanese diplomat and Orthodox convert Chiune Sugihara, who helped thousand of Jews escape death in Lithuania. Or take Maria Skobtsova, who sheltered Jews in her Paris home and died in a Ravensbrück gas chamber.

“There is not only a Jewish question, but a Christian question,” said Maria when it came time for Jews to register and wear the yellow Star. “If we were true Christians we would all wear the Star.”

Corrie ten Boom’s father donned the Star. Given this Christian impulse to identify with the oppressed and save those in danger, to remove The Hiding Place from library shelves betrays a sort of societal self-defeat, and similar examples multiply as our culture fumbles toward a more rigorously enforced secularity. We’re like the cannibal committing suicide one nibble at a time. (Read more.)
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The Other Mountbattens

The sons of Princess Beatrice and Prince Henry of Battenburg. To quote:
During the First World War a lot of anti-German sentiment grew in Great Britain and because of this the British Royal family relinquished their German titles and changed their names. Battenberg changed to Mountbatten. This was when Alexander was given the titles of Marquess of Carisbrooke, Earl of Berkampsted and Viscount Launceston.

Alexander also got married in 1917 to Lady Irene Adza Denison (1890-1956) daughter of the 2nd Earl of Londesborough and Lady Grace Adelaide Fane. They married at the Chapel Royal in St James Palace, London. Alexander and Lady Irene had one daughter together, Lady Iris Mountbatten born in 1920.
After the First World War he started life as an ordinary clerk in the offices of Lazard Brothers, the bankers. Later he would become a director of Lazard Brothers.

Early in the Second World War he joined the RAF where he served as a staff officer attached to Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory before moving to Fighter Command Headquarters.

After the war he lived in Kings Cottage overlooking Kew Garderns before moving on to Kensington Palace.
Alexander died in 1960 aged 73 at Kensington Palace and was buried in the Battenberg Chapel, St Mildred’s Church, Whippngham on the Isle of Wight. The title Marquess of Carisbrooke became extinct upon his death. At his death he was the last surviving grandson of Queen Victoria. (Read more.)
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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Château de Bagatelle, Bois de Boulogne, Paris

A painting by Paul François Louche, 1925. (Via Vive la Reine.) Share

Blessed Marmion: A Life in the Trinity

Father Mark on the venerable Irish Abbot who wrote of the liturgical life of the Church so beautifully. To quote:
 Although Joseph Aloysius Marmion was baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; although he was plunged into the life of the Three Divine Persons, becoming by grace what Jesus is by nature, that is, a well–beloved Son; although he was raised in a pious, God–fearing, Catholic family, and even dressed in black from the time he was a small boy to get him used to the soutane for which, in his parents’ eyes, he was pre–destined; although he studied philosophy, and then theology, at Clonliffe and in Rome; although he read his breviary faithfully, offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each morning, never failed to make his daily Way of the Cross, and never omitted his daily rosary; it was not until he experienced total immersion in the liturgy of the Church as a Benedictine monk that the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity came alive for him. In the sacred liturgy — and principally in the Divine Office with its daily round of psalmody punctuated by the ever–recurring Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto — Columba Marmion passed from a speculative, notional knowledge of the Most Holy Trinity to an experiential, sapiential, cordial knowledge of what it means to be « a son in the Son ».(Read more.)
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Henry VIII and Queen Catherine Howard in York

From The Anne Boleyn Files:
Historians are divided over the main purpose of the progress, with some believing that it was to do with diplomacy towards Scotland and France, and others believing that it was more to do with the domestic situation after the Pilgrimage of Grace and the renewed threats of trouble in the North, such as the recent Wakefield Plot. Henry had arranged to meet his nephew James V of Scotland at York but the Scottish King stood him up. In his essay5 on the progress, Thornton points out the record of Marillac, the French ambassador who went on the progress and who says:
Those who in the rebellion remained faithful were ranked apart, and graciously welcomed by the King and praised for their fidelity. The others who were of the conspiracy, among whom appeared the abp. of York, were a little further off on their knees; and one of them, speaking for all, made a long harangue confessing their treason in marching against their Sovereign and his Council, thanking him for pardoning so great an offence and begging that if any relics of indignation remained he would dismiss them.6
 So, those who had been faithful to the King were rewarded and those who had been involved in the troubles were expected to submit and beg forgiveness. The North’s submission must have pleased the King but there was trouble brewing. His wife had been having secret liaisons with Thomas Culpeper, one of the King’s Gentleman of the Privy Chamber, meeting him at Lincoln, Hatfield, Pontefract and York. No-one knows exactly how far things went between the couple, but their alleged affair came to light shortly after the court’s return from the Progress. Ironically, Henry VIII had just attended mass and given “his Maker… most hearty thanks for the good life he led and trusted to lead with his wife” when his world came crashing down and he was advised of his wife’s sordid past. Things, of course, would get worse…(Read more.)
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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte in 1830

After 1830, the portraits of the only surviving daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette seem to disappear. Some of us are still hoping to find a photograph, though. Via Tiny-Libarian. Share

Who Was the "Rose Without a Thorn"?

So many historical legends that we take for granted as being fact are not true at all. From The Anne Boleyn Files:
I consulted the secondary sources on my bookshelf. In The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir wrote that “Henry was so besotted with Katherine that he ordered a medal to be struck in commemoration of their marriage. It was of gold, embossed with Tudor roses and true lovers’ knots entwined, and it carried the inscription: HENRICUS VIII: RUTILANS ROSA SINE SPINA, a pretty reference to the King’s rose without a thorn, his perfect bride”,1 but there was no reference cited. Fortunately, I had better luck with Antonia Fraser’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII. In her book, Fraser wrote that “To Henry VIII, Katherine Howard was his ‘blushing rose without a thorn’.” and in her notes she gave the Latin motto, RUTILANS ROSA SINE SPINA (blushing rose without a thorn) and cited Agnes Strickland, the Victorian historian, as her source.2 I have Strickland’s The Lives of the Queens of England: Volume II so I checked and Strickland wrote:

“He could neither afford to honour Katherine Howard with a public bridal nor a coronation, but he paid her the compliment of causing gold coins to be struck in commemoration of their marriage, bearing the royal arms of England, flanked with H R, and surmounted with the royal diadem. On the reverse is a rose, crowned, in allusion to his bride, flanked by the initiala K R, with the following legend:- HENRICUS VIII. RUTILANS ROSA SINE SPINA.”3

Strickland did not give any more details on the coin struck for Katherine so I then went digging into Tudor coins. In Dye’s Coin Encylopaedia, I found that Henry VIII “introduced the ‘Gold Crown’ into the English series of coinage” and that this coin had “upon its obverse a double rose, crowned between the letters ‘H.R.’ (Henry Rex). ‘H.A.’ (Henry and Anne). ‘H.J.’ (Henry and Jane). ‘H.K.’ (Henry and Katherine)”. It bore the legend “HENRIC. VIII. RUTILANS ROSA SIE SPIA”, or Henricus VIII., Rutilans rosa sine spina, meaning “Henry VIII, the shining/dazzling rose without a thorn. So, this encyclopaedia was stating that the legend actually described Henry, not Katherine.4

I then consulted other coin books and websites. In Coins of England and Great Britain, Tony Clayton stated that the “Crown of the Rose” coin was “an extremely rare coin struck during the second coinage of Henry VIII for a few months in 1526″ and explained that there were “two types, both of which feature a large rose on the reverse. One has the inscription HENRIC RUTILANS ROSA SINE SPINA, meaning ‘Henry a dazzling rose without a thorn’, and the other DNS HIB RUTILANS ROSA SINE SPINA, meaning ‘Lord of Ireland a dazzling rose without a thorn’.”5 Henry VIII was still married to Katherine of Aragon in 1526 so this coin was not a medal struck in celebration of his marriage to Katherine Howard. Thomas Snelling’s A View of the Silver Coin and Coinage of England from the Norman Conquest gave exactly the same information as Dye’s Coin Encylopaedia.6 In Henfrey’s Guide to English Coins, it said:
“Crown. Obv. a double rose crowned, between the letters H.K. (for Henry, and Katherine his 1st wife); or H.A. (for Henry, and Anne his 2nd wife); or H.I. (for Henry, and Jane his 3rd wife); or the letters H.R. (for Henricus Rex). All these letters are crowned. HENRIC VIII. RVTILANS ROSA SIE SPIA.”7
It also described the half-crown as being similar but with uncrowned letters next to the legend.
 On the Portable Antiquities Scheme website, which records archaeological finds, I found a photo of a gold crown from Henry VIII’s reign which was dated 1509-1526 and bore a crowned H and R with the legend “HENRIC VIII RUTILANS ROSA SINE SPINA”.8 On /www.coinandbullionpages.com, there are photographs of each side of “the Crown of the Double Rose” which has the crowned initials H and I (I was for Jane) either side of the Tudor rose on one side and Henry VIII’s arms on the other. It also bears the legend HENRIC VIII. RVTILANS ROSA SIE SPIA, which is proof that the legend was being used before Henry had even met Katherine Howard. (Read more.)
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Friday, September 26, 2014

"Marie-Antoinette" by Paul Romilly

Queen in the Moonlight
From Anna Gibson:
She passes, in the flower gardens of Trianon
In her negligee of old light fabric:
was there ever freshness, grace equal to hers?
The goddess shows even in linen.

But time has a marching pace without a name:
Dishonored queen, treated as a bitch.
And filthy pamphlets rain down on 'The Austrian.'
She is "Lady Veto," when it is the king who says "no."

The senselessness of the crime astonishes history
And no expiatory offering can erase it.
The love of a whole people, the hate of a whole nation.

The poor woman in mourning, pale under her cap.
To see that specter on the scaffold, who would believe
the widow Capet was Marie Antoinette?
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Where to Eat in Oklahoma City

From Food and Wine:
According to Danny, Oklahoma City is strong in three cuisines: deep-fried Americana, messy Tex-Mex and Vietnamese that’s better than any in the US. The Vietnamese community has enlisted aunties and grandmas and all manner of backyard gardeners to raise herbs I couldn’t find if I turned all three of New York City’s Chinatowns on their heads and shook their vest pockets empty. I learned about these herbs when we visited Super Cao Nguyen, which is probably our nation’s finest pan-Asian grocery store. It is a supermarket the size of an airplane hangar, an extraordinary cabinet of culinary curiosities: bushy bunches of the cilantro-like Vietnamese herb rau ram, mountains of blushing banana blossoms, an aquarium of sea beasts, every bottled sauce I’ve ever heard of and just as many that I hadn’t.

We were shopping because Danny had come up with the idea to cook a pop-up dinner at a local restaurant, Ludivine, to benefit tornado victims. The backstory: The night we arrived in Oklahoma City, a group of Danny’s childhood friends and chefs from the community (whom he’d met cooking at a prior tornado-relief dinner) welcomed him with a backyard barbecue. The next morning, over pho, Russ Johnson, one of Ludivine’s chefs, noted how many slabs of ribs were left from the party the night before. So Danny volunteered, without fanfare, to cook dinner at Ludivine that night to use them up.

At the pop-up, Danny and his Mission Chinese Food NY executive chef, Angela Dimayuga, devised two ways to dress up the already-barbecued baby backs. They smothered half the ribs in a peppery fish sauce–spiked caramel; the rest were chicken-fried, in an ode to Oklahoma City, and served with red eye gravy punched up with bacon. The hashtag was #OKChefsReliefMissionChinesePopUpRibRedux, the place was completely packed, all the food disappeared, and I’m sure there was nowhere better to be in the entire state on that Monday night.

The next day, we flitted around as Danny schooled Angela in Oklahoma City cuisine. At Tucker’s, we ate onion burgers—Oklahoma-style burgers with caramelized onions pressed onto the griddled patties. We ate wan Tex-Mex that brought Danny back to his childhood but made me wish I were in Texas or Mexico instead.

We ran out of time to visit the Vietnamese restaurant in the building that was once a Long John Silver’s. It’s where Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, Oklahoma City’s reigning rock band, famously worked as a fry cook and had once been held up. (Danny saw him tell the story in a video.)

Danny had traveled without a change of clothes, possibly as an excuse to visit Bass Pro Shops, an outdoors outfitting chain. I waited in the car while he went in to shop. He came out with his catch: an aggressively patriotic American flag shirt and some high-performance camouflage shorts—perfect gear to make the scene in Okarche, a town about an hour away. There, we rolled in to Eischen’s, a legendary fried chicken parlor. Danny had first raved to me about it in New York, playing a clip from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on his phone to illustrate his point. “You start by eating the skin off the fried chicken, wrapped in white bread with bread-and-butter pickles,” he told me. “It’s almost like Peking duck.” (Read more.)
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mimi

The Archduchess Maria Christina was Marie-Antoinette's least favorite sister. Tiny-Librarian quotes their brother Leopold:
She lives for herself and refuses to associate with any of her sisters…She has a lot of talents and knows how to take advantage of the Empress’s weak spots. She commiserates with her, agrees with her, is with her at all hours and all the time, writes her notes constantly, and in this way she has won her over fully and does with her what she wishes, answering and often talking back to her, demanding a lot, and the Empress gives her what asks for so as not to agitate her, because then she shows her worst side and because she doesn’t want to lose her…She treats everyone with great haughtiness, and in the course of things, despite some occasional courtesies, she is hated and feared by everyone, because she has a sharp tongue and repeats everything to the Empress…
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Secrets of Fatima: A New Analysis

From Unveiling the Apocalypse:
In my book Unveiling the Apocalypse: Prophecy in Catholic Tradition, I argue that the real reason this "attachment" to the Third Secret was not made public alongside the text that was published in the year 2000, was because it contained precise details that related to specific dates in the future - dates which the Vatican would quite understandably be reluctant to confirm in advance. If for example, the interpretation of the Third Secret provided precise details along the lines of: "At the end of this century such and such will happen...", the Vatican would be embracing an almost impossible situation - effectively tying itself to the suggestion that a particular event would occur by an exact date, decades before said event was due to take place. Cardinal Loris Capovilla, who was secretary to St. John XXIII, confirmed that the Holy Father had refused to publish the Third Secret (or its interpretation) by the stipulated date of 1960 because he thought it might not be "entirely supernatural" (i.e. some of its content might be Sr. Lucia's own interpretation), and more importantly that it did not want to risk an "immediate interpretation" (i.e. an interpretation given in 1960) because the text contained "minute precisions" (which most likely pointed to a later date). (Read more.)
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Real Tudors

Funeral Effigy of Henry VII
A new exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in London. To quote:
The aim of the new display, by contrast, is to consider how the monarchs would have been seen in their own time. Not simply by showing portraits from the NPG collection and beyond, but by applying to them the latest tools of scientific investigation: from dendrochronology and paint sampling to X-ray and infrared reflectographs.
The display, which features several portraits of all five Tudor monarchs chronologically, is the result of seven years’ research. And, for those of us fascinated by the turbulent, high-stakes, soap-operatic lives of the dynasty’s rulers, there’s plenty of interest.
For instance, the analysis of the “Darnley portrait” of Elizabeth I from 1575: an image of the queen in her forties, painted from life and the model for countless portraits during the rest of her reign. For years, we’ve considered it proof of her imperiousness: that look so haughty and remote, that dress a rather masculine doublet. The pallidly white cheeks just added to the sense of her remoteness.
Yet, analysis reveals, in fact, that originally there was considerable red pigment in them, which has simply faded over time – the ghostly coolness being a projection onto her, as it were, by subsequent generations. Her ostensibly pale complexion was actually rather rosy.

Elsewhere, Edward VI, who reigned and died tragically young, is captured in two strikingly similar paintings: one from 1546 when he was still prince and another from 1547 when he’d just – aged nine – become king. For those playing Spot the Difference, a necklace with Prince of Wales feathers insignia is replaced by a gold collar of the Order of the Garter.

Both portraits were based on Hans Holbein’s depiction of a puffed-up Henry VIII (Edward’s father) in the Whitehall Mural. Though, in the 1547 painting, the youth’s feet are much further apart than a year earlier, meant to suggest a broad, proud, kingly posture. Interestingly, X-ray analysis of the under-drawing indicates that the feet were originally wider apart still – before the painter checked himself and brought them slightly closer together, to ensure a more credible stance for a nine-year-old boy.

Holbein’s cartoon for the mural appears just across the gallery from the two Edward pictures, and it’s one of the joys of this display seeing so many iconic portraits in such close proximity.
Some things, alas, science can’t solve. Many of the painters remain unknown, for example; just as we've no idea how many portraits of Tudor monarchs were originally painted (it’s estimated, rather tentatively, around one in three survive). Among the more impressive survivals is the lifesize head from Henry VII’s funeral-procession effigy in 1509.

It was made by the Florentine artist in England, Pietro Torrigiano, using a plaster death-mask – then a highly innovative technique. The plaster allowed for a detailed characterisation and subtle modelling one just doesn’t expect from portrait sculpture at that time. Usually tucked away in the Westminster Abbey cloisters, the experience of seeing Henry VII like this is eerily uncanny.  (Read more.)
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Norumbega

The lost refuge for English Catholics. To quote:
Over the summer of 1582 a group of English Catholic gentlemen met to hammer out their plans for a colony in North America — not Roanoke Island, Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement of 1585, but Norumbega in present-day New England.

The scheme was promoted by two knights of the realm, Sir George Peckham and Sir Thomas Gerard, and it attracted several wealthy backers, including a gentleman from the midlands called Sir William Catesby. In the list of articles drafted in June 1582, Catesby agreed to be an Associate. In return for putting up £100 and ten men for the first voyage (forty for the next), he was promised a seignory of 10,000 acres and election to one of “the chief offices in government”. Special privileges would be extended to “encourage women to go on the voyage” and according to Bernardino de Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador in London, the settlers would “live in those parts with freedom of conscience.”

Religious liberty was important for these English Catholics because they didn’t have it at home. The Mass was banned, their priests were outlawed and, since 1571, even the possession of personal devotional items, like rosaries, was considered suspect. In November 1581, Catesby was fined 1,000 marks (£666) and imprisoned in the Fleet for allegedly harboring the Jesuit missionary priest, Edmund Campion, who was executed in December. (Read more.)
Via Stephanie Mann.
 
ver the summer of 1582 a group of English Catholic gentlemen met to hammer out their plans for a colony in North America — not Roanoke Island, Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlement of 1585, but Norumbega in present-day New England.
The scheme was promoted by two knights of the realm, Sir George Peckham and Sir Thomas Gerard, and it attracted several wealthy backers, including a gentleman from the midlands called Sir William Catesby. In the list of articles drafted in June 1582, Catesby agreed to be an Associate. In return for putting up £100 and ten men for the first voyage (forty for the next), he was promised a seignory of 10,000 acres and election to one of “the chief offices in government”. Special privileges would be extended to “encourage women to go on the voyage” and according to Bernardino de Mendoza, the Spanish ambassador in London, the settlers would “live in those parts with freedom of conscience.”
Religious liberty was important for these English Catholics because they didn’t have it at home. The Mass was banned, their priests were outlawed and, since 1571, even the possession of personal devotional items, like rosaries, was considered suspect. In November 1581, Catesby was fined 1,000 marks (£666) and imprisoned in the Fleet for allegedly harboring the Jesuit missionary priest, Edmund Campion, who was executed in December.
Campion’s mission had been controversial. He had challenged the state to a public debate and he had told the English Catholics that those who had been obeying the law and attending official church services every week — perhaps crossing their fingers, or blocking their ears, or keeping their hats on, to show that they didn’t really believe in Protestantism — had been living in sin. Church papistry, as it was known pejoratively, was against the law of God. The English government responded by raising the fine for non-attendance from 12 pence to £20 a month. It was a crippling sum and it prompted Catesby and his friends to go in search of a promised land.
The American venture was undeniably risky — “wild people, wild beasts, unexperienced air, unprovided land” did not inspire investor confidence — but it had some momentum in the summer of 1582. Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I’s secretary of state, was behind it, but the Spanish scuppered it. Ambassador Mendoza argued that the emigration would drain “the small remnant of good blood” from the “sick body” of England. He was also concerned for Spain’s interests in the New World. The English could not be allowed a foothold in the Americas. It mattered not a jot that they were Catholic, “they would immediately have their throats cut as happened to the French.” Mendoza conveyed this threat to the would-be settlers via their priests with the further warning that “they were imperilling their consciences by engaging in an enterprise prejudicial to His Holiness” the Pope.
- See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2014/09/catesby-america-religious-persecution-elizabethan-england/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=oupblogreligion#sthash.2VbEff9u.dpuf(Read more.)
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Art of Neilson Carlin

Beautiful sacred masterpieces. (Via Terry Nelson.) Share

Headcoverings for Women

 EWTN has a fairly succinct summary of past and present. I never knew it was in Canon Law that men and women had to sit apart in church. To quote:
Canon Law

The 1917 Code of Canon Law. canon 1262, stated,
1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.
2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.
When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was promulgated this canon was not re-issued; indeed, canon 6, 1, abrogated it, along with every other canon of the 1917 Code not intentionally incorporated into the new legislation.
Canon 6
1. When this Code goes into effect, the following are abrogated:
     (1) the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1917;
     (2) other universal or particular laws contrary to the prescriptions of this Code, unless particular laws are otherwise expressly provided for;
     (3) any universal or particular penal laws whatsoever issued by the Apostolic See, unless they are contained in this Code;
     (4) other universal disciplinary laws dealing with a matter which is regulated ex integro by this Code.
Thus, there is no longer any canonical obligation for women to wear a head-covering, much less the more specific veil.

Moral Law

Given St. Paul's instructions in 1 Cor. 11:3-16 is there a moral obligation for women to wear head-covering, despite the revision of canon law?

Certainly, the moral obligation to dress modestly according to circumstances (e.g. approaching Holy Communion) has not been set aside. Modesty, however, can vary from place to place and time to time. As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, modesty concerns four areas of human behavior,
First, "the movement of the mind towards some excellence, and this is moderated by "humility." The second is the desire of things pertaining to knowledge, and this is moderated by "studiousness" which is opposed to curiosity. The third regards bodily movements and actions, which require to be done becomingly and honestly, whether we act seriously or in play. The fourth regards outward show, for instance in dress and the like" [ST II-II q160, a2]. 
Dress, external behavior, mannerisms, etc. are signs of the person, and become so in the cultural context in which the person lives, and in which it indicates something to others. The Christian conforms to the culture in such matters, unless sin is intrinsically involved (clothing which will have the general effect to tempt the opposite sex). Modesty is humility in dress and mannerisms, an outward sign of the disposition of the inner man. By not standing out the Christian assumes a humble posture toward his neighbors.
Whether men and women sit on opposite sides of the church, men wear a skull-cap, and women a veil, as the Jews of St. Paul's day did, is therefore ultimately a matter of modesty, and thus of custom. St. Paul even alludes to this in the Corinthians passage (v.16). When the "approved mores of the people" (1917 CIC, c1262, 2) change, the Church, desiring to be "all things to all men" (1 Cor. 9:22), can conform to those customs. Only the Magisterium is competent to determine which customs can legitimately be practiced, and where custom leaves off and divine law begins. We are always safe in following the Church, rather than our own judgment, for even if the Church makes a prudential error, it is "bound in heaven" (Mt. 16:13-18). (Read more.)
More interesting commentary, HERE. Share

Monday, September 22, 2014

The King, the Queen and the Pope

The King and Queen of Naples visiting Pope Pius VI. The Queen is Maria Carolina of Austria, Marie-Antoinette's sister. (Via Tiny-Librarian.) Share

Day of the Siege: September 11, 1683 (2012)

King Jan Sobieski and his Hussars present themselves at the Imperial Court
 
Polish poster
An Italian-Polish production, Day of the Siege: September 11, 1683 dramatizes the months leading up to the fateful Battle of Vienna, when the Ottoman Turks were defeated by the leadership and courage of the Polish King, Jan Sobieski. While much of the story is told from the point of view of the Ottoman vizier Kara Mustafa, commander of the Turkish forces, the main character is indubitably Blessed Marco d'Aviano, portrayed with fire and gentleness by F. Murray Abraham. Father Marco, whom most people may not have heard of, was truly the spiritual adviser of Emperor Leopold I, as shown in the film. The Capuchin friar did in actuality play a part in the defense of Vienna by rallying the Christian forces and encouraging them to unite against the Ottomans. The Turks, who threatened to conquer Rome and all of Europe if once the Empire fell into their hands, vastly outnumbered the armies of the Holy League. Europe would have fallen had it not been for the unflinching faith and tactical skill of Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland, whose hussars carried the image of the Black Madonna into battle. 

 The King is magnificently played by Polish actor who fills the screen and dominates every scene that he is in, leaving no doubt about the greatness of the character who is being brought to life. I wish he could have been given more screen time. I also wanted to see more of Emperor Leopold and his family, especially his sister Eleanor of Austria, whose husband Charles of Lorraine figures prominently in the battle. I did not care for the subplot about the renegade Turk who betrays his Christian wife; it seemed to take away from the genuine historical characters. That and other strange twists in the plot keep it from being the great epic film it might have been in better directorial hands. But seeing the Polish cavalry charge down the mountain definitely makes Day of the Siege worth a watch.
 
as Jan Sobieski
  and as Charles of Lorraine and Eleanor of Austria


F. Murray Abraham as Blessed Marco d'Aviano
Watch entire film, HERE. Share

Women and the Church

From the NCR:
Recent claims that the Catholic Church disregards women fail to acknowledge the Church’s critical work to support women and families around the world, say leaders in medicine, academia and global relief work.



“Anyone who thinks that the Catholic Church doesn’t support women doesn’t know much about the Church, its mission and its presence around the world,” said Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of U.S. operations for Catholic Relief Services.

“Every day, the Catholic community supports women with opportunities to strengthen their families, become better educated and build their economic and food security. Our presence across the globe, including in some of the most remote places on earth, allows us to help many women the rest of the world has left behind,” she told CNA Aug. 27.



A recent “Poverty Matters” blog post in the British daily The Guardian criticized the Church as being anti-woman. Entitled “Pope Francis has done little to improve women’s lives,” the blog post argued particularly against the Church’s stance on human sexuality.

Rosenhauer pointed to several initiatives Catholic Relief Services has started to help alleviate poverty, particularly for women and their families.

For example, the Savings and Internal Lending Communities program has provided loans to more than 1 million people — more than 80% of them women — to help start small family businesses or help women to become financially independent.

Additionally, Rosenhauer said, “Thousands of girls and women are being helped around the world every day through Church-run programs focusing on maternal and child nutrition, girls’ education and livelihoods for women, to name just a few.”

CRS runs programs that both distribute food in times of need and teach farming techniques that aid with food production and nutrition.



The Catholic Church, she continued, also provides programming, such as The Faithful House in sub-Saharan Africa, that helps strengthen families and relationships between spouses in order to help families find their basis in loving, respectful relationships.



Participants in the Faithful House, she said, “report decreased alcohol use, better management of household finances, improved budgeting and savings and the ability to pay for essential items such as school fees, household repairs and transportation.” One participant commented, “By the time our children have their own families, society will be better than it is now, because children learn from watching their parents in a loving and respectful relationship.”



The Church’s sexual teachings also help support women and families, Rosenhauer said. Catholic Relief Services’ work to teach natural family planning methods help “women adopt life-affirming ways to space births in order to reduce the risk of the mothers dying during labor and improve the chances that babies will be born healthy and thrive.”



Other organizations corroborate the Church’s emphasis on providing life-affirming development policies. In 2009, Dr. Donna Harrison, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, briefed the U.N. commissioner on human rights on the risks of promoting abortion as part of attempts to aid international development or address maternal mortality.

The provision of abortion in developing countries, Harrison wrote, “increases, not decreases, maternal mortality and morbidity in resource poor nations,” increasing the “risk of hemorrhage, infection and incomplete abortion” in such areas.

The promotion of abortion as a development policy, she continued, also diverts funds and attention from interventions that have been proven to help reduce maternal mortality and increase overall health, such as “prenatal care, skilled birth attendants, antibiotics and oxytocics.” (Read more.)
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Anne Leighton

A descendant of Mary Boleyn. To quote:
With her royal pedigree and wealthy background Anne received an education befitting her status. Along with her brother Thomas and sister Elizabeth, Anne was educated at home in Guernsey by the controversial, uncompromising, Puritan preacher, William Bradshaw. The girls also received instruction in the skills required for running their own establishments.

The association between the Leighton and St. John families was a long standing one. The John St John and his siblings were orphaned in childhood. After their father’s death in 1594, their mother Lucy married her cousin Sir Anthony Hungerford of Black Bourton. Following her death in 1598 the heir to the St John estates was made a ward of the monarch.

Queen Elizabeth granted Sir Thomas Leighton the wardship of the young John St. John and the lease of his lands after an appeal from Lady Elizabeth Leighton who stated that she and her husband were ‘minded to match him to their daughter.’ 

Sadly, whilst on holiday with Sir Thomas in 1597 John’s elder brother Walter got into difficulties bathing off the Island of Herm with a group of fellow young guests. His tutor Isaac Daubney went to his aid, but both were drowned. John subsequently succeeded to the family estate, aged just 11 years old.

Anne duly married John at St. John’s Church, Hackney on July 9, 1604. Still a ward of court, John was 19 years old. With no legal age for marriage, Anne was just 13.

It is not known when the young couple first set up home together, although the daughter of Sir John’s sister Lucy St John suggests it was soon after their marriage.

“The rest of my aunts, my mother’s sisters, were dispersed to several places, when they grew up till my uncle, Sir John St. John, being married to the daughter of Sir Thomas Laten, they were all again brought home to their brother’s house,” Lucy Hutchinson writes in her Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson.
Lucy also writes of the kindness shown by Anne to her mother, the youngest of six sisters among whom there was considerable rivalry in the matrimonial stakes – “my uncle’s wife, who had a mother’s kindnesse for her, persuaded her to remove herselfe from her sister’s envie, by going along with her to the Isle of Jernsey where her father was governor.”

The St. John family was the largest landowners in the 17th century parish of Lydiard Tregoze with the medieval deer park, numerous farms including Windmill Leaze and Wick, plus others at Shaw and parcels of land in the neighbouring parish of Lydiard Millicent.

In 1604 the medieval mansion house to which the newly married couple returned consisted of two wings linked by a central hall block. This was a period when a number of titled families were renovating their ancestral homes and in many instances it was the lady of the house who was in charge of building operations. Perhaps Anne was the driving force behind the modernisation of Lydiard House, dragging it out of the past and into the 17th century. The remodelled Palladian house as seen today was the work of her great grandson John, 2nd Viscount St. John. (Read more.)
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The Notorious Topcliffe

From Mary's Dowry Productions:
Richard Topcliffe, that infamous hater of priests, that torturer of many historical figures known and lesser known such as Jesuit Robert Southwell, John Gerard and Henry Garnet, Swithun Wells, Edmund Gennings and Polydore Plasden.  Richard Topcliffe features in many films about the lives of the English Martyrs especially 28 year old priest Plasden who was tortured and eventually hanged at the infamous triple Tyburn tree despite the attempted intervention of Sir Walter Raleigh. (Read more.)
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Franklin Expedition

The Erebus and the Terror
Sir John Franklin
 The last great expedition to search for the Northwest Passage came to a bitter end. According to Slate:
For hundreds of years, the British Admiralty had been dispatching expeditions to search for a geographic chimera, the Northwest Passage linking Europe and the Pacific by a navigable route over the top of North America. Some voyages were more successful than others, but none was able to push through hundreds of square miles of pack ice from Baffin Bay to the Bering Strait. Despite having almost nothing to show for the expeditions except nautical charts revealing where the Northwest Passage was not, the Admiralty kept the dream alive. Claiming the Northwest Passage became a matter of national pride for Victorian England.
In 1845, the Admiralty outfitted its most sophisticated expedition to date. It chose naval officer Sir John Franklin to command the voyage, even though some criticized Franklin’s age (59) and physical fitness (lacking). The ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, freshly returned from a four-year mission to Antarctica, had proven their ice-worthiness. They were fitted with locomotive steam engines and screw propellers to breeze across open water. Every modern technology was provided for the expedition’s crew of 134: a library of at least 1,200 books, a daguerreotype camera, one mechanical hand-organ per ship, three years’ worth of canned food (a recent invention), steam-heating systems to keep both vessels toasty, and even a pet monkey.

Their mission: Chart the last unexplored area of the Canadian archipelago for a likely route to the Bering Strait. They were to voyage via Lancaster Sound and Barrow Strait, filling in the final blank space on the Arctic map. What could possibly go wrong?

After leaving London, Franklin’s party stopped at a Greenland whaling post to collect supplies and discharge five sick crew members before heading into Baffin Bay. Two passing whalers hailed them on July 26, 1845. Then the Erebus and Terror vanished.

It wasn’t uncommon for Arctic voyages to last two or three years without communication home, but by 1847, the Admiralty was getting worried. The government sent a series of search-and-rescue operations, but no trace of the Franklin expedition was found until 1854. That’s when the world learned the horrifying truth. (Read more.)
From The National Post:
The two ships of the Franklin Expedition and their crews disappeared during an 1845 quest for the Northwest Passage.

They were the subject of many searches throughout the 19th century, but the mystery of exactly what happened to Franklin and his men has never been solved.

The expedition has been the subject of songs, poems and novels ever since.

“We’ve got half the story here,” said John Geiger, president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.
“It’s very exciting. It’s a big break.”

Since 2008, Parks Canada has led six major searches for the lost Franklin ships. Four vessels — the Canadian Coast Guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Kingston and vessels from the Arctic Research Foundation and the One Ocean Expedition — led the search this summer. (Read more.)
From The Guardian:
It remains one of the greatest mysteries of polar exploration. In 1845, a well-provisioned Royal Navy expedition commanded by Sir John Franklin embarked to find the North-West Passage between the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. A total of 129 officers and men set sail on Franklin's two ships, the Erebus and Terror. None returned.

The disaster was the greatest single loss of life inflicted upon any polar expedition. Only a few scattered remains – papers and bones – have since been found of Franklin's men on north Canada's frozen islands. These testify that at some point, some crewmen resorted to cannibalism in a bid to survive, a revelation that horrified Victorian Britain. As Andrew Lambert states in his biography, Franklin: Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation, the story is "a unique, unquiet compound of mystery, horror and magic".

In the intervening years, there have been many attempts to explain why Franklin's well-provisioned expedition failed, with one recent idea finding particular popularity. According to Owen Beattie and John Geiger, in their book Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition, analyses of the skeletons of three Franklin crew members, whose graves were found on Beechey Island in northern Canada, showed they had suffered from severe lead poisoning that would have had "catastrophic" consequences for themselves and for their fellow crewmen.

Lead poisoning causes abdominal pain, confusion, headache, anaemia and, in severe cases, seizures, coma and death. And, according to Beattie and Geiger, it could be traced to their ships' canned food. (The expedition carried provisions for three years.) Poorly soldered, the authors argued, the tins' food contents would have been contaminated with lead and would have poisoned the crewmen, an idea that has since achieved widespread acceptance.

Not every scientist agrees, however, and several studies have since argued that the support for the idea is poor, culminating in a paper, written by Keith Millar, Adrian Bowman and William Battersby, that is published in the current issue of the journal Polar Record. It argues that the evidence for widespread lead poisoning in the crew is questionable. "We looked at two key pieces of evidence," says Millar, of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at Glasgow University. "The analyses of the bones of the three crew men – John Torrington, John Hartnell and William Braine – who died in 1846 and who were buried on Beechey Island and a statistical study of how lead might have affected the entire crew." Beattie and Geiger found very high levels of lead in the body of Torrington, a stoker on the expedition: 226 parts per million (ppm), which was 10 times higher than samples taken from Inuit skeletons found in the area. The discovery formed a key part of Beattie and Geiger's theory.

But as Millar points out, high levels of lead were common in men and women in Victorian times. "Drinking water and food were often contaminated and some medicines also contained lead. The lead found in the men's bones could easily have been acquired at home. More to the point, there was wide variation in lead levels between the three men. It is not at all clear that it killed them, certainly not all of them"

A similar analysis of seven other skeletons of men from the Franklin expedition who died a couple of years later also found wide variations in lead in their bones. In some cases, these were well above standards that are now considered safe. Others were not, however. "There is not enough evidence to support the idea the Franklin expedition was solely wiped out by lead-contaminated food," adds Millar.

As to the real cause of the loss of the expedition, that remains open to speculation. "However, it was probably ice, not lead, that killed them," he argues. Extreme cold trapped the expedition for two winters near King William Island in northern Canada. "By the following year, provisions would have been running short.

By then, Franklin and 23 others had died. We don't know why. The surviving men had no option but to desert the ships and trek south to the mainland. But they were ill-equipped, and probably in poor health, so escape was beyond them. Their plight was desperate and all died in the attempt." (Read more.) 
Death of Sir John Franklin
More HERE.

Here is the first underwater video of one of Franklin's lost ships.

"Man Proposes, God Disposes" by Edwin Henry Landseer
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Rizzoli to Reopen

From the Wall Street Journal:
The new store will be at 1133 Broadway—that's between 25th and 26th streets—on the ground floor of the St. James Building, an 1896 Beaux-Arts structure. Rizzoli executives looked at more than 150 locations, including Brooklyn, whittled the list down to six, and then to two before choosing the space in the Nomad neighborhood. They also used focus groups to identify the best location for a high-end destination bookstore in the city. Indeed, one executive—for some reason, apparently steeped in Italian corporate tradition, he declined to be quoted by name—went on for several minutes about the delights of the area. He provided a virtual walking tour to bolster the company's belief that this is a part of town as receptive to books as Fifth Avenue was when Angelo Rizzoli opened his original shop in 1964 at Fifth Avenue and 55th Street.

At that time, Rizzoli joined as many as a half-dozen other bookstores on the avenue. The shop moved to 57th Street in 1985. The executive mentioned the nearby Nomad and Ace boutique hotels, as well as Madison Square Park; and he seemed to attribute almost talismanic importance to the fact that Rizzoli will be only two blocks from an institution that has successfully managed to bottle the essence of Italy, or at least a supercharged, Americanized version of it—Eataly, the destination food store, espresso bar and multiple dining establishment. He also cited the trend of artists, galleries and bookstores moving into an area, making it desirable, boosting real-estate prices and eventually becoming victims of their own success. Apparently the hope is that Rizzoli will add a touch of class to this stretch of Broadway, which—despite its good bones—also has its share of tacky storefronts. 

Rizzoli's 57th Street store covered three slightly cramped floors. But that was part of its charm. It was as if you were entering Henry Higgins's private library. Simply by setting foot in the emporium you felt patted on the back for your erudition and good taste. The new store will be approximately the same size—5,000 square feet—but on a single level. (Read more.)
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Friday, September 19, 2014

The Real Mary Queen of Scots

From Aleteia:
The image of Mary which comes down to us through the biased lens of Protestant history is a classic case of ‘blaming the victim.’ The Whig historians of the British Empire depicted her as weak-willed and excessively romantic – so hopeless, in fact, that she ‘deserved’ her fate.

The real Mary Stuart, however, appears to unbiased eyes as guileless and forthright, clearly possessed of intelligence and character sufficient to survive a life rife with calamity – and still to keep her wits and charm about her.

Daughter of King James V of Scotland and Mary of Guise of France, Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland at her father’s death. She was six days old. What followed were certainly her happiest years – her youth spent in the French court, educated by devoted French religious.

She was then married to the sickly Francis, son of Henry II and Catherine de Medici, whom she treated with kindness. His death two years later followed that of her own mother; she was eighteen years old.

Grieving her losses, Mary nevertheless stalwartly acknowledged her royal obligations, and left her merry France for dismal Scotland. It was a country engulfed in religious turmoil, with significant political opposition entrenched against her. The stern Puritans who followed John Knox made much of her elegant French wardrobe; she was said to have arrived with more than 20 lavish black gowns, the height of French fashion.

Regardless of their politics, however, the Scots were inevitably struck by Mary’s beauty, charm, sweetness of character and gentleness of spirit. An eyewitness relates that “In one of the … processions Mary was moving along with the rest, through a crowd of spectators, and the light from her torch fell upon her features and upon her hair in such a manner as to make her appear more beautiful than usual. A woman, standing there, pressed up nearer to her to view her more closely, and, seeing how beautiful she was, asked her if she was not an ‘angel’.”

Wishing to avoid further discord and bloodshed, Mary allowed the Scots their religious freedom.
(Read more.)
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The Strange Death of Richard the Lionhearted

From Nancy Bilyeau:
In the legends of Robin Hood, Richard is a benevolent ruler, who after being freed forgives his brother John and returns to the task of governing England. But Richard had little interest in England his whole life–he is rumored to have said, “If I could have found a buyer, I would have sold London itself”–and was passionate about going on Crusades or fighting for more French territory than he already possessed as the ruler of the Aquitaine.

Richard decided what he needed was an impregnable castle from which to defend Normandy and then retake critical French land. The vast one that he built required two years of punishing around-the-clock labor and cost an estimated £20,000, more than had been spent on any English castle in the last decade. Legend has it that while building the Chateau-Gaillard, Richard and his men were drenched with “rain of blood,” but he refused to take it as an evil omen. (Read more.)
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Caroline and Her Son

The widowed Duchesse de Berry with her son Henri, the Duc de Bordeaux. Via Vive la Reine. Their country home Rosny is in the background. Share

The Cradle of Civilization

It is ironic that the most fierce persecution of Christians is occurring in the very place where civilization began, where Abraham was first called by God, and where some of the earliest Christian communities were founded by the Apostles Simon and Jude. From Aleteia:
The human toll, of course, is the most important concern: the killing of innocent people, the rape and enslavement of women, the brutal uprooting of a population whose ancestors have lived there for untold generations.

But the story of civilization that is recorded in everything from stone tablets and sculptures of winged lions to ancient monasteries and languages is also very much at risk as the Islamic State tries to establish a caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Already, the world has witnessed the blowing up of the Tomb of Jonah, a mosque where it was thought the prophet who had preached to the Ninevites and had spent time in the belly of a great fish was buried. Now, it’s thought, priceless archaeological artifacts may be sold off, further bankrolling an already well-off jihad.


An Amnesty International report this week detailed what it calls ethnic cleansing in Iraq. Besides killing Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities, the Islamic State is forcing those minorities to leave their homelands and apparently trying to make sure there is no trace of them. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Almost French

For anyone looking for light reading about Paris, I highly recommend Sarah Turnbull's amusing memoir, Almost French. Sarah, an Australian native, meets a  Frenchman in Romania and decides to accept his invitation to visit him in Paris. While I do not recommend moving in with a perfect stranger in a foreign country, I do find Sarah's observations about French culture to be insightful. I am relieved that Americans are not the only ones who meet with obstacles in Paris while interacting with the citizens. The book also reminds me of all the things I love about Gallic culture.

Many of Ms. Turnbull's sources of angst with the French are the very reasons I have always felt so comfortable there. The French dress-up when they go out! To quote:
One of the consequences of the pervasive beauty in Paris is that it makes leaving your front door feel like you're stepping onto a stage. It calls for dressing up. Just like actors in a play, the pressure is on those who live here to look the part....In France, vanity is not a vice. Rigorous self-maintenance  is imbued from birth—it's a mark of self-pride....Sloppiness in appearance is considered a fatal disease....The essence of French style can be summed up in two words, which linked together are loaded with meaning: bon goût: Good taste. The concept has far more to do with the dazzling court of Versailles than this season's trends. It emerged during the seventeenth century, when Louis XIV built a culture of beauty, etiquette, and elegance that still dictates almost every detail of French life, from the exquisitely decorated Paris shop windows to l'art de la table. (pp. 128, 129, 130, 132-133)
At social gatherings, after many embarrassing mishaps, the author comes to realize the following:
In a country where discretion is a highly valued virtue, asking personal questions—including what someone does for a living and whether they have children—may be considered inappropriate and sometimes rude. Even at dinners with good friends, the conversation remains remarkably impersonal. And if a one-on-one chat does veer into private territory, it often has an abstract quality. This can be both liberating and limiting. While it allows much to be said without revealing too much about yourself, it also precludes the sort of open, intimate exchanges that, in my culture at least, help form close friendships. (p. 266)
The descriptions of villages, restaurants, and Parisian scenes are delightfully vivid, as is the emotional journey made by the author into the French way of seeing the world. Ms. Turnbull learns that it is better when in France to "buy less, pay more," that is, better to have fewer good quality clothes than lots of cheap ones. (p. 134) She also is confounded by how the role of women in France differs from their role in the Anglo-Saxon world, saying: "...If French women haven't fought for their rights, it's because they have traditionally been treated with respect. If women haven't shown anger toward men, it's because in [France] there is no simmering male anger toward women either." (p. 174) She comes to appreciate haute couture as being "about history and tradition, passion and beauty, art and inspiration—everything that makes France a measure of civilized life." (p.202) I enjoyed accompanying Sarah on her odyssey and feel I have a little more understanding about a country and a culture which I have long loved. Share

The Death of America's Suburban Dream

From The Guardian:
This pattern of “white flight” to the suburbs was characteristic of American metro areas until the 1970s and 1980s, when newer suburbs – bigger, more spacious, more contemporary – began stealing residents away from the older inner-ring suburbs. And by the 1990s, more minorities were beginning to follow the same aspirational path as the former white city dwellers before them. Just as previous generations did, minorities sought larger homes, quieter environments and better schools. And white residents who craved insulation from the perils of urban living now saw it coming to their front lawns – again.

The recent events in Ferguson, Missouri have brought this tension into sharp focus. Ferguson, an inner-ring suburb about 10 miles northwest of St Louis, was a city in transition long before officer Darren Wilson shot the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. In 1990, three-quarters of Ferguson’s 22,000 residents were white; just 20 years later, by 2010, nearly three-quarters of them were black. These two groups of Fergusonians share little in common. In 2012, the median age of white residents in Ferguson was nearly 49; for black residents, it was only 29. The median household income of whites was nearly $52,000; for blacks, less than $30,000. The story of Ferguson is truly a tale of two suburbs. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

St. Jeanne de Valois

From The Freelance History Writer:
Jeanne was known as Jeanne de France, Jeanne de Valois and Joan de France. She was born on April 23, 1464, the second daughter of King Louis XI, the Spider King and his second wife Charlotte of Savoy. While she was still an infant, a marriage was discussed between her and King Louis’ second cousin, Louis, Duc d’Orleans who was a child of two at the time. The King was often way from court, administering the kingdom and he entrusted Jeanne and her older sister Anne to the care of François de Beaujeu, Seigneur de Lignière and his wife Anne de Culan for their education. The Seigneur and his wife had no children so they doted on Jeanne who suffered from a visibly hunched back. They taught the girls poetry, mathematics, genealogy, embroidery, painting and how to play the lute. Jeanne is described as having a dark and plain face and a short, deformed figure. The Seigneur would hide her behind his robes when the King was approaching them on a visit. The king would exclaim how ugly Jeanne was. As Jeanne became older, her deformities became more evident.

The tutors were deeply faithful Catholics and imparted a solid grounding in faith for their entire household. When Jeanne was very young, King Louis asked his daughter to name the confessor she wanted assigned to her. The only name she knew was Friar Jean de La Fontaine, Guardian of the Franciscan community in Amboise. The king approved and La Fontaine became her confessor. Jeanne began to take great comfort in prayer and would spend many hours in the castle chapel. The Seigneur even had a path paved between the castle and the chapel to make the walk easier for Jeanne in poor weather. The Friar admitted Jeanne into the Third Order of the St. Francis. In 1471, King Louis required everyone in the kingdom to practice praying the “Hail Mary” in an effort to gain peace. Jeanne became fervently attached to this prayer. That same year, she wrote that the Virgin Mary gave her a prophecy that before she died, Jeanne would found a religious order in her honor.

Louis, Duc d’Orléans was the great-grandson of King Charles V and the son of Charles, Duc d’Orléans and had a claim to the French throne. When Louis was fourteen and considered of marriageable age and Jeanne was twelve, their marriage was discussed. The Duc was against the marriage and made this known to the king. King Louis threatened to make him a monk and hinted he could easily be killed in the guise of a monk’s habit. The Duc finally resigned himself to the marriage but told his friends it would be a marriage in name only. Jeanne approved of the marriage but was under no illusions. She was devoted to the Duc but he paid no attention to her.

The couple’s wedding celebration was performed on September 8, 1476 in Montrichard. During the ceremony the bridegroom supposedly said he would be better off dead than marrying Jeanne. After the wedding, King Louis intimidated the Duc and compelled him to visit and sleep with his wife several times a year. When the Duc once threatened to end the marriage early on, King Louis put him in prison. (Read more.)
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Walking Helps Us Think

From The New Yorker:
Since at least the time of peripatetic Greek philosophers, many other writers have discovered a deep, intuitive connection between walking, thinking, and writing. (In fact, Adam Gopnik wrote about walking in The New Yorker just two weeks ago.) “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!” Henry David Thoreau penned in his journal. “Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” Thomas DeQuincey has calculated that William Wordsworth—whose poetry is filled with tramps up mountains, through forests, and along public roads—walked as many as a hundred and eighty thousand miles in his lifetime, which comes to an average of six and a half miles a day starting from age five.

What is it about walking, in particular, that makes it so amenable to thinking and writing? The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain. Many experiments have shown that after or during exercise, even very mild exertion, people perform better on tests of memory and attention. Walking on a regular basis also promotes new connections between brain cells, staves off the usual withering of brain tissue that comes with age, increases the volume of the hippocampus (a brain region crucial for memory), and elevates levels of molecules that both stimulate the growth of new neurons and transmit messages between them.

The way we move our bodies further changes the nature of our thoughts, and vice versa. Psychologists who specialize in exercise music have quantified what many of us already know: listening to songs with high tempos motivates us to run faster, and the swifter we move, the quicker we prefer our music. Likewise, when drivers hear loud, fast music, they unconsciously step a bit harder on the gas pedal. Walking at our own pace creates an unadulterated feedback loop between the rhythm of our bodies and our mental state that we cannot experience as easily when we’re jogging at the gym, steering a car, biking, or during any other kind of locomotion. When we stroll, the pace of our feet naturally vacillates with our moods and the cadence of our inner speech; at the same time, we can actively change the pace of our thoughts by deliberately walking more briskly or by slowing down.

Because we don’t have to devote much conscious effort to the act of walking, our attention is free to wander—to overlay the world before us with a parade of images from the mind’s theatre. This is precisely the kind of mental state that studies have linked to innovative ideas and strokes of insight. Earlier this year, Marily Oppezzo and Daniel Schwartz of Stanford published what is likely the first set of studies that directly measure the way walking changes creativity in the moment. They got the idea for the studies while on a walk. “My doctoral advisor had the habit of going for walks with his students to brainstorm,” Oppezzo says of Schwartz. “One day we got kind of meta.” (Read more.)
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