Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The Lost Art of English Joinery

From Country Life:
Architectural joinery is often used to cover joints between plasterwork and timber, as well as to protect the fabric of a building from everyday use. Skirting, for example, forms a bridge between the floor and a dado rail — or chair rail — protects the plaster from wear and tear. Panelling also creates extremely effective insulation. In rooms such as kitchens, libraries, boot rooms, gun rooms and sculleries, joinery has a transformative effect, not just on a room, but also on the daily lives of the owners. 
For centuries, crafted timber has offered an opportunity to express the owner’s wealth, style and sophistication. In the 1700s, travellers would return from a grand tour with records of classical styles. London was, from Roman times, a very influential place — a melting pot of different disciplines, crafts and design ideas from around the world. 
The purest interpretation of the classical styles of Georgian detailing, for example, are therefore more likely to be found in an abode in Mayfair than in a country house. However, a wealthy squire may have been inspired by a fashionable London style and returned to his seat with pattern books and sketches. These would then be interpreted by the local joiner, resulting often in a loose interpretation of the original pattern. (Read more.)

More HERE.


Our New Civil War

From The Epoch Times:
Never before has a governance system done so much good for so many people. It’s not perfect, but that’s the beauty of our system, we have processes and methods to address injustices and our warts. This system has never existed before, and never will again if we allow the street chaos to intellectually shut us down, intimidate us, and force us to sit idly by while our incredible Constitution is placed by radical elements in the dustbin of history. 
The modern information age American Civil War is in progress. It is fundamentally a struggle between a Constitutionalist view of America and Globalist Elites who despise individual countries, desire to control societies and populations on a world-wide scale, and desire to dismiss our Constitution as an asterisk in history to be expediently used or dismissed as needed. The domestic branch of the Globalist Elites have no problem aligning themselves with the CCP if it means they can take the American White House. Very disturbing indeed. (Read more.)

Meanwhile, we have witch hunts, excommunication and iconoclasm that make those of the past ages seem tame. From Spiked:
What are No Platforming and cancel culture if not a modern form of excommunication? Qualified, competent professionals are hounded out of their jobs and publicly shamed just for uttering the wrong opinion, often simply for a misjudged choice of words. Even just the wrong pronouns
As often as not, their employer wants a quiet life, so he bows to activist pressure and sacks the target of the witch hunt. Cancel culture is excommunication. Today’s religions, however, are not the many sects of Christianity that once perforated Europe, but climate change, education, the NHS, gay rights, trans rights, the European Union and multiculturalism. Even coronavirus and the lockdown have become sacrosanct. 
Intellectuals of the right and left, from Polly Toynbee to Nigel Lawson, have described the NHS as Britain’s religion. It has replaced the Virgin Mary as the divine matriarch. Why this worship? I suggest it goes back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the state began to replace the church as the main provider of education, welfare and healthcare. After 1945, it was just a matter of time before the welfare state achieved altar status. (Read more.)

Not even Frederick Douglass is safe. From The Washington Times:
Frederick Douglass was not a slave owner, not a Confederate general, nor even a “white savior” abolitionist. His statue still was vandalized over the weekend. A Douglass statue in Rochester, New York — the site of his famous July 4 address — was damaged and removed over the Independence Day weekend, according to news reports backed by social-media pictures from the site. The statue of the famed 19th-century former slave and antebellum abolitionist had stood at Maplewood Park, Fox-2 news in St. Louis reported. According to pictures, the statue’s base was gone and bits of it were scattered around the area. (Read more.) 

We must remember that courage is a virtue. From The National Review:
It is a mistake to compare Roberts to past disappointing Republican appointees to the Court. Unlike William Brennan or John Paul Stevens, Roberts was not appointed as an obvious sop to the opposing party. Unlike David Souter, he is not a liberal who snuck on the Court without adequate vetting. Unlike Earl Warren, Warren Burger, or Sandra Day O’Connor, he is a serious legal technician, not a politician. Unlike Harry Blackmun, he is not a simpleton seduced by stronger personalities within the Court. The chief is the opposite of Anthony Kennedy, whose sin was the hubris to maximize the power of the federal courts and his own votes in nearly every case. Roberts remains what he was before his appointment, a conventional conservative legal theorist who believes in many of the doctrines and judicial philosophies one would hear at any Federalist Society gathering.
But courage is lacking. Over and over again, Roberts has failed to follow through on the rule of law. His defenders point to his big-picture vision of judicial modesty and incrementalism: that conservatives should avoid big, wrenching moves, and build small victories in doctrine today that will accumulate to larger ones tomorrow. But in law, as in politics, tomorrow never comes without courage today. Worse, Roberts has on occasion written or joined opinions in big cases that forced large changes (as in the Bostock decision on Title VII) or did violence to doctrine (as in the King v. Burwell decision on Obamacare exchanges) in order to reach results that momentarily appeased the Left. It is all too apparent that Roberts can be cowed by the Democrats’ frequent and noisy threats to pack the courts or otherwise poison their credibility and legitimacy with the public. By caving to such threats, he only invites more of them.
Worse, a movement is beginning to grow among social conservatives to give up on the entire project of stocking the courts with Federalist Society–style originalists and textualists, on the theory that they will simply fold in a tight spot. Roberts is Exhibit A. Senator Josh Hawley issued a shot across the bow a few days ago on this theme regarding Bostock. These voices on the right are arguing openly for a more results-driven jurisprudence — a project that would do violence to the things Roberts cherishes, and would also inevitably be a fight the Right could only lose. Failures of judicial courage can also dispirit conservative voters, as happened in 1992 after Casey. Why labor in the vineyards of politics to appoint judges who know the right thing to do but lack the strength of character to do it? (Read more.)

Trade in Ancient Egypt

From Ancient Origins:
Along with a lust for building enigmatic and long lasting structures, trade was an important feature of Ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians traded with many lands that bordered their country, including Nubia, Libya, and the Levant. Additionally, trade in Ancient Egypt was also conducted with peoples from faraway lands, including Greece, Mesopotamia, and the mysterious Land of Punt. As a result of trade, the ancient Egyptians were able to obtain a variety of exotic goods from these foreign lands. More importantly, trade was one of the ways that allowed the ancient Egyptians to make contact with the wider world. Such contact not only facilitated the flow of goods into Egypt, but also people and ideas. Ancient Egyptian trade is attested in many forms, including archaeological remains, literary sources, and artistic representations.

Contact between Egypt and neighboring lands is seen as early as the prehistoric period. Graves from the Neolithic Badarian culture (which flourished between the 6 th and 5 th millennium BC), for instance, contain shells from the Red Sea. Additionally, copper ore from either the Eastern Desert or the Sinai have also been discovered. Although it is not entirely clear how the Badarians obtained these foreign goods, it may have been through trade in Ancient Egypt. (Read more.)

Monday, July 6, 2020

The Synagogue and the King

In 1787 Louis XVI gave full civil rights to Protestants and Jews in the Edict of Versailles. But even before the edict, the king practiced toleration. From The Times of Israel:
The monumental synagogue built from pink sandstone from Vosges and decorated with royal symbols in honor of Louis XVI’s recognition of the Jewish community, cannot be seen on the 1915 photo. In the 18th century you could not have known what was behind this street and the actual building itself would not have been identifiable as a synagogue from the outside. It was tolerated to be built on condition that gatherings were held discreetly.
Visibility is everything. They had to function in a material context in which their Jewishness was officially hidden. There was no visible public status, and, in this way, the community was almost imaginary and preserved their sense of Jewishness in secret. The permission of the king to build a synagogue allowed them to practice their religion more openly. But the non-public appearance of the building was aimed to hide the rituals and beliefs. They were only permitted to carry out the outwards forms in a secret building.
That what had disappeared by the fire, revealed a Jewish building, previously absent. So, to speak, the synagogue came out of hiding after the arson attack. The destruction created visibility and as the vanished buildings were not replaced, anyone could read the words “To the God of Israel, by permission of the King of France, the year 1786” (“Au Dieu d’Israël, par permission du Roy de France, l’an 1786”) on the front of the synagogue. Even though a light was cast on the synagogue, it was not until in recent years that the French façade text was replaced by one written in Hebrew. (Read more.)

More HERE. Share

The History of Antifa, Parts I and II

From The Gatestone Institute:
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has blamed Antifa — a militant "anti-fascist" movement — for the violence that has erupted at George Floyd protests across the United States. "The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly," he said.
Barr also said that the federal government has evidence that Antifa "hijacked" legitimate protests around the country to "engage in lawlessness, violent rioting, arson, looting of businesses, and public property assaults on law enforcement officers and innocent people, and even the murder of a federal agent." Earlier, U.S. President Donald J. Trump had instructed the U.S. Justice Department to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.
Academics and media outlets sympathetic to Antifa have argued that the group cannot be classified as a terrorist organization because, they claim, it is a vaguely-defined protest movement that lacks a centralized structure. Mark Bray, a vocal apologist for Antifa in America and author of the book "Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook," asserts that Antifa "is not an overarching organization with a chain of command."
Empirical and anecdotal evidence shows that Antifa is, in fact, highly networked, well-funded and has a global presence. It has a flat organizational structure with dozens and possibly hundreds of local groups. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Department of Justice is currently investigating individuals linked to Antifa as a step to unmasking the broader organization. (Read more.)

Part II, also  from The Gatestone Institute:
U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced that the American government would designate Antifa — a militant "anti-fascist" movement — as a terrorist organization due to the violence that erupted at George Floyd protests across the United States. The Code of Federal Regulations (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85) defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."
American media outlets sympathetic to Antifa have jumped to its defense. They argue that the group cannot be classified as a terrorist organization because, they claim, it is a vaguely-defined protest movement that lacks a centralized structure. As the following report shows, Antifa is, in fact, highly networked, well-funded and has a clear ideological agenda: to subvert, often with extreme violence, the American political system, with the ultimate aim of replacing capitalism with communism. In the United States, Antifa's immediate aim is to remove President Trump from office.
Gatestone Institute has identified Antifa groups in all 50 U.S. states, with the possible exception of West Virginia. Some states, including California, Texas and Washington, appear to have dozens of sub-regional Antifa organizations. It is difficult precisely to determine the size of the Antifa movement in the United States. The so-called "Anti-Fascists of Reddit," the "premier anti-fascist community" on the social media platform Reddit, has approximately 60,000 members. The oldest Antifa group in America, the Portland, Oregon-based "Rose City Antifa," has more than 30,000 Twitter followers and 20,000 Facebook followers, not all of whom are necessarily supporters. "It's Going Down," a media platform for anarchists, anti-fascists and autonomous anti-capitalists, has 85,000 Twitter followers and 30,000 Facebook followers. (Read more.)

The Oldest and Largest Structure in the Maya Region

From The National Geographic:
An enormous 3,000-year-old earthen platform topped with a series of structures, including a 13-foot-high pyramid, has been identified as the oldest and largest monumental construction discovered in the Maya region, according to a paper published today in the journal Nature. It’s the latest discovery to support the emerging view that some of the earliest structures built in the Maya region were significantly larger than those built more than a millennium later during the Classic Maya period (250-900 A.D.), when the empire was at its peak.
The discovery took place in Mexico’s Tabasco State at the site of Aguada Fénix, about 850 miles east of Mexico City. It is in a region known as the Maya lowlands, from which the Maya civilization began to emerge.

In 2017, researchers conducted a LiDAR survey that detected the platform and at least nine causeways leading up to it. The groundbreaking laser technology typically is used from aircraft to “see” structures beneath dense tree canopy below, but in this case it revealed a stunning discovery sitting unnoticed in plain sight in Tabasco’s semi-forested ranch lands for centuries, if not millennia. (Read more.)

Sunday, July 5, 2020

1913 Gettysburg Reunion

If they could get over it then we should be able to. From Wikipedia:
The 1913 Gettysburg reunion was a Gettysburg Battlefield encampment of American Civil War veterans for the Battle of Gettysburg's 50th anniversary. The June 29–July 4 gathering of 53,407 veterans (~8,750 Confederate)[1] was the largest ever Civil War veteran reunion, and "never before in the world's history [had] so great a number of men so advanced in years been assembled under field conditions" (Chief Surgeon).[2]:60 All honorably discharged veterans in the Grand Army of the Republic and the United Confederate Veterans were invited, and veterans from 46 of the 48 states attended[3] (cf. Nevada and Wyoming).[4][5]
Despite official concerns "that there might be unpleasant differences, at least, between the blue and gray"[6] (as after England's War of the Roses and the French Revolution),[7] the peaceful reunion was repeatedly marked by events of Union–Confederate camaraderie.[8] President Woodrow Wilson's July 4 reunion address summarized the spirit: "We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten—except that we shall not forget the splendid valor." (Read more.)

 More HERE.

From Real Clear Defense:
 As historians James Hessler and Britt Isenberg suggest in their brilliantly cast and elegantly written Gettysburg’s Peach Orchard, Lee’s July 2nd order to First Corps commander James Longstreet—that two of his divisions should attack “up the Emmitsburg Road” and occupy the high ground of the orchard that borders it—was given with Chancellorsville in mind.[5] After much debate, and the dispatch of scouting parties, Lee supposed the federal position on the Emmitsburg Road was as exposed at Gettysburg as Hooker’s was at Chancellorsville and that, as crucially, the high ground of the Sherfy Peach Orchard was a second Hazel Grove. Overrunning the orchard “would destroy Federal resistance and thereby compel enemy troops to retreat. If not withdrawn, the Union defenders might be so demoralized that Longstreet’s infantry might sweep them from the field,” Hessler and Isenberg note. “If [rebel artillery Colonel E.P.] Alexander then rolled his guns into the captured orchard, and unleashed hell on Cemetery Ridge beyond, the tactical situation would resemble a replay of Hazel Grove.”[6] As it turns out, Robert E. Lee wasn’t the only commander who viewed the Peach Orchard as a second Hazel Grove. Union Third Corps commander Daniel Sickles—who had his own vivid memories of Chancellorsville—took the same view and so, a short time before Longstreet’s attack, deployed his divisions to occupy it, thereby creating a nearly indefensible salient in the Union line in the shape, from the Union Army’s perspective, of an inverted V—and seeding a debate on his generalship that lasts to this day.[7] (Read more.)

President Trump’s Historic, Anti-Marxist Speech at Mount Rushmore

The President's speech, in full. From The National Pulse:
Our Founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity.  No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America.  And no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation.
It was all made possible by the courage of 56 patriots who gathered in Philadelphia 244 years ago and signed the Declaration of Independence.  They enshrined a divine truth that changed the world forever when they said: “…all men are created equal.” These immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom.  Our Founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights — given [to] us by our Creator in Heaven.  And that which God has given us, we will allow no one, ever, to take away — ever. (Read more.)

From The American Thinker:
President Trump delivered the speech of his presidency at Mount Rushmore Friday, a magnificent affirmation to Americans on their 244th national birthday that what they have always cherished is still cherished, along with a warning shot to those who hate and despise all the United States stands for. It was non-partisan — there was no mention of Democrats or Joe Biden. It was inclusive — celebratory of people of all races, and celebratory in particular of the singularity of America being great for such diversity. It was also big-hearted, magnanimous, celebrating all the range of achievements of the country. Yet it also did the thing Trump does best, which is to call out and identify authentic enemies, stating that he knows who they are, what their game is, and that he won't let them win. In this era, that was necessary shadow. (Read more.)


The Rise and Fall of Ghislaine Maxwell

From The New York Post:
Thursday’s arrest of accused Jeffrey Epstein “madam” Ghislaine Maxwell caps a spectacular fall from grace for the once-well-connected British socialite — who spent much of her life clawing her way back into the upper crust from family scandal. Born in December 1961, she grew up one of seven children of publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, who saw himself as the UK’s Joseph P. Kennedy — the head of a family dynasty that would wield international influence in finance and politics, according to the Telegraph. Ghislaine, his youngest daughter, was considered the “favorite” and would often try to please the cold, demanding patriarch.
“He would interrogate them at the dinner table about history or geopolitics,” one frequent guest at the family’s estate in southern England told the Telegraph. “He could reduce them to tears if they didn’t know an answer. He could be a cold man and the temperature in the house dropped noticeably when he was there.” Ghislaine was sent to Marlborough, one of England’s top private schools, and then studied at Oxford University, the outlet reported. (Read more.)

From Trending Politics:
Hoffenberg served 18 years in jail for conducting one of the largest Ponzi schemes in United States history with Epstein. He is now saying that Maxwell will "totally cooperate" with federal investigators to avoid maximum jail time. 
“They knew where she was all the time [in New Hampshire],” Hoffenberg said. “It was a question if America was going to take the case or not, now America has made up its mind to take the case.” 
Hoffenberg, who still has contact with the spokesperson to Maxwell, says that Maxwell did not think she would ever be arrested. 
“If they keep her in prison, she’ll crack in two seconds,” he said. “She’s not able to take that sort of cruel punishment, prison is too tough and hard, she’ll have to be in solitary confinement, and she’ll snap.” 
“She’s going to cooperate and be very important,” he continued, adding that things may get very bad for some prominent people like the UK’s Prince Andrew. “Andrew may be very concerned, and there’s a lot of people very worried, a lot of powerful people been named [in the scandal], and she knows everything.” (Read more.) 

More HERE. Share

Islam and the Revolutionary Age

From Age of Revolutions:
Why was this letter of such importance that it entered the political record? In the preceding five years of the French Revolution, Islam had become part of revolutionary symbolism and geo-politics. By 1795, Muslims were powerfully associated with the universalizing vision of the Revolution, at a moment when the early defeats of the Republic had given way to stunning victories. Claims about potential Muslim support were crucial for those who sought to expand the revolution beyond Europe. And such global visions helped to distract from the bloody violence of 1794-5, the period known as the “Terror” and its aftermath. Muslim participation underlined the religious plurality of the new regime, countering attempts to rebuild the shattered Catholic church that had dominated France for centuries. And the grain D’Ghies promised to ship from North Africa was crucial to staving off the threat of famine in southern France, and preventing further unrest. (Read more.)

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Damaged King Louis Statue

Statue of Louis XVI in Louisville
Louis XVI helped America win independence. From WHAS11:
During the first night of protests in downtown Louisville, a protester broke the hand off of Louisville’s King Louis XVI statue, and now many are asking questions about it. Here are a few facts about King Louis XVI (16th):
  • The Carrara marbled sculpture was sculpted in 1829 for the king’s daughter Marie Therese, the queen dowager of France.
  • The Second French Revolution endangered the statue. It was placed at a military base for protection, then made its way to Montpellier University and finally ending up in the municipal archives’ storage basement.
  • Officials discovered the statue with a damaged arm in 1899 and was in disrepair.
  • It remained in storage until officials decided to give it to Louisville in 1966.
  • The statue took a 7-month journey from Montpellier to Louisville.
  • It was presented as a gift to the City of Louisville on July 17, 1967 to then Republican Mayor Kenneth Schmeid.
  • The statue is located at 6th and Jefferson in front of Louisville Metro Hall.
  • The statue weighs 9-tons and it’s 12-feet high.
(Read more.)

From Royal Central:
His Royal Highness Prince Louis Alphonse of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou, was the first to comment on the case. He is the Legitimist pretender to the French throne. The Prince made the following statement: “As the heir of Louis XVI, and attached to the defence of his memory, I do hope that the damage will be repaired and that the statue will be restored. I already thank the Authorities for the measures they will take for doing so”. 
His Royal Highness Prince Jean, the Count of Paris, also reacted to the vandalism of the statue. He is, according to the Orléanists, the legitimate claimant to the throne of France. Prince Jean wrote in a statement: “The hand of Louis XVI is the one that helped the US people to gain its freedom. I strongly regret this act of disrespect towards our common history. The loss of George Floyd’s life is far more serious than any material degradation. Few people know that Louis XVI abolished torture in 1780. I am convinced Louis would have been on George’s side”. 
A business owner was killed in Louisville during protests on Sunday night when police and National guard fired into a crowd. (Read more.)
Meanwhile, arrests have been made.

Modern Slavery and Woke Hypocrisy

From The Gatestone Institute:
What is not apparent is how attacking old statues of people who have been long dead is supposed to help anyone, especially millions of black and non-black people, who are still enslaved today. It would appear that the woke activists of BLM and their many kneeling supporters do not care about the plight of modern slaves, of which there are an estimated whopping 40 million today. Evidently, it is far easier, and presumably more pleasurable, to destroy Western historical monuments than to embark on the difficult work of actually abolishing modern slavery. [Bold letters added.]
In the UK itself, there is a shocking range of modern slavery, something that the local wokesters are happy to ignore as they bravely attack statues of stone and metal. According to the UK government's 2019 Annual Report on Modern Slavery, there are at least 13,000 potential victims of slavery in the UK, although as that number dates back to 2014, it is questionable. According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, there are an estimated 136,000 people living in modern slavery just in Britain. Slavery in the UK takes the form of forced labor, and domestic and sexual exploitation. Albanians and Vietnamese are among the groups that constitute the majority of slaves.
British news outlets have run several stories about the estimated thousands of Vietnamese, half under the age of 18, who are kidnapped and trafficked to the UK where they are forced to work as slaves on cannabis farms. There, they form a small part of the "vast criminal machine that supplies Britain's £2.6bn cannabis black market". Those who are not forced to work in the cannabis industry are enslaved in "nail bars, brothels and restaurants, or kept in domestic servitude behind the doors of private residences". In January, BBC news ran a story about a Vietnamese boy named Ba, who was kidnapped by a Chinese gang and trafficked to the UK, where his Chinese boss starved him and beat him whenever one of the cannabis plants failed.
BLM may not care much about Vietnamese lives in the UK -- after all, they are all about black lives, so how about black slaves in Africa? There are currently an estimated 9.2 million men, women and children living in modern slavery in Africa, according to the Global Slavery Index, which includes forced labor, forced sexual exploitation and forced marriage.
"According to the U.N.'s International Labor Organization (ILO), there are more than three times as many people in forced servitude today as were captured and sold during the 350-year span of the transatlantic slave trade", Time Magazine reported in March 2019. According to the ILO, modern slavery has seen 25 million people in debt bondage and 15 million in forced marriage. (Read more.)

Is BLM being taken over by white people? More HERE. Share

The Persecution of Christians, May 2020

From The Gatestone Institute:
From January 2020 to mid-May 2020, Muslim terrorists massacred at least 620 Christians (470 by Fulani herdsmen and 150 by Boko Haram). According to a May 14 report:
"Militant Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram ... have intensified their anti-Christian violence ... with hacking to death in the past four months and half of 2020 of no fewer than 620 defenseless Christians, and wanton burning or destruction of their centers of worship and learning. The atrocities against Christians have gone unchecked and risen to alarming apogee with the country's security forces and concerned political actors looking the other way or colluding with the Jihadists. Houses burnt or destroyed during the period are in their hundreds; likewise dozens of Christian worship and learning centers."
The report further states that, since 2009, "not less than 32,000 Christians have been butchered to death by the country's main Jihadists." Earlier this year, Christian Solidarity International issued a "Genocide Warning for Christians in Nigeria," in response to the "rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as 'infidels' by Islamist militants..." More recently, in a May statement, the Christian Rights Agenda, another human rights group, expressed concern for "the seeming silence of Nigeria's President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces has not only failed to protect the Christian communities but has remained silent over these killings. To date, no Fulani herdsmen have been arrested and prosecuted over the killings, a development that has helped to embolden them." It is worth noting that Buhari himself is a Fulani Muslim.

Separately, the Muslim man who murdered Michael Nnadi, an 18-year-old seminarian at the Good Shepherd Seminary, confessed from his jail cell that he did so because the youth "continued preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ" to his captors. According to the May 3 report, "the first day Nnadi was kidnapped ... he did not allow [Mustapha Mohammed, his murderer] to have peace" due to his relentless preaching of the Gospel. Mohammed "did not like the confidence displayed by the young man and decided to send him to an early grave." (Read more.)

Solar Activity Heating Up

As the Sun moves through its natural 11-year cycle, in which its activity rises and falls, sunspots rise and fall in number, too. NASA and NOAA track sunspots in order to determine, and predict, the progress of the solar cycle — and ultimately, solar activity. Currently, scientists are paying close attention to the sunspot number as it’s key to determining the dates of solar minimum, which is the official start of Solar Cycle 25. This new sunspot activity could be a sign that the Sun is possibly revving up to the new cycle and has passed through minimum.

However, it takes at least six months of solar observations and sunspot-counting after a minimum to know when it’s occurred. Because that minimum is defined by the lowest number of sunspots in a cycle, scientists need to see the numbers consistently rising before they can determine when exactly they were at the bottom. That means solar minimum is an instance only recognizable in hindsight: It could take six to 12 months after the fact to confirm when minimum has actually passed.

This is partly because our star is extremely variable. Just because the sunspot numbers go up or down in a given month doesn’t mean it won’t reverse course the next month, only to go back again the month after that. So, scientists need long-term data to build a picture of the Sun’s overall trends through the solar cycle. Commonly, that means the number we use to compare any given month is the average sunspot number from six months both backward and forward in time — meaning that right now, we can confidently characterize what October 2019 looks like compared to the months before it (there were definitely fewer sunspots!), but not yet what November looks like compared to that (Read more.)

Friday, July 3, 2020

Mazes of Misery

How grand London homes became tenements for the poor. From History Extra:
In London, as in the nation’s other great cities, slums existed in various forms and in multiple places – dismal enclaves of desperation and squalor, both small and large, scattered across the cityscapes. Near what is today King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, for example, stood Agar Town, a maze of narrow, muddy streets lined with shanty houses. As the homes of Agar Town were built on land leased for just 21 years, they were constructed to miserably low standards. Some were even been built by their impoverished inhabitants from whatever materials they were able to procure. 
Agar Town was in effect a purpose-built slum. Yet if a modern visitor were able to embark upon a tour of the Victorian slums, what might surprise them most is the size and grandeur of the many slum houses. This feature of the slums, one that was commentated upon by reformers, journalists and so-called ‘social explorers’, had come about because some slums had emerged when middle-class districts of the cities, their streets lined with desirable residences, fell out of fashion and were abandoned by the well-to-do. Frederick Engels, who visited St Giles a few years before the residents of the Rookery sent their letter to The Times, recalled seeing “tall, three or four-storied houses” that were “occupied from cellar to garret, filthy within and without, and their appearance is such that no human being could possibly wish to live in them”. (Read more.)

Big Tech’s War on Speech

From The National Pulse:
The regime that Facebook and the other tech giants have assembled over the past four years is not based on any discernible principle of acceptable online behavior; it is a concerted effort to draw a line on the right side of the political spectrum beyond which no speech is permissible. If the far-left is allowed to use violent imagery and provocative language with no repercussion while silencing anyone who merely questions leftist dogma, the entire political left, including the Democrat Party, benefits.

The “chilling effect” of censorship on free and open discourse is very real. If one side — liberals, Democrats, and Trump-haters — knows that it can freely push the boundaries and the other side — conservative, libertarians, Republicans, and Trump supporters — knows that it will be silenced, then the former is going to be at a distinct advantage. (Read more.)

Ancient Roman Mosaic

From Abandoned Spaces:
As we mentioned above, the excavations started in October. During all these months, archaeologists only managed to delineate the lines of the ancient Domus. However, that wasn’t exactly noteworthy. Then, it all changed when they saw the stunning mosaic floors. Now, they are working on excavating the entire floor. City officials, meanwhile, are trying to make the site available to the public. However, that may require some time as it needs a lot of funding.Verona was an extremely significant settlement during ancient Rome. As it was located at the junction of four major roads, it had a strategic location. And Verona itself has quite a rich history too. So, it comes as no surprise that such artifacts are uncovered from there. (Read more.)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Imperial Opals

 From The Court Jeweller:
Wedding gifts from all over the Austro-Hungarian empire poured in for the new crown princess. The City of Budapest offered Stephanie a unique suite of jewels set with rubies, diamonds, and Hungarian opals. Lisa, the reader who visited the Hofburg and has generously shared her photos with all of us, told me, "Personally, I thought the opals to be extremely luminous." In recognition of Stephanie's family, the suite incorporates the golden lion of Belgium, as well as the coat of arms of the City of Budapest. Overall the set's design owed much to traditional Hungarian jewels; it was reportedly inspired specifically by a set owned by a sixteenth-century Queen of Hungary, Isabella Jagiellon. The new set of jewels was placed on public display in Budapest on April 25, 1881. (Read more.)

Talbot Boys: Take It Down Already!

My letter to the Star-Democrat in response to an ongoing controversy about a civil war statue they are all crazy about taking down:
To the Editor: 
The purpose of art is to uplift and inspire. If the Talbot Boys statue in front of the court house is causing angst among the citizens of Talbot County, then it needs to go. It is not worth such anguish. I never noticed the statue until people started writing the paper about it. I was always captivated by the magnificent statue of the great orator, author, and diplomat Frederick Douglass. When I finally did notice the Talbot Boys I would never have known that it honored Confederate veterans except for the controversy.
What did strike me, when I finally decided to see the statue up close, is that the soldier boy is holding a furled banner in surrender, as if he is surrendering to Frederick Douglass. My initial impression was that the Talbot Boys statue symbolizes Southern humiliation and defeat; there is nothing triumphant about it. In fact, it gives context to the statue of the true hero, Frederick Douglass, for it symbolizes what Mr. Douglass was up against. On that spot men, women and children were sold at auction, as in that court house, bills of sale for human beings were recorded. Mr. Douglass not only overcame incredible obstacles but he acquired the prestige that few people, of any color, ever received. He was honored at the White House; he lectured around the world. He is the pride of Talbot County. The Talbot Boys statue is a nonentity in comparison.
When the Talbot Boys was originally erected, why did they not also put up a statue to those who fought for the Union? Surely there were men from Talbot County who fought for the Union? I come from Frederick County, where we had brother fight against brother. I know that many of the boys who fought for the Confederacy did not have enslaved persons at their homes and in fact had nothing to do with slavery. They saw their state as their country; it was being invaded, as they saw it. Similarly, of the men  who fought for the Union, some of them had enslaved persons at home. We forget that in Washington City a huge slave market operated in front of the White House during the first year of the Civil War. Furthermore, in the North, Irish children were forced to work in factories and coal mines, forced to work or starve. But I would not blame young Union soldiers for those injustices; they fought to preserve the Union, making great sacrifices to do so.
Why did the Talbot Boys statue not come down during the Civil Rights movement? I guess it was because Congress had passed a law that all veterans were to be honored, no matter what side they had fought for, in order to bring healing. But if the wounds are opening again, then perhaps a certain general was right when he said that there should be no Confederate monuments, at all. The money was better spent on education. Perhaps the attention given to a statue should instead be focused on ending the modern slavery of human trafficking, which is going on in our own state. It is a situation which we have the power to fix, now. We can't fix the broken past. But we can end the varieties of human exploitation that are destroying lives all around us.


Barr and Durham Must Investigate Obama & Biden

From The Epoch Times:
Roughly a week ago Attorney General William Barr made two noteworthy comments in an interview with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo. The first was that we would likely learn some significant information from John Durham’s investigation into the provenance and conduct of the Russia probe by end of summer. The implication was that some people were going to be in legal jeopardy. Barr didn’t name them but we can imagine Messrs. Brennan, Comey, Clapper, Strzok, McCabe and so on could be among them.
It’s also noteworthy how these same individuals have suddenly been less in the public eye, not appearing ad nauseam on MSNBC and CNN and sparing us their tweets (mostly), perhaps on advice of counsel. All to the good. May justice finally be served. But Barr’s second major point raised some eyebrows in conservative and libertarian circles. He averred that former president Barack Obama and former vice president Joe Biden were not under investigation.
One can imagine his reasons. The attorney general has long said he wants to take the politics out of justice and he could fear, with some justification, that indicting (or doing something similar to) Obama and/or Biden would divide a country already riven as never since the Civil War. Of course that didn’t stop the other side that investigated, and continues to investigate, President Trump until the proverbial cows come home, but, as Gandhi famously told us, an eye for an eye has got to stop somewhere.
Nevertheless, something is wrong here, increasingly wrong as we were reminded just the other day by the release of yet another heretofore “lost” (or was it missing?) page of notes—riddled with redactions, needless to say—from the Department of Justice, this one the scribblings of disgraced FBI Lothario Peter Strzok himself. Strzok was reporting on what he heard of the January 2017 Oval Office meeting with the then president and vice president, James Comey (still director of the FBI) and that woman of preternatural loyalty Susan Rice.
The topic du jour was Trump’s national security adviser in waiting Michael Flynn and his (supposedly suspicious) private phone calls with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. Obama, Ms. Rice informs us ad infinitum in an email she suddenly saw fit to send to herself weeks later, insisted that the investigation of General Flynn be conducted “by the book.”
Strangely, however, Stzrok quotes the president—yes, it’s second hand—as saying he wanted the “right people” to conduct the investigation. En anglais, that’s significantly different from “by the book.” In the same notes, Stzrok writes there was “no derogatory” evidence Flynn committed a crime and that Comey indicated the phone calls to Kislyak “appear legit.” Nevertheless, as we know, the investigation went on. And on. Obama must have gotten the “right people.” As for his sidekick Mr. Biden, he apparently urged Flynn be investigated for breaking the Logan Act, that obscure hundreds-year-old law that is never utilized and many think is unconstitutional—not that that would have particularly bothered the vice president who is known to have plagiarized in law school.
The impetus of much of this back and forth reported by Strzok, which I tend to believe all the more since it was hidden from the public for so long, was Obama’s deep hatred of Flynn, the enemy of the former president’s sainted Iran Deal, among other putative sins, making him the equivalent in Obama’s eyes, as he told Trump, of Kim Jung-un. Talk about motivation for a crime.
Okay, none of this is necessarily probative but it is far more than what we are told launched the entire Russia probe in the first place, a vague and innocuous conversation between retired Australian politician Alexander Downer and Trump campaign outlier George Papadopoulos. Which brings us back to the attorney general and his responsibility. Barr must know that without a full investigation that includes Obama and Biden this incredible story of possible treason will never be put to rest. If Obama is to skate, if this all wasn’t at heart and at base Obamagate, as many call it, then Obama must be fully exonerated by Barr and Durham. They must explain to us how this could have happened without him. (Read more.)

From The American Thinker:
The media is too busy campaigning for Biden and seeking to destroy Trump to cover this bombshell of a story. After all, Stone only got forty months and Bolton has a book. They are also spending every day trying to keep the country in a depression to help Biden win. The reason that Barr is being attacked every day is because he and Durham are seeking the truth and the media and other Democrats have been lying continuously and don’t want the truth to come out. They certainly don’t care about the rule of law and equal treatment under the law. If anyone wants to see how massive and extensive corruption at the Justice Department has been for a long time, read the book Licensed to Lie by the great Sidney Powell, who finally got justice for a decorated retired General. I thought the media and other democrats said all generals should be respected. (Read more.)

From Townhall:
There will be no mass rallies for Joe Biden this year, and that’s not because of the coronavirus. It’s because Biden can't command those types of crowds, except maybe for one or two well-hyped events in late October with enough celebrities and musicians to arouse attendees. Joe Biden is no longer the left’s representative, and not just because, it brings me no joy to say this, Biden is likely incapable of being anyone’s representative or being the one roused for that 3 a.m. phone call.

There’s a reasonable criticism of the Democratic Party’s primary process and the type of candidates the order of state primaries produces. But there’s something else afoot. This isn’t just about Biden’s ability to ride a moderate message to the White House and be a barely operational figurehead acceptable to Iowans and those free citizens of New Hampshire.

The difference is that even while the Bidenization of the protest movement is afoot, the energy and the aims have now been successfully co-opted by the white elites who compose one of two planks within the Democratic Party. Their anger and their issues are now center stage. They were mad when they declared themselves occupiers and trashed our parks and public spaces. They were mad when they declared themselves the resistance. And a year from now, they’ll embrace another slogan or moniker and leave Ahmaud Arbery’s family grieving at home. (Read more.) 

Breaking the Renaissance Myth

From The New Statesman:
The publishers of Catherine Fletcher’s book have described it as an “alternative history of the Italian Renaissance”, but it is in fact a finely-written, engaging and clear essay in rather straightforward narrative history. It is none the worse for that, but is it really the case that we have failed to notice the “stranger and darker” side of Italian politics in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, as they suggest?
Professor Fletcher’s introductory chapter quite rightly notes that we are familiar enough with the stereotype of violent and corrupt machinations in Italian courts of the period (thanks to historical soaps about the Borgias and the Tudors), and that we need to penetrate more fully those systemic aspects of the society that colluded with or promoted slavery, sexual exploitation and the like. This book succeeds admirably in highlighting some of the features and figures of the period that have indeed slipped below (or never been spotted on) the radar.
Fletcher is particularly good, for example, on the initially surprising fact that women were more likely to wield political influence in princely states than in republics (think of the formidable figures of Lucrezia Borgia or Isabella d’Este). Elections in republics reflected classical prototypes that gave no public role to women. Elective rule typically produced a whole cohort of male leaders, in contrast to the princely state where a ruler’s spouse was expected to pick up the reins when her husband was away at war. Princely and aristocratic wives who ran their husband’s domain in their absence or after their death constitute a formidable cohort of influential rulers. (Read more.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Madame Récamier: Some Interesting Facts

From Geri Walton:
Socialite Madame Récamier became inextricably intertwined with François-René de Chateaubriand, a French writer and historian who founded Romanticism in French literature. She fell in love with him soon after her best friend, Madame de Staël, died. Juliette relationship with Chateaubriand seemed unusual as he was reported to have been a demanding, difficult, and self-centered windbag whereas most people thought of Juliette as being as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. Chateaubriand, who called her Leonie, became smitten and once mentioned how he thought of her:
Leonie is tall, her figure is charming. Leonie is beautiful. What makes her face so rarely beautiful is the oval line which one sees in Raphael’s women alone. It expresses the sweetness, the delicacy and the kindness. The soul and character of Leonie are noticeable for the same qualities of beauty. But the special feature about her personality is a piquant spirit and a romantic imagination, in contrast with her natural tranquil manner. At times her words are impassioned, while her face is timid and naïve. One finds there a mixture of the virgin and the muse. One falls with love at her feet, and she holds you there, filled with respect.
(Read more.)


Skills Over Degree

From USA Today:
A college degree will no longer give Americans a leg up when seeking some jobs with the federal government. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Friday that will overhaul the government’s hiring practices so that a job applicant’s skills will be given priority over a college degree. Administration officials say the shift will allow the government to hire a more inclusive workforce based on skill instead of a person’s education level.

“This will ensure that we’re able to hire based on talent and expand our universe to qualified candidates and ensure a more equitable hiring process,” Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior advisor, told reporters on Friday. Ivanka Trump is co-chair of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which was created in 2018 and tasked with recommending ways to improve job training. The president signed the order during the board’s meeting on Friday. “The federal government will no longer be narrowly focused on where you went to school, but the skills and talents that you bring to the job," Trump said. The federal government is the nation’s largest employer with 2.1 million civilian workers. (Read more.)

A Huge Scottish Hillfort

From Ars Technica:
On a hilltop overlooking a small Scottish village lie the buried remains of the largest settlement in medieval Britain. About 4,000 people lived within the community’s earthen ramparts during its heyday in the 400s and 500s CE. That’s around the time the Picts of northeastern Scotland were banding together into kingdoms to defend themselves against rival groups. 
Until recently, archaeologists assumed the fortified community was much older and much smaller. But a recent lidar survey, combined with excavations on the hill, revealed a large urban center thriving in the centuries just after Rome left Britain. A drone carrying lidar instruments sent over the site, called Tap O’Noth, mapped the long-buried foundations of about 800 huts, clustered in groups and along pathways. The huts were all within the 17 acres encircled by an earthen rampart on Tap O’Noth’s lower slopes. If each hut was home to about four or five people, that’s a total population of 3,200 to 4,000. (Read more.)

From The Conversation:
The fearsome Picts were first mentioned in Late Roman sources as a collective name for the barbaric peoples living north of the Roman frontier in northeast Scotland. The Pictish kingdoms went on to dominate a large part of Scotland until the late first millennium AD, but few sources have been left behind to help understand this important period. 
The University of Aberdeen’s Northern Picts project was established in 2012 to find new sites in a period with few identified locations either in written sources or the archaeological record. A key focus has been the area around the village of Rhynie, whose name includes a form of the Celtic word for “king”, rīg. 
Our work at the site suggests the Rhynie valley was an elite Pictish centre from the 4th-6th centuries AD. The area has long been known for its concentration of Pictish stones carved with symbols. In March 1978, a farmer ploughed up a spectacular stone known as the “Rhynie Man” in a field on Barflat Farm just to the south of the modern village. 
That summer the local council’s archaeology department took aerial photographs of a series of enclosures around the Craw Stane, below, another Pictish stone that still stands in the same field where the Rhynie Man was found. (Read more.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Animals of the Colosseum

 From Ancient World Magazine:
The Colosseum was inaugurated in AD 80, but we have reports of great hunting shows even before that date. For example, in 104 BC, Muzio Scaevola and Licinius Crassus staged a venatio in the Circus Maximus with a hundred lions to celebrate their victory over Jugurtha, King of Numidia. In the middle of that same century, Marcus Scaurus organized a hunt with five crocodiles, one hippo, and 150 leopards.
A few years later, the grandeur of all of this was completely surpassed by the incredible spectacle offered by the rich Pompey. During the games, he organized the slaughter of 400 leopards, 600 elephants, and many monkeys. The special guests at this carnage were a rhino and a lynx, the latter from northern Europe. This was the grandest venatio ever held before the construction of the Colosseum and a show with so many animals was never repeated.
Neither Julius Caesar nor even Augustus, the first Roman emperor, who killed three thousand five hundred animals during his reign, managed, in a single show, to surpass the magnitude of the one organized by Pompey. Nero brought in 300 lions and 400 bears, and during the 100 days of parties and games arranged by Titus for the inauguration of the Colosseum in AD 80 9,000 animals were killed. This number is still small compared with the 11,000 reached by Trajan almost thirty years later to celebrate his victories over the Dacians (the foregoing, see: Hopkins and Beard 2005). (Read more.)

More on Talbot Boys Statue

I blogged about this issue in my home county about three years ago. Once again, there are calls to remove the statue. A reader responds in The Talbot Spy:
As I see it, in the Talbot Boys Statue case, we have two groups trying to use the presence of an old statue to beat the drums of a current situation. One, led by the far left, BLM, progressive coalition/mentality say this statue stands for slavery, racism and injustice to the black population—hence it must go. We have seen a small group of far left clergy supporting the movement, some individuals promoting coalition/groups, demonstrations on justice issues, protests against police brutality, all somehow tied to or implied emanating from the Talbot Boys Statue. Hence, the evil thing must go. 
On the other side, we have a largely subdued (so far) conservative coalition of Talbot County citizens, white people mainly, who point to the statue’s historical heritage. It was paid for by private funds, as I understand it, and erected over 100 years ago. I have not delved into why it was placed on County land. I do know some people whose ancestors are named on the monument. From those I have talked to, they see it as a historic monument only, far from any 21st century “mission statement” to anyone. They resent being intimidated by the first group or labeled as racists, and many I know are solid Christian citizens and benefactors of our County and the Town of Easton. 
To me, legitimate, peaceful protests over injustice of any type in the USA is not only justified but appropriate under our Constitution. Destruction of our Country and anarchy are not. If removal of the Talbot Boys Statue is deemed part of that protest by those proposing to do so, then I believe honest and truthful questions must be asked about what the protests are about. Is it the horrific killing of George Floyd? If so, why were protests not mounted on the equally horrific killing of Mr. Cassidy, a white man, at the Easton YMCA by a black man with a long criminal record? Do issues of “moral responsibility and behavior” and “ethical Christian living” have any part in the protests? What about the Antifa agenda to destroy the USA and create a socialist state? Is that part of why the Talbot Boys Statue must go in the protesters views? I do not have the answers to those questions but I do believe an honest and truthful effort to find them weighs on whether or not the Talbot Boys Statue is a “Real Issue.” 
In fact, many prominent black leaders concerned about inequality and justice have raised similar questions. I would refer all to Mr. Robert Woodson, a renown and recognized Civil Rights leader and the Rev. James David Manning (www.atlah.org). Or, the horrific black on black murder rates devastating some cities, like Chicago last weekend, where a beautiful 3 yr. old black boy was shot to death. As a wise black man in that community said—“where are the 40-50,000 protestors seeking justice for that little boy?” (Maybe they don’t have a statue). In addition, Ian Duncan’s (Baltimore Sun) analysis “Race—The Real Truth” is an enlightening read as a primer for an honest and truthful analysis of the current situation which one might suspect has some part in pushing for removal of the Talbot Boys Statue. 
For me, whether the Statue goes or stays doesn’t matter much. Its presence or lack thereof solves nothing. Either way, I don’t think it is an issue for the County Council to decide; the people of Talbot County should decide by their votes. Our little County is a Democratic Republic—the government answers to us, not vice versa. I give Councilman Divilio some credit for his rendering of a new, joint Union/Confederate Statue if the people vote for it, although he needs to acknowledge Rich Merrill as the author/originator of the proposal. 
But the most important takeaway to me from all of this is, ‘yes, there is a better way.’ Councilwoman Price has demonstrated it time and again. As she stated; “Decisions must not be made on the emotion of the day—We must take the time to listen to everyone and gather all the facts.” No wonder she garnered the most votes in the last Council election. There are many ways all of us in this beautiful County can address any issue—but grandstanding and shooting from the hip are not among them. Some say “silence is violence;” I say “silence is Christian compassion in action” without looking for a photo op. Thousands perform it daily. Civility, honesty and respect for each other, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background, is where it begins and ends, and no statue anywhere, from anytime, has anything to do with that, 
Paul D. Denton
(Read more.) Share

Finding Sir Lancelot

From Medievalists:
Today, being the world’s only Lancelot wall paintings preserved in situ, the Siedlęcin set ranks among the most outstandingly complete and well preserved in Europe. The story of Arthur’s greatest knight, his glittering career, adulterous love for Guinevere and subsequent downfall has been told in two registers and should be ”read” from the lower to the upper one, from left to right (as in case of many other examples of medieval cycles). 
The lower register shows Sir Lancelot and his cousin, Sir Lionel, claiming the world shortly after they had been knighted. To prove their valour and knightly skills in hand-to-hand combat they set off for their first big adventure. The story goes with the tale of Lionel’s capture and Lancelot’s duel with the knight named Tarquin, whom Lancelot defeats and kills. Thanks to this victory sixty-four knights imprisoned in Tarquin’s castle (including Lionel and four other knights of the Round Table) obtain their freedom. 
The upper register shows fair Guinevere with her ladies before the walls of Camelot. Lancelot accompanied by his entourage presents himself to her. The next scene depicts the wicked knight Meleagant as he carries the queen away. He is going to be ultimately slain by Lancelot. The latter hurries to his lady’s rescue, suffering – among many a hardship – a total humiliation of riding in a cart, a form of travelling reserved for criminals. He rescues the queen in the end, the sinful nature of their love being shown in a depiction where they hold their left hands – a clear symbol of their adulterous affair. (Read more.)

Monday, June 29, 2020

A History of the Habsburg Family

Double Betrothal at Vienna, from The Triumphal Arch of Maximilian I, 1515, by Albrecht Durer
A book review. From Spear's:
The Habsburgs intermarried with other noble families and when these other families had died out in the male line, they swept up the leavings. ‘Generation after generation, they produce heirs; if sons were missing, then cousins and nephews were always at hand,’ Rady explains. ‘With longevity came the opportunity to take the wealth of the less enduring families into which they had married.’ 
Thus, Count Rudolf of Habsburg (lived 1218-91), whose mother was a Kiburg, took the large part of the Kiburg patrimony when their male line expired. As the most powerful family in the duchy of Swabia, they set their sights on the Holy Roman Empire. Rudolf captured lands in Austria and became king of Bohemia, but the title of emperor eluded him. The Habsburgs then went into a temporary decline. 
A bold stroke was required and it was this: they decided ‘to jettison their Swabian past and became instead Austrians and Romans’. It was another Rudolf of Habsburg (1339-65) who restored the family’s fortunes ‘with an energy, pace, and imagination that belied his youth and confounded his rivals’. 
And the key to his success was forgery. Under his direction, scholars cooked up a couple of bogus charters, the ‘Pseudo-Henry’ and the ‘Greater Privilege’, which purported to demonstrate Austrian exceptionalism by establishing spurious links to Julius Caesar and Nero and to make the Duke of Austria a palatine archduke, with duchy heritable by son or daughter. Although, again, the imperial crown proved elusive, ‘by giving the Habsburgs a historical consciousness and set of beliefs about themselves, Rudolf made them more than just a group of blood relatives’. 
Unlike other aristocratic families, the Habsburgs operated a system of collective inheritance. King Sigismund of Bohemia and Hungary, who had no heirs, nominated Duke Albert of Habsburg (lived 1397-1439) as his successor, and Albert became the first Habsburg to be elected as Holy Roman Emperor in 1438. (Read more.)