Thursday, November 30, 2023

Christmas Charities of Marie-Antoinette

During Christmastide it is helpful to see the example of Queen Marie-Antoinette, who made the needs of the poor a priority, especially in the cold of winter. For Marie-Antoinette, this was nothing extraordinary, but the basic duty of a Christian. While surfing the internet, it is all too common to see Marie-Antoinette characterized as someone who ignored the plight of the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Her charities were quite extensive and are a matter of public record. She also took great care to instill a love of the needy in her children. At Christmastime, during a particularly brutal winter, the queen had them renounce their Christmas gifts in order to buy food and blankets for the destitute. As Maxime de La Rocheterie relates:
One year, on the approach of the 1st of January, she had the most beautiful playthings brought from Paris to Versailles; she showed them to her children, and when they had looked at them and admired them, said to them that they were without doubt very beautiful, but that it was still more beautiful to distribute alms; and the price of these presents was sent to the poor.
(The Life of Marie Antoinette by Maxime de La Rocheterie, 1893)
 Another biographer Charles Duke Yonge discusses how the queen's generosity was well-known by her contemporaries, in spite of her efforts to be discreet, and the efforts of her enemies to portray her as a decadent spendthrift. 
By the beginning of December the Seine was frozen over, and the whole adjacent country was buried in deep snow. Wolves from the neighboring forests, desperate with hunger, were said to have made their way into the suburbs, and to have attacked people in the streets. Food of every kind became scarce, and of the poorer classes many were believed to have died of actual starvation....

Not only were Louis and Marie Antoinette conspicuous for the unstinting liberality with which they devoted their own funds to to supply of the necessities of the destitute, but the queen, in many cases of unusual or pressing suffering that were reported to her in Versailles and the neighboring villages, sent trustworthy persons to investigate them, and in numerous instances went herself to the cottages, making personal inquiries into the condition of the occupants, and showing not
only a feeling heart, but a considerate and active kindness, which doubled the value of her benefactions by the gracious, thoughtful manner in which they were bestowed.

She would willingly have done the good she did in secret, partly from her constant feeling that charity was not charity if it were boasted of, partly from a fear that those ready to misconstrue all her acts would find pretexts for evil and calumny even in her bounty. One of her good deeds struck Necker as of so remarkable a character that he pressed her to allow him to make it known. "Be sure, on the contrary," she replied, "that you never mention it. What good could it do? they would not believe you;" but in this she was mistaken. Her charities were too widely spread to escape the knowledge even of those who did not profit by them; and they had their reward, though it was but a short-lived one.

Though the majority of her acts of personal kindness were performed in Versailles rather than in Paris, the Parisians were as vehement in their gratitude as the Versaillese; and it found a somewhat fantastic vent in the erection of pyramids and obelisks of snow in different quarters of the city, all bearing inscriptions testifying the citizens' sense of her benevolence. One, which far exceeded all its fellows in size--the chief beauty of works of that sort--since it was fifteen feet high, and each of the four faces was twelve feet wide at the base, was decorated with a medallion of the royal pair, and bore a poetical inscription commemorating the cause of its erection:

"Reine, dont la beaute surpasse les appas

Pres d'un roi bienfaisant occupe ici la place.

Si ce monument frele est de neige et de glace,

Nos coeurs pour toi ne le sont pas.

De ce monument sans exemple,

Couple auguste, l'aspect bien doux pur votre coeur

Sans doute vous plaira plus qu'un palais, qu'un temple

Que vous eleverait un peuple adulateur.[10]"

(Life of Marie-Antoinette
by Charles Duke Yonge, 1876)


Christopher Hitchens and the Collapse of Journalism

 From Mark Judge at The Washington Examiner:

That’s not the reality today. Liberal journalists can’t write anything that contradicts the official orthodoxy. Conservatives are better, but they don’t cover the arts and culture the way Hitchens did. The essays in A Hitch in Time examine war and politics but also books and culture. Hitchens even reported from the 1995 Oscars. (He couldn’t stand Forrest Gump and was right.)

If you want to write as freely and as widely as Hitchens, you need to freelance for about five different outlets. Even then, there is always the lurking fear of getting canceled.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine and a fellow journalist noted on Facebook that I have a new book out. He plugged it this way: “Let’s face it, Mark Judge is a guy who’s going to say what he’s going to say, and then he’s going to say it.” Well, of course. What else is the point of living in a free country? To hide your unpopular conclusions about important subjects?

Despite the internet, journalism is more restricted and intimidated than when Hitchens was alive. Do you ever open a newspaper or your laptop computer not knowing what Joy Reid, Rachel Maddow, or Jonathan Capehart are going to say? Of course not. (Read more.)

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie Dies at 94

 Le Roy Ladurie's book Montaillou was part of the basis for my novel The Night's Dark Shade. From The Washington Post:

For Dr. Le Roy Ladurie, who died Nov. 22 in Paris at 94, the withering persecution of Cathars became a landmark study in ways to reexamine history from the streets and alleys and taverns. His 1975 book “Montaillou: Village occitan de 1294 à 1324” (published in English in 1978 as “Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error”) helped establish Dr. Le Roy Ladurie as a leader in an academic discipline known as the Annales movement, which seeks the widest possible views in historical analysis and often rejects traditional historical framing that focused on rulers and military leaders.

“The Sherlock Holmes of the scholarly world,” wrote anthropologist Laurence Wylie in a 1987 Washington Post Book World essay and review on Dr. Le Roy Ladurie’s work. In more than 25 books, Dr. Le Roy Ladurie teased out stories and narratives from details found anywhere he could shake them loose: court transcripts, diaries, funeral records, weather data and mercantile ledgers. Dr. Le Roy Ladurie called it the “mental universe” of daily life. There, he said, were tales that offered a deeper and more nuanced appreciation to the past. (Read more.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Caravaggio in Rome

Recently on Facebook some of the works of Caravaggio disturbed the sensitivities of several devout ladies. Such controversy would not have been new to Caravaggio; he was frequently in trouble. From The Catholic Thing:

The Borghese’s Caravaggio collection is remarkable. One painting, known as The Sick Bacchus, is thought to be an early self-portrait. It pairs with Boy with a Basket of Fruit – both painted when the artist was in his early- to mid-twenties. The collection then jumps ahead to 1605-06, a period in the last years of his young life when he was at the peak of his powers and fame. Madonna and Child with St. Anne (or Madonna Dei Palafrenieri, after the group that commissioned the work) is more colloquially known as Madonna and the Snake.

Our Lady, her mother, and the child Jesus look down at Eden’s snake. In other artists’ depictions, it is crushed solely by Mary, as in Genesis 3:15 (in Jerome’s Vulgate): “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and thy seed, and her seed, and she shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt be ensnared by her heel.” Caravaggio being Caravaggio, depicts the Virgin and Jesus crushing the snake, the boy’s foot upon hers.

The papal grooms (the Palafrenieri) rejected the painting, and Cardinal Borghese scooped it up. The Borghese also has Caravaggio’s Saint Jerome Writing. “This was probably the first of the painter’s works to come into the possession of Scipione Borghese,” the Gallery tells us, because the cardinal had helped Caravaggio with “legal problems,” which were many. (Read more.)


30 Unspoken Rules Of Etiquette That Every Southerner Follows

 From Southern Living:

First of all, we're happy to report that the more draconian dining/entertaining rules for children have loosened considerably over the years. Back in the day, children were to be "seen and not heard" when company came over. Or at the very least "speak only when spoken to." When Mama entertained the preacher, the young'uns didn't eat till the good reverend had finished, and he always got the "pulley-bone." Nowadays, there's plenty of Publix fried chicken for everybody. Still, some dining restrictions apply . . . and Mama has other rules, as well. 


  • When friends come over, children should let their guests choose the games and the snacks. It teaches consideration and courtesy.
  • Speaking of refreshments, we always offer some, even if they're simple. And we always take some (or at least offer to) whenever we attend a gathering, be it a barbecue or a funeral.
  • Always send a thank-you note (not a text) for a gift.

(Read more.)


The Real History Behind Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre’s Marriage in ‘Maestro’

 From Smithsonian:

The Bernsteins’ secret agreement forms the spine of Maestro, a new biographical drama fictionalizing the couple’s 27-year marriage. The film is co-written and directed by Bradley Cooper, who also stars as Bernstein; Carey Mulligan portrays Felicia. Maestro arrives in select theaters November 22 and starts streaming on Netflix on December 20. The film touches on Bernstein’s family, his biggest career highlights and his Jewish roots (a mentor once suggested he change his name to “Burns,” as he would “never see the name ‘Leonard Bernstein’ on the marquee outside Carnegie Hall”), but its chief concern is the musician’s marriage.

“I had always been interested in how Felicia anchored Lenny,” said Josh Singer, co-writer of the film, during a recent panel discussion. “But it was Bradley who said, no—the marriage is the story.”

Singer drew on a trove of source material that was released in 2010, when the composer’s estate donated 1,800 letters to the sprawling Leonard Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress. Much of what is known about Bernstein’s personal struggles—including the pivotal letter laying out the deal with his wife—comes from these letters, which his family had sealed upon his death in 1990.

Bernstein and Felicia met at a party in 1946. The couple’s early letters hint at a rocky start, built on an undercurrent of uncertainty and a series of whiplash-inducing reversals. (Read more.)


Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Marsh King's Daughter

Here is a collection of illustrations of Andersen's little known fairy tale, which was one of my favorites as a child. I found it in an old book of my grandmother's and I did not know that anyone else even knew about it but me. The story itself can be found HERE. It is longer and more complex than most fairy tales.
The princess wept and lamented aloud; her tears moistened the elder stump, which was really not an elder stump but the Marsh King himself, he who in marshy ground lives and rules. I saw myself how the stump of the tree turned round, and was a tree no more, while long, clammy branches like arms, were extended from it. Then the poor child was terribly frightened, and started up to run away. She hastened to cross the green, slimy ground; but it will not bear any weight, much less hers. She quickly sank, and the elder stump dived immediately after her; in fact, it was he who drew her down. Great black bubbles rose up out of the moor-slime, and with these every trace of the two vanished. (Read entire story.)


Here is a review of the 2023 film The Marsh King's Daughter, based upon a novel by Karen Dionne, which was based upon the fairy-tale. I found it suspenseful with great performances and scenery, but not for small children.


The Orans Posture in the Tradition

 From Fr. Veliz:

Thus, through the centuries, the Church has traditionally reserved this liturgical orans posture for the priest alone in the rubrics of the Roman Missal for offering Holy Mass.  The word, rubrics, means the rules or laws in the Missal that refer to the instructions in red that regulate the recitation of the prayer formulae in black.  In this sense, they guide or instruct the priest to recite the prayers in the Rite of Holy Mass, using the assigned postures that he alone may use, as intended by the Church.  For this reason, the priest does the red and says the black in offering Mass according to the rubrics.  These rubrics proceed from the highest authority in the Church, from the sovereign pontiff himself, for maintaining good or proper order in the Liturgy of Holy Mass.  As indicated by the rubrics, this means that the priest alone may use the orans posture in reciting the prayers in the Eucharist as he intercedes to God on behalf of the people.  As such, he alone may extend his hands in Holy Mass by raising them to God in prayer. In fact, he is instructed, by the rubrics, to use this posture about fourteen times from the Introductory Rites of the Mass to the Concluding Rites.  This would include the prayer he says after the Universal Prayer. Accordingly, the rubrics assign the orans posture to the priest alone because he alone acts in the person of Christ, the Head, in offering Holy Mass as mediator to God on behalf of the Body of Christ, the Church.

     Conversely, there is not a single rubric in the Roman Missal that instructs the deacon or the laity to use the orans posture in the Liturgy of Holy Mass.  On the contrary, none of the rubrics there instruct the laity or deacon to extend their hands in prayer to God by raising them during Mass. Nevertheless, people claim that because the rubrics are silent on this question, this would suggest an implicit permission or tolerance, by the Church, for the laity and deacon to use the orans posture.  However, arguing for the use of the orans by lay people and the deacon on the basis of such rubrical silence is contrary to the Liturgical Tradition of the Church, and harmful to the uniformity of the Liturgy of Holy Mass. Indeed, using this argument from silence has already introduced other harmful practices into Holy Mass that the rubrics are silent about, such as holding hands during the Our Father.

     Furthermore, in addressing the assigned postures of the priest, the deacon and the laity in Holy Mass, the Church’s General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that they are all required to be faithful to the received liturgical Tradition as determined by the General Instruction and by the Traditional practice of the Roman Rite.  In doing so, they act, not according to their private inclination or subjective choice, but in the service of the common spiritual good of the people of God (GIRM 42). For this reason, the Church calls the priest, deacon and the laity to follow the instructions in the rubrics of the Missal that they may be uniform in the postures assigned to them during Holy Mass (GIRM 43).

     Consequently, in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Council Fathers of Vatican II teach that no person, not even a priest, nor a layperson, may add, remove, or change the objective norms of the Liturgy on his authority. This prohibition would certainly apply to the layperson who uses a posture in Mass not assigned to him in the rubrics of the Rite, particularly the orans posture. In doing so, he would be acting contrary to the received Liturgical Tradition (SC 22.3). On this basis, here the Council Fathers remind the priest, deacon and laity that they are called to do nothing else, but only those actions or postures in Holy Mass assigned to them by the nature of the Roman Rite and the principles of Liturgy (SC 28). (Read more.)


The Exeter Conspiracy

 How Henry VIII rid himself of those with the old royal blood. From Nancy Bilyeau at The Anne Boleyn Files:

Of the remaining Yorkists, the two orphaned children of the Duke of Clarence, Edward IV’s brother, were in the most vulnerable position. The young Earl of Warwick was confined in the Tower of London beginning at age 10 and finally executed at age 24. His sister Margaret was married to Sir Richard Pole, a minor courtier far below her in rank who the Tudors were sure was loyal. Neutralized, she had a family with her husband–three sons and a daughter–and was given positions of importance at the court. Margaret became particular friends with Henry’s queen, Catherine of Aragon. The royal couple valued Margaret Pole enough to make her Countess of Salisbury, to ask her to be godmother to their heir, Princess Mary, and to put Margaret at the head of Mary’s household when she lived in Wales. Margaret was very pious, which Henry VIII often praised.

The most important figure in the Exeter Conspiracy was Henry Courtenay. When Henry VIII was still a child, his parents brought this young cousin into the orbit of the royal family so that the Tudor prince would have a playmate. (Young Courtenay’s mother was Elizabeth of York’s sister.)

Margaret Pole’s sons never seem to have been as close to Henry VIII as Courtenay but were close enough to the center of court to make informed observations of the royal family. Later, the oldest son, Henry Pole, Lord Montague, said that Henry VII did not like his son. Another Pole, Reginald, was a brilliant scholar, and Henry VIII generously paid for his studies when he went to Padua to launch a church career.

The fate of Henry Stafford, third Duke of Buckingham, can be seen as something of a dress rehearsal for the Exeter Conspiracy. When Henry VIII was a teenaged prince, foreign ambassadors who got an eyeful of the adult Buckingham wrote that he could make a more impressive king. He was a major landholder who directly descended from Edward III. He was also arrogant and short-tempered and did not make much of an effort to ingratiate himself with Henry VIII. In fact, he was outraged when either Henry VIII or his favorite William Compton seduced Buckingham’s married sister and the duke insisted she be sent to a nunnery.

This had become a tense dynamic by 1521. Henry and Catherine of Aragon did not have a male heir after 12 years of marriage and dukes with royal blood had been known to cause problems before in this kind of situation. (Read more.)


Monday, November 27, 2023

Libeled Lady (1936)

 Funny and very witty. From Establishing Shot:

When the New York Evening Star carelessly prints a false story about society dame Connie Allenbury (Myrna Loy) that results in a $5 million libel suit, editor Warren Haggerty (Spencer Tracy) decides to resolve the situation by hiring the sneakiest, smoothest operator he knows: ex-Evening Star reporter Bill Chandler (William Powell). The men don’t share a good history, but if anyone can come up with a scheme to fix this mess, it’s Chandler. Walking through the lobby of the Plaza Hotel, he is a dashing, elegantly mustached figure, his body language confident and relaxed despite receiving an overdue bill from the hotel management. When he meets Haggerty, he continually tries to brush him off, even saying “Warren” with an exaggeration that implies mocking reverence, all the while shooting off quick glances to make sure the newspaperman is taking his bait. Within no time, Haggerty agrees to Chandler’s expensive terms and they begin to conspire how to trap Connie in a real scandal.

Bill Chandler’s first scene in the screwball masterwork Libeled Lady (1936) is a perfect introduction to the man who portrayed him. Impeccably poised with a polished urbanity that belied his goofball sensibility, William Powell is one of classic Hollywood’s greatest and most tragically forgotten stars. Despite his peerless work as sleuth Nick Charles in the Thin Man films and his highly-publicized relationships with not one but two Golden Age icons — Carole Lombard and Jean Harlow — Powell isn’t often discussed alongside such luminaries as Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, and Cary Grant. However, like Grant, he had the heart of a clown, the suit of a gentleman, and the colossal talent of a legend.

A Powell character may look respectable, but they operate as if it were a disguise, a ruse to expose the ridiculousness of our institutions and the people who enforce them. His marionette-like physicality, vocal cooing, and cleverly executed facial twitches dissolve the image of the calm and collected man, unveiling the id we all wish we could indulge, one that insouciantly challenges authority and makes funny faces without vanity and bases decisions on desire rather than convention. To see Powell luxuriate in or surrender to silliness, again and again, is not only hilarious, it is cathartic. (Read more.)


From Silver Screen Classic:

There are legends of cinema who became stars in the heavens as well as on the silver screen way before their time. They are forever remembered young, vital and beautiful; lives tragically cut short through illness or accident such as Rudolph Valentino, Carole Lombard and of course Marilyn Monroe. But with all due respect to the latter, it was an earlier star who first embodied the concept of the ‘blonde bombshell’. Jean Harlow was a star who combined sexiness with sass, quick-fire delivery with a devastating sexual slow-burn and was electric on the silver screen. Her chemistry with her co-stars saw her as one of the premier stars of MGM and her death would shock the Hollywood film community. Yet her performances on screen remain timeless and a testimony to her long-lasting legendary status.

Libeled Lady was one of her final performances and such was her status that she received top billing over William Powell (her fiancé), Myrna Loy and Spencer Tracy. Despite signing on for the key role of Connie Allenbury, MGM ‘s Louis B. Mayer wanted Powell paired with Loy to capitalise on the pair’s prior successes. Settling for the role of Gladys, Harlow still gives a spirited performance in a film that is fun, fast-paced and enjoyable. By all reports, Harlow was not bitter and ended up enjoying the role and the film overall.  Additionally, this great screwball comedy is a showcase of MGM’s top talent, something that few studios could boast and a characteristic that was commonplace on the MGM lot. On the surface, it’s easy to suggest that Libeled Lady was a vehicle for Loy and Powell, and as already mentioned Mayer wanted the two together. However, Harlow (and for that matter Spencer Tracy) were far more than supporting actors and the fact that Harlow received top billing suggests that as well. (Read more.)



Flourishing in Work and Family Life: Considerations for Young Women

It's very hard to do both, especially without a full-time nanny. But the economic realities of the present time leave many women with no alternative but to take a job, often outside the home. The women in this article are coming from a background which permits many to work from home, and computers make that possible. Let us remember that throughout history women have always sought employment outside their families, even married woman with children, running farms, shops, trades, restaurants, inns and working as maids, housekeepers, nannies, nursery maids, and ladies-in-waiting to queens and princesses. They even had their own guilds in the Middle Ages, such as the Spinsters' Guild. From The Public Discourse:

I didn’t really have a career plan. After we got married we moved to Taiwan for our first year of marriage, and then we moved back to Colorado so my husband could go to seminary. I worked at a Chinese adoption agency, and loved it, and realized that I loved working in an office. And when I got pregnant with my first, I was really at a crossroads. I knew I wanted to be a full-time mom, but I also wanted to work. And I was like, “I just want to do both. How can I do both? How can I be a full-time mom and work?” And I realized I couldn’t do both, but I really, really thought for a long time, “What do I do? Do I mother during the day and work at night?” But ultimately I got to the point where I said, something’s got to give. 

And I chose the kid. It was a good choice, but I mourned. I mourned. I probably had dreams for the next year and a half of my bosses at the adoption agency coming back and begging me to start an office in my house because I loved working.

So I didn’t ever think I was going to go back to work. I think I kind of believed the feminist lie that once you’re out of the workforce, that’s it, it’s over, you can’t take a breakand I didn’t have any plans of working. I was really involved in our church. We ended up having three biological kids. We adopted our youngest about twelve years ago, and that was a very emotionally demanding process for several years after we had him. So a lot of my focus was going towards mom life, and I didn’t try to move back into the workforce. I just got really, really angry. I got angry at what was happening in the world, and I thought, somebody needs to say something about X, Y, and Z. So I just slowly started writing on my own. And then, interestingly, with every new bit of independence and self-reliance and self-governance that my kids reached, slowly, work would start to fill in those spaces.

And so now I’m at the place where I’ve got one kid in college, I’ve got three kids at home, and like April, I wake up at about 4:30, knock out at least two and a half hours of work before everybody wakes up, put on the apron, serve the breakfast, kiss the faces, slam the door, work like crazy, get up, go pick the kids up from school, come home, and then work on top of everything else. I work in line at the grocery store, dictate e-mails while I’m on the stair-stepper at the gym, or just tell people if I’m having a staff meeting, “FYI, I’m going to be roasting vegetables.” And that’s kind of how it rolls for me. The good news about having an office at home is I clean and cook and do a lot of the household care and mothering care on top of my work life. So that’s kind of how it all gets done: two things at once all the time. (Read more.)


The Origin of the Word “Dude”

 From The Art of Manliness:

Thanks to tireless research by two etymologists, we know the exact date the word dude was coined. Robert Sale Hill published a poem in The New York World on January 14, 1883, describing a type of foppish young man living in cities. These young men were overly fastidious about their clothing, professed an interest in avant-garde art, and smoked tiny cigarettes. They were the 19th-century version of the 21st-century hipster. And like the hipsters of the 2010s, the dandies of the 1880s were a trope that the public loved to lampoon.

In the poem that Robert Sale Hill published, he called these fops “dudes.” Etymologists Barry Popik and Gerald Cohen theorize that Hill derived the word “dude” from “doodle,” as in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” The original New England Yankee Doodle, Cohen notes, “was the country bumpkin who stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni; i.e., by sticking a feather in his cap, he imagined himself to be fashionable like the young men of his day known as ‘macaronis.'” (Read more.)


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Penelope: Tudor Baroness


When I say "Stella," I do mean the same
Princess of Beauty, for whose only sake
The reins of Love I love, though never slake,
And joy therein, though nations count it shame
. ~Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella

 I have always been interested in learning more about Penelope Devereux, great granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, daughter of the notorious Lettice Knollys, sister of the doomed Robert Devereux, and cousin of Elizabeth I. They say Penelope and her mother both had dark eyes like Anne Boleyn's. And since Penelope's grandmother Catherine Carey may have been the daughter of Henry VIII, then Elizabeth I was probably their cousin on her father's side as well as on her mother's. A star in the waning years of the Virgin Queen, Penelope's beauty and gifts were immortalized by the poet Sir Philip Sidney in Astrophel and Stella. Novelist Tony Riches has once again brought the Tudor era to life, creating an authentic historical heroine. From the author's website:

Lady Penelope Rich is one of the most beautiful and sought-after women in Elizabethan England. The daughter of the Earl of Essex, she is married to the wealthy Baron Robert Rich. Penelope's life is full of love and scandal. The inspiration for Sir Philip Sidney’s sonnet Astrophel and Stella, she is caught up in the Essex Rebellion.

A complex and fascinating woman, her life is a story of love, betrayal, and tragedy.

“This is a woman who lived life on her own terms, and her story will stay with you long after you finish reading it.” (Read more.)

The ladies of Elizabethan England were known for their learning and culture, which had been established by King Henry VIII and his insistence upon higher learning for his own daughters, although they had been declared illegitimate. The descendants of Mary Boleyn, cousins of Queen Elizabeth, were known for their beauty and intelligence, but Penelope Devereux stood out for her exceeding loveliness, wit, and charm. Sadly, after her mother's marriage to the Earl of Leicester, and subsequent fall from favor with the Queen, Penelope and her siblings were placed in the care of a Puritan family. She was then married against her will to the wealthy Robert Rich, a descendant of the nasty Richard Rich who betrayed St. Thomas More. It was particularly tragic for Penelope since she had hoped to marry Sir Philip Sidney, the poet-warrior who truly loved her. Rich was a Puritan and a harsh, unloving husband. The novel lays bare the sufferings which many woman had in arranged marriages. The rigorism of the puritanical attitudes were soul-crushing for Penelope; when everything is bad then nothing is bad. Yet Penelope is shown to be loving and welcoming to every child sent to her, which is no doubt authentic. Babies were seen as gifts from God rather than burdens. Meanwhile, Penelope's family, especially her brother the Earl of Essex, were in and out of trouble. Essex ends rebelling against the Queen and compromising Penelope. Penelope's marriage had by that time broken down and she lived with Charles Blount as his mistress, having several more children. But sorrow and tragedy were always a breath away for anyone close to the throne in Tudor England. For those who love to visit the past in books, Tony's recent novel is a must-read.

Penelope, Baroness Rich

Sir Philip Sidney


Against Modernism

From The Catholic Thing:

 Catholicism is a religion of Faith and Reason – and has a rich, centuries-long tradition of deep thought about God and man. But the Catholic “thing” is also a religion of mysteries – not superstitious mumbo-jumbo as some critics believe, but mysteries in the sense that human reason has limits obvious to reason itself. We don’t know – and cannot know – via ordinary human reasoning, where the world and we ourselves come from, or where we are going. For guidance in living with those and other mysteries, reason at its best recognizes that we need Revelation, a revelation from the One who does know. And we have a reasonable Faith, therefore, in what He has delivered.

In an unsettled time like ours – a time when great confusions are rife even within the Church – it’s more urgent than usual to maintain that Faith. Amidst confusions and worse, skeptics point to the many evils in the world as evidence that our belief in a loving Creator is mere wishful thinking. Why, for instance, would such a Being create human beings who – as we see over and over in history and no less in our own “enlightened” age – are quite capable of industrial-scale murder (including the holocaust of tens of millions of innocents in the womb), war, torture, rape, slavery, oppression, and the thousands of other acts that constitute what St. Augustine called the mysterium inquitatis – the mystery of evil.

One traditional answer is that God took the risk of creating free human beings in the knowledge that He would do something even greater in redeeming us, after we’d fallen. If you want to read a brilliant example of how all that signifies something of unsuspected gloriousness, it’s worth spending some time with the first pages of Tolkien’s Silmarillion (free online here), in which God sings the world into existence along with the angels. And then, like a musical prodigy, incorporates the discordant notes introduced by the Devil into a breathtakingly beautiful symphony.

Mystery still surrounds all this, of course, both because a mystery by definition has no complete explanation in this world, and because, frankly, our human reason would have preferred something less exalted. Most of us would have preferred what we regard as “discord” never to have existed. We want an unbothered existence. But all indications are that God thought that a simpler human story would not have been as wonderful as what He actually chose to do. And it’s part of the Faith to understand what that means, as much as we are able. (Read more.)


Shadows in the Mist: The Quest for a Historical King Arthur

I could read Arthurian research all day. From Shadows in the Mist:

A lot of ink has been spilled on the subject of the actual location of Arthur's Kelliwic (or Celliwig) - including by the present author.  But I was never completely satisfied with any of the identifications offered, so have decided to treat of the place once more.

There are many good sources which treat of the several candidates for Kelliwic.  One of the best is Oliver J. Padel's "Some Souther-Western Sites With Arthurian Associations" in THE ARTHUR OF THE WELSH (ed. Rachel Bromwich, A.O.H. Jarman and Brunley F. Roberts).  I refer my readers to that excellent study, as it is not my intention to rehash such material here.

In Triad 1, we are told that the chief bishop of Kellewic is Bytwini/Bitwini/Betwini (modern Bedwenni).  Some have thought this merely W. bedwenni, 'birches', a sort of pun on the meaning of Kelliwic.  But others (including Bromwich) have made a connection with Bodmin, the etymology of which is discussed by Ekwall as deriving from Cornish bod, 'house, dwelling', and either meneich, 'monks' or menehi, 'monsastery.'  The chief elder of Kelliwic in Cornwall is Caradoc Freichfras - which is extremely odd, as this particular Caradoc belong to central and, perhaps, SE Wales.

What I decided to do was to see if there might be any Caradoc place-names at or near Bodmin which could have been wrongly related to the Welsh Caradoc.  There are, in fact, two such places. (Read more.)

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Queen Henrietta Maria As Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Henrietta Maria as St. Catherine by Van Dyck

 It is St. Catherine's Day, the birthday of Henrietta of France, Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland, in 1609. It is the first time I have heard her hair described as  "reddish-blonde." From Academia:

Another example is the painting of Queen Henrietta Maria, the French wife of the English King Charles I, by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (Figure 20). A Catholic queen who attempted to convert her Protestant husband, she is portrayed by Van Dyck as St. Catherine. She wears a simple, but elegant red dress and a green overcoat, pearls and crown on top of her reddish-blonde curls. To solidify the imagery, she holds the wheel of torture. This portrait is an outlier from the rest of the paintings surveyed for this paper (it was painted in 1639), but it illuminates the interesting notion that the royalty themselves desire to be seen with this parallel to a saint. Queen Henrietta Maria herself probably wanted to be portrayed as St. Catherine because the image it would evoke concerning herself and her beliefs would benefit her personal goals. (Read more.)

More on St. Catherine, HERE

The Kindle edition of My Queen, My Love is FREE to American readers today and tomorrow in honor of the birthday of Henrietta Maria, beloved wife of Charles I.


Enrollment at Catholic Colleges Skyrockets

 From Catholic Vote:

A new report shows that a handful of Catholic colleges and universities are seeing their enrollment numbers skyrocket, bucking the overall trend of college enrollment plummeting during the past few years.

“As most collegiate institutions grapple with disappointing enrollment, a slew of faithful Catholic colleges are reporting surprising enrollment numbers and financial support,” wrote The Daily Signal’s Mary Margaret Olohan. Olohan cited several examples of Catholic institutions who have recently reported enrollment numbers at all-time-highs.


“We keep hearing people refer to a ‘Newman movement’ because these faithful Catholic colleges just keep growing and setting the example of how to attract families today,” said Patrick Reilly, founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, in an interview with The Daily Signal.

“These colleges are traditional and counter-cultural at a time when most of American education is corrupted and on a path of self-destruction,” Reilly continued. “In addition, the ‘Newman movement’ includes faithful Catholic educators who long for and search for the environment these Catholic colleges provide.” The Cardinal Newman Society is a nonprofit organization that “promotes and defends faithful Catholic education,” according to its website. The Society calls the many successful Catholic colleges recognized in its Newman Guide “light in the darkness.” Meanwhile, recent years have been tough for the broader higher education industry, showing just how much of an exception faithful Catholic colleges are proving to be. (Read more.)

The Last Witness: Dante

 From The Imaginative Conservative:

Dante died at Ravenna on September 14, 1321, and that noble city which had sweetened his exile was determined to retain his body. When his name became celebrated, Florence, his ungrateful fatherland, tried to recover it, but in vain. So there he lies, close to the church of St. Francis, where he had so often prayed, in a tiny garden filled with cool shade and with silence. Far removed from the strife and suffering of earth, as in the sublime vision born of his imagination, beyond the circles of hell and the mount of expiation, he has, no doubt, attained to everlasting peace, to the seven stages of heaven where, at the summit, dwells the Lamb.

His principal work, the Divine Comedy, was written during the last years of his life, after he had reached the age of fifty, when knowledge of men and experience of events had taught him to hope in God alone.

Consisting of three parts—Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso—this famous work is one of the most tremendous achievements in all the literature of the world. Like many a great monument of human thought, it has its fanatical devotees, its tireless scholiasts; but the general public admires it from farther off and without pretending to penetrate its secrets, confining themselves to a few episodes which are part of the common culture of the West.…

[T]he Divine Comedy is a fascinating work, an intellectual universe so wonderful that it is hard to know how any man could have conceived it. The beauty of language, the rhythmic cadences, the definitive exactness of so many formulae, and above all that interior breath, that vital urge which drives the poem along, even through interminable declamations, until it reaches a land of light and incomparable fullness—all these qualities make the Divine Comedy a unique achievement, one of the three or four priceless jewels in Europe’s crown.

Notwithstanding a host of symbols and obscurities, the general meaning of the poem is clear. It is the description of a journey claimed to have been made by the author in Holy Week, 1300, through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. He describes those whom he met on the road, the facts which he learned, and his own meditations on this marvellous experience. The descriptive passages are so extraordinarily precise that it has been possible to draw maps and plans and to build models of that country beyond the grave. But across the background formed by this strange geography, a perpetual shifting of figures, episodes, and allusions transforms each region into a dreamland forest where the most resplendent images succeed nightmare visions.

The theme was not original. Many ancient writers, e.g., Homer and Virgil, had pictured the living visiting the dead. There were also Muslim poems describing journeys through heaven and hell; and Celtic monks of the barbarian epoch, in the feverish solitude of their convents, had written many another such tale around the persons of St. Brendan or St. Patrick. But upon this common ground Dante erected a monumental structure, combining the profound truth of man’s destiny with all that the Middle Ages had discovered about eternal realities, and resting the whole of his romantic story upon theological foundations.

Dante himself is the hero of the Divine Comedy; the background is his own experience, the story of his conversion. Wandering in “the dark forest” of vice, he almost stumbles into hell where so many unfortunates pay the price of sin. Saved from damnation through the intervention of our Lady, he gradually discovers the way of light by climbing the painful mount of Purgatory. Two providential beings come to assist him on this journey: Virgil, representing human reason freed from the yoke of passion, and Beatrice, who stands both for ineffable love and for revealed truth. Thanks to them, he is able to reach the place of all peace and of all justice, Paradise. The poem is essentially autobiographical. He whom we follow on this curious road is a man like unto ourselves. Like him, we are shaken by the gusts of hell, we feel the breath of fire in which the damned are burning. With him we share the proud sorrows of sinful love. With him also we rise to light and certainty. He is a man speaking to men with human voice…

The historical framework within which this mighty adventure unfolds is none other than that society of which the poet had direct experience: Christendom. The events to which he refers are those of Christian history; the protagonists of his fantastic work are men who had played a part therein. The problems he is so anxious to solve are those which troubled the whole Christian world. His ideal is the same as that which inspired reforming popes, saints, crusaders, and great thinkers; it is the ideal of a hierarchic order upon earth corresponding to the perfect harmony of heaven.…

Dante’s anxiety for Christendom led him to concentrate his attention on the Church as supernatural guide of that society and keystone of its existence. No literary work has ever been so completely concerned with the Church as is the Divine Comedy. None has spoken with more fervour and tenderness of the Spouse of Christ than he who is so often quoted for his invective against some of her prelates and some of her institutions. He was her devoted and unwavering son; he wished to see her absolutely pure, absolutely beautiful, strictly faithful to her Master’s precepts, freed from the filth wherewith human weakness defiles the Vessel of Election. (Read more.)

Friday, November 24, 2023

Napoleon’s Timepieces


 From The Times:

In 1798, a month before the 29-year-old General Bonaparte would set out on his Egyptian campaign to consolidate his power, he visited the Breguet establishment on the Quai de l’Horloge in Paris. There he purchased three timekeepers: a repeating pocket watch (with which you could hear the hours chime and therefore know what the time was in the dark); a travelling calendar and repeating clock, the first of its kind; and a perpétuelle (early automatic) repeating pocket watch. Napoleon’s interest in Breguet watches was shared with his great enemy, the Duke of Wellington, who bought a montre à tact (tactile watch) in 1814, when he became ambassador to Paris, and another celebrating his victory at the Battle of Waterloo, given as a gift to a close friend on his staff.

But this wasn’t just about being on time for battle. Napoleon was a bit of a parvenu, on a meteoric rise through the ranks of social and political life, requiring objects that semaphored social status. Likewise, the rest of the Bonaparte family were keen acquirers of classy timepieces. Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother, whom he had appointed King of Spain, commissioned a pocket watch decorated with a map of Spain from Breguet. When the British Army, under Wellington’s command, drove the French out of the Iberian peninsula in 1813, Joseph churlishly refused to buy the timepiece, which was now a reminder of French failure. (The story goes that Wellington bought it in 1815, enjoying the irony that a watch made for Napoleon’s brother ended up as a symbol of British victory.) Meanwhile, Joséphine, Napoleon’s first wife, ordered a number of watches from Breguet, including a “small medallion timepiece”.

Caroline Murat, Napoleon’s younger sister and the queen of Naples, reigning from 1808 until 1815 with her husband the king, Joachim Murat, had a special relationship with Abraham-Louis Breguet, the founder of the watchmaking company. This resulted in the creation of the very first wristwatch. At the time men wore their pocket watches tucked into a waistcoat or other pocket. They were fiddly, requiring both hands to open them to view the hour. Women wore daintier, ornamental versions, often as brooches. Breguet came up with the revolutionary idea of a watch designed specifically for Caroline to wear on the wrist. Commissioned in 1810, it was delivered two years later, when Queen Caroline was in Naples, having taken over the affairs of state while the king had gone on the Russian campaign alongside her brother, Emperor Napoleon. Costing 5,000 francs, it was a slim repeating oblong-shaped watch, interestingly equipped with a thermometer (an early example of wearable tech) and secured on a slender bracelet of hair entwined with gold thread as a functional, decorative strap.

We know all this because Breguet documented and still maintains details of its clients in its registers and archives, and Napoleon was one of the most famous (along with Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, as well as King George IV and Czar Alexander I). Queen Caroline continued to support Breguet, particularly during the years when Europe was in turmoil (and he had lost some of his best clients), acquiring a total of 34 pieces — some intended as gifts — during her lifetime. (Read more.)

Child Trafficking at the Border

 Whistleblowers demand action.


Book of the Deer

 From the BBC:

The small book is believed to originate from the Monastery of Deer in the Mintlaw area. It had the celebrated manuscript in its care by 1,000AD, before the building fell out of use. The monks then moved to Deer Abbey after abandoning the monastery. The book is normally held in the collections of Cambridge University but it went on public display at Aberdeen Art Gallery last year. Archaeologists and volunteers had painstakingly uncovered artefacts and features which they hoped would lead to the discovery of the site of the monastery finally being identified. Lead archaeologist Ali Cameron, from Cameron Archaeology Ltd, explained: "A lot of the rest of the field had been disturbed but we opened such large trenches in 2022 so that we had the best chance of finding early medieval features.

"We spent weeks excavating later material including stone and other demolition material until we got down to the earliest layers and features two weeks before the end of the dig.

"I then led a team of students and volunteers and we systematically cut sections though all the features, collected finds and samples which are important as they are where the charcoal for dating will be." The samples were carefully processed in the University of Aberdeen, under the supervision of Dr Gordon Noble. (Read more.)


Thursday, November 23, 2023

The Pumpkin

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Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.
On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.
Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?
Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,--our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!
Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own pumpkin pie!
By John Greenleaf Whittier (Via Recta Ratio)
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The Final Word Is Love

 The Marginalian:

“Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks,” Walt Whitman counseled in his timeless advice on living a vibrant and rewarding life. Hardly anyone has embodied and enacted this ideal more fiercely than the great journalist, social activist, and Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day (November 8, 1897–November 29, 1980) — a woman who practiced what she preached and lived her values in every way: Amid a postwar culture that embraced consumerism as an act of patriotism, she advocated for and lived in voluntary poverty; she defied the IRS by refusing to pay federal taxes on war; her protests against racism, war, and injustice landed her in jail on multiple occasions.

Although Day’s lifetime of activism, altruism, and infinite compassion for the fragility of the human spirit were motivated by her faith and she is now being considered for sainthood, her legacy remains an instrument of secular motivation for the pursuit of social justice and the protection of human dignity. She belonged to that rare breed of people who manage to live righteous lives without slipping into self-righteousness in the face of human imperfection in others, for they are all too intimately familiar with its existence in themselves. A century after Whitman embraced his multitudes, Day remarked of the contradictory parts of herself: “It all goes together.” (Read more.)


Cohabitating With Cassowaries

 From Smithsonian:

The southern cassowary is an enormous, flightless bird native to the forests of New Guinea and Northern Australia. The dinosaur-like creature has glossy, jet-black feathers and a bright blue neck with a vibrant scarlet wattle dangling from its neck. They also have three-toed, razor-sharp talons that can inflict severe fatal injuries with a roundhouse kick when provoked, earning them the title "world's deadliest bird," reports Asher Elbein for the New York Times.

While one should certainly be wary around a cassowary and its dagger-like claws today, a new study found that humans may have raised the territorial, aggressive birds 18,000 years ago in New Guinea, making them the earliest bird reared by our ancient ancestors, reports Katie Hunt for CNN. The research was published on September 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This behavior that we are seeing is coming thousands of years before the domestication of the chicken," says study author Kristina Douglass, a Penn State archaeologist, in a statement. "And this is not some small fowl, it is a huge, ornery, flightless bird that can eviscerate you. Most likely the dwarf variety that weighs 20 kilos (44 pounds)."

Researchers excavating two rock shelters in New Guinea found 1,000 fragments of fossilized cassowary eggshells. To get a closer look at the ancient shell pieces, the team used three-dimensional imaging, computer modeling, and studied egg morphology of modern cassowary eggs and other birds, like emus and ostriches. Using carbon dating, the eggs are estimated to be 6,000 to 18,000 years old. For comparison, chicken domestication occurred no earlier than 9,500 years ago, per CNN. (Read more.)


Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Holiday Etiquette Tips

From Kitchn:

When to arrive at a party?

If you live by the motto that it’s “better late than never,” you may be on to something. Although Martha doesn’t suggest showing up to parties two hours late, she does say that not showing up at the time it is scheduled to start is just fine. “A little past call time is always nice for the host because they’re never quite ready,” Martha suggested.

How long you should wait for a tardy guest before serving dinner?

“Not too long,” said Martha. “Just leave the plates — actually, push their plates to the end of the table.” (Note to self: Do not arrive late to Martha’s party.)

If you can move place cards if you don’t like the person you’re seated next to?

“No,” warned Martha. “You’re not allowed to. On Thanksgiving, my daughter moved all the place cards without my knowledge. That didn’t go over so well.” Check out the full segment below, along with Martha’s recipe for molasses-ginger crisps. We think they make a thoughtful gift, even if the eggs you use come from the grocery store. (Read more.)


More tips, HERE.


The comfort of scruffy hospitality, from Treehugger:

My friends Dana and John perfectly practice what the Rev. Jack King referred to as "scruffy hospitality." Their kitchen is small. The wood cabinets are dark and a few decades old. Spices and jars for sugar and flour line the countertops because there's nowhere else to put them. A tall, round table shoved in a corner has mismatched bar stools crammed around it.

The sliding glass doors in the kitchen lead to a back deck with a well-used chiminea, an outdoor table and a large variety of chairs and cushions, many of them bought at yard sales. We circle the chairs around the chiminea on weekend nights during all four seasons, whenever Dana and John put out a simple call out through text or Facebook that says, "Fire tonight!"

There will always be food, but like the bar stools and deck chairs, the food is mismatched. Our hosts provide some food; John may have the urge to make jalapeño poppers or Dana may put together some version of salsa with whatever's fresh from the garden, but there's not a formally prepared meal. Everyone just brings something. It's perfectly acceptable — encouraged even — to bring odds and ends of foods that need to get used up. I often bring wedges of cheese that have already been cut into or half a baguette to slice up and toast to dip in hummus. Everyone brings a little something to drink. And it's a glorious feast.

This kitchen and deck won't be featured in Better Homes and Gardens anytime soon, but maybe they should be. They are two of the most hospitable spaces I know. By opening up their home as-is, Dana and John are the most gracious hosts I know. I almost wrote "by opening up their home with its imperfections," but that's not accurate. Their home is perfect — just like it is. (Read more.)

Rudy Confidential: The Communist Visit and More

 The mayor discusses the recent events in San Francisco.


Oxygen on Venus

From IFL Science:

 For the first time, oxygen atoms have been detected in the dayside atmosphere of Venus without being part of larger molecules. Although oxygen has previously been observed on Venus’ night side, the same study found it to be far more widespread than previously observed. The findings are considered a step towards the future missions to Venus that are now increasingly on space agencies’ agendas.

No one doubts Venus has plenty of oxygen in its atmosphere. With oxygen being the third most common element in the universe, we could have confidently predicted its presence there before the first spacecraft flew by. When those missions did investigate Venus at close range, they revealed an atmosphere laden with carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide (CO2 and CO), whose names alone make clear the oxygen contribution.

However, oxygen is an extremely reactive element, so on planets, it usually binds to other elements in the crust or atmosphere. Consequently, the presence of atomic oxygen is far from a given. Nevertheless, observations of Venus’ atmosphere by the Venus Express satellite have previously revealed some atomic oxygen glowing on its night side. Newly published observations not only show oxygen is much more prevalent than that, but also offer some insight into the processes that create and distribute it.

Professor Heinz-Wilhelm Hübers of the German Aerospace Center and colleagues used the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) to look for oxygen in Venus’ upper atmosphere at 17 locations and found it at all of them. 

The oxygen is formed through sunlight breaking up CO2 and CO molecules. The powerful Venusian winds sweep the atoms to the night side, where they combine into molecular oxygen (O2, like in our atmosphere), before reacting with other elements. Despite this redistribution, oxygen densities are up to five times higher on the dayside than the night.

According to the team, atomic oxygen is abundant enough to play an important role in the atmosphere. When an oxygen atom strikes a carbon dioxide molecule, it gives the molecule energy that is then radiated away at 15 micrometers. This is the dominant cooling method in the upper layers of Venus’ atmosphere; the Solar System’s hottest planet would be even hotter without this process. (Read more.)


Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The World’s Worst Witch Hunts

 From Just History Posts:

One of the most characterising events of the Early Modern period in Europe were the hunts against people perceived to be witches. It is estimated that anywhere up to 100,000 witch trials may have taken place during this time, with further estimates that between half and two-thirds of these people were executed for their supposed crimes. The nature of these trials and hunts varied from country to country and century to century, but those that occurred in Trier, Germany, during the 1580s and 1590s are usually considered to be the largest of all.

Belief in magic and witchcraft occurs in many world cultures at many different periods of time, but in Europe this belief was low during the earlier medieval period. It was only towards the end of this time – around the 14th century onwards – that belief in people capable of wielding evil magic started to rise. There were various high-profile cases of suspected witches across European courts which caused this growing belief in these evil people. In a world where Christianity and the Church held such sway, those who partook in witchcraft were seen to be heretics acting against God and in league with the devil. As the Early Modern period arrived, this belief really took a hold on the general population. Witch-hunting manuals such as the Malleus Maleficarum began to be published which narrowed down for the first time the exact characteristics of a witch, which made it easier to find these witches now that people knew what they were looking for.

Trier in modern-day Germany is a city near the country’s border with Luxembourg with a long history. Founded in the late 4th century BC, it became an important Roman settlement, eventually becoming one of the Roman Empire’s four capitals. During the medieval period, Trier was considered not just a city but a wider region controlled by an archbishop-elector under the Holy Roman Empire. This made it a particularly important region. As with many other European territories, interest in witchcraft in Germany spread towards the late medieval period. It is thought that at least 1/3rd of all those prosecuted for witchcraft in Europe came from the Holy Roman Empire, and Trier was to become one of these heartlands. (Read more.)


New Jan 6 Footage

 From The Post Millennial:

Newly released footage from January 6, 2021, released by House Speaker Mike Johnson, shows Matthew Perna, who tragically took his own life, calmly strolling through the building alongside other protestors and even many police officers. Perna killed himself after prosecutors in his case added a terrorism enhancement in advance of his sentencing.

At the time of Perna's death, his mourning family reportedly said that he "couldn't take another day" after learning of the sentencing enhancement. His aunt, speaking to Dinesh D'Souza in his documentary Police State, revealed that Perna had a positive outlook when it came to serving time for trespassing on January 6, but that the terrorism enhancement was more than he could bear. After his death, she said she spoke to his prosecutor who claimed the enhancement would have been dropped in due time. But it was too late for Perna. (Read more.)