Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Royal Portrait Exhibition at Buckingham Palace


From The Court Jeweller:

In May, Buckingham Palace will open the doors of The King’s Gallery to visitors for their annual summer exhibition. This year’s Royal Collection display, Royal Portraits: A Century of Photography, includes some truly iconic royal images. Curator Alessandro Nasini explains, “This is the first exhibition from the Royal Collection entirely dedicated to modern portrait photography, an artistic medium that has helped to shape how the world views the British monarchy. We are excited for visitors to discover the beauty and materiality of these original prints, many on display for the first time, and we hope they will also enjoy a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creative process behind some of these iconic royal images.”

The exhibition features work from some of the great royal portrait photographers of the 20th century, including Cecil Beaton, Dorothy Wilding, and (former royal spouse) Lord Snowdon. Delightfully, the vintage prints are also accompanied by some fascinating ephemera–unreleased proof sheets, handwritten annotations, and even correspondence with members of the royal family. You’ll recognize some of Beaton’s work from his famous 1939 sitting with Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother , shown on the proofs above. (Read more.)

The Underground Government: Volunteer Committees and Commissions In Small Towns

 From Jan Greenhawk at The Easton Gazette:

If you know anything about living in a small town, you know about volunteers, committees and commissions. Most small towns don't have the population or the money to run all town operations with paid employees, so volunteers often fill the gap. These people are mostly wonderful people who want to give back to the community. Many are retirees or stay at home spouses. Sadly, sometimes they work to get favors from town government.

Having been what someone once called a "professional volunteer" throughout my life, I know how important volunteers are. I was a volunteer coach, a volunteer state, regional and national chairman for a sports organization, and a volunteer for other projects. If you think about it, most of what happens in our country would not happen without volunteers.

So, when I started to look into volunteers in some of our local communities, I looked beyond charitable organizations and instead looked at what I call "government volunteers." In other words, these are people who help in quasi-official government committees and commissions. Many are sworn in to office by local officials. (Read more.)


Women in the Days of the Cathedrals

While researching my novel set in medieval France, I was recommended  Women in the Days of the Cathedral Share

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Saint George and King Charles I

But the knight, turning him about, bade her remain where she was, and went out to meet the dragon.
When it observed him approach, the beast was struck with amazement, and, having paused for but a moment, it ran toward the knight with a great swiftness, and beating its dark wings upon the ground as it ran.
When it drew near to him, it puffed out from its nostrils a smoke so dense that the knight was enveloped in it as in a cloud; and darted hot flames from its eyes. Rearing its horrid body, it beat against the knight, dealing him fearful blows; but he, bending, thrust his spear against it, and caught the blows upon his shield. 
~ Legend of St. George and the Dragon

St. George's Day is on April 23. St. George is the patron saint of England as well as the patron of the Royal Order of the Garter, the order of chivalry cherished by King Charles I. The legend of St. George and the dragon was one of the most popular stories in the Middle Ages. St. George is generally believed to have lived in Asia Minor and to have suffered under the Emperor Diocletian. Ascalon, the sword of St. George, was celebrated by knights who took the martyred warrior as the patron of chivalry. While his name became the battle-cry of Merry Old England, St. George  was universally venerated in both the East and the West; in the Roman Church he was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

While we know there was indeed a martyr named George, how true is the account of his battle with the dragon? According to New Advent:
This episode of the dragon is in fact a very late development, which cannot be traced further back than the twelfth or thirteenth century. It is found in the Golden Legend (Historia Lombardic of James de Voragine and to this circumstance it probably owes its wide diffusion. It may have been derived from an allegorization of the tyrant Diocletian or Dadianus, who is sometimes called a dragon (ho bythios drakon) in the older text, but despite the researches of Vetter (Reinbot von Durne, pp.lxxv-cix) the origin of the dragon story remains very obscure. In any case the late occurrence of this development refutes the attempts made to derive it from pagan sources....

The best known form of the legend of St. George and the Dragon is that made popular by the "Legenda Aurea", and translated into English by Caxton. According to this, a terrible dragon had ravaged all the country round a city of Libya, called Selena, making its lair in a marshy swamp. Its breath caused pestilence whenever it approached the town, so the people gave the monster two sheep every day to satisfy its hunger, but, when the sheep failed, a human victim was necessary and lots were drawn to determine the victim.

On one occasion the lot fell to the king's little daughter. The king offered all his wealth to purchase a substitute, but the people had pledged themselves that no substitutes should be allowed, and so the maiden, dressed as a bride, was led to the marsh. There St. George chanced to ride by, and asked the maiden what she did, but she bade him leave her lest he also might perish. The good knight stayed, however, and, when the dragon appeared, St. George, making the sign of the cross, bravely attacked it and transfixed it with his lance. Then asking the maiden for her girdle (an incident in the story which may possibly have something to do with St. George's selection as patron of the Order of the Garter), he bound it round the neck of the monster, and thereupon the princess was able to lead it like a lamb.

They then returned to the city, where St. George bade the people have no fear but only be baptized, after which he cut off the dragon's head and the townsfolk were all converted. The king would have given George half his kingdom, but the saint replied that he must ride on, bidding the king meanwhile take good care of God's churches, honour the clergy, and have pity on the poor. The earliest reference to any such episode in art is probably to be found in an old Roman tombstone at Conisborough in Yorkshire, considered to belong to the first half of the twelfth century. Here the princess is depicted as already in the dragon's clutches, while an abbot stands by and blesses the rescuer.
The key to the legend of St. George is that it epitomizes the spiritual combat in which all Christians are engaged, on one level or another. As Fr. Blake explains:
I love saints like St George, whose true story is lost in myth. In both stories George becomes a Christian "everyman". The first legend reminds us that despite every attempt to overcome him by God's grace George endures and survives all, and even in death is victorious.
The second story draws on apocalyptic imagery, the dragon is the symbol of evil, the power of sin, but here it is to be contrasted with the pure virgin. I am reminded of St Athanasius' struggle for twenty years in the tomb against demons. In all of us there is the pure virgin and the dragon. George, here takes on the attributes of St Michael (Michael means "Who is like God"), in his struggle he overcomes evil which then becomes subject to purity.
King Charles I was greatly devoted to the chivalric mission of the English Order of the Garter, founded by Edward III on Saint George's Day, 1348. Charles I had the Garter Star embroidered on the cloaks of all the knights, as a "testimony to the World." From The Victoria and Albert:
This form of the Order of the Garter (the highest order of English knighthood) as a star was introduced by Charles I (ruled 1625-1649) in 1627. It was to be worn by Knights of the Garter 'upon the left part of their cloaks, coats and riding cassocks, at all times when they shall not wear their robes, and in all places and assemblies...a testimony to the World, of the honour they hold...the Order Instituted and Ordained for persons of the highest honour and greatest worth'. (Read more.)
A pendant of Saint George slaying the dragon was also worn. From Sotheby's:

By the end of the fifteenth century a collar had been added to the regalia, possibly as a result of the influence of foreign Orders where a collar was worn to form a badge. The collar design has changed very little since its introduction being composed of a series of gold heraldic knots and roses encircled by the Garter, with a hanging pendant of St George slaying a dragon, known as the Great George.  As for other British chivalric orders, the collar is worn on ceremonial occasions and designated Collar Days throughout the year.

Over time the collar came to be regarded as an encumbrance during ordinary activities and by the early sixteenth century the first reference can be found to the Lesser George [Lots 24; 28], an image of St George encircled with the Garter worn as a separate badge. Lesser Georges were originally hung from a blue ribbon around the neck so as to be worn upon the breast. But by the late seventeenth century it had become practice to sling the Lesser George under the right arm, a contemporary chronicler explaining that this was for ‘conveniency of riding and action’. (Read more.)

From the Royal Collection Trust:

A length of blue silk attached to a book in the Royal Collection may in fact be the Garter ribbon worn by Charles I as he sat for Sir Anthony van Dyck’s famous triple portrait, scientific analysis has revealed. The portrait and the ribbon will be brought together for the first time for In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, which opens on 10 May, 2013, at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace.  The exhibition explores the changing fashions of the rich and powerful of the Tudor and Stuart era through paintings, drawings and prints, as well as rare surviving examples of clothing and accessories.

Charles I placed great importance on the Order of the Garter, the oldest and highest order of chivalry in England – even wearing a Garter badge to his execution in 1649.  Fourteen years earlier, in Van Dyck’s portrait, the monarch is shown wearing a pale blue Garter ribbon around his neck. 

The inclusion of Van Dyck’s painting in the exhibition prompted Royal Collection Trust curators to take a closer look at four lengths of blue silk ribbon attached to the binding of a copy of the Eikon Basilike (‘The Royal Portrait’), now in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle.  The book was first published just ten days after the monarch’s execution on 30 January 1649 and quickly became one of the biggest-selling books of the 17th century, fuelling the image of Charles I as a martyr. (Read more.)

Charles I never converted to Catholicism, in spite of his wife Queen Henrietta Maria's efforts and prayers. He continued to collect recusancy fines from practicing Catholics throughout his personal rule. However, he frequently showed  leniency to Catholics who had been arrested. Charles insisted that the Church of England be hierarchical and appointed bishops who were in favor of a majestic and dignified liturgy. His mentor and Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud, upset the Puritans when he said that the Church of Rome was not the "Whore of Babylon." (In spite of that, Henrietta Maria never liked him.) From The Amish Catholic on the life and death of Charles I:

A few years ago, Fr. Hunwicke produced a very good argument as to why, canonically and liturgically, a soul who died in schism could be recognized as a saint (taking the precedent of various Eastern saints like Palamas and Gregory of Narek). He has argued for a favorable reading of Charles’s Catholicizing tendencies before.

I would add my voice to Fr. Hunwicke’s. Charles was, on the whole, a boon to the Catholic Church. Charles’s marriage to a formidable Catholic princess, Henrietta Maria of France, saw the arrival at court of Roman Catholic priests, a first since the days of Mary Tudor. He allowed the ambassadors of foreign courts to hold their own chaplains, notably at St. James’s, Spanish Place. Charles even opened up diplomatic talks with the Pope for the first time in decades, receiving more than one papal legate during his personal reign. High-level talks about reunion between the two churches were carried on in secret. He wrote to the Pope, in a letter of 1623 preserved and collected for publication by Sir Charles Petrie (1935),

Be your holiness persuaded that I am, and ever shall be, of such moderation as to keep aloof, as far as possible, from every undertaking which may testify any hatred towards the Roman Catholic religion. Nay, rather I will seize all opportunities, by a gentle and generous mode of conduct, to remove all sinister suspicions entirely; so that, as we all confess one undivided Trinity and one Christ crucified, we may be banded together unanimously into one faith. (See Petrie, The Letters…of King Charles I, pg. 16).

Of course, Charles was inconstant in these measures of good will. He was harsher on Recusants when it came to fines, but significantly lowered priest-hunting efforts. I believe I will not err in saying that, among the many martyrs of the English Reformation, none came during the King’s personal reign in the 1630’s. I only count four overall, of which we can probably acquit Charles from the burden of guilt. The two Catholics executed in 1628 – St. Edmund Arrowsmith, a Jesuit, and Blessed Richard Herst, a layman – seem to have fallen victim to the prejudices of lower officials rather than to any especially anti-Catholic venom emanating from the Crown. And once trouble with the Scots and Parliament began, Charles attempted to hold the situation together by, among other things, clamping down on priests. But even those martyrs which followed in the wake of these efforts owe their deaths more to the actions of local and middling anti-Papist forces than to the intentions of a harried crown. Only two seem to have died in 1641, the last year the King had any discernible control over what was going on in London. Realistically, it would be more appropriate to blame parliament for those deaths. In his church appointments, Charles always preferred those clerics who showed a marked sympathy to the doctrine of Rome. William Laud is only one among several examples that could be cited. (Read more.)

This triple portrait by Van Dyck was for the purpose of making a sculpture of the King
Henrietta Maria holding a butterfly

I am happy to announce that I have become a staff writer for The Easton Gazette under my legal name, Mary-Eileen Russell. I am mostly writing about cultural things but some political. Please do follow The Easton Gazette on social media. We are on Facebook, Gab,Telegram, Rumble, Truth Social, Gettr, X/Twitter.



Columbia President After 9/11 Said Terrorism Is ‘A Form Of Protesting’

 From The Daily Wire:

Just two months after the September 11 terrorist attack on the United States, Columbia University’s president Minouche Shafik remarked that terrorism was a “form of protesting against a system,” according to a video unearthed by The Daily Wire.

Shafik, who was a vice president at the World Bank at the time, was asked about the economic roots of terrorism in developing countries during an event with the University of California-Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies. While she condemned “extreme views” held by terrorist groups, she said the reason they are popular is because terrorism is a “protest.”

“You’ll always have individuals who will have extreme views,” Shafik said at the November 2001 event, “but what’s really troubling in the region is that there’s actually quite a broad base of society which has some sympathy for the terrorists, not so much because they approve of their methods, but it’s a form of protesting against a system which is not delivering for them on the economic or the political front.” (Read more.)

Divine Right and the Petition of Right

 From The History Jar:

Divine right is the belief in the God given right of a monarch to rule. The idea was established in the reign of James (1603-25) who believed that the king was subject to no other earthly authority and could only be judged by God. Any attempt to depose or even to restrict the powers of the king went against God’s will. In 1598 he had published a book called The True Law of Free Monarchies. He claimed that ‘Kings are justly called gods for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of divine power on earth’. The Basilikon Doron written by the king as a set of instructions for his eldest son, Prince Henry, in 1599 identified his ideology more clearly.

The book is divided into three parts:

I) how to be a Christian king

2) practical aspects of kingship

3) the king’s behaviour in everyday life.

James’ belief in the divine right of kings had a negative impact on his relationship with the English Parliament. During the reign of his successor, Charles who inherited the throne following the deaths of his elder brother in 1612 and James in 1625 also believed in the divine right of kings. Charles I also believed that because he was God’s representative only he had the right to make laws and that to oppose him was a sin. He believed that he was above the law and had to govern according to his conscience.

By the time James died in 1625 Parliament was suspicious of the Stuart kings, by 1628 the tension turned to Parliamentary demands known as the Petition of Right. Charles lacked both experience and confidence and relied upon the advice of his favourite, the Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham advocated a raid on Cadiz which was a disaster. Parliament demanded that she should be impeached – so Charles dissolved parliament before it granted him any funds. Buckingham arranged for the king to marry a French Catholic bride (Henrietta Maria) and then went to war with the French in 1627 in support of the Huguenots of La Rochelle – the whole thing was a disaster because of poor planning. By 1628 Charles was at war, without any money and was trying to extract forced loans. He had no choice but to call Parliament. (Read more.)


Monday, April 22, 2024

The Context of Henriette-Marie


An insightful assessment of My Queen, My Love from Laura Crockett at The History Desk:

Henriette Marie married Charles I of England in 1625. She became his queen but was never crowned, formally. When she married Charles, she was 15. Our modern perspective tells us that is a mere girl. Nevertheless, previous ages were practical in these matters. Henriette died when she was 59. That too, is young in our eyes.  Nonetheless, she lived to a ripe age, because the average, back in the day, was 35 years.

Vidal structures the story as one of those perfect circles, wherein she begins with Marie de Medici, Henriette’s mother, and then closes the story with Marie. What is given to us, in between the Marie sections, is the story of her daughter, who lived during a crucial development era in the history of the Western world.

Marie’s story is fascinating all on its own. Marie was an old maid of 25 before she was married. But what a marriage! Her guy was Henry IV, perhaps one of the smartest men to hold the French crown for centuries. His grandson was Louis XIV. But after that, for the French royal houses, it was all downhill. Marie was Henri’s second wife. Louis XIII, of Musketeer fame, was their first child. Henriette their last. When Henriette was still in infancy, her father was assassinated. That was an event that truly changed the trajectory of history. Henri would be considered a rather liberal thinker, in the traditional sense of the word; live, and let live. Indeed, the French coined the phrase, laissez faire; leave it alone. Wherein we get the phrase, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Henri gave us the Edict of Nance, which ended the religious wars in France. The essence of the Edict was toleration of the protestants, i.e., leave them alone. (Read more.)


Are There Furries In Your Child's School?

 From Jan Greenhawk at The Easton Gazette:

What in the heck is a "furry? " This is a question I was asked recently by a parent who was totally confused when they saw a story about students walking out of a middle school in Utah because the Administration of their school, Mt. Nebo Middle School, allows students who claim to be animals to act and dress up like animals during school. Other students claim to be spit on, sprayed on, clawed at, barked at etc. by these "furries." The administration allegedly set up a litter box in the girls' bathroom.

So what are "furries"? I mean it sounds so cute, right? Can this be real?

Yes, it is.

"Furries" can be defined in many different ways, but the bottom line is that they are people who dress up and portray animals in their everyday lives. It's sort of like a Halloween costume but worn more, even during the day when one might be on the job or in school. The fad started in the 1980's as an off shoot of events like Comic Con where people dress up like their favorite comic book and/or science fiction characters. Rod Stansfield and his partner Mark Merlino saw hundreds, sometimes thousands, attended the Comic Con events, and decided to start one for people who wanted to take on the appearance of animals. They suddenly had a following as big as Comic Con. The furry culture grew after several popular TV series such as CSI devoted episodes to it.

Over the decades, the concept of "furries" has started creeping into society and has morphed into a haven for some adolescents and adults who are dealing with bullying or some form of disability. Others want attention and this is a way to get it. Many associate overly committed "furries" with transgenderism and point to body dysphoria as the mental state that brings on the behavior. Some associate the behavior with sexual fetishes. Many trace the practice back to anthropomorphic animals portrayed in movies, video games, and televisions.

Not all "furries" are disruptive. Some just participate in the practice during their lives outside of work or school. Like the attendees at a Comin Con, they dress up for the weekend, have a blast, and then go home to reality. (Read more.)


Harriet Tubman's Cabin

 From The Easton Gazette:

I once heard a mainstream news personality describe Harriet Tubman as someone who had led "millions" of enslaved persons to freedom during the days of legal chattel slavery in America. Such an individual clearly has no concept of how difficult it was to lead a mere ten people out of Dorchester County, Maryland, through the swamps in the middle of the night, being chased by bloodhounds. Maybe it was just her personality, or maybe it was the head injury she suffered as a teenager, but Harriet knew no fear. She had an uncompromising faith in God, and was comforted and guided by dreams and visions. Plus she made it a point to be always well-armed. She was not going down without a fight.

In the last three years or so there has been the discovery and archaeological excavation of Harriet's father's cabin in what is now known as Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge outside of Cambridge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Harriet, who was then known as Araminta Ross, or "Minty" was one of the many children of the freeman Benjamin Ross and his enslaved wife Harriet Ross. Because their father Benjamin Ross was free and married to their mother, Minty, her mother and her siblings went by the Ross name rather than the last name of their enslaver, as was usually the custom. Their enslaver was Edward Brodess who owned several properties in Dorchester County. Minty, her mother and siblings worked at a farm in Bucktown, Maryland. It was in the general store in Bucktown that thirteen-year-old Minty tried to protect an escaped slave but the white overseer threw a lead weight at her head, causing a brain injury. Minty afterwards suffered from headaches, seizures and narcolepsy but she also began to have prophetic dreams and visions. The Bucktown General Store where she was attacked and injured is now a museum. (Read more.)


Sunday, April 21, 2024

A Habsburg Archduke on Mexico’s Throne

 From The Hungarian Conservative:

Mexican conservatives approached Maximilian as early as in 1859 with the proposal of making him ruler of their country. He seemed like an ideal candidate: he was unlikely to ever rule Austria, was proven to be a competent administrator of Lombardy, and furthermore, was a royalty from a European nation that was neutral in the conflict between Mexico and the intervening powers. This scheme could finally materialize in 1863, when the French Empire and its Mexican conservative allies gained a foothold in Mexico, after Napoleon III invaded the country in 1861. To lend legitimacy to his enterprise, the French emperor allowed his Mexican allies to invite Maximilian to the throne.

Maximilian arrived at Mexico in 1864 and was subsequently crowned emperor. Despite his title and the name of the new state, Mexican Empire, Maximilian was not in charge of the whole country. Republican rebels, led by Benito Juárez still ruled many regions, especially in the northern areas, along the border with the United States.

As emperor, Maximilian continued his programme of reforms just where he had left off in Lombardy. He affirmed many of Juarez’s reform laws, including freedom of religion, and the secularization of the church landholdings. Maximilian was supported by a small, but influential group of Mexican scientists and scholars, referred to by historians as ‘los imperialistas’. Influenced by Positivist ideas, these progressive minds sought to use the monarchical framework to implement reforms. Their vision was of a centralized liberal autocracy; therefore, these intellectuals strived to reform the administration, the municipality structure, and the legal code of the country. The ‘imperialists’ also supported Maximilian in his quest to expand education and uplift the Indians. (Read more.)


Meanwhile, In Talbot County….

 In Maryland just like everywhere else the people formerly known as "liberals" are showing themselves to be quite rigid and tyrannical. From The Easton Gazette:

At 215 Bay St., Suite 7 in Easton, MD on April 17, 2024 the Board of Elections met in a meeting open to the public. They included in their agenda a time for “Public Comment” in which members of the community may speak. On their website, the Board of Elections has the following cryptic statement:

Public comment is not a Debate. It is not a question and answer session. It is not a discussion. It is not a conversation. If, after a public comment, a member of the BOE wishes to clarify by question, that is possible. With that in mind, the BOE thanks the public for your interest, welcomes the public to speak and requests that anyone who would like to speak please state your name for the record.

So it appears that public comments are welcomed as long as they are innocuous statements and do not demand too much information from the Board. At any rate, several citizens were present with questions and comments which they began to respectfully submit during the time set aside for “Public Comment.”

One citizen asked about the cameras above the two ballot drop boxes, which both appear to be attached to the buildings and are actually the buildings’ front door monitoring system. She asked if those were the cameras used to monitor the drop boxes as required by COMAR, and if so, were they retaining the videos for the required 22 months so they could be reviewed. The same person asked if the Board had addressed the issue of official emails going only to the Executive Director of the Board and not to the other members. (Read more.)


On Fair Rosamund

 I could never understand the fascination over Rosamund Clifford, especially with Eleanor of Aquitaine around. I never knew that Blenheim Palace is where Woodstock used to be. From History...the Interesting Bits:

In the same year as Eleanor’s imprisonment, Henry’s relationship with Rosamund became common knowledge. She resided at the royal palace of Woodstock in Oxfordshire, which was extensively refurbished in the early 1170s. It was said that ‘King Henry had made for her a house of wonderful workmanship, a labyrinth of Daedelian design.’¹ There was said to be a labyrinth, a secret bower where Henry and Rosamund met and a well where Rosamund bathed. Rosamund’s Well can still be seen today in the grounds of Blenheim Palace, which now stands where Woodstock once stood.

Although it has come down through legend as a great love story, nothing is known of Rosamund’s feelings towards Henry, nor whether she any any say in her position as the king’s mistress. The chroniclers of the time, of course, painted her as the fallen woman, a seductress and adulteress. They created puns derived from her name; Rosamund, or rosa mundi meaning the rose of the world became rosa immunda – the unclean rose – and rosa immundi – the unchaste rose.

 That poor Rosamund was blamed for Henry’s infidelity was a sign of the times; women were the daughters of Eve, temptation for honourable men who had no power to resist them. Rosamund’s early death was seen as a just punishment for her lascivious lifestyle. Rosamund ended her relationship with Henry in 1175/6 and withdrew to Godstow Abbey. It seems likely that she was already ill when she entered the priory and she died in 1176. Henry paid for a lavish tomb within the convent church, at which the nuns left floral tributes on a daily basis. In the years following Rosamund’s death, Henry endowed the convent with 2 churches at Wycombe and Bloxham, new buildings and substantial amounts of building materials. Rosamund’s father, Walter, granted the abbey mills and a meadow, for the souls of his wife and daughter. (Read more.)


Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Tragic Life of Marie-Thérèse of France

From Salon Privé Magazine:
As Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France grew older, the French Revolution threatened. Because the country supported the American Revolution, funds were very low and France was borderline bankrupt. Attacks on the royal family became more vicious and the monarchy’s popularity plummeted. Within the Court of Versailles, xenophobia and jealousy were the primary causes of resentment towards Marie Antoinette, and due to her unpopularity with high-ranking officials within the court, she became the target of a vicious smear campaign. Pamphlets and leaflets were printed accusing her of a wide range of sexual deviancies and of sending France into financial ruin. Now, experts agree that Marie Antoinette was unfairly victimised and did little to deserve such treatment. At the time, however, this smear campaign worked and the public turned on her. (Read more.)

Madame Royale is one of the only novels about the life of Marie-Thérèse Charlotte.


Most Americans Stand by Trump

 From MxM:

The first criminal trial facing a former president is also the one Trump case in which Americans are least convinced committed a crime, according to a new AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. Only about one-third of U.S. adults say Trump did something illegal in the hush money case for which jury selection began Monday, while close to half think he did something illegal in the other three criminal cases pending against him.

Trump enters a rematch with President Joe Biden as the first presumptive nominee of a major party — and the first former president — to be under indictment. A verdict is expected in roughly six weeks, well before the Republican National Convention, at which he will accept the GOP nomination. Trump has made the prosecutions against him a centerpiece of his campaign and argued without evidence that Biden, a Democrat, engineered the cases.

However, a cloud of doubt hangs over all the proceedings. Only about 3 in 10 Americans feel that any of the prosecutors who have brought charges against Trump are treating the former president fairly. And only about 2 in 10 Americans are extremely or very confident that the judges and jurors in the cases against him can be fair and impartial. (Read more.)


Teens 'Begging to Have Body Parts Put Back On'

 From The Western Journal:

Gender clinics are committing the worst atrocities against children, and history will judge us harshly if it doesn’t stop. At these houses of horror, radical transgender theory becomes gruesome practices, leaving bodies mutilated and children “begging to have body parts put back on within months of having surgeries.”

This stomach-churning revelation came from Jamie Reed, a whistleblower from the Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, whose exposé last February blew the lid off of this scandal, Fox News reported.

Speaking to Dr. Phil McGraw Thursday on his “Dr. Phil Primetime” program, Reed expounded on her experience in the “morally and medically appalling” industry. It’s not that Reed is a right-wing ideologue — she is, in fact, married to a transgender individual and identifies as “queer” — but rather that she witnessed a “number of things” that compelled her to speak out. (Read more.)


Friday, April 19, 2024

The Gift of the Château de Rambouillet

Neither the dairy at Rambouillet nor the one at Trianon were for "playing milkmaid." Both Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette embraced the practical view of generating food, income, and employment by having dairies, as well as giving an example to other nobles of investing in agriculture. From France Today:

Back to Louis XVI and his desperation to bring Marie-Antoinette to the castle he loved so much. Along with an experimental farm, which he populated with merino sheep imported from Spain, and a nursery garden, in which he had exotic species planted following botanic exploration trips abroad, he wooed Marie-Antoinette with a rather astonishing gift. 

He ordered the construction of an ornamental creamery, which was designed for the sole purpose of tasting and enjoying dairy products, a fashionable hobby at the end of the 18th century. The king commissioned the best artists of the time: painter Hubert Robert and sculptor Pierre Julien, who crafted the building to resemble a Greek temple. A small zoo was also built just outside the creamery. The project was completed by 1787 and the king planned a spectacular unveiling for the queen who, despite the monumental grotto, finely sculpted detailing, mahogany furniture and finest porcelain set…still preferred Versailles’ Trianon palace! (Read more.)


Biden Admin Issues New Title IX Ruling

 From The Easton Gazette:

On Friday, April 19, 2024 the Biden Administration issued its Title IX guidance and policy that will force school districts to investigate any and all sexual harassment complaints, even those that occur off school grounds. The ruling extends protections to LGBTQ students. The policy will go into effect in August 2024.

Key parts of the ruling are:

  1. Training for all employees about the school's processes to address sex discrimination and how to report to the Title IX Coordinator.
  2. Require schools to provide support to any complainant and respondent to any conduct that may constitute sex discrimination, including sexual violence and other forms of sex-based harassment.
  3. Require schools to respond promptly and effectively to any and all complaints of sexual harassment in a fair, transparent, and unbiased way that include trained decisionmakers to evaluate all relevant and not otherwise impermissible evidence.

This policy will also require that Title IX Coordinators investigators, et al. may not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainant students.

According to the chair of House Education committee the ruling " undermines existing due process rights, placing students and institutions in legal jeopardy and again undermining the protections Title IX is intended to provide." She also stated that the inclusion of transgender students rolls back protections for women.

What is missing from this policy is the proposed rule concerning trans students' participation in sports. In 2023 the proposed rule would have addressed the controversial issue. However, the possibility elicited hundreds of thousands of comments from the public. Some claim that the unpopularity of this part of the law has caused the administration to push its implementation to after the 2024 election. The rules published today will take effect in August 2024. (Read more.)


Lincoln Center Cancels Mozart

 From The New York Post:

When Black Lives Matter becomes a marketing strategy, facts offer little impediment to speaking “one’s truth.” Take the case of New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which banked its pandemic recovery on a narrative of its own abhorrence. In 2020, the center began promoting a story that a vibrant black community known as San Juan Hill had been deliberately snuffed out in the 1950s to make way for its creation.

“The displacement of Indigenous, Black, and Latinx families that took place prior to the construction of our campus is abhorrent,” declares the center’s “Message on Our Commitment to Change.”

“We may never know its full impact on those dispossessed of the land on which Lincoln Center sits. But only by acknowledging this history can we begin to confront the racism from which our institution has benefited.” (Read more.)


Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Face of Tragedy

Marie-Antoinette with Her Children
Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, the Dauphin, Madame Royale, and Princess Elisabeth are insulted by the mob on their road back to Paris after their interception at Varennes by the postmaster Drouet. Via Le Boudoir de Marie-Antoinette.
The Return from Varennes by Edward Matthew Ward


Trump Supporters in Harlem



Time and Christianity

 From Catholic Exchange:

In Confessions, Augustine provided a model of personal time that provides each person with a model of the individual experience of the life and significance of Christ that has little to do with formal chronologies, history, and public events. It depends upon the old Greek idea of the Logos as developed by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria and the Apostle John. Philo wrote of the Logos: God creates “at once, not merely by uttering a command, but by even thinking of it” (Philo, n.d., III.13). And John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).

Logos simply exists at all times but by taking on flesh enters into time, interacts with time, bringing light into time, whereas before there was only darkness. Darkness, time, yields to lightness, eternity. Ignorance yields to knowledge. Time is darkness because we cannot see what lies ahead. The future is unknown, and the past a memory. The present is a brief momentary anticipation of what might be. But if light enters darkness, if timeless enters time, then the path forward is brightened, made aware to us, lighting the way in the darkness. The future, always dark, is opened to light, and complete ignorance gives way to some knowledge of what will be. Not what might be. Because the night implies ignorance, implies that we are still guessing based on experience. No, now we know what will be thanks to the light.

All cultures have struggled to know the Logos. Polytheistic peoples conceived of a divinity that was inherent in nature, controlling all things, encompassing past, present, and future. The Hebrews identified it as Yahweh. The Greeks as the mind, the infinite, the good—the Logos. Asian philosophy called it the Way, the source, the Brahma. Christianity offers a unique perspective, that of a Transcendent Being that acts in time without being confined by it, acting subtly upon the self, connecting the self to the transcendent—a direct physical and spiritual connection. (Read more.)


Wednesday, April 17, 2024

"Those Who Love" by Sara Teasdale

Those who love the most,
Do not talk of their love,
Francesca, Guinevere,
Deirdre, Iseult, Heloise,
In the fragrant gardens of heaven
Are silent, or speak if at all
Of fragile inconsequent things.

And a woman I used to know
Who loved one man from her youth,
Against the strength of the fates
Fighting in somber pride
Never spoke of this thing,
But hearing his name by chance,
A light would pass over her face.

Former Philadelphia Judge of Elections Convicted of Conspiring to Violate Civil Rights and Bribery

 From the DOJ:

A former Judge of Elections has been convicted for his role in accepting bribes to cast fraudulent ballots and certifying false voting results during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections in Philadelphia. Domenick J. Demuro, 73, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty during a sealed proceeding on March 16, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond to conspiring to deprive persons of civil rights, and using interstate facilities in aid of bribery. The court unsealed the matter today. Sentencing is scheduled for June 30, 2020.

During his guilty plea hearing, Demuro admitted that while serving as an elected municipal Judge of Elections, he accepted bribes in the form of money and other things of value in exchange for adding ballots to increase the vote totals for certain candidates on the voting machines in his jurisdiction and for certifying tallies of all the ballots, including the fraudulent ballots. Demuro further admitted that a local political consultant gave him directions and paid him money to add votes for candidates supported by the consultant, including candidates for judicial office whose campaigns actually hired the consultant, and other candidates for various federal, state and local elective offices preferred by that consultant for a variety of reasons. Demuro also admitted that the votes he added in exchange for payments by the political consultant increased the number of votes fraudulently recorded and tallied for the consultant’s clients and preferred candidates, thereby diluting the ballots cast by actual voters.

“This defendant abused his office by engaging in election fraud for profit,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s conviction makes it clear that the Department of Justice will do all in its power to protect the integrity of elections and maintain public confidence in all levels of elected government.” (Read more.)

Queen Victoria's Memorial to Princess Elizabeth Stuart

"To the memory of The Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King Charles I, who died at Carisbrooke Castle on 8 September 1650, and is interred beneath the chancel of this church, this monument is erected as a token of respect for her virtues and of sympathy for her misfortunes, by Victoria R., 1856."
Princess Elizabeth was the daughter of Charles I and Henrietta Maria who died in prison with her head cushioned on her father's Bible. From The Victorian Web:
The daughter of Charles I of England, Princess Elizabeth (1635-1650) was imprisoned, together with her young brother Henry, Duke of Gloucester, after the execution of their father. From Penshurst Place, the children were sent in August 1650 to Carisbrooke Castle, where Elizabeth immediately fell ill and died on the 8 September. She was buried in the old St Thomas Church, Newport. A plain stone engraved with her initials, E. S., was the only indication of her burial place beneath the chancel. In 1793, workers, who were digging a grave, discovered her vault with her coffin bearing the following inscription: "ELIZABETH, 2nd daughter of the late King CHARLES, deceased September 8th, MDCL." A brass plaque was then placed on the stone covering the vault below the main altar. On the rebuilding of the church, Queen Victoria signified to the Mayor that she would erect a monument to the memory of the Princess Elizabeth "if an appropriate place could be found in the new Church" (Isle of Wight Observer, 5 August 1854: 4). (Read more.)
Princess Elizabeth and Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, saying farewell to their father Charles I
 More HERE.

Death of  Princess Elizabeth


Tuesday, April 16, 2024


Lilacs by Pierre-Joseph Redouté


Lilacs by Mary Cassatt

Our lilacs are blooming in Maryland. Here is an article on the history of lilacs. Lilacs were much loved by Marie-Antoinette. And here is an excerpt from the poem "Lilacs" by Amy Lowell:

Lilacs in dooryards
Holding quiet conversations with an early moon;
Lilacs watching a deserted house
Settling sideways into the grass of an old road;
Lilacs, wind-beaten, staggering under a lopsided shock of bloom
Above a cellar dug into a hill.
You are everywhere.
You were everywhere.
You tapped the window when the preacher preached his sermon,
And ran along the road beside the boy going to school.
You stood by the pasture-bars to give the cows good milking,
You persuaded the housewife that her dishpan was of silver.
And her husband an image of pure gold.
You flaunted the fragrance of your blossoms
Through the wide doors of Custom Houses—
You, and sandal-wood, and tea,
Charging the noses of quill-driving clerks
When a ship was in from China.

 (Read more.)


More lilacs at East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Lilacs by Dora Koch-Stetter