sábado, 31 de enero de 2015

January 31: Today is the anniversary of the abolition of Corn Laws in the United Kingdom of Great Britain pursuant to legislation in 1846.

Trade laws were enacted to protect cereal growers and producers throughout the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland against foreign producers who were able to plant, grow and harvest wheat, barley, corn, oats, and millet or sorghum, mainly. Thus, Corn Laws were taxes levied on imported cereal grains in order to keep prices high to benefit capitalists.
                        Signing an Anti-Corn-Law Petition

Between 1815 and 1846, the British Crown defended British producers and marketers so they could derive maximum profit. The best way was to set higher taxes on imports, called tariffs. Consequently, it was very expensive to import grain from other countries due to high tariffs needed to nationalize them.

Because Britain was unwilling to import Europe's grain, European countries were unable to buy British manufactures. Hence trade suffered badly at a time

These laws were a model of application known as the "mercantilism" system, which was an economic system to protect local production, and taxed very heavily on imports to avoid competition with the British capitalists.

Points of view

The protection of wheat, over other cereal grains, was very important because workers living depended heavily on bread that is made from wheat. For Queen Victoria, wheat protection was a matter of food security, but for capitalists, was a necessity to accumulate wealth, even though there was hunger at home. In fact, in 1845, broke the famous "famine" of Ireland, because the potato crops were infected with a fungus similar to "rust" that destroyed almost all Irish agriculture. Hence, Ireland lost almost half of its population: a quarter starved, and the other had to migrate, mainly to the United States.

viernes, 30 de enero de 2015

January 30: Charles I, King of England, is publicly beheaded in 1649.

Portrait from the studio of Anthony van Dyck, 1636. 

Charles I came to the throne in 1625 after the death of his father, James I. Like his father, he believed in the Divine Right of Kings.

Even though, only the parliament could pass laws and authorize money for conflicts such as wars, because they refused to do as he wished, Charles chose to rule without them.

Charles depicted by Wenceslaus Hollar on horseback in front of his troops, 1644

King Charles made mistakes over and over again throughout his reign. He led his country England into Civil War and ultimately led to his death. He was executed in the public square on January 30th 1649, horrifying Europe.

       King Charles I of England taking leave of his children before his execution.

Charles I ruled over three kingdoms: England, Scotland, and Ireland from March 27th, 1625 until he was beheaded in January 30th, 1649.

An Eyewitness Representation of the Execution of King Charles I (1600-49) of England, 1649

During the seventeenth century there was a civil war in England known as the English Revolution, which took place in two stages: first, between 1643 and 1648, produced by the confrontation between advocates of an absolutist monarchical power and middle class with economic power, supporters of Parliament and led by MP and General Oliver Cromwell.

There was, then, a Republican interregnum between 1649 and 1660, during which Cromwell was proclaimed Lord Protector by a law called the Instrument of Government.

Also during this period, Cromwell established the Commonwealth by the military use against Ireland and Scotland, achieving a territorial rearrangement with massive expropriation of lands of Catholics.

Execution of Charles I. Illustration from History of England by Henry Tyrrell, 1860.

The second stage of the conflict occurred between 1688 and 1689, without military confrontation inside the Parliament which decided the establishment of a political system based on a parliamentary monarchy, which exists in current European monarchies. It eliminated absolutism by limiting the powers of the monarch and Parliament's involvement.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, European international relations were characterized by constant confrontation between the powers in pursuit of territorial expansion, economic and political power.

jueves, 29 de enero de 2015

January 29: France beat Russia and Prussia together in the Battle of Brienne, led by Napoleon I in 1814.

                              Battle of Brienne Napoleon vs Cossacks

After the defeats suffered by Napoleon and his Grand Army in 1812 during the Russian winter, and then in 1813, Napoleon returned to resume his throne for 100 days.

          Napoleon's Peril at Brienne, where he is almost captured by Cossacks

The Battle of Brienne took place near the Castillo de Brienne, where Napoleon Bonaparte attended military school at an early age. The Allies advanced on France from three different directions, but Napoleon defeated one by one, starting with partition of Russian-Prussian Silesia troops under the command of Prussian Field Marshal Blücher, old enemies of the Emperor.

Napoleon I Bonaparte

During the intense battle, Napoleon was almost taken prisoner by the Russians, admired and feared by Napoleon for their discipline, strength and military preparedness: The Cossacks. Napoleon´s General Gourgaud saved him from falling prisioner of the Cossacks. The battle ended about midnight when the allies retreated.

miércoles, 28 de enero de 2015

January 28: Start the Diet of Worms (Assembly) in 1521 to judge Martin Luther. It will last until May 25

                                        The 95 theses of Martin Luther

On January 28, 1521 was launched a meeting of electors of the Holy Roman Empire to cite or notice Martin Luther to recant, at least 41 of the 95 theses he had written and nailed to the Church doors of the Palace of Wittenberg, Germany. That assembly, better known known as the Diet of Worms, having been held in the German city, was presided over by the Emperor Charles V.

                                                         Diet of Worms

Martin Luther was a professor at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. He became famous due to his bold criticism of the Roman Catholic Church, papal authority, and the sacraments. Luther nailed his Ninety-five theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral in 1517. The Protestant Reformation begun against the powers of the Pope, the greed within the Church, and the abuse of indulgences to pay for the construction of the Vatican. As a consequence, The Pope excommunicated Luther.

Luther at Diet of Worms

Actually, Luther wanted the Catholic Church to change its attitude, regarding mainly to the sale of indulgences to raise funds to finance the construction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Pope Leo X issued a papal bull calling for Luther to recant and therefore cited the assembly of the Holy Empire because the reviews of Luther ran through most of Europe causing popular revolts urged on by some of those electors who did not want to continue paying money to the Catholic Church in Rome. Indeed, Frederick III, Elector of Saxony and Meissen Jorge banned the business of indulgences in their territories.

                                Luther at the Diet of Worms

Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, also called Frederick “the Wise” for being a supporter of fine arts and letters, had declined the offer to the throne in favor of Charles I of Spain and V of Austria. However, Frederick was a defender of Luther and even demanded that he be granted a safe conduct to avoid being arrested. Even, it is said that Federico "kidnapped" Luther to hide a possible murder. In his Castillo, Frederick III of Saxony financed Luther to do the translation and the Bible into German.

martes, 27 de enero de 2015

January 27: In the year 98, Trajan took the throne of the Roman Empire to enlarge it to its fullest extent.

                           Marble bust of Trajan.

Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Nervae Divi filius Augustus, better known as Trajan, was Emperor of Rome between AD 98 and 117. Trajan was declared by the Senate as "Optimus Princeps" (The best ruler) because he was a soldier emperor who led the Roman Empire to its greatest extent and power.

                  Trajan´s Column, Rome.

Trajan was distinguished by the consideration and respect he had for the Roman Senate. But he is remembered more for his tenure as leader and executor of projects, achievable all with admirable success. Executing public works and protector of the helpless, Trajan was an example of good government with no interests other than those of the empire growth and serving the people with dignity and honor.

                           The extent of the Roman Empire under Trajan (117)

The social program included Trajan building of social housing that earned him the esteem and admiration of the Roman plebs. He built the so-called "Trajan's Forum," the "Trajan's Market" and the famous "Column of Trajan".

  The Alcántara Bridge , widely hailed as a masterpiece of Roman Engineering.  

The peace lasted throughout the Mediterranean during the 19 years of its mandate imperial. However, is remembered mainly for his military campaigns, which led the borders of the Roman Empire until its point of maximum expansion.

                The forum of Trajan and the visible part of the Trajan's market.

In 117, after leading the Roman expansion in the East and Africa, Trajan fell ill and died of a heart attack in the city of Selinus, on the Mediterranean coast of southern Turkey.

Trajan's legacy has endured for more than 19 centuries. St. Thomas Aquinas referred to Trajan as a "virtuous pagan". Dante described in his "Divine Comedy" in spiritual terms as "Trajan in the Heaven of Jupiter" with other mythological deities, ennobled by their righteousness.

lunes, 26 de enero de 2015

January 26: The Council of Trent explains the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, in 1564.

The Council of Trent meeting in Santa Maria Maggiore church in Trent, Italy. Unknown artist.

The Catholic Church established the ecumenical councils and assemblies of bishops to deliberate on Christian faith through the inhabited world, according to the Romans.

Historians say that the first Council was convened by Saint Peter around the year 50 in Jerusalem. At that meeting they forgave the Jews who converted to Christianity.

                   The Council, depicted by Pasquale Cati  (Cati da Iesi)

As the Pope is the follower of Peter, he has the power to summon councils to discuss matters of Christian faith. It is essential that there most meet all diocesan bishops of the world to achieve the quorum and thus to enact all agreements by the Supreme Pontiff.

    Pope St. Pius V vigorously promulgated the decrees of the Council of Trent.

The Council of Trent was a need to address the Protestant reforms that led Martin Luther. It was held between 1545 and 1563 in Trento (Trent) and Bologna, northern Italy. The Council established the Tridentine Mass (the Latin Eucharistic liturgy used by the Roman Catholic Church from 1570 to 1964).

In this Council the differences with the reformists, led by Martin Luther were well defined. The Pontiff of the Catholic Church, Pius IV Sumo enacted rules, practices, and procedures to be implemented in the Catholic Church henceforth as Dogma of Faith.

The Council of Trent was the most important movement of the Catholic Counter-Reformation.

The Council was divided into three stages: First stage, between 1545 and 1547, which discussed the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The second round was gathered between 1551 and 1552, only one year. This meeting was convened by Pope Julius III, who focused on the interpretation of the Sacraments. The third meeting would not touch the subject of the Pope, crucial to Protestantism. Pope Pius IV only accepted doctrinal documents and issued the "Tridentine Profession of Faith", referring to the Council, which established the disciplinary concept that should continue for aspiring priests.

                    Council of Trent: The Canons and Decrees of the Council.

domingo, 25 de enero de 2015

January 25: After a night of negotiations, Claudius is accepted by the Senate, as Emperor of Rome in the year 41.

Bust of Emperor Claudius. Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli.

Claudius was born as Tiberius Claudius Drusus. He became Emperor of Rome from 41 to 54, a.D., with the name of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, better known as the Emperor Claudius. It was the first Roman emperor who was born outside the Italian peninsula. Claudius was born in the present city of Lyon, in France, then called "Lugdunum", in Gaul.

Proclaiming Claudius Emperor, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, oil on canvas, c. 1867.

Claudius was the successor of Caligula, assassinated by his Praetorian Guard, as we saw in the previous Blog. In addition, we must remember that Caligula, Claudius nephew, took him out of ostracism and named him Consul, first, and then Senator. Some sources indicate that Claudius was the laughingstock of the Empire. Indeed, many Praetorian and senators considered him a ridiculous person serving of fun.

Soldier Gratus proclaims Claudius emperor. Detail from A Roman Emperor 41AD, by Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Oil on canvas, 1871.  

As shown in the picture and then the stabbing death of Caligula, Claudius was found hiding behind curtains shivering from fear. Centurions hauled him out and took him before the people as the new Emperor, so mocking and making people laugh all present.

A statue of Claudius in the Vatican Museum.  

Actually, when Casius Chaerea and his Praetorian Guards stabbed Caligula, the intention was to have a weak emperor, which could be manipulated as if it were a puppet, and that the negotiations with the Senate should be treated overnight, post- Caligula mortem.

                     Outer side of the Porta Maggiore, aqueduct in Rome

It is not clear what caused Claudius death. Historians seem to agree that he was poisoned with poisonous mushrooms and died on October 13 of the year 54, by his wife Agrippina, Nero's mother.

Bust of Claudius. The National Archaeological Museum of Spain.

Claudius expanded the Roman Empire as not seen since the days of Augustus. Indeed, annexed everything we know today from Bulgaria (Thrace) to the Middle East, including Judea. Moreover, he finished the conquest of Mauritania that Caligula had begun. But the most significant company Claudius was programming was the conquest of Britain, which earned admiration by the military and senatorial members.

The Invasion of the Emperor Claudius. Illustration for The Pageant of British History

Rome swelled with pride with this enterprise of conquest and execution of public works such as aqueducts, roads and canals throughout the empire. Notably he did open a channel between the Rhine River, Germany, to the Adriatic sea. He built irrigation channels and drainage for all the agricultural area of the Roman Empire.

sábado, 24 de enero de 2015

January 24: The Roman emperor Caligula was assassinated by his Praetorian Guard which in turn proclaimed Emperor Claudius, Caligula's uncle, in the year 41 AD.

                               Gaius Caesar Caligula

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, more popularly known as Caligula ruled Rome from March 16 from 37 to January 24 of the year 41, when the centurion commander Casio Chaerea, accompanied by the Praetorian Guard, stabbed the emperor to death.

Marble bust of Caligula –Side- New York City, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The eccentricity and despotism of Caligula produced a growing discontent in the Senate, in the equestrian society, and in the same Praetorian Guard whose commander was branded effeminate and incompetent in front of the centurions.

Gaius, as they refer to some historians, was the last male descendant of Augustus, in a direct line.

                                                  A Caliga

Agrippina, the mother of Caligula, was widowed when his son was just seven years old. She took care of educating her child with stories that aggrandized the figure of his father to the point that the pride of Gaius overflowed the most conceited of his time.

Youth on Horseback of Caligula. British Musum.

There is very little literature on Caligula´s youth. However, Caligula was loved by the populace that he felt pride and admiration for his father Germanicus. Even when Caligula entered Rome as Emperor, joy and glory throughout the city flourished as never before had cheered for another emperor.

Caligula appoints his horse “Incitatus” for consul and priest

Bibliographical sources narrate a collection of crazy scandals from incest, murder, orgies, until the appointment of his horse "Incitatus" as consul of Rome and priest of the gods. However, the accuracy of such an event has been questioned by historian revisionists such as Anthony A. Barrett who considers that such a story was elaborated. But how does he know that?

                                  Death of the Roman Emperor Caligula

According to Seneca, the nickname Caligula was placed by the soldiers of his Germanic father because he was carrying his child in military dress which included a Roman sandals called "Caligae" to what the soldiers called "Caligula" the child Gaius, and well rested, despite hated that nickname for the rest of his life.

viernes, 23 de enero de 2015

January 23: In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang ascends the throne of China, as the Emperor Hongwu who begins the famous Ming Dynasty, which lasted nearly three centuries in power.

The Ming Dynasty was started in 1368 by a peasant who became known as Hongwu (Vast Military) Emperor.

The Ming Dynasty ruled China for 276 years, from 1368 to 1644. The Ming Dynasty has been described as one of the greatest eras of government order and social stability in human history.

                  Picture of Emperor Hongwu.

Hongwu Emperor was in power for 30 years between 1368 and 1398. The emperor was also known as Taizu (of peasant origin) whose first action was to expel the Mongols and restore land devastated by the Mongol invaders. The Mongol Yuan Dynasty was expelled completely from China.

The Great Wall of China to stop Mongol invaders

The Hongwu Emperor undertook great projects with irrigation systems to return to cultivate the land and reforest the country side. Cereals harvested were transported by sea to the north, with the obstacles of storms and piracy.

A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi).

The absolutist government of Taizu was reflecting his peasant origins. He also began to distrust everyone and turned brutally excessive. He created a secret police to spy on, arrest, torture and even murder without trial. Politics forbade women and eunuchs, because the latter came to have control over almost all levels of government.

Jar, Ming dynasty, Xuande mark and period (1426–1435) China Porcelain painted in underglaze blue.

Hongwu created a powerful self-sufficient society that could sustain an army of one million soldiers to defend his dynastic empire. China's capital was moved from Nanjing to Beijing, where they built the "Forbidden City", residence of the Emperor and his court.

A 15th century, Ming Dynasty "Chicken Cup" valued at $26 million.

The next 246 years they ruled the Ming Dynasty and left a legacy that will transcend throughout the future, perhaps to the "end times". Indeed, in order to prevent future invasions, the Ming Dynasty ordered to build the famous Great Wall of China. In artistic matters, is admirable beauty and fineness of the Ming ceramics. In addition, China's capital was moved from Nanjing to Beijing where they ordered the construction of "The Forbidden City" as the residence of the emperor and his court.

jueves, 22 de enero de 2015

January 22: The first 150 Swiss Guards come to the Vatican to guard the Pope in 1506.

Pope Sixtus IV

The Swiss Guard is comprised of very well trained to serve as bodyguards and escorts in European courts since the fifteenth century with Swiss soldiers. They are really regiments of mercenaries to guard the kings of France, Spain, Naples, and families of high european nobility who distrusted his own countrymen. Indeed, many of poisonings and stabbings in the high courts led to distrust the courtiers servers.

The Vatican s Swiss Guard

The use of Swiss mercenaries to care for kings, popes, and noble european lies in the way Swiss soldiers managed to build their reputation through responsibility, loyalty, strength, and discipline. Switzerland was a poor country and the young men had to emigrate to seek their fortune abroad. By having these values of military training, recognition as the best soldiers with special tactical battle, Swiss soldiers were, therefore, considered the best troops of the European fifteenth century.

Pope Sixtus IV between 1471 and 1484 formed an alliance with the Swiss Confederation and erected barricades on the Via Pellegrino after analyzing the possibilities of recruiting Swiss mercenaries. The covenant was renewed by Innocent VIII, in order to use them against the Duke of Milan, between 1484 and 1492. Pope Alexander VI was between 1492 and 1503, hired the Swiss company of the king of France. Then, during the time of the Borgias, the Swiss guards were in charge of the Italian Wars and collaborated with the Holy Roman Empire in Vienna, Austria.

Pope Francis is friendly with Swiss guards

The Vatican Swiss Guard enlisted to defend Naples in an orderly French invasion by King Charles VIII of France. A soldier who participated in the struggle was Giuliano della Rovere, who later became Bishop of Lausanne, Switzerland and later Pope Julius II in 1503. Knowing the skills and values of Swiss mercenaries, Pope Julius II asked the Swiss Diet 200 guards to provide him permanently, for the Vatican. A first contingent of 150 mercenaries arrived in Rome on January 22, 1506. The Pope gave them the title of "Defenders of freedom of the Church".