and the Professor.
Federick the Great Gave Away
the Moon in the Summer of 1756.
By Ebenezer Bowles
Posted Sun 3/28/04 1:11 PM
A few weeks before he ordered the Prussian army to invade Saxony, Frederick the Great paused from his diplomatic and political intrigues in Europe to give away the Moon.
According to an elderly man from Westphalia, the Emperor Frederick on July 15, 1756, presented the Moon to Aul Juergens as a reward for faithful service to the crown. "Frederick decreed that the moon would remain in my family's possession for ever, and should be passed on to the youngest born son," Martin Juergens, Aul's ancestor, told the world at a 1996 news conference in Germany. It was "a symbolic gesture of gratitude for services rendered," Mr. Juergens said. Frederick's decree remains valid, Mr. Juergens continued — adding that he, and only he, owns the Moon today.
Mr. Juergens demanded that Dennis Hope of California, who founded the Lunar Embassy in 1980, renounce his scurrilous claim to the lunar surface and cease his fraudulent sales of lunar real estate. Mr. Hope wasn't impressed. "Juergens said his family was given the moon, but he has no paperwork to prove that case," Mr. Hope said. "He sent me a long letter in German, which roughly translated said I should cease and desist and send him all the money I had made."
Mr. Hope staked his claim for ownership of the Moon with the U.S. government almost twenty-five years ago. He based it on a loophole in the 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty, which forbids governments from owning extraterrestrial property, but fails to mention corporations or individuals. Experts in space law scoff at the claim, branding it hollow and fraudulent. The Lunar Embassy remains undaunted. It claims to have sold hundreds of thousands of acres of lunar property — with plenty more lots available for immediate sale. Interested? You can purchase your "prime view" lunar acre for only $19.99. A mouse click of the moon image floating in this paragraph will launch your buying experience.
A search for more information about Frederick the Great and his magnanimous act of awarding the Moon to a dutiful servant proved fruitless. We do wonder how the Prussian Emperor acquired the deed in the first place.
The Queen's Ladies-in-Waiting
and the History of Manners.
By Melissa Moore
Posted Thu 3/11/04 1:02 PM
Last week when we were talking about the "ladies-in-waiting" who were in service to the Queen (Sarah Churchill, for example), I started to wonder what exactly these ladies did in service to the Queen. Were they just the Queen's closest friends and advisors? I was wondering if these "ladies-in-waiting" were like the "groom of the stool" for Louis XIV, or if these women even did menial tasks for the Queen, like Louis XIV's nobles did for him.
Also, in the last class period, Dr. Fritze stated that manners came from Italy — How is that little tidbit known? I would love to learn about the historical evolution of manners — cause as my Mom says, "manners are the currency of the new millennium."
Posted: Tue 3/16/04 2:51 PM
The ladies-in-waiting served exactly the same functions for a queen as the gentleman attendents did for a king. They were high class servants and friends / companions / confidants. They would have done the groom-of-the-stool jobs and other things. They possessed great power because they possessed intimate access to the monarch's ear.
With regard to the beginning of manners, it was in the fifteenth century that people really started to become concerned about proper behavior and etiquette. In 1507, Baldesar Castiglione published his Book Of The Courtier in which he told his readers how to behave in a courtly setting. His work takes the form of a dialogue between members of the court of Urbino in Italy. Other so-called conduct books were appearing. This sort of literature helped to define what was acceptable and what was unacceptable in terms of behavior.
In terms of modern scholarship, the man who led the way was a German named Norbert Elias. In 1939 he published a study whose English title is: The Civilizing Process: The Development Of Manners, Changes In The Code Of Conduct And Feeling In Early Modern Times. He also published other similar titles and has been the inspiration for much subsequent research. This sort of history is the study of what is called "mentality," or the way people thought in the past. By the way, Elias lost both his parents to Nazi persecution in 1940 and 1941.
Having talked about the rise of modern manners, it is important to remember that other cultures and other times had their own sets of manners. The Romans definitely had a set of manners and behaviors that were considered proper. A Roman was to exhibit the traits of "auctoritas", "dignitas", and "gravitas". Without "gravitas" some people had a tendency to float away due to hot air. That is why Cicero had a lot of gravitas. Chinese people consider handkerchiefs to be a rather nasty Western item, particularly if we put a used one back in our pocket. Specific manners are learned, not innate. Hope these comments help.
Department of History
University of Central Arkansas
Conway, Arkansas 72035
The Bible Spoke to a Purpose
More Important than Astronomy.
By Rebekah Bilderback
Posted Thu 2/26/04 12:23 AM
Just thought I would share something I found while doing my book review. Despite Galileo's argument supporting Copernican theory he, according to Galileo's Daughter, personally wished to abandon all such astronomical interpretations, on the grounds that The Bible spoke to a more important purpose. He had once heard the late Vatican librarian Cesare Cardinal Baronio remark, The Bible was a book about how one goes to Heaven — not how Heaven goes.
I think this is a very interesting insight about Galileo. He remained a devout Catholic despite his work. Imagine if he gave up on astronomy. This also gives insight into the seventeenth century religious/scientific relationship.
How Can I Meet with the King?
Posted Thu 2/26/04 12:56 AM
The interest into the Sun King and Versailles pomp and circumstance reminds me of a film I saw a couple of years ago called Wit. It depicts the life of a man trying to win a meeting with the king and the lengths people go to meet with him. The film shows how etiquette changes at the whim of the King. I would recommend this film to anyone in the class interested in the subject. — Rebekah
Jupiter and the Sun King Converge
To Create Mana Power in Old France.
By Eb Bowles
Posted Sun 2/22/04 1:28 AM
Listening to radio emissions from the planetary colossus Jupiter — yes, it's true: one can tune-in via internet transmission to a NASA-sponsored audio stream of Jovian radio storms gathered by an array of antennas in Florida — and thinking about old France, I wonder how the university experience fits into the grand scheme of a life well travelled. I wonder how hotly the Sun King might shine a light on me.
The connections between an Internet pipeline pumped full of natural radio signals from Jupiter and historiographical lines of inquiry reaching back to the court of the Louis XIV are tenuous, so much so that I may drop them entirely and move ahead to the next idea. I've become the inveterate multi-tasker. No amount of simultaneous external input seems too overwhelming in an age of instant and continuous distraction.
Unless forced by academic strictures to toe the line, I'm loath to separate the elements of discipline and discourse into neat categories on the periodic table of my day. I want to mix it up in a post-Marxian dialectic of unintended consequence and perpetual surprise. Why not blend fresh perceptions of seventeenth century France into the mysterious static from an array of radio telescopes aimed at Jupiter, while in the far background FM radio speakers blast out the hot beat of Top 40 rave tunes, and You've Got Mail messages pop-up on the video screen attached by wires to my keyboard. Who can concentrate on any one thing long enough to inspire synthesis? How far might we travel along the twisted pair of psychic and material planes?
To think in a discrete fashion is just too painful, so I experiment with ways to meld the interior monologue into a textual narrative leading to some sort of material fusion. That the experiment oft leads nowhere fast is a pity, but I'm dogged. I plod ahead.
Ideas raised by Dr. Fritze's recent lectures about the long reign of Louis XIV chip away at the wall of disdain I've erected 'round France. My tendency to disrespect the French — the bittersweet fruit of a long-held and dearly cherished Anglophilia coupled with the predisposition to cast judgment to the four winds — is wilting under the brilliance of the Sun King, whose life at court in grand Versailles evokes splendid images of noble pomp and courtly elegance. The peasant in me can't help but admire it. Did any of you, my fellow classmates, register an emotional response to the precious painting of young Louis that flashed on the television screen during last week's lectures? No wonder he became the living marvel of his age! What a kingly glow he wore on his countenance. Who among the chosen sons of noble blood ever looked more the part of regent and king?
"To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it," Saint John the Divine wrote in The Revelation (2:17). Is this the bread from heaven that fed the personality of the Sun King? Is the white stone emblematic of Louis XIV's persona as absolute ruler on earth?
C. G. Jung in his essay "Archaic Man" (in Modern Man in Search of a Soul, 1933) explored the concept of the "mana personality," an expression of personal power that reflects the primal force of the sun through individual psychic energy. The lack of a second "n" in Jung's mana signifies a slight shift in meaning, a shift that moves us away from the biblical notion of divine spiritual nourishment and toward another kind of divine manifestation, one imbued with supernatural power and dwelling directly in a person of profound temporal authority. "In the course of history these mana personalities were exalted to the position of divine figures; they become heroes and kings who shared in the immortality of the gods by eating of their rejuvenating food," Jung wrote.
Was the Sun King of France a mana man? Did the French people project their deepest desires for stability and peace onto the living figure of their king?
In the systematic and "narrow view of causality" that informed modern Western materialism, the mana personality was relegated to the realm of archaic man, but it raised vexing contradictions, which "could worry a European out of his skin, and it would never occur to him that something quite similar is to be found in our civilized midst," Jung wrote. "We have universities where the idea of divine intervention is considered beneath dispute — but where theology is a part of the curriculum. A research worker in natural science may hold it obscene to attribute the smallest variation of an animal species to an act of God, but may have another drawer in his mind in which he keeps a full-blown Christian faith, which he likes to parade on Sundays. Why should we excite ourselves about primitive inconsistency?"
The rise and reign of the Sun King as absolute and unchallenged leader of his people coincided with France's rise to dominance among the nations of Europe. "Louis believed in the glory and mystery of kingship," Dr. Fritze told the class on February 20. "He had the character and appearance of a king. He was an activist leader in keeping with the desire of the people." When the people looked upon the regal personage of Louis, they "looked to the glory of France," as Dr. Fritze said. That the glory shone over a defeated and cowed nobility, a corrupt bourgeois bureaucracy, and a vast peasantry without freedom or liberty were issues of no major consequence to a people exhausted by war and material scarcity. The desire to rest and rebuild under the light of the Sun King was sufficient unto the quiet and splendid day.
With Confusion Comes Solutions
— And the Scientific Revolution.
By Melissa Moore
Posted Tue 2/10/04 12:37 PM
I was thinking about the "crisis" present in the seventeenth century, and how some historians have talked about this being more of a crisis of "authority" with the decrease of religious fervor and the suppression of the aristocracy until the mid-seventeenth century.
I tend to think that these were results from the "crisis" in the environment in Europe during this time. With the presence of the Little Ice Age, decreases in food production, famine and all the things that accompany these problems, it is no wonder that religious fervor decreased as the population wondered how they had angered God. This crisis of environment also lead the population to seek answers to the problems facing them, thus spurring on the Scientific Revolution, in hopes of explaining the natural occurrences beyond their control.
This period in history is proof that with confusion comes solutions.
One question I have concerns the lecture of Monday, February 9. When we were discussing the terms "liberty" and "freedom" and their different meanings from the seventeenth century to modern times, I was wondering how these words became morphed into their new meaning. With liberty and freedom meaning "special privileges or exemptions," perhaps our founding fathers considered our rights as just that — privileges.
Posted: Tue 3/16/04 12:31 PM
You ask a good question, which later I hope to answer with the Enlightenment lecture, but I will give you a preview now.
The era of the late seventeenth and the eighteenth century was when the words you ask about made their transformation to their modern meanings. Words can experience shifts in their meanings as new concepts or descriptors are needed by changing circumstances. In 1600, the word "suffer" meant "allow". So in the King James Bible, when Jesus says, "Suffer the little children to come unto me," he was telling the disciples to let the children to sit at his feet and learn. In early nineteenth century America, "peculiar" was used to mean "unique". It was a neutral term in connotation. Southerners in the Antebellum South refered to slavery as the "peculiar institution". By that, they meant it was unique to their region in the United States. Today "peculiar" has more of a connotation of "strange" and the connotation is negative. "Gay" has almost completely lost its traditional meaning of "happy," which makes the traditional label of the "Gay Nineties" sound a bit "peculiar".
Now, what about "Liberty", "Freedom" and associated words? One important place for locating the shift in meanings for those words is John Locke and his Two Treatises On Government (1690). Locke asserts that people have a natural right to "life, liberty, and property". He uses "liberty" and "freedom" in the sense that it was used by the framers of the United States Constitution almost 100 years later. Locke's usage helped to cause the shift in the meanings of these words. During the Enlightenment, Locke was a very admired thinker and his ideas were adopted or expanded by various writers. Hence, his "life, liberty, and property" becomes the more familiar "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" that Americans know so well. That change is also a product of the Enlightenment as we will learn later.
Issues Raised by Richelieu
Illuminate Contemporary Questions
About Education and Society.
By Rebecca Stone
Posted Wed 2/4/04 4:28 PM
I recently ran across something in the political testament of Cardinal Richelieu that strikes me as quite odd. It is the Cardinal's views on the structure of society and how education fits into that structure.
"Because a knowledge of letters is entirely indispensable to a country, it is certain that they should not be indiscriminately taught to everyone.... One would find little obedience and an excess of pride and presumption. The commerce of letters would drive out that of goods, from which the wealth of the state is derived. It would ruin agriculture, the true nourishment of the people, and in time would dry up the source of the soldiery, whose ranks flow more from the crudities of ignorance than from the refinements of knowledge. It would indeed, fill France with quibblers more suited to the ruination of good families and the upsetting of public order than to doing any good for the country. If learning were profaned by extending it to all kinds of people one would see far more men capable of raising doubts than of resolving them, and many would be better able to oppose the truth than to defend it. It is for this reason that statesmen in a well run country would wish to have as teachers more masters of mechanic arts than of liberal arts."
The issues that Richelieu raises seem to be very contemporary. We live in a culture that is quickly losing jobs of the 'mechanical arts' to other countries that have a generally less educated work force, even though we as a culture are relying more and more on manufactured goods. Our armed forces are at present having a difficult time recruiting because young people are going to college instead of into the service, and yet our military commitments are growing daily it seems.
I ask this.... Is Richelieu right that too many educated people in a society disrupts the natural flow of that society? Have the liberal education opportunities available in our culture decreased the effective stratification of our society so that we have a massive educated class that produces nothing tangible and a shrinking class that produces very little of the things we need?
As liberal arts students I think these issues are very relevant to our place in today's world. What do you think?
Posted: Wed 2/4/04 11:54 PM
You have picked out a very interesting quote from Richelieu. It shows how his worldview is very different from the worldview of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
There is a quote from Thomas Jefferson about mass education. It goes something like, it is impossible for a nation to be free and to be ignorant at the same time. But Jefferson puts it so much better than I am remembering. I was checking a volume of Jefferson's writing and can't find the quote, but I did come across several places where he discusses education's benefit to society. He felt that a democratic republic was the best form of government. But all governments were subject to corruption if power remained in the hands of a few. Jefferson felt that the way to safeguard the democratic republic was to educate all citizens in history so that they would know the corruptions and errors committed by kings and nobles. That way they would recognize the appearance of corruption among their own government and throw it out.
Richelieu would never have accepted such a viewpoint. The great gap of the Enlightenment lay between Richelieu and Jefferson. For Richelieu, the hierarchy of kings and nobles was natural and divinely ordained, so it was good and the only possible way for things to be. Richelieu's quote is envisioning a society in which everyone became some sort of professor. Under those circumstances, no other work would get done. Or, as Richelieu points out, people educated liberally would question authority and hierarchy and seek to overturn it. For Richelieu, that result would be very bad. For Jefferson, questioning corrupt and tyrannical authority was the purpose of mass education. For Richelieu, safe education was technical education, i.e., the mechanical arts.
I don't think we can say that the USA suffers from too much education. But we do have problems with education. Up to the 1960s, the elementary and secondary education system of the USA was the wonder of the world. Foreign visitors to nineteenth century America regularly commented favorably on the widespread literacy and numeracy of the American people. At that time, a college education was quite rare. The first Ph.D. was not awarded by an American university until the mid 1870s. After that date, the higher education system of the USA expanded in the early decades of the twentieth century to become another wonder of the world.
Our higher education system is still the envy of other countries. But our public education system is a mess: You all know that from reading the newspapers about the debate in the Arkansas legislature and courts.
Historically speaking, we need to go back to our roots.
First, push the basics: reading, writing, mathematics. Enhance them with subjects like literature, history, and the sciences.
Second, stop letting people advance a grade if they don't master the material.
Third, treat education as a privilege that should be afforded as an equal opportunity to everyone. Education, however, should not be a right. We should also provide educational opportunities for non-traditional students.
Fourth, non-educational aspects of school should be deemphasized.
The tail should stop wagging the dog. European countries have fine educational systems that seem to work very well without the help of high school football. For that matter, the University of Paris, Oxford, Cambridge, Heidelberg, etc., are world class universities — and not a one of them has won an NCAA championship in football or basketball, or ever been invited to a bowl game.
Getting back to Richelieu, it is also important to remember that he was living in a non-industrial society. The vast majority of people were tied to the land and were poor. It was not a society where there were a lot of opportunities for educated people. Having too many educated people could have caused problems in that society. It is a situation similar to modern African, Asian, and Latin American nations. Their universities produce more graduates than their economy can absorb, and some of the excess come here for jobs. Jefferson's America was different from Richelieu's France and the situation is simply more so for twenty-first century America.
As liberal arts graduates, the biggest threat to the long-term value of your education is colleges and majors that graduate poorly educated students with degrees that look just like yours. It is the equivilent of educational counterfeiting. It devalues your education. It is something that you and your parents should constantly express concern about to your representatives. Remember, there is Gresham's Law of Education: Bad education drives out good.
Hope I addressed your quesion and comments, Rebecca.
Also, Rebecca had such a meaty question, I answered it immediately. I will get to the other questions in the next few days.
By the way, feel free to jump in on my comments or your classmates. Some of my response is history, some of it is opinion. Both are subject to refutation by the facts.
Too Many Men of Letters
When Casanova Met Richelieu.
By Freddie A. Bowles
Lecturer of German Language, UCA
Posted Thu 2/5/04 9:57 AM
That was a great answer by Dr. Fritze to Rebecca's question, and as chance would have it, Casanova met Richelieu at Leopold's coronation as Emperor of Austria — at least according to the book I'm reading now, Casanova in Bohemia by Andrei Codrescu (New York: The Free Press, 2002).
I still think Richelieu was on to something about too many men of letters. As Dr. Fritze mentioned, we have devalued the educational system by promoting those who are basically illiterate and creating a holding tank in remediation at the post-secondary level. We should be appalled that there even exists remediation at the post-secondary level. It goes back to promotion without product (a certificate without merit).
Anyway, I agree that the basics should be emphasized and that promotion should be avoided when the criteria have not been met. At the same time, there needs to be something to offer students who do not have the intellectual gifts necessary to achieve a diploma. "No Child Left Behind" should not necessarily mean everyone can comprehend Julius Caesar. Why couldn't they turn a fine lathe?
The journal is an excellent idea. I went to the link on The Treaty of Westphalia. What a wordy document! Cool to see the spellings of German place names though.
Thanks for the View into Richelieu.
Posted Fri 2/6/04 6:48 PM
I would like to thank Rebecca for sharing a primary view into Cardinal Richelieu's thoughts and beliefs. The statements solidify the commitment Richelieu gave the state of France. Undoubtably, he was a man who paid close attention to every detail. The piece also sheds light on the internal conflicts of France. He was not only concerned with imposing nations, but the common public as well. — James
Observations on the Value
And Meaning of Education.
By Rebekah Bilderback
Posted Sun 2/8/04 2:02 PM
I would like to comment on both Rebecca's and Dr. Fritze's comments. First Rebecca's, yes we are losing jobs to countries with generally less educational populations. One of the main reasons is because it is cheaper to manufacture things in other countries that do not have the regulations and salary standards as the United States. These countries IE South America, Mexico, China, etc. are in perpetual debt and become entrapped in the capital race. Mao had very little use for the educated because they did not produce useful things. He sent them to reeducation camps. I do not think that we need to be sent to reeducation camps; however, I agree with Dr. Fritze that our education system is in "crisis". The points he brings out are valid.
Education has always been emphasized throughout my life. My father and brother are both teachers and I have always wanted to be a teacher since I was younger. I have tried to instill this into my children.
Back to Rebecca's comment on college instead of military service: I do not think that more are going to college instead of military service. I know of several high school students who are going straight into the service without going to college. My son, who is ten, wants to go into the Navy out of high school. My dad and I have tried to talk him into seeing that there are more options than the Navy. However, according to my husband, the military (in general) prefers the uneducated to enter the service because they have less attitudes and habits to break. They would prefer fresh clay to mold.
I hope I have responded to these comments appropriately.
Tell Us about the Cardinal and the Queen....
Posted Fri 1/30/04 1:50 PM
A few questions for the professor (or any of you grad students in class).... — Do you suspect the rumors of Cardinal Mazarin and Anne of Austria's love and marriage to be true? — When Charles I of England was beheaded, was his wife, Henrietta-Maria, killed as well? — What did Gaston d'Orleans, brother of Louis XIII, do after rebelling/conspiring against the king, and does he come into play again in Louis XIV's reign? — Dustin
Posted: Thu 2/5/04 11:04 PM
Dustin has asked a series of questions about French and English royals. The first question is about the alleged secret marriage of Cardinal Mazarin and Anne of Austria. This speculation appears in many highly respectable history books. I think it is highly likely that it was true. Anne of Austria was close to Mazarin in a way that is best explained by genuine love between a man and a woman. Mazarin and Louis XIV had a definite father/son relationship, which makes more sense if they were actually step-father and step-son. Merged families were common back then as they are today. Some are successful and it appears that of Mazarin and Anne of Austria/Louis XIV was a successful one. But they would have had to keep the union secret and discrete to avoid offending the touchy great nobles.
Henriette Maria was in exile in France with her younger children well before the execution of Charles I. Henrietta Marie returned to England in 1661 with the restoration of her son Charles II. She lived at Somerset House until 1665 when she returned to France and a warmer climate. She died in 1669.
Gaston held the title of the Duke of Orleans. After the death of Louis XIII in 1643, Gaston led armies against Mazarin during the Fronde (1648-1652). He died in 1660 and would have been about 52 years old since he was born in 1608. His role in the Fronde must have been peripheral as I had to look it up to find what he was doing. Other leaders of the Fronde were more prominent.
By the way, you have mentioned an interest in royal genealogy. I came across a reference to a book that sounds interesting: Lines of Succession: Heraldry of the Royal Families of Europe by Michael McLaglan (Little Brown, 1999). It includes 150 genealogical tables.
The Constant Struggles of the Europeans
Shaped the Drive to Colonize the World.
By James Wagner
Posted Tue 1/27/04 1:25 PM
This class will be a great learning experience. Already some of the common misconceptions of the 16th and 17th centuries are being exposed. Spain and France were not the rich, powerful, conquering nations that we were all taught in high school classrooms around the country. They were riddled in debt from the constant warfare, which they deemed vital to their well-being. Internal rebellions only weakened these countries further.
I find it fascinating that most do not recognize why these European nations sought to colonize the world. It was obviously for financial reasons. I want to pose a question. How many times throughout history have countries in financial distress printed money in an effort to improve the economy? It would make an interesting research topic.
Posted: Thu 2/5/04 11:03 PM
It is commonly thought that China is the first nation to use paper money, at least by 910 AD. The Chinese apparently printed too much paper money and by 1020 suffered from hyperinflation. Things had apparently settled down by Marco Polo's visit from 1275-1292. But problems resumed in the fifteenth century. Hyperinflation was extremely serious in 1448 and China abandoned paper money in 1455. The Chinese did not start using it again until the twentieth century. From what I have read, paper money appeared in western nations during the seventeenth century.
Prior to the appearance of paper money, the way to inflate metal coins was to debase them by diluting or eliminating the gold and silver content. How many times this has been done is hard to say. It is the way to short term profit and long term pain.
Some good places to read about money history:
Jonathan Williams, Money: A History (1997)
Larry Allen: Encyclopedia of Money (1999) [Larry is a very good friend of mine.]
Treaty of Westphalia
The Treaty of Westphalia signified the official end of the Thirty Years War in the autumn of 1648. The text of the "Peace Treaty between the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of France and their respective Allies" is available online courtesy of The Avalon Project at Yale Law School. Just click the link at the beginning of this paragraph. — Eb
Some Thoughts about the Nature
Of the Thirty Years War.
By John E. Kiesling, Jr.
Posted Fri 1/30/04 12:30 PM
I have found that this class is enlightening in itself. Being a southern boy by nature, my life experience has opened my eyes to world culture. I feel that Absolutism, Enlightenment, and Revolution broadens one's perspective and inspires advancement in the field of history. Dr. Fritze makes the class interesting. I have found a new love for history. The 16th and 17th century in Europe has always fascinated me from afar, but some day I hope to visit the European countries more intensively, rather than from the perspective of my previous military service on the Continent.
As a graduate student I have grasped a more sophisticated concept of the past through historiography and methods of research. In the future I hope that my training, learning, skills, and friendship with Dr. Fritze and other instructors will prepare me for a Ph.D. program. My specialty would have to be Europe, Tudor/Stuart England, and Russian history.
The politics of the time period covered in our class intrigues me, as does the military history of the age. I hope I can get a better understanding of what people were feeling and experiencing then as contrasted with the present day. The Thirty Years War has sparked an interest as well. To find that it can be broken down into four phases sparked by different cultures — Bohemian, Danish, Swedish, and French — is fascinating to me. Wars often go on for hundreds if not thousands of years, but changes in the situation, the location, or the participants can change how we view them. Or they individual events, or continuous experiences?
I like the way this journal helps us express our thoughts about the class. I hope that everyone joins in the discussion and posts thoughts for us to read.
Art, Religion and Philosophy Flourished
In a Time of Monarchs and Nobles.
By Dustin E. Seaton
Posted: Tue 1/20/04 11:56 PM
Dr. Fritze's Absolutism, Enlightenment, and Revolution class is very interesting to me. First off, it encompasses a beautiful time in European history where art, religion, and philosophy flourished the most. I am very interested in understanding and analyzing monarchial relations with one another as well as with the papacy in Rome. Underneath the heads of state and nobility genre, I am very fascinated in grasping the qualities and socialisms of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
So far, I believe Dr. Fritze is adding the perfect spice to make this time period enjoyable with his humor, tidbits, and knowledge of the age. I hope that as a class we can access monarchial reigns and hereditary successions across Europe to help fully understand who each nation/state was dealing with as a counterpart.
In addition, I anticipate papal reigns and successions will be included in our leadership sovereignties. I would also like to add that I am enjoying the map and geographical analysis of the age to fully help me comprehend where we are in retrospect to the time period.
Things Change, Things Stay the Same
In the Realm of Taxes and Politics.
By April Guy
Posted: Wed 1/21/04 1:24 AM
When I first approached this class, I thought any similarities between the 17th and 21st centuries would be very few and very far between. Yet, the discussion on the problems facing the French in the early 17th century illustrated just how wrong I was in thinking there would be little common ground.
The poor shouldered the bulk of the taxes while the wealthy bought their way out of such burdens. The tradition of venality of office holders in France led to a situation where the so-called leaders were so self-absorbed that the problems of the common people were completely ignored. The Estates General met together, but accomplishing absolutely nothing. The ability to avoid taxes was a proud accomplishment and a status symbol. In desperation, the government sought to tax the nobles, and they revolted!
The elite class today may not riot in the streets to avoid taxes. Instead, they just withhold their coveted campaign donations. Perhaps a check will not purchase a seat in the senate, but deep pockets are mandatory to buy full participation in the political game. It has been nothing but stunning to ponder the ramifications of European leaders who overlooked the world that existed beyond their own wealthy, educated circle of elite peers.
A Few Ideas about the Class Journal
and a Peek at The Enlightenment.
By Ebenezer Bowles
Posted: Wed 1/21/04 9:45 PM
It's great to see our Class Journal project up and rollin'. How it emerges and develops, what it becomes.... These are amorphous, open-ended points of consideration at the beginning of a collaborative intellectual experiment, which is entirely ours to define and create.
What do we — a li'l band of university students and a professor — have to say about Absolutism, Enlightenment, and Revolution in seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe? The Class Journal will reveal our answers. An informal and fluid document of web-based commentary, it will display our out-of-class responses to thrice-weekly lectures, assigned readings, and special studies related to book reviews, map studies, and research papers. I'm confident that by semester's end we will have spun a remarkable cyberthread of lasting value.
Thanks to Dustin and April for being bold enough to break the ice and post the beginning entries into the great unknown. I look forward to reading posts from both of them throughout the winter and spring.
My role in the Class Journal is to maintain the website, but I'm mostly interested in being a dutiful student and learning about a fascinating aspect of history. In that light, I want to share some notes from my reading of Alan Charles Kors' Preface to Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). You can find the four-volume encyclopedia in the reference section on the first floor of Torreyson Library. It's on the first row of shelves facing the bank of BearCat computers.
Mr. Kors' succinct general definition sets the tone for a thorough, comprehensive survey of the period. He writes: "Let us take the Enlightenment to mean a set of tendencies and developments of European culture from the 1670s to the early nineteenth century (including the American outposts of that culture)." Simple enough, but the "set" that emerges encompasses nothing less than a transformation of thought, society, and culture with "extraordinary consequences" for the West.
Foremost among the enlightened changes sweeping through Europe, Mr. Kors' writes, were critical challenges to "inherited authority" and a thorough reexamination of the methods and power of the human mind. "The presumptive authority of the past had lost its general hold on the mind," he wrote. The major domains of life, religion and politics included, entered a phase of intellectual revolution that touched society, economy, law, and human relationships.
Especially useful in setting the stage for study of the Enlightenment is the encyclopedia's "Topical Outline of Articles," which organizes the entries into "general conceptual categories." The list of categories is worth a look: Definitions and Interpretations of the Enlightenment; The Political Geography; The Agencies and Spaces; The Book; Authors and Copyright; Journals, Subscriptions, Re-Editions and Translations; Academies; Salons and Clubs; Social Exchanges; Philosophy; Aesthetics and the Arts; Economic Thought; Human Nature; Moral Philosophy; Natural Philosophy and Science; Natural Religion; Political Philosophy; Revealed Religion; Sociability; Tradition; Major Schools and Movements of Thought; Biographies. Each conceptual category includes a list of topics featured in the encyclopedia.
All in all, the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment is a sensible, useful and elegantly designed reference. It is illustrated (economically) and includes some maps.
Curiously, another Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment sits on the same shelf. It is the English language version of a work originally published in French under the title Dictionnaire européen des Lumières. A two-volume set (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001), it features entries from about 200 contributors on topics selected to satisfy precisely defined qualifiers, which are resolutely set forth in Michel Delon's earnest (and translated) "Preface To The French Edition." Text-centric with no illustrations, the encyclopedia includes a "General Bibliography" and a "List of Entries" ordered alphabetically. The writing is breezy and diffuse in an obverse, oft digressive style befitting the French Academy.
Posted: Thu 1/22/04 6:32 PM
I am very happy to see the comments by Dustin, April, and Eb. Let me begin with Eb. He spotted the Fitzroy Dearborn Encyclopedia Of The Enlightenment, which I neglected to put on my bibliography. It is well worth checking and is a nice point of comparison and complement to the Kors encyclopedia.
April's comment shows that she has picked up on some of the constants of the human condition in history. The rich and the powerful frequently got that way by not paying their taxes, or at least their fair share of the taxes. And they frequently made their fortunes by using other people's money. That said, we as Americans are blessed to live in a society where justice,
equality, and good government are always a possibility and can frequently be a reality. We can change society through the ballot box rather than by rebellion. And that is a very good thing. If one looks closely at the rebellions of the seventeenth century, the rebels were driven to rebellion by extreme desperation. Studying history makes us informed citizens. Informed citizens are what a democratic republic needs to function properly.
Dustin mentions the popes. I am afraid we will not mention too much about the popes as individuals. One that stands out is Galileo's Urban VIII, born Maffeo Barberini, actually a learned and enlightened man rather than an obscurantist. Otherwise popes of the seventeenth and eighteenth century have a certain sameness about them. The fact that they are all Italian
contributes to this situation. Also by the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Counter Reformation Papacy had long replaced the Renaissance Papacy. Counter Reformation Popes tend to be relatively homogeneous theologically, ideologically, and politically. Obviously each pope had individual policies that are worth studying but for a course of these nature, we will not get into that much depth.
That said, for a quick source on popes, see The Oxford Dictionary Of The Popes by J. N. D. Kelly. For a good one volume book, see The History Of The Popes by Eamon Duffy. For more detail in some older works see, Ludwig Pastor, The History Of The Popes, which is a multivolume work. The great Leopold von Ranke also wrote a multi-volume history of the popes.
We invite your commentary.
*This is the first step toward THE One World Language.
Step Fifty-Six: *Fifty ampersands in your duck soup!