Wednesday, May 23, 2018

St. Jadwiga, "King" of Poland

St. Jadwiga aiding the poor
St. Jadwiga
St. Jadwiga
I remember reading So Young a Queen as a teenager and loving it. Queen St. Jadwiga's official title was "King" of Poland, since she was the sovereign. From The Catholic Herald:
These thoughts come to mind as I have been reading two books aimed specifically at girls’ readership. The first is So Young a Queen: Jadwiga of Poland by Lois Mills (Bethlehem Books/Ignatius Press). First published in 1961, it has been republished this year by Bethlehem Books as part of a series of biographies entitled “Portraits in Faith and Freedom”. It tells the story of St Jadwiga of Poland, 1374-1399 who married Jagiello, the pagan Prince of Lithuania in 1386 and converted him and his own peoples to her own devout Catholic faith.

As Lois Mills shows, Jadwiga, though betrothed to marry someone else, made a sacrificial choice at a young age to marry this unknown prince for the sake of her country’s peaceful union with Lithuania. It reminds one that other strong queens in history, such as Isabella of Castile, Bridget of Sweden and Margaret of Scotland became women of influence and power having been shaped by a deep Christian faith in childhood, alongside a rigorous education. They knew how to exert “soft power” for good in their husband’s lives, alongside the suffering and sacrifice such lives generally endure.

The other series of short stories I have just read reflect life in the 21st Century where opportunities for ordinary girls (rather than princesses) to excel are inevitably much wider than in the past. They have been charmingly devised according to a lively formula by a retired scientist for his two young granddaughters, Ella and Emily, as a way of showing them that young women can lead adventurous lives in areas formerly dominated by boys and men. The Ella Abbott Helicopter Rescue Service stories and Ella Abbott in Space, aimed at girls in the 7-9 age range who are looking for excitement and action in which they, rather than their brothers, are the heroes, show just how brave, resourceful, calm and quick-thinking girls can be in dangerous situations. (Read more.)
More on St Jadwiga, who gave up the man she loved to bring the faith to Lithuania, HERE. To quote:
Jadwiga was a tall and beautiful girl with red hair. In Europe she was famous not only for her beauty but also with wise diplomacy and deep devotion. Besides the Polish and Hungarian languages she also knew Latin, German and Italian. She had a strong personality and confident character.

She really cared for the fostering of faith in Lithuania. For this purpose she organized a special collegium at the University of Prague, in which future Lithuanian princes were formed. There was “something” in her that won people over. She reconciled Jagiellonians who were in conflict (dynastic problems in Lithuania). She knew about politics and personally met with the leaders of hostile nations to negotiate and agree with the conditions of the project.

In addition to concern for politics, the good of her subjects was close to her heart: she funded many hospitals and churches. Tied with the construction of one of them – the Carmelite church of the Blessed Virgin Mary “na Piasku” (see: map) – there is a legend. A certain day, when the queen came to the construction site, she noticed that one of the workers was very sad.

 This really moved her and she asked him for the reason of his sadness. He answered her with his difficult family situation: his wife, the mother of three kids, was very sick and close to death. Despite his work in construction, he wasn’t able to afford the treatment. Queen Jadwiga, moved by the man’s misery, leaning over pulled a slipper from her foot and unfastened from it a golden buckle, which she offered him. In this same moment, her bare foot leaned against a stone covered with lime, leaving an impression of her foot on it. When she left, the bricklayer noticed the impression and placed it into the wall of the church. To this day you can admire the impression of the foot of Queen Jadwiga. Surrounded by wire, it can be seen in one of the corners of the church of the Carmelites, at ul. Karmelicka.

Queen Jadwiga really cared for her relationship with Jesus and did a lot to bring Him closer to her relatives and subjects. She prayed a lot, practiced mortification. She also cared for the spread of the Word of God, funding a translation of the Holy Bible and the writings of the fathers of the church for Wawel Cathedral. She wished that the Lord would be praised there with the psalms without ceasing, so she established a special Psalterist college of sixteen people who praised God night and day. To strengthen the fundamentals of the faith in the Kingdom of Poland, she bequeathed her fortune to the renewal and expansion of the impoverished Academy of Krakow. She obtained the Pope’s permission to open a Department of Theology, which greatly hastened evangelization in the whole area of the vast kingdom in the Polish, Lithuanian and Ruthenian lands.

 The Department had a great influence on raising the profile of the university, which from then on really counted in Europe, and whose revival had great meaning in the history of Poland. It is here (from the XIXth century called the Jagiellonian University) that Pawel Wlodkowic, Mikolaj Kopernik, St. John Cantius, Stanislaw Wyspianski, Karol Wojtyla and the current President of Poland Andrzej Duda studied, to name a few.

Jadwiga and Wladyslaw reigned together for almost 13 years. Despite the large difference in their age they really understood each other. Wladyslaw really loved Jadwiga, who despite the difficult beginnings of their relationship, with time also loved him. They had great respect and trust for each other. The king wished for a child, an heir. Jadwiga gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth Bonifacia, but after three weeks the little princess died. Following her, two days later, because of childbirth complications – the 25-year old Jadwiga departed. Her death was a shock for the kingdom and was widely heard about in Europe. The Queen was buried in the Cathedral in Wawel. Jagiello, even though he married three times afterward, until the end of his life wore the ring given to him by his beloved Jadwiga. (Read more.)


A Culture of Depravity

From Life Site:
What we are watching today is a real time strategic plan to transform the United States into a godless culture of sin that is promoted legislatively. Everything Hitler did was legal because laws were enacted that allowed him act with the tacit approval of the courts. The voice of the people was overwhelmingly silent as they took the bread of man over God.

Today, you are either "IN or OUT," depending on your view. Christian views are increasingly OUT of what has been recently legislated, as believers are battling a system against their views. No one thirty years ago could have thought this was possible coming from the courts and government.   Christians are now leaving California as they see the trend is one of persecution on the immediate horizon.

A new Rasmussen Poll said that democrats are more concerned about Muslims being mistreated in the U.S. than Christians being slaughtered abroad in Muslim nations. The day after The Correspondents Dinner, Trump met with the president of Nigeria at the White House. One topic of discussion was the widespread horrible persecution and slaughter of Christians in his country. There wasn't a word from the mainstream press about it.

Words have meaning. What is said today has consequences tomorrow. Ideologies good and bad form opinions. What may seem completely absurd and outrageous to one may be acceptable to another. This is why the divide is so great in the church as well as what one thinks about President Trump. Few are neutral anymore. The debate of words is heated before disturbance, and the strong rhetoric of opinion today is a prelude to civil war. The tolerance level for one another with a different view is shrinking by the day.

The Holy Spirit is the ultimate source of truth, love, justice, and light. If one is not trying to conform their views to the light, it is in conflict with the Holy Spirit because God alone is light. Abraham Lincoln would often quote a passage from Scripture during the Civil War that said, "and everyman did that what was right in their own eyes" (Judges 21:25). As people turn away from God, a humanist agenda seeks to dig in further. Jesus said, "My ways are not your ways," because that is the battle of the ages. Each year the sacraments are absent from a life, one is given over to a depraved mind. Light is not penetrating the soul, and therefore, one will not achieve the Will of God. (Read more.)

A Striped Walking Dress

From Two Nerdy History Girls:
There are two pink striped dresses in the Visitors to Versailles: 1682-1789 exhibition (now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through July 29, 2018.) Yet while these two dresses are nearly contemporary, together they show the two very different styles in French women's fashion in the 1770s.  I've already written about this lavish robe à la Française, a gown from the 1770s that would have been worn to the most formal events at the palace; consider it a wealthy 18thc French lady's "red carpet look."

 The dress shown here dates from about a decade later, 1785-87. This style was called a robe à l'Anglaise, or a dress in the English manner. The robe à l'Anglaise was inspired by British tailoring. Unlike the softly flowing back pleats of the  robe à la Française, worn over hoops for sideways volume. the robe à l'Anglaise featured a closely fitted bodice and long sleeves, and a skirt with volume gathered to the back over a false rump or hip pads.

The pinked edges of the ruffled and gathered trim along the skirt offered a feminine contrast to the close-fitting bodice. They would also have drew attention to the wearer's feet with each step - important for a stylish walking-gown. (Read more.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Summer Skin Care

From the Trianon Health and Beauty Blog:
Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla excelled at painting beach scenes. The sunshine and fresh air of the beach was considered healthy then as it is now. Too much sun can be dangerous, though. Women no longer promenade in the sun in flowing white linen so quality cleansers and creams are vital for nurturing the skin and protecting it from the damage caused by UV rays and pollution. (Read more.)

A Catastrophic Failure

From Matt Walsh:
It's the kind of headline we're used to seeing at this point. STD rates are at record highs among young adults in California, according to a new report. The STD epidemic has reached historic proportions across the nation. This is just another rotten, putrid fruit to fall from the decaying tree of the sexual revolution. It is long past time to declare the sexual revolution — the only significant legacy of the Baby Boomer generation — a catastrophic failure. It promised us free love and happiness, but it did not deliver. Instead, almost immediately, it delivered AIDS, and then it delivered gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia by the truckload.

 It delivered the destruction of marriage and the family, as divorce rates took off like a rocket right on the heels of this glorious revolution. Though they remain extremely high, they have been dropping recently. But this trend is offset by the fact that many people in my generation have simply given up on marriage entirely. Divorce was merely the first consequence of our enlightened sexual attitudes. The next step, underway as we speak, is the dissolution of marriage as an institution.

It delivered dead children. Lots of dead children. 60 million dead children and counting. It delivered unwed pregnancies, as the rates of out-of-wedlock births soared when the revolution took hold. It delivered a nation of porn addicts and fatherless children. It turned our university system into an orgy of debauchery and drunkenness. It ruined all that it touched, and then it came back around and pulverized everything into dust. It is, without question, one of the worst things to ever happen to mankind. Also one of the deadliest.

An interesting thing, this "free" love. It's a freedom that brings only misery and death. It's a freedom that doesn't seem very free at all. How could things have worked out this way? (Read more.)

A Polish Ballerina

From Broadly:
Franceska Mann was a beautiful and exceptionally talented dancer, pirouetting her way through many prestigious shows and competitions, including the Brussels International Dance Competition of May 1939 where she won fourth prize. She danced regularly in Warsaw's Melody Palace nightclub before the outbreak of the Second World War and her career-shattering imprisonment in the Warsaw Ghetto. In 1943 she was transported out of Poland, presumably in connection with the Hotel Polski Affair, where Jews hoping to escape to South America with foreign passports were tricked and sent to Auschwitz instead. (Read more.)

Monday, May 21, 2018

George Sand Coin

From Coin Update:
The Monnaie de Paris has launched (4th May) their third and final coin for 2018 in the successful series entitled “Women of France,” which tells the stories of notable French women who have shaped and influenced France from the first millennium to the current decade. The latest coin highlights the life of author George Sand, controversial in her day for her political views, her ability to develop a successful career in the middle 19th century, and for her romantic relationships which often became public matters. Sand adopted a male pseudonym and wrote under this name for a national newspaper, eventually becoming a published author of noted popularity.

Known simply as “Aurore” in her early childhood, Sand was born Marie-Aurore de Saxe, Madame Dupin de Francueil (1804-1876) in the city of Paris. She was later brought up at her grandmother’s estate, Nohant, in the French province of Berry. Sand used the splendid setting of her childhood in many of her novels. Her upbringing was quite liberal and in some ways, ostentatious. Her father, Maurice Dupin (1778–1808), was himself the grandson of the marshal general of France, Maurice, Comte de Saxe (1696–1750), an illegitimate son of Augustus II the Strong (1670–1733), king of Poland, and a Saxon elector. Sand was a cousin to the sixth degree to the brother-Kings Louis XVI, Louis XVIII, and Charles X of France, and was also related much more distantly to King Louis Philippe of France through common ancestors from German and Danish ruling families. (Read more.)

Nikki Haley Walks Out

From Townhall:
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made quite the statement on the Middle East at Tuesday's Security Council meeting - and it had nothing to do with her speech. After the ambassador had finished condemning Hamas for the violence on the Gaza-Israel border this week and Palestinian Ambassador Riyad H. Mansour instead began condemning Israeli forces, she got up and left.

Half of Twitter loved her symbolic exit. The other half decried it as shameful and undiplomatic. Violence erupted in Gaza this week as the new U.S. embassy in Israel opened in Jerusalem. Several top U.S. officials were there for the ceremony, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. President Trump recorded a video address for the occasion, reiterating the U.S.'s hope for peace in the region. In his own remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Trump for his courage and his friendship. (Read more.)
Also from Townhall:
 When Israel protects itself against hostile aggressors on its borders, members of the "international community" and much of the media rush to condemn "both sides," reserving special scorn for the Israeli government's "disproportionality" and lack of "restraint."  In truth, the actual disproportionality lies in the amoral double standard of relentlessly singling out the world's lone Jewish state for defending its citizens and sovereignty against the Islamist terrorist threat on its doorstep.  In the latest bout of this moral blindness, Israel's critics are currently wringing their hands about the senseless violence and death visited upon "peaceful protesters" along the Gaza border by the IDF.  The way some news outlets tell it, these poor, downtrodden Palestinians were merely venting their frustrations over Donald Trump's embassy 'provocation' -- then Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a massacre against them.  Astoundingly, that framing is only a slight exaggeration.

In reality, these were riots deliberately orchestrated and fomented by Hamas, the terrorist organization that took over Gaza after Israel unilaterally withdrew from that territory in 2005 (a titanic failure of the sort of land-for-peace goodwill gesture endlessly urged by Israel's detractors, in spite of other historical inconveniences).  Here are some telling vignettes from those attempted incursions into Israeli territory, the stated purpose of which was to penetrate the border, infiltrate the country, and murder Jews. Hamas intentionally put their own people in harm's way by lying to them...(Read more.)

King of Rage

The reign of Henry VIII was the first time in English history that religious were publicly executed in their habits. From Fox News:
The bloodthirsty draft of a letter by King Henry VIII in which he demands a monk’s violent death is set to go on public display. In the 16th-century death warrant, the famous king orders that the abbot of Norton Abbey in the North of England be “hung drawn and quartered,” but then decides that the clergyman should just be hanged. Frank Hargrave, director of Norton Priory Museum and Garden, told Fox News that the letter is significant for two reasons. “Because it is a corrected draft we can almost read the thoughts of the king before he has had a chance to calm down or speak to his advisors,” he explained. “His initial fury is evident and the demand that the abbot be hanged, drawn and quartered is extreme — this was a fate usually reserved for traitors.”

“The other reason it is important is that it shows the level at which the king involved himself wherever his power was affronted,” he added. (Read more.)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Royal Wedding, May 2018

The new Duchess of Sussex wearing Queen Mary's diamond bandeau

Here, and here are some pictures from the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I thought the ceremony was beautiful and the gown was the loveliest and most modest I have seen in a long time. It was very 15th century and went with the gothic chapel where Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville are buried, those lovers who defied convention in order to be married. And who can help but love Prince Harry. He reminds me of a Plantagenet. The music was heavenly; the full order of service is HERE. To watch the entire wedding, go HERE.

The Queen of England
Princess Charlotte with her family


Spying on Trump

From Townhall:
Earlier this week the New York Times published a story revealing the FBI was not only spying on the Trump campaign, but had at least one FBI informant embedded within it. Further, the piece reveals the FBI didn't have enough evidence to open a criminal investigation into members of the Trump campaign, so a counterintelligence investigation was launched instead.
Counterintelligence investigations can take years, but if the Russian government had influence over the Trump campaign, the F.B.I. wanted to know quickly. One option was the most direct: interview the campaign officials about their Russian contacts.

That was discussed but not acted on, two former officials said, because interviewing witnesses or subpoenaing documents might thrust the investigation into public view, exactly what F.B.I. officials were trying to avoid during the heat of the presidential race.

They said that anything the F.B.I. did publicly would only give fodder to Mr. Trump’s claims on the campaign trail that the election was rigged.

The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters — a secret type of subpoena — officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. That has become a politically contentious point, with Mr. Trump’s allies questioning whether the F.B.I. was spying on the Trump campaign or trying to entrap campaign officials.
(Read more.)
And also from Townhall:
For months we've been anxiously awaiting a report from Department of Justice Inspector General David Horowitz detailing how the FBI handled the criminal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her repeated, improper handling of classified information. According to the Washington Post, the report is finished and has been sent to Congress for review before it is released to the general public.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz notified lawmakers in a Wednesday letter that the draft report was complete and being made available to the agencies and individuals examined in the probe.

The report is expected to blast former FBI director James B. Comey for various steps he took in the investigation, particularly his announcing in July — without telling his Justice Department bosses what he was about to say — that the FBI was recommending that Clinton not be charged, and for revealing to Congress just weeks before the presidential election that the bureau had resumed its work.
Horowitz launched the investigation into the Clinton email probe after emails between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page revealed severe anti-Trump, pro-Hillary bias. Strzok worked on both the Clinton email case and interviewed former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn as part of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel's investigation. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents last year. (Read more.)

Income Tax in Jane Austen’s Time

From Austen Authors:
The tax structure in Jane Austen’s time was far more complex because it was applied to well, just about EVERYTHING. From windows greater than 6 in a building to how many servants an estate employed to mail to anything purchased and even carriages and horses! Despite the high number of taxes, there was interest in levying taxes in a fair manner. For example, take the window tax. The window tax began in 1695 to help compensate for people clipping coins. This is a complicated situation, back then coins were often weighed, not counted. So what people could do was clip just a tiny bit of an edge so the weight would be within the deviation of the scale (we’re not talking digital precision here). Then you take those clippings, melt them down, and press a counterfeit coin with the King’s mark. It would be like if you could tear a little corner off a dollar bill today, take all of those bits and glue them together and print what could pass as a legitimate bill today.

It sounds absurd to tax someone based on how many windows they have, but in 1695, only the rich had more than 6 windows. If you were poor and living in a small cottage, you might only have 3 or 4 windows. And therefore, no tax. But eventually, taxes did creep down to affect the working classes. And it was controversial that taxes went to pay for the poor. We learned at JASNA’s AGM from scholars there that in Jane Austen’s time there was a gross discrimination against the poor as being in such a state from a defect in morality. We can still see these attitudes in modern times when discussions come up about welfare and social programs. Some things, never change. (Read more.)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Cardinal Fesch

From Shannon Selin:
“Uncle Fesch,” on the other hand, – only six years older than Napoleon – was very much a part of Letizia’s household. He entered the seminary of Aix-en-Provence in 1781, was ordained as a priest in 1785, and became the archdeacon of Ajaccio cathedral at age 24. When Letizia and her family fled Corsica for Toulon in 1793, Fesch accompanied them. As the Catholic Church was suppressed during the French Revolution, Fesch was compelled to unfrock himself and engage in other occupations. Napoleon wrote of him in 1795:
[H]e is just what he always was, building castles in the air and writing me six-page letters on some meticulous point of speculation. The present means no more to him than the past, the future is all in all. (1)
When Napoleon was given command of the French Army of Italy, he found Fesch a post as a commissary. Basically Fesch was involved in contracting the army’s supplies, a role in which he turned a tidy profit for himself. Fesch’s fortunes continued to rise when Napoleon became First Consul. Fesch returned to the cloth and helped Napoleon and Pope Pius VII negotiate the Concordat of 1801, which reestablished the Catholic Church in France. As a reward, in 1802 he was made Archbishop of Lyon. The following year he became Cardinal Fesch. (Read more.)

Trump, Alinsky, and Catholics

From Church Militant:
Of all the Left's criticism of President Trump, the one that is perhaps the most revealing is "He's not very presidential." They go on about his tweets and brash language and street-fighter demeanor and his calling them out and their media allies. But he's not polite or statesman-like or diplomatic or genteel enough for them. That's true. And the reason he isn't is because that sort of political posturing and style gets political conservatism nowhere.

The Left never abides by those rules of engagement but throws out the double standard that conservatives must always conduct themselves in such a manner. The Left employs a style of political and cultural combat that conservatives don't do with. They understand the battle and how to win it, much more than conservatives do — and then along came Trump.

The Left has largely conducted themselves according to the "Bible" prepared for them by Saul Alinsky, his blueprint book, Rules for Radicals, which he dedicated to Lucifer. Trump has essentially been taking a page from Alinsky's book and playing by those rules, but in this case, it's the Left that's getting smacked by them. Trump had the insight to understand that whatever philosophy controls the media controls the whole shooting match. Knowledge is king, and whoever controls knowledge and its dissemination wins the game. That's why the Nazis had a massive propaganda agency headed up by Joseph Goebbels, and the Bolsheviks immediately grabbed control of the newspapers.

Trump stepped onto the political and cultural stage just at the right moment in history, and frankly only he could have been the man to do so. The death grip the leftist mainstream media had on information was for a brief moment relaxed owing to the internet. They had become so accustomed to having control that they had grown lazy and did not sense the great cultural shift happening under their feet. Political and theological conservatives had seized the moment while the Left had fallen asleep, and they made the most of it.

Trump understood the moment as well. He knew it would be a narrow window of opportunity and he seized it. In copying Alinsky's methods, he did exactly what the Left had done to political conservatives and faithful Catholics for decades. He isolated the leftist media, demonized them which they deserved because, as Fr. John Hardon said, they are the Luciferian media. He gave them back exactly what they deserved, and after isolating them he went on to the next Alinsky tactic — he mocked them. He ridiculed them. Again, they are deserving of every bit of it. CNN is now seen, again rightly, as fake news. Trump's street style was exactly what the political conservative movement needed. He's not the guy you want as an enemy if you are up to anything untoward which, let's admit, the Left is always about — one of the ruling elite's own used their methods on them and has brought the Left to its knees. Only in America, right? (Read more.)

The Change of Modern Royal Weddings

From Victoria:
On April 29, 2011, millions of viewers sat in front of their televisions to watch the much-anticipated moment when Prince William and Kate Middleton would say I do. And now, as we anxiously await the marriage of younger brother Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle, our televisions and social media will be overflowing with royal causerie. Why is it that we are so enthralled with the royal family and their weddings? To understand how we became enamored with the royals’ private lives, we must go back to where it all started, with Queen Victoria.

By the nineteenth century, printing of news in British society was becoming more accessible and affordable. Images were being printed more often and in color, and the growth of material culture was more popular due to the publishing industry. According to Queen Victoria: First Media Monarch by John Plunkett, the press was both criticized and celebrated for the way it removed royal mystique and involved its readers in the lives of the royal family. Before Victoria, the royal family was only seen when making their tours or attending public events, and little was known about their private lives. The new media wave in the nineteenth century created an imaginative identification for the public with Victoria that hadn’t existed with royals before her.

Modern brides almost always walk down the aisle in a long white dress, but early nineteenth century brides were most likely to be seen in colored dresses on their wedding day. According to Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird, white was not then a conventional color or even an option, as bleaching techniques were not yet mastered, making it a rare and expensive choice. Victoria’s reasons for wearing white were twofold: she believed it was the perfect color to highlight the delicate Honiton lace, and it appeared as more a symbol of wealth than purity. On the day of her wedding, hundreds of spectators had gathered outside in the dreary weather just to get a glimpse of the royal couple. With the upsurge of media, the details of her gown had spread across Europe and became a popular dress choice thereafter.

By the time of King George VI’s wedding with Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923, radio had already been invented. To break with tradition, it was decided that the wedding would be more of a public affair to lift the spirits of the nation after the effects of the Great War. It is also noted by the BBC that Elizabeth laid her bouquet at the tomb of the unknown warrior in the abbey, and royal brides since have copied the gesture. (Read more.)

Friday, May 18, 2018

Napoleon, Metternich and the Congress of Vienna

 From TCW:
The Congress of Vienna is often seen as an effort to “carve up” Europe among the great powers. France was included as, now that it was back under the control of the King, the other powers wanted it to be seen as taking its proper place amongst European nations. While there is no doubt that each of the Powers sought whatever advantage it could gain, the objective of the Congress was to arrange a net of alliances between powers that meant that any future conflict would inevitably draw in the whole of the continent. They believed that, rather than face war on the scale that Europe had just witnessed, states would negotiate peace. It was, if you like, an early form of Mutually Assured Destruction. It worked, maintaining peace in Europe for almost 100 years. When a major conflict did break out, one by one all of the major European powers were drawn in and the result was World War I. That, I can’t help feeling, is the problem with Mutually Assured Destruction. One day, somebody just can’t resist pressing the big red button. (Read more.)

Shannon Selin discusses the great Austrian diplomat, Clemens von Metternich:
Metternich attempted to erode Napoleon’s power. He arranged the marriage of Napoleon to Marie Louise, the daughter of Austrian Emperor Francis I. Though Metternich credits the French with initiating the marriage, the French chargé d’affaires in Vienna said it was Metternich who first raised the prospect. Metternich successfully duped Napoleon into thinking that Austria supported France’s 1812 invasion of Russia. Meanwhile, Austria secretly encouraged a Russian victory (you can read the details of Metternich’s machinations on the Age of the Sage website). After the French retreat, Metternich dropped the cover of neutrality. He led Austria into outright alliance with the coalition against Napoleon. In a famous encounter described on the Past Now website, Metternich and Napoleon met for the last time on June 26, 1813 in Dresden. According to Metternich, he told Napoleon that he was finished.

With Austria on their side, Russia, Prussia and Britain were able to overthrow Napoleon in 1814. As a reward for his success, Francis I made Metternich a hereditary Prince of the Austrian Empire. Metternich would have liked to see France governed by a regency under Marie Louise, but the Bourbon restoration proposed by Russia, England and the French diplomat Talleyrand won the day. (Read more.)


In Defense of Altar Boys

From Eric Sammons:
Another problem with altar girls is that service at the altar is supposed to dispose boys to the priesthood. It’s not that every altar boy will be a priest, but priests often come from altar boys. Allowing girls to serve at the altar while not allowing them to be priests is cruel, to be frank. It’s like letting a kid practice with a team, but then not allowing him to play in the game. Of course, some think the answer is to allow women priests, but Our Lord already precluded that possibility.

When girls serve at the altar, we make that service no longer about training for the priesthood; it’s simply another profane activity, like sweeping the church after Mass. Such an activity is an important service, but it’s not sacred, as the priesthood and service at the altar are supposed to be. Some might complain that the Church therefore thinks men are more sacred than women. Yet sacred duties are not about the person performing it, but about God who is being served. A proscription against girls serving at the altar was never a statement about the worthiness of girls, just as the fact that men can’t join a Carmelite convent doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy enough to follow St. Theresa of Avila. Likewise, the Blessed Mother isn’t “less sacred” than the Apostles just because she wasn’t chosen as one of the Twelve by the Lord (quite the contrary, in fact).

Further, having girls at the altar restricts the ability of the priest to really open up about life as a priest. If he has a mixed-sex gathering of altar servers, how can he talk about the priesthood without being insensitive to those who can never become priests? However, if there are only boys, he can reveal to them more openly what it means to be a priest. (Read more.)

The “Mezquita”

From Aleteia:
The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, a Catholic cathedral in Córdoba, a city of 320,000 people in Spain’s Andalusia region, is the largest Catholic church in the country and one of the most fascinating places of worship in the world. Featuring a blend of  Visigoth, Roman, Byzantine and Moorish architecture, this 5.9 acre church stands as a testament to the diverse history of this part of the Iberian peninsula. It is believed that the first building to be erected on its site was a Roman temple dedicated to the god Janus, which was later turned into a rectangular church by the Visigoths—a Germanic tribe who converted to Christianity after seizing Rome—when they invaded Cordoba in 572. In 748–750, the Umayyads, a Muslim dynasty that ruled the Umayyad Caliphate, was overthrown by a rival family, the Abbasids. The last Umayyad ruler, Prince Abd al-Rahman I, fled to Southern Spain and gained control of much of the Iberian peninsula, setting up the kingdom of “Al-Andalus” that would eventually include Portugal, Southern France and the Balearic Islands. (Read more.)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Château de Blérancourt

 From Victoria:
Although the rolling plains of France’s Hauts-de-France and Grand Est regions were once the sites of epic World War I battles, a resilient beauty has recaptured the landscape. One woman’s vision has made a lasting impact on the area’s restoration. New York philanthropist Anne Morgan, daughter of eminent financier J. P. Morgan, was one figure whose remarkable efforts stood out. She was spurred to action by the destruction of the lovely Gallic villages laid waste by battle and was determined to assist with their recovery. A portrait of Anne, painted by Philip de László and pictured above, is displayed in honor of her tireless work rebuilding war-torn villages. (Read more.)

Dismantling Obama's Legacy

From The New York Post:
Even if you substantively supported Obama’s actions, the reasoning that girded these supposedly temporary executive decisions was soon revealed to be abusive. In 2012, Obama told the nation that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a stand-in for legislation, was merely a “temporary stopgap measure.” By the time Trump overturned it, the measure represented “who we are as a people.” That’s because by “temporary” Obama always meant “until Democrats can make it permanent through the courts or electoral victories.”

When it became inconvenient, they began arbitrarily implementing parts of laws. When the president decided ObamaCare’s employer mandate was politically inconvenient, he simply skipped it for expediency. The Constitution doesn’t say, “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law unless liberals tell us it’s super important.” Yet shortly after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration realized it would need more subsidies and asked for an appropriation from Congress. (Read more.)

The Philippines: 700,000 Years Ago

From CNN:
About 709,000 years ago, someone butchered a rhinoceros using stone tools on the Philippine island of Luzon. That may not seem remarkable -- except that humans weren't supposed to be in the Philippines so long ago. Before this discovery, the earliest indicator that early humans, or hominins, were even on those islands had been a single foot bone from 67,000 years ago, uncovered in the Callao Cave on Luzon. That's quite a time jump.
Research says that the new findings push back the date for humans inhabiting the Philippines by hundreds of thousands of years. A study published Wednesday in the journal Nature also says that this securely dated evidence pushes back the date for humans living in the wider South East Asian islands region. Researchers came close to figuring out that Luzon may have been inhabited by early humans when stone tools and the fossils of large animals were discovered there in the 1950s. But they weren't able to securely date those findings to the Middle Pleistocene, which spans 126,000 to 781,000 years ago. But recent excavations in the Kalinga province of northern Luzon uncovered 57 stone tools and more than 400 bones of animals like monitor lizard, Philippine brown deer, freshwater turtles and stegodons, a now-extinct animal in the same family as elephants and mammoths. (Read more.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Blantyre Estate

 From Victoria:
Elegant gardens and endless velvety green lawns lead the way to rich décor in this enchanting Tudor-style mansion, setting the stage for the ultimate luxury experience. The Blantyre Estate, reminiscent of the bold mountains and lush landscapes of Scotland and tucked into the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts, provides the loveliest of scenery for guests to enjoy. Return to a bygone era, where superior service, heavenly cuisine, and exquisite décor envelop your every sense. The romantic European ambience of the Blantyre Estate’s luxury country house hotel is an experience you will not soon forget. When Robert Paterson acquired the 220-acre property in the late 1890s, he had a vision to build nothing less than a castle—complete with towers, turrets, and gargoyles—modeled after his mother’s ancestral home in Blantyre, Scotland. Construction began in 1901, oftentimes with more than three hundred people working to complete the structure. Unfortunately, decades of economic setbacks and ownership transitions took their toll. By the 1970s, the property had been abandoned. But in 1980, Ann Fitzpatrick Brown became the eighth owner and set about restoring the estate to its premier splendor. Today, the Blantyre radiates a serene nineteenth-century aura with a stunning collection of vintage antique furnishings and rich textiles. (Read more.)

An FBI Mole

From PJ Media:
There may have been an FBI spy interacting with the Trump campaign in 2016, Kimberly Strassel reported in the Wall Street Journal Thursday evening, adding fuel to long-held suspicions that an FBI/DOJ mole had attempted to ensnare Trump campaign advisers in some sort of Russian collusion trap.

This revelation comes after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein again backed down after a protracted fight with Republicans on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, allowing members to view classified documents about "a top-secret intelligence source that was part of the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign." The FBI and DOJ had apparently been hiding the critical information from congressional investigators for months in order to protect the top-secret intelligence source.
In a Thursday press conference, Speaker Paul Ryan bluntly noted that Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’s request for details on this secret source was “wholly appropriate,” “completely within the scope” of the committee’s long-running FBI investigation, and “something that probably should have been answered a while ago.” Translation: The department knew full well it should have turned this material over to congressional investigators last year, but instead deliberately concealed it.
Nunes doggedly pursued the matter, last week issuing a letter and a subpoena demanding more details, but Rosenstein’s response was to accuse the House of “extortion” and claim that “declining to open the FBI’s files to review” was a constitutional “duty.” (Read more.)

The Gothic Ruin at Frogmore

From Royal Central:
The Gothic Ruin was one such folly which was erected in the grounds of Frogmore in the 1790s, following the purchase of Frogmore Farm and then the estate of Great Frogmore in September 1792. The gardens at Frogmore were particularly loved by Queen Charlotte and provided a peaceful background for recreation and ‘botanizing’, with her daughters, in a kind of English echo of Marie Antoinette’s personal retreat of the Petit Trianon. The Ruin was designed by the architect James Wyatt, who was aided by the Queen’s daughter, Princess Elizabeth, who probably helped decorate the exquisite upper room of Queen Charlotte’s Cottage at Kew, resplendent with rich floral garlands, forming a floating pergola over the Gothic ceiling. Further evidence of Princess Elizabeth’s remarkable artistry may be seen in the Cross Gallery at Frogmore House, featuring paper cut-outs and flower panels, dating also from the 1790s; her decoration of the Chinoiserie rooms at Frogmore was captured in Pyne’s Royal Residences but sadly do not survive today. Similarities with a type of ‘Strawberry Hill Gothic’ could also be seen, given the fact that the building of Horace Walpole’s Gothic Revival villa was begun in the late 1740s and was in itself, highly iconic.

Princess Elizabeth designed several Gothic follies for the gardens at Frogmore, including ‘moss huts, Gothic ruins and octagonal temples’ (Flora Fraser, Princesses, Pg 144, 2004). The ‘octagonal temple’ referred to a Gothic Temple of Solitude, and the ‘huts’ were more precisely, a thatched Hermitage and a barn (or garden) ballroom; the aforementioned Gothic Ruin is the only one of these earlier buildings to survive today. Another hut, known as the ‘Swiss Seat’, is still to be found near the lake but instead was only erected much later, possibly in 1833. A series of engravings by Henry Edridge showing Queen Charlotte and her daughters at Frogmore in the early 19th century also features one of Princess Elizabeth, sat in repose by the lake, with what may perhaps be the Gothic Ruin in the background. (Read more.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The French Revolution & What Went Wrong

The Daily Mail reviews Stephen Clarke's new book, which shows the Revolution to be the genocidal bloodbath it was. Need I point out once again that Marie-Antoinette's love of crazy fashions as a young girl did not cause the Revolution or the royal bankruptcy. It was when the Queen tried to simplify the fashions that everyone had a fit; it was seen as being pro-Austrian and beneath the dignity of a French Queen. It was the French help of the Americans against the British is what precipitated the bankruptcy. The  King and Queen were not indifferent to the plight of the people and the starvation brought on by failed harvests, grain speculation and corrupt officials. Both Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette were personally active in extensive charities to help the needy, in spite of many obstacles. To quote:
Clarke argues convincingly that far from being a self-centred, money-grabbing monster, Louis XVI had actually been a benevolent, reforming monarch. Under his rule, literacy improved, wars lessened, there were huge medical and scientific advances and comparatively little censorship. Before the Revolution, he had gone along with a democratically elected parliament, which had been responsible for initiating fundamental social reforms.

Clarke also argues that the mob who stormed the Bastille in 1789 and came to be seen as the heroes of the Revolution were in fact loyal to the king. ‘The mob violence was mainly inspired by hunger, impatience with politicians and false rumours about an imminent attack by royal troops, but at its heart there was a desire to protect the king’s interests.’ This, he continues, ‘is the complete opposite of what modern France would have us believe’.

He lives in France, so presumably knows what he’s talking about. But, here on the other side of the Channel, his view of the Revolution is, I would say, pretty standard. Nearly 30 years ago, Simon Schama wrote a widely read masterpiece called Citizens, which served as a corrective to any idealism that may still have been attached to the French Revolution. For some reason, Stephen Clarke fails to mention this book, but Schama’s conclusions are strikingly similar to his own. Of the same events, Schama wrote: ‘The repeated invocations of the king’s august and beneficent name by people about to commit or threaten violence suggest how deep their foreboding was of the emptiness opened up by the collapse of royal power.’

Schama argued, all those years ago, that Louis XVI was a reforming monarch, and that successive generations of French historians have been so anxious not to appear reactionary that they have underestimated both the reforms he made, and the revolting extent of the violence wrought by his enemies. Even in the little corrective details that Clarke presents as his own, you find that Schama got there first. For instance, Clarke says that Louis wrote the word ‘Nothing’ in his diary on the day of the storming of the Bastille and that French historians have used this to argue that he was cut off from real life, whereas it was, in fact, simply his hunting diary, and ‘Nothing’ meant that he shot nothing that day. All very interesting, but it’s a point made, rather more gracefully, by Schama: ‘On July, 14 1789, Louis XVI’s journal consisted of the one-word entry “Rien” (nothing). Historians invariably find this a comic symptom of the king’s hapless remoteness from political reality. But it was nothing of the sort. The journal was less a diary than one of his remorselessly enumerated lists of kills at the hunt.’ (Read more.)
Here is a podcast by the author from History Extra. Share

Where is the Outrage?

From The Washington Post:
Democrats routinely express outrage over claims of collusion with a foreign power to undermine our democracy. So where is the outrage over revelations that former secretary of state John Kerry held not one but two secret meetings with Iran’s foreign minister to strategize over how to undermine President Trump’s plans to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal?

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman confirmed the meetings after the Boston Globe broke the news, declaring , “We don’t see the U.S. just as Mr. Trump; the United States is not just the current ruling administration.” Think about what this means. Iran is a terrorist state responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans in Iraq, whose leaders hold rallies where thousands chant “Death to America!” Kerry was working with a sworn enemy of the United States to try to undermine the foreign policy of the elected president of the United States.

I thought we didn’t like Americans who colluded with our enemies. (Read more.)
More HERE.

King Louis of England

From The Catholic Herald:
...It’s little known that England was once ruled by a King Louis. After King John had gone back on all his promises made to the barons in 1215 (an agreement later known as Magna Carta) a number of them had invited the king of France’s son Louis to become king, who claimed the throne through his wife, a granddaughter of Henry II. While John was in the north Louis arrived in Kent unopposed and at St Paul’s was proclaimed king, had the backing of most of the barons and controlled two-thirds of the country.

However, King John then died of dysentery and entrusted the great knight William Marshal to defend his nine-year-old son Henry and the now septuagenarian regent promised to carry the boy on his shoulders. People thought it unfair to blame the young boy for his father’s sins and besides which the French in London had made themselves unpopular, and as John Gillingham put it, “done nothing except drink all the wine in the city and then complain about the ale” when that ran out. Marshal defeated the French and their English supporters, and ‘King Louis’ was wiped from the historical record. (You can read all about this in 1215 and All That.) (Read more.)

Monday, May 14, 2018

Remembering Tipu Sultan

Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette receive the ambassadors of Tipu Sultan in 1788
The France of Louis XVI was rapidly becoming the rival of England in the Far East which is another reason why the British government worked with the revolutionaries to overthrow the French monarchy. From the Lahore Daily Times:
4th of May marked the death anniversary of Tipu Sultan, the ruler of the south Indian kingdom of Mysore, who died gallantly defending his capital Seringapatam against the combined forces of the East India Company and the Nizam in 1799. In Pakistan, Tipu is remembered as a noble soldier and a martyr who raised his sword to preserve India’s freedom from foreign occupation. Pakistani texts ranging from historical fiction such as ‘Aur Talwar Toot Gai’ by Naseem Hijazi to television and filmic productions including Tipu Sultan a drama serial produced by PTV and Tipu Sultan a film based on Tipu’s life, portray Tipu as a semi-divine warrior having an incredible strength to fight and crush his enemies. With his god-like power, Tipu is shown to embark upon a glorious military career and achieve stunning successes not only against indigenous rivals but also foreign invaders. Tipu’s agile armies carry fire and sword into the battlefields and pound dread in the hearts of the enemies. He certainly would have stalemated the British were it not for the treachery of his own ministers and officers.

The picture of Tipu as a mighty Muslim warrior who fiercely resisted British power has had immense staying power in Pakistan. But there is much more in Tipu’s personality which needs a greater attention. The aim of this writing is to highlight those aspects of Tipu’s character that have been veiled by deific trappings in order to give a more telling portrait of him.

In our version of history, what is rarely highlighted is the fact that Tipu was a man of daring vision and enterprise. Fascinated by technological advancement of the west, Tipu set himself to the task of modernising and industrialising his kingdom. He was mindful of the importance of having one’s finger on the pulse and therefore, the need to adopt western techniques to place Mysore on the forefront of industrial progress and prosperity. He, on the one hand, welcomed medical experts from abroad and invited skilled artisans to energise industry in Mysore, and on the other hand, hired French technicians to improve his arsenal and forts. When Tipu sent an envoy to France he specifically instructed them to bring craftsmen who could make “muskets of novel designs, canon-pieces, and iron guns”.

Irfan Habib reveals that the exquisite craftsmanship of muskets produced by Mysorean foundries was endorsed by Cossigny, the governor of Pondicherry, who thought them equal to any manufactured in Europe. The judgment pronounced in Paris on two pistols presented by Tipu’s ambassadors to Louis XVI in 1788 also supports the viewpoint of Cossigny. Tipu also showed keen interest in trade and commerce with countries abroad and believed that the future of India could be changed by skillfully using the sea. Tipu employed the thriving ports of Kanara and Malabar to introduce fabulous Mysorean products including the spices, the ivory and the sandalwood, to the world across. Paying tribute to Tipu Praxy Fernandes writes, “No other sovereign in Indian history had given such an impetus to industrial production.” Through a systematic state effort Tipu strengthened trade relations with the Middle East and set up factories across the Persian Gulf. Tipu’s glittering and thriving Mysore also offered a testimonial to his belief in cultural pluralism which stands in sharp contrast to the narrow and chauvinistic nationalism displayed by the west and India today. His was a kingdom where Hindus, Muslims, and Christians lived in perfect harmony. In fact it was so constructed that it invited foreign investors and workers. Apart from encouraging Europeans Tipu also welcomed and supported Asian merchants from China, Arabia, and Armenia. Mysore, in fact, manifested how ethnically diverse societies can create a legacy of tolerance and civilization. (Read more.)

A Good President

From The Daily Wire:
The Left unsurprisingly remains steadfast in their opposition to President Trump. What’s disappointing is that a handful of “Never Trump” Republicans remain equally unwilling to admit the obvious: Donald Trump is a good president. Indeed, the remaining anti-Trump voices on the Right seem more desperate than ever to take down the president, if only to prove that, actually, they were right all along.

An oft-abused Ralph Waldo Emerson saying comes to mind. Clumsy pedants misquote the transcendental essayist absurdly insisting, “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” In reality Emerson wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” The distinction is crucial. Logic requires consistency, but logical premises can be proved wrong. The madman who is convinced he's a banana and therefore peels off his own skin follows a consistent logic; the trouble is that his premise isn’t true.

People are stubborn. More precisely, they easily fall prey to commitment bias, whereby individuals become more convinced of their position once they have declared it publicly. The more people defend their opinions, the more difficult those opinions are to dislodge even as evidence mounts to rebut them. Foolish ideologues, presented with evidence that reality contradicts their theories, reject reality for their theories. (Read more.)

People Who Love to Write

From Mic:
By writing about traumatic, stressful or emotional events, participants were significantly more likely to have fewer illnesses and be less affected by trauma. Participants ultimately spent less time in the hospital, enjoyed lower blood pressure and had better liver functionality than their counterparts. It turns out writing can make physical wounds heal faster as well. In 2013, New Zealand researchers monitored the recovery of wounds from medically necessary biopsies on 49 healthy adults. The adults wrote about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes, three days in a row, two weeks before the biopsy. Eleven days later, 76% of the group that wrote had fully healed. Fifty-eight percent of the control group had not recovered. The study concluded that writing about distressing events helped participants make sense of the events and reduce distress. Even those who suffer from specific diseases can improve their health through writing. Studies have shown that people with asthma who write have fewer attacks than those who don't; AIDS patients who write have higher T-cell counts. Cancer patients who write have more optimistic perspectives and improved quality of life. (Read more.)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Marie-Antoinette and Empress Alexandra: Who is More Tragic?

They are two of the most tragic consorts in history, both having the blood of Mary Stuart. I think that the Queen of France had the more tragic life. Alexandra got to marry her great love and that makes all the difference in the world. Louis and Antoinette loved each other, but few loves can compare with the grand passion of Nicky and Alix. Both women were devoted to their children and tried to have a real family life with them. Both loved the "simple life" and tried to create quiet refuges amid the splendor of the court. Both women were vilified in ways that transcended all reality by their political enemies. In order to pull apart a family, destroy the image of the mother; in order to bring a nation into revolution, then destroy the reputation/image of the queen/empress, who was the mother-figure of the people. If they could convince the people that the queen/empress was evil and that the king/tsar was an idiot, then it meant the children were no good and the entire family should be gotten rid of.

 It was a deliberate ploy. Antoinette and Alexandra are tragic because no matter what they did it played into the hands of their enemies.  The Great Catherine outwardly had lovers and no one held it against her and she was loved by the people. Napoleon's Josephine spent more money on clothes in one year than Marie-Antoinette did in her entire life and yet Josephine was popular with the French people. It is sad that two women of virtue like Antoinette and Alexandra should be so terribly misunderstood.

There are other connections between the two consorts. Here are some reflections from Royal Central:
In the year of their coronation in 1896, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna made a vital State Visit to France, during which the foundation stone of the elegant Pont Alexandre III was laid. The ‘Hesse Princesses’ of Marie Antoinette’s youth made a family trip to Paris in 1780, with their father, Prince George William of Hesse. As part of this visit, Marie Antoinette invited Princess Louise, the future Landgravine of Hesse, her husband, Prince Louis and her brother, Prince Frederick of Hesse, to visit her beloved private retreat of the Petit Trianon. This was a sure sign of royal favour: ‘It’s looking so beautiful that I should be charmed to show it to you’ (Ibid, Pg 210). During a performance at Versailles, Princess Charlotte even sat in the Queen’s box at the opera (Ibid, Pg 210).
As part of the Russian Imperial State Visit, Alexandra was ‘assigned’ the rooms of Marie Antoinette at Versailles for one night. If she considered her Hesse forebears having been invited to Versailles in 1780, she made no mention of it. Alexandra was directly related to Landgravine Louise, as Antonia Fraser has observed, as her fourth cousin, four generations removed (Ibid, Pg 538). Alexandra’s father, Grand Duke Ludwig IV, was the nephew of Grand Duke Ludwig III of Hesse – the grandson of Grand Duke Ludwig I – as Landgravine Louise’s husband became known, the title of Hesse becoming Hesse and by Rhine in 1816. According to Antonia Fraser’s biography, Alexandra was “delighted” (Ibid, Pg 538) with being given Marie Antoinette’s rooms, which presumably, given the fact that she stayed overnight, must have been the glorious Queen’s State Bedchamber, as there is no mention of the Trianon, nor did Marie Antoinette’s private quarters contain her bed. Alexandra’s biographer, Greg King, states that in Marie Antoinette’s rooms, Alexandra spent the night underneath “the damask canopy of the doomed queen’s bed”, citing Alexandra’s earlier biographer Baroness Buxhoeveden, for this (Greg King, The Last Empress, Pg 115, 1994).

As a result of this visit, Alexandra would later tell her daughters, the four Grand Duchesses, tales of Paris and Versailles, according to Buxhoeveden (Baroness Sophie Buxhoeveden, The Life & Tragedy of Alexandra Feodorovna, 1928). Alexandra’s suite, by contrast, had found the fact that the young Tsarina had been given Marie Antoinette’s rooms at Versailles “ominous”, while the Tsarina herself was “thrilled” by Versailles (Ibid, Pg 75). In a pleasant parallel to the theatrical performance given for Marie Antoinette’s ‘Hesse Princesses’, the Tsarina attended a theatrical performance at Versailles with the Tsar, in the Salon d’Hercule (Ibid, Pg 75).

There were other associations, however. According to Marfa Mouchanow’s 1918 book My Empress, Alexandra had the Imperial Bedroom at the Winter Palace used by herself and Tsar Nicholas, hung with silk, itself inspired by a pattern used in Marie Antoinette’s rooms at the chateau of Fontainebleau (King, Pg 90). (Read more.)
My book Marie-Antoinette: Daughter of the Caesars has a great deal about Marie-Antoinette's friendships with the Hesse sisters as well as her friendships with the future Tsar Paul and his wife Maria Feodorovna, ancestors of Nicholas II.


Modernists Without Faith

From Return to Order:
These defenders of modernity are like Romans fighting off barbarians inside a decadent society that needs a moral rebirth. Fighting off invasion is required but is just part of the solution.  Only something strong and inspiring outside the system can breathe new life into society. This was something the Romans themselves could not provide.  Historically, the Church provided that moral regeneration that gave rise to Christendom. A similar thing is happening today. An example of this awkward defense is the Jordan Peterson phenomenon and others who are fighting off the cultural Marxism of our times. They have also called for moral regeneration. However, they remained fixed to their secular and modern roots that banished God from the public square. (Read more.)

Self-Publishing – It’s About Breaking The Rules

From Just Publishing Advice:
The rulebook governing the publishing of books has been thrown out of the window, been burnt on a sacrificial fire and converted into a Kindle ebook that no one will ever bother to read. Self-publishing is a new form of anarchy, which will change the face of publishing, reading and consumption of text for some considerable years to come. It will, and I could probably say, already has changed the way books are written, bought, read, marketed and sold by breaking the rules of publishing.

Why does a novel need to be 110,000 words? Who made that rule? Well, it was fine when books needed to look nice and uniform on a bookstore shelf, but who cares on the Kindle Store. Why do short stories need to be published in a collection? Why can’t they be sold one at a time? Does it really matter now if a writer uses single or double quotation marks? Are these ideas breaking the rules? (Read more.)

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Napoleon's Marly Rouge Service

Of course, when Marie-Antoinette ordered dishes it was considered decadent. From Architectural Digest:
It turns out the ill-fated emperor was something of a china fetishist, annoyed and inspired by the fact that Louis XVI had had a 445-piece Sevres service crafted for himself over a decade. The Sevres factory was actually a national manufactory, explains Jody Wilkie, cochairman worldwide of the Christie’s decorative arts department, so Napoleon, like other monarchs, began to use it upon his ascent to power as “his personal gift closet.” For himself, he commissioned a 256-piece dessert set with a brilliantly colored pattern called “Marly Rouge,” edged in iron red and adorned with delicate, detailed paintings of butterflies and, somewhat strangely, insects such as moths, ants, and bees.

Sevres records are meticulous and show its delivery October 7–18, 1809, to the palace of Fontainebleau. Historians know that the service was personally important to Napoleon because he had bothered, when he had changed travel plans to head to that hunting chateau, to have the new service delivered there instead. Perhaps it had sentimental value: It was that fall and in that place that the emperor told his wife of 13 years, Josephine, that he was divorcing her to marry an Austrian princess.

The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller contains 22 of the Marly Rouge pieces, the biggest tranche to hit the market in over a century. That’s about a tenth of the original set, which included a dazzling 188 plates alone, plus items such as sugar bowls decorated with dolphins on the feet or eagle heads. (Read more.)

Abortion Survivors and Experimentation

From Live Action:
The most controversial form of research the commission found was on the “fetus outside the womb,” involving “fetuses delivered by abortion.” The commission claimed hundreds of reports of such cases had been conducted. Experiments were also conducted on already expired fetuses from spontaneous or induced abortions. Below is a small sample of what the commission found:
  • Physiologic and Metabolic Studies: Fetal hearts, removed just after death of a fetus following hysterotomy abortion, have been studied to establish physiologic response data.
  • Studies of the Pregnant Mother: Women undergoing elective midtrimester abortion have been starved for 87 hours before abortion in an attempt to learn the effects of caloric deprivation on pregnancy and to gain some information as to whether the fetus could adapt to fuels other than glucose.
  • Research With the Previable Fetus Outside the Uterus: To learn whether the human fetal brain could metabolize ketone bodies, brain metabolism was isolated in 8 human fetuses (12-17 weeks’ gestation) after hysterotomy abortion by perfusing the isolated head (the head was separated from the rest of the body). The study demonstrated that, similar to other species, brain metabolism could be supported by ketone bodies during fetal life suggesting avenues of therapy in some fetal disease states.
  • Another technique for studying the ability of the midtrimester fetus to carry out endocrine reactions used 4 fetuses (16-20 weeks’ gestation) immediately after hysterotomy abortion. The fetuses were perfused through their umbilical veins while being housed in a perfusion tank. Fetal tissues were examined at the end of the study.
  • After studies with newborn and fetal mice, cutaneous respiration (breathing through the skin) was studied in 15 fetuses (9-24 weeks’ gestation) from induced abortions. The fetuses were immersed in a salt solution with oxygen at high pressure. The fetuses were judged to be alive by a pulsating cord or visible heart beat; if necessary the chest was opened to observe the heart. Four fetuses were supported for 22 hours in this attempt at developing a fetal incubator.

  • Seven previable fetuses (200-375 grams) from spontaneous or induced abortions were immersed in a perfusion tank and perfused with oxygenated blood through their umbilical vessels. The fetuses survived and moved for 5-12 hours.
Interestingly, in addition to general experimentation, the commission noted that if the fetus could “feel pain” then experimenting on abortion survivors would not be permissible. Of course, that debate continues to linger despite evidence that they do feel pain. (Read more.)