This Day in History

July 28, 1914:
The First World War Begins 
Light to the Nations, Part II: The Making of the Modern World (Textbook)
This week we commemorate the 100th anniversary of what proved to be the beginning of the “Great War,” World War I — Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war on Serbia. The following comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.
All of Europe protested the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie. Who could not sympathize with the aged Emperor Franz Josef, who had suffered so many tragedies in his life and now had to bear with the loss of his heir? Such an outrage demanded justice, and few European leaders would have blamed Austria-Hungary for seeking it.

Emperor Franz Josef I
But, besides the murderer himself and the Black Hand, who was responsible for the archduke’s assassination? Though he had no direct evidence, Austria-Hungary’s foreign minister, Count Leopold von Berchtold, was certain the Serbian government was ultimately responsible. Since 1913, Berchtold had been pushing for war against Serbia to end her attempts to draw the Slavs and Croats from the empire. The emperor had resisted these calls for war — but would he continue to oppose war now that Serbia had sponsored such a foul murder? Berchtold was confident that he could now convince Franz Josef that war was necessary to stop Serbian violence against the empire.

The first step was to make sure that Germany would stand with Austria-Hungary. Though Kaiser Wilhelm II seems not to have wanted war at the time, he replied on July 6, 1914, that Germany would back Austria-Hungary in any action she chose to take against Serbia. Armed with this guarantee, Berchtold urged Franz Josef and Hungary’s prime minister, István Tisza, to order a surprise attack on Serbia. The emperor, who still wanted peace, refused, as did Tisza. Knowing that both the emperor and Tisza feared that Russia would enter a war on the side of Serbia, Berchtold argued that Russia would not risk such a war. At last Berchtold suggested that an ultimatum should be sent to the Serbian government, making demands to which, Berchtold knew, Serbia would never agree. The old emperor, who loathed the thought of war, nevertheless agreed to the ultimatum.

Count Berchtold
The ultimatum sent to the Serbian government on July 23, 1914, accused Serbia of breaking her promise “to live on good neighborly terms” with Austria-Hungary. It then made a number of demands and said the Serbian government had to respond to the ultimatum in 48 hours. The response of the Serbian government was conciliatory; it agreed to all the demands made by Austria-Hungary, except for two that would undermine Serbia’s sovereignty. In addition, Serbia suggested that the dispute be settled by The Hague court. But Serbia also ordered a partial mobilization of her army against Austria-Hungary the same day the reply was sent, which gave Berchtold a reason for saying the reply was insufficient. Austria-Hungary rejected Serbia’s reply and ordered a partial mobilization of her own army, against Serbia.

Count Berchtold hoped that any war with Serbia would involve no other European power. Such a war, however, would put Russia in a difficult place. If Austria-Hungary were allowed to overrun Serbia, Russia would lose the confidence of the Slavic Balkan states. At the same time, war with Austria-Hungary would mean a war with Germany, which Russia did not want.

European nations and their alliances in 1914

A war in the Balkans could create problems for France as well, for Russia would probably ask for French help if Germany entered the war on the side of Austria-Hungary. France did not want a war, but the French government feared that if it did not stand with Russia, France would lose a powerful ally. For this reason, French president Raymond Poincairé, visiting St. Petersburg on a state visit, assured Tsar Nikolai II that Russia could count on France’s support in the event of a war with Austria-Hungary or, even, Germany.

Tsar Nikolai II (left) and his cousin,
 King George V of Great Britain
It was clear that the real threat to peace lay in a war between Austria-Hungary and Russia, which would almost necessarily include their allies, Germany and France. To prevent such a war, Great Britain’s foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, on July 24, 1914, asked the great powers to convince Austria-Hungary and Russia to act reasonably. The French government rejected Grey’s proposal. On July 26, Grey suggested a meeting between the ambassadors of France, Italy, Germany, and Great Britain in London; but this time Germany stood in the way, saying the dispute between Austria and Serbia concerned those two powers alone.

If, however, Germany refused to send delegates to London, she did put pressure on Austria-Hungary to open up talks with Russia. Count Berchtold, however, would hear nothing of talks, for he was intent on war. Berchtold’s chief obstacle was the emperor. Franz Josef was opposed to war, even to “avenge” his nephew, the murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Nothing his ministers said, it seemed, could change his mind.

Yet, in the end, the emperor did change his mind. Why, we do not know. He had received forged telegrams, falsely reporting that Serbian troops had invaded Austro-Hungarian lands. These reports may have convinced him that he could no longer avoid war. But whether it was the telegrams or some other cause, on July 28, 1914, the peace-minded Franz Josef agreed to a declaration of war against Serbia. The next day, the Austrian army began a bombardment of Serbia’s unfortified capital, Belgrade.

Film Footage of the Emperor

This clip from a longer television documentary features film footage of Emperor Franz Josef I, as well as Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Archduke Karl von Habsburg, and Kaiser Wilhelm II. While the footage is indeed interesting, we do not vouch for the commentary.

Avoiding Supplement Overload

One of the guiding philosophies of the Catholic Textbook Project has been “less is more.” Unlike other publishers, we do not burden teachers with supplement upon supplement and goody bags filled with distracting resources – mainly because we don’t need to. Our well-written books do most of the work, by drawing students into the exciting story of history. Our teacher’s manuals and workbooks only help complete the work the textbooks have begun.

Light to the Nations, Part II: The Making of the Modern World (Teacher's Manual)The CTP Teacher’s Manual for each textbook features:

  • a complete timeline of the events covered in the book
  • a scope and sequence for each chapter
  • a discussion of the goals for each chapter
  • a listing of the basic facts students should take from each chapter, with a brief review of each fact
  • a listing of the key terms presented in each chapter with their definitions
  • answer keys for end-of-chapter review questions as well as for quizzes and tests
  • suggestions for carrying out end-of-chapter activities
  • a list of resources for further reading
One educator summed up the quality of our teacher’s manuals: “I have always been impressed with your books, but I am overwhelmed by the Teacher’s Manuals. They are the best I have ever seen!”
Light to the Nations, Part I: Development of Christian Civilization (Student Workbook)We also have workbooks for each of our textbooks which provide a variety of exercises and activities to enhance the learning experience and solidify subject retention. These excellent resources were designed by writer and veteran educator, Ana Braga-Henebry. The workbooks are offered in CD format to help schools and families save on cost (no yearly purchase of new workbooks) and to allow teachers to pick the exercises most useful for their class.  Now we’ve also added downloadable eBook editions in either PDF or ePub versions. 
In addition to our efforts, the homeschooling curricula provider, Catholic Heritage Curricula, has written daily lesson plans for two of CTP’s history textbooks: Sea to Shining Sea and All Ye Lands.
Sea to Shining Sea Lesson Plans
All Ye Lands Lesson Plans
The 36-week lesson plans provides a daily schedule for each textbook and its accompanying teacher’s manual with coordinating reading assignments, review, optional enrichment, and abundant hands-on activities. To find out more or purchase, visit the CHC website.

This Week in History

July 17-20, 1936:
The Opening Campaign of the Spanish Civil War
 The following comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.
File:Spanish Civil War memorial - - 943633.jpg
Spanish Civil War memorial.
The inscription reads
“Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.”
The fall of the monarchy gave hope to socialists, anarchists, and other radicals that they could at last take revenge against the “conservative” forces that had oppressed them. On May 11, 1931, anarchists along with some radical socialists looted monarchist headquarters in Madrid and then wrecked or set fire to more than 12 churches in the city. As a fearful sign of what was to come, Madrid’s republican authorities either did nothing to stop the rampage or actively aided it.
Socialists and radical republicans received most of the votes in the June 1931 election for the new Cortes. The constitution drawn up by the Cortes established a secular and anti-Church state. Church and state were separated, members of religious orders were forbidden to teach anything but religion, Church schools were closed, Church property was seized, and religious processions outside the walls of church buildings were forbidden. The republican government attacked the family by making divorce easy to obtain. The new government passed laws to help workers obtain better wages and safer working conditions. The lands of large landowners were to be seized and redistributed among poor farmers. But of the more than 80,000 acres the government seized, most had belonged not to large landowners, but to small or medium-sized farmers.

A poster of the Spanish anarchist  organiztions,
CNT (National Confederation of Workers)
and the FAI (Iberian Anarchist Federation)
The actions of the republican government pleased neither traditional nor right-wing groups (the Church, large landowners, industrialists, and the Carlists) nor anarchists and radical socialists, who thought the government was not radical enough. The traditionalists joined in a coalition called CEDA (Confederación Española de Derechas Autónomas – “Spanish Confederation of Autonomous Right-Wing Parties”), which won the largest number of seats in the Cortes in the election of 1933.
The conservative victory turned many socialists against the republican government. Led by Francisco Largo Caballero, socialists began to embrace Bolshevik ideas. In October 1934, socialist miners in Asturias rose in a revolt and shot down nearly 100 people (mostly priests and police) in cold blood. In response, government troops executed about 100 rebels. In the end, the government crushed the rebellion and, throughout 1935, passed laws that favored the wealthy classes of Spain.
In late 1935, socialists joined with the new and growing Spanish Communist party and other radical groups to form the Popular Front, which, in the election of February 1936, was able to win a majority of seats in the Cortes. The day following the election, socialists and anarchists carried out acts of terrorism and street violence in Spanish cities, especially against members of a small political party called the Falange Española.

José Antonio de Rivera
Founded by General Primo de Rivera’s son, José Antonio, the Falange was in some ways similar to the Italian Fascist party. Falangists were nationalistic, favored a highly centralized government, and praised military glory. They wore blue shirts (as the Fascists wore black shirts) and revered José Antonio Primo de Rivera as their Jefe or “chief.” The Falangists saw the Catholic Church as necessary to Spanish culture and so opposed attempts to destroy the Church’s influence on society. They looked to the Church’s teachings on social justice and government as guides to reforming Spanish society.
Opposition parties belonging to CEDA also opposed the government, but for different and often contrary reasons. The Carlists opposed the government’s anti-Catholic laws and proposed a Catholic government in Spain with laws based on the social teachings of the Church. Yet, the Carlists differed with the Falangists on the sort of government they wanted. While the Falangists favored a powerful central government for Spain, the Carlists wanted a weaker central government and strong local governments. Industrialists and landowners who belonged to CEDA did not necessarily agree with either the Falangists or the Carlists but were chiefly interested in maintaining their power in society. They cared nothing for workers’ rights or improving conditions for poor peasants.
Francisco Franco
Fear that Spain was heading toward Communism and that the Cortes was undermining the strength of the military won the conservatives powerful friends. In May 1936, several Spanish generals secretly began planning a revolt against the government. Their moment came on July 12, 1936, when leftist police and Communist militiamen in Madrid murdered José Calvo Sotelo, a conservative leader of the Cortes. The murder stirred up fears of a Bolshevik revolution in Spain. Five days later, several Spanish generals issued a pronouncement, calling for the overthrow of the government. The army in Morocco, under the command of General Francisco Franco, rose in revolt. By July 20, 1936, rebel generals and their troops had taken control of Morocco, the Canary Islands, and north-central and northwestern Spain. The terrible Spanish Civil War had begun.

Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War),
 painted by the Spanish Surrealist artist, Salvador Dali, in 1936.
The painting, first conceived, it seems, in 1934, represents  Dali’s expectation of civil war  in Spain

Anthems from Opposing Sides
The first three pieces in this mix feature three anthems: two from the Nationalist side, one from the Republican. The first is the Carlist hymn, Oriamendi; the second, the Falangist anthem, Cara al Sol; the third is Las Barricadas, the anthem of the anarchist CNT-FAI.

This Day in History

July 16-17, 1918
“We must shoot them all tonight”
The following comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.
Tsar Nikolai II, imprisoned
at Tsarkoe Selo
At about midnight of July 16-17, 1918, Nikolai Romanov, the deposed tsar of Russia, and Aleksandra Feodorovna, his wife, were awakened and told to dress quickly. There was unrest in the town, they were told; it was dangerous to remain in the top floors of the house. They had to be moved below floors.

In the spring of 1918, the Bolshevik government had moved Tsar Nikolai and his family to the town Yekaterinburg, east of the Ural Mountains, in Siberia. A house, owned by a successful local merchant named Ipatiev, had been fitted out for them. But Yekaterinburg did not turn out to be a safe place to store a tsar. In mid July, an army of anti-Bolshevik counterrevolutionaries were approaching the town; the sound of their gunfire could be heard from the Ipatiev house. Orders had come from Moscow to Yakov Yurovsky, the commander of the soldiers guarding the royal family, to remove them immediately.

We must shoot them all tonight,” Yurovsky told a soldier.

Tsar Nikolai II and his family
Because the Tsarevich Alexei could not walk, his father carried him down the stairs to the first floor and then into a room in the basement, where other members of the family had gathered –the tsarina and her four daughters were there, as well as a doctor and several servants. Chairs had been set in the room, and Nikolai placed Alexei on one of them. The door that had been closed now opened, and men armed with revolvers entered the room. 
Yurovsky told Nikolai that because his relatives were trying to rescue him, the Ural Soviet of Workers’ Deputies had condemned him and his family to death.

Yakov Yurovsky
What?” Nikolai said, and he turned to Alexei.

At that moment,” Yurovsky later wrote, “I shot him and killed him outright.” Disorganized firing broke out. Bullets ricocheted off the brick walls. The tsar’s daughters, still alive after the shooting (precious stones, secretly sewn into their clothes, had protected them), were finally dispatched at close range. “Alexei remained sitting, petrified,” wrote Yurovsky. “I killed him.”

Our Books & the Common Core

e are sometimes asked how our history textbook series matches up to the Common Core Standards. This is an important question, both for those schools who have aligned their curriculum to the Common Core and those that haven’t. Both groups want to know if the Catholic Textbook Project is Common Core friendly, or not.

The simple answer is this: CTP’s textbooks were not written with the Common Core Initiative in mind, nor do we plan to alter our books to conform to the standards. But, while those who have opted out of the Common Core will find that our books follow the best of traditional pedagogy, those adopting the Common Core will discover that our books will help them uniquely fulfill the Common Core standards both in history/socials studies and English language arts — and that because we have remained faithful to classical modes of learning.

In April 2012, the Common Core Standards Initiative published its Revised Publishers’ Criteria for the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy, Grades 3-12. The purpose of these criteria is “to guide publishers and curriculum developers as they work to ensure alignment with the standards in English language arts (ELA) and literacy for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects.”

How do Catholic Textbook Project’s social studies texts fulfill these criteria?

What the Common Core Standards Do

 The Common Core Standards for social studies are not content but classroom standards.

 The Common Core Standards do not impose the inclusion or exclusion of events and subject matter.
– The Common Core Standards establish criteria governing text complexity and  literary quality, as well as  the relationship of questions and tasks to the text, the building of vocabulary, and the way students are trained to the tasks of writing and research.
How Our Textbooks Uniquely Fulfill Common Core Goals

 In text complexity our textbooks fall within or slightly above the Lexile ranges called for by Common Core reading standards.

  Our texts fulfill the Common Core goal that students read increasingly complex texts.”

 Our texts are challenging; they call on students to stretch their minds and imaginations to attain a greater proficiency in the reading and interpretation of texts.

 The literary character of our books helps students learn to discern central ideas from those that are more incidental.

 Moreover, our texts, written in a rich and colorful narrative style, draw students into the story of history. Students advance in reading competence and build their vocabulary through the sheer pleasure of reading.

 Our teacher manuals offer guidelines to help instructors guide students in discerning the central ideas and facts in the text.

 Our end-of-chapter exercises fulfill the Common Core requirements that a “significant percentage of tasks and questions [be] text dependent” and that “high-quality text-dependent questions … move beyond what is directly stated to require students to make nontrivial inferences based on evidence in the text.”

To see for yourself how our books can enhance learning in the classroom, please click here to view sample chapters of our books. The samples not only allow you to familiarize yourself with our engaging writing style, but give you the opportunity to experience the beauty of our books’ layout — complete with full-color reproductions of great works of art and custom maps.