This Week in History

The Führer’s Immolation: April 30, 1945

The following comes from our text, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For ordering information on this text and our other books, please click here.

The Allied leaders (left to right) Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Josif Stalin at Yalta

In January 1945, the Russians began their last great offensive against the German lines in the east. On January 17, forces under the command of General Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov captured Warsaw and from there, over the next two weeks, pushed westward toward Brandenburg and Pomerania. By January 31, Zhukov’s forces were on the Oder River, only 40 miles from Berlin. Less than two weeks later, another Russian army under General Ivan Stepanovich Kunev reached Sommerfeld on the Elbe River, 80 miles from Berlin.

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Russian General Georgy Zhukov

While his Red Army moved ever closer to capturing Berlin, Josif Stalin met with Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt at Yalta, a city on the Black Sea, to discuss the future of Europe after the war. Stalin had become indispensable to the Allied war effort. His army, numbering 12 million men, was three times larger than the army commanded by the American general, Dwight Eisenhower. With this army, Stalin kept 125 to 200 German divisions from fighting the Allies in the west. Churchill and Roosevelt needed Stalin, and he knew it. And because they needed him, Stalin also knew that they could not refuse to give him an important role in deciding the future of Europe.


This Week in History

Antoine-Frédéric Accepts

the Challenge: April 23, 1833

Like all Europeans, Catholics in the 1840s were divided on how to meet the challenges of their time. The Church in Western Europe was in many ways still in a state of shock because of the French Revolution and its aftermath. It was hard for Catholics, bishops and popes included, to understand fully all that had happened. Thus, when they considered what needed to be done to bring Europe back to the Faith, Catholics came up with very different answers.

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Pope Gregory XVI

There were those Catholics who thought Europe had to return to the way things were under the ancient regime. They saw the cause of the Church as tied up with the cause of the old monarchies, such as the Bourbons or the Habsburgs. The watchword of such monarchist Catholics was “throne and altar” — the old alliance of the Catholic Church and the Catholic monarchy.

Other Catholics thought the Church had to realize that Liberal society was not going to go away and so should look for what might be good in it. They thought that the Church must not only accept republican forms of government but even the new spirit of political liberty. Such “Liberal Catholics” said the Church should allow for freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, and the toleration of non-Catholic religions in Catholic countries. It was just such ideas, however, that Pope Gregory XVI condemned in his encyclical, Mirari Vos. Despite the encyclical, Liberal Catholics continued to spread their ideas, especially in France.


Catholic Textbook Project, the publisher of robust, beautiful history textbooks for Catholic schools, announced a new History Essay Contest for Catholic students in Grades 5 through 8. Contest submission deadline is May 22, 2015, and four separate contest divisions allow for (more…)

This Week in History

Parliament Emancipates Catholics:

April 13, 1829 

George IV in 1816

Conditions did not improve when George IV became king in 1820. As regent for his insane father, George III, since 1811, George IV had long supported the repression of radicals. Though a clever man (he was a student of the classics and fluent in French, Italian, and German), George IV was not a particularly good man. He was notoriously immoral and so did not mind the corruption that filled the British government. This made the new king very unpopular.

Though he spent most of his time at Windsor Castle, George IV continued to play a part in politics. He opposed all reform measures, including one that he himself had supported over 20 years before — Catholic emancipation. Since the 16th century, English law had forbidden Catholics to serve in Parliament or even to vote for members of Parliament. Penal laws carrying punishments of fines, imprisonment,and even death (for Catholic priests) were still on the books. In Ireland, though most of the population was Catholic, only Protestants could serve as magistrates; and everyone whether Protestant or not, had to pay tithes to support the Protestant Church of Ireland. Though in 1797 George IV had proposed a bill that would allow Catholics to sit in Parliament, by 1813 he was a firm opponent of similar bills. George IV now said his kingly oath to support the Protestant religion meant he had to oppose any efforts for Catholic emancipation.


Online History Courses for Fall 2015

CTP’s General Editor, Christopher Zehnder, M.A. will be teaching two courses through Homeschool Connections for the Fall of 2015. 

Catholic Textbooks - History - Light to the Nations, Part 2

In the course “The Making of the Modern World” Mr. Zehnder will examine how our world, the Modern World, came to be. Using Light to the Nations II as the basic text, students will study the revolutionary ideas that created a new view of man and his relationship to God, the Church, and the state that was radically different from the Middle Ages. Since ideas influence deeds,  the course examines how historical events flowed from the struggle between those who held to traditional conceptions and those who embraced the new ideas. Since events  influence ideas as well, students will see how the events of history molded both the new and the traditional visions of the world.

The course is divided into two parts: Part I (first semester) begins with the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries and concludes with the attempt to reestablish the ancient regime after the fall of Napoleon’s empire. Part II (second semester) continues the story, beginning with a study of Romanticism and concluding with Vatican II and the post-conciliar world.

Mr. Zehnder taught a similar course based on Light to the Nations II for the 2013 – 2014  school year (which can be accessed as a recorded class), but the classes, while covering the same basic material, will be 90 minutes instead of 60 minutes long, thus giving Mr. Zehnder the opportunity to delve deeper with his students into modern history. More supplemental information and resources will also be provided in the 2015 – 2016 course. The suggested grade level is 8th through 10th.

“The Rise and Fall of the Missions of Alta California, Part One” is a new course Mr. Zehnder is eager to teach. Being a California native,  he grew up with Fr. Serra’s Missions as natural part of the California landscape; yet, as a convert to Catholicism, his love and appreciation for Fr. Serra’s mission as an intrinsic element of California history developed later. His thorough research, especially of primary sources, will eventual make its way into a future CTP textbook.  For now, he is sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm through this online course.

This 12-class course will tell the story of the mission system that Fray Junípero Serra established in California, the various struggles he and his successors faced in bringing Christ and civilization to the primitive peoples of California and the opposition they faced from both Spanish and California officials. It is a dramatic story that includes many dramatic events: Indian rebellion, heroic sacrifice, and martyrdom. It is a tragic story, too, for it tells of the promise of the mission system and how it was ultimately destroyed. This is Part One of a 2-part course and students are expected to register for Part Two in the spring. The suggested grade level is 7th and up.

These are both live, interactive classes, just two of the 64 courses being offered by Homeschool Connections in 2015. Class size is limited, so take advantage of the Early Enrollment Discount and register today.