This Week in History

The Death of the Sun King:

September 1, 1715

File:Louis XIV as Child.jpg

An allegorical painting of Louis XIV depicted as Jupiter, by George Poerson

On September 1, 1715, King Louis XIV of France died. With his passing, the “Great Century” (the age of Louis XIV) came to an end. During that monarch’s reign, France became not only the most powerful nation in Europe but the undisputed leader of European culture. Throughout Europe, aristocrats took on French ways and spoke the French language. They built houses and public buildings in the French style, and the artists and writers they patronized imitated the patterns of French art and literature. Louis XIV may have been the most feared ruler in Europe, but he was also the most envied and imitated.


This Week in History

The English Peasants Rise, for the Last Time: August 29, 1830

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


King William IV in 1830

When King George IV died on June 26, 1830, his 64-year-old brother, the Duke of Clarence, came to the throne as King William IV. Unlike George IV, William IV began his reign as a popular monarch. Disliking pomp and ceremony, he often walked through the streets of London as an ordinary subject would. He chose not to live in Buckingham Palace and for a time contemplated turning it into a barracks for soldiers. William was also a hard and efficient worker. He was a welcome change from George IV.

In parliamentary elections that took place between July and September 1830, the Tories lost seats to the Whigs. The Tories were still in the majority, but Wellington could not get enough support in the House of Commons and so was forced to step down as prime minister. In his place, the king appointed Charles, Earl Grey, as prime minister. Earl Grey was a Whig and a longtime supporter of parliamentary reform.



A Winning Essay: St. Katharine Drexel

The following essay was written by Kendal Rowan, a 7th grade student at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, LA.

Katharine Drexel was born on November 26, 1858 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  She was the second of two daughters.  Her father was Francis Anthony Drexel, a wealthy banker and philanthropist, and her mother was Hannah Jane Langstroth.  Katharine’s mother, Hannah, died a month after her birth.  Two years later, her father married Emma Bouvier, who became a devoted mother to her.  She had a daughter in 1862 and played an important role in all three girls’ lives.  Both parents gave the children love and guidance.  Katharine and her family were wealthy, but her parents taught them that they were to share with others.  They were encouraged to do things on their own without money and to help those who didn’t have.

Katharine was home schooled as a child.  Even though she and her sisters didn’t go to school, they had a good education.  She was able to travel the world going to Europe and all over the United States.  During her travels through different countries, Katharine Drexel learned of many things Native Americans could not do and what they didn’t have.  Later, she decided to use her inherited fortune of wealth to help the Native American race with some of their problems.  This goal started with a Native American school she established in 1885 in Santa Fe, Mexico. 

She was a faith filled person who did things from the heart.  After receiving a suggestion from Pope Leo XIII, it gave her the idea of becoming a missionary.  Katharine had to go through training in religious life; so, in 1889 she decided to join the Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh.  During her religious training, she never lost sight of giving back to others.  Two years later, with a few companions, Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.  The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament is still in existence as of today.  Mother Katharine Drexel, as she came to be known, formed this missionary for Indians and Colored People.  This missionary is because of the love she had for the deprived people in her country and her devotion for the sacrament.  Something her parents instilled in her as a young child.

During her life, she helped to open approximately sixty schools with her congregation.  The one school that she was most famous for establishing was Xavier University of New Orleans in 1915.  This was the first Catholic institution for historically Black people in the United States.  Xavier has expanded from day to day still focusing on what Mother Katharine Drexel envisioned for the black community.  She also purchased the campus of Southern University that was previously located on Magazine Street in New Orleans.  After it was abandoned because white neighbors pressured the blacks to leave, the college relocated to Baton Rouge.  Once the abandoned property was obtained, she named the school St. Francis Xavier after a great missionary in 1912.  She had no desire to please others, but the desire to do what she thought was God’s will.  The school was later known as “Xavier Prep”, but today is now called “St. Katharine Drexel”.

In 1935, Mother Katharine Drexel had a heart attack and her health began to fail.  She later decided to step down as the superior general in 1937 because of serious illness.  Her devotions grew stronger as she battled with her illness and she never felt the need to deprive others because of her struggle.  On March 3, 1955, she died at the age of ninety-six at Cornwell Heights, Pennsylvania.  Katharine Drexel made a great impact on many people who knew about her Christian works through the Catholic religion.  But, the most important thing about Katharine Drexel is that she established many schools and missionaries by opening her arms as God does to help others for the cause of great Christian Acts.  It is reported that she became beautified on November 20, 1980 by Pope John Paul II.

As a young black male I admire Mother Kathrine Drexel.  She helped many people including young African Americans and more.  She was a great woman; even when sick she still helped.  All she wanted to do was to help other and be devoted to a cause using the abilities that her parents taught her throughout her life.  She did many good deeds for many people and that was what God wanted her to do.

This Week in History

Massacre at Peterloo: August 16, 1819

On a summer’s day in August 1819, tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Fields, near Manchester, in Lancashire County, England. They had come, summoned by radical leaders, to hear the reformer Henry Hunt give a speech on the causes he stood for — yearly elections for members of Parliament, universal manhood suffrage, and voting by secret ballot. Great throngs of people had begun to arrive a little before noon on that day, August 16, 1819. Many carried flags, some marched in formation, others — men, women, and even children — were there any which way. In the end, 60,000 to 80,000 people surrounded the cart from which Hunt was to give his address.

File:Peterloo-1819-R-Carlile (partial).jpgHunt had not been speaking long when he espied a body of cavalry, its members brandishing their swords and advancing at a brisk trot toward the crowd. Hunt paused in his speech but then resumed it, assuring his listeners that the intruders had come only to disturb the meeting. But then he saw the multitude before him make way; the cavalry had pushed its way into the crowd and was coming toward him. When the soldiers reached the cart, the commanding officer, with drawn sword, told Hunt that he was a prisoner. Another radical leader, named Johnson, was also arrested; others for whom warrants had been issued escaped into the crowd.


This Week in History

Return of Vienna’s Emperor:

August 12, 1848

The following is an excerpt from our text, Light to the Nations II:The Making of the Modern World. It continues our series on the 1848 revolutions in Austria that we continued here. (For our account of the 1848 revolutions in Paris, please go here). For information on ordering this or our other texts, please go here.

Emperor Ferdinand I

The revolutionaries in Vienna cheered when they heard of Radetzky’s victories in Lombardy. Why did they cheer? After all, Radetzky’s enemies should have been their friends. Both the Viennese and Lombard revolutionaries were Liberals. Both battled what they thought was tyranny. Yet the Viennese radicals welcomed the news of Radetzky’s victories. Why?

The answer is simple. The Viennese revolutionaries were Liberals, but they were also nationalists. They cheered Radetzky, for he had led German and Austrian arms in triumph over people of a different nation. The success of Liberal ideals meant less to the Viennese insurgents than their nation’s glory.

Such nationalism could be found as well in the German and Hungarian diets. The German and Magyar Liberals wanted liberty and citizen rights for themselves, but not necessarily for other nationalities. Kossuth fought for Magyars but wanted to keep down the Slav minorities in Hungary. This only alienated the Slavs from the cause of Hungarian independence. The Viennese revolutionaries also alienated the Slavs by cheering the news that in June the imperial Austrian army under Alfred, Prince zu Windischgrätz, had crushed the Czech revolution in Prague.