This Week in History

Redshirts Invade St. Peter’s Patrimony: September 29, 1867

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

Pope Pius IX

The pope’s army was very small—no more than four thousand men. It was only this small force that stood between him and the tens of thousands Italy could gather for an army of conquest. The treaty with Napoleon III, Pope Pius thought, would not restrain King Vittorio Emanuele.

Yet, after the departure of French troops from Rome, Pius IX carried on as if he had no enemy in the world. He continued, as was his wont, to visit hospitals and other charitable institutions. As before, he visited the neighborhoods of Rome to meet and speak with all his subjects. In 1867, for the eighteenth centenary of the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope decided to hold a grand celebration in Rome. At his invitation, Catholic pilgrims from all over the world flocked to Rome.

About 500 bishops, 20,000 priests, and 500,000 laymen entered the holy city to show their devotion to Peter and his successor, the pope.


This Week in History

A Priest Leads Peasants in Revolt: September 16-28, 1810

The following comes from our text (newly published in hard cover), Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. It continues the story of the firsts Mexican Revolution that we began last week and which you may read here. For ordering information on this and our other texts, please go here.

Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, by Clemente Orozco, the Government Palace, Guadalajara, Mexico

A group of creole intellectuals and army officers had been meeting secretly in Querétaro, about 200 miles northwest of Mexico City. Calling themselves the Academia Literaria (Literary Academy), the group’s aims were ostensibly literary; but their work was really political, for they were working for the overthrow of the gauchupines and a Mexico indepen­dent of Spain (though ostensibly at least still faithful to Fernando VII.) Among their number were the army officers Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldana, and a priest, the 57-year old cura of the nearby village of Dolores, Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo y Costilla.


This Week in History

A Coup that Sparked a Revolution: September 15, 1808

The following comes from our text (newly published in hard cover), Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. For ordering information on this and our other texts, please go here.

It was not conditions in New Spain that finally precipitated revolution, but events across the Atlantic. The mother country, Spain, was rocked with civil war.

Joseph Bonaparte

Carlos IV, who had occupied the Spanish throne since 1788, had become inconvenient to France’s Emperor Napoleon, who had brought nearly all of Europe under his sway. An independent Spain did not serve Napoleon’s purposes; so, on May 6, 1808, he pressured Carlos IV and his son Fernando VII to relinquish all claim to the Spanish throne, and, in their place, made his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, king. Popular indignation broke out against the new king, and all over Spain, juntas were formed to oppose the French. At the end of September 1808, the juntas formed themselves into one body, called the Junta Central Gubernativa del Reino (Central Governing Body of the Kingdom) and formed a cortes (parliament) to represent both Spain and America.


This Week in History

Birth of a Wayward Cardinal:

September 9, 1585

The following comes from our text, Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian Civilization. For more information on this and our other texts, please click here.

Triple Portrait of Cardinal Richelieu, by Philippe de Champagne

As long as the Huguenots held political and military power in France, they remained a real threat to the peace and unity of the kingdom. No one, king or Catholic nobleman, had found a solution to the Huguenot problem. In 1624, however, the king appointed Cardinal Richelieu to be prime minister. It was the able and energetic Richelieu who finally ended the religious wars in France and set the stage for the establishment of a strong French kingdom, united under its sovereign.

Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu was born September 9, 1585, the third son of a minor nobleman. When Armand was only five, his father died, leaving his estates nearly bankrupt. Through Armand-Jean’s mother’s influence, in 1605 King Henry IV named the young Richelieu bishop of Luçon, a diocese near La Rochelle that was controlled by the Richelieu family. Richelieu was both pious and ambitious. Intent on making his diocese both holy and orderly, he was the first bishop in France to implement the reforms of Trent. But Richelieu was ruthless and single-minded in the pursuit of his policies, and he believed intensely not only in God, but France.