This Week in History

Cortés Driven from Mexico:

June 30-July 1, 1520

This text comes from our high school text, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. Please visit our webpage to peruse sample chapters of our book. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

A mural by Diego Rivera depicting Aztec Tenochtitlán

From Cholula, the Spaniards climbed to higher elevations. After passing between two great volca­noes, Popocatepetl (“the hill that smokes”) and Ixtaccihuatl (“white woman”), they gained their first sight of the valley of Mexico. Below them stretched the great lake, with Tenochtitlán in its midst; and far away on the northeast bank, rose the city of Texcuco. One of the soldiers, Bernal Díaz, wrote he had never seen a sight as lordly and beautiful as Tenochtitlán. “And some of our soldiers even asked whether the things we saw were not a dream,” he later wrote. So beautiful was Montezuma’s city, with its great buildings and tem­ples, that fear filled the hearts of Cortés’ men. But buoyed by their commander’s confident spirit, they recovered their courage and proceeded onward toward the city. Marching across the great causeways that connected Tenochtitlán with land, the 400 Spaniards with their 6,400 Indian allies beheld beautiful floating gardens and the vast population surrounding the lake and swarming on its waters in innumerable canoes. It was, as Díaz had said, a dream city, pulled into life from the romantic tales of chivalry so beloved to the stern soldiers of the Crown of Spain.

Montezuma welcomed Cortés and his men into the city and and showed them every hos­pitality. He allowed the Spaniards to visit the marketplace and the great teocalli. In the last place Cortés and his men saw signs of human sacrifice — hearts of victims, some still warm, set on the altars of the gods. Montezuma, whose religious sensibilities were more eclectic than those of the Spaniards, allowed the Spaniards to have a chapel in their quarters where Mass could be offered. (more…)



This Week in History

Eppur Si Muove! — Galileo Condemned: June 22, 1633

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

Galileo Galilei

At times Galileo seemed quite a humble man. For instance, he wrote, “I have never met a man so ignorant that I could not learn something from him.” Yet, despite such statements, Galileo was proud and could be quite harsh with those who disagreed with him. Firmly convinced that his discoveries had proven that the Copernican heliocentric hypothesis was true, Galileo showed little patience with those who thought otherwise. For instance, writing in the margin of a book written to defend the Ptolemaic system, Galileo called the book’s author (the Jesuit Antonio Rocco) an “ignoramus, elephant, fool, dunce.”

But though he had little respect for Rocco, Galileo was on good terms with other Jesuits—at least for a time. Jesuits had been among the foremost scientists of Galileo’s day. The Jesuits in Rome were quite interested in Galileo’s discoveries. In 1611, they welcomed him to Rome and allowed him to stay in their house in the city. What’s more, Church prelates and Pope Paul V himself showed the astronomer every sign of favor. (more…)



Diocese of MarquetteCatholic Textbook Project, the premiere publisher of history and social studies textbooks for Catholic schools, featured prominently at the 2016 Midwest Conference on Catholic Liberal Arts Education held June 13-14 at Holy Name School in Escanaba, MI, and sponsored by the Diocese of Marquette.   

Michael Van Hecke, M.Ed., president and publisher of the Catholic Textbook Project, who is also (more…)



This Week in History

Election of a “Liberal” Pope:

June 16, 1846

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

Pope Gregory XVI

The cardinals who gathered in Rome for the conclave in June of 1846 faced a most dangerous situation. The last years of the reign of Pope Gregory XVI had not been peaceful. There had been murders of policemen and Swiss mercenary soldiers. In the mountains, the strength of the guerilla bands was growing. On August 15, 1843, a band of guerillas attacked a column of papal troops. The pope’s government responded by declaring martial law and by executing several of the captured insurgents. In September of 1845, a band of revolutionaries who had gathered in Paris and Algiers tried to take the city of Rimini. They failed, and papal troops secured the city.

Luigi Cardinal Lambruschini

Pope Gregory XVI died on June 1, 1846, unwept for, unlamented. Who would succeed him? Would the cardinals choose another pope like Leo XII or Gregory XVI? Or would the cardinals give in to the spirit of the times and choose a “Liberal”? The cardinals themselves were divided on this question. There were the staunch anti-Liberals, called the zelati (“zealous ones”), who wanted a pope like Gregory XVI. These cardinals favored Gregory XVI’s secretary of state, Cardinal Lambruschini. Opposed to this group were the “Liberals,” who favored two candidates—Cardinal Pasquale Tommaso Gizzi and the archbishop of Imola, Cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti.

Despite their disagreements, the cardinals knew they had to come to a decision quickly. The Carbonari and others might take advantage of the fact that there was no pope to stage a revolution—just as had happened in 1831, at the election of Gregory XVI. So it was that on June 16, only one day after they had gathered for the election, the cardinals had made their decision.

That day, they chose Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti to open and count the ballots; and as he did so and saw one ballot after another with his name written on it, he could not finish. “Brethren,” he cried, “spare me, take pity on my weakness! I am unworthy.” (more…)



Read Winning History Essays Here…

We’re so proud of all the teachers and students who participated in Catholic Textbook Project’s Second Annual History Essay Contest.  Below please find links to each of the Winning (more…)