This Week in History

Napoleone Saves the Revolution: 13th Vendémiaire (October 5), 1795

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.

Louis Stanislas (Louis XVIII)

The government’s victory in the Insurrection of 1st Prairial was followed on May 31 by the return of the surviving Girondins to the Convention. The seating of these deputies who favored the bourgeoisie gave hope to the moderates and the Right that the Constitution of 1793 would be permanently set aside in favor of a more conservative plan of government. Others, the monarchists and royalists, hoped that the Convention would either simply restore the Constitution of 1791, with its National Assembly and king, or come up with a constitution similar to it.

But events worked against the plans of the monarchists and royalists. The first of these events was the forming of a new foreign coalition against the republic. Great Britain was determined to continue the war and formed a new alliance with Russia and Austria to reestablish the French monarchy and the ancient regime. Then the 10-year-old heir to the French throne, Louis XVII, who had for a year been kept in solitary confinement in the Tower of the Temple, died on June 8, 1795. This left Louis XVI’s brother, Louis Stanislas, the count of Provençe, as the heir to the throne. Louis Stanislas (or Louis XVIII) had led the émigrés’ resistance to the republic and wanted to reestablish the ancient regime. The Convention would never agree to making such an enemy of the republic the king of France.

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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.

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This Week in History

A Peasants Revolt, Led by a Priest: September 16-28, 1810

The following comes from our text, 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 Aldama, and a priest, the 57-year old cura of the nearby village of Dolores, Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo y Costilla.

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This Week in History

A Coup that Sparked a Revolution: September 15, 1808

The following comes from our text, 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.

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This Week in History

“At Least I Shall Die as Pope”: September 7, 1303

The following is an excerpt from our text, Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian Civilization. For information on ordering this or our other texts, please go here.

King Philip the Fair

King Philip IV “the Fair” of France (reigned 1285-1314) did not appear to be an enemy of religion. He attended Mass daily and wore a hair shirt as a penitential act. He was charitable and kindly toward the poor and counted himself a loyal son of the Church. Nor was Pope Boniface VIII (reigned 1294-1303) anti-French; on the contrary, his policies as pope often favored France. Boniface and Philip should have been on friendly terms with each other. Instead, they came into serious conflict. The pope and the king had very different views of the nature of Church and the state and how they relate to one another.

The quarrel between Philip the Fair and Pope Boniface arose because the king needed money for a war with England and decided to tax the French clergy to get it. The French bishops did not protest against the tax, but the lower clergy appealed to the pope for help. In 1296, Boniface replied by issuing an official statement or bull, called Clericis Laicos, in which he excommunicated any king or prince who taxed the clergy without the pope’s permission. Philip retaliated by forbidding any gold or silver to leave France, thus cutting off a large part of the wealth the pope received from France. The English King Edward I took similar measures in his domains. Confronted with so much resistance, Pope Boniface was forced to allow that kings, in times of necessity, may tax the clergy of the realm without approval from Rome. (more…)