This Week in History

Execution of a Tyrolese Patriot: February 20, 1810

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

Emperor Franz

Not all of Emperor Franz’s subjects gave up their resistance to Napoleon after the Treaty of Vienna. In the Alpine valleys of western Austria, called the Tyrol, there lived a stout, freedom-loving peasantry who were loyal to the House of Habsburg and deeply devoted to their Catholic Faith. They would tolerate no one who would dare raise a hand against God or their emperor.

So it was a very bitter pill for the Tyrolese to take when, in 1805, the Treaty of Pressburg forced them to submit to Napoleon’s ally, Bavaria. Yet, at first, all seemed to go well enough. Bavaria’s King Maximilien Josef had promised that life in the Tyrol would go on as it had before, and for a while it seemed he would keep his word.

But Napoleon was pressuring Maximilien Josef; and in the end, the king broke his word. He laid new taxes on the Tyrolese, divided their country into French-style departments, and began drafting their men to serve in the Bavarian army. Worst of all, influenced by his “enlightened” advisors, the Bavarian king tried to crush Catholic worship and practice in the Tyrol. Churches were pillaged of their adornments and sacred vessels; and when priests resisted this tyranny, the Bavarian authorities imprisoned them. The bishop of Innsbruck, the chief city of the Tyrol, was himself exiled for protesting against the government’s acts. (more…)



This Week in History

An Explosion that Inspired a War: 

February 15, 1898

This text comes from our book, 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.

Chief Justice Melville Fuller swears William McKinley in as president. Former president Grover Cleveland stands at McKinley’s left.

It was not because he opposed foreign intervention on principle that McKinley opposed intervention in Cuba. For instance, McKinley wanted to annex the Hawai’ian Islands, where wealthy owners of pineapple plantations (themselves the descendants of New England missionaries) had overthrown the last queen, Liliuokalani. In 1893, when the revolution that ousted Liliuokalani took place and Hawai’i became a republic under President Sanford Dole, President Harrison had introduced an annexation treaty into the Senate. President Cleveland withdrew the treaty after he discovered that the Hawai’ian revolution was not a popular uprising but the work of a few Americans with the aid of United States troops. Cleveland called the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani an unlawful subversion and declared the United States could never countenance it. Such scruples did not bother McKinley. In 1897, the Republican president submitted to the Senate a second treaty for the annexation of Hawai’i. (more…)



This Week in History

Execution of the Queen of Scots: February 8, 1587

Mary Stuart Queen.jpg

Mary Queen of Scots, by Francois Clouet

Elizabeth’s one serious rival for the English throne was her cousin, Mary Stuart, queen of Scotland. In 1559, Mary, then only 16 years old, had been married to Francis II, the king of France. When Francis died in 1560, Mary returned to Scotland. Mary was Catholic, but the situation in Scotland when she returned did not favor the Catholic Faith. The year before her return, John Knox, a follower of John Calvin, had convinced the Scottish parliament to abolish the Mass and organize the Scottish Church according to Calvinist beliefs. This, the Presbyterian Church, became the state or established church of Scotland, as the Church of England (also called the Anglican Church) had become the established church of England.

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