This Week in History

Coronation of the Dream Emperor:

May 21, 996

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations I: The History of Christian Civilization. To peruse sample chapters of our books, go hereFor ordering information on Light to the Nations I and our other texts, please click here.

Emperor Otto III, from a manuscript called the “Gospels of Otto III”

When his mother, the Princess Theophano of Byzantium, died in 991, Otto III was only 12. Two churchmen, the bishops of Mainz and Hildesheim, took control of the young king’s education. Otto was educated in Roman history and literature and raised even less in the German way than his father had been.

Young Otto was deeply influenced by the Cluniac reform movement. He became enthusiastically religious, seeking out holy places and inspired hermits. The state of the Church during his time seemed to him to call for a champion and house cleaner. Further, from his mother’s teaching Otto had inherited the Byzantine ideas of the sacredness of the empire. The young king’s mind was filled with glowing images of a kingdom of God on earth, in which pope and emperor ruled in harmony over a world of peace and prosperity. His ideals were generous, noble, and unselfish, even if they were impractical for so troubled an age. (more…)



This Week in History

A New Government for Germany and Austria’s Defiance: May 18, 20, 1848

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. It continues the story of the 1848 revolutions in Europe. To see the four previous installments of this series, please see posts for February 25, March 11, March 15, and March 18.  For ordering information on our books, please go here.

Ferdinand I, Emperor of Austria (also king of Hungary, Bohemia, and Lombardy-Venetia)

On March 14, 1848, the day following Metternich’s resignation, the [Austrian] government agreed to form a National Guard — which, like the Paris National Guard during the French Revolution, would be entirely under the control of the revolutionaries. The next day, the government suggested forming a central committee of all the local diets in the empire, but this did not please the revolutionaries. Nor did they like a constitution the Council of State suggested in late April, because it gave the imperial government too much control over the making of laws.

Impatient with the government, students and national guardsmen began forming revolutionary committees. On May 15, 1848, these committees joined to form a Central Committee to organize all revolutionary activities and to direct the city government of Vienna. The Council of State at first refused to recognize the revolutionary committee; but when students and workers again took to rioting, the ministers gave in. They recognized the Central Committee as legal and agreed to call a National Convention or Reichsrat (imperial assembly) to draw up a constitution for all of the Austrian Empire, except Hungary and Lombardy-Venezia. Delegates to the Reichsrat would be elected by universal manhood suffrage.

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This Week in History

Frémont Turns Back: May 8, 1846

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.

John Charles Frémont

In December of 1845, a party of about 16 armed men led by Captain John Charles Frémont of the United States Army Corps of Topographical Engineers arrived at Johann Sutter’s fort on the Sacramento River. Frémont’s party included the explorer and trapper, Kit Carson.

It was Frémont’s second journey into California. He had first come to California in 1843 through Nevada, westward over the Sierra Nevada, and through central and southern California. From California, he made his way home via Santa Fé in New Mexico. Frémont wrote a detailed report of his expedition that not only gave details of topography, flora, and fauna, but revealed the feeble hold Mexico had on California. The report won fame for Frémont as the “Pathfinder.”

Frémont’s father-in-law was the pro-expansionist senator from Missouri, Thomas Hart Benton; the former ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, was Frémont’s patron. After Frémont returned from his first expedition in 1844, Poinsett introduced him to both General Winfield Scott, who promoted Frémont to captain, and to President Polk. It was with the backing of such powerful men that Frémont undertook his second expedition into California. Ostensibly it was just another topographical expedition, like the first. (more…)