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

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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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This Week in History

The German King Becomes Roman Emperor: February 2, 962

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

The “Magdeburg Rider,” thought to depict Otto I

Germany did not suffer from Saracen invasions, for the Alps proved too difficult an obstacle for the Muslim armies to cross. And while the Vikings did sail up German rivers to plunder and destroy, Germany did not suffer greatly at their hands, nor did Norse settlements become established in Germany. Too, since Germany was not as ancient a civilization or as wealthy as Gaul, Spain, and Italy, it did not tempt the Vikings as much as those lands did. Moreover, unlike the farmers of Gaul, who had long since ceased to be warriors and were helpless when the government failed to defend them, German society was still largely tribal. Every man and boy was trained in the use of spears, swords, and battle-axes. The Vikings faced a more formidable reception when they disembarked in Germany than when they raided Gaul or Italy.

But the Germans did suffer from the Magyars, who swept up the Danube Valley and into Germany at the end of the ninth century. For over 50 years, Germans underwent surprise attacks of these wild and swift horsemen.

The German warriors fought these barbarians with little success. The Magyars appeared from nowhere, struck swiftly from horseback, and used their arrows to deadly effect. First, the German kings constructed a line of frontier forts to protect against attack. Then they used heavy, armored cavalry against the lighter horses and less well-armed invaders. (more…)



This Week in History

“Cruel and Barbarous Martyrdom” at Ayubale: January 25, 1704

This text comes from our book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America (now available in hard cover). To peruse sample chapters of our books, please  go hereFor ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

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Map showing the location of the Francisca missions in what is today Florida and Georgia

In 1680, a band of pagan Indians attacked a Christian Indian village on St. Simon’s Island in Georgia. Fortunately for the village, the Spanish governor’s lieutenant at nearby mission San Buenaventura de Guadalquini was alerted in time. With a small force of Spanish soldiers and Indians, he repelled the invaders.

The attack on St. Simon’s was ominous. The invading Indians were not acting on their own but were encouraged and aided by English settlers at Charles Town, 60 miles up the coast. Englishmen had settled Charles Town, or Charleston, ten years before, under a grant from King Charles II. By 1680, Protestant Huguenots and Scots had settled in the region around Charleston. Pursuing the trade in deerskin, the settlers frequently entered Spanish territory in violation of Spanish law. The Spanish, however, could do little about such intrusions, since there were few Spanish soldiers in Florida. The Charlestonians, moreover, had made an alliance with the powerful Yamassee tribe, which gave them a buffer zone of protection against the Spanish. (more…)