by Michael Van Hecke, M.Ed.
 

In the relentless tide of terrible news stories battering our Holy Mother Church, there is a harbinger of goodness on the horizon. So often in history we have seen the depth of the troughs of scandal, evil, disease, greed, war, and the list goes on. When things seem worst, a renewal is working through in the background, growing, gaining strength, and ready to rise when the corruption causes things to break to pieces. Who cannot remember the beautiful, humble hobbits pulling in various elements of a broken society who longed for a restoration of culture and freedom?

This Week in History

Defeat at Tippecanoe:

November 7, 1811

The following comes from our textt, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. For ordering information on this and our other texts, please go here.

A portrait, purportedly, of Tecumseh

A comet scored the heavens at the moment of his birth, an event that presaged his future greatness. His father, a Shawnee chieftain, named him Tecumseh (“Panther Crossing the Sky”), in token of the omen. From his earliest days, Tecumseh watched as white settlers crossed through the Cumberland Gap, over the mountains, to take his people’s country, west­ern Virginia and the rich lands of Kentucky beyond. He saw his people fight these settlers, only to be defeated in battle after battle; his father, Puckeshinwa, fallen in battle; his mentor, the chieftain Cornplanter, shot and killed; his elder brother, Chiksika, slain at his side — all these deaths, and many more, weighed on Tecumseh’s spirit. He waxed more bitter and angry against the people that flowed in, in ever increasing numbers, over the mountains. The 26 year-old Tecumseh was among the defeated at Fallen Timbers in 1794; but unlike his fellow chiefs, he had refused to sign the Treaty of Greenville, which handed millions of acres of land over to the United States government for yearly payments of $10,000.

Tecumseh knew that the Shawnee alone, or even an alliance of the north­ern tribes, were powerless against the whites, whose numbers seemed endless. He conceived of a broader alliance that would join the northern and southern tribes against the whites and prevent them from seizing more Indian land. By 1808 he had formed an alliance with tribes of the western Ohio River Valley. He established the capital for this alliance at Tippecanoe, a settlement on the Wabash River in the Indiana Territory. There warriors gathered and trained for war. Continue reading

This Week in History

Victory for the Papal Zouaves: November 3, 1867

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. It continues our account  of Garibaldi’s invasion of the Papal States. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here.

Pope Pius IX’s general, Hermann Kanzler

… But Garibaldi received his first check when six thousand of his Redshirts attacked several hundred members of the Legion of Antibes at the fortified town of Monte Rotondo, about 17 miles northeast of Rome. Greatly outnumbered, the hard-fighting French legionaries held off the Redshirts for 27 hours but at last were forced to retreat. The Redshirts moved in and ransacked the town, plundered and defiled the church, and terrorized the people. So great was the destruction in Monte Rotondo that Garibaldi himself rebuked his men with the sternest words. But it was no use; the “Liberator of Italy” could not control the many desperate men (bandits and other criminals) who served in his army.

Though a victory for Garibaldi, the Battle of Monte Rotondo benefited the papal army. The legionaries had so badly bruised the Redshirts that Garibaldi hesitated several days before making his final push against Rome.

Continue reading

This Week in History

The Peace of Death at Westphalia: October 24, 1648

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. In this selection, we discuss the final phases of the Thirty Years War and the Peace of Westphalia.

Emperor Ferdinand II

The threat of France entering the war convinced the elector of Saxony to make peace with the emperor. Ferdinand II tried to get other Protestant princes to follow the elector’s example, and in the Treaty of Prague, he granted amnesty to all princes who consented to sign it. The treaty was an attempt to unite Germany against the French foe—and several Protestant princes did indeed sign it on May 30, 1635. But other Protestant princes decided to continue supporting the Swedes and their ally, Cardinal Richelieu.

Richelieu’s strategy was twofold. France would help fund the Swedes and the Protestant princes in their war against Ferdinand in Germany, while France itself would attack the territories of Habsburg Spain. Thus, while France’s allies continued fighting in Germany, French armies moved against the Spanish-controlled Netherlands (or the “Spanish Netherlands”—the southern Netherlands, modern-day Belgium), Franche Comté (a territory of Burgundy in France), and northern Italy as well as Spain itself. So violent were the French attacks that eventually, King Philip IV of Spain could no longer send troops to help the emperor against the German Protestants—which was just what Richelieu wanted to happen.

At first, the Spanish had a far superior army and were victorious against the French. In 1636, a large Spanish force invaded northern France and nearly captured Paris itself. The following year, a Spanish army crossed the Pyrenees Mountains and invaded southern France. Continue reading

This Week in History

California Conquered — by Mistake: October 19, 1842

The following comes from our textt, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. For ordering information on this and our other texts, please go here.

1838 Map of Alta California

The secularization of mission lands, along with the Mexican government’s approval of more land grants to white settlers, increased the number of private ranchos in California. These great cattle ranches centered on the hacienda — a long one-story adobe building, sometimes with porticoed wings enclosing a courtyard, but always with a shaded verandah. Rancho dons were noted for their extravagant hospitality to strangers, their rodeos, bull fights, balls, and feasting. Besides cattle raising, which was practically his sole occupation, the Californio filled his hours with singing and dancing.

For some in California, politics added a needed spice to an otherwise quiet, pastoral life. Before his death in 1836, Figueroa had appointed José Castro as civil governor; nevertheless, Lt. Colonel Nicolás Gutiérrez, a companion of the former governor, decided to unite civil and military affairs under himself. It was 1836, and centralism was triumphant in Mexico. When Governor Mariano Chico left only three months after arriving from Mexico, handing the government back to Gutiérrez, certain Liberal Californios, tired of rule by non-Californios, rose in revolt. Led by Juan Alvarado of Monterey and José Castro, Californios, Indians, and Anglo-American foreigners under Isaac Graham, attacked the governor’s residence in Monterey. When his house was struck by a cannon ball, Gutiérrez decided he had had enough and retired to Mexico. Continue reading