This Week in History

The Religious Peace of Augsburg: September 25, 1555

The following text comes from our high school book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. To see sample chapters of this book, go here. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here. 

Charles V in 1548, by Titian

Charles V’s last years were spent trying to break the power of the Schmalkaldic League of Protestant German princes while protecting the eastern borders of the empire against the Turks. In 1544, he was forced to grant religious rights to the Protestant princes in return for their aid against Suleiman. In 1546, however, the emperor opened a war against the Schmalkaldic League. Over the next year, he conquered southern Germany and then moved into Saxony. In 1547 he imprisoned Philip of Hesse, one of the most powerful Lutheran princes.

Charles had humbled the Protestant princes, but they were still powerful. In 1551 the new king of France, Henry II, made a new alliance with the German Protestant princes. The following year, King Henry invaded territories in the western part of the empire. Though Charles signed a treaty with the Protestant princes, for the next three years, three of them waged a war of plunder in Germany. Finally, in 1554, a tired Charles left the reins of the empire to his brother Ferdinand, the archduke of Austria. Continue reading

This Week in History

A New Era Begins: September 20, 1792

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.

In the months following the overthrow of the king, France fell into anarchy. Deep divisions (the Girondins against the extremists, the departments against Paris, and royalists against the revolution) destroyed all order. The French army seemed to be disintegrating; and everything was thrown into confusion by the news that on August 19, Lafayette had deserted the army he commanded and fled to the Austrians. The same day, the allied armies for the first time crossed the French frontier. After capturing the town of Langwy, the Duke of Brunswick laid siege to Verdun, the last major stronghold before Paris. The enemy stood about 150 miles from the capital.

In Paris, Danton, as the leader of the Executive Council, was trying to unite the factions and bring order to government. He could do little. Anger and hate and fear were at a fever pitch. Without Danton’s knowledge, a plot was set afoot. Shortly after the king’s imprisonment, the Executive Council had ordered the imprisonment of all those who were suspected of sympathy with Louis and the invaders. Well over a thousand men and women, including nobles and priests, had been incarcerated Now a band of extremists, led by Marat, plotted to do “justice” on these so-called traitors and counterrevolutionaries. Continue reading

This Week in History

Roosevelt Discovers He’s President: September 14, 1901

The following text comes from our high school book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. To see sample chapters of this book, go here. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here. 


McKinley campaign poster, 1900

Imperialism was an important issue in the election of 1900. Should the United States take on colonies? Many prominent Americans — including Grover Cleveland, William James, Mark Twain, and William Vaughn Moody — said no. The Democratic candidate for president, William Jennings Bryan, said no. But McKinley and his vice-presidential candidate, Theodore Roosevelt, voiced a resounding yes. Dressed as a Rough Rider, Teddy was going about the country stumping for himself and McKinley. The war victory, the economic prosperity that had begun in 1897, and the vibrant power of Roosevelt’s personality were more than Bryan could overcome. His issues of anti-imperialism and free silver could not win the day. McKinley and Roosevelt garnered 292 electoral votes with a 900,000 plurality in the popular vote, while Bryan took only Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada and the “Solid South” — 155 electoral votes.

Theodore Roosevelt, in 1904

Soon after his inauguration in April, 1901, McKinley began a rail journey around the country, speaking to cheering crowds about the prosperity and glory of America. Later that year, Roosevelt and his family took a trip to the Adirondack Mountains in New York. The energetic Teddy must have found the vice presidency somewhat boring after his stint as governor of New York. Then, he had worked to root out corruption in government and thereby won an enemy in Senator Thomas Platt, head of the Republican machine in the state. Platt had for years handed out the political “contributions” of big business to the various Republican office holders in the state and didn’t want the “bull in the china closet,” as he called Roosevelt, to interfere with what had been a rather comfortable system. It was Platt who pushed to have Roosevelt run for vice president at the Republican party convention — to get him out of New York. Mark Hanna opposed this move; when he saw that the convention wanted Roosevelt for vice president, he said, “Everybody’s gone crazy! What’s the matter with all of you? . . . Don’t any of you realize there’s only one life between that mad­man and the Presidency?” Continue reading

This Week in History

The First Continental Congress Convenes: September 5, 1774

The following text comes from our high school book, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. To see sample chapters of this book, go here. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here. 

John Jay

As planned, representatives of the various colonies from Massachusetts to South Carolina gathered in Philadelphia on September 5, 1774 to discuss what steps the colonies, acting together, should take in the face of the Coercive and Quebec acts. This “Continental Congress” was a significant meeting, since it was only the second time in their history that the various colonies attempted to act as one. The delegates had to forge a com­mon mind and intent among colonies who had very different histories and customs and were used to looking out for their own interests alone.

The 55 delegates included men who would rise to leadership among the united colonies in the coming contest with Parliament. To Philadelphia came John Jay of New York; Peyton Randolph (elected president of the congress) and Patrick Henry of Virginia; the “two Adamses,” John and Sam, from Massachusetts; and John Galloway of Pennsylvania.

John Galloway was one of many loyalists in Philadelphia; yet, he believed that the colonies had genuine grievances against Parliament. He presented a plan to the congress that would give the colonies more autonomy in government while keeping them in the British empire. Galloway suggested the establishment of an American parliament, called the “Grand Council.” The British parlia­ment could not pass laws and levy taxes on the colonies without the consent of the Grand Council, whose members would be elected every three years by representatives of the people of the colonies. Continue reading

This Week in History

The Turks Triumph at Mohács:

August 29, 1526

Emperor Charles V in 1519

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.

If Charles V could not expect help from the French king, Francis I, against the German Lutheran princes, it seems he at least could expect Francis to stand with the empire against the Turks. After all, the Turks threatened the freedom of all Christendom. But instead of helping Charles defend Christendom against the Lutherans and the Turks, Francis aided both in their struggles against Charles. Why Francis aided Christendom’s enemies is not fully known. He may have thought he was helping France against her Habsburg enemies, for Charles V’s territories surrounded France on three sides. Charles seemed too powerful to Francis; so the French king sacrificed the good of all Christendom for the good of France—an attitude that had left Europe in such peril before.

War broke out between the French king and the German emperor in 1521. After some fighting in southern France, Francis invaded northern Italy and, in October 1524, laid siege to the imperial city of Pavia. Charles sent an imperial army to defend the city. Continue reading