This Week in History

Prince Fritz and His Father Reconciled: August 15, 1731

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.
 

King Friedrich Wilhelm I

When the Crown Prince Friedrich began his education at age 7, he was set to learn only those subjects his father thought a good Prussian king needed to know. There was to be no Latin,  because it was the language of the classical civilization of Rome, which Friedrich Wilhelm despised. There was to be history, but only of events that happened after the 16th century and had something to do with the Hohenzollern family. Young “Fritz” was to learn religion and practical subjects, such as mathematics (as an aid to the art of warfare); he had to speak German fluently, and even French, though he was to have nothing to do with French culture. The boy’s day was to be filled with activity, and he was not to be left alone from the time he rose at 6:00 in the morning to when he retired to bed at 10:30 at night.

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This Week in History

Martin Luther Defies the Pope:

October 10, 1520

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.

Portrait of Martin Luther as an Augustinian monk

Martin Luther did not intend to destroy the Catholic Church, nor did he intend to start a separate church. Luther wanted to reform the Church, to bring it back to what it was meant to be — the pure Bride of Christ.

Luther was not alone in wanting to reform the Church. Catholic humanists like Desiderius Erasmus of Holland, Thomas More of England, and the Cardinal Francisco Jiménez of Castile protested as loudly as Luther did against the problems in the Church. Even Cardinal Cajetan, who confronted Luther at Augsburg in 1518, carried on the same fight in the Roman curia. Unlike Luther, however, these reformers did not promote teachings that directly undermined the teaching authority of the Church.

Luther advocated several doctrines that were contrary to the Catholic Faith. His foremost idea was that salvation comes by faith only (sola fide) and not by any good works. Against the Catholic teaching that human nature, though fallen, is essentially good, Luther taught that human nature is wholly corrupt because of Original Sin. Since human nature is corrupt, only by God’s Grace (sola gratia), working through faith, can one be saved from eternal punishment. For Luther, however, Grace does not remove human sinfulness but only covers a person’s sins. (more…)



This Week in History

The Pope Driven from Rome:

November 24, 1848

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.

Pope Pius IX, in 1847

Pope Pius IX’s refusal to declare war on Austria had turned the Liberals of Rome utterly against him. They now sought his downfall. Secret societies in the city stirred up the common people to demand nothing less than a secular, constitutional government for the Papal States. And the more the pope tried to appease the Liberals, the more they demanded of him. Even the pope’s chief ministers, led by a layman, Count Mamiani, demanded that the pope not only declare war on Austria but also abandon his temporal power altogether.

As the months passed, street violence, stirred up by secret societies, increased in Rome. The civil guard was in the hands of the Liberals, while Count Mamiani only wasted government money and did nothing about the violence. When Mamiani at last resigned, the pope appointed Count Pellegrino Rossi as chief minister. Rossi took over the leadership of the mostly lay ministry on September 16, 1848. (more…)



This Week in History

The Big Stick Strikes Panama: November 18, 1903

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.

Theodore Roosevelt

In his second inaugural address, Roosevelt developed his ideas about the place of the United States in the world. “Much has been given us,” he said, “and much will rightfully be expected from us . . . We have become a great nation, forced by the fact of its greatness into relations with the other nations of the earth, and we must behave as beseems a people with such responsibilities. Towards all other nations, large and small, our attitude must be one of cordial and sincere friendship. We must show not only in our words, but in our deeds, that we are earnestly desirous of securing their good will by acting toward them in a spirit of just and generous recognition of all their rights.”

However, the president continued, justice and generosity required strength. “While ever careful to refrain from wrongdoing others,” he said, “we must be no less insistent that we are not wronged ourselves. We wish peace, but we wish the peace of justice, the peace of righteousness. We wish it because we think it is right and not because we are afraid. No weak nation that acts manfully and justly should ever have cause to fear us, and no strong power should ever be able to single us out as a subject for insolent aggression.” (more…)



This Week in History

The Storm that Stirred the Dust Bowl: November 11, 1933

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.

Photography by Dorothea Lange: “Young migratory mother, originally from Texas. On the day before the photograph was made she and her husband traveled 35 miles each way to pick peas. They worked 5 hours each and together earned $2.25 [about $40 in current dollars]. They have two young children . . . Live in auto camp. Edison, Kern County, California.”

Among the states hardest hit by the Great Depression was California. California’s industries — the growing of fruit (thought more of a luxury than a staple by most Americans), motion pictures, and vacation spots — were of the sort to suffer most hurt during an economic downturn. Moreover, with its regions of mellifluous climate, California attracted the out-of-work from across the nation; they thought it would easier to bear poverty in a pleasant clime than in the regions where harsh winters prevailed. They also increased the number of poor unemployed in the state.

The poverty of the Depression received little effective response from California’s state government. The governor, James “Sunny Jim” Rolph ignored New Deal solutions to the crisis and continued the policies of the Hoover administration. When Rolph died after a heart attack on June 2, 1934, the lieutenant governor, Frank Merriam, assumed the governorship and perpetuated Rolph’s policies. (more…)