collection of important historic events.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Quatorze Juillet

La Fete Nationale. Bastille day, commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in July of 1789. Its a symbol of the beginning of a new, modern France. The storming of the Bastille is recognized as the start of the French Revolution. The prison held mostly political prisoners. Many were strong critics of the decaying monarchy, imprisoned because of their writings about the royal family. The people of Paris feared the royal military would attack their Representatives in the days following the Tennis Court Oath. In an effort to defend their cause, the populace of Paris stormed the prison which was known to store a large arsenal. This ignited the French revolution. The bloody struggle of a nation trying to impose freedom on its people.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Liberty, equality , fraternity

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nixon arrives in Moscow

1972: President Nixon arrives in Moscow

President Richard Nixon has arrived in Moscow for talks with Soviet leaders.
He was given a modest welcome as he stepped off the plane at Vnukovo airport with his wife.
The welcome party consisted of Soviet president Nikolai Podgorny, Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin and Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko.
A twenty-minute ceremony, during which the president briefly inspected a guard of honour, was held and broadcast live by Moscow television.

The national anthems of both countries were played and a carefully selected group of Soviet citizens dutifully, but silently, waved American and Soviet flags.

Many observers were hoping the war in Vietnam and the nuclear arms race would be high on the agenda.
For the first time in history the stars and stripes flag of America flew over the Grand Palace of the Kremlin to mark the visit.
This evening President Nixon and his wife attended a banquet at the Kremlin. The couple walked along a red carpet and up a 60-step staircase into the Granovit banqueting hall, where the two presidents drank toasts to peace.
There are known differences between the two men on such issues as the war in Vietnam and the Middle East.
President Nixon spoke about the need for co-operation and reciprocation between the two countries in their efforts to conquer disease, improve the environment, and to expand bilateral trade and economic links.
He said he was eager to make the summit a memorable one for its substance.

During his speech he alluded to Vietnam: "We should recognise that it is the responsibility of great powers to influence other nations in conflict or crisis to moderate their behaviour."

He also spoke of a possible arms agreement which, he said "could begin to turn our countries away from a wasteful and dangerous arms race and towards more production for peace".

President Podgorny said the Soviet Union wanted not just good but friendly relations with the US.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Key French Revolution terms

  • Constitutions of 1791- established constitutional monarchy, under which the unicameral Legislative Assembly would pass legislation but the king of France would retain a veto. With war beginning and with increasingly radical -- and ultimately republican -- forces coming to the fore in the Assembly, this proved entirely unworkable. The August 10th insurrection was the effective end of the monarchy in France.

  • Departments- created on January 4, 1790 by the Constituent Assembly to replace the country's former provinces with a more rational structure. They were also designed to deliberately break up France's historical regions in an attempt to erase cultural differences and build a more homogeneous nation. Most departments are named after the area's physical features.

  • Neoclassicism- visual arts movement in Europe.

  • Assignats- were banknotes issued by the National Constituent Assembly during the French Revolution. The assignats were issued after the confiscation of church properties in 1790 because the government was bankrupt. The government thought that the financial problems could be solved by printing certificates representing the value of church properties. These church lands became known as biens nationaux. These documents evolved into paper currency.

  • Emigres- French nobility that fled France during the French Revolution into neighboring countries. There they began a counter revolution.

  • Declaration of Pillnitz- a statement issued at the Castle of Pillnitz in Saxony by Emperor Leopold II and Frederick William II of Prussia. It called on European powers to intervene if Louis XVI was threatened; this declaration was intended to serve as a warning to the French revolutionaries, to allow his restoration to power. The statement helped begin the French Revolutionary Wars.

  • Girondists- 12 deputies. Group of politics in France within the Legislative Assembly and the National Convention during the French Revolution. The Girondists were a group of individuals holding certain opinions and principles in common rather than an organized political party.

  • Sans – culottes- Revolutionaries of the third estate that wore full length pants rather than the short, Culottes worn by the nobility. The culottes were seen as a symbol of inequality in France.

  • Olympe de Gouges- French writer that wrote a feminist version of the Declarations of the Rights of men to include the rights of women. She was executed by the guillotine because of other Revolutionary ideals.

  • Jacques Louis David – Celebrated Neoclassic French artist during the French Revolution.

  • Chapelier Law- Law passed in the first phase of French Revolution by the National Assembly that banned Guilds.

  • Civil Constitution of the Clergy- a legal action that reorganized the clergy in French government.

  • Flght to Varennes - In June 1791 Louis XVI, with his immediate family, tried to escape to the nearest friendly border. He was recognized and arrested in the town of Varennes near the Austrian borer. The royal family was escorted back to Paris.

  • Jacobins- Political party during the French Revolution, its most prominent member being Robespierre.

  • September Massacres – in the late summer of 1792, as a response to the warning that vowed to destroy Paris if the French royal family was harmed, thousands of Parisians rioted killing more than half of the political royalist prisoners at the time. More than 1200 died in the riots.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

World War I postcard

Post card depicting American struggle to stay out of the war.

Postcard 'No t'anks' sent to Frank Bowley, Thurgarton, Nottinghamshire, MS 192/178

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Corsican Squire

As an Emperor, Napoleon never attached much importance to his origins. However his rich Corsican heritage was always instrumental in his political campaigns as he placed his siblings onto Europe's thrones. Napoleon was born in Ajjacio the small capital of Corsica on August 15th, 1769. Only a year before his birth, Corsica became a French territory by treaty from the Genoese. France was still governed by a monarchy , that of Louis XV and not Louis XVI who was dethroned by the French Revolution.
Napoleon was baptized with the name of a cousin that had died in the Corsican struggle for independence led by Paoli. Carlo Buonaparte, Napoleons father was one of Paoli's lieutenants. The formal verification of his lineage showed that he came from a Florentine noble family which can be traced back as far as the eleventh century. The struggle against French rule was a disaster and Paoli was forced into exile in England. If Carlo had followed with his family, Napoleon might have been brought up in England. Napoleons mother was Maria Letizia Bonaparte Romolino, married to Carlo at age 14. Although the Bonapartes were considered minor nobility, they were quite humble. They only owned a couple acres of land a farm and a townhouse in Ajjacio. Letizia forever was very influential in Napoleons life. She was a woman of great beauty but far greater character. Carlo was also handsome and charming but weaker and much more extravagant. Letizia mothered 13 children to Carlo, but only 8 survived. The young couple attracted much attention in the islands social scene. The Napoleons had many influential close friends, so close that often rumors of Napoleons legitimacy arose. Strong Corsican family tradition made this highly improbable, the Corsican family was a close one and a loyal one. One notable family friend, Marbeuf was able to help Carlo secure a French military education for Napoleon. In 1779, Napoleon arrived in France to attend the royal military school Brienne, one of 12 established by Louis XVI's minister of war. Napoleon was nine a this time and didn't speak French. He quickly learned French and spoke it with a deep rich accent. He remained quite hostile , passionate with strong Corsican patriotism. It would be another 8 years of strict military training until Napoleon returned to Corsica. As Emperor he once said to his soldiers who complained about promotions of noble descent soldiers; "Am I after all a noble, I, a poor Corsican squire?"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Paris 1968

In May of 1968, a series of violent riots engulfed the streets of Paris. The turmoil of the period eventually caused the collapse of Gen. De Gaulle's government. De Gaulle had led France through WWII. Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was in power from January 1959 until the student riots led to his downfall in April 28th, 1969. De Gaulle earned his way to the top of the French government through a successful military career. His government was highly criticized for the handling of the North African french colonies. De Gaulle's government was unable to control the rioting and bloodshed in Algeria. Back on the mainland, his government was unpopular for its heavy-hand mandate. While the written press and elections were free, the state had a monopoly on television and radio broadcasts. The students were disillusioned by the lack of employment and poor workers unions. They wanted to change France morally, modernize it. Some, wanted anarchy. The students not only wanted to change France but the world. Women marched in pursuit of rights.French society was traditionalist. The students embraced leftist ideals and sought economic equality. The violent riots caused De Gaulle to flee Paris. He sought refuge in Germany were it is believed he met with military chief Massu who controlled part of occupied Germany. He wanted military intervention to shut down all protest. However, eventually he was forced to accept many reforms which in part led to his stepping down.
On May 6th the union of university teachers called a march to protest against the police invasion of the Sorbonne. More than 20,000 students, teachers and supporters marched towards the Sorbonne, still sealed off by the police, who charged, wielding their batons, as soon as the marchers approached. While the crowd dispersed, some began to create barricades out of whatever was at hand, while others threw paving stones, forcing the police to retreat for a time. The police then responded with tear gas and charged the crowd again. Hundreds more students were arrested. The following day the workers of Paris joined the protest, meeting with rioters at the arc de triumph. The rioting continued through the month of May. Over a million people marched in violent protests. The riots eventually led to De Gaulles retirement the next year.