Saturday, April 02, 2005

Biblical Prophesy Following the Exile of the Hebrews from Babylon

Biblical Prophesy Following the Exile of the Hebrews from Babylon. This essay is by Nathan Cooper. It has the look and feel of a student class paper but it is a worthwhile read.

From the site:

Before the Babylonian exile, Biblical prophesy reached its highest point. Prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel changed and molded the scope of Israelite religion. Their writings were intelligent, insightful, well developed, and contained a great spiritual meaning. Following the Babylonian exile, however, prophesy took a depressing downward turn. There are many post exile prophets, yet their writings are usually short, mostly irrelevant, repetitive, and, for the most part, anonymous.

Though this is the case for many of these prophets, their works cannot be overlooked. Haggai and Zechariah were leaders in the cultic reform of the Israelite people. Malachai calmed their fears, and assured them of God's love. Still other prophets told of a new, Messianic time when the word of the Lord would be held in its former glory. These were the most important works, as post exile Israel needed not only protection, but spiritual guidance to sustain their society.

The prophet Haggai was in integral figure in uniting the Israelite people. Upon return to their homeland, the Israelites found most of the infrastructure in a state of disrepair, with the people uncaring for their moral and social responsibilities, to say nothing for their religious practices. (OVC) Even the temple of the Lord had been destroyed. Haggai emphasized the return to a more cultic society. Through Haggai, God explained the plight of the Israelite people, as in Haggai 1:6: "You have sown much, but harvested little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough... Why? Because of My house which lies desolate while each of you runs to his own house." (Haggai 1:9) The word of Haggai is accepted as the word of God, and the temple is rebuilt in less than four years. "I am with you," said the Lord,in Haggai 1:13 when the temple was finally built.

Friday, April 01, 2005

History of Faroe Islands

History of Faroe Islands. This is a short history for the Danish territory of the Faroe Islands.

From the site:

The population of the Faroe Islands is largely descended from Viking settlers who arrived in the 9th century. The islands have been connected politically to Denmark since the 14th century. A high degree of self-government was attained in 1948.

Accoding to the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia, "From the work of Dicuil, an Irish monk, 'De MensurĂ¢ orbis terrae' (ed. Parthey, Berlin, 1872), written in the nineth century, we learn that the islands were discovered by Irish monks. Not long after this they were colonized by Normans. Herold Schonhaar (872-930) united them with the Kingdom of Norway and this was their political condition until 1814. Olaf Tryggvason converted the people to Christianity; as early as 1076 they had a bishop of their own. The bishops of the Faroe islands were usually chosen from the canons of Bergen, and were originally suffragans of Hamburg-Bremen, later of Lund (1104), finally (since 1152) of the Primate of Norway in Trondjem. There were in all twenty-three Catholic bishops, from Gunmund to Amund Olafson. The latter was forced to yield to the Lutheran superintendent Jens Riber, who also took over the episcopal title. Later on only "provosts" were elected. The Catholic clergy remained steadfast in their faith, but were unable to resist the advance of Protestantism. By the end of sixteenth century the Catholic faith had disappeared; all later attempts to revive it proved vain."

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Polybius: The Character of Hannibal

Polybius: The Character of Hannibal. From the 1889 translation of Polybius' work by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh, provided online by the Ancient History Sourcebook.

From the site:

Of all that befell the Romans and Carthaginians, good or bad, the cause was one man and one mind---Hannibal. For it is notorious that he managed the Italian campaigns in person, and the Spanish by the agency of the elder of his brothers, Hasdrubal, and subsequently by that of Mago, the leaders who killed the two Roman generals in Spain about the same time. Again, he conducted the Sicilian campaign first through Hippocrates and afterwards through Myttonus the Libyan. So also in Greece and Illyria: and, by brandishing before their faces the dangers arising from these latter places, he was enabled to distract the attention of the Romans thanks to his understanding with King Philip [Philip V, King of Macedon]. So great and wonderful is the influence of a Man, and a mind duly fitted by original constitution for any undertaking within the reach of human powers.

But since the position of affairs has brought us to inquiry into the genius of Hannibal, the occasion seems to me to demand that I should explain in regard to him the peculiarities of his character which have been especially the subject of controversy. Some regard him as having been extraordinarily cruel, some exceedingly grasping of money. But to speak the truth of him, or of any person engaged in public affairs, is not easy. Some maintain that men's natures are brought out by their circumstances, and that they are detected when in office, or as some say when in misfortunes, though they have up to that time completely maintained their secrecy. 1, on the contrary, do not regard this as a sound dictum. For I think that men in these circumstances are compelled, not occasionally but frequently, either by the suggestions of friends or the complexity of affairs, to speak and act contrary to real principles.

And there are many proofs of this to be found in past history if any one will give the necessary attention. Is it not universally stated by the historians that Agathocles, tyrant of Sicily, after having the reputation of extreme cruelty in his original measures for the establishment of his dynasty, when he had once become convinced that his power over the Siceliots was firmly established, is considered to have become the most humane and mild of rulers? Again, was not Cleomenes of Sparta a most excellent king, a most cruel tyrant, and then again as a private individual most obliging and benevolent? And yet it is not reasonable to suppose the most opposite dispositions to exist in the same nature. They are compelled to change with the changes of circumstances: and so some rulers often display to the world a disposition as opposite as possible to their true nature. Therefore, the natures of men not only are not brought out by such things, but on the contrary are rather obscured. The same effect is produced also not only in commanders, despots, and kings, but in states also, by the suggestions of friends. For instance, you will find the Athenians responsible for very few tyrannical acts, and of many kindly and noble ones, while Aristeides and Pericles were at the head of the state: but quite the reverse when Cleon and Chares were so. And when the Lacedaemonians were supreme in Greece, all the measures taken by King Cleombrotus were conceived in the interests of their allies, but those by Agesilaus not so. The characters of states therefore vary with the variations of their leaders. King Philip again, when Taurion and Demetrius were acting with him, was most impious in his conduct, but when Aratus or Chrysogonus, most humane.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Letter of the Emperor Leopold I to King James II

Letter of the Emperor Leopold I to King James II. Plea for cooperation with the English monarch because of pressure from the Turks on one side and the French on the other from 1698.

From the site:

The letter of the 6th of February which Your Serenity wrote to us from the Castle of St. Germains we received from the Earl of Carlinford your Ambassador in our Court, in which you gave us an account into what circumstances Your Serenity was reduced by the desertion not only of your army on the Prince of Orange's coming, but even of your servants and those you put most confidence in, which forced you to seek refuge in France, and therefore request our assistance for the regaining your kingdoms. We do assure Your Serenity that we no sooner heard that deplorable instance of the instability of human affairs, but we were sensibly touched and truly afflicted, not only out of the common motives of humanity, but for our sincere affection to you, to see that happen which (though we hoped the contrary) we had too much reason to apprehend. For had Your Serenity given more attention to the kind representations we made you by our Ambassador the Count of Kaunitz, instead of hearkening to the fraudulent suggestions of France, who by fomenting division between Your Serenity and your people thought to have had a better opportunity of insulting the rest of Europe, and had you thought fit to use your power and authority as arbiter of the Peace of Nimeghen to put an end to their continual breaches of faith and agreements, and for that end had entered into the same measure with us and those who had a right notion how things stood - we doubt not but Your Serenity would by that means have extremely mollified and repressed the odium which your people have of our religion and have settled peace and tranquility not only in your own kingdom but in the whole Roman Empire.

We leave it therefore now to your own judgement, whether we are in circumstances of affording Your Serenity any succour, we being not only engaged in a war with the Turks, but under a necessity of repressing a cruel and unjust one which the French, thinking themselves secure of England, have (against their solemn faith and engagement) lately brought upon us. Nor can we forbear puting you in mind that our religion suffers no more from any people than the French themselves, who, to our unspeakable damage and that of the whole Christian world, think it lawful not only to unite their force with the sworn enemies of the holy cross to thwart our endeavours for the glory of God and put a stop to the success it had pleased his omnipotent hand to afford us, but by heaping one perfidy on the back of another have exacted unreasonable contributions from towns surrendered upon conditions, even against the engagement signed by the Dauphin's own hand, and, not content with that, have plundered them and reduced them at last to ashes or heaps of rubbish. They have burnt the palaces of princes which the most cruel wars had spared until now, spoiled churches, and (like the most barbarous nations) carried away the people into slavery. They have made a jest of executing such horrible things to Catholics, as the very Turks would have been ashamed of, which has put a necessity upon us to exert our power in our own defence and that of the Roman Empire, no less against them than the Turks themselves.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The General Slocum Disaster

The General Slocum Disaster. An account of the June 15,1904 steamboat fire which killed more than 1,000 people on New York City's East River. Includes photographs, scanned documents, and other primary sources, as well as recent news.

From the site:

Ask any New Yorker to name the city’s greatest disaster before September 11, 2001 and invariably they offer the same answer: the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911. That tragic event garnered international headlines as 146 young immigrant women lost their lives in an unsafe garment factory. Yet even though it is certainly Gotham’s most famous disaster, it runs a distant second to a much larger catastrophe which occurred only seven years earlier. On June 15, 1904, more than 1,000 people died when their steamship, the General Slocum, burst into flames while moving up the East River. It was the second-most deadly fire (after the Peshtigo fire of 1871) and most deadly peacetime maritime disaster in American history.

The story of the General Slocum tragedy begins in the thriving German neighborhood known as Kleindeutchland, or Little Germany. Located on the Lower East Side in what is today called the East Village, Kleindeutchland had been home to New York’s German immigrant population since they first began arriving in large numbers in the 1840s. With more than 80,000 Germans living there by the 1870s, the neighborhood lived up to its name. German fraternal societies, athletic clubs, theaters, bookshops, and restaurants and beer gardens abounded. So too did synagogues and churches. One of those churches, St. Mark’s Lutheran church on East 6th Street, held an annual outing to celebrate the end of the Sunday school year. They usually chartered an excursion boat to take them to a nearby recreation spot for a day of swimming, games, and food. On June 15, 1904, more than 1,300 people boarded the General Slocum for a day at Locust Grove on Long Island Sound.

Monday, March 28, 2005

History of Republic of Congo

History of Republic of Congo. This is a good summary dealing with the history of the African Republic of Congo.

From the site:

First inhabited by pygmies, Congo was later settled by Bantu groups that also occupied parts of present-day Angola, Gabon, and Zaire, forming the basis for ethnic affinities and rivalries among those states. Several Bantu kingdoms--notably those of the Kongo, the Loango, and the Teke--built trade links leading into the Congo River basin. The first European contacts came in the late 15th century, and commercial relationships were quickly established with the kingdoms--trading for slaves captured in the interior. The coastal area was a major source for the transatlantic slave trade, and when that commerce ended in the early 19th century, the power of the Bantu kingdoms eroded.

The area came under French sovereignty in the 1880s. Pierre Savorgnon de Brazza, a French empire builder, competed with agents of Belgian King Leopold's International Congo Association (later Zaire) for control of the Congo River basin. Between 1882 and 1891, treaties were secured with all the main local rulers on the river's right bank, placing their lands under French protection. In 1908, France organized French Equatorial Africa (AEF), comprising its colonies of Middle Congo (modern Congo), Gabon, Chad, and Oubangui-Chari (modern Central African Republic). Brazzaville was selected as the federal capital.

Economic development during the first 50 years of colonial rule in Congo centered on natural resource extraction by private companies. In 1924-34, the Congo-Ocean Railway (CFCO) was built at a considerable human and financial cost, opening the way for growth of the ocean port of Pointe-Noire and towns along its route.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The John Hampden Society

The John Hampden Society. A society devoted to the study of 17th-century Parliamentarian John Hampden, who famous for resisting the King's illegal Ship Money tax.

From the site:

John Hampden was descended from an ancient Buckinghamshire family of great wealth with a long tradition of service to the Crown. The Hampdens had lived at Great Hampden (left), high up in the Chilterns, since before the Norman Conquest, and had provided Members of Parliament, High Sheriffs, and courtiers throughout the centuries.

One of Hampden's ancestors, Sir John Hampden 'of the Hill', rode in the train of the English Queen at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in France in 1520, and his daughter Sybil, an ancestress of William Penn of Pennsylvania, was nurse to the future King Edward VI. John's grandfather Griffiths, who was an MP and later High Sheriff of the county, entertained Queen Elizabeth I and her Court at Great Hampden.

Had John Hampden wished he could have purchased advancement in the court, but he chose instead to resist Charles I's arbitrary government. As a result he earned the title, 'Patriae Pater' - the Father of the People.