History

The Doge

Sunday, 23 June, 2013 1 Comment

“And they assembled in the church of St. Mark, and he was declared to be elected Doge; and they stripped off his clothes and led him before the altar, and there he took the oath, and there was given him the gonfalon of St. Mark, and he took it. Then amid great rejoicing he went […]

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Margaret Thatcher RIP

Monday, 8 April, 2013 0 Comments

“For my part, I favour an approach to statecraft that embraces principles, as long as it is not stifled by them; and I prefer such principles to be accompanied by steel along with good intentions.” Margaret Thatcher (13 October 1925 — 8 April 2013)

“Socialists cry ‘Power to the people’, and raise the clenched fist as they say it. We all know what they really mean—power over people, power to the State.”


The Most Successful Institution

Monday, 25 February, 2013 0 Comments

“The proudest royal houses are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable.”

So wrote Thomas Babington Macaulay, one of Britain’s greatest historians, in an 1840 review of Leopold von Ranke’s History of the Popes. Macaulay continued:

“The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of life and youthful vigour.”

And he finished the review, titled “The Roman Catholic Church as the Most Successful Institution that Has Ever Existed“, with a glorious flourish:

She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.

Macaulay understood the value of taking the long view. Sic transit gloria mundi he would have warned His Eminence Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien.


“She cries, but she’s eating”

Thursday, 13 December, 2012 0 Comments

When the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, engineered the Partition of Poland in 1772, his strategic power play greatly distressed the Holy Roman Empress, Maria Theresa, sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma, Duchess of Lorraine and Grand Duchess of Tuscany. Asked about the reaction […]

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Libyan embassy 1984, Ecuadorian embassy 2012

Thursday, 16 August, 2012

The standoff between the governments of Great Britain and Ecuador because the latter has allowed its embassy to be used as a hideout for the alleged sex offender Julian Assange brings back memories of another London embassy drama, one which resulted in the murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher. And the murderer got away with it, […]

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A Survivor’s Tale: The Sinking of the S.S. Titanic

Monday, 16 April, 2012

Thanks to his extraordinary ability as a swimmer, John B. Thayer survived the sinking of the Titanic. After being picked up by the Carpathia and brought to safety, the Philadelphia student put pen to paper and devoted his account of the tragedy to his father, who’d gone down with the ship. Originally intended only for […]

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