New Orleans

Happy to have experienced New Orleans for the first time this summer. The French Quarter is not exactly “family friendly,” of course, but there’s plenty of history to gratify people like me!

The heart of it all is Jackson Square, named after the hero of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. It features an equestrian statue of the man who would later become the seventh U.S. president:

jackson

I had to wonder: given that Jackson has been removed from the $20 bill, will we see the square revert to its original name?

plaza

At the top of the square, the famous Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis, King of France:

stlouis

I quite liked the historic flags, and the stained glass illustrating scenes from the life of St. Louis, including planning the Sainte-Chapelle and receiving the keys to Tunis while on crusade.

I was pleased to see that the arms of the Archdiocese of New Orleans (left) make an obvious reference to the arms of the French city of Orléans (right, via Wikipedia). The colors are reversed, and the pelican refers to Louisiana.

armsNOarchdiocese         600px-Blason_Orléans.svg

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Flag of Louisiana, via Wikipedia.

Speaking of the connection between Old Orleans and New Orleans, down the street we find an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc. The original, by Emmanuel Frémiet, can be seen in Paris.

joanofarc

Joan, of course, raised the siege of Orléans in 1429 during the Hundred Years War. I was pleased to see the coat of arms of Orléans near the plinth, along with those of Lorraine (Joan’s birthplace), Reims (where she presided over the coronation of Charles VII), and Rouen (where the English burned her at the stake for witchcraft).

Thoughts I have had while lecturing

I. An interesting shift: at one point African-American slaves took inspiration from Moses leading the Hebrew slaves out of bondage from Egypt, hence the spiritual:

When Israel was in Egypt’s land, Let My people go!
Oppressed so hard they could not stand, Let My people go!
Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt’s land;
Tell old Pharaoh To let My people go!

But of course Egypt is African, or judged to be representative of Africa, so starting in the twentieth century African-Americans began to look back with admiration on ancient Egypt, partly as a riposte to the European idealization of Ancient Greece (this is where the Afrocentric charge that the latter “stole” everything from the former comes from). Thus, for example, Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation’s first black fraternity, founded at Cornell in 1906 and which:

utilizes motifs from Ancient Egypt and uses images and songs depicting the Her-em-akhet (Great Sphinx of Giza), pharaohs, and other Egyptian artifacts to represent the organization…. This is in contrast to other fraternities that traditionally echo themes from the golden age of Ancient Greece. Alpha’s constant reference to Ethiopia in hymns and poems are further examples of Alpha’s mission to imbue itself with an African cultural heritage.

(This despite the fact that they use Greek letters to identify themselves – why not a couple of hieroglyphs?)

I suppose the fall of slavery in the United States lessened the appeal of the ancient Hebrews, allowing the shift toward sympathizing with the Egyptians.

II. One of my favorite records when I was in college features the novelty song “Istanbul (not Constantinople),” which dates from the 1950s and is (I suppose) a celebration of the rise of nationalist Turkey. By way of explaining the name change of that county’s most famous city, the song points out a parallel situation:

Even old New York, was once New Amsterdam.
Why they changed it I can’t say, people just liked it better that way.

But perhaps a more accurate assessment of this name change is that the British defeated their continental rivals the Dutch and took possession of the New Netherlands in 1664, and promptly changed the names of New Amsterdam and Fort Orange to New York and Albany respectively, after the Duke of York and Albany, the future King James II. Fort Orange was so called, of course, on account of “Orange” being the name of the ruling house of the Netherlands.

What’s ironic is that James II was a Catholic, and didn’t have the good sense to keep it to himself, and provoked the Glorious Revolution of 1688, whereby Parliament invited his daughter Mary Stuart to become queen, and her husband to become king… that husband being none other than William of Orange, king of the Netherlands. These two reigned as co-monarchs, hence the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.

So an Orange was replaced by an Albany, who was replaced by another Orange (who opened up Ireland for Protestant settlement, hence the Orange Order, and Orangeman’s Day).

Erik the Lawgiver

The coat of arms of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, features a bust of King Erik IX (d. 1160), also known as Erik the Lawgiver. Although never canonized, he is widely considered a saint, with his feast day on May 18. St. Stephen of Hungary, St. Louis of France, St. Edward of England, and St. Olaf of Norway are other such king-saints, although Erik is only patron of Stockholm, not all of Sweden (that would be Briget of Sweden [d. 1373], mystic and founder of the Bridgettines).

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Via Wikipedia.

Erik’s remains may be found in a reliquary in Uppsala Cathedral – whence they were recently removed and analyzed by a team at Uppsala University, looking to confirm details of his life as they have come down to us. From Atlas Obscura:

Wednesday’s press release from Uppsala University explains the exhaustive interdisciplinary research the team utilized in the two years since they opened the reliquary and began their work, including radiocarbon dating, aDNA analysis (ancient DNA), isotope analysis, and forensic medicine. According to the researchers, 23 of the 24 bones in the reliquary belonged to the same individual—there’s also a bonus “mystery” shinbone—who was male, between 35 and 40 years old, and died around 1160. The skull shows signs of healed wounds that may have occurred in battle, aligning with the tales of a Finnish crusade. So far, so good.

But the most interesting discoveries surround Erik’s death. According to the researchers, “The saint’s legend says that in the king’s final battle, the enemy swarmed him, and when he fell to the ground they gave him wound after wound until he lay half dead. They then taunted him and finally cut off his head.” True to legend, Erik’s bones show signs of cuts inflicted in connection with his death and indicate that he was lying face-down during the injuries. Furthermore, one of his neck vertebra was cut through; not only is this consistent with decapitation, the injury could not have been inflicted during battle as the hauberks worn at the time would protect that part of the neck. This aligns with the legend’s assertion that he was swarmed in battle, captured, and taunted prior to his decapitation. So while the research doesn’t tell us much about what Erik was like as a person, the available evidence of the king’s death in no way contradicts the account in Catholic legend.

Henry the Terrible

Interesting article on Mental_floss. I had heard traumatic head injury proposed as a theory to explain Henry’s tyrannical adult behavior; a trio of neurologists has injected new life into the theory in the journal Clinical Neuroscience. Excerpts from the Mental_floss article are below:

Did Head Injuries Cause Henry VIII’s Bad Behavior?

From all accounts, as a young man, Henry was a pretty happy dude, and a pleasure to be around. By 1536, he was decidedly … not. The King Henry VIII we think of today was a bloodthirsty tyrant, impulsive, unpredictable, and murderous—the kind of man who would send two of his six wives to the executioner. So what happened?

The most severe blow [to Henry’s head] came in 1536, during another jousting match. Henry was unhorsed. He fell to the ground, and his horse fell on top of him. The king was out cold for two hours.

That same year, Henry’s reign of terror commenced. His unpredictable, inexplicable explosions made him the terror of his own court, for he was just as likely to order the execution of a friend as he was a foe. His behavior was erratic and violent, and he often flew into rages for reasons that were unclear to those around him. He became impulsive—and if you need more evidence of that, just look at his six marriages and two dispatched queens.

Henry started suffering bouts of bizarre amnesia, which led to dangerous contradictions in his commands. As the city of Boulogne was under siege, Henry reportedly demanded on paper that the city be protected, while saying aloud he wanted it to be demolished. In 1546, the king assured his sixth wife Catherine Parr that he would protect her, forgetting that the day before he had ordered his guards to take her to the Tower of London.

The king was also subject to migraine headaches and deep depressions, as well as a number of seeming endocrinological problems that could have been triggered by TBI. His rages, his erratic behavior, even his impotence later in life—there may be a simple explanation for it all, lead author Arash Salardini said in a press release: “It is intriguing to think that modern European history may have changed forever because of a blow to the head.”

 

Catholic Service at Hampton Court

From Christianity Today:

The first Roman Catholic service for more than 450 years is to be celebrated in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace.

Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Nichols will celebrate Vespers and the Bishop of London, Dean of the Chapel Royal, will preach in Henry VIII’s chapel, built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the early 16th century but taken from Wolsey by the King and rebuilt.

Henry VIII broke with Rome and established the Church of England after Wolsey failed to secure his annulment from Catherine of Aragon. Henry’s third wife Jane Seymour gave birth to his only son Prince Edward at Hampton Court. His fifth wife Catherine Howard is said to haunt the palace, where she had faced accusations of adultery. The King married his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, at Hampton Court.

The Genesis Foundation and the Choral Foundation are working together to make the service possible, as the first Latin Rite of the Catholic Church to be celebrated since the 1550s at the Chapel Royal.

The Vespers will be dedicated to St John the Baptist, remembering the origins of the chapel as built by Cardinal Wolsey on the site of a former chapel of the Knights of St John Hospitaller. Members of the public will be able to take part in a ballot for a stall or boxed pew at the service.

The music will be performed by Harry Christophers and his ensembles The Sixteen and Genesis Sixteen and will include Thomas Tallis’ Magnificat, William Cornysh’s Salve Regina and John Taverner’s “Leroy” Kyrie.

Before the service, Cardinal and Dean will take part in a “conversation” on “Faith and the Crown” in the Great Hall at Hampton Court. They will debate the role of the Chapel Royal in maintaining elements of Catholic worship to the present day.

John Studzinski, founder and chairman of the Genesis Foundation, said: “Dialogue between faiths is much needed and welcomed in these turbulent times. We need to recognise that we have more in common than not. I’m therefore delighted that the Genesis Foundation is enabling the Catholic and Anglican churches to engage in dialogue on this site that is so rich in history, both theological and musical. It will be an unforgettable occasion and is genuinely one for the history books.”

Michele Price of the Choral Foundation said: “The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court played centre stage to the religious changes in the 16th Century. Its musicians and composers met the challenge of serving the spiritual needs of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, by producing new and beautiful music and in so doing became the cradle of English church music. This historic occasion enables us to explore our rich heritage and bring together Christian traditions as we celebrate 500 years of Hampton Court Palace.”

Unsolicited Advice

Something amusing from The Toast (excerpts):

***

Unsolicited Advice For The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, Working Within Their Social Parameters And Not Suggesting They Just Invent Feminism Because That’s Anachronistic

Catherine of Aragon

I don’t know what to tell you, frankly. You were married to Henry for twenty-four years, which apparently wasn’t enough time for you to learn his personality, which was easily irritated and soothed. Are you allergic to noticing which way the wind is blowing? Because that’s the only explanation I can think of for your self-destructive behavior. Henry was a simple man: he wanted literally everyone to love him without reserve or criticism, and he believed God created him to rule England and have sons. That’s it. That’s all you had to get about him. Half the time someone in his court was scheduled for execution, if they managed to get an in-person audience with him, he’d call the whole thing off and reduce their sentence to exile. Give the man what he wants! You’re not in Spain! You have no bargaining chips to speak of and the only thing your queenly pride got you was a drafty castle near I want to say Coventry and an early, lonely death. He loved you, probably, for a while. That’s as good as it gets, with Henry. Take what you can and get out.

Anne Boleyn

Annie! ANNIE. What is there to say to you, one of the greats? You came so close, my love. You were an incredible mistress. Superlative…. And it’s not your fault that Henry’s jousting accident happened on your watch and (probably) destroyed his brain. Plus, you know…Elizabeth. Elizabeth! Without Good Queen Bess, what would Cate Blanchett have done in 1998? Joseph Fiennes’ career would be right out. I honestly don’t know what you could have done differently, except have had a son. Everyone likes to give you a hard time for fighting with Henry and reading Tyndale, but let’s be honest: no one would be talking about your “forceful personality” if you’d just had a son. Henry would have forgiven you everything. (Which, I know everyone wants to blame Henry for nowadays, the no sons thing, but look at Bessie Blount!)

Anne of Cleves

Catherine of Aragon, are you listening to this? Anne of Cleves not only accepted Henry’s dismissal with gracious good humor, she happily conceded his claims that she smelled bad, had saggy tits, and didn’t ‘look like a virgin,’ whatever that means. That is oceans worse than being asked to say you were the King’s rightful sister! And she did it with a smile on her beautiful German face.

Catherine Howard

I don’t know how to instruct you. Was it fair that by the time you got Henry, he was gouty and irritable and about thirty years older than you? Absolutely not.

But you were sixteen when Anne Boleyn died. You know the drill, or should have. You know what happens to queens who don’t produce sons and irritate the King. I’m grading you on a curve because you were only twenty when you got married and honestly, I would have cheated like hell on Henry in your position too.

The Koh-i-Noor Diamond

The Koh-i-Noor, a diamond of Indian origin and currently set in a crown that belonged to the Queen Mother (d. 2002), is a touchy subject between India and the United Kingdom. Like the Elgin Marbles, it came to the UK during the glory days of the British Empire – quite illegitimately, according to the Indians, who have begun a renewed push to get it back:

Koh-i-Noor: India sues the Queen for return of ‘stolen’ £100m diamond

The diamond can only be worn by a woman or a god, according to legend

It was once the world’s largest known diamond, is worth a reported £100m and is currently part of Britain’s crown jewels.

But India wants it back.

Bollywood stars and businessmen have united to instruct lawyers to begin legal proceedings in London’s High Court to return the Koh-i-Noor diamond.

The diamond was in the crown worn by the Queen Mother at the coronation of her husband King George VI in 1937 and again at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.

The group, which has called itself the “Mountain of Light” after the translation of the stone’s name, say that the 105-carat diamond was stolen from its true home in India and are demanding that the UK Government returns it.

The stone is “one of the many artefacts taken from India under dubious circumstances”, according to David de Souza from the Indian leisure group Tito’s.

Souza claims the British colonisation of India had stolen wealthand “destroyed the country’s psyche”.

The jewel was given to the reigning Queen of the time by the last ruler of the Sikhs, Duleep Singh, after the British annexe of the Punjab.

Bollywood star Bhumicka Singh, also part of the group, said: “The Koh-i-noor is not just a 105-carat stone, but part of our history and culture and should undoubtedly be returned.”

British Lawyers instructed by the “Mountain of Light” group to seek the stone’s return, said they would base their case on the Holocaust (Return of Cultural Objects) Act, which gives national institutions in the UK the power to return stolen art.

Satish Jakhu, of Birmingham-based law firm Rubric Lois King, said they would make their claim under the common law doctrine of “trespass to goods”, arguing that the government had stolen the diamond. He added that they would be taking their case to the International Court of Justice.

Historian Andrew Roberts told the Mail on Sunday: “Those involved in this ludicrous case should recognise that the British Crown Jewels is precisely the right place for the Koh-i-Noor diamond to reside, in grateful recognition for over three centuries of British involvement in India, which led to the modernisation, development, protection, agrarian advance, linguistic unification and ultimately the democratisation of the sub-continent.”

To say nothing of the destruction of the Indian iron industry, the Sepoy Mutiny, numerous famines, and the Amritsar Massacre!

I think that spreading the Parthenon around acts as insurance against the loss of the whole thing in some disaster, which is why I think that Britain should keep the Elgin Marbles. This dynamic does not apply to the Koh-i-Noor, which I think should go back. Colossal gems are kind of naff anyway.

Henry V’s Chapel

I’d love to see this:

Henry V ‘secret’ chapel opened for Agincourt anniversary

Westminster Abbey is opening Henry’s V’s chapel – rarely seen by the public – for guided tours to mark the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt.

The chapel was built within the shrine of Edward the Confessor.

Henry V ordered the chapel’s construction so prayers could be said for his soul after he died.

Tours of the chapel, located at the east end of the abbey, will be led by the Dean of Westminster on the eve of the battle’s anniversary on 24 October.

 

Marathon

Answers.com claims that you need to stop believing the myth that marathons are 26 miles long “because of the ancient Greeks”:

One common myth is that marathon is 26 miles because that is the length that the Greek messenger ran from Marathon to Athens to announce a Greek victory.

In actuality, today’s race length dates back to the 1908 London Olympics.

Runners were set to race about 26 miles, but an extra 385 yards was tacked on so that the royal family could good view of the race, according to the NY Times.

Google Maps claims that the shortest route on drivable roads between Marathonas and Athens is 42.7 km, which translates to 26.5 miles, so it doesn’t sound like too much of a myth. Wikipedia says that:

The International Olympic Committee agreed in 1907 that the distance for the 1908 London Olympic marathon would be about 25 miles or 40 kilometres. The organisers decided on a course of 26 miles from the start at Windsor Castle to the royal entrance to the White City Stadium, followed by a lap (586 yards, 2 feet; 536 m) of the track, finishing in front of the Royal Box. The course was later altered to use a different entrance to the stadium, followed by a partial lap of 385 yards to the same finish.

The modern 42.195 km standard distance for the marathon was set by theInternational Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) in May 1921 directly from the length used at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.

In other words, prior to the 1920s, there was no standard length for a marathon (just as there is no standard size and shape for a baseball field even today). They then settled on one based on the 1908 Olympics, which only tangentially had to do with the royal family.

A better myth that you need to stop believing would be that Pheidippides ever made the run in the first place, following the Athenian victory over the Persians in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. Herodotus, our main source for the Persian wars, mentions a runner named Pheidippides who ran to Sparta to ask for help, but the first mention that Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to announce “Victory!” right before falling down dead was Lucian of Samosta, who lived and wrote in the second century AD. In other words, like Archimedes shouting “Eureka” and running down the street naked, or like Newton getting hit on the head by an apple, it’s one of those delightful stories that add spice to a lecture, but which must then be disavowed. (Stephanie Trigg would call it “mythic capital.”)

Vivat Regina

On September 10, 2015, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest-reigning British sovereign in history, exceeding the tenure of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901 for a total of 63 years and 216 days. Elizabeth, at age 89, is already the oldest monarch to have occupied the throne, and if she lives as long as her own mother did (who died in 2002 at age 101), we may celebrate the first ever platinum jubilee in 2027.

To mark this auspicious occasion a new portrait of the Her Majesty has been unveiled. It was commissioned by Illustrated London News Ltd (ILN), collaborating with The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) and the Royal Warrant Holders Association. It was painted by 28-year-old portrait artist Alisdair Barford, a QEST and Leverhulme Scholar, who had just completed his scholarship at the renowned atelier of artist Charles H. Cecil in Florence. According to the Daily Mail the artist “was given just 10 minutes to make his preparatory sketches for what was his first commission.”

It’s quite nice, but perhaps the speed at which Mr. Barford had to work explains the fact that HM’s Garter star is shown rotated ninety degrees to the left. Or maybe there is an artistic reason for this detail, who knows? Is he suggesting that the Queen is tipping over, parallel to the way that artist Nelson Shanks inserted a Lewinsky reference in Bill Clinton’s official portrait? This is certainly something that Stephanie Trigg would have included in Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter (2012).