AP Primary Documents.
While reading consider:
1. Document Title
2.Author (if given)
3. Date of Document (if given)
4. What is the document's historical context? What was happening when this event occurred?
What was the background of the event? What were the contributing factors?
5. What is the author's main point, theme or thesis?
6. What was the author's purpose in writing this document?
7. From what point of view was this document written?
8. For what audience was this document intended?
9. Does this document show any bias on the part of the author?
1. A Description of the Bubonic Plague From Barbara Tuchman's: A Distant Mirror
The Bubonic Plague which struck Europe in the 14th through 16th centuries nearly brought life
to a virtual standstill.
In October 1347, two months after the fall of Calais, Genoese trading ships put into the harbor of
Messina in Sicily with dead and dying men at the oars. The ships had come from the Black Sea
port of Caffa (now Feodosiya) in the Crimea, where the Genoese maintained a trading post. The
diseased sailors showed strange black swellings about the size of an egg or an apple in the
armpits and groin. The swellings oozed blood and pus and were followed by spreading boils and
black blotches on the skin from internal bleeding. The sick suffered severe pain and died quickly
within five days of the first symptoms. As the disease spread, other symptoms of continuous
fever and spitting of blood appeared instead of the swellings or buboes. These victims coughed
and sweated heavily and died even more quickly, within three days or less, sometimes in 24
hours. In both types everything that issued from the body- breath, sweat, blood from the buboes
and lungs, bloody urine, and blood-blackened excrement- smelled foul. Depression and despair
accompanied the physical symptoms, and before the end "death is seen seated on the face."
The disease was bubonic plague, present in two forms: one that infected the bloodstream,
causing the buboes and internal bleeding, and was spread by contact; and a second, more virulent
pneumonic type that infected the lungs and was spread by respiratory infection. The presence of
both at once caused the high mortality and speed of contagion. So lethal was the disease that
cases were known of persons going to bed well and dying before they woke, of doctors catching
the illness at a bedside and dying before the patient. So rapidly did it spread from one to another
that to a French physician, Simon de Covino, it seemed as if one sick person "could infect the
whole world." The malignity of the pestilence appeared more terrible because its victims knew
no prevention and no remedy.
Rumors of a terrible plague supposedly arising in China and spreading through Tartary (Central
Asia) to India and Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, and all of Asia Minor had reached Europe
in 1346. They told of a death toll so devastating that all of India was said to be depopulated,
whole territories covered by dead bodies, other areas with no one left alive. As added up by Pope
Clement VI at Avignon, the total of reported dead reached 23,840,000. In the absence of a
concept of contagion, no serious alarm was felt in Europe until the trading ships brought their
black burden of pestilence into Messina while other infected ships from the Levant carried it to
Genoa and Venice.
By January 1348 it penetrated France via Marseille, and North Africa via Tunis. Shipborne along
coasts and navigable rivers, it spread westward from Marseille through the ports of Languedoc to
Spain and northward up the Rhone to Avignon, where it arrived in March. It reached Narbonne,
Montpellier, Carcassonne, and Toulouse between February and May, and at the same time in
Italy spread to Rome and Florence and their hinterlands. Between June and August it reached
Bordeaux, Lyon, and Paris, spread to Burgundy and Normandy, and crossed the Channel from
Normandy into southern England. From Italy during the same summer it crossed the Alps into
Switzerland and reached eastward to Hungary. In a given area the plague accomplished its kill
within four to six months and then faded, except in the larger cities, where, rooting into the
close-quartered population, it abated during the winter, only to reappear in spring and rage for
another six months.
In 1349 it resumed in Paris, spread to Picardy, Flanders, and the Low Countries, and from
England to Scotland and Ireland as well as to Norway, where a ghost ship with a cargo of wool
and a dead crew drifted offshore until it ran aground near Bergen. From there the plague passed
into Sweden Denmark, Prussia, Iceland, and as far as Greenland. Leaving a strange pocket of
immunity in Bohemia, and Russia unattacked until 1351, it had passed from most of Europe by
mid-1350.Although the mortality rate was erratic, ranging from one fifth in some places to nine
tenths or almost total elimination in others, the overall estimate of modern demographers has
settled- for the area extending from India to Iceland-around the same figure expressed in
Froissart's casual words: "a third of the world died." His estimate, the common one at the time,
was not an inspired guess but a borrowing of St. John's figure for mortality from plague in
Revelation, the favorite guide to human affairs of the Middle Ages.
A third of Europe would have meant about 20 million deaths. No one knows in truth how many
died. Contemporary reports were an awed impression, not an accurate count. In crowded
Avignon, it was said, 400 died daily; 7,000 houses emptied by death were shut up; a single
graveyard received 11,000 corpses in six weeks; half the city's inhabitants reportedly died,
including 9 cardinals or one third of the total, and 70 lesser prelates. Watching the endlessly
passing death carts, chroniclers let normal exaggeration take wings and put the Avignon death
toll at 62,000 and even at 120,000, although the city's total population was probably less than
When graveyards filled up, bodies at Avignon were thrown into the Rhone until mass burial pits
were dug for dumping the corpses. In London in such pits corpses piled up in layers until they
overflowed. Everywhere reports speak of the sick dying too fast for the living to bury. Corpses
were dragged out of homes and left in front of doorways. Morning light revealed new piles of
bodies. In Florence the dead were gathered up by the Compagnia della Misericordia - founded in
1244 to care for the sick - whose members wore red robes and hoods masking the face except for
the eyes. When their efforts failed, the dead lay putrid in the streets for days at a time. When no
coffins were to be had, the bodies were laid on boards, two or three at once, to be carried to
graveyards or common pits. Families dumped their own relatives into the pits, or buried them so
hastily and thinly "that dogs dragged them forth and devoured their bodies."
Amid accumulating death and fear of contagion, people died without last rites and were buried
without prayers, a prospect that terrified the last hours of the stricken. A bishop in England gave
permission to laymen to make confession to each other as was done by the Apostles, "or if no
man is present then even to a woman," and if no priest could be found to administer extreme
unction, "then faith must suffice." Clement VII found it necessary to grant remissions of sin to all
who died of the plague because so many were unattended by priests. "And no bells tolled," wrote
a chronicler of Siena. "and nobody wept no matter what his loss because almost everyone
expected death.... And people said and believed, 'This is the end of the world.' "
In Paris, where the plague lasted through 1349, the reported death rate was 800 a day, in Pisa
500, in Vienna 500 to 600. The total dead in Paris numbered 50,000 or half the population.
Florence, weakened by the famine of 1347, lost three to four fifths of its citizens, Venice two
thirds, Hamburg and Bremen, though smaller in size, about the same proportion. Cities, as
centers of transportation, w ere more likely to be affected than villages, although once a village
was infected, its death rate was equally high. At Givry, a prosperous village in Burgundy of
1,200 to l,500 people, the parish register records 615 deaths in the space of fourteen weeks,
compared to an average of thirty deaths a year in the previous decade. In three villages of
Cambridgeshire, manorial records show a death rate of 47 percent, 57 percent, and in one case 70
percent. When the last survivors, too few to carry on, moved away, a deserted village sank back
into the wilderness and disappeared from the map altogether, leaving only a grass-covered
ghostly outline to show where mortals once had lived.
In enclosed places such as monasteries and prisons, the infection of one person usually meant
that of all, as happened in the Franciscan convents of Carcassonne and Marseille, where every
inmate without exception died. Of the 140 Dominicans at Montpellier only seven survived.
Petrarch's brother Gherardo, member of a Carthusian monastery, buried the prior and 34 fellow
monks one by one, sometimes three a day, until he was left alone with his dog and fled to look
for a place that would take him in. Watching every comrade die, men in such places could not
but wonder whether the strange peril that filled the air had not been sent to exterminate the
human race. In Kilkenny, Ireland, Brother John Clyn of the Friars Minor, another monk left
alone among dead men, kept a record of what had happened lest "things which should be
remembered perish with time and vanish from the memory of those who come after us." Sensing
"the whole world, as it were, placed within the grasp of the Evil One," and waiting for death to
visit him too, he wrote, "I leave parchment to continue this work, if perchance any man survive
and any of the race of Adam escape this pestilence and carry on the work which I have begun."
Brother John, as noted by another hand, died of the pestilence, but he foiled oblivion.
The first wave swept through Europe in 1347-1350, and there were six more waves between
1350 and 1400 as each new generation of potential victims, not immune to the plague, appeared.
The population of Europe was cut by half by 1400.
2. Concerning A Mortality In The City Of Florence In Which Many People Died. (The
In the year of the Lord 1348 there was a very great pestilence in the city and district of Florence.
It was of such a fury and so tempestuous that in houses in which it took hold previously healthy
servants who took care of the ill died of the same illness. Almost non of the ill survived past the
fourth day. Neither physicians nor medicines were effective. Whether because these illnesses
were previously unknown or because physicians had not previously studied them, there seemed
to be no cure. There was such a fear that no one seemed to know what to do. When it took hold
in a house it often happened that no one remained who had not died. And it was not just that men
and women died, but even sentient animals died. Dogs, cats, chickens, oxen, donkeys sheep
showed the same symptoms and died of the same disease. And almost none, or very few, who
showed these symptoms, were cured. The symptoms were the following: a bubo in the groin,
where the thigh meets the trunk; or a small swelling under the armpit; sudden fever; spitting
blood and saliva (and no one who spit blood survived it). It was such a frightful thing that when
it got into a house, as was said, no one remained. Frightened people abandoned the house and
fled to another. Those in town fled to villages. Physicians could not be found because they had
died like the others. And those who could be found wanted vast sums in hand before they entered
the house. And when they did enter, they checked the pulse with face turned away. They
inspected the urine from a distance and with something odoriferous under their nose. Child
abandoned the father, husband the wife, wife the husband, one brother the other, one sister the
other. In all the city there was nothing to do but to carry the dead to a burial. And those who died
had neither confessor nor other sacraments. And many died with no one looking after them. And
many died of hunger because when someone took to bed sick, another in the house, terrified, said
to him: "I'm going for the doctor." Calmly walking out the door, the other left and did not return
again. Abandoned by people, without food, but accompanied by fever, they weakened. There
were many who pleaded with their relatives not to abandon them when night fell. But [the
relatives] said to the sick person, "So that during the night you did not have to awaken those who
serve you and who work hard day and night, take some sweetmeats, wine or water. They are here
on the bedstead by your head; here are some blankets." And when the sick person had fallen
asleep, they left and did not return. If it happened that he was strengthened by the food during the
night he might be alive and strong enough to get to the window. If the street was not a major one,
he might stand there a half hour before anyone came by. And if someone did pass by, and if he
was strong enough that he could be heard when he called out to them, sometimes there might be
a response and sometimes not, but there was no help. No one, or few, wished to enter a house
where anyone was sick, nor did they even want to deal with those healthy people who came out
of a sick person's house. And they said to them: "He is stupefied, do not speak to him!" saying
further: "He has it because there is a bubo in his house." They call the swelling a bubo. Many
died unseen. So they remained in their beds until they stank. And the neighbors, if there were
any, having smelled the stench, placed them in a shroud and sent them for burial. The house
remained open and yet there was no one daring enough to touch anything because it seemed that
things remained poisoned and that whoever used them picked up the illness.
At every church, or at most of them, they dug deep trenches, down to the waterline, wide and
deep, depending on how large the parish was. And those who were responsible for the dead
carried them on their backs in the night in which they died and threw them into the ditch, or else
they paid a high price to those who would do it for them. The next morning, if there were many
[bodies] in the trench, they covered them over with dirt. And then more bodies were put on top
of them, with a little more dirt over those; they put layer on layer just like one puts layers of
cheese in a lasagna.
The beccamorti [literally vultures] who provided their service, were paid such a high price that
many were enriched by it. Many died from [carrying away the dead] , some rich, some after
earning just a little, but high prices continued. Servants, or those who took care of the ill, charged
from one to three florins per day and the cost of things grew. The things that the sick ate,
sweetmeats and sugar, seemed priceless. Sugar cost from three to eight florins per pound. And
other confections cost similarly. Capons and other poultry were very expensive and eggs cost
between twelve and twenty-four pence each; and he was blessed who could find three per day
even if he searched the entire city. Finding wax was miraculous. A pound of wax would have
gone up more than a florin if there had not been a stop put [by the communal government] to the
vain ostentation that the Florentines always make [over funerals]. Thus it was ordered that no
more than two large candles could be carried[in any funeral]. Churches had no more than a
single bier which usually was not sufficient. Spice dealers and beccamorti sold biers, burial palls,
and cushions at very high prices. Dressing in expensive woolen cloth as is customary in
[mourning] the dead, that is in a long cloak, with mantle and veil that used to cost women three
florins climbed in price to thirty florins and would have climbed to 100 florins had the custom of
dressing in expensive cloth not been changed. The rich dressed in modest woolens, those not rich
sewed [clothes] in linen. Benches on which the dead were placed cost like the heavens and still
the benches were only a hundredth of those needed. Priests were not able to ring bells as they
would have liked. Concerning that [the government] issued ordinances discouraging the
sounding of bells, sale of burial benches, and limiting expenses. They could not sound bells, sell
benches, nor cry out announcements because the sick hated to hear of this and it discouraged the
healthy as well. Priests and friars went [to serve] the rich in great multitudes and they were paid
such high prices that they all got rich. And therefore [the authorities] ordered that one could not
have more than a prescribed number [of clerics] of the local parish church. And the prescribed
number of friars was six. All fruits with a nut at the center, like unripe plums and unhusked
almonds, fresh broadbeans, figs and every useless and unhealthy fruit, were forbidden entrance
into the city. Many processions, including those with relics and the painted tablet of Santa Maria
Inpruneta, went through the city crying our "Mercy" and praying and then they came to a stop in
the piazza of the Priors. There they made peace concerning important controversies, injuries and
deaths. This [pestilence] was a matter of such great discouragement and fear that men gathered
together in order to take some comfort in dining together. And each evening one of them
provided dinner to ten companions and the next evening they planned to eat with one of the
others. And sometimes if they planned to eat with a certain one he had no meal prepared because
he was sick. Or if the host had made dinner for the ten, two or three were missing. Some fled to
villas, others to villages in order to get a change of air. Where there had been no [pestilence],
there they carried it; if it was already there, they caused it to increase. None of the guilds in
Florence was working. All the shops were shut, taverns closed; only the apothecaries and the
churches remained open. If you went outside, you found almost no one. And many good and rich
men were carried from home to church on a pall by four beccamorti and one tonsured clerk who
carried the cross. Each of them wanted a florin. This mortality enriched apothecaries, doctors,
poultry vendors, beccamorti, and greengrocers who sold of poultices of mallow, nettles, mercury
and other herbs necessary to draw off the infirmity. And it was those who made these poultices
who made alot of money. Woolworkers and vendors of remnants of cloth who found themselves
in possession of cloths [after the death of the entrepreneur for whom they were working] sold it
to whoever asked for it. When the mortality ended, those who found themselves with cloth of
any kind or with raw materials for making cloth was enriched. But many found [who actually
owned cloths being processed by workers] found it to be moth-eaten, ruined or lost by the
weavers. Large quantities of raw and processed wool were lost throughout the city and
This pestilence began in March, as was said, and ended in September 1348. And people began to
return to look after their houses and possessions. And there were so many houses full of goods
without a master that it was stupefying. Then those who would inherit these goods began to
appear. And such it was that those who had nothing found themselves rich with what did not
seem to be theirs and they were unseemly because of it. Women and men began to dress
How Many Of The Dead Died Because Of The Mortality Of The Year Of Christ 1348
Now it was ordered by the bishop and the Lords [of the city government]that they should
formally inquire as to how many died in Florence. When it was seen at the beginning of October
that no more persons were dying of the pestilence, they found that among males, females,
children and adults, 96,000 died between March and October.
How They Passed Ordinances Concerning Many Things In Florence
In the said year, when the mortality stopped, women and men in Florence were unmindful of
[traditional modesty concerning] their dress. And ordinances were passed concerning this giving
authority to the Judge of the Grascia to enforce these ordinances. The tailors made such
boundless demands for payment that they could not be satisfied. Authority was granted [to the
judge] that he should handle all matters himself. Servants were so unhappy about the very high
prices [they paid] that it was necessary to make great efforts to restrain [the price rises]. The
workers on the land in the countryside wanted rent contracts such that you could say that all they
harvested would be theirs. And they learned to demand oxen from the landlord but at the
landlord's risk [and liability for any harm done to the animal]. And then they helped others for
pay by the job or by the day. And they also learned to deny [liability for] loans and [rental]
payments. Concerning this serious ordinances were instituted; and [hiring] laborers became
much more expensive. You could say that the farms were theirs; and they wanted the oxen, seed,
loans quickly and on good terms. It was necessary to put a brake on weddings as well because
when they gathered for the betrothal each party brought too many people in order to increase the
pomp. And thus the wedding was made up of so many trappings. How many days were
necessary and how many women took part in a woman's wedding. And they passed many other
ordinances concerning [these issues].
3. Life In 16th Century England Described by Erasmus (Humanism)
Erasmus was one of the leading humanist writers of the Renaissance.
I am frequently astonished and grieved to think how it is that England has been now for so many
years troubled by a continual pestilence, especially by a deadly sweat, which appears in a great
measure to be peculiar to your country. I have read how a city was once delivered from a plague
by a change in the houses, made at the suggestion of a philosopher. I am inclined to think that
this, also, must be the deliverance for England.
First of all, Englishmen never consider the aspect of their doors or windows; next, their
chambers are built in such a way as to admit of no ventilation. Then a great part of the walls of
the house is occupied with glass casements, which admit light but exclude the air, and yet they
let in the draught through holes and corners, which is often pestilential and stagnates there. The
floors are, in general, laid with white clay, and are covered with rushes, occasionally renewed,
but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for twenty years,
harboring expectorations, vomitings, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish,
and other abominations not fit to be mentioned. Whenever the weather changes a vapor is
exhaled, which I consider very detrimental to health. I may add that England is not only
everywhere surrounded by sea, but is, in many places, swampy and marshy, intersected by salt
rivers, to say nothing of salt provisions, in which the common people take so much delight. I am
confident the island would be much more salubrious if the use of rushes were abandoned, and if
the rooms were built in such a way as to be exposed to the sky on two or three sides, and all the
windows so built as to be opened or closed at once, and so completely closed as not to admit the
foul air through chinks; for as it is beneficial to health to admit the air, so it is equally beneficial
at times to exclude it. The common people laugh at you if you complain of a cloudy or foggy
day. Thirty years ago, if ever I entered a room which had not been occupied for some months, I
was sure to take a fever. More moderation in diet, and especially in the use of salt meats, might
be of service; more particularly were public officers appointed to see the streets cleaned from
mud and filth, and the suburbs kept in better order. . . .
4. Erasmus: In Praise of Folly
The Praise of Folly is one of the most famous pieces of literature of the sixteenth century. Written
in a short period of time during a visit to the home of Thomas More, Erasmus considered it a
"little diversion" from his "serious work." Yet both contemporaries and later generations have
appreciated "this laughing parody of every form and rank of human life." In this selection,
Erasmus belittles one of his favorite objects of scorn-the monks.
Erasmus, The Praise of Folly
Those who are the closest to these [the theologians] in happiness are generally called "the
religious" or "monks," both of which are deceiving names, since for the most part they stay as far
away from religion as possible and frequent every sort of place. I cannot, however, see how ally
life could be more gloomy than the life of these monks if I [Folly] did not assist them in many
ways. Though most people detest these men so much that accidentally meeting one is considered
to be bad luck, the monks themselves believe that they are magnificent creatures. One of their
chief beliefs is that to be illiterate is to be of a high state of sanctity, and so they make sure that
they are not able to read. Another is that when braying out their gospels in church they are
making themselves very pleasing and satisfying to God, when in fact they are uttering these
psalms as a matter of repetition rather than from their hearts....
Moreover, it is amusing to find that they insist that everything be done in fastidious detail, as if
employing the orderliness of mathematics, a small mistake in which would be a great crime. Just
so many knots must be on each shoe and the shoelace may be of only one specified color; just so
much lace is allowed on each habit; the girdle must be of just the right material and width; the
hood of a certain shape and capacity; their hair of just so many fingers' length; and finally they
can sleep only the specified number of hours per day. Can they not understand that, because of a
variety of bodies and temperaments, all this equality of restrictions is in fact very unequal?
Nevertheless, because of all this detail that they employ they think that they are superior to all
other people. And what is more, amid all their pretense of Apostolic charity, the members of one
order will denounce the members of another order clamorously because of the way in which the
habit has been belted or the slightly darker color of it....
Many of them work so hard at protocol and at traditional fastidiousness that they think one
heaven hardly a suitable reward for their labors; never recalling, however, that the time will
come when Christ will demand a reckoning of that which he had prescribed, namely charity, and
that he will hold their deeds of little account. One monk will then exhibit his belly filled with
every kind of fish; another will profess a knowledge of over a hundred hymns. Still another will
reveal a countless number of fasts that he has made, and will account for his large belly by
explaining that his fasts have always been broken by a single large meal. Another will show a list
of church ceremonies over which he has officiated so large that it would fill seven ships.
5. An Economic Interpretation of the Reformation by Max Weber
The particular state of mind which produced the "modern world" was a manifestation of the same
mind as underlay the Protestant revolution. The Protestant "calling" referred to by both Luther
and Calvin (which was even known to medieval writers) was a treatment of worldly avocations
as God-created and fulfillable in a spirit of worship. This concept enabled the Protestant to see in
his ordinary daily work an activity pleasing to God and therefore to be pursued as actively and
profitably as possible. On the other hand, medieval and Roman Catholic Christianity were held
to have condemned the world, with consequent hostility to economic activity and especially to
that essential capitalist ingredient, the taking of interest on money lent (usury). Protestantism, or
rather more particularly Calvinism and later free sects such as the Quakers and the Methodists,
were therefore asserted to have been the necessary precondition of the growth of modern
industrial capitalism. The ethos (basic belief) of Protestantism promoted the spirit of the
entrepreneur, and for that reason capitalism is found flourishing in reformed countries, while the
Reformation is found spreading among the commercial and industrial middle classes.
6. A Political Interpretation of the Reformation
The desire for spiritual nourishment was great in many parts of Europe, and movements of
thought which gave intellectual content to what in so many ways was an inchoate search for God
have their own dignity. Neither of these, however, comes first in explaining why the
Reformation took root here and vanished there-why, in fact, this complex of anti-papa! 'heresies'
led to a permanent division within the Church that had looked to Rome. This particular place is
occupied by politics and the play of secular ambitions. In short, the Reformation maintained
itself wherever the lay power (prince or magistrates) favored it; it could not survive where the
authorities decided to suppress it. Scandinavia, the German principalities, Geneva, in its own
peculiar way also England, demonstrate the first; Spain, Italy, the Habsburg lands in the east, and
also (though not as yet conclusively) France, the second. The famous phrase behind the
settlement of 1555-cuius regioeius religio-was a practical commonplace long before anyone put
it into words. For this was the age of uniformity, an age which held at all times and everywhere
that one political unit could not comprehend within itself two forms of belief or worship.
The tenet rested on simple fact: as long as membership of a secular polity involved membership
of an ecclesiastical organization, religious dissent stood equal to political disaffection and even
treason. Hence governments enforced uniformity, and hence the religion of the ruler was that of
his country. England provided the extreme example of this doctrine in action, with its rapid
official switches from Henrician Catholicism without the pope, through Edwardian Protestantism
on the Swiss model and Marian papalism, to Elizabethan Protestantism of a more specifically
English brand. But other countries fared similarly. Nor need this cause distress or annoyed
disbelief. Princes and governments, no more than the governed, do not act from unmixed
motives, and to ignore the spiritual factor in the con-version of at least some princes is as false as
to see nothing but purity in the desires of the populace. The Reformation was successful beyond
the dreams of earlier, potentially similar, movements not so much because (as the phrase goes)
the time was ripe for it, but rather because it found favour with the secular arm. Desire for
Church lands, resistance to imperial and papal claims, the ambition to create self-contained and
independent states, all played their part in this, but so quite often did a genuine attachment to the
teachings of the reformers.
7. A Reformation Debate: The Marburg Colloquy
Debates played a crucial role in the Reformation period. They were a primary instrument in
introducing the Reformation into innumerable cities as well as a means of resolving differences
among like-minded Protestant groups. This selection contains an excerpt from the vivacious and
often brutal debate between Luther and Zwingli over the sacrament of the Lord's Supper at
Marburg in 1529. The two protagonists failed to reach agree ment.
The Marburg Colloquy, 1529
THE HESSIAN CHANCELLOR FEIGE: My gracious prince and lord [Landgrave Philip of
Hesse] has summoned you for the express and urgent purpose of settling the dispute over the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper.... And let everyone on both sides present his arguments in a
spirit of moderation, as becomes such matters.... Now then, Doctor Luther, you may proceed.
LUTHER: Noble prince, gracious lord! Undoubtedly the colloquy is well intentioned....
Although I have no intention of changing my mind, which is firmly made up, I will nevertheless
present the grounds of my belief and show where the others are in error.... Your basic
contentions are these: In the last analysis you wish to prove that a body cannot be in two places
at once, and you produce arguments about the unlimited body which are based on natural reason.
I do not question how Christ can be God and man and how the two natures can be joined. For
God is more powerful than all our ideas, and we must submit to his word.
Prove that Christ's body is not there where the Scripture says, "This is my body!" Rational proofs
I will not listen to.... God is beyond all mathematics and the words of God are to be revered and
carried out in awe. It is God who commands, "Take, eat, this is my body." I request, therefore,
valid scriptural proof to the contrary.
Luther writes on the table in chalk, "This is my body," and covers the words with a velvet cloth.
OECOLAMPADIUS [leader of the reform movement in Basel and a Zwinglian partisan]: The
sixth chapter of John clarifies the other scriptural passages. Christ is not speaking there about a
local presence. "The flesh is of no avail," he says [John 6:63]. It is not my intention to employ
rational, or geometrical, arguments- neither am I denying the power of God-but as long as I have
the complete faith I will speak from that. For Christ is risen; he sits at the right hand of God; and
so he cannot be present in the bread. Our view is neither new nor sacrilegious, but is based on
faith and Scripture....
ZWINGLI: I insist that the words of the Lord's Supper must be figurative. This is ever apparent,
and even required by the article of faith: "taken up into heaven, seated at the right hand of the
Father." Otherwise, it would be absurd to look for him in the Lord's Supper at the same time that
Christ is telling us that he is in heaven. One and the same body cannot possibly he in different
LUTHER: I call upon you as before: your basic contentions are shaky. Give way, and give glory
ZWINGLI: And we call upon you to give glory to God and to quit begging the question! The
issue at stake is this: Where is the proof of your position? I am willing to consider your words
carefully-no harm meant! You're trying to outwit me. I stand by this passage in the sixth chapter
of John, verse 63 and shall not be shaken from it. You'll have to sing another tune.
LUTHER: You re being obnoxious.
ZWINGLI (excitedly): Don't you believe that Christ was attempting in John 6 to help those who
did nor understand ?
LUTHER: You're trying to dominate things! You insist on passing judgment! Leave that to
someone else! . . . it is your point that must be proved, not mine. But let us stop this sort of thing.
It serves no purpose.
ZWINGLI: It certainly does! It is for you to prove that the passage in John 6 speaks of a physical
LUTHER: You express yourself poorly and make about as much progress as a cane standing in a
corner. You're going nowhere.
ZWINGLI: No, no, no! This is the passage that will break your neck!
LUTHER: Don't be so sure of yourself. Necks don't break this way. You're in Hesse, not
8. Luther and the "Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants" (Reformation)
The Peasants' War of 1524-1525 encompassed a series of uprisings by German peasants who
were suffering from economic changes they did not comprehend. In a sense, it was part of a
century of peasant discontent. Led by radical religious leaders, the revolts quickly became
entangled with the religious revolt set in motion by Luther's defiance of the church. But it was
soon clear that Luther himself did not believe in any way in social revolution. This excerpt is
taken from Luther's vitriolic pamphlet written in May 1525 at the height of the peasants' power,
but not published until after their defeat.
Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants
The peasants have taken on themselves the burden of three terrible sins against God and man, by
which they have abundantly merited death in body and soul. In the first place they have sworn to
be true and faithful, submissive and obedient, to their rulers, as Christ commands, when he says,
"Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," and in Romans XIII, "Let everyone be subject
unto the higher powers." Because they are breaking this obedience, and are setting themselves
against the higher powers, willfully and with violence, they have forfeited) body and soul, as
faithless, perjured, lying, disobedient knaves and scoundrels are wont to do....
In the second place, they are starting a rebellion, and violently robbing and plundering
monasteries and castles which are not theirs, by which they have a second time deserved death in
body and soul, if only as highwaymen and murderers.... For rebellion is not simple murder, but is
like a great fire, which attacks and lays waste a whole land.... Therefore, let every-one who can,
smite, slay and stain, secretly or openly, remembering that nothing can be more pod' venous,
hurtful or devilish than a rebel....
In the third place, they cloak this terrible and horrible sin with the Gospel, call themselves
"Christian brothers," receive oaths and homage, and compel people to hold with them to these
abominations. Thus they become the greatest of all blasphemers of God and slanderers of his
holy Name, serving the devil, under the outward appearance of the Gospel, thus earning death in
body and soul ten times over.... It does not help the peasants, when they pretend that, according
to Genesis I and 11, all things were created free and common, and that all of us alike have been
baptized.... For baptism does not make men free in body and property, but in soul; and the
Gospel does not make goods common.... Since the peasants, then, have brought both God and
man down upon them and are already so many times guilty of death in body and soul,... I must
instruct the worldly governors how they are to act in the matter with a clear conscience.
First, I will not oppose a ruler who, even though he does not tolerate the Gospel, will smite and
punish these peasants without offering to submit the case to judgment. For he is within his rights,
since the peasants are not contending any longer for the Gospel, but have become faithless,
perjured, disobedient, rebellious murderers, robbers and blasphemers, whom even heathen rulers
have the right and power to punish; nay, it is their duty to punish them, for it is just for this
purpose that they bear the sword, and are "the ministers of God upon him that doeth evil....'
9. Luther and the Ninety-Five Theses
To most historians the publication of Luther's Ninety-Five Theses marks the beginning of the
Reformation. To Luther, they were simply a response to what he considered to be the blatant
abuses of Johann Tetzel's selling of indulgences. Although written in Latin, the theses were soon
translated into German and scattered widely across Germany. They made an immense
impression on Germans already dissatisfied with the ecclesiastical and financial policies of the
Martin Luther, Selections from the Ninety-Five Theses
5. The Pope has neither the will nor the power to remit any penalties beyond those he has
imposed either at his own discretion or by canon law.
20. Therefore the Pope, by his plenary remission of all penalties, does not mean "all" in the
absolute sense, but only those imposed by himself.
21. Hence those preachers of Indulgences are wrong when they say that a man is absolved and
saved from every penalty by the Pope's Indulgences.
27. It is mere human talk to preach that the soul flies out [of purgatory] immediately the money
clinks in the collection-box.
28. It is certainly possible that when the money clinks in the collection-box greed and avarice
can increase; but the intercession of the Church depends on the will of God alone.
45. Christians should be taught that he who sees a needy person and passes him by, although he
gives money for pardons, wins for himself not Papal Indulgences but the wrath of God.
50. Christians should be taught that, if the Pope knew the exaction's of the preachers of
Indulgences, he would rather have the basilica of St. Peter reduced to ashes than built with the .
skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.
81. This wanton preaching of pardons makes it difficult even for learned men to redeem respect
due to the Pope from the slanders or at least the shrewd questionings of the laity.
82. For example: "Why does not the Pope empty purgatory for the sake of most holy love and the
supreme need of souls? This would be the most righteous of reasons, if he can redeem
innumerable souls for sordid money with which to build a basilica, the most trivial of reasons."
86. Again: "Since the Pope's wealth is larger than that of the crassest Crassi of our time, why
does he not build this one basilica of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with that of the
88. Again: "What greater good would be done to the Church if the Pope were to bestow these
remissions and dispensations, not once, as now but a hundred times a day, on any believer
90. To suppress these most conscientious questionings of the laity by authority only, instead of
refuting them by reason, is to expose the Church and the Pope to the ridicule of their enemies,
and to make Christian people unhappy.
91. If, therefore, pardons were preached in accordance with the spirit and mind of the Pope, all
these difficulties would be easily overcome or rather would never have arisen.
94. Christians should be exhorted to seek earnestly to follow Christ, their Head, through
penalties, deaths, and hells.
95. And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather
than through a false assurance of peace.
10. The Spark for the Reformation: Indulgences
Although there were many causes of the Reformation, the immediate issue that sparked Luther
into the position of a reformer was the sale of indulgences. Indulgence.s were remissions or
exemptions for punishment due to an individual for the sins he had committed in life. They could
be granted by the papacy because of the doctrine that it could draw on the treasury of merit or
pool of spiritual wealth left by Christ and extraordinarily good Christians over time. As with
some other prac-tices of the Church, what was once used primarily for spiritual purposes, such as
rewarding acts of penitence, was by the early sixteenth century being ""abused" for secular
purposes, such as providing money for Church of officers. This was apparently the case with the
sale of indulgences by Johann Tetzel (1465?-1519), a persuasive, popular Dominican friar who
was appointed by Archbishop Albert of Mainz in 1517 to .sell indulgences in Germany. Proceeds
of the sale were to be split between Albert and the papacy. The following is an excerpt from a
sermon on indulgences by Tetzel.
Consider: The most convincing "selling points" made by Tetzel; the requirements for obtaining
effective indulgences; how Tetzel might have defend-ed himself against attacks on this sale of
indulgences as an abuse.
You may obtain letters of safe conduct from the vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ, by means of
which you are able to liberate your soul from the hands of the enemy, and convey it by means of
contrition and confession, safe and secure from all pains of Purgatory, into the happy kingdom.
For know, that in these letters are stamped and engraver all the merits of Christ's passion there
laid bare. Consider, that for each and every mortal sin it is necessary to undergo seven years of
penitence after confession and contrition, either in this life or in Purgatory.
How many mortal sins are committed in a day, how many in a week, how many in a month, how
many in a year, how many in the whole extent of life! They are well-nigh numberless, and those
that commit them must needs suffer endless punishment in the burning pains of Purgatory.
But with these confessional letters you will be able at any time in life to obtain full indulgence
for all penalties imposed upon you, in all cases except the four reserved to the Apostolic See.
Thence throughout your whole life, whenever you wish to make confession, you may receive the
same remission, except in cases reserved to the Pope, and afterwards, at the hour of death, a full
indulgence as to all penalties and sins, and your share of all spiritual blessings that exist in the
church militant and all its members.
Do you not know that when it is necessary for anyone to go to Rome, or undertake any other
dangerous journey, he takes his money to a broker and gives a certain per cent-five or six or ten-
in order that at Rome or elsewhere he may receive again his funds intact, by means of the letters
of this same broker? Are you not willing, then, for the fourth part of a florin, to obtain these
letters, by virtue of which you may bring, not your money, but your divine and immortal soul,
safe and sound into the land of Paradise?
11. The Council of Trent. Decree Concerning Sacred Books
The Catholic Church responded to the popularity of the Reformation with their own conference
or council to reinstate and clarify church doctrine and stem the tide of the Reformation.
Moreover, the same sacred and holy Synod,-considering that no small utility may accrue to the
Church of God, if it be made known which out of all the Latin editions, now in circulation, of the
sacred books, is to be held as authentic,-ordains and declares, that the said old and vulgate
edition, which, by the lengthened usage of so many ages, has been approved of in the Church, be,
in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, held as authentic; and that no one is to
dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever.
Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits. It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill,
shall,-in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine,-
wrestling the sacred Scripture to his own senses, pre-sume to interpret the said sacred Scripture
contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,-whose it is to judge of the true sense and
interpretation of the holy Scrip-tures,-hath held and cloth hold; or even contrary to the
unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be
at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be pun-ished
with the penalties by law established.
DECREE CONCERNING ORIGINAL SIN
Tha our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God, may, errors being purged
away, continue in its own perfect and spotless integrity, and that the Christian people may not be
carried about with every wind of doctrine.
DECREE ON JUSTIFICATION
...no one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the
secret mystery of divine predestination, as to determine for certain that he is assuredly in the
number of the predestinate; as if it were true, that he that is justified, either cannot sin any more,
or if he do in sin, that he ought to promise himself as asured repentance; for except by special
revelation, it cannot be known whom God hath chosen unto Himself...
DECREE CONCERNING THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST
..and because that Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which He offered under the species of
bread to be truly His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God, and
this holy Synod doth now declare it anew, that, by the consecration is made of the whole
substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the
substance of His blood; which converersion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and
properly called Transubstantiation.
ON THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHRIST
If any one denieth, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really
and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus
Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that He is only therein as in a sign, or in
figure, or virtue; let him be anathema.
DECREE CONCERNING INDULGENCES
Whereas the power of conferring Indulgences was granted by Christ to the Church; and she has,
even in the most ancient times, used the said power, delivered unto her of God; the sacred holy
Synod teaches, and enjoins, that the use of Indulgences, for the Christian people most salutary,
and approved of by the authority of sacred Councils, is to be retained in the Church; and It
condemns with anathema those who either assert, that they are useless; or who deny that there is
in the Church the power of granting them. In granting them, however, It desires that, in
accordance with the ancient and approved custom in the Church, moderation be observed; lest,
by excessive facility, ecclesiastical discipline be enervated. And being desirous that the abuses
which have crept therein, and by occasion of which this honourable name of Indulgences is
blasphemed by heretics, be amended and corrected, It ordains generally by this decree, that all
evil gains for the obtaining thereof,-whence a most prolific cause of abuses amongst the
Christian people has been derived,-be wholly abolished. But as regards the other abuses which
have proceeded from superstition, ignorance, irreverence, or from whatever other source, since
by reason of the manifold corruptions in the places and provinces where the said abuses are
committed, they cannot conveniently be specially prohibited; It commands all bishops, diligently
to collect, each in his own church, all abuses of this nature, and to report them in the first
provincial Synod; that, after having been reviewed by the opinions of the other bishops also, they
may forthwith be referred to the Sovereign Roman Pontiff, by whose authority and prudence that
which may be expedient for the universal Church will be ordained; that thus the gift of holy
Indulgences may be dispensed to all the faithful, piously, holily, and incorruptly....Amen.
12. Suriano, An Estimate of Philip II (Habsburg and Holy Roman Empire)
The Catholic king was born in Spain, in the month of May, 1527, and spent a great part of his
youth in that kingdom. Here, in accordance with the customs of the country and the wishes of his
father and mother, . . . he was treated with all the deference and respect which seemed due to the
son of the greatest emperor whom Christendom had ever had, and to the heir to such a number of
realms and to such grandeur. As a result of this education, when the king left Spain for the first
time and visited Flanders, passing on his way through Italy and Germany, he everywhere made
an impression of haughtiness and severity, so that the Italians liked him but little, the Flemings
were quite disgusted with him, and the Germans hated him heartily. But when he had been
warned by the cardinal of Trent and his aunt, and above all by his father, that this haughtiness
was not in place in a prince destined to rule over a number of nations 50 different in manners and
sentiment, he altered his manner so completely that on his second journey, when he went to
England, he everywhere exhibited such distinguishe mildness and affability that no prince has
ever surpassed him in these traits....
In the king's eyes no nation is superior to the Spaniards. It is among them that he lives, it is they
that he consults, and it is they that direct his policy; in all this he is acting quite contrary to the
habit of his father. He thinks little of the Italians and Flemlish and still less of the Germans.
Although he may employ the chief men of all the countries over which he rules. he admits none
of them to his secret counsels, but utilizes their services only in military affairs, and then perhaps
not so much because he really esteems them as in the hope that he will in this way prevent his
eneemies from making use of them.
13. Henry VIII (Reformation, English Nation-Building)
This description was given by the Venetian diplomat, Pasqualigo, in 1515 in a dispatch.
His Majesty is the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on; above the usual height, with an
extremely fine calf to his leg, his complexion very fair and bright, with auburn hair combed
straight and short, in the French fashion, and a round face so very beautiful, that it would become
a pretty woman, his throat being rather long and thick. He was born on the 28th of June, 1491, so
he will enter his twenty-fifth year the month after next. He speaks French, English, and Latin,
and a little Italian, plays well on the lute and harpsichord, sings from book at sight, draws the
bow with greater strength than any man in England, and jousts marvellously. Believe me, he is in
every respect a most accomplished Prince; and I, who have now seen all the sovereigns in
Christendom, and last of all these two of France and England in such great state, might well rest
content, and with sufficient reason have it said to me, 'abi viator, sat tuis oculis debes'.**'Go
home traveller, your eyes have seen enough'
Wolsey's account of his service to his king, Henry VIII
These words were said just before Wolsey's death in 1530 according to George Cavendish,
Wolsey's gentleman usher. They show the usual lack of recrimination of fallen ministers towards
the King and they also give some idea of Heny's strength of will.
'Well, well, Master Kingston,' quod he, 'I see the matter against me how it is framed. But if I had
served God as diligently as I have done the King, he would not have given me over in my grey
hairs. Howbeit this is the just reward that I must receive for my worldly diligence and pains that I
have had to do him service, only to satisfy his vain pleasures, not regarding my godly duty.
Wherefore I pray you with all my heart to have me most humbly commended unto his royal
majesty, beseeching him in my behalf to call to his most gracious remembrance all matters
proceeding between him and me from the beginning of the world unto this day, and the progress
of the same. And most chiefly in the weighty matter yet depending (meaning the matter newly
begun between him and good Queen Catherine)-then shall his conscience declare whether I have
offended him or no. He is sure a prince of a royal courage, and hath a princely heart; and rather
than he will either miss or want any part of his will or appetite, he will put the loss of one half of
his realm in danger. For I assure you I have often kneeled before him in his privy chamber on my
knees the space of an hour or two to persuade him from his will and appetite; but I could never
bring to pass to dissuade him therefrom. Therefore, Master Kingston, if it chance hereafter you to
be one of his privy council (as for your wisdom and other qualities ye be meet so to be) I warn
you to be well advised and assured what matter ye put in his head; for ye shall never pull it out
14. The Nationalization the Church of England (Reformation)
The State Paper of 1534 outlines a plan for the nationalization of most church assets and the
institution of a salaried clergy and provides an insight to the real causes behind the English
Things to be moved for the King's Highness for an increase and augmentation to be had for
maintenance of his most royal estate, and for the defence of the realm, and necessary to be
provided for taking away the excess which is the great cause of the abuses of the Church.
1. That it may be provided by Parliament that the archbishop of Canterbury may have 2,000
marks yearly and not above, and that the residue of the possessions of the archbishopric may be
made sure to the King and his heirs for the defence of the realm and maintenance of his royal
2. That the archbishop of York may have £1,000 yearly for maintenance of his estate, and the
residue to be to the King and his heirs.
3. That every bishop who may dispend more than 1,000 marks yearly may have 1,000 marks and
no more assigned to him.
4. That the King may have, for the maintenance of the estate of supreme head of the Church of
England, the first fruits of every bishopric and benefice for one year after the vacation, of whose
gift soever it be, and that the first fruits to the Bishop of Norwich mav cease, and no longer be
paid but to the King.
5. That the King may have, for the maintenance of his royal estate, the lands and possessions of
all monasteries of which the number is or of late has been less than a convent, that is, under 13
15. Queen Elizabeth's Speech to the troops before the battle with the Armada (The
Downfall of Spain, Steps to the English empire)
At a time when rulers were kings, not queens Elizabeth realized that her followers might doubt
her ability to lead at such an important hour. The following speech shows how she turned this
doubt into an asset.
"My loving People: We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed
how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not
desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people.
"Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved my-self, that, under God, I have placed my chiefest
strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects, and therefore I am come
amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation . . . but being resolved in the midst
and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all, to lay down for my God, and for my
kingdoms, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.
"I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king,
and of a king of England too; and think foul scorn that ... Spain, or any prince of Europe should
dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I
myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your
virtues in the field.... By your concord in the camp, and your velour in the field, we shall shortly
have a famous victory over those enemies of my God, of my kingdoms, and of my people."
Queen Elizabeth I, "The Golden Speech"
I do assure you there is no prince that loves his subjects better, or whose love can countervail our
love. There is no jewel, be it of never so rich a price, which I set before this jewel: I mean your
love. For I do esteem it more than any treasure or riches.... And, though God has raised me high,
yet this I count the glory of my crown, that I have reigned with your loves. This makes me that I
do not so much rejoice that God has made me to be a Queen, as to be a Queen over so thankful a
Of myself I must say this: I never was any greedy, scraping grasper, nor a strait, fast-holding
Prince, nor yet a waster. My heart was never set on any worldly goods, but only for my subjects'
good. What you bestow on me, I will not hoard it up, but receive it to bestow on you again. Yea,
mine own properties I account yours, to be expended for your good....
I have ever used to set the Last-Judgment Day before mine eyes, and so to rule as I shall be
judged to answer before a higher Judge, to whose judgment seat I do appeal, that never thought
was cherished in my heart that tended not unto my people's good. And now, if my kingly
bounties have been abused, and my grants turned to the hurt of my people, contrary to my will
and meaning, and if any in authority under me neglected or perverted what I have committed to
them, I hope God will not lay their culps [crimes] and offences to my charge; who, though there
were danger in repealing our grants, yet what danger would I not rather incur for your good, than
I would suffer them still to continue?
There will never Queen sit in my seat with more zeal to my country, care for my subjects, and
that will sooner with willingness venture her life for your good and safety, than myself. For it is
my desire to live nor reign no longer than my life and reign shall be for your good. And though
you have had and may have many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you
never had nor shall have any that will be more careful and loving....
16. James I on the Powers of the Monarch (Age of Absolutism)
The state of Monarchy is the supremest thing upon earth; for kings are not only God's lieutenants
upon earth and sit upon God's throne, but even by God himself they are called gods. There be
three principal similitudes that illustrate the state of Monarchy: one taken out of the Word of God
and the two other out of the grounds of policy and philosophy. In the Scriptures kings are called
gods, and so their power after a certain relation compared to the Divine power. Kings are also
compared to the fathers of families, for a king is truly "parens patriae", the politic father of his
people. And lastly, kings are compared to the head of his microcosm of the body of man.
Kings are justly called gods for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of Divine power
upon earth; for if you will consider the attributes to God you shall see how they agree in the
person of a king. God hath power to create or destroy, make or unmake, at his pleasure; to give
life or send death; to judge all, and to be judged nor accomptable to none; to raise low things and
to make high things low at his pleasure; and to God are both soul and body due. And the like
power have kings; they make and unmake their subjects; they have power of raising and casting
down; of life and of death; judges over all their subjects and in all causes, and yet accomptable to
none but God only. They have power to exalt low things and abase high things, and make of their
subjects like men at the chess, a pawn to take a bishop or a knight, and to cry up or down any of
their subjects as they do their money. And to the King is due both the affection of the soul and
the service of the body of his subjects....
As for the father of a family, they had of old under the Law of Nature patriam potestatem, which
was potestaterrl vitae et necis, over their children or family, (I mean such fathers of families as
were the lineal heirs of those families whereof kings did originally come), for kings had their
first original from them who planted and spread themselves in colonies through the world. Now a
father may dispose of his inheritance to his children at his pleasure, yea, even disinherit the
eldest upon just occasions and prefer the youngest, according to his liking; make them beggars or
rich at his pleasure; restrain or banish out of his presence, as he finds them give cause of offense,
or restore them in favour again with the penitent sinner. So may the King deal with his subjects.
And lastly, as for the head of the natural body, the head hath the power of directing all the
members of the body to that use which the judgment in the head thinks most convenient. .
17. The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, Aug. 24, 1572 (French Religious Wars)
As recorded by statesman and historian, De Thou (1553-1617), who was a witness to the events
on St. Bartholomew Day as a youth. Here, he is relating the events leading up to the Massacre
and the orders of the Queen of France, Catherine de'Medici.
So it was determined to exterminate all the Protestants and the plan was approved by the queen.
They discussed for some time whether they should make an exception of the king of Navarre and
the prince of Condé. All agreed that the king of Navarre should be spared by reason of the royal
dignity and the new alliance. The duke of Guise, who was put in full command of the enterprise,
summoned by night several captains of the Catholic Swiss mercenaries from the five little
cantons, and some commanders of French companies, and told them that it was the will of the
king that, according to God's will, they should take vengeance on the band of rebels while they
had the beasts in the toils. Victory was easy and the booty great and to be obtained without
danger. The signal to commence the massacre should be given by the bell of the palace, and the
marks by which they should recognize each other in the darkness were a bit of white linen tied
around the left arm and a white cross on the hat.
Meanwhile Coligny awoke and recognized from the noise that a riot was taking place.
Nevertheless he remained assured of the king's good will, being persuaded thereof either by his
credulity or by Teligny, his son-in-law: be believed the populace had been stirred up by the
Guises and that quiet would be restored as soon as it was seen that soldiers of the guard, under
the command of Cosseins, bad been detailed to protect him and guard his property.
But when he perceived that the noise increased and that some one had fired an arquebus in the
courtyard of his dwelling, then at length, conjecturing what it might be, but too late, he arose
from his bed and having put on his dressing gown he said his prayers, leaning against the wall.
Labonne held the key of the house, and when Cosseins commanded him, in the king's name, to
open the door he obeyed at once without fear and apprehending nothing. But scarcely had
Cosseins entered when Labonne, who stood in his way, was killed with a dagger thrust. The
Swiss who were in the courtyard, when they saw this, fled into the house and closed the door,
piling against it tables and all the furniture they could find. It was in the first scrimmage that a
Swiss was killed with a ball from an arquebus fired by one of Cosseins' people. But finally the
conspirators broke through the door and mounted the stairway, Cosseins, Attin, Corberan de
Cordillac, Seigneur de Sarlabous, first captains of the regiment of the guards, Achilles Petrucci
of Siena, all armed with cuirasses, and Besme the German, who had been brought up as a page in
the house of Guise; for the duke of Guise was lodged at court, together with the great nobles and
others who accompanied him.
After Coligny had said his prayers with Merlin the minister, he said, without any appearance of
alarm, to those who were present (and almost all were surgeons, for few of them were of his
retinue) : "I see clearly that which they seek, and I am ready steadfastly to suffer that death
which I have never feared and which for a long time past I have pictured to myself. I consider
myself happy in feeling the approach of death and in being ready to die in God, by whose grace I
hope for the life everlasting. I have no further need of human succor. Go then from this place,
my friends, as quickly as you may, for fear lest you shall be involved in my misfortune, and that
some day your wives shall curse me as the author of your loss. For me it is enough that God is
here, to whose goodness I commend my soul, which is so soon to issue from my body. After
these words they ascended to an upper room, whence they sought safety in flight here and there
over the roofs.
Meanwhile the conspirators; having burst through the door of the chamber, entered, and when
Besme, sword in hand, had demanded of Coligny, who stood near the door, "Are you Coligny ?"
Coligny replied, "Yes, I am he," with fearless countenance. "But you, young man, respect these
white hairs. What is it you would do? You cannot shorten by many days this life of mine." As he
spoke, Besme gave him a sword thrust through the body, and having withdrawn his sword,
another thrust in the mouth, by which his face was disfigured. So Coligny fell, killed with many
thrusts. Others have written that Coligny in dying pronounced as though in anger these words:
"Would that I might at least die at the hands of a soldier and not of a valet." But Attin, one of the
murderers, has reported as I have written, and added that he never saw any one less afraid in so
great a peril, nor die more steadfastly.
Then the duke of Guise inquired of Besme from the courtyard if the thing were done, and when
Besme answered him that it was, the duke replied that the Chevalier d'Angouleme was unable to
believe it unless he saw it; and at the same time that he made the inquiry they threw the body
through the window into the courtyard, disfigured as it was with blood. When the Chevalier
d'Angouleme, who could scarcely believe his eyes, had wiped away with a cloth the blood which
overran the face and finally had recognized him, some say that he spurned the body with his foot.
However this may be, when he left the house with his followers he said: "Cheer up, my friends!
Let us do thoroughly that which we have begun. The king commands it." He frequently repeated
these words, and as soon as they had caused the bell of the palace clock to ring, on every side
arose the cry, "To arms !" and the people ran to the house of Coligny. After his body had been
treated to all sorts of insults, they threw it into a neighboring stable, and finally cut off his head,
which they sent to Rome. They also shamefully mutilated him, and dragged his body through the
streets to the bank of the Seine, a thing which he had formerly almost prophesied, although he
did not think of anything like this.
As some children were in the act of throwing the body into the river, it was dragged out and
placed upon the gibbet of Montfaucon, where it hung by the feet in chains of iron; and then they
built a fire beneath, by which he was burned without being consumed; so that he was, so to
speak, tortured with all the elements, since he was killed upon the earth, thrown into the water,
placed upon the fire, and finally put to hang in the air. After he had served for several days as a
spectacle to gratify the hate of many and arouse the just indignation of many others, who
reckoned that this fury of the people would cost the king and France many a sorrowful day,
Francois de Montmorency, who was nearly related to the dead man, and still more his friend, and
who moreover had escaped the danger in time, had him taken by night from the gibbet by trusty
men and carried to Chantilly, where he was buried in the chapel.
18. Peter the Great and the Rise of Russia, 1682-1725
Bishop Burnet, Peter the Great 1698
I mentioned in the relation of the former year  the Tsar's coming out of his own country;
on which I will now enlarge. He came this winter over to England and stayed some months
among us. I waited often on him, and was ordered by both the king and the archbishops and
bishops to attend upon him and to offer him such information of our religion and constitution as
he was willing to receive. I had good interpreters, so I had much free discourse with him. He is a
man of very hot temper, soon inflamed and very brutal in his passion. He raises his natural heat
by drinking much brandy, which he rectifies himself with great application. He is subject to
convulsive motions all over his body, and his head seems to be affected with these. He wants not
capacity, and has a larger measure of knowledge than might be expected from his education,
which was very indifferent. A want of judgment, with an instability of temper, appear in him too
often and too evidently.
He is mechanically turned, and seems designed by nature rather to be a ship carpenter than a
great prince. This was his chief study and exercise while he stayed here. He wrought much with
his own hands and made all about him work at the models of his ships. He told me he designed a
great fleet at Azov and with it to attack the Turkish empire. But he did not seem capable of
conducting so great a design, though his conduct in his wars since this has discovered a greater
genius in him than appeared at this time.
He was desirous to understand our doctrine, but he did not seem disposed to mend matters in
Muscovy. He was, indeed, resolved to encourage learning and to polish his people by sending
some of them to travel in other countries and to draw strangers to come and live among them.
He seemed apprehensive still of his sister's intrigues. There was a mixture both of passion and
severity in his temper. He is resolute, but understands little of war, and seemed not at all
inquisitive that way.
After I had seen him often, and had conversed much with him, I could not but adore the depth of
the providence of God that had raised up such a furious man to so absolute an authority over so
great a part of the world. David, considering the great things God had made for the use of man,
broke out into the meditation, "What is man, that you are so mindful of him?" But here there is
an occasion for reversing these words, since man seems a very contemptible thing in the sight of
God, while such a person as the tsar has such multitudes put, as it were, under his feet, exposed
to his restless jealousy and savage temper.
He went from hence to the court of Vienna, where he purposed to have stayed some time, but he
was called home sooner than he had intended upon a discovery, or a suspicion, of intrigues
managed by his sister. The strangers, to whom he trusted most, were so true to him that those
designs were crushed before he came back. But on this occasion he let loose his fury on all
whom he suspected. Some hundreds of them were hanged all around Moscow, and it was said
that he cut off many heads with his own hand; and so far was he from relenting or showing any
sort of tenderness that he seemed delighted with it. How long he is to be the scourge of that
nation God only knows.
Von Korb, Diary 1698-99
How sharp was the pain, how great the indignation, to which the tsar's Majesty was mightily
moved, when he knew of the rebellion of the Streltsi [i.e., the Muscovite Guard], betraying
openly a mind panting for vengeance! He was still tarrying at Vienna, quite full of the desire of
setting out for Italy; but, fervid as was his curiosity of rambling abroad, it was, nevertheless,
speedily extinguished on the announcement of the troubles that had broken out in the bowels of
his realm. Going immediately to Lefort (almost the only person that he condescended to treat
with intimate familiarity), he thus indignantly broken out: ATell me, Francis, son of James, how
I can reach Moscow by the shortest way, in a brief space, so that I may wreak vengeance on this
great perfidy of my people, with punishments worthy of their abominable crime. Not one of
them shall escape with impunity. Around my royal city, which, with their impious efforts, they
planned to destroy, I will have gibbets and gallows set upon the walls and ramparts, and each
and every one of them will I put to a direful death." Nor did he long delay the plan for his justly
excited wrath; he took the quick post, as his ambassador suggested, and in four week's time he
had got over about three hundred miles without accident, and arrived the 4th of September,
1698---a monarch for the well disposed, but an avenger for the wicked.
His first anxiety after his arrival was about the rebellion---in what it consisted, what the
insurgents meant, who dared to instigate such a crime. And as nobody could answer accurately
upon all points, and some pleaded their own ignorance, others the obstinacy of the Streltsi, he
began to have suspicions of everybody's loyalty. . . No day, holy or profane, were the inquisitors
idle; every day was deemed fit and lawful for torturing. There were as many scourges as there
were accused, and every inquisitor was a butcher. . .The whole month of October was spent in
lacerating the backs of culprits with the knout and with flames; no day were those that were left
alive exempt from scourging or scorching; or else they were broken upon the wheel, or driven to
the gibbet, or slain with the axe. . .
To prove to all people how holy and inviolable are those walls of the city which the Streltsi
rashly meditated scaling in a sudden assault, beams were run out from all the embrasures in the
walls near the gates, in each of which two rebels were hanged. This day beheld about two
hundred and fifty die that death. There are few cities fortified with as many palisades as
Moscow has given gibbets to her guardian Streltsi. (In front of the nunnery where Sophia
[Peter's sister] was confined) there were thirty gibbets erected in a quadrangle shape, from which
there hung two hundred and thirty Streltsi; the three principal ringleaders, who tendered a
petition to Sophia touching the administration of the realm, were hanged close to the windows
of that princess, presenting, as it were, the petitions that were placed in their hands, so near that
Sophia might with ease touch them.
19. General Alexander Gordon, History of Peter the Great, 1718
This great emperor came in a few years to know to a farthing the amount of all his revenues, as
also how they were laid out. He was at little or no expense about his person, and by living rather
like a private gentleman than a prince he saved wholly that great expense which other monarchs
are at in supporting the grandeur of their courts. It was uneasy for him to appear in majesty,
which he seldom or never did, but when absolutely necessary, on such occasions as giving
audience to ambassadors or the like; so that he had all the pleasure of a great emperor and at the
same time that of a private gentleman.
He was a lover of company, and a man of much humor and pleasantry, exceedingly facetious
and of vast natural parts. He had no letters; he could only read and write, but had a great regard
for learning and was at much pains to introduce it into the country. He rose early; the morning
he gave to business till ten or eleven o'clock at the farthest; all the rest of the day, and a great
part of the night, to diversion and pleasure. He took his bottle heartily, so must all the company;
for when he was merry himself he loved to see everybody so; though at the same time he could
not endure habitual drinkers, for such he thought unfit for business. When he paid a visit to a
friend he would pass the whole night, not caring to part with good company till past two o'clock
in the morning. He never kept guards about his person. . . He never could abide ceremony, but
loved to be spoke to frankly and without reserve. . . .
In the year 1703 the tsar took the field early, cantoned his troops in the month of March, and
about the 20th of April brought the army together; then marched and invested another small but
important place called Neva-Chance, which surrendered on the 14th of May. The commodious
situation of this place made the tsar resolve to erect on it a considerable town, with a strong
citadel, consisting of six royal bastions, together with good outworks; this he soon put into
execution and called it St. Petersburg, which is now esteemed so strong that it will be scarcely
possible for the Swedes ever to take it by force.
As he was digesting the scheme of this, his favorite town, which he designed not only for the
place of his residence but the principal harbor of his shipping, as having a communication with
the sea by the river Neva; having duly observed and sounded it all over, he found it would be a
very natural project to erect a fort in the isle opposite to the island of Ratusary; which for a
whole league over to the land is not above four feet deep. This is a most curious work scarcely
to be matched. He went about it in winter, in the month of November, when the ice was so
strong that it could bear any weight, causing it to carry materials such as timber, stone, etc. The
foundation was thus laid: trees of about thirty feet in length and about fifteen inches thick were
taken and joined artfully together into chests ten feet high; these chests were filled with stones
of great weight, which sunk down through the sea, and made a very solid foundation, upon
which he raised his fort, called Kronstadt.
20. Jean Rousset de Missy, Life of Peter the Great, c. 1730
The tsar labored at the reform of fashions, or, more properly speaking, of dress. Until that time
the Russians had always worn long beards, which they cherished and preserved with much care,
allowing them to hang down on their bosoms, without even cutting the moustache. With these
long beards they wore the hair very short, except the ecclesiastics, who, to distinguish
themselves, wore it very long. The tsar, in order to reform that custom, ordered that gentlemen,
merchants, and other subjects, except priests and peasants, should each pay a tax of one hundred
rubles a year if they wished to keep their beards; the commoners had to pay one kopek each.
Officials were stationed at the gates of the towns to collect that tax, which the Russians regarded
as an enormous sin on the part of the tsar and as a thing which tended to the abolition of their
These insinuations, which came from the priests, occasioned the publication of many pamphlets
in Moscow, where for that reason alone the tsar was regarded as a tyrant and a pagan; and there
were many old Russians who, after having their beards shaved off, saved them preciously, in
order to have them placed in their coffins, fearing that they would not be allowed to enter
heaven without their beards. As for the young men, they followed the new custom with the more
readiness as it made them appear more agreeable to the fair sex.
From the reform in beards we may pass to that of clothes. Their garments, like those of the
Orientals, were very long, reaching to the heel. The tsar issued an ordinance abolishing that
costume, commanding all the boyars [i.e., the nobles] and all those who had positions at court to
dress after the French fashion, and likewise to adorn their clothes with gold or silver according
to their means. As for the rest of the people, the following method was employed. A suit of
clothes cut according to the new fashion was hung at the gate of the city, with a decree enjoining
upon all except peasants to have their clothes made on this model, upon penalty of being forced
to kneel and have all that part of their garments which fell below the knee cut off, or pay two
grives every time they entered the town with clothes in the old style. Since the guards at the
gates executed their duty in curtailing the garments in a sportive spirit, the people were amused
and readily abandoned their old dress, especially in Moscow and its environs, and in the towns
which the tsar often visited.
The dress of the women was changed, too. English hairdressing was substituted for the caps and
bonnets hitherto worn; bodices, stays, and skirts, for the former undergarments. . . The same
ordinance also provided that in the future women, as well as men, should be invited to
entertainments, such as weddings, banquets, and the like, where both sexes should mingle in the
same hall, as in Holland and England. It was likewise added that these entertainments should
conclude with concerts and dances, but that only those should be admitted who were dressed in
English costumes. His Majesty set the example in all these changes. . .
21. The Thirty Years' Wars 1618-1648 & 1733-1763 (Religious Wars, Impact of the
Most textbooks refer to two different series of events as the "Thirty Years' War. One occurs in the
first half of the 17th century and the other in the middle of the 18th century. You must be certain
that you do not confuse these two events. Following is a summary of both wars. Use this page to
help keep the ideas and events straight.
The Thirty Years' Wars 1618-1648
The Origins of the Conflict
The Peace of Augsburg of 1555 had brought a temporary truce in the religious connict in the
German states. This settlement had recognized only Lutherans and Roman Catholics, but
Calvinism had subsequently made gains in a number of states. The Calvinists began to demand
recognition of their rights. The Thirty Years' War began, however, as a direct result of a conflict
in the Hapsburg-ruled Kingdom of Bohemia.
The Bohemian Period (1618-1625)
In 1617, the Bohemian Diet elected Ferdinand of Styria as king of Bohemia. Ferdinand, a
member of the Hapsburg family, became Holy Roman emperor two years later, as Ferdinand II
(r. 1619-1637). He was an ardent supporter of the Catholic cause.
Ferdinand's election alarmed Bohemian Calvinists, who feared the loss of their religious rights.
In May 1618, the Calvinist revolt began when the rebels threw two Catholic members of the
Bohemian royal council from a window some seventy feet above the ground. Both councillors
fell into a pile of manure, and suffered only minor injuries. This incident became known as the
Defenestration of Prague.
Emperor Ferdinand II won the support of Maximilian I (1573-1651) of Bavaria, the leader of
Catholic League. Troops of the Holy Roman Empire and Bavari commanded by Baron Tilly
(1559-1632), invaded Bohemia. Tilly won a decisive victory over the forces of Fredreick V at
the Battle of White Mountain, near Prague. Frederick fled to Holland.
Emperor Ferdinand II regained the Bohemian throne, Maximilian of Bavaria acquired the
Palatinate. The Bohemian phase of the Thirty Years' War thus ended with a Hapsburg and
The Danish Period (1625-1629)
The Danish period of the conflict began when King Christian IV (r. 1588-1648), the Lutheran
ruler of Denmark supported the Protestants in 1625 against Ferdinand II.
King Christian was also the duke of Holstein and a prince of the Holy Roman Empire.
Ferdinand secured the assistance of Albrecht von Wallenstein (1583-1634), who raised an
independent army of 50,000. The combined forces of Wallenstein and Tilly defeated Christian in
1626 and then occupied the duchy of Holstein.
Taking control of Prague, the rebels declared Ferdinand deposed and elected a new king,
Frederick V (1596-1632), the elector of the Palatinate in western Germany and a Calvinist. The
German Protestant Union, which Frederick headed, provided some aid to the Bohemian rebels.
The Treaty of Lubeck of 1629 restored Holstein to Christian IV, but the Danish king pledged not
to intervene further in German affairs. The Danish period of the war, like the Bohemian period,
thus ended with a Hapsburg and Catholic victory.
The Swedish Period (1630-1635)
The Catholic victories alarmed Protestants almost everywhere. The victories of the emperor
endangered the independence of the German princes, while the French Bourbons were concerned
about the growth of Hapsburg power.
The new Protestant leader became King Gustavus Adolphus (r. 1611-1632) of Sweden. In the
summer of 1630, the Swedes moved into Germany. Later in the year, France and Sweden signed
an alliance, and France entered the war against the Hapsburgs.
The Thirty Years' War had begun primarily as a German conflict over religious issues. The
conflict now became a wider European war, fought mainly over political issues, as Catholic
France and Protestant Sweden joined forces against the Catholic Hapsburgs.
During the early stages of the conflict, the Swedes won several notable victories. Tilly, the
imperial commander, fell in battle in 1632.
Emperor Ferdinand II called on Wallenstein to form a new army. In November 1632, at the
Battle of Lutzen, the Swedes defeated Wallenstein, but Gustavus Adolphus was killed in the
When Wallenstein entered into secret negotiations with Sweden and France, he was assassinated
a few days later. The emperor's army decisively defeated the Swedes at Nordlingen in southern
The Treaty of Prague
The deaths of both Gustavus Adolphus and Wallenstein, together with the exhaustion of both the
Holy Roman emperor and the German Protestant princes, brought an end to the Swedish period
of the war. The Treaty of Prague, 1635 generally strengthened the Hapsburgs and weakened the
power of the German princes.
The French Period (1635- 1648)
The settlement reached in the Treaty of Prague was wrecked by the French decision to intervene
directly in the war. Cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642), the chief minister of King Louis XIII (r.
161~1643) of France wanted to weaken the power of the Hapsburgs and take the province of
Alsace from the Holy Roman Empire. In addition, Richelieu was plotting against Spain and its
Hapsburg king, Philip IV (r. 1621-1665).
Both in Germany and in the Franco-Spanish conflict, the fortunes of war fluctuated. For a time,
the forces of the Holy Roman emperor, aided by King Maximilian of Bavaria and other Catholic
princes, more than held their own against the Swedes and German Protestants. France's success
against Spain, enabled the French to send larger forces into Germany. This helped tip the balance
in favor of the emperor's foes.
Emperor Ferdinand II died in 1637 and was succeeded by his son, Ferdinand III (r. 1637-1657).
Peace negotiations began in 1641, but made little progress until the death of Cardinal Richelieu
in 1642 and the French occupation of Bavaria in 1646.
The Peace of Westphalia (1648)
The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 ended the Thirty Years' War. Sweden acquired western
Pomerania, Eastern Pomerania was assigned to Brandenburg. France annexed part of Alsace and
some nearby territory.
The settlement formally recognized the independence of the Dutch Republic and Switzerland and
granted the German states the right to make treaties and alliances, thereby further weakening the
authority of the Holy Roman emperor.
In religious affairs, the Peace of Westphalia expanded the Peace of Augsburg to include
Calvinists, as well as Catholics and Lutherans.
The Peace of Westphalia ended the Holy Roman emperor's hope of restoring both his own power
and the Catholic faith throughout the empire. The empire was now fragmented into a number of
virtually independent states.
The end of the Thirty Years' War left Hapsburg Spain isolated.
The French war against Spain continued until 1659, when the Treaty of the Pyrenees awarded
France part of the Spanish Netherlands and some territory in northern Spain. King Philip IV of
Spain agreed to the marriage of his daughter Maria Theresa to King Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715) of
Together, the Peace of Westphalia and the Treaty of the Pyrenees established France as the
predominant power on the European continent.
The Thirty Years' Wars 1733-1763
This conflict includes three wars:
1. The War of Polish Succession 1733-1739
2. The War of Austrian Succession 1740-1748
Known in America as King George's War
3. The Seven Years' War 1756-1763
Known in America as the French and Indian War
War of Polish Succession 1733-1739 was fought not in Poland but in Belgium, Lorraine,
Lombardy, Naples and Sicily. The conflict began over Polish succession but ended in an attempt
to partition Austria and ended with Treaty of Vienna 1736. The terms of this treaty included:
1. Augustus should be king of Poland
2. Austria should give up Naples and Sicily and Spanish Prince Don Carlos should be their king
3. Austria should have Duchy of Tuscany in Italy in return for which they would allow France
to have the territory of Lorraine.
War of Austrian Succession began in 1740 when Frederick the Great invaded Silesia. The event
was precipitated when King Charles VI of Austria died in October 1740 leaving no son to
succeed him. Charles had gove to great lengths to assure that his throne would go to Maria
Theresa, his daughter. But Bavaria disagreed. During the internal conflict which followed,
Frederick took Silesia. Frederick allied himself with Bavaria and invited France and Spain to
take what ever they wanted from Austria. England allied with Austria because they, traditionally,
not like France.
Peace was finally made in 1745 with the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle
1. Maria was recognized as ruler of Austria
2. Austria ceded Silesia to Frederick
3. Parma was ceded to Spain (from Austria)
4. Lombardy was ceded to Sardinia
5. all other conquered lands were restored to their pre-1740 condition.
The French and Indian War (in the Americas) or The Seven Years' War (in Europe)
On the American continent, the French fort, Duquesne, on the Upper Ohio River near modern
Pittsburgh, was attacked by George Washington. Meanwhile in Europe the conflict revolved
around an attempt to take as much of Prussia from Frederick as possible.
The conflict ended with the Peace of Paris 1763 and the Treaty of Hubertsburg
1. Frederick was allowed to keep Silesia
This in spite of the fact that he had to fight against Austria, Russia and England
2. although thousands had died not a hamlet had changed hands in terms of territory.
3. This war determined the future of Prussia. Instead of being destroyed as itcould have been it
was allowed to become one of the great powers of Europe.
Peace of Paris allowed:
1. France gave England all territories in New World east of the Mississippi but not New Orleans
2. West Indies islands were also given to England
3. France gave Spain as a compensation for Florida New Orleans and all French territory west of
4. In India the French east India company was permitted to keep 5 trading posts but was to keep
out of native politics.
22.Account of the Execution of Charles I (Limiting Absolute Rule)
After being convicted as a "tyrant, murderer and public enemy" by a "High Court of Justice"
King Charles I was order beheaded. The following was taken from a contemporary account of
the king's execution.
And to the executioner he said, "I shall say but very short prayers, and when I thrust out my
Then he called to the bishop for his cap, and having put it on, asked the executioner, "Does my
hair trouble you?" who desired him to put it all under his cap; which as he was doing by the help
of the bishop and the executioner, he turned to the bishop, and said, "I have a good cause, and a
gracious God on my side."
The bishop said, "There is but one stage more, which, though turbulent and troublesome, yet is a
very short one. You may consider it will soon carry you a very great way; it will carry you from
earth to heaven; and there you shall find to your great joy the prize you hasten to, a crown of
The king adjoins, "I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown; where no disturbance can
be, no disturbance in the world. . . "
Then the king asked the executioner, "Is my hair well?"
Then putting off his doublet and being in his waistcoat, he put on his cloak again, and looking
upon the block, said to the executioner, "You must set it fast."
The executioner. "It is fast, sir."
King. "It might have been a little higher."
Executioner. "It can be no higher, sir."
King. "When I put out my hands this way, then-"
Then having said a few words to himself, as he stood, with hands and eyes lift up, immediately
stooping down he laid his neck upon the block; and the executioner, again putting his hair under
his cap, his Majesty, thinking he had been going to strike, bade him, "Stay for the sign."
Executioner. "Yes, I will, as it please your Majesty."
After a very short pause, his Majesty stretching forth his hands, the executioner at one blow
severed his head from his body; which being held up and showed to the people. was with his
body put into a coffin covered with black velvet and carried into his lodging.
His blood was taken up by divers persons for different ends: by some as trophies of their
villainy; by others as relics of a martyr; and in some hath had the same effect, by the blessing of
God, which was often found in his sacred touch when living.
23. Duc de Saint-Simon: The Court of Louis XIV
The Duc de Saint-Simon resided for many years at Versailles. He left an account of Life there.
His natural talents were below mediocrity; but he had a mind capable of improvement, of
receiving polish, of assimilating what was best in the minds of others without slavish imitation;
and he profited greatly throughout his life from having associated with the ablest and wittiest
persons, of both sexes, and of various stations. He entered the world (if I may use such an
expression in speaking of a King who had already completed his twenty-third year), at a
fortunate moment, for men of distinction abounded. His Ministers and Generals at this time, with
their successors trained in their schools, are universally acknowledged to have been the ablest in
Europe; for the domestic troubles and foreign wars under which France had suffered ever since
the death of Louis XIII had brought to the front a number of brilliant names, and the Court was
made up of capable and illustrious personages.... Glory was his passion, but he also liked order
and regularity in all things; he was naturally prudent, moderate, and reserved; always master of
his tongue and his emotions. Will it be believed? he was also naturally kind-hearted and just.
God had given him all that was necessary for him to be a good King, perhaps also to be a fairly
great one. All his faults were produced by his surroundings. In his childhood he was so much
neglected that no one dared go near his rooms. He was often heard to speak of those times with
great bitterness; he used to relate how, through the carelessness of his attendants, he was found
one evening in the basin of a fountain in the Palais-Royal gardens....
His Ministers, generals, mistresses, and courtiers soon found out his weak point, namely, his love
of hearing his own praises. There was nothing he liked so much as flattery, or, to put it more
plainly, adulation; the coarser and clumsier it was, the more he relished it. That was the only way
to approach him; if he ever took a liking to a man it was invariably due to some lucky stroke of
flattery in the first instance, and to indefatigable perseverance in the same line afterwards. His
Ministers owed much of their influence to their frequent opportunities for burning incense before
It was this love of praise which made it easy for Louvois to engage him in serious wars, for he
persuaded him that he had greater talents for war than any of his Generals, greater both in design
and in execution, and the Generals themselves encouraged him in this notion, to keep in favour
with him. I mean such Generals as Condé and Turenne; much more, of course, those who came
after them. He took to himself the credit of their successes with admirable complacency, and
honestly believed that he was all his flatterers told him. Hence arose his fondness for reviews,
which he carried so far that his enemies called him, in derision, "the King of reviews"; hence also
his liking for sieges, where he could make a cheap parade of bravery, and exhibit his vigilance,
forethought, and endurance of fatigue; for his robust constitution enabled him to bear fatigue
marvellously; he cared nothing for hunger, heat, cold, or bad weather. He liked also, as he rode
through the lines, to hear people praising his dignified bearing and fine appearance on horseback.
His campaigns were his favourite topic when talking to his mistresses. He talked well, expressed
himself clearly in well-chosen language; and no man could tell a story better. His conversation,
even on the most ordinary subjects, was always marked by a certain natural dignity.
His mind was occupied with small things rather than with great, and he delighted in all sorts of
petty details, such as the dress and drill of his soldiers; and it was just the same with regard to his
building operations, his household, and even his cookery. He always thought he could teach
something of their own craft even to the most skilful professional men; and they, for their part,
used to listen gratefully to lessons which they had long ago learnt by heart. He imagined that all
this showed his indefatigable industry; in reality, it was a great waste of time, and his Ministers
turned it to good account for their own purposes, as soon as they had learnt the art of managing
him; they kept his attention engaged with a mass of details, while they contrived to get their own
way in more important matters.
His vanity, which was perpetually nourished - for even preachers used to praise him to his face
from the pulpit - was the cause of the aggrandisement of his Ministers. He imagined that they
were great only through him, mere mouthpieces through which he expressed his will;
consequently he made no objection when they gradually encroached on the privileges of the
greatest noblemen. He felt that he could at any moment reduce them to their original obscurity;
whereas, in the case of a nobleman, though he could make him feel the weight of his displeasure,
he could not deprive him or his family of the advantages due to his birth. For this reason he made
it a rule never to admit a seigneur to his Councils, to which the Duke de Beauvilliers was the
But for the fear of the devil, which, by God's grace, never forsook him even in his wildest
excesses, he would have caused himself to be worshipped as a deity. He would not have lacked
24. Life at Versailles
Very early in the reign of Louis XIV the Court was removed from Paris, never to return. The
troubles of the minority had given him a dislike to that city; his enforced and surreptitious flight
from it still rankled in his memory; he did not consider himself safe there, and thought cabals
would be more easily detected if the Court was in the country, where the movements and
temporary absences of any of its members would be more easily noticed.... No doubt that he was
also influenced by the feeling that he would be regarded with greater awe and veneration when
no longer exposed every day to the gaze of the multitude.
His love-affair with Mademoiselle de la Vallière, which at first was covered as far as possible
with a veil of mystery, was the cause of frequent excursions to Versailles. This was at that time
at small country house, built by Louis XIII to avoid the unpleasant necessity, which had
sometimes befallen him, of sleeping at a wretched wayside tavern or in a windmill, when
benighted out hunting in the forest of St. Leger.... The visits of Louis XIV becoming more
frequent, he enlarged the château by degrees till its immense buildings afforded better
accommodation for the Court than was to be found at St. Germain, where most of the courtiers
had to put up with uncomfortable lodgings in the town. The Court was therefore removed to
Versailles in 1682, not long before the Queen's death. The new building contained an infinite
number of rooms for courtiers, and the King liked the grant of these rooms to be regarded as a
He availed himself of the frequent festivities at Versailles, and his excursions to other places, as
a means of making the courtiers assiduous in their attendance and anxious to please him; for he
nominated beforehand those who were to take part in them, and could thus gratify some and
inflict a snub on others. He was conscious that the substantial favours he had to bestow were not
nearly sufficient to produce a continual effect; he had therefore to invent imaginary ones, and no
one was so clever in devising petty distinctions and preferences which aroused jealousy and
emulation. The visits to Marly later on were very useful to him in this way; also those to Trianon,
where certain ladies, chosen beforehand, were admitted to his table. It was another distinction to
hold his candlestick at his coucher; as soon as he had finished his prayers he used to name the
courtier to whom it was to be handed, always choosing one of the highest rank among those
Not only did he expect all persons of distinction to be in continual attendance at Court, but he
was quick to notice the absence of those of inferior degree; at his lever, his coucher, his meals, in
the gardens of Versailles (the only place where the courtiers in general were allowed to follow
him), he used to cast his eyes to right and left; nothing escaped him, he saw everybody. If any
one habitually living at Court absented himself he insisted on knowing the reason; those who
came there only for flying visits had also to give a satisfactory explanation; any one who seldom
or never appeared there was certain to incur his displeasure. If asked to bestow a favour on such
persons he would reply haughtily: "I do not know him"; of such as rarely presented themselves
he would say, "He is a man I never see"; and from these judgements there was no appeal.
He always took great pains to find out what was going on in public places, in society, in private
houses, even family secrets, and maintained an immense number of spies and tale-bearers. These
were of all sorts; some did not know that their reports were carried to him; others did know it;
there were others, again, who used to write to him directly, through channels which he
prescribed; others who were admitted by the backstairs and saw him in his private room. Many a
man in all ranks of life was ruined by these methods, often very unjustly, without ever being able
to discover the reason; and when the King had once taken a prejudice against a man, he hardly
ever got over it....
No one understood better than Louis XIV the art of enhancing the value of a favour by his
manner of bestowing it; he knew how to make the most of a word, a smile, even of a glance. If
he addressed any one, were it but to ask a trifling question or make some commonplace remark,
all eyes were turned on the person so honored; it was a mark of favour which always gave rise to
He loved splendour, magnificence, and profusion in all things, and encouraged similar tastes in
his Court; to spend money freely on equipages and buildings, on feasting and at cards, was a sure
way to gain his favour, perhaps to obtain the honour of a word from him. Motives of policy had
something to do with this; by making expensive habits the fashion, and, for people in a certain
position, a necessity, he compelled his courtiers to live beyond their income, and gradually
reduced them to depend on his bounty for the means of subsistence. This was a plague which,
once introduced, became a scourge to the whole country, for it did not take long to spread to
Paris, and thence to the armies and the provinces; so that a man of any position is now estimated
entirely according to his expenditure on his table and other luxuries. This folly, sustained by
pride and ostentation, has already produced widespread confusion; it threatens to end in nothing
short of ruin and a general overthrow.
25. Inside the Court of Louis XIV, 1671 (Age of Absolutism. Life at Versailles)
The seventy-two year reign of Louis XIV was marked by an opulent extravagance best
exemplified by the construction of his palace at Versailles in 1682. Here, the entire French
nobility was expected to take residence and to participate in elaborate ceremonies, festivals and
dinners. Louis' motivation was not based solely on his desire to have a good time but was a
means of simultaneously controlling the nobility, reducing their power and watching for any
Prior to the construction of Versailles, Louis kept an eye on the nobility by requiring that they
accompany him wherever he may go. When the king traveled, he did so at the head of a great
lumbering retinue of hundreds of lesser princes - all of whom had to be fed and entertained at
We gain some insight into life at the court of Louis XIV through a letter written by Madame de
Sevigne to a friend in 1671. Louis has decided to make war on Holland and has traveled to
Chantilly to meet with his commander. A great feast is planned to take place in the forest
supervised by Vatel, the "Prince of Cooks."
"It is Sunday, the 26th of April; this letter will not go till Wednesday. It is not really a letter, but
an account, which Moreuil has just given me for your benefit, of what happened at Chantilly
concerning Vatel. I wrote you on Friday that he had stabbed himself; here is the story in
detail.The promenade, the collation in a spot carpeted with jonquils - all was perfection. Supper
came; the roast failed at one or two tables on account of a number of unexpected guests.
This upset Vatel. He said several times: 'My honor is lost; this is a humiliation that I cannot
endure.' To Gourville he said. 'My head is swimming; I have not slept for twelve nights; help me
to give my orders.' Gourville consoled him as best he could, but the roast which had failed (not at
the king's, but at the twenty-fifth table), haunted his mind.
Gourville told Monsieur le Prince about it, and Monsieur le Prince went up to Vatel in his own
room and said to him, 'Vatel, all goes well; there never was anything so beautiful as the king's
supper.' He answered, 'Monseigneur, your goodness overwhelms me. I know that the roast failed
at two tables.' 'Nothing of the sort,' said Monsieur le Prince. 'Do not disturb yourself, all is well.'
Midnight comes. The fireworks do not succeed on account of a cloud that overspreads them
(they cost sixteen thousand francs). At four o'clock in the morning Vatel is wandering about all
over the place. Everything is asleep. He meets a small purveyor with two loads of fish and asks
him, 'Is this all?', 'Yes, sir.' The man did not know that Vatel had sent to all the seaport towns in
France. Vatel waits some time, but the other purveyors do not arrive; he gets excited; he thinks
that there will be no more fish.
He finds Gourville and says to him, 'Sir, I shall not be able to survive this disgrace.' Gourville
only laughs at him. Then Vatel goes up to his own room, puts his sword against the door, and
runs it through his heart, but only at the third thrust, for he gave himself two wounds which were
not mortal. He falls dead.
Meanwhile the fish is coming in from every side, and people are seeking for Vatel to distribute
it. They go to his room, they knock, they burst open the door, they find him lying bathed in his
blood. They send for Monsieur le Prince, who is in utter despair. Monsieur le Duc bursts into
tears; it was upon Vatel that his whole journey to Burgundy depended. Monsieurie Prince
informed the king, very sadly; they agreed that it all came from Vatel's having his own code of
honor, and they praised his courage highly even while they blamed him...
Gourville, however, tried to repair the loss of Vatel, and did repair it. The dinner was excellent;
so was the luncheon. They supped, they walked, they played, they hunted. The scent of jonquils
was everywhere; it was all enchanting."
26. Nicolas Copernicus: From The Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies, 1543
Nicholas Copernicus was born February 19, 1473, in Poland. He entered the University of
Krakow in 1491, then in 1495 went to Padua and studied medicine. In 1500 he was called to
Rome and took the chair of mathematics there. He began to believe that the earth went round
the sun about 1507 and from that time until his death worked, more or less intermittently, on his
exposition of his theory. He delayed the publication of this exposition because of fear of being
accused of heresy. Copernicus died May 24, 1543, just as his book was published. The
knowledge of the time was not sufficient to prove his theory; his great argument for it was from
its simplicity as compared to the epicycle hypothesis.
That the universe is spherical. FIRST WE must remark that the universe is spherical in form,
partly because this form being a perfect whole requiring no joints, is the most complete of all,
partly because it makes the most capacious form, which is best suited to contain and preserve
everything; or again because all the constituent parts of the universe, that is the sun, moon and
the planets appear in this form; or because everything strives to attain this form, as appears in
the case of drops of water and other fluid bodies if they attempt to define themselves. So no one
will doubt that this form belongs to the heavenly bodies.
That the earth is also spherical. That the earth is also spherical is therefore beyond question,
because it presses from all sides upon its center. Although by reason of the elevations of the
mountains and the depressions of the valleys a perfect circle cannot be understood, yet this does
not affect the general spherical nature of the earth. This appears in the following manner. To
those who journey towards the North the North pole of the daily revolution of the heavenly
sphere seems gradually to rise, while the opposite seems to sink. Most of the stars in the region
of the Bear seem not to set, while some of the Southern stars seem not to rise at all. So Italy does
not see Canopus which is visible to the Egyptians. And Italy sees the outermost star of the
Stream, which our region of a colder zone does not know. On the other hand to those who go
towards the South the others seem to rise and those to sink which are high in our region.
Moreover, the inclination of the poles to the diameter of the earth bears always the same
relation, which could happen only in the case of a sphere. So it is evident that the earth is
included between the two poles, and is therefore spherical in form. Let us add that the
inhabitants of the East do not observe the eclipse of the sun or of the moon which occurs in the
evening, and the inhabitants of the West those which occur in the morning, while those who
dwell between see those later and these earlier. That the water also has the same form can be
observed from the ships, in that the land which cannot be seen from the deck, is visible from the
mast-tree. And conversely if a light be placed at the masthead it seems to those who remain on
the shores gradually to sink and at last still sinking to disappear. It is clear that the water also
according to its nature continually presses like the earth downward, and does not rise above its
banks higher than its convexity permits. So the land extends above the ocean as much as the
land happens to be higher.
Whether the earth has a circular motion, and concerning the location of the earth. As it has been
already shown that the earth has the form of a sphere, we must consider whether a movement
also coincides with this form, and what place the earth holds in the universe. Without this there
will be no secure results to be obtained in regard to the heavenly phenomena. The great majority
of authors of course agree that the earth stands still in the center of the universe, and consider it
inconceivable and ridiculous to suppose the opposite. But if the matter is carefully weighed it
will be seen that the question is not yet settled and therefore by no means to be regarded lightly.
Every change of place which is observed is due, namely, to a movement of the observed object
or of the observer, or to movements of both, naturally in different directions, for if the observed
object and the observer move in the same manner and in the same direction no movement will
be seen. Now it is from the earth that the revolution of the heavens is observed and it is
produced for our eyes. Therefore if the earth undergoes no movement this movement must take
place in everything outside of the earth, but in the opposite direction than if everything on the
earth moved, and of this kind is the daily revolution. So this appears to affect the whole
universe, that is, everything outside the earth with the single exception of the earth itself. If,
however, one should admit that this movement was not peculiar to the heavens, but that the
earth revolved from west to east, and if this was carefully considered in regard to the apparent
rising and setting of the sun, the moon and the stars, it would be discovered that this was the real
situation. Since the sky, which contains and shelters all things, is the common seat of all things,
it is not easy to understand why motion should not be ascribed rather to the thing contained than
to the containing, to the located rather than to the location. From this supposition follows
another question of no less importance, concerning the place of the earth, although it has been
accepted and believed by almost all, that the earth occupies the middle of the universe. But if
one should suppose that the earth is not at the center of the universe, that, however, the distance
between the two is not great enough to be measured on the orbits of the fixed stars, but would be
noticeable and perceptible on the orbit of the sun or of the planets: and if one was further of the
opinion that the movements of the planets appeared to be irregular as if they were governed by a
center other than the earth, then such an one could perhaps have given the true reasons for the
apparently irregular movement. For since the planets appear now nearer and now farther from
the earth, this shows necessarily that the center of their revolutions is not the center of the earth:
although it does not settle whether the earth increases and decreases the distance from them or
they their distance from the earth.
Refutation of the arguments of the ancients that the earth remains still in the middle of the
universe, as if it were its center. From this and similar reasons it is supposed that the earth rests
at the center of the universe and that there is no doubt of the fact. But if one believed that the
earth revolved, he would certainly be of the opinion that this movement was natural and not
arbitrary. For whatever is in accord with nature produces results which are the opposite of those
produced by force. Things upon which force or an outside power has acted, must be injured and
cannot long endure: what happens by nature, however, preserves itself well and exists in the best
condition. So Ptolemy feared without good reason that the earth and all earthly objects subject to
the revolution would be destroyed by the act of nature, since this latter is opposed to artificial
acts, or to what is produced by the human spirit. But why did he not fear the same, and in a
much higher degree, of the universe, whose motion must be as much more rapid as the heavens
are greater than the earth? Or has the heaven become so immense because it has been driven
outward from the center by the inconceivable power of the revolution; while if it stood still, on
the contrary, it would collapse and fall together? But surely if this is the case the extent of the
heavens would increase infinitely. For the more it is driven higher by the outward force of the
movement, so much the more rapid will the movement become, because of the ever increasing
circle which must be traversed in twenty-four hours; and conversely if the movement grows the
immensity of the heavens grows. So the velocity would increase the size and the size would
increase the velocity unendingly. According to the physical law that the endless cannot wear
away nor in any way move, the heavens must necessarily stand still. But it is said that beyond
the sky no body, no place, no vacant space, in fact nothing at all exists; then it is strange that
some thing should be enclosed by nothing. But if the heaven is endless and is bounded only by
the inner hollow, perhaps this establishes all the more clearly the fact that there is nothing
outside the heavens, because everything is within it, but the heaven must then remain unmoved.
The highest proof on which one supports the finite character of the universe is its movement.
But whether the universe is endless or limited we will leave to the physiologues; this remains
sure for us that the earth enclosed between the poles is bounded by a spherical surface. Why
therefore should we not take the position of ascribing to a movement conformable to its nature
and corresponding to its form, rather than suppose that the whole universe whose limits are not
and cannot be known moves? And why will we not recognize that the appearance of a daily
revolution belongs to the heavens, but the actuality to the earth; and that the relation is similar to
that of which one says: "We run out of the harbor, the lands and cities retreat from us." Because
if a ship sails along quietly, everything outside of it appears to those on board as if it moved
with the motion of the boat, and the boatman thinks that the boat with all on board is standing
still, this same thing may hold without doubt of the motion of the earth, and it may seem as if
the whole universe revolved.
What shall we say, however, of the clouds and other things floating, falling or rising in the air--
except that not only does the earth move with the watery elements belonging with it, but also a
large part of the atmosphere, and whatever else is in any way connected with the earth; whether
it is because the air immediately touching the earth has the same nature as the earth, or that the
motion has become imparted to the atmosphere. A like astonishment must be felt if that highest
region of the air be supposed to follow the heavenly motion, as shown by those suddenly
appearing stars which the Greeks call comets or bearded stars, which belong to that region and
which rise and set like other stars. We may suppose that part of the atmosphere, because of its
great distance from the earth, has become free from the earthly motion. So the atmosphere
which lies close to the earth and all things floating in it would appear to remain still, unless
driven here and there by the wind or some other outside force, which chance may bring into
play; for how is the wind in the air different from the current in the sea? We must admit that the
motion of things rising and falling in the air is in relation to the universe a double one, being
always made up of a rectilinear and a circular movement. Since that which seeks of its own
weight to fall is essentially earthy, so there is no doubt that these follow the same natural law as
their whole; and it results from the same principle that those things which pertain to fire are
forcibly driven on high. Earthly fire is nourished with earthly stuff, and it is said that the flame
is only burning smoke. But the peculiarity of the fire consists in this that it expands whatever it
seizes upon, and it carries this out so consistently that it can in no way and by no machinery be
prevented from breaking its bonds and completing its work.
The expanding motion, however, is directed from the center outward; therefore if any earthly
material is ignited it moves upward. So to each single body belongs a single motion, and this is
evinced preferably in a circular direction as long as the single body remains in its natural place
and its entirety. In this position the movement is the circular movement which as far as the body
itself is concerned is as if it did not occur. The rectilinear motion, however, seizes upon those
bodies which have wandered or have been driven from their natural position or have been in any
way disturbed. Nothing is so much opposed to the order and form of the world as the
displacement of one of its parts. Rectilinear motion takes place only when objects are not
properly related, and are not complete according to their nature because they have separated
from their whole and have lost their unity. Moreover, objects which have been driven outward
or away, leaving out of consideration the circular motion, do not obey a single, simple and
regular motion, since they cannot be controlled simply by their lightness or by the force of their
weight, and if in falling they have at first a slow movement the rapidity of the motion increases
as they fall, while in the case of earthly fire which is forced upwards---and we have no means of
knowing any other kind of fire---we will see that its motion is slow as if its earthly origin
thereby showed itself.
The circular motion, on the other hand, is always regular, because it is not subject to an
intermittent cause. Those other objects, however, would cease to be either light or heavy in
respect to their natural movement if they reached their own place, and thus they would fit into
that movement. Therefore if the circular movement is to be ascribed to the universe as a whole
and the rectilinear to the parts, we might say that the revolution is to the straight line as the
natural state is to sickness. That Aristotle divided motion into three sorts, that from the center
out, that inward toward center, and that around about the center, appears to be merely a logical
convenience, just as we distinguish point, line and surface, although one cannot exist without the
others, and none of them are found apart from bodies. This fact is also to be considered, that the
condition of immovability is held to be more noble and divine than that of change and
inconstancy, which latter therefore should be ascribed rather to the earth than to the universe,
and I would add also that it seems inconsistent to attribute motion to the containing and locating
clement rather than to the contained and located object, which the earth is. Finally since the
planets plainly are at one time nearer and at another time farther from the earth, it would follow,
on the theory that the universe revolves, that the movement of the one and same body which is
known to take place about a center, that is the center of the earth, must also be directed toward
the center from without and from the center outward. The movement about the center must
therefore be made more general, and it suffices if that single movement be about its own center.
So it appears from all these considerations that the movement of the earth is more probable than
its fixity, especially in regard to the daily revolution, which is most peculiar to the earth.
27. Excerpt from The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (Father of Capitalism)
That wealth consists in money, or in gold and silver, is a popular notion which naturally arises
from the double function of money as the instrument of commerce, and as the measure of value.
In consequence of its being the instrument of commerce, when we have money we can more
readily obtain whatever else we have occasion for, than by means o' any other commodity. The
great affair, we always find, is to get money. When that is obtained, there is no difficulty in
making any subsequent purchase. In consequence of its being the measure of value, we estimate
that of all other commodities by the quantity of money which they will exchange for. We say of
a rich man that he is worth a great deal, and of a poor man that he is worth very little money. A
frugal man, or a man eager to be rich, is said to love money; and a careless, a generous, or a
profuse man, is said to be indifferent about it. To grow rich is to get money; and wealth and
money, in short, are, in common language, considered as in every respect synonymous.
It is not because wealth consists more essentially in money than in goods, that the merchant finds
it generally more easy to buy goods with money, than to buy money with goods; but because
money is the known and established instrument of commerce, for which every thing is readily
given in exchange, but which is not always with equal readiness to be got in exchange for every
thing. The greater part of goods besides are more perishable than money, and he may frequently
sustain a much greater loss by keeping them. When his goods are upon hand too, he is more
liable to such demands for money as he may not be able to answer, than when he has got their
price in his coffers. Over and above all this, his profit arises more directly from selling than from
buying, and he is upon all these accounts generally much more anxious to exchange his goods
for money, than his money for goods. But though a particular merchant, with abundance of
goods in his warehouse, may sometimes be ruined by not being able to sell them in time, a nation
or country is not liable to the same accident. The whole capital of a merchant frequently consists
in perishable goods destined for purchasing money. But it is but a very small part of the annual
produce of the land and labour of a country which can ever be destined for purchasing gold and
silver from their neighbors. The far greater part is circulated and consumed among themselves;
and even of the surplus which is sent abroad, the greater part is generally destined for the
purchase of other foreign goods. Though gold and silver, therefore, could not be had in exchange
for the goods destined to purchase them, the nation would not be ruined. It might, indeed, suffer
some loss and inconveniency, and be forced upon some of those expedients which are necessary
for supplying the place of money. The annual produce of its land and labor, however, would be
the same, or very nearly the same, as usual, because the same, or very nearly the same
consumable capital would be employed in maintaining it. And though goods do not always draw
money so readily as money draws goods, in the long-run they draw it more necessarily than even
it draws them. Goods can serve many other purposes besides purchasing money, but money can
serve no other purpose besides purchasing goods. Money, therefore, necessarily runs after goods,
but goods do not always or necessarily run after money. The man who buys, does not always
mean to sell again, but frequently to use or to consume; whereas he who sells, always means to
buy again. The one may frequently have done the whole, but the other can never have done more
than the one-half of his business. It is not for its own sake that men desire money, but for the
sake of what they can purchase with it.
28. From: The Philosophical Dictionary by Voltaire (The Enlightenment. Age of Reason)
The chief complaint of the philosophes against Christianity was that it bred a fanaticism that led
people to commit crimes in the name of religion. In this passage from his Philosophical
Dictionary ( 1764) Voltaire directly reminded his readers of the intoler-ance of the Reformation
era and indirectly referred to examples of contemporary religious excesses. He argued that the
philosophical spirit can overcome fanaticism and foster toleration and more humane religious
behavior. In a manner that shocked many of his contemporaries, he praised the virtues of
Confucianism over those of Christianity.
Fanaticism is to superstition what delirium is to fever and rage to anger. The man visited by
ecstasies and visions, who takes dreams for realities and his fancies for prophecies, is an
enthusiast; the man who supports his madness with murder is a fanatic....
The most detestable example of fanaticism was that of the burghers of Paris who on St.
Bartholomew's Night  went about assassinating and butchering all their fellow citizens
who did not go to mass, throwing them out of windows, cutting them in pieces.
Once fanaticism has corrupted a mind, the malady is almost incurable....
The only remedy for this epidemic malady is the philosophical spirit which, spread gradually, at
last tames men's habits and prevents the disease from starting; for once the disease has made any
progress, one must flee and wait for the air to clear itself Laws and religion are not strong
enough against the spiritual pest; religion, far from being healthy food for infected brains, turn to
poison in them....
Even the law is impotent against these attacks of rage; it is like reading a court decree to a raving
maniac. These fellows are certain that the holy spirit with which they are filled is above the law,
that their enthusiasm is the only law they must obey.
What can we say to a man who tells you that he would rather obey God than men, and that
therefore he is sure to go to heaven for butchering you?
Ordinarily fanatics are guided by rascals, who put the dagger into their hands; these latter
resemble that Old Man of the Mountain who is supposed to have made imbeciles taste the joys of
paradise and who promised them an eternity of the pleasures of which he had given them a
foretaste, on condition that they assassinated all those he would name to them. There is only one
religion in the world that has never been sullied by fanaticism, that of the Chinese men of letters.
The schools of philosophy were not only free from this pest, they were its remedy; for the effect
of philosophy is to make the soul tranquil, and fanaticism is incompatible with tranquility. If our
holy religion has so often been corrupted by this infernal delirium, it is the madness of men
which is at fault.
29.5 Salon Life
Although the leading figures of the Enlightenment were all men, the social context was the
highly-civilized "salon", usually presided over by a women with some independent wealth.
On Julie de Lespinasse
From Memoir of Baron de Grimm
Her circle met daily from five o'clock until nine in the evening. There we were sure to find
choice men of all orders in the State, the Church, the Court,-military men, foreigners, and the
most distinguished men of letters. Every one agrees that though the name of M. d'Alembert may
have drawn them thither, it was she alone who kept them there. Devoted wholly to the care of
preserving that society, of which she was the soul and the charm, she subordinated to this
purpose all her tastes and all her personal intimacies. She seldom went to the theatre or into the
country, and when she did make an exception to this rule it was an event of which all Paris was
notified in advance.... Politics, religion, philosophy, anecdotes, news, nothing was excluded from
the conversation, and, thanks to her care, the most trivial little narrative gained, as naturally as
possible, the place and notice it deserved. News of all kinds was gathered there in its first
From Memoir of Marmontel
The circle was formed of persons who were not bound together. She had taken them here and
there in society, but so well assorted were they that once there they fell into harmony like the
strings of an instrument touched by an able hand. Following out that comparison, I may say that
she played the instrument with an art that came of genius; she seemed to know what tone each
string would yield before she touched it; I mean to say that our minds and our natures were so
well known to her that in order to bring them into play she had but to say a word. Nowhere was
conversation more lively, more brilliant, or better regulated than at her house. It was a rare
phenomenon indeed, the degree of tempered, equable heat which she knew so well how to
maintain, sometimes by moderating it, sometimes by quickening it. The continual activity of her
soul was communicated to our souls, but measurably; her imagination was the mainspring, her
reason the regulator. Remark that the brains she stirred at will were neither feeble nor frivolous:
the Coudillacs and Turgots were among them; d'Alembert was like a simple, docile child beside
her. Her talent for casting out a thought and giving it for discussion to men of that class, her own
talent in discussing it with precision, sometimes with eloquence, her talent for bringing forward
new ideas and varying the topic-always with the facility and ease of a fairy, who, with one touch
of her wand, can change the scene of her enchantment-these talents, I say, were not those of an
ordinary woman. It was not with the follies of fashion and vanity that daily, during four hours of
conversation, without languor and without vacuum, she knew how to make herself interesting to
a wide circle of strong minds.
From Letter of Julie de Lespinasse to the Comte de Guibert.
I love you too well to impose the least restraint upon myself; I prefer to have to ask your pardon
rather than commit no faults. I have no self love with you; I do not comprehend those rules of
conduct that make us so content with self and so cold to those we love. I detest prudence, I even
hate (suffer me to say so) those "duties of friendship" which substitute propriety for interest, and
circumspection for feeling. How shall I say it? I love the abandonment to impulse, I act from
impulse only, and I love to madness that others do the same by me.
Ah! mon Dieu! how far I am from being equal to you! I have not your virtues, I know no duties
with my friend; I am closer to the state of nature; savages do not love with more simplicity and
The world, misfortunes, evils, nothing has corrupted my heart. I shall never be on my guard
against you; l shall never suspect you. You say that you have friendship for me; you are virtuous;
what can l fear? I will let you see the trouble, the agitation of my soul, and I shall not blush to
seem to you weak and inconsistent. I have already told that I do not seek to please you; I do not
wish to usurp your esteem. I prefer to deserve your indulgence-in short, I want to love you with
all my heart and to place in you a confidence without reserve....
From Letters of Julie de Lespinasse, Katherine P. Wormley, trans. (Boston: Hardy, Pratt and Co.,
1903), p9,. 34-35, 75.
On Madame Geoffrin
Madame Geoffrin was married to a rich man. His money seems to have been the main benefit she
found in the marriage. She used it to help her philosophe friends.
From Memoir of d'Alembert
Much has been said respecting Madame Geoffrin's goodness, to what a point it was active,
restless, obstinate. But it has not been added, and which reflects the greatest honour upon her,
that, as she advanced in years, this habit constantly increased. For the misfortune of society, it
too often happens that age and experience produce a directly contrary effect, even in very
virtuous characters, if virtue be not in them a powerful sentiment indeed, and of no common
stamp. The more disposed they have been at first to feel kindness towards their fellow creatures,
the more, finding daily their ingratitude, do they repent of having served them, and even consider
it almost as a reproach to themselves to have loved them. Madame Geoffrin had learnt, from a
more reflected study of mankind, from taking a view of them more enlightened by reason and
justice, that they are more weak and vain than wicked; that we ought to compassionate their
weakness, and bear with their vanity, that they may bear with ours....
The passion of giving, which was an absolute necessity to her seemed born with her, and
tormented her, if l may say so, even from her earliest years. While yet a child, if she saw from
the window any poor creature asking alms, she would throw whatever she could lay her hands
upon to them; her bread, her linen, and even her clothes. She was often scolded for this
intemperance of charity, sometimes even punished, but nothing could alter the disposition, she
would do the same the very next day....
Always occupied with those whom she loved, always anxious about them, she even anticipated
every thing which might interrupt their happiness. A young man, [note: yhis young man was
d'Alembert himself] for whom she interested herself very much, who had till that moment been
wholly absorbed in his studies, was suddenly seized with an unfortunate passion, which rendered
study, and even life itself insupportable to him. She succeeded in curing him. Some time after
she observed that the same young man, mentioned to her, with great interest, an amiable woman
with whom he had recently become acquainted. Madame Geoffrin, who knew the lady, went to
her. "I am come," she said, "to intreat a favour of you. Do not evince too much friendship for * *
* * or too much desire to see him, he will be soon in love with you, he will be unhappy, and I
shall be no less so to see him suffer; nay, you yourself will be a sufferer, from consciousness, of
the sufferings you occasion him." This woman, who was truly amiable, promised what Madame
Geoffrin desired, and kept her word.
As she had always among the circle of her society persons of the highest rank and birth, as she
appeared even to seek an acquaintance with them, it was supposed that this flattered her vanity.
But here a very erroneous opinion was formed of her; she was in no respect the dupe of such
prejudices, but she thought that by managing the humours of these people, she could render them
useful to her friends. "You think," said she, to one of the latter, for whom she had a particular
regard, "that it is for my own sake I frequent ministers and great people. Undeceive yourself,-it is
for the sake of you, and those like you who may have occasion for them...."
From Memoir of Baron de Grimm
Whether from malice or inattention, one who was in the habit of lending books to the husband of
Madame Geoffrin, sent him several times in succession the first volume of the Travels of Father
Labbat. M. Geoffrin with all the composure possible, always read the book over again without
perceiving the mistake. "How do you like these Travels, Sir?"-"They are very interesting, but the
author seems to me somewhat given to repetition."-He read Bayle's Dictionary with great
attention, following the line with his finger along the two columns. "What an excellent work, he
said, if it were only a little less abstruse."-"You were at the play this evening, M. Geoffrin, said
one, pray what was the performance?"-"I really cannot say, I was in a great hurry to get in and
had no time to look at the bill."- However deficient the poor man was, he was permitted to sit
down to dinner, at the end of the table, upon condition that he never attempted to join in
conversation. A foreigner who was very assiduous in his visits to Madame Geoffrin, one day, not
seeing him as usual at table, enquired after him: "What have you done, Madam, with the poor
man whom | I always used to see here, and who never spoke a word?"-"Oh, that was my
husbandl-he is dead."
From Baron de Grimm, Historical and Literary Memoirs and Anecdotes, (London: Henry
Colburn, 1815), Vol. 3, pp. 400-405, 52 53.
29. From The Social Contract by Jean Jacque Rousseau (Enlightenment. Age of Reason)
Jean Jacques Rousseau was one of the first writers to assert the social equality of human beings.
He argued, as in this 1755 passage, that inequality had developed through the ages and was not
"natural." He directly questioned the sanctity of property based on the assumed natural
inequality of human beings.
I have endeavored to trace the origin and progress of inequality, and the institution and abuse of
political societies, as far as these are capable of being deduced from the nature of man merely by
the light of reason, and independently of those sacred dogmas which give the sanction of divine
right to sovereign authority. It follows from this survey that, as there is hardly any inequality in
the state of nature, all the inequality which now prevails owes its strength and growth to the
development of our faculties and the advance of the human mind, and becomes at last permanent
and legitimate by the establishment of property and laws. Secondly, it follows that moral
inequality, authorized by positive right alone, clashes with natural right, whenever it is not
proportionate to physical inequality-a distinction which sufficiently determines what we think of
that species of inequality which prevails in all civilized countries; since it is plainly contrary to
the law of nature, however defined, that children should command old men, fools wise men, and
that the privileged few should gorge themselves with superfluities while the starving multitude
are in want of the bare necessities of life.
Rousseau, agreeing with Hobbes that society had been founded by compulsion but with Locke
that it ought to be founded on consent argued that a properly constituted social order was the
instrument for converting natural into civil freedom.
Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself master of others, but is
himself the greater slave. How did this change take place? I do not know. What can render it
legitimate? I believe I can answer this question.
If I were to consider nothing but force and its effects, I should say: "As long as a people is
compelled to obey, and does so, it does well; as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and does so, it
does even better; for in recovering its liberty on the same grounds on which it was stolen away, it
either is right in resuming it, or was wrongly deprived in the first place." But the social order is a
sacred right which serves as the basis for all others. And yet this right does not come from
nature; thus it is founded on conventions.
30. John Locke on the Origins of Government (Enlightenment. Age of Reason)
The heart of John Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government, written in the mid- 1680's before
England's Glorious Revolution but published in 1690, is its optimism about human nature-as
opposed to Hobbes's pessimism. In this passage Locke explains why, in his view, people create
"If man in the state of nature be so free, if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions,
equal to the greatest, and subject to nobody, why will he part with his freedom, and subject
himself to the dominion and control of any other power? To which it is obvious to answer, that
though in the state of nature he hath such a right, yet the enjoyment of it is very uncertain, and
constantly exposed to the invasions of others. This makes him willing to quit this condition,
which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers; and it is not without reason that he
seeks out and is willing to join in society with others, who have a mind to unite, for the mutual
preservation of their lives, liberties, and estates, which I call by the general name, property. The
great and chief end, therefore, of men's putting themselves under government, is the preservation
of their property."
―But though men when they enter into society give up the equality, liberty, and power they had
in the state of nature into the hands of society, yet it being only with an intention in every one the
better to preserve himself, his liberty, and property, the power of the society can never be
supposed to extend further than the common good. And all this to be directed to no other end but
the peace, safety, and public good of the people."
31. Of Civil Government by John Locke (Enlightenment)
Though the legislative, whether placed in one or more, whether it be always in being or only by
intervals, though it be the supreme power in every commonwealth, yet, first, it is not, nor can
possibly be, absolutely arbitrary over the lives and fortunes of the people. For it being but the
joint power of every member of the society given up to that person or assembly which is
legislator, it can be no more than those persons had in a state of Nature before they entered into
society, and gave it up to the community. For nobody can transfer to another more power than he
has in himself, and no-body has an absolute arbitrary power over himself, or over any other, to
destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of another. A man, as has been proved,
cannot subject himself to the arbitrary power of another; and having, in the state of Nature, no
arbitrary power over the life, liberty, or possession of another, but only so much as the law of
Nature gave him for the preservation of himself and the rest of mankind, this is all he cloth, or
can give up to the commonwealth, and by it to the legislative power, so that the legislative can
have no more than this. Their power in the utmost bounds of it is limited to the public good of
the society. It is a power that hath no other end but preservation, and therefore can never have a
right to destroy, enslave, or design-edly to impoverish the subjects; the obligations of the law of
Nature cease not in society, but only in many cases are drawn closer, and have, by human laws,
known penalties annexed to them to enforce their observation. Thus the law of Nature stands as
an eternal rule of all men, legislators as well as others. The rules that they make for other men's
actions must, as well as their own and other men's actions, be conformable to the law of Nature-
i.e., to the will of God, of which that is a declaration, and the fundamental law of Na-ture being
the preservation of mankind, no human sanction can be good or valid against it.
32. Leviathan: Political Order and Political Theory by Thomas Hobbes (Age of Reason.
England avoided the Thirty Years' war, she had her own experiences with passionate war and
disruption of authority. Between 1640 and 1660 England endured the civil war, the trial and
execution of her king, Charles I, the rise to power of Oliver Cromwell, and the return to power of
the Stuart king, Charles II. These events stimulated Thomas Hobbes ( 1588-1679) to formulate
one of the most important statements of political theory in history.
Hobbes supported the royalist cause during the civil war and served as tutor to the future
Charles II. Applying some of the new philosophical and scientific concepts being developed
during the seventeenth century, he presented a the only for the origins and proper functioning of
the state and political authority. His main ideas appear in Leviathan (16.51), the title page of
which appears here. It shows a giant monarchical figure with symbols of power and authority,
presiding over a well- ordered city and surrounding lands. On close examination one can see
that the monarch's body is composed of the citizens of this commonwealth who, according to
Hobbes' theory have mutually agreed to give up their independence to an all- powerful sovereign
who will keep order. This is explained in the following selection from Hobbes' book, in which he
relates the reasons for the formation of a commonwealth to the nature of authority in that
Consider: Why men form such a commonwealth and why they give such power to the sovereign;
how Hobbes' argument compares with that of James I; why both those favoring more power for
the House of Commons and those favoring increased monarchical power might criticize this
Whatsoever there- fore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man;
the same is consequent to the time, where in men live without other security, than what their own
strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition, there is no place
for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: consequently no culture of the earth; no
navigation, nor use of the commodious that may be imported by sea; no commodious building;
no instruments of moving or removing such things as require much force; no knowledge of the
face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all,
continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish. and
The final cause, end, or design of men who naturally love liberty, and dominion over others, in
the introduction of that restraint upon themselves, in which we see them live in commonwealths,
is the foresight of their own preservation, and of a more contented life thereby; that is to say, of
getting themselves out from that miserable condition of war, which is necessarily consequent, as
hath been shown in chapter XIII. to the natural passions of men, when there is no visible power
to keep them in awe. and tie them by fear of punishment to the performance of their covenants,
and observation of those laws of nature set down....
For the laws of nature, as justice, equity, modesty, mercy, and, in sum, doing to others. as we
would be done to, of themselves, without the terror of some power, to cause them to be observed,
are contrary to our natural passions, that carry us to partiality, pride, revenge, and the like. And
covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure a man at all....
The only way to erect such a common power, as may be able to defend them from the invasion
of foreigners, and the injuries of one another, and thereby to secure them in such sort, as that by
their own industry, and by the fruits of the earth, they may nourish themselves and live
contentedly; is, to confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of
men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will: which is as much as to
say, to appoint one man, or assembly of men, to bear their person; and every one to own, and
acknowledge himself to be author of whatsoever he that so beareth their person, shall act, or
cause to be acted, in those things which concern the common peace and safety; and therein to
submit their wills, every one to his will, and their judgments, to his judgment. This is more than
consent, or concord; it is a real unity of them all, in one and the same person, made by covenant
of every man with every man, in such manner, as if every man should say to every man, I
authorize and give up my right of governing myself, to this man, or to this assembly of men, on
this condition, that thou give up thy right to him, and authorize all his actions in like manner.
This done, the multitude so united in one person, is called a COMMONWEALTH, . . . This is
the generation of that great LEVIATHAN, or rather, to speak more reverently, of that mortal
god, to which we owe under the immortal God, our peace and defense. For by this authority,
given him by every particular man in the commonwealth, he hath the use of so much power and
strength conferred on him, that by terror thereof, he is enabled to perform the wills of them all, to
peace at home, and mutual aid against their enemies abroad. And in him consisteth the essence of
the commonwealth; which to define it, is one person, of whose acts a great multitude, by mutual
covenants one with another, have made themselves every one the author, to the end he may use
the strength and means of them all, as he shall think expedient, for their peace and common
And he that carrieth this person is called SOVEREIGN, and said to have sovereign power; and
every one besides, his subject.
33. The Cahiers: Discontents of the Third Estate (French Revolution)
Pressured by discontent and financial problems, Louis XVI called for a meeting of the Estates
General in 1789. This representative institution, which had not met for 175 years, rejected the
traditional formal divisions in French society the First Estate, the clergy; the Second Estate, the
nobility; and the Third Estate, all the rest from banker and lawyer to peasant. In anticipation of
the meeting of the Estates General, the king requested and received cahiers, lists of grievances
drawn up by local groups of each of the three Estates. These cahiers have provided historians
with an unusually rich source of materials revealing what was bothering people just before the
outbreak of the revolution in 1789. The following is an excerpt from a cahier from the Third
Estate in Carcassonne.
Consider: How these grievances of the Third Estate compare to the grievances noted by Young;
why these grievances might be revolutionary; the ways in which these grievances are peculiar to
the Third Estate and not shared by the First and Second Estates.
8. Among these rights the following should be especially noted: the nation should hereafter be
subject only to such laws and taxes as it shall itself freely ratify.
9. The meetings of the Estates General of the kingdom should be fixed for definite periods, and
the subsidies judged necessary for the support of the state and the public service should be noted
for no longer a period than to the close of the year in which the next meeting of the Estates
General is to occur.
10. In order to assure to the third estate the influence to which it is entitled in view of the number
of its members, the amount of its contributions to the public treasury, and the manifold interests
which it has to defend or promote in the national assemblies, its votes in the assembly should be
taken and counted by head.
11. No order, corporation, or individual citizen may lay claim to any pecuniary exemptions.... All
taxes should be assessed on the same system throughout the nation.
12. The due exacted from commoners holding fiefs should be abolished, and also the general or
particular regulations which exclude members of the third estate from certain positions, of fices,
and ranks which have hitherto been bestowed on nobles either for life or hereditarily. A law
should be passed declaring members of the third estate qualified to fill all such offices for which
they are judged to be personally fitted.
13. Since individual liberty is intimately associated with national liberty, his Majesty is hereby
petitioned not to permit that it be hereafter interfered with by arbitrary orders for imprisonment .
14. Freedom should be granted also to the press, which should however be subjected, by means
of strict regulations, to the principles of religion, morality, and public decency. . .
34. What is the Third Estate? by Abbe Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes
As an ambitious clergyman from Chartres, Abbe Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyes was a member of the
First Estate. Yet Sieyes was elected deputy to the Estates General for the Third Estate on the
basis of his attacks on aristocratic privilege. He participated in the writing and editing of the
great documents of the early revolution: the Oath of the Tennis Court and the Declaration of the
Rights of Man and Citizen. The pamphlet for which he is immortalized in revolutionary lore was
his daring "What Is the Third Estate?" Written in January 1789, it boldly confronted the
bankruptcy of the system of privilege of the Old Regime and threw down the gauntlet to those
who ruled France. In this document the revolution found its rallying point.
1st. What is the third estate? Everything.
2nd. What has it been heretofore in the political order? Nothing.
3rd. What does it demand? To become something therein....
Who, then, would dare to say that the third estate has not within itself all that is necessary to
constitute a complete nation? It is the strong and robust man whose one arm remains enchained.
If the privileged order were abolished, the nation would not be something less but something
more. Thus, what is the third estate? Everything; but an everything shackled and oppressed.
What would it be without the privileged order? Everything; but an everything free and
flourishing. Nothing can progress without it; everything would proceed infinitely better without
the others. It is not sufficient to have demonstrated that the privileged classes, far from being
useful to the nation, can only enfeeble and injure it; it is necessary, moreover, to prove that the
nobility does not belong to the social organization at all; that, indeed, it may be a burden upon
the nation, but that it would not know how to constitute a part thereof.
The third estate, then, comprises everything appertaining to the nation; and whatever is not the
third estate may not be regarded as being of the nation. What is the third estate? Everything!
35. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (Enlightenment. Women's
While the Enlightenment was dominated by men, there were possibilities for active involvement
by women. Several women played particularly important roles as patrons and intellectual
contributors to the gatherings of philosophes and members of the upper-middle-class and
aristocratic elite held in the salons of Paris and elsewhere. It was, however, far more difficult for
a woman to publish serious essays in the Enlightenment tradition Indeed, Enlightenment thinkers
did little to change basic attitudes about the inferiority of women. One person who managed to
do both was Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), a British author who in I 792 published A
Vindication of the Rights of woman. The book was a sharply reasoned attack against the
oppression of women and an argument for educational change. In the following excerpt
Wollstonecraft addresses the author of a proposed new constitution for France that, in her
opinion, does not adequately deal With the rights of women.
Consider: Why education is so central to her argument; the ways in which this argument reflects
the methods and ideals of the Enlightenment.
Contending for the rights of woman, my main argument is built on this simple principle, that if
she be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of
knowledge and virtue; for truth must be common to all, or it will be inefficacious with respect to
its influence on general practice. And how can woman be expected to co-operate unless she
knows why she ought to be virtuous? Unless freedom strengthens her reason till she
comprehends her duty, and sees in what manner it is connected with her real good. If children are
to be educated to understand the true principle of patriotism, their mother must be a patriot; and
the love of mankind, from which an orderly train of virtues spring, can only be produced by
considering the moral and civil interest of mankind; but the education and situation of woman at
present shuts her out from such investigations.
In this work I have produced many arguments, which to me were conclusive, to prove that the
prevailing notion respecting a sexual character was subversive of mortality, and I have
contended, that to render the human body and mind more perfect, chastity must more universally
prevail, and that chastity will never be respected in the male world till the person of a woman is
not, as it were, idolized, when little virtue or sense embellish it with the grand traces of mental
beauty, or the interesting simplicity of affection.
Consider, sir, dispassionately these observations, for a glimpse of this truth seemed to open
before you when you observed, "that to see one-half of the human race excluded by the other
from all participation of government was a political phenomenon, that, according to abstract
principles, it was impossible to explain." If so, on what does your constitution rest? If the
abstract lights of men will bear discussion and explanation, those of women, by a parity of
reasoning, will not shrink from the same test; though a different opinion prevails in this country,
built on the very arguments which you use to justify the oppression of woman- prescription.
Consider-I address you as a legislator-whether, when men contend for their freedom, and to be
allowed to judge for themselves respecting their own happiness, it be not inconsistent and unjust
to subjugate women, even though you firmly believe that you are acting in the manner best
calculated to promote their happiness? Who made man the exclusive judge, if woman partake
with him of the gift of reason?"
36. Let Them Eat Cake" (French Revolution. Age of Absolutism)
The Queen of France was bored. Try as she might, Marie Antoinette ( 1755-93) found
insufficient diversion in her life at the great court of Versailles. When she was fourteen, she had
married the heir to the French throne, the future Louis XVI. By the age of nineteen, she was
queen of the most prosperous state in continental Europe. Still, she was bored. Her life, she
complained to her mother, Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, was futile and meaningless. Maria
Theresa advised the unhappy queen to suffer in silence or risk unpleasant consequences.
Sometimes mothers know best. As head of the Habsburg Empire, Maria Theresa understood
more about politics than her youngest child. She understood that people have little sympathy
with the boredom of a monarch, especially a foreign-born queen. But Marie Antoinette chose to
ignore maternal advice and pursued amusements and intrigues that had unpleasant consequences
Unpopular as a foreigner from the time she arrived in France, Marie Antoinette suffered a
further decline in her reputation as gossip spread about her gambling and affairs at court. The
public heard exaggerated accounts of the fortunes she spent on clothing and jewelry. In 1785 she
was linked to a cardinal in a nasty scandal over a gift of a diamond necklace. In spite of her
innocence, rumors of corruption and infidelity surrounded her name. Dubbed "Madame Deficit,"
she came to represent all that was considered decadent in royal rule.
She continued to insist, "I am afraid of being bored." To amuse herself, she ordered a life-size
play village built on the grounds of Versailles, complete with cottages, a chapel. a mill, and a
running stream. Then, dressed in silks and muslins intended as the royal approximation of a
milkmaid's garb, she whiled away whole days with her friends and children, all pretending they
were inhabitants of this picturesque "hamlet." Her romantic view of country life helped pass the
time, but it did little to bring her closer to the struggling peasants who made up the majority of
Marie Antoinette's problems need not have mattered much. Monarchs before her had been
considered weak and extravagant. The difference was that her foibles became public in an age
when the OpilliOII of the people affected political life. Rulers, even those believed to be divinely
appointed, were subjected to a public scrutiny all the more powerful because of the growth of the
popular press. Kings, their ministers, and their spouses were held accountable-a dangerous
phenomenon for an absolute monarchy.
This Austrian-born queen may nor have been more shallow or wastefully extravagant than other
queens, but it mattered that people came to see her that way. The queen's reputation sank to its
nadir when it was reported that she dismissed the suffering of her starving subjects with the
haughty retort "Let them eat cake." What better evidence could there be of the queen's
insensitivity than this heartless remark?
Marie Antoinette never said "Let them eat cake," but everyone thought she did. This was the
kind of callousness that people expected from the monarchy in 1789. Marie Antoinette
understood the plight of her starving subjects, as her correspondence indicates. Probably a
courtier at Versailles was the real source of the brutal retort, but the truth did not matter. Marie
Antoinette and her husband were being indicted by the public for all the political, social, and
fiscal crises that plagued France.
In October 1793, Marie Antoinette was put on trial by the Revolutionary Tribunal and found
guilty of treason. She was stripped of all the trappings of monarchy and forced to don another
costume. Dressed as a poor working woman, her hair shorn, the former queen mounted the
guillotine, following in the footsteps of her husband, who had been executed earlier that year.
The monarchy did not fall because of a spendthrift queen with too much time on her hands. Nor
did it fall because of the mistakes of the well-meaning but inept king. The monarchy had ceased
to be responsive to the profound changes that shook France. It fell because of a new concern
among the people for royal accountability in words and deeds. A rising democratic tide carried
with it ideas about political representation, participation, and equality. If a queen could change
places with a milkmaid, why should not a milkmaid be able to change places with a queen?
37. The Fall of the Bastille A Parisian Newspaper Account (French Revolution)
On July 14, 1789, Parisian crowds m search of weapons attacked and captured the royal armory
known as the Bastille. It had also been a state prison, and its fall marked the triumph of "liberty"
over despotism. This intervention of the Parisian populace saved the Third Estate from Louis
XVI's attempted counterrevolution.
First, the people tried to enter this fortress by the Rue St.-Antoine, this fortress, which no one has
ever penetrated against the wishes of this frightful despotism and where the monster still resided.
The treacherous governor had put out a flag of peace. So a confident advance was made; a
detachment of French Guards, with perhaps five to six thousand armed bourgeois, penetrated the
Bastille's outer courtyards, but as soon as some six hundred persons had passed over the first
drawbridge, the bridge was raised and artillery fire mowed down several French Guards and
some soldiers; the cannon fired on the town, and the people took fright; a large number of
individuals were killed or wounded; but then they rallied and took shelter from the fire; ...
meanwhile, they tried to locate some cannon; they attacked from the water's edge through the
gardens of the arsenal, and from there made an orderly siege; they advanced from various
directions, beneath a ceaseless round of fire. It was a terrible scene.... The fighting grew steadily
more intense; the citizens had become hardened to the fire, from all directions they clambered
onto the roofs or broke into the rooms; as soon as an enemy appeared among the turrets on the
tower, he was fixed in the sights of a hundred guns and mown down in an instant; meanwhile
cannon fire was hurriedly directed against the second drawbridge, which it pierced, breaking the
chains; in vain did the cannon on the tower reply, for most people were sheltered from it; the
fury was at its height; people bravely faced death and every danger; women, in their eagerness,
helped us to the utmost; even the children, after the discharge of fire from the fortress, ran here
and there picking up the bullets and shot; [and so the Bastille fell and the governor, De Launey,
was captured].... Serene and blessed liberty, for the first time, has at last been introduced into this
abode of horrors, this frightful refuge of monstrous despotism and its crimes.
Meanwhile, they get ready to march; they leave amidst an enormous crowd; the applause, the
outbursts of joy, the insults, the oaths hurled at the treacherous prisoners of war; everything is
confused; cries of vengeance and of pleasure issue from every heart; the conquerors, glorious
and covered in honor, carry their arms and the spoils of the conquered, the flags of victory, the
militia mingling with the soldiers of the fatherland, the victory laurels offered them from every
side, all this created a frightening and splendid spectacle. On arriving at the square, the people,
anxious to avenge themselves, allowed neither De Launey nor the other officers to reach the
place of trial; they seized them from the hands of their conquerors, and trampled them underfoot
one after the other. De Launey was struck by a thousand blows, his head was cut off and hoisted
on the end of a pike with blood streaming down all sides.... This glorious day must amaze our
enemies, and finally usher in for us the triumph of justice and liberty. In the evening, there were
38. Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (French Revolution)
Sounding a refrain similar to that of the American Declaration of Independence (1776), the
Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was adopted by the National Assemb1y on 26
August 1789. The document amalgamated a variety of Enlightenment ideas, including those of
Locke and Montesquieu. The attention to property, which was defined as 'sacred and inviolab1e,
" rivaled that given to liberty as a 'natural" and "imprescriptib1e" right of man.
1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only
upon the general good.
2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights
of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. Nobody nor individual may
exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.
4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise
of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of
the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.
5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which
is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.
6. Law is the expression of the general will. Everv citizen has a right to participate personally, or
through his representative, in its formation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or
punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and
to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except
that of their virtues and talents.
7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the
forms prescribed by law. Any one soliciting, transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed,
any arbitrary order, shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested in virtue of the law
shall submit without delay, as resistance constitutes an offense.
8. The law shall provide for such punishments only as are strictly and obviously necessary....
9. As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be
deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner's person shall be
severely repressed by law.
10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided
their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
l 1. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of
man. E~ery citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print wirh freedom, but shall be
responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
12. The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces. These
forces are, therefore, established for the good of all and not for the personal advantage of those to
whom they shall be instructed.
13. A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost
of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to
14. All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the
necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put: and to fix
the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes.
15. Society has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration.
16. A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers
defined, has no constitution at all.
17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except
where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition
that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.
39. Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizen by Olympe de Gouges (French
Revolution. Women's Rights)
"Woman, wake up!" Thus did Olympe de Gouges (d. 1793), a self-educated playwright, address
French women in 1791. Aware that women were being denied the new rights of liberty and
property extended to all men by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, Gouges
composed her own Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizen, modeled on the 1789
document. Persecuted for her political beliefs, she foreshadowed her own demise at the hands of
revolutionary justice in article 10 of her declaration. The Declaration of the Rights of Woman
and Citizen became an important document in women's demands for political rights in the
nineteenth century, and Gouges herself became a feminist hero.
Woman is born free and lives equal to man in her rights. Social distinctions can be based only on
the common utility.
The purpose of any political association is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible
rights of woman and man; these rights are liberty, property, security, and especially resistance to
The principle of all sovereignty rests essentially with the nation, which is nothing but the union
of woman and man; no body and no individual can exercise any authority which does not come
expressly from it [the nation].
Liberty and justice consist of restoring all that belongs to others; thus, the only limits on the
exercise of the natural rights of woman are perpetual male tyranny; these limits are to be
reformed by the laws of nature and reason.
Laws of nature and reason proscribe all acts harmful to society; everything which is not
prohibited by these wise and divine laws cannot be prevented, and no one can be constrained to
do what they do not command.
The law must be the expression of the general will; all female and male citizens must contribute
either personally or through their representatives to its formation; it must be the same for all:
male and female citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, must be equally admitted to all
honors, positions, and public employment according to their capacity and without other
distinctions besides those of their virtues and talents.
No woman is an exception; she is accused, arrested, and detained in cases determined by law.
Women, like men, obey this rigorous law.
The law must establish only those penalties that are strictly and obviously necessary....
Once any woman is declared guilty, complete rigor is [to be] exercised by the law.
No one is to be disquieted for his very basic opinions; woman has the right to mount the scaffold;
she must equally have the right to mount the rostrum, provided that her demonstrations do not
disturb the legally established public order.
The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the most precious rights of woman,
since that liberty assures the recognition of children by their fathers. Any female citizen thus may
say freely, I am the mother of a child which belongs to you, without being forced by a barbarous
prejudice to hide the truth; [an exception may be made] to respond to the abuse of this liberty in
cases determined by the law.
The guarantee of the rights of woman and the female citizen implies a major benefit; this
guarantee must be instituted for the advantage of all, and not for the particular benefit of those to
whom it is entrusted.
For the support of the public force and the expenses of administration, the contributions of
woman and man are equal; she shares all the duties icorve'esl and all the painful tasks; therefore,
she must have the same share in the distribution of positions, employment, offices, honors and
Female and male citizens have the right to verify, either by themselves or through their
representatives, the necessity of the public contribution. This can only apply to women if they
are granted an equal share, not only of wealth, but also of public administration, and in the
determination of the proportion, the base, the collection, and the duration of the tax.
The collectivity of women, joined for tax purposes to the aggregate of men, has the right to
demand an accounting of his administration from any public agent.
No society has a constitution without the guarantee of rights and the separation of powers: the
constitution is null if the majority of individuals comprising the nation have not cooperated in
Property belongs to both sexes whether united or separate; for each it is an inviolable and sacred
right; no one can be deprived of it, since it is the true patrimony of nature, unless the legally
determined public need obviously dictates it, and then only with a just and prior indemnity.
40. The Execution of Louis XVI, 1793 (French Revolution)
Louis XVI, king of France, arrived in the wrong historical place at the wrong time and soon
found himself overwhelmed by events beyond his control. Ascending the throne in 1774, Louis
inherited a realm driven nearly bankrupt through the opulence of his predecessors Louis XIV
and XV. After donning the crown, things only got worse. The economy spiraled downward
(unemployment in Paris in 1788 is estimated at 50%), crops failed, the price of bread and other
food soared. The people were not happy. To top it off, Louis had the misfortune to marry a
foreigner, the Austrian Marie Antoinette. The anger of the French people, fueled by xenophobia,
targeted Marie as a prime source of their problems.
In 1788, Louis was forced to reinstate France's National Assembly (the Estates-General) which
quickly curtailed the king's powers. In July of the following year, the mobs of Paris stormed the
hated prison at the Bastille. Feeling that power was shifting to their side, the mob forced the
imprisonment of Louis and his family. Louis attempted escape in 1791 but was captured and
returned to Paris. In 1792, the newly elected National Convention declared France a republic
and brought Louis to trial for crimes against the people.
Procession to eternity
On January 20, 1793, the National Convention condemned Louis XVI to death, his execution
scheduled for the next day. Louis spent that evening saying goodbye to his wife and children.
The following day dawned cold and wet. Louis arose at five. At eight o'clock a guard of 1,200
horsemen arrived to escort the former king on a two-hour carriage ride to his place of execution.
Accompanying Louis, at his invitation, was a priest, Henry Essex Edgeworth, an Englishman
living in France. Edgeworth recorded the event and we join his narrative as he and the fated King
enter the carriage to begin their journey:
"The King, finding himself seated in the carriage, where he could neither speak to me nor be
spoken to without witness, kept a profound silence. I presented him with my breviary, the only
book I had with me, and he seemed to accept it with pleasure: he appeared anxious that I should
point out to him the psalms that were most suited to his situation, and he recited them attentively
with me. The gendarmes, without speaking, seemed astonished and confounded at the tranquil
piety of their monarch, to whom they doubtless never had before approached so near.
The procession lasted almost two hours; the streets were lined with citizens, all armed, some
with pikes and some with guns, and the carriage was surrounded by a body of troops, formed of
the most desperate people of Paris. As another precaution, they had placed before the horses a
number of drums, intended to drown any noise or murmur in favour of the King; but how could
they be heard? Nobody appeared either at the doors or windows, and in the street nothing was to
be seen, but armed citizens - citizens, all rushing towards the commission of a crime, which
perhaps they detested in their hearts.
The carriage proceeded thus in silence to the Place de Louis XV, and stopped in the middle of a
large space that had been left round the scaffold: this space was surrounded with cannon, and
beyond, an armed multitude extended as far as the eye could reach. As soon as the King
perceived that the carriage stopped, he turned and whispered to me, 'We are arrived, if I mistake
not.' My silence answered that we were. One of the guards came to open the carriage door, and
the gendarmes would have jumped out, but the King stopped them, and leaning his arm on my
knee, 'Gentlemen,' said he, with the tone of majesty, 'I recommend to you this good man; take
care that after my death no insult be offered to him - I charge you to prevent it.'… As soon as the
King had left the carriage, three guards surrounded him, and would have taken off his clothes,
but he repulsed them with haughtiness- he undressed himself, untied his neckcloth, opened his
shirt, and arranged it himself. The guards, whom the determined countenance of the King had for
a moment disconcerted, seemed to recover their audacity. They surrounded him again, and would
have seized his hands. 'What are you attempting?' said the King, drawing back his hands. 'To
bind you,' answered the wretches. 'To bind me,' said the King, with an indignant air. 'No! I shall
never consent to that: do what you have been ordered, but you shall never bind me. . .'
The path leading to the scaffold was extremely rough and difficult to pass; the King was obliged
to lean on my arm, and from the slowness with which he proceeded, I feared for a moment that
his courage might fail; but what was my astonishment, when arrived at the last step, I felt that he
suddenly let go my arm, and I saw him cross with a firm foot the breadth of the whole scaffold;
silence, by his look alone, fifteen or twenty drums that were placed opposite to me; and in a
voice so loud, that it must have been heard it the Pont Tournant, I heard him pronounce distinctly
these memorable words: 'I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I Pardon those who
have occasioned my death; and I pray to God that the blood you are going to shed may never be
visited on France.'
He was proceeding, when a man on horseback, in the national uniform, and with a ferocious cry,
ordered the drums to beat. Many voices were at the same time heard encouraging the
executioners. They seemed reanimated themselves, in seizing with violence the most virtuous of
Kings, they dragged him under the axe of the guillotine, which with one stroke severed his head
from his body. All this passed in a moment. The youngest of the guards, who seemed about
eighteen, immediately seized the head, and showed it to the people as he walked round the
scaffold; he accompanied this monstrous ceremony with the most atrocious and indecent
gestures. At first an awful silence prevailed; at length some cries of 'Vive la Republique!' were
heard. By degrees the voices multiplied and in less than ten minutes this cry, a thousand times
repeated became the universal shout of the multitude, and every hat was in the air."
(During the American Revolution Louis granted financial and military aid that was instrumental
in the colonies gaining independence from Great Britain.
Marie Antoinette married Louis in 1770 when she was 14. She was executed at the guillotine on
October 16, 1793. Joseph Guillotine, a French physician, developed the guillotine in 1789. At the
time, it was hailed as a more humanitarian form of execution.)
41. Maximilian Robespierre (French Revolution. Reign of Terror)
Between 1793 and 1794, France experienced the most radical phase of the revolution, known as
the Reign of Terror. During this period France was essentially ruled by the twelve-member
Committee of Public Safety elected by the National Convention every month. The outstanding
member of this committee was Maximilian Robespierre (1758-1794), a provincial lawyer who
rose within the Jacobin Club and gained a reputation for incorruptibility and superb oratory.
Historians have argued over Robespierre, some singling him out as a bloodthirsty individual
with the major responsibility for the executions during the Reign of Terror, others seeing him as
a sincere, idealistic, effective revolutionary leader called to the fore by events of the time. In the
following speech to the National Convention on February 5, 1794, Robespierre defines the
revolution and justifies extreme actions, including terror, in its defense.
Consider: What Robespierre means when he argues that terror flows from virtue; how the use of
terror relates to the essence of the revolution; how this speech might be interpreted as an
Enlightenment attack on the Ancien Regime carried to its logical conclusion.
It is time to mark clearly the aim of the Revolution and the end toward which we wish to move;
it is time to take stock of ourselves, of the obstacles which we still face, and of the means which
we ought to adopt to attain our objectives....
What is the goal for which we strive? A peaceful enjoyment of liberty and equality, the rule of
that eternal justice whose laws are engraved, not upon marble or stone, but in the hearts of all
We wish an order of things where all 1ow and cruel passions are enchained by the laws, all
beneficent and generous feelings aroused; wlhere ambition is the desire to merit glory and to
serve one's fatherland; where distinctions are born only of equality itself; where the citizen is
subject to the magistrate, the magistrate to the people, the people to justice; where the nation
safeguards the welfare of each individual, and each individual proudly enjoys the prosperity and
glory of his fatherland; where all spirits are enlarged by the constant exchange of republican
sentiments and by the need of earning the respect of a great people; where the arts are the
adornment of liberty, which ennobles them; and where commerce is the source of public wealth,
not simply of monstrous opulence for a few families.
In our country we wish to substitute morality for egotism, probity for honor, principles for
conventions, duties for etiquette, the empire of reason for the tyranny of customs, contempt for
vice for contempt for misfortune, pride for insolence, the love of honor for the love of money . . .
that is to say, all the virtues and miracles of the Republic for all the vices and snobbishness of the
We wish in a word to fulfill the requirements of nature, to accomplish the destiny of mankind, to
make good the promises of philosophy . . . that France, hitherto illustrious among slave states,
may eclipse the glory of all free peoples that have existed, become the model of all nations....
That is our ambition; that is our aim.
What kind of government can realize these marvels? Only a democratic government.... But to
found and to consolidate among us this democracy, to realize the peaceable rule of constitutional
laws, it is necessary to conclude the war of liberty against tyranny and to pass successfully
through the storms of revolution. Such is the aim of the revolutionary system which you have set
Now what is the fundamental principle of democratic, or popular government- that is to say, the
essential mainspring upon which it depends and which makes it function? It is virtue: I mean
public virtue . .that virtue is nothing else but love of fatherland and its laws....
The splendor of the goal of the French Revolution is simultaneously the source of our strength
and of our weakness: our strength, because it gives us an ascendancy of truth over falsehood, and
of public rights over private interests; our weakness, because it rallies against us all vicious men,
all those who in their hearts seek to despoil the people.... It is necessary to stifle the domestic and
foreign enemies of the Republic or perish with them. Now in these circumstances, the first
maxim of our politics ought to be to lead the people by means of reason and the enemies of the
people by terror.
If the basis of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the basis of popular government in
time of revolution is both virtue and terror: virtue without which terror is murderous, terror
without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing else than swift, severe, indomitable justice;
it flows, then, from virtue.
42. Robespierre and Revolutionary Government (French Revolution. Reign of Terror)
In its time of troubles, the National Convention, under the direction of the Committee of Public
Safety, instituted a Reign of Terror to preserve the Revolution from its internal enemies. In the
following selection, Maximilian Robespierre, one of the committee's leading members, tries to
justify the violence to which these believers in republican liberty resorted.
Robespierre, Speech on Revolutionary Government
The theory of revolutionary government is as new as the Revolution that created it. It is as
pointless to seek its origins in the books of the political theorists, who failed to foresee this
revolution, as in the laws of the tyrants, who are happy enough to abuse their exercise of
authority without seeking out its legal justification. And so this phrase is for the aristocracy a
mere subject of terror a term of slander, for tyrants an outrage and for many an enigma. It
behooves us to explain it to all in order that we may rally good citizens, at least, in support of the
principles governing the public interest.
It is the function of government to guide the moral and physical energies of the nation toward the
purposes for which it was established.
The object of constitutional government is to preserve the Republic; the object of revolutionary
government is to establish it.
Revolution is the war waged by liberty against its enemies; a constitution is that which crowns
the edifice of freedom once victory has been won and the nation is at peace.
The revolutionary government has to summon extraordinary activity to its aid precisely because
it is at war. It is subjected to less binding and less uniform regulations, because the circumstances
in which it finds itself are tempestuous and shifting above all because it is compelled to deploy,
swiftly and incessantly, new resources to meet new and pressing dangers.
The principal concern of constitutional government is civil Liberty; that of revolutionary
government, public liberty. Under a constitutional government little more is required than to
protect the individual against abuses by the state, whereas revolutionary government is obliged to
defend the state itself against the factions that assail it from every quarter.
To good citizens revolutionary government owes the full protection of the state; to the enemies
of the people it owes only death.
43. Four Views on Napoleon. (Age of Napoleon)
a) Napoleon and Psychological Warfare
In 1796, at the age of twenty-seven, Napoleon Bonaparte was given command of the French
army in Italy where he won a series of stunning victories. His use of speed, deception, and
surprise to overwhelm his opponents is well known. In this selection from a proclamation to his
troops in Italy, Napoleon also appears as a master of psychological warfare.
b) Napoleon Bonaparte, Proclamation to the French Troops in Italy (April 26, 1796)
In a fortnight you have won six victories, taken twenty-one standards, fifty-five pieces of
artillery, several strong positions, and conquered the richest part of Piedmont [in northern Italy];
you have captured 15,000 prisoners and killed or wounded more than 10,000 men.... You have
won battles without cannon, crossed rivers without bridges, made forced marches without shoes,
camped without brandy and often without bread. Soldiers of Liberty,' only republican troops
could have endured what you have endured. Soldiers, you have our thanks! The grateful Patrie
[nation] will owe its prosperity to you....
The two armies which but recently attacked you with audacity are fleeing before you in terror;
the wicked men who laughed at your misery and rejoice at the thought of the triumphs of your
enemies are confounded and trembling.
But, soldiers, as yet you have done nothing compared with what remains to be done....
Undoubtably the greatest obstacles have keen overcome; but you still have battles to fight, cities
to capture, rivers to cross. Is there one among you whose courage is abating? No.... All of you
are consumed with a desire to extend the glory of the French people; all of you long to humiliate
those arrogant kings who dare to contemplate placing us in fetters; all of you desire to dictate a
glorious peace, one which will indemnify the Patrie long the immense sacrifices it has made; all
of you wish to be able to say with pride as you return to your villages, "I was with the victorious
army of Italy!"
c) The Man of Destiny
Napoleon possessed an overwhelming sense of his own importance. Among the images he
fostered, especially as his successes multiplied and his megalomaniacal tendencies intensified,
were those of the man of destiny and the great man who masters luck.
Selections from Napoleon
When a deplorable weakness and ceaseless vacillations become manifest in supreme councils;
when, yielding in turn to the influences of opposing parties, making shift from day to day, and
marching with uncertain pace, a government has proved the full measure of its impotence; when
even the most moderate citizens are forced to admit that the State is no longer governed; when in
fine, the administration adds to its nullity at home the gravest guilt it can acquire in the eyes of a
proud nation--I mean its humiliation abroad--then a vague unrest spreads through the social
body, the instinct of self-preservation is stirred, and the nation casts a sweeping eye over itself,
as if to seek a man who can save it.
This guardian angel a great nation harbors in its bosom at all times; yet sometimes he is late in
making his appearance. Indeed, it is not enough for him to exist: he also must be known. He
must know himself. Until then, all endeavors are in vain, all schemes collapse. The inertia of the
masses protects the nominal government, and despite its ineptitude and weakness the efforts of
its enemies fail. But let that impatiently awaited savior give a sudden sign of his existence, and
the people's instinct will divine him and call upon him. The obstacles are smoothed before his
steps, and a whole great nation, flying to see him pass, will seem to be saying: "Here is the man!"
A consecutive series of great actions never is the result of chance and luck; it always is the
product of planning and genius. Great men are rarely known to fail in their most perilous
enterprises.... Is it because they are lucky that they become great? No, but being great, they have
been able to master luck.
d) Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on Napoleon:
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) was a leading German author and polymath whose
collected works fill over 140 volumes. He searched for the mysteries of nature and human
experience in his lyrics and verse and considered the political order in The Sorrows of the Young
Werther and Faust. In Werther, Goethe explained that despair was the only reaction one could
have in the face of the Old Order, while in Faust he preserved the Romantic notion of the pursuit
of supernatural power. Like his fellow Romantics, he viewed the French Revolution and the rise
of Napoleon as the dawn of a new and heroic epoch that ushered in a new world.
Now Napoleon-there was a fellow! Always enlightened by reason, always clear and de-cisive,
and gifted at every moment with enough energy to translate into action whatever he recognized
as being advantageous or necessary. His life was the stride of a demigod from battle to battle and
from victory to victory.... it could ... be said that he was in a permanent state of enlightenment,
which is why his fate was more brilliant than the world has ever seen or is likely to see after him.
e) John Adams on Napoleon
John Adams (1735-1826), a well-read teacher and lawyer, championed American independence
when British measures infringed on colonial liberties and self-government, wrote most of the
Massachusetts State Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and served as Federalist President of the
United States during the stormy years of trouble with France in the late 1790's. Adams distrusted
popular government and strived to create and maintain dignity, ritual and authority in his
What a mighty bubble!! What a tremendous Waterspout has Napoleon been according to his Life
written by himself? He says he was the Creature of the Principles and Manners of the Age. By
which no doubt he means the Age of Reason. I believe him. A Whirlwind raised him and a
Whirlwind blew him away to St. Helena. He is very confident that the Age of Reason is not past,
and so am I; but I hope that reason will never again rashly and hastily create such Creatures as
him. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Humanity will never again, I hope, blindly surrender
themselves to an unbounded Ambition for national Conquests, nor implicitly commit themselves
to the custody and Guardianship of Arms and Heroes. If they do, they will again end in St.
f) A Soldier's Letters to His Mother: Revolutionary Nationalism by Francois-Xavier Joliclerc
Despite tremendous internal difficulties, including counterrevolutionary movements in a number
of provinces, French armies held back foreign forces after war broke out in 1792, but by 1794
the French forces had made gains even beyond the 1789 borders. Part of the reason for this
success was the nationalistic enthusiasm that developed along with the revolution. This
nationalism is demonstrated by the following letters from Francois-Xavier Joliclerc, a conscript
in the French army, to his mother.
Consider: The divisions within French society revealed in these letters; why such sentiments
among soldiers are so important and how political leaders or military strategists might capitalize
on them; whether the nationalism revealed in these letters is inherent in the nature of the French
Revolution or in any particular phase of that revolution.
13 December, 1793
My dear mother,
You continue to point out to me, in all your letters, that we must get out of the army, cost what it
may. Here are the difficulties and the obstacles that I can see.
First of all, it is difficult to find replacements despite the enormous sums that are expended for
this purpose. Secondly, we have just had a call-up of men eighteen to twenty-five; and the call-
up of those from twenty-five to thirty-five is being prepared. As soon as we got home, we would
have to get ready to go back, regretting the money we had spent. Thirdly, when la patrie calls us
to her defense, we ought to fly there as if running to a good meal. Our life, our wealth, and our
talents do not belong to us. It is to the nation, la patrie, that all that belongs.
I know well that you and all the others in our village do not share these sentiments. They are not
aroused by the cries of an outraged fatherland, and all that they do results from being compelled
to. But I have been brought up in conscience and thought, and have always been republican in
spirit, although obliged to live in a monarchy. These principles of love for la patrie, la liberte', la
re'publique, are not only engraved in my heart, but are deeply etched and will remain there as
long as it will please the Supreme Being to sustain in me the breath of life.
Even if it cost me three quarters of my possessions to have you share these sentiments with me, I
would gladly part with them and consider it a very small sacrifice. Oh, if only one day you could
know the price of liberty and lose your senseless attachment to material things.
30 May, 1794
What about my lot? I am at my post, where I ought to be, and every good man who knows what's
what ought to fly to the aid of his country in danger. If I should perish there, you ought to
rejoice. Can one make a finer sacrifice than to die for one's country? Can one die for a more just,
glorious, and fairer cause? NO! Would you rather see me die on a mattress of straw in my bed at
Froidefontaine [his home village] working with wood or stone?
NO, dear mother. Think that I am at my post and you will be consoled. If your conscience
reproaches you in some way, sell even the last of your petticoats for la patrie. She is our only
rudder, and it is she who guides us and gives us happiness....
Your son, Joliclerc
Moniteur, March 1815
g) Headlines in the French newspaper Moniteur in March of 1815. These banners announced
Napoleon's return from Elba to Paris. What do they tell you about the return of Napoleon?
March 9:The Monster has escaped from his place of banishment.
March 10:The Corsican Orge has landed at Cape Juan
March 11:TheTiger has shown himself at Gap. The Troops are advancing on all sides to arrest
his progress. He will conclude his miserable adventure by becoming a wanderer among the
March 12:The Monster has actually advanced as far as Grenoble
March 13:The Tyrant is now at Lyon. Fear and Terror seized all at his appearance.
March 18:The Usurper has ventured to approach to within 60 hours' march of the capital.
March 19:Bonaparte is advancing by forced marches, it is impossible he can reach Paris.
March 20:Napoleon will arrive under the walls of Paris tomorrow.
March 21:The Emperor Napoleon is at Fountainbleau
March 22:Yesterday evening His Majesty the Emperor made his public entry and arrived at the
Tuileries. Nothing can exceed the universal joy.
h) The Thoughts of Napoleon
The following are excerpts from the diary of Napoleon. Note the date of each excerpt and think
of what event has either just taken place or is about to occur. How do Napoleon's thoughts reflect
the historical events of his life and times?
Soldiers, you are naked, ill fed! The Government owes you much; it can give you nothing. Your
patience, the courage you display in the midst of these rocks, are admirable; but they procure you
no glory, no fame is reflected upon you. I seek to lead you into the most fertile plains in the
world. Rich provinces, great cities will be in your power. There you will find honor, glory and
riches. Soldiers of Italy (referring to the French army stationed in the Italian Alps) would you be
lacking in courage or constancy? (March 27, 1796)
Paris has a short memory. If I remain longer doing nothing, I am lost. In this great Babylon one
reputation quickly succeeds another. After I have been seen three times at the theatre, I shall not
be looked at again. I shall therefore not go very frequently. (diary 1798)
This little Europe affords too slight a scope. I must go to the orient; all great reputations have
been won there. If the success of an expedition to England should prove doubtful, as I fear, the
army of England will become the army of the East, and I shall go there. The East awaits a man...
If the press is not bridled, I shall not remain three days in power. (diary 1799)
What a tiny is imagination! Here are men who don't know me, who have never seen me, but who
only knew of me, and they are moved by my presence, they would do anything for me! And this
same incident arises in all centuries and in all countries! Such is fanaticism! Yes, imagination
rules the world. The defect of our modern institutions is that they do not speak to the
imagination. By that alone can man be govened; without it he is a brute. (Diary 1800)
The presence of a general is necessary; he is the head, he is the all in all of an army. It was not
the Roman army that conquered Gaul, it was Caesar, it was not the Carthaginians that made the
armies of the Roman republic tremble at the very gates of Rome, it was Hannibal. (Diary 1801)
My power proceeds from my reputation, and my reputation from the victories I have won. My
power would fall if I were not to support it with more glory and more victories. Conquest has
made me what I am, only conquest can maintain me. (diary 1802)
I shall repress the journals a little, make them produce wholesome articles. I shall in form the
editors of the newspapers that are widely read in order to let them know that the time is not far
away when, seeing that they are no longer of service to me, I shall suppress them. The revolution
in France is over and now there is only one party in France and I shall never allow the
newspapers to say anything contrary to my interests. They may publish a few little articles with
just a bit of poison in them, but one fine day I shall shut their mouths forever. (Diary 1805)
POWER IS NEVER RIDICULOUS! (Diary 1808)
44. The Battle of Waterloo, 1815 (Age of Napoleon)
Faced with the overwhelming military might of his adversaries, Napoleon was forced to abdicate
the throne of France in April 1814.The victorious Allies banished the former Emperor to the
island of Elba off the coast of Italy and installed Louis XVIII (younger brother of the executed
Louis XVI) as King.
It did not take long before the bumbling and arrogant tactics of the new king alienated his
subjects and motivated the exiled Emperor to make a new bid for power. On February 26, 1815
Napoleon escaped the Island of Elba and landed on the French coast near Cannes. Thousands of
his old soldiers flocked to his banner as Napoleon marched to Paris. By the time he reached the
capital his followers had grown to hundreds of thousands and Louis XVIII had fled to Belgium.
The Allies prepared to once again mass their forces for another attack on the French Emperor.
This would take time, however. Only two Allied armies posed an immediate threat - a British
force of 68,000 under the command of the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian Army of 89,000
headed by Field Marshal Blucher - both encamped in Belgium. Seizing the moment, Napoleon
led his approximately 105,000 troops across the Belgian border with the aim of defeating his
enemies individually before they could unite.
His efforts were initially successful. In a clash at Ligny on June 16, Napoleon routed the
Prussians at a high cost. Napoleon turned his attention to the British who made a stand at the
small town of Waterloo a few miles south of Brussels. The stage was set for one of history's most
On the morning of June 18, the two armies faced off against each other. However the incessant
rains of the previous days had soaked the ground to a muddy quagmire hampering the
movements of men, horses and artillery. This postponed the battle until midday when Napoleon
opened up with an artillery barrage. The fighting seesawed back and forth throughout the day
with high casualties on both sides. Towards evening Wellington's exhausted troops seemed on
the verge of breaking, but the timely arrival of the Prussians reinvigorated their efforts and
Napoleon fled to Paris where he abdicated for a second time on June 22 and was exiled to the
desolate island of St. Helena in the mid-Atlantic.
The Battle Begins
Captain J.H. Gronow joined the British Army in 1813 at age 19. He served under the Duke of
Wellington in Spain and in Belgium. We join his story on the morning of the battle:
"On the morning of the 18th the sun shone most gloriously, and so clear was the atmosphere that
we could see the long, imposing lines of the enemy most distinctly. Immediately in front of the
division to which I belonged, and, I should imagine, about half a mile from us, were posted
cavalry and artillery; and to the right and left the French had already engaged us, attacking
Huguemont and La Haye Sainte. We heard incessantly the measured boom of artillery,
accompanied by the incessant rattling echoes of musketry.
The whole of the British infantry not actually engaged were at that time formed into squares; and
as you looked along our lines, it seemed as if we formed a continuous wall of human beings. I
recollect distinctly being able to see Bonaparte and his staff; and some of my brother officers
using the glass, exclaimed, 'There he is on his white horse.'
I should not forget to state that when the enemy's artillery began to play on us, we had orders to
lie down, when we could hear the shot and shell whistling around us, killing and wounding great
numbers; then again we were ordered on our knees to receive cavalry. The French artillery -
which consisted of three hundred guns, though we did not muster more than half that number -
committed terrible havoc during the early part of the battle, whilst we were acting on the
The French Attack...
"About four P.M. the enemy's artillery in front of us ceased firing all of a sudden, and we saw
large masses of cavalry advance: not a man present who survived could have forgotten in after
life the awful grandeur of that charge. You discovered at a distance what appeared to be an
overwhelming, long moving line, which, ever advancing, glittered like a stormy wave of the sea
when it catches the sunlight. On they came until they got near enough, whilst the very earth
seemed to vibrate beneath the thundering tramp of the mounted host. One might suppose that
nothing could have resisted the shock of this terrible moving mass. They were the famous
cuirassiers, almost all old soldiers, who had distinguished themselves on most of the battlefields
of Europe. In an almost incredibly short period they were within twenty yards of us, shouting
'Vive l'Empereur!' The word of command, 'Prepare to receive cavalry,' had been given, every
man in the front ranks knelt, and a wall bristling with steel, held together by steady hands,
presented itself to the infuriated cuirassiers.
I should observe that just before this charge the duke entered by one of the angles of the square,
accompanied only by one aide-de-camp; all the rest of his staff being either killed or wounded.
Our commander-in-chief, as far as I could judge, appeared perfectly composed; but looked very
thoughtful and pale.
The charge of the French cavalry was gallantly executed; but our well-directed fire brought men
and horses down, and ere long the utmost confusion arose in their ranks. The officers were
exceedingly brave, and by their gestures and fearless bearing did all in their power to encourage
their men to form again and renew the attack. The duke sat unmoved, mounted on his favourite
charger. I recollect his asking the Hon. Lieut.-Colonel Stanhope what o'clock it was, upon which
Stanhope took out his watch, and said it was twenty minutes past four. The Duke replied, 'The
battle is mine; and if the Prussians arrive soon, there will be an end of the war.' "
The Final Charge...
"It was about five o'clock on that memorable day, that we suddenly received orders to retire
behind an elevation in our rear. The enemy's artillery had come up en masse within a hundred
yards of us. By the time they began to discharge their guns, however, we were lying down
behind the rising ground, and protected by the ridge before referred to.
The enemy's cavalry was in the rear of their artillery, in order to be ready to protect it if attacked;
but no attempt was made on our part to do so. After they had pounded away at us for about half
an hour, they deployed, and up came the whole mass of the Imperial infantry of the Guard, led
on by the Emperor in person. We had now before us probably about 20,000 of the best soldiers in
France, the heroes of many memorable victories; we saw the bearskin caps rising higher and
higher as they ascended the ridge of ground which separated us, and advanced nearer and nearer
to our lines.
It was at this moment the Duke of Wellington gave his famous order for our bayonet charge, as
he rode along the line: these are the precise words he made use of - 'Guards, get up and charge!'
We were instantly on our legs, and after so many hours of inaction and irritation at maintaining a
purely defensive attitude - all the time suffering the loss of comrades and friends - the spirit
which animated officers and men may easily be imagined. After firing a volley as soon as the
enemy were within shot, we rushed on with fixed bayonets, and that hearty hurrah peculiar to
44.5 Romantic Poetry and Other Writing Representing the Romantic Era
We Are Seven- William Wordsworth
A SIMPLE Child,
That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,
What should it know of death?
I met a little cottage Girl:
She was eight years old, she said;
Her hair was thick with many a curl
That clustered round her head.
She had a rustic, woodland air,
And she was wildly clad: Her eyes were fair, and very fair;
Her beauty made me glad.
"Sisters and brothers, little Maid,
How many may you be?"
"How many? Seven in all," she said
And wondering looked at me.
"And where are they? I pray you tell."
She answered, "Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea.
"Two of us in the church-yard lie,
My sister and my brother;
And, in the church-yard cottage, I
Dwell near them with my mother."
"You say that two at Conway dwell,
And two are gone to sea,
Yet ye are seven!--I pray you tell,
Sweet Maid, how this may be."
Then did the little Maid reply,
"Seven boys and girls are we;
Two of us in the church-yard lie,
Beneath the church-yard tree."
"You run about, my little Maid,
Your limbs they are alive;
If two are in the church-yard laid,
Then ye are only five."
"Their graves are green, they may be seen,"
The little Maid replied,
"Twelve steps or more from my mother's door,
And they are side by side
"My stockings there I often knit,
My kerchief there I hem;
And there upon the ground I sit,
And sing a song to them.
"And often after sunset, Sir,
When it is light and fair,
I take my little porringer,
And eat my supper there.
"The first that died was sister Jane;
In bed she moaning lay,
Till God released her of her pain;
And then she went away.
"So in the church-yard she was laid;
And, when the grass was dry,
Together round her grave we played,
My brother John and I.
"And when the ground was white with snow,
And I could run and slide,
My brother John was forced to go,
And he lies by her side."
"How many are you, then," said I,
"If they two are in heaven?"
Quick was the little Maid's reply,
"O Master! we are seven."
"But they are dead; those two are dead!
Their spirits are in heaven!"
'Twas throwing words away; for still
The little Maid would have her will,
And said, "Nay, we are seven!"
LONDON, 1802 (Wordsworth)
MILTON! thou should'st be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.
Jerusalem by William Blake.
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
London by William Blake.
I wandered through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:
How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.
But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
In England's green and pleasant land.
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearsea
WE'LL GO NO MORE A-ROVING by George Gordon (Lord) Byron (1788-1824)
O, we'll go no more a-roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have a rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a-roving
By the light of the moon.
England in 1819 by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
An old, mad, blind, despis'd, and dying king,
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn--mud from a muddy spring,
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,
A people starv'd and stabb'd in the untill'd field,
An army, which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edg'd sword to all who wield,
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay,
Religion Christless, Godless--a book seal'd,
A Senate--Time's worst statute unrepeal'd,
Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said -- "two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert ... near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away." –
THE GENESIS OF BUTTERFLIES by: Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
THE dawn is smiling on the dew that covers
The tearful roses; lo, the little lovers
That kiss the buds, and all the flutterings
In jasmine bloom, and privet, of white wings,
That go and come, and fly, and peep and hide,
With muffled music, murmured far and wide.
Ah, the Spring time, when we think of all the lays
That dreamy lovers send to dreamy mays,
Of the fond hearts within a billet bound,
Of all the soft silk paper that pens wound,
The messages of love that mortals write
Filled with intoxication of delight,
Written in April and before the May time
Shredded and flown, playthings for the wind's playtime,
We dream that all white butterflies above,
Who seek through clouds or waters souls to love,
And leave their lady mistress in despair,
To flit to flowers, as kinder and more fair,
Are but torn love-letters, that through the skies
Flutter, and float, and change to butterflies.
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
1 Ah! County Guy, the hour is nigh,
2 The sun has left the lea,
3The orange flower perfumes the bower,
4 The breeze is on the sea.
5The lark his lay who thrill'd all day
6 Sits hush'd his partner nigh:
7Breeze, bird, and flower confess the hour,
8 But where is County Guy?
9 The village maid steals through the shade,
10 Her shepherd's suit to hear;
11To beauty shy, by lattice high,
12 Sings high-born Cavalier.
13The star of Love, all stars above
14 Now reigns o'er earth and sky;
15And high and low the influence know--
16 But where is County Guy?
Ode to Solitude (Keats)
O SOLITUDE! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
Nature‘s observatory—whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river‘s crystal swell, 5
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
‘Mongst boughs pavillion‘d, where the deer‘s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I‘ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind, 10
Whose words are images of thoughts refin‘d,
Is my soul‘s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.
George Sand Quotes
• "Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth."
• "The beauty that addresses itself to the eyes is only the spell of the moment; the eye of
the body is not always that of the soul."
•"Once my heart was captured, reason was shown the door, deliberately and with a sort of
frantic joy. I accepted everything, I believed everything, without struggle, without
suffering, without regret, without false shame. How can one blush for what one adores?"
• "One approaches the journey's end. But the end is a goal, not a catastrophe."
• "Faith is an excitement and an enthusiasm: it is a condition of intellectual magnificence
to which we must cling as to a treasure, and not squander on our way through life in the
small coin of empty words, or in exact and priggish argument."
• "There is only one happiness in life -- to love and to be loved."
• "I regard as a mortal sin not only the lying of the senses in matters of love, but also the
illusion which the senses seek to create where love is only partial. I say, I believe, that
one must love with all of one's being, or else live, come what may, a life of complete
• "If they are ignorant, they are despised, if learned, mocked. In love they are reduced to
the status of courtesans. As wives they are treated more as servants than as companions.
Men do not love them: they make use of them, they exploit them, and expect, in that way,
to make them subject to the law of fidelity."
• "No one makes a revolution by himself; and there are some revolutions which humanity
accomplishes without quite knowing how, because it is everybody who takes them in
Madame de Stael Quotes
•The more I see of men the more I like dogs.
• Prayer is more than meditation. In meditation, the source of strength is one's self. When
one prays, he goes to a source of strength greater than his own.
• The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of
45. The Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill (Industrial Revolution. Women's
John Stuart Mill published his essay, The Subjection of Women, in 1869. His arguments
were based on familiar ideas about individualism and modern progress, but their
extension to women's rights and in such, absolute terms went much farther than most
"The object of this Essay is to explain, as clearly as I am able, the grounds of an opinion
which I have held from the very earliest period when I had formed any opinions at all on
social or political matters, and which, instead of being weakened or mod)fied, has been
constantly growing stronger by the progress of reflection and the experience of life: That
the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes-the legal
subordination of one sex to the other-is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief
hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of
perfect equality, admitting no power or privilege on the one side, nor dis-ability on the
" . .. The masters of all other slaves rely, for maintaining obedience, on fear; either fear of
themselves, or religious fears. The masters of women wanted more than simple
obedience, and they turned the whole force of education to effect their purpose. All
women are brought up from the very earliest years in the belief that their ideal of
character is the very opposite to that of men; not self-will, and government by self-
control, but sub-mission, and yielding to the control of others. All the moralities tell them
that it is the duty of women, and all the current sentimentalities that it is their nature, to
live for others; to make complete abnegation of themselves, and to have no life but in
". . . So far as the whole course of human improvement up to this time, the whole stream
of modern tendencies, warrants any inference on the subject, it is, that this relic of the
past is discordant with the future, and must necessarily disappear.
"For what is the peculiar character of the modern world-the difference which chiefly
distinguishes modern institutions, modern social ideas, modern life itself, from those of
times long past? It is, that human beings are no longer born to their place in life, and
chained down by an inexorable bond to the place they are born to, but are free to employ
their faculties, and such favourable chances as offer, to achieve the lot which may ap-pear
to them most desirable.
"If this general principle of social and economical sciences is. . . true, we ought to act as
if we believed it, and not to ordain that to be born a girl instead of a boy, any more than
to be born black instead of white, or a commoner instead of a nobleman, shall decide the
person's position through all life ....
"At present, in the more improved countries, the disabilities of women are the only case,
save one, in which laws and institutions take persons at their birth, and ordain that they
shall never in all their lives be allowed to compete for certain things. The one exception
is that of royalty.
". .. The social subordination of women thus stands out an isolated fact in modern social
institutions; a solitary breach of what has become their fundamental law; a single relic of
an old world of thought and practice exploded in everything else, but retained in the one
thing of most universal interest ...."
46. The Carlsbad Decrees. Decree Related to Universities (Metternich. Balance of
The confederated governments mutually pledge themselves to remove from the
universities or other public educational institutions all teachers who, by obvious deviation
from their duty or by exceeding the limits of their functions, or by the abuse of their
legitimate influence over the youthful minds, or by propagating harmful doctrines hostile
to public order or subversive of existing governmental institutions, shall have
unmistakably proved their unfitness for the important office entrusted to them....
Those laws which have for a long period been directed against secret and unauthorized
societies in the universities, shall be strictly enforced. These laws apply especially to that
association established some years since under the name Universal Students' Union
(Allgemeine Burschenscha.ft), since the very conception of the society implies the utterly
unallowable plan of permanent fellowship and constant communication between the
various universities. The duty of especial watchfulness in this matter should be impressed
upon the special agents of the government.
Press Laws for Five Years
So long as this decree shall remain in force no publication which appears in the form of
daily issues or as a serial not exceeding twenty sheets of printed matter shall go to press
in any state of the Union without the previous knowledge and approval of the state
The Diet shall have the right, moreover, to suppress on its own authority, without being
petitioned, such writings included in Section 1, in whatever German state they may
appear, as in the opinion of a commission appointed by it, are inimical to the honor of the
Union, the safety of individual states or the maintenance of peace and quiet in Germany.
There shall be no appeal from such decisions and the governments involved are bound to
see that they are put into execution.
ESTABLISHMENT OF AN INVESTIGATING COMMITTEE AT MAINZ
ARTICLE I. Within a fortnight, reckoned from the passage of this decree, there shall
convene, under the auspices of the Confederation, in the city and federal fortress of
Mainz, an Extraordinary Commission of Investigation to consist of seven members
including the chairman.
ARTICLE II. The object of the Commission shall be a joint investigation, as thorough
and extensive as possible, of the facts relating to the origin and manifold ramifications of
the revolutionary plots and demagogical associations directed against the existing
Constitutional and internal peace both of the Union and of the individual states: of the
existence of which plots more or less clear evidence is to be had already, or may be
produced in the course of the investigation.
47. English Liberalism by Jeremy Bentham (Utilitarianism)
I. Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and
pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine
what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other chains of
causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say,
in all we think: every effort we can make to throw off our subjection will serve to
demonstrate and confirm it. In words a man may pretend to abjure their empire: but in
reality he will remain subject to it all the while. The principle of utility recognizes this
subjection, and assumes it for the foundation of that system, the object of which is to rear
the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law. Systems which attempt to
question it, deal in sounds instead of sense, in caprice instead of reason, in darkness
instead of light.
But enough of metaphor and declamation: it is not by such means that moral science is to
II. The principle of utility is the foundation of the present work it will be proper therefore
at the outset to give an explicit and determinate account of what is meant by it. By the
principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action
whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish
the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other
words, to promote or to oppose that happiness. I say of every action whatsoever; and
therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of
III. By utility is meant that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit,
advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness (all this in the present case comes to the same
thing) or (what comes again to the same thing) to prevent the happening of mischief,
pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered: if that party be the
community in general, then the happiness of the community: if a particular individual,
then the happiness of that individual.
IV. The interest of the community is one of the most general expressions that can occur
in the phraseology of morals: no wonder that the meaning of it is often lost. When it has a
meaning, it is this. The community is a fictitious body, composed of the individual
persons who are considered as constituting as it were its members. The interest of the
community then is, what?-the sum of the interests of the several members who compose
V. It is in vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the
interest of the individual. A thing is said to promote the interest, or to be for the interest,
of an individual, when it tends to add to the sum total of his pleasures: or, what comes to
the same thing, to diminish the sum total of his pains.
VI. An action then may be said to be conformable to the principle of utility, or, for
shortness sake, to utility (meaning with respect to the community at large) when the
tendency it has to augment the happiness of the community is greater than any it has to
VII. A measure of government (which is but a particular kind of action, performed by a
particular person or persons) may be said to be conformable to or dictated by the
principle of utility, when in like manner the tendency which it has to augment the
happiness of the community is greater than any which it has to diminish it....
The practical questions, therefore, are how far the end in view is best promoted by
individuals acting for themselves? and in what cases these ends may be promoted by the
hands of government?
With the view of causing an increase to take place in the mass of national wealth, or with
a view to increase of the means either of subsistence or enjoyment, without some special
reason, the general rule is, that nothing ought to be done or attempted by government.
The motto, or watchword of government, on these occasions, ought to be-Be quiet.
For this quietism there are two main reasons:
1. Generally speaking, any interference for this purpose on the part of government is
needless. The wealth of the whole community is composed of the wealth of the several
individuals belonging to it taken together. But to increase his particular portion is,
generally speaking, among the constant objects of each individual's exertions and care.
Generally speaking, there is no one who knows what is for your interest so well as
yourself-no one who is disposed with so much ardour and constancy to pursue it.
2. Generally speaking, it is moreover likely to be pernicious, viz. by being unconducive,
or even obstructive, with reference to the attainment of the end in view. Each individual
bestowing more time and attention upon the means of preserving and increasing his
portion of wealth, than is or can be bestowed by government, is likely to take a more
effectual course than what, in his instance and on his behalf, would be taken by
It.is, moreover, universally and constantly pernicious in another way, by the restraint or
constraint imposed on the free agency of the individual....
. . With few exceptions, and those not very considerable ones, the attainment of the
maximum of enjoyment will be most effectually secured by leaving each individual to
pursue his own maximum of enjoyment, in proportion as he is in possession of the
means. Inclination in this respect will not be wanting on the part of any one. Power, the
species of power applicable to this case-viz. wealth, pecuniary power could not be given
by the hand of government to one, without being taken from another; so that by such
interference there would not be any gain of power upon the whole.
The gain to be produced in this article by the interposition of government, respects
principally the head of knowledge. There are cases in which, for the benefit of the public
at large, it may be in the power of government to cause this or that portion of knowledge
to be produced and diffused, which, without the demand for it produced by government,
would either not have been produced, or would not have been diffused.
We have seen above the grounds on which the general rule in this behalf-Be quiet-rests.
Whatever measures, therefore, cannot be justified as exceptions to that rule, may be
considered as non agenda on the part of government. The art, therefore, is reduced within
a small compass: security and freedom are all that industry requires. The request which
agriculture, manufactures and commerce present to governments, is modest and
reasonable as that which Diogenes made to Alexander: "Stand out of my sunshine. " We
have no need of favour-we require only a secure and open path.
48. Exploiting the Young (Industrial Revolution. Child Labor)
The condition of child laborers was a concern of English legislators and social reformers
from the 6eginning of industrialization. Most of the attention was given to factory
workers, and most legislation attempted to regulate the age at which children could begin
work, the number of hours they could be made to work, and the provision of schooling
and religious education during their leisure. It was not until the mid-l840s that a
parliamentary commission was formed to investigate the condition of child labor in the
mines. In this extract the testimony of the child is confirmed by the observations of one of
Ellison Jack, 11-years-old girl coal-bearer at Loanhead colliery, Scotland: I have been
working below three years on my father's account; he takes me down at two in the
morning, and I come up at one and two next afternoon. I go to bed at six at night to be
ready for work next morning: the part of the pit I bear in the seams are much on the edge.
I have to bear my burthen up four traps, or ladders, before I get to the main road which
leads to the pit bottom. My task is four or five tubs: each tub holds 4 1/4 cwt. I fill five
tubs in twenty journeys.
I have had the strap when I did not do my bidding. Am very glad when my task is
wrought, as it sore fatigues. I can read, and was learning the writing; can do a little; not
been at school for two years; go to kirk occasionally, over to Lasswade: don't know much
about the Bible, so long since read.
R. H. Franks, Esq., the sub-commissioner: A brief description of this child's place of
work will illustrate her evidence. She has first to descend a nine-ladder pit to the first rest,
even to which a shaft is sunk, to draw up the baskets or tubs of coals filled by the bearers;
she then takes her creel (a basket formed to the back, not unlike a cockle-shell flattened
towards the neck, so as to allow lumps of coal to rest on the back of the neck and
shoulders), and pursues her journey to the wall-face, or as it is called here, the room of
work. She then lays down her basket, into which the coal is rolled, and it is frequently
more than one man; can do to lift the burden on her back. The tugs or straps are placed
over the forehead, and the body bent in a semicircular form, in order to stiffen the arch.
49. The Black Holes of Worsley (Industrial Revolution. Child Labor)
After examining conditions in British coal mines, a government official commented that
"the hardest labour in the worst room in the worst~conducted factory is less hard, less
cruel, and less demoralizing than the labour in the best of coal-mines." Yet it was not
until 1842 that legislation was passed eliminating the labor of boys under ten from the
mines. This selection is taken from a government report on the mines in Lancashire.
Examination of Thomas Gibson and George Bryan, witnesses from the coal mines at
Have you worked from a boy in a coal mine?- (Both) Yes.
What had you to do then?-Thrutching the basket and drawing. It is done by little boys;
one draws the basket and the other pushes it behind. Is that hard labour?-Yes, very hard
For how many hours a day did you work?-Nearly nine hours regularly; sometimes
twelve; I have worked about thirteen. We used to go in at six in the morning, and took a
bit of bread and cheese in our pocket, and stopped two or three minutes; and some days
nothing at all to eat.
How was it that sometimes you had nothing to eat?-We were over-burdened. I had only a
mother, and she had nothing to give me. I was sometimes half starved....
Do they work in the same way now exactly?-Yes, they do; they have nothing more than a
bit of bread and cheese in their pocket, and sometimes can't eat it all, owing to the dust
and damp and badness of air; and sometimes it is as hot as an oven; sometimes I have
seen it so hot as to melt a candle.
What are the usual wages of a boy of eight?-They used to get 3d or 4d a day. Now a
man's wages is divided into eight eighths; and when a boy is eight years old he gets one
of those eighths; at eleven, two eighths; at thirteen, three eighths; at fifteen, four eighths;
at twenty, man's wages.
What are the wages of a man?-About 15s if he is in full employment, but often not more
than 10s, and out of that he has to get his tools and candles. He consumes about four
candles in nine hours' work, in some places six; 6d per pound, and twenty-four candles to
Were you ever beaten as a child.?-Yes, many a score of times; both kicks and thumps.
Are many girls employed in the pits?-Yes, a vast of those. They do the same kind of work
as the boys till they get above 14 years of age, when they get the wages of half a man,
and never get more, and continue at the same work for many years.
Did they ever fight together?-Yes, many days together. Both boys and girls; sometimes
they are very loving with one another.
50. Observations on the Effect of the Manufacturing System (1815) by Robert Owen
Robert Owen was both a successful manufacturer and a leading philanthropist. He
believed that economic advance had to take place in step with the improvement of the
moral and physical well-being of the workers. He organized schools, company shops, and
ultimately utopian communities in an effort to improve the lives of industrial laborers.
Owen was one of the first social commentators to argue that industrialism threatened the
fabric of family and community.
The acquisition of wealth, and the desire which it naturally creates for a continued
increase, have introduced a fondness for essentially injurious luxuries among a numerous
class of individuals who formerly never thought of them, and they have also generated a
disposition which strongly impels its possessors to sacrifice the best feelings of human
nature to this love of accumulation. To succeed in this career, the industry of the lower
orders, from whose labour this wealth is now drawn, has been carried by new competitors
striving against those of longer standing, to a point of real oppression, reducing them by
successive changes, as the spirit of competition increased and the ease of acquiring
wealth diminished, to a state more wretched than can be imagined by those who have not
attentively observed the changes as they have gradually occurred. In consequence, they
are at present in a situation infinitely more degraded and miserable than they were before
the introduction of these manufactories, upon the success of which their bare subsistence
The inhabitants of every country are trained and formed by its great leading existing
circumstances! and the character of the lower orders in Britain is now formed chicfly by
circumstances arising from trade, manufactures, and commerce; and the governing
principle of trade, manufactures, and commerce is immediate pecuniary gain, to which on
the great scale every other is made to give way. All are sedulously trained to buy cheap
and to sell dear; and to succeed in this art, the parties must be taught to acquire strong
powers of deception; and thus a spirit is generated through every class of traders,
destructive of that open, honest sincerity, without which man cannot make others happy,
nor enjoy happiness himself.
52. Women Miners in the English Coal Pits (Industrial Revolution)
From Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, 1842, VoL XVI, pp. 24, 196.
In England, exclusive of Wales, it is only in some of the colliery districts of Yorkshire
and Lancashire that female Children of tender age and young and adult women are
allowed to descend into the coal mines and regularly to perform the same kinds of
underground work, and to work for the same number of hours, as boys and men; but in
the East of Scotland their employment in the pits is general; and in South Wales it is not
West Riding of Yorkshire: Southern Part - In many of the collieries in this district, as far
as relates to the underground employment, there is no distinction of sex, but the labour is
distributed indifferently among both sexes, except that it is comparatively rare for the
women to hew or get the coals, although there are numerous instances in which they
regularly perform even this work. In great numbers of the coalpits in this district the men
work in a state of perfect nakedness, and are in this state assisted in their labour by
females of all ages, from girls of six years old to women of twenty-one, these females
being themselves quite naked down to the waist.
"Girls," says the Sub-Commissioner [J. C. Symons], -regularly perform all the various
offices of trapping, hurrying [Yorkshire terms for drawing the loaded coal corves],
filling, riddling, tipping, and occasionally getting, just as they are performed by boys.
One of the most disgusting sights 1 have ever seen was that of young females, dressed
like boys in trousers, crawling on all fours, with belts round their waists and chains
passing between their legs, at day pits at Hunshelf Bank, and in many small pits near
Holmfirth and New Mills: it exists also in several other places. 1 visited the Hunshelf
Colliery on the 18th of January: it is a day pit; that is, there is no shaft or descent; the
gate or entrance is at the side of a bank, and nearly horizontal. The gate was not more
than a yard high, and in some places not above 2 feet.
" When I arrived at the board or workings of the pit I found at one of the sideboards
down a narrow passage a girl of fourteen years of age in boy's clothes, picking down the
coal with the regular pick used by the men. She was half sitting half lying at her work,
and said she found it tired her very much, and 'of course she didn't like it.' The place
where she was at work was not 2 feet high. Further on were men lying on their sides and
getting. No less than six girls out of eighteen men and children are employed in this pit.
"Whilst I was in the pit the Rev Mr Bruce, of Wadsley, and the Rev Mr Nelson, of
Rotherham, who accompanied me, and remained outside, saw another girl of ten years of
age, also dressed in boy's clothes, who was employed in hurrying, and these gentlemen
saw her at work. She was a nice-looking little child, but of course as black as a tinker,
and with a little necklace round her throat.
"In two other pits in the Huddersfield Union I have seen the same sight. In one near New
Mills, the chain, passing high up between the legs of two of these girls, had worn large
holes in their trousers; and any sight more disgustingly indecent or revolting can scarcely
be imagined than these girls at work-no brothel can beat it.
"On descending Messrs Hopwood's pit at Barnsley, I found assembled round a fire a
group of men, boys, and girls, some of whom were of the age of puberty; the girls as well
as the boys stark naked down to the waist, their hair bound up with a tight cap, and
trousers supported by their hips. (At Silkstone and at Flockton they work in their shifts
and trousers.) Their sex was recognizable only by their breasts, and some little difficulty
occasionally arose in pointing out to me which were girls and which were boys, and
which caused a good deal of laughing and joking. In the Flockton and Thornhill pits the
system is even more indecent: for though the girls are clothed, at least three-fourths of
the men for whom they "hurry" work stark naked, or with a flannel waistcoat only, and
in this state they assist one another to fill the corves 18 or 20 times a day: I have seen
this done myself frequently.
"When it is remembered that these girls hurry chiefly for men who are not their parents;
that they go from 15 to 20 times a day into a dark chamber (the bank face), which is
often 50 yards apart from any one, to a man working naked, or next to naked, it is not to
be supposed but that where opportunity thus prevails sexual vices are of common
occurrence. Add to this the free intercourse, and the rendezvous at the shaft or bullstake,
where the corves are brought, and consider the language to which the young ear is
habituated, the absence of religious instruction, and the early age at which contamination
begins, and you will have before you, in the coal-pits where females are employed, the
picture of a nursery for juvenile vice which you will go far and we above ground to
53. Two Women Miners (Industrial Revolution)
From Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, 1842, Vol. XV, p. 84, and ibid., Vol. XVII,
Betty Harris, age 37: I was married at 23, and went into a colliery when I was married. I
used to weave when about 12 years old; can neither read nor write. I work for Andrew
Knowles, of Little Bolton (Lancs), and make sometimes 7s a week, sometimes not so
much. I am a drawer, and work from 6 in the morning to 6 at night. Stop about an hour at
noon to eat my dinner; have bread and butter for dinner; I get no drink. I have two
children, but they are too young to work. I worked at drawing when I was in the family
way. I know a woman who has gone home and washed herself, taken to her bed,
delivered of a child, and gone to work again under the week.
I have a belt round my waist, and a chain passing between my legs, and I go on my hands
and feet. The road is very steep, and we have to hold by a rope; and when there is no
rope, by anything we can catch hold of. There are six women and about six boys and girls
in the pit I work in; it is very hard work for a woman. The pit is very wet where I work,
and the water comes over our clog-tops always, and I have seen it up to my thighs; it
rains in at the roof terribly. My clothes are wet through almost all day long. I never was
ill in my life, but when I was lying in.
My cousin looks after my children in the day time. I am very tired when I get home at
night; I fall asleep sometimes before I get washed. I am not so strong as I was, and
cannot stand my work so well as I used to. I have drawn till I have bathe skin off me; the
belt and chain is worse when we are in the family way. My feller (husband) has beaten
me many a times for not being ready. I were not used to it at first, and he had little
I have known many a man beat his drawer. I have known men take liberties with the
drawers, and some of the women have bastards.
Patience Kershaw, age 17, Halifax: I go to pit at 5 o'clock in the morning and come out
at 5 in the evening; I get my breakfast, porridge and milk, first; I take my dinner with
me, a cake, and eat it as I go; I do not stop or rest at any time for the purpose, I get
nothing else until I get home, and then have potatoes and meat, not every day meat.
54. Friederich Engels: Industrial Manchester, 1844 (Industrial Revolution)
Manchester, in South-east Lancashire rapidly rose from obscurity to become the premier
center of cotton manufacture in England. This was largely due to geography. Its
famously damp climate was better for cotton manufacture than the drier climate of the
older eastern English cloth manufacture centers. It was close to the Atlantic port of
Liverpoll (and was eventually connect by one of the earliest rail tracks, as well as an
Ocean ship capable canal - although thirty miles inland, it was long a major port). It was
also close to power sources - first the water power of the Pennine mountain chain, and
later the coal mines of central Lancashire. As a result, Manchester became perhaps the
first modern industrial city.
Friedrich Engels' father was a German manufacturer and Engels worked as his agent in
his father's Manchester factory. As a result he combined both real experience of the city,
with a strong social conscience. The result was his The Condition of the Working-Class
in England in 1844.
Manchester lies at the foot of the southern slope of a range of hills, which stretch hither
from Oldham, their last peak, Kersall moor, being at once the racecourse and the Mons
Sacer of Manchester. Manchester proper lies on the left bank of the Irwell, between that
stream and the two smaller ones, the Irk and the Medlock, which here empty into the
Irwell. On the left bank of the Irwell, bounded by a sharp curve of the river, lies Salford,
and farther westward Pendleton; northward from the Irwell lie Upper and Lower
Broughton; northward of the Irk, Cheetham Hill; south of the Medlock lies Hulme;
farther east Chorlton on Medlock; still farther, pretty well to the east of Manchester,
Ardwick. The whole assemblage of buildings is commonly called Manchester, and
contains about four hundred thousand inhabitants, rather more than less. The town itself
is peculiarly built, so that a person may live in it for years, and go in and out daily
without coming into contact with a working-people's quarter or even with workers, that
is, so long as he confines himself to his business or to pleasure walks. This arises chiefly
from the fact, that by unconscious tacit agreement, as well as with outspoken conscious
determination, the workingpeople's quarters are sharply separated from the sections of the
city reserved for the middle-class; . . .
I may mention just here that the mills almost all adjoin the rivers or the different canals
that ramify throughout the city, before I proceed at once to describe the labouring
quarters. First of all, there is the old town of Manchester, which lies between the northern
boundary of the commercial district and the Irk. Here the streets, even the better ones, are
narrow and winding, as Todd Street, Long Millgate, Withy Grove, and Shude Hill, the
houses dirty, old, and tumble-down, and the construction of the side streets utterly
horrible. Going from the Old Church to Long Millgate, the stroller has at once a row of
old-fashioned houses at the right, of which not one has kept its original level; these are
remnants of the old pre-manufacturing Manchester, whose former inhabitants have
removed with their descendants into better built districts, and have left the houses, which
were not good enough for them, to a population strongly mixed with Irish blood. Here
one is in an almost undisguised working-men's quarter, for even the shops and beer
houses hardly take the trouble to exhibit a trifling degree of cleanliness. But all this is
nothing in comparison with the courts and lanes which lie behind, to which access can be
gained only through covered passages, in which no two human beings can pass at the
same time. Of the irregular cramming together of dwellings in ways which defy all
rational plan, of the tangle in which they are crowded literally one upon the other, it is
impossible to convey an idea. And it is not the buildings surviving from the old times of
Manchester which are to blame for this; the confusion has only recently reached its height
when every scrap of space left by the old way of building has been filled up and patched
over until not a foot of land is left to be further occupied.
The south bank of the Irk is here very steep and between fifteen and thirty feet high. On
this declivitous hillside there are planted three rows of houses, of which the lowest rise
directly out of the river, while the front walls of the highest stand on the crest of the hill
in Long Millgate. Among them are mills on the river, in short, the method of construction
is as crowded and disorderly here as in the lower part of Long Millgate. Right and left a
multitude of covered passages lead from the main street into numerous courts, and he
who turns in thither gets into a filth and disgusting grime, the equal of which is not to be
found - especially in the courts which lead down to the Irk, and which contain
unqualifiedly the most horrible dwellings which I have yet beheld. In one of these courts
there stands directly at the entrance, at the end of the covered passage, a privy without a
door, so dirty that the inhabitants can pass into and out of the court only by passing
through foul pools of stagnant urine and excrement. This is the first court on the Irk
above Ducie Bridge - in case any one should care to look into it. Below it on the river
there are several tanneries which fill the whole neighbourhood with the stench of animal
putrefaction. Below Ducie Bridge the only entrance to most of the houses is by means of
narrow, dirty stairs and over heaps of refuse and filth. The first court below Ducie Bridge,
known as Allen's Court, was in such a state at the time of the cholera that the sanitary
police ordered it evacuated, swept, and disinfected with chloride of lime. Dr. Kay gives a
terrible description of the state of this court at that time. Since then, it seems to have been
partially torn away and rebuilt; at least looking down from Ducie Bridge, the passer-by
sees several ruined walls and heaps of debris with some newer houses. The view from
this bridge, mercifully concealed from mortals of small stature by a parapet as high as a
man, is characteristic for the whole district. At the bottom flows, or rather stagnates, the
Irk, a narrow, coal-black, foul-smelling stream, full of debris and refuse, which it deposits
on the shallower right bank.
In dry weather, a long string of the most disgusting, blackish-green, slime pools are left
standing on this bank, from the depths of which bubbles of miasmatic gas constantly arise
and give forth a stench unendurable even on the bridge forty or fifty feet above the
surface of the stream. But besides this, the stream itself is checked every few paces by
high weirs, behind which slime and refuse accumulate and rot in thick masses. Above the
bridge are tanneries, bone mills, and gasworks, from which all drains and refuse find their
way into the Irk, which receives further the contents of all the neighbouring sewers and
privies. It may be easily imagined, therefore, what sort of residue the stream deposits.
Below the bridge you look upon the piles of debris, the refuse, filth, and offal from the
courts on the steep left bank; here each house is packed close behind its neighbour and a
piece of each is visible, all black, smoky, crumbling, ancient, with broken panes and
window frames. The background is furnished by old barrack-like factory buildings. On
the lower right bank stands a long row of houses and mills; the second house being a ruin
without a roof, piled with debris; the third stands so low that the lowest floor is
uninhabitable, and therefore without windows or doors. Here the background embraces
the pauper burial-ground, the station of the Liverpool and Leeds railway, and, in the rear
of this, the Workhouse, the "Poor-Law Bastille" of Manchester, which, like a citadel,
looks threateningly down from behind its high walls and parapets on the hilltop, upon the
working-people's quarter below.
Above Ducie Bridge, the left bank grows more flat and the right bank steeper, but the
condition of the dwellings on both banks grows worse rather than better. He who turns to
the left here from the main street, Long Millgate, is lost; he wanders from one court to
another, turns countless corners, passes nothing but narrow, filthy nooks and alleys, until
after a few minutes he has lost all clue, and knows not whither to turn. Everywhere half
or wholly ruined buildings, some of them actually uninhabited, which means a great deal
here; rarely a wooden or stone floor to be seen in the houses, almost uniformly broken,
ill-fitting windows and doors, and a state of filth! Everywhere heaps of debris, refuse, and
offal; standing pools for gutters, and a stench which alone would make it impossible for a
human being in any degree civilised to live in such a district. The newly-built extension
of the Leeds railway, which crosses the Irk here, has swept away some of these courts
and lanes, laying others completely open to view. Immediately under the railway bridge
there stands a court, the filth and horrors of which surpass all the others by far, just
because it was hitherto so shut off, so secluded that the way to it could not be found
without a good deal of trouble. I should never have discovered it myself, without the
breaks made by the railway, though I thought I knew this whole region thoroughly.
Passing along a rough bank, among stakes and washing-lines, one penetrates into this
chaos of small one-storied, one-roomed huts, in most of which there is no artificial floor;
kitchen, living and sleeping-room all in one. In such a hole, scarcely five feet long by six
broad, I found two beds - and such bedsteads and beds! - which, with a staircase and
chimney-place, exactly filled the room. In several others I found absolutely nothing,
while the door stood open, and the inhabitants leaned against it. Everywhere before the
doors refuse and offal; that any sort of pavement lay underneath could not be seen but
only felt, here and there, with the feet. This whole collection of cattle-sheds for human
beings was surrounded on two sides by houses and a factory, and on the third by the
river, and besides the narrow stair up the bank, a narrow doorway alone led out into
another almost equally ill-built, ill-kept labyrinth of dwellings....
If we leave the Irk and penetrate once more on the opposite side from Long Millgate into
the midst of the working-men's dwellings, we shall come into a somewhat newer quarter,
which stretches from St. Michael's Church to Withy Grove and Shude Hill. Here there is
somewhat better order. In place of the chaos of buildings, we find at least long straight
lanes and alleys or courts, built according to a plan and usually square. But if, in the
former case, every house was built according to caprice, here each lane and court is so
built, without reference to the situation of the adjoining ones....
. . . Here, as in most of the working-men's quarters of Manchester, the pork-raisers rent
the courts and build pig-pens in them. In almost every court one or even several such
pens may be found, into which the inhabitants of the court throw all refuse and offal,
whence the swine grow fat; and the atmosphere, confined on all four sides, is utterly
corrupted by putrefying animal and vegetable substances....
Such is the Old Town of Manchester, and on re-reading my description, I am forced to
admit that instead of being exaggerated, it is far from black enough to convey a true
impression of the filth, ruin, and uninhabitableness, the defiance of all considerations of
cleanliness, ventilation, and health which characterise the construction of this single
district, containing at least twenty to thirty thousand inhabitants. And such a district
exists in the heart of the second city of England, the first manufacturing city of the world.
If any one wishes to see in how little space a human being can move, how little air - and
such air! - he can breathe, how little of civilisation he may share and yet live, it is only
necessary to travel hither. True, this is the Old Town, and the people of Manchester
emphasise the fact whenever any one mentions to them the frightful condition of this Hell
upon Earth; but what does that prove? Everything which here arouses horror and
indignation is of recent origin, belongs to the industrial epoch.
55. Industry and the Environment (Industrial Revolution)
The Industrial Revolution changed the landscape of Britain. Small villages grew into vast
metropolises seemingly overnight. The rates of growth were absolutely staggering: in
1801 there were 75,000 people in Manchester; by 1851 the number had more than
quadrupled. This unremitting boom in population did more than strain the resources of
local authorities: it broke them apart. It was not that the new industrial cities were
unplanned; they were beyond the capacity of planning. Every essential requirement for
human survival became scarce and expensive. Shortages of food, water, and basic
accommodations were commonplace.
Shantytowns sprang up wherever space would allow, making the flimsily built
habitations of construction profiteers seem like palaces. There was loud complaint about
these nineteenth-century rip-off artists, but in truth the need for housing was so desperate
that people willingly lived anywhere that provided shelter. Houses were built back to
back and side by side, with only narrow alleyways to provide sunlight and air. In
Edinburgh one could step through the window of one house into the window of the
adjoining one. Whole families occupied single rooms where members slept as they
worked, in shifts. In Liverpool over 38,000 people were estimated to be living in cellars-
windowless underground accommodations that flooded with the rains and the tides.
Most cities lacked both running water and toilet facilities. Districts were provided with
either pumps or capped pipes through which private companies ran water for a few hours
each day. The water was collected in buckets and brought to the home, where it would
stand for the rest of the day and serve indifferently for washing, drinking, and cooking.
Outhouse toilets were an extravagant luxury; in one Manchester district 33 outhouses had
to accommodate 7095 people. They were a mixed blessing even in the middle class
districts where they were more plentiful, as there was no system of drainage to flush
away the waste. It simply accumulated in cesspools, which were emptied manually about
every two years. The thing that most impressed visitors as they approached an industrial
city was the smoke; what impressed them most when they arrived was the smell.
The quality of life experienced by most of the urban poor who lived in these squalid
conditions has been recorded by a number of contemporary observers. Friedrich Engels
was a German socialist who was sent to England to learn the cotton trade. He lived in
Manchester for two years and spent much of his time exploring the working-class areas
of the city. "In this district I found a man, apparently about sixty years old, living in a
cow stable," Engels recounted from one of his walking tours in The Condition of the
Working Class in England in 1844 "He had constructed a sort of chimney for his square
pen, which had neither windows, floor, nor ceiling, had obtained a bedstead and lived
there, though the rain dripped through his rotten roof. This man was too old and weak for
regular work, and supported himself by removing manure with a hand-cart; the
dungheaps lay next door to his palace!" From his own observations Engels concluded that
"in such dwellings only a physically degenerate race, robbed of all humanity, degraded,
reduced morally and physically to bestiality, could feel comfortable and at home." And as
he was quick to point out, his own observations were no different from those of
parliamentary commissioners, medical officers, or civic authorities who had seen
Among these observers, the most influential by far was Sir Edwin Chadwick, who began
his government career as a commissioner for the poor law and ended it as the founder of
a national system of public health. Chadwick wrote the report of a parliamentary
commission, The Sanitary Condition of the Laboring Population of Britain ( 1842), which
caused a sensation among the governing classes. Building on the work of physicians,
overseers of the poor, and the most technical scholarship available, Chadwick not only
painted the same grim picture of urban life as Engels did, he proposed a comprehensive
solution to one of its greatest problems, waste management.
Chadwick was a civil servant, and he believed that problems were solved by government
on the basis of conclusions of experts. He had heard doctors argue their theories about the
causes of disease, some believing in fluxes that resulted from combinations of foul air,
water, and refuse; others believing disease was spread by the diseased, in this case Irish
immigrants who settled in the poorest parts of English industrial towns (AP students
please note this instance of prejudice). Although medical research had not yet detected
the existence of germs, it was widely held that lack of ventilation, stagnant pools of
water, and the accumulation of human and animal waste in proximity to people's
dwellings all contributed to the increasing incidence of disease. Chadwick fixed upon this
last element as crucial. Not even in middle-class districts was there any effective system
for the removal of waste. Chamber pots and primitive toilets were emptied into ditches,
which were used to drain rain off into local waterways. The few underground sewers that
existed were square containers without outlets that were simply emptied once filled.
Chadwick's vision was for a sanitation system, one that would carry waste out of the city
quickly and deposit it in outlying fields where it could be used as fertilizer.
Chadwick realized that the key to disposing of waste was a constant supply of running
water piped through the system. Traditionally, only heavy rainstorms cleared the waste
ditches in most cities, and these were too infrequent to be effective. The river had to be
the beginning of the sewerage system as well as its end. River water had to be pumped
through an underground construction of sewage pits that were built to facilitate the
water's flow. Civil engineers had already demonstrated that pits with rounded rather than
angular edges were far more effective, and Chadwick advocated the construction of a
system of oval-shaped tunnels, built on an incline beneath the city. Water pumped from
one part of the river would rush through the tunnels, which would empty into pipes that
would carry the waste to nearby farms.
Chadwick's vision took years to implement. He had all of the zeal of a reformer and none
of the tact of a politician. He offended nearly everyone with whom he came into contact,
because he believed that his program was the only workable one and because he believed
that it must be implemented whatever the price. He was uninterested in who was to pay
the enormous costs of laying underground tunnel and building pumping stations and
insisted only that the work begin immediately. In the end, he won his point. Sanitation
systems became one of the first great public-works projects of the industrial age.
56. Child Labor: Discipline in the Textile Mills (Industrial Revolution)
Child labor was certainly not new, but in the early Industral Revolution it was exploited
more systematically. These selections are takn from the Report of Sadler's Committee,
which was commissioned in 1832 to inquire into the condition of child factory workers.
How They Kept the Children Awake
It is a very frequent thing at Mr. Marshall's [at Shrewsbury] where the least children were
employed (for there were plenty working at six years of age), for Mr. Horseman to start
the mill earlier in the morning than he formerly did; and provided a child should be
drowsy, the overlooker walks round the room with a stick in his hand, and he touches that
child on the shoulder, and says, "Come here." In a corner of the room there is an iron
cistern; it is filled with water; he takes this boy, and takes him up by the legs, and dips
him over head in the cistern, and sends him to work for the remainder of the day....
What means were taken to keep the children to their work.?-Sometimes they would tap
them over the head, or nip them over the nose, or give them a pinch of snuff, or throw
water in their faces, or pull them off where they were, and job them about to keep them
57. The Sadistic Overlooker (Industrial Revolution)
Samuel Downe, age 29, factory worker living near Leeds; at the age of about ten began
work at Mr. Marshall's mill at Shrewsbury, where the customary hours when work was
brisk were generally 5 A.M. to 9 P.M., sometimes from 5:30 A.M. to 10 or 11.
What means were taken to keep the children awake and vigilant, especially at the
termination of such a day's labour as you have described?-There was generally a blow or
a box, or a tap with a strap, or sometimes the hand.
Have you yourself been strapped?-Yes, most severely, till I could not bear to sit upon a
chair without having pillows, and through that I left. I was strapped both on my own legs,
and then I was put upon a man's back, and then strapped and buckled with two straps to
an iron pillar, and flogged, and all by one overlooker; after that he took a piece of tow,
and twisted it in the shape of a cord, and put it in my mouth, and tied it behind my head.
He gagged you?-Yes; and then he ordered me to run round a part of the machinery where
he was overlooker, and he stood at one end, and every time I came there he struck me
with a stick, which I believe was an ash plant, and which he generally carried in his hand,
and sometimes he hit me, and sometimes he did not; and one of the men in the room
came and begged me off, and that he let me go, and not beat me any more, and
consequently he did.
You have been beaten with extraordinary severity?-Yes, I was beaten so that I had not
power to cry at all, or hardly speak at one time. What age were you at that time.?-
Between 10 and 11.
58. The First Chartist Petition (Chartist Movement)
Demands for Change in England
Movements for reform occurred throughout Europe between 1815 and 1848 despite the
efforts of conservatives to quash them. Eventually almost all countries in Europe
experienced the revolutions conservatives feared so much. One exception was England,
but even there political movements threatened to turn into violent revolts against the
failure of the government to change. The most important of these was the Chartist
movement, made up primarily of members of the working class who wanted reforms for
themselves. The following is an excerpt from the first charter presented to the House of
Commons in 1838. Subsequent charters were presented in 1842 and 1848. In each case
the potential existed for a mass movement to turn into a violent revolt, and in each case
Parliament rejected the Chartist demands. Only later in the century were most of these
Consider: The nature of the Chartists' demands; by what means the Chartists hoped to
achieve their ends; how Metternich might analyze these demands.
Required, as we are universally, to support and obey the laws, nature and reason entitle us
to demand that in the making of the laws the universal voice shall be implicitly listened
to. We perform the duties of freemen; we must have the privileges of freemen. Therefore,
we demand universal suffrage. The suffrage, to be exempt from the corruption of the
wealthy and the violence of the powerful, must be secret. The assertion of our right
necessarily involves the power of our uncontrolled exercise. We ask for the reality of a
good, not for its semblance, therefore we demand the ballot. The connection between the
representatives and the people, to be baneficial, must be intimate. The legislative and
constituent powers, for correction and for instruction, ought to be brought into frequent
contact. Errors which are comparatively light, when susceptible of a speedy popular
remedy, may produce the most disastrous effects when permitted to grow inveterate
through years of compulsory endurance. To public safety, as well as public confidence,
frequent elections are essential. Therefore, we demand annual parliaments. With power to
choose, and freedom in choosing, the range of our choice must be unrestricted. We are
compelled, by the existing laws, to take for our representatives men who are incapable of
appreciating our difficulties, or have little sympathy with them; merchants who have
retired from trade and no longer feel its harrassings; proprietors of land who are alike
ignorant of its evils and its cure; lawyers by whom the notoriety of the senate is courted
only as a means of obtaining notice in the courts. The labours of a representative who is
sedulous in the discharge of his duty are numerous and burdensome. It is neither just, nor
reasonable, nor safe, that they should continue to be gratuitously rendered. We demand
that in the future election of members of your honourable house, the approbation of the
constituency shall be the sole qualification, and that to every representative so chosen,
shall be assigned out of the public taxes, a fair and adequate remunerative for the time
which he is called upon to devote to the public service. The management of his mighty
kingdom has hitherto been a subject for contending factions to try their eelfish
experiments upon. We have felt the consequences in our sorrowful experience. Short
glimmerings of uncertain enjoyment, swallowed up by long and dark seasons of
suffering. If the self-government of the people should not remove their distresses, it will,
at least, remove their repinings. Universal suffrage will, and it alone can, bring true and
lasting peace to the nation; we firmly believe that it will also bring prosperity. May it
therefore please your honourable house, to take this our petition into your most serious
consideration, and to use your utmost endeavours, by all constitutional means, to have a
law passed, granting to every male of lawful age, sane mind, and unconvicted of crime,
the right of voting for members of parliament, and directing all future elections of
members of parliament to be in the way of secret ballot, and ordaining that the duration
of parliament, so chosen, shall in no case exceed one year, and abolishing all property
qualifications in the members, and providing for their due remuneration while in
attendance on their parliamentary duties.
"And your petitioners shall ever pray."
59. Assassination of an Archduke, 1914 (Nationalism.World War I)
Two bullets fired on a Sarajevo street on a sunny June morning in 1914 set in motion a
series of events that shaped the world we live in today. World War One, World War Two,
the Cold War and its conclusion all trace their origins to the gunshots that interrupted
that summer day.
The victims, Archduke Franz Ferdinand - heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire, and his wife Sophie, were in the Bosnian city in conjunction with Austrian troop
exercises nearby. The couple was returning from an official visit to City Hall. The
assassin, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip burned with the fire of Slavic nationalism. He
envisioned the death of the Archduke as the key that would unlock the shackles binding
his people to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
A third party, Serbia, figured prominently in the plot. Independent Serbia provided the
guns, ammunition and training that made the assassination possible.
The Balkan Region of Europe entered the twentieth century much as she left it: a caldron
of seething political intrigue needing only the slightest increase of heat to boil over into
open conflict. The shots that day in Sarajevo pushed the caldron to the boiling point and
A Royal Murder
Seven conspirators joined the crowd lining the Archduke's route to City Hall. Each took a
different position, ready to attack the royal car if the opportunity presented itself. The six-
car procession approached one conspirator, Gabrinovic (or Cabrinovic), who threw his
bomb only to see it bounce off the Archduke's car and explode near the following car.
Unhurt, the Archduke and his wife sped to the reception at City Hall. The ceremonies
finished, the Royal procession amazingly retraced its steps bringing the Archduke into
the range of the leader of the conspiracy, Gavrilo Princip. More amazingly, the royal car
stopped right in front of Princip providing him the opportunity to fire two shots. Both
bullets hit home.
Borijove Jevtic, one of the conspirators gave this eyewitness account:
"When Francis Ferdinand and his retinue drove from the station they were allowed to
pass the first two conspirators. The motor cars were driving too fast to make an attempt
feasible and in the crowd were many Serbians; throwing a grenade would have killed
many innocent people.
When the car passed Gabrinovic, the compositor, he threw his grenade. It hit the side of
the car, but Francis Ferdinand with presence of mind threw himself back and was
uninjured. Several officers riding in his attendance were injured.
The cars sped to the Town Hall and the rest of the conspirators did not interfere with
them. After the reception in the Town Hall General Potiorek, the Austrian Commander,
pleaded with Francis Ferdinand to leave the city, as it was seething with rebellion. The
Archduke was persuaded to drive the shortest way out of the city and to go quickly.
The road to the maneuvers was shaped like the letter V, making a sharp turn at the bridge
over the River Nilgacka. Francis Ferdinand's car could go fast enough until it reached
this spot but here it was forced to slow down for the turn. Here Princip had taken his
As the car came abreast he stepped forward from the curb, drew his automatic pistol from
his coat and fired two shots. The first struck the wife of the Archduke, the Archduchess
Sofia, in the abdomen. She was an expectant mother. She died instantly.
The second bullet struck the Archduke close to the heart.
He uttered only one word, 'Sofia' -- a call to his stricken wife. Then his head fell back and
he collapsed. He died almost instantly.
The officers seized Princip. They beat him over the head with the flat of their swords.
They knocked him down, they kicked him, scraped the skin from his neck with the edges
of their swords, tortured him, all but killed him."
Count Franz von Harrach rode on the running board of the royal car serving as a
bodyguard for the Archduke. His account begins immediately after Princip fires his two
"As the car quickly reversed, a thin stream of blood spurted from His Highness's mouth
onto my right check. As I was pulling out my handkerchief to wipe the blood away from
his mouth, the Duchess cried out to him, 'In Heaven's name, what has happened to you?'
At that she slid off the seat and lay on the floor of the car, with her face between his
I had no idea that she too was hit and thought she had simply fainted with fright. Then I
heard His Imperial Highness say, 'Sopherl, Sopherl, don't die. Stay alive for the children!'
At that, I seized the Archduke by the collar of his uniform, to stop his head dropping
forward and asked him if he was in great pain. He answered me quite distinctly, 'It's
nothing!' His face began to twist somewhat but he went on repeating, six or seven times,
ever more faintly as he gradually lost consciousness, 'It's nothing!' Then, after a short
pause, there was a violent choking sound caused by the bleeding. It was stopped as we
reached the Konak."
60. The German Army Marches Through Brussels, 1914 (World War I)
Europe in 1914 was divided into two camps, each eyeing the other with mistrust,
apprehension and animosity. Germany and Austria-Hungary formed the Central Powers
while Britain, France, Russia and Italy formed the Allied Powers.
Since 1900 a number of incidents threatened open conflict, but each time, war was
averted and tempers cooled - until June 28, 1914. On that day a Serbian gunman
assassinated Franz Joseph, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife in the
Bosnian town of Sarajevo. (see Assassination of an Archduke) The bullet that killed an
Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo provided the spark that ignited the political tinder box.
Austria accused Serbia of masterminding the murder. Emboldened by the military
support of Germany, Austria delivered an ultimatum to the Serbian government that, if
accepted, would have made that country a virtual possession of the Austro-Hungarian
Empire. Russia weighed in on the side of the Serbs. Surprisingly, Serbia bowed to all of
Austria's demands -- except one. Austria found Serbia's refusal justification enough to
declare war, which she did on July 28, 1914.
Events now took on a life of their own as each power acted according to the dictates of
the secret agreements they had previously signed. First, Russia declared war against
Austria. Next, Germany declared war against Russia (August 1). Russia's ally, France,
mobilized against Germany, prompting Germany to declare war against France (August
3). Germany attacked France by first invading neutral Belgium. Britain, as a guarantor
of Belgium's neutrality, then declared war against Germany (August 4). The lines were
drawn, the players on each side chosen. The First World War had begun.
"This was a machine, endless, tireless, with the delicate organization of a watch and the
brute power of a steam roller."
The German juggernaut smashed its way into Belgium on August 5, initially targeting
Belgium's line of defensive fortresses. The Belgian army was forced to retreat and by
August 20 the Germans entered Brussels on its way to France. The Belgians elected not
to defend the city and the Germans marched through unhindered.
Richard Harding Davis was an American newspaper reporter and witnessed the German
army's march through the city. We join his account as he sits at a boulevard café waiting
for the German arrival:
The change came at ten in the morning. It was as though a wand had waved and from a
fete-day on the Continent we had been wafted to London on a rainy Sunday. The
boulevards fell suddenly empty. There was not a house that was not closely shuttered.
Along the route by which we now knew the Germans were advancing, it was as though
the plague stalked. That no one should fire from a window, that to the conquerors no one
should offer insult, Burgomaster Max sent out as special constables men he trusted. Their
badge of authority was a walking-stick and a piece of paper fluttering from a buttonhole.
These, the police, and the servants and caretakers of the houses that lined the boulevards
alone were visible.
At eleven o'clock, unobserved but by this official audience, down the Boulevard
Waterloo came the advance-guard of the German army. It consisted of three men, a
captain and two privates on bicycles. Their rifles were slung across their shoulders, they
rode unwarily, with as little concern as the members of a touring-club out for a holiday.
Behind them so close upon each other that to cross from one sidewalk to the other was
not possible, came the Uhlans (cavalry), infantry, and the guns. For two hours I watched
them, and then, bored with the monotony of it, returned to the hotel. After an hour, from
beneath my window, I still could hear them; another hour and another went by. They still
Boredom gave way to wonder. The thing fascinated you, against your will, dragged you
back to the sidewalk and held you there open-eyed. No longer was it regiments of men
marching, but something uncanny, inhuman, a force of nature like a landslide, a tidal
wave, or lava sweeping down a mountain. It was not of this earth, but mysterious,
ghostlike. It carried all the mystery and menace of a fog rolling toward you across the
The German army moved into Brussels as smoothly and as compactly as an Empire State
express. There were no halts, no open places, no stragglers. For the gray automobiles and
the gray motorcycles bearing messengers one side of the street always was kept clear; and
so compact was the column, so rigid the vigilance of the file-closers, that at the rate of
forty miles an hour a car could race the length of the column and need not stop - for never
did a single horse or man once swerve from its course.
All through the night, like a tumult of a river when it races between the cliffs of a canyon,
in my sleep I could hear the steady roar of the passing army. And when early in the
morning I went to the window the chain of steel was still unbroken. It was like the torrent
that swept down the Connemaugh Valley and destroyed Johnstown. This was a machine,
endless, tireless, with the delicate organization of a watch and the brute power of a steam
roller. And for three days and three nights through Brussels it roared and rumbled, a
cataract of molten lead. The infantry marched singing, with their iron-shod boots beating
out the time. They sang Fatherland, My Fatherland. Between each line of song they took
three steps. At times 2000 men were singing together in absolute rhythm and beat. It was
like blows from giant pile-drivers. When the melody gave way the silence was broken
only by the stamp of iron-shod boots, and then again the song rose. When the singing
ceased the bands played marches. They were followed by the rumble of the howitzers, the
creaking of wheels and of chains clanking against the cobblestones, and the sharp, bell-
like voices of the bugles.
More Uhlans followed, the hoofs of their magnificent horses ringing like thousands of
steel hammers breaking stones in a road; and after them the giant siege-guns rumbling,
growling, the mitrailleuses (machine guns) with drag-chains ringing, the field-pieces with
creaking axles, complaining brakes, the grinding of the steel-rimmed wheels against the
stones echoing and re-echoing from the house front. When at night for an instant the
machine halted, the silence awoke you, as at sea you wake when the screw stops.
For three days and three nights the column of gray, with hundreds of thousands of
bayonets and hundreds of thousands of lances, with gray transport wagons, gray
ammunition carts, gray ambulances, gray cannon, like a river of steel, cut Brussels in
62. Witnesses of Verdun (WWI)
A French captain reports: ...I have returned from the most terrible ordeal I have ever
witnessed. […] Four days and four nights – ninety-six hours – the last two days in ice-
cold mud – kept under relentless fire, without any protection whatsoever except for the
narrow trench, which even seemed to be too wide. […] I arrived with 175 men, I
returned with 34 of whom several had half turned insane....
A French Lieutenant reports: ...Firstly, companies of skeletons passed, sometimes
commanded by a wounded officer, leaning on a stick. All marched, or rather: moved
forwards with tiny steps, zigzagging as if drugged. […] It seemed as if these speechless
faces cried over something appalling: the unbelievable horrors of their martyrdom....
The last note from the diary of Alfred Joubaire, a French soldier: ...They must be crazy
to do what they are doing now: what a bloodbath, what horrid images, what a slaughter. I
just cannot find the words to express my feelings. Hell cannot be this dreadful. People are
A German soldier writes to his parents: ...An awful word, Verdun. Numerous people, still
young and filled with hope, had to lay down their lives here – their mortal remains
decomposing somewhere, in between trenches, in mass graves, at cemeteries....
Louis Barthas recounts the bitter man-to-man fights: ...Woe betide anyone who fell into
the hands of the enemy alive; all sense of humanity had disappeared. Soldiers, wounded,
stretcher-bearers – a distinction was no longer made....
An eye-witness: ...One soldier was going insane with thirst and drank from a pond
covered with a greenish layer near Le Mort-Homme. A corpse was afloat in it; his black
countenance face down in the water and his abdomen swollen as if he had been filling
himself up with water for days now....
A soldier tells: ...The soldiers put their feet in front of them and pulled up out of the
swampy and smelly soil. A disgusting impenetrable stench surrounded every move.
Some did not manage to pull their boots from the mud and had to continue in their socks,
puttee or even barefooted....
A French soldier describes the horrors of a bombardment: ...When you hear the whistling
in the distance your entire body preventively crunches together to prepare for the
enormous explosions. Every new explosion is a new attack, a new fatigue, a new
affliction. Even nerves of the hardest of steel, are not capable of dealing with this kind of
pressure. The moment comes when the blood rushes to your head, the fever burns inside
your body and the nerves, numbed with tiredness, are not capable of reacting to anything
anymore. It is as if you are tied to a pole and threatened by a man with a hammer. First
the hammer is swung backwards in order to hit hard, then it is swung forwards, only
missing your scull by an inch, into the splintering pole. In the end you just surrender.
Even the strength to guard yourself from splinters now fails you. There is even hardly
enough strength left to pray to God....
A witness tells: ...We all carried the smell of dead bodies with us. The bread we ate, the
stagnant water we drank… Everything we touched smelled of decomposition due to the
fact that the earth surrounding us was packed with dead bodies....
Henri Barbusse describes the trenches as:
...a network of elongated pits in which the nightly excreta are piling up. The bottom is
covered with a swampy layer from which the feet have to extricate themselves with
every step. It smells dreadfully of urine all over....
A French stretcher-bearer describes the consequences of a flame-thrower attack: ...Some
grenadiers returned with ghastly wounds: hair and eyebrows singed, almost not human
anymore, black creatures with bewildered eyes....
Louis Barthas also describes such an attack:
...At my feet two unlucky creatures rolled the floor in misery. Their clothes and hands,
their entire bodies were on fire. They were living torches. [The next day] In front of us on
the floor the two I had witnessed ablaze, lay rattling. They were so unrecognisably
mutilated that we could not decide on their identities. Their skin was black entirely. One
of them died that same night. In a fit of insanity the other hummed a tune from his
childhood, talked to his wife and his mother and spoke of his village. Tears were in our
A soldier tells: ...Seven days without sleep, seven days of fatigue, thirst and fear made
these healthy men, these beautifully disciplined companies into a gang of loiterers.
Critically ill, but calm and satisfied, because they were now out of danger and appeared
to be still alive....
A German officer recalls: ...We saw a handful of soldiers, commanded by a Captain,
slowly approaching, one at the time. The Captain asked which company we were and
then started to cry all of a sudden. Did he suffer of shellshock? Then he said: ...when I
saw you approach it reminded me of six days ago, when I walked this same road with
approximately hundred men. And now look how few there are left.... We watched as we
passed them; they where about twenty. They walked by us as living, plastered statues.
Their faces stared at us like shrunken mummies, and their eyes were so immense that
you could not see anything but their eyes....
A German soldier describes: ...The men who have lived in these trenches just as long as
our infantry men, without going insane under these infernal attacks, must have lost their
sense for a large number of things. Our poor men have seen too many atrocities, have
witnessed too many incredible matters. I cannot believe that we will be able to cope with
this. Our poor little mind simply cannot comprehend all of this....
An eye-witness: ...There is nothing as tiring as the continuous, enormous bombardment
as we have lived through, last night, at the front. The night is disturbed by light as clear
as if it were day. The earth moves and shakes like jelly. And the men who are still at the
frontline, cannot hear anything but the drumfire, the moaning of wounded friends, the
screams of hurt horses, the wild pounding of their own hearts, hour after hour, day after
day, night after night....
A German soldier: ...the soldiers fell over like tin soldiers. Almost all our officers get
hurt or killed and many of our men get killed because of their own artillery fire, which is
too close and therefore causes many victims...
A French soldier: ...my battalion comes straight from the land behind the front-lines, the
men are exhausted and did not sleep. The battalion consists of 800 men - the battalion
that we are here to replace lost 800 men...
A German eye-witness: ...The losses are registered as follows: they are dead, wounded,
missing, nervous wrecks, ill and exhausted. Nearly all suffer from dysentery. Because of
the failing provisioning the men are forced to use up their emergency rations of salty
meats. They quenched their thirst with water from the shellholes. They are stationed in
the village of Ville where every form of care seems to be missing. They have to build
their own accommodation and are given a little cacao to stop the diarrhoea. The latrines,
wooden beams hanging over open holes, are occupied day and night – the holes are
filled with slime and blood...
A neutral contemporary feels: …that they, within the framework of this World War, are
involved in some affair, that will still be considered horrible and appalling in a hundred
years time. It is this Hell of Verdun. Since a hundred days – day and night – the sons of
two European people fight stubbornly and bitterly over every inch of land. It is the most
appalling mass murder of our history…
A soldier: …One of the trenches is so filled with wounded and dead bodies the attackers
have to use the parapet in order to be able to move forward…
A German witness: ….the latrines cause major problems. They are completely blocked
up and smell terribly. This stench is fought with chlorinated lime and this smell mixes
with the battlefield smell of decomposition. Men even wear their gas masks when using
A French eye-witness: …mud, heat, thirst, filth, rats, the sweat smell of corpses, the
disgusting smell of excreta and the terrible fear: ‗it seems we will have to attack‘, and
that when nobody has any strength left...
A German soldier: …and during the summer months the swarms of flies around the
corpses and the stench, that horrible stench. If we had to construct trenches we put garlic
cloves in our nostrils…
An eye-witness: … you could never get rid of the horrible stench. If we were on leave
and we were having a drink somewhere, it would only last a few minutes before the
people at the table beside us would stand up and leave. It was impossible to endure the
horrible stench of Verdun...
A German officer: …the number of defectors increases, the front soldiers become numb
by seeing the bodies without heads, without legs, shot through the belly, with blown
away foreheads, with holes in their chests, hardly recognisable flab‘s, pale and dirty in
the thick yellow brown mud, which covers the battle field…
A French soldier: …everyone who searches for cover in a shell hole, stumbles across
slippery, decomposing bodies and has to proceed with smelly hands and smelly
A German soldier: …in the drumfire bravery no longer exists: only nerves, nerves,
nerves. When anyone is exposed unto such trials and tribulations he is no longer of any
use as an attacker or defender…
63. World War I Poetry
Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)
"How to Die"
Dark clouds are smouldering into red
While down the craters morning burns.
The dying soldier shifts his head
To watch the glory that returns;
He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
Radiance reflected in his eyes,
And on his lips a whispered name.
You'd think, to hear some people talk,
That lads go West with sobs and curses,
And sullen faces white as chalk,
Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
But they've been taught the way to do it
Like Christian soldiers; not with haste
And shuddering groans; but passing through it
With due regard for decent taste.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
"Anthem for a Doomed Youth"
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
--Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
"Dulce et Decorum Est "
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under I green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
Herbert Read (1893-1968)
"The Happy Warrior"
His wild heart beats with painful sobs,
His strin'd hands clench an ice-cold rifle,
His aching jaws grip a hot parch'd tongue,
His wide eyes search unconsciously.
He cannot shriek.
Dribbles down his shapeless jacket.
I saw him stab
And stab again
A well-killed Boche.
This is the happy warrior,
This is he...
By all the glories of the day
And the cool evening's benison,
By that last sunset touch that lay
Upon the hills where day was done,
By beauty lavisghly outpoured
And blessings carelessly received,
By all the days that I have lived
Make me a solider, Lord.
By all of man's hopes and fears,
And all the wonders poets sing,
The laughter of unclouded years,
And every sad and lovely thing;
By the romantic ages stored
With high endeavor that was his,
By all his mad catastrophes
Make me a man, O Lord.
I, that on my familiar hill
Saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of Thy sunsets spill
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice,
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword
Must say goodbye to all of this;--
By all delights that I shall miss,
Help me to die, O Lord.
Wilfred Gibson (1878-1962)
They ask me where I've been,
And what I've done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn't I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands...
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name.
Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;
And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;
And the countryside not caring
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheats' restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;
Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.
64. World War I: Private Donald Fraser, Canadian Expeditionary Force:
Selections from My Daily Journal, 1915-1916
Selections, September 1915
We made our first trip to the firing line with rations, etc. for the 28th Battalion.
The night is dark, wet and boisterous and we feel cold and shivery all over. Nevertheless
we leave the school, pass the Chateau and halt beside H'Quarters, formerly the residence
of the Belgian doctor. The house is in fairly good repair, only several panes of glass being
broken and a few chips taken out of the building, whilst the garden possesses a souvenir
or two in the shape of shell-holes. We line up for our loads, my particular one being
sandbags. Being a bit green and confident of my powers I tell the fellow who is loading
to chuck some more on my shoulder. Frisk, a Swede, who was behind me, not to be
outdone accepted a bigger pile. We had not gone very far when we were sorry we had
spoken. We had to go about three hundred yards across the open before we struck the
communication trench which rejoiced in the Latin appellation of "Via Gellia." The path
was muddy and slippery which added to our trials. At the entrance to the trench a fellow
ahead of me slipped and fell into a ditch. The air was blue with rich language for the next
few moments. The trench led through a hedge then zigzagged for a few hundred yards.
By this time it began to deepen and stray bullets were hitting earth especially near an old
haystack close by. A little further on the trench was six to seven feet deep so we were
fairly safe from rifle fire.
Our loads were becoming troublesome falling off our shoulders and the Ross rifle
inclining outwards, the muzzle now and then would catch on the side of the trench
clogging up with mud. We had to rest frequently but not for long. Dead Cow Corner was
passed and at Beaver Hat we entered the skeleton remains of a belt of wood. Bullets were
cracking in the trees. Strong Point 11 was soon passed. From here the trench began to
wind up the base of the Wytschaete Ridge. On our right the support line branched off. A
hundred and fifty yards further on we file into a trench without trench mats near a couple
of crosses denoting the graves of former occupants. We are now only a few hundred
yards away from the enemy so we move quietly up to the appointed dump in the front
line. There is a perfect hiss of bullets overhead and a peculiar hum from those that
ricochet. Our own men are firing in return and every bay gives forth a crack, crack. It is
the custom as soon as darkness sets in for both sides to keep up a more or less continuous
fire at each other's trenches, to keep one another from attacking and also, to keep patrols
from No Man's Land. It also shows that one is awake and there is not the same chance of
being taken by surprise. The tendency when firing in the dark is to fire high with the
result that the majority of the bullets go fringing over the trenches, maybe to find a victim
two thousand yards behind; many men get killed in this fashion. It shows, therefore, how
risky it is moving around in the open within rifle range. . .
Tonight we had our introduction to dugout life. The dugouts were small, damp and cold
and overrun with rats. It is needless to add once a fighting soldier leaves England he
practically sleeps in his clothes till he gets back there again. Taking off our boots, there
were three of us in the dugout, we lay down between our waterproof sheet and overcoat
and snatched as many winks as we could. There is a change of sentry every two hours, so
the chances are you get wakened up between the shifts, either by your mate getting up or
coming in or being wakened by mistake for guard. To interrupt your prospective
slumbers, sometimes, the order to "stand to" for the night comes along which means you
have to hold yourself in readiness for eventualities, in other words, you have to be wide
awake with equipment on, etc. An order to "stand to" is equivalent to expecting an attack.
Many a time we wished those attacks would materialize so that we could get a half decent
sleep afterwards. At sunrise and sunset there is a "stand to" every day, these being the
times the enemy is liable to come over. When the order is given everyone is supposed to
get out of his dug-out; get his equipment on and have his rifle handy. "Stand down" is
usually passed along half an hour to an hour afterwards, when the day shifts start. In the
daytime two or three guards are considered sufficient to keep watch.
We notice our rations are increased but there is no variety---tea, bread, hard biscuits,
butter, jam, bacon, bully-beef, maconochie, fresh meat, cheese, rice, dried vegetables.
These are the supplies but they are not of daily occurrence. It may be tinned food one day
and fresh meat the next and so on. It is general knowledge that rations are increased when
we go into the line. The rum we heard so much about came up tonight. We are given a
tot--a few teaspoonsful either at night or early morning. It is much appreciated as it helps
the circulation which gets very slow these cold nights for want of movement....The way
our old soldiers, physical drill instructors, bayonet fighting instructors disappeared under
the stress of battle to realms of easier work was a great disappointment to us. To instance
a few cases. When the 31st became a battalion, the Regt. Sgt.-Maj. was a man named
B__. He was one of the mainstays of the 103rd Calgary Rifles and naturally interested in
military work. He was very insistent that we smarten up and be soldiers. His part of
soldiering, however, was spent in England. He took good care to stay on the safe side of
the Channel. As Sgt.-Maj. of our company--a hero of a hundred fights you would fancy
him to be if you listened to his conversation--he wore four ribbons for service in Africa,
Egypt and the Sudan and was a faddist on bayonet fighting. In England, he used to tap his
side gently and remark that this, alluding to his revolver, was for N.C.O.s who refused to
go over the top. I only saw this fire-eater pay a visit to the trenches once. I gave him the
periscope to look through. He was very uneasy and had a half-hearted glance through it,
slinking back to H'Qrs. a few minutes afterwards. This seasoned warrior obtained a
commission and in addition managed to get back to Canada. I noticed his picture very
nearly the central figure in a group of War Veterans, taken before their quarters on 9th
During the day, if we are not on day duty, we are almost certain to be building dug-outs
or fixing up the trenches, so our stretches of sleep even in the best and quietest of times is
of short duration. If the line is quiet and the command does not anticipate trouble, two
sentries can doze in their dug-out. The man on guard stands on the firing step and peers
over the bags for any movement in No Man's Land at the same lime listening intently for
any sounds. The ears are more dependable when it is dark than the eyes. The touching of
the wire, the stumbling against old tins, or the swishing noise of the grasses moving are
apt to give a raider or patrol away. Unless on the skyline, it is difficult picking up anyone
moving till they are almost on you. If you are suspicious, the usual thing is to get
someone to fire a flare over the particular spot. A good sentry does not move much but
keeps to a certain spot remaining mute for a considerable time and shows very little of his
head. He is better able to detect and, what is of as much importance, he is less liable to be
seen than a man who is moving around the bay. The majority of fellows, however, do not
worry. They pass most of their time sitting on the firing step smoking the pipe of peace,
with an occasional glance over the parapet. As a rule one can size up affairs pretty good.
If Fritz is sending up star shells pretty frequently you can depend upon it his patrols or
raiders are not out. If his riflemen are pinging bullets in our direction and they are low,
you can rest easy in the belief that his men are behind his parapet. It is when his lights are
not going up often or his shooting is nil or high, you should be suspicious and on the
alert. It is then he is either up to mischief, making a relief or has fatigue parties out in
front fixing up his wire.
A dull pop from the opponent's lines and one immediately scans the horizon for a trench
mortar. In ordinary times such noises would escape one's attention. The German little fish
tail bomb starts its course through the air with a swish, swish and makes a peculiar noise
like wa-wa. Excepting high velocity shells, one has a fair indication of direction when he
hears the report of the gun. Rifle grenades, when fired during shelling, are difficult to
detect. I often wonder that when trench mortar companies intend throwing over their
shells, they do not get the artillery to kick up a noise so as their opponents will have to
rely solely on their sight to pick up what is going to happen.
At this stage it may be well to mention what the ordinary infantryman in the firing line
has to go through and what his nerves have to stand. Old No Man's Land had an average
width of 150 to 250 yds.; in many parts of the line it would come as close as 35 to 75 yds.
As a rule, the narrower No Man's Land, the weaker the wire. The distance between is so
little that fixing up wire is impossible. Ready-made wiring obstacles have to be thrown
over and, of course, they cannot be expected to be very effective. In fact, later on, Fritz
had the audacity to fix on one of our wiring obstacles and pulled it on to his own side.
Anyway, besides being liable to be shelled at any moment, the man in the firing line is
liable to have bombs, grenades and trench mortar bombs thrown at him. Machine-guns
may open up and rip the sand bags at pleasure. Clamped rifles go off every now and then,
trained at likely spots the infantryman has to pass. Any moment a swarm of Huns may
rush him. He is liable to be blown up by a mine tunnelled underneath the trench. On dark
nights the enemy could crawl into his trench without being seen. It is the same when it is
foggy. He exists under these conditions, wet or dry, often in mud and slush over the
knees and almost frozen with the cold. Sometimes he sleeps on the firing step or in the
bottom of the trench with practically no covering or protection. When he gets wet, his
clothes have to dry on him--at times he is worked off his feet digging, draining, making
dug-outs, carrying timber, corrugated iron, etc. and has to run the gauntlet of being sniped
on many occasions. Knowing that any moment he may be hurled into oblivion, his nerves
are keyed to a certain pitch and his existence is one of suspense. No wonder the average
man's stay in the trenches is a few months. Unfortunately these men who brave such
dangers daily, hourly, have nothing to show for it. A Canadian in England gets service
stripes the same as he does, not so the British Tommy. A Brigade runner, who once in a
while reaches the line, stands a better chance of a decoration. Hangers-on who are seldom
within the fighting area and who sleep comfortably and soundly at night and can do their
own cooking, get all the medals or clasps they are entitled to. It is high time some
distinction was made between the actual fighting man and his numerous knockers in
khaki who take practically no risk at all.
We have been out all day fixing up the communication trench which has collapsed owing
to the recent rains. From now on "Via Gellia" keeps us busy when out on rest. The
weather had changed completely, raining almost daily and the ground is in a sodden
condition. For want of sunshine and wind, it is impossible for the ground to dry up and
after a while we learn that it is useless trying to keep the trenches passable. The rain
loosens the earth and the sides cave in. With additional rain the bottom of the trenches
become liquid mud which defies all efforts at drainage. We shovel, shovel and keep on
shovelling but it is of no avail, the trench absolutely refuses to clean up. It is a hard
proposition, the mud sticks to the shovel and after vigorous efforts to dislodge it, it only
comes off to fall into the trench again. In time the bank becomes so high that we cannot
fling the mud up so we have to get up on top and in a crouching attitude shove the mud
further back, terracing it so as to ease the ground pressure and keep it from sliding down.
In wet weather it is stupendous work and is about as hopeless as shovelling water. When
a little progress is made posts are driven into the trench and are strengthened by being
connected by wire with smaller posts on the parados. The sides are now revetted with
corrugated iron which is placed behind the posts being kept in position by them and thus
keep the sides from caving in. The pressure of earth, however, is often so great that it
bulges the corrugated iron or snaps the posts. One can imagine, therefore, the enormous
amount of revetting that is required and the immensity of work in connection with it.
The bottom of the trench has to have the trench boards raised above the water or mud so
that one can move up and down quickly. These boards are roughly 1« to 2 feet wide and
from 5 to 8 feet long. They consist of a couple of deals with strips of wood laid
crossways. These trench or duck boards are laid on a couple of supporting trestles.
Through usage or faulty positioning, many fellows, in the dark, become croppers by
stepping on the edge when the board tips or slips and down they go. Often some of the
strips are missing or broken and down goes the unfortunate soldier. In some cases the
trenches are wide and at night it takes some juggling keeping on the boards. Step to the
side and down in the mud you go. On a dark night it is quite a problem manoeuvring
along these boards. Without them it would be almost impossible to reach the front line.
Later on, we spend about a couple of days trying to drain "Via Gellia" a few yards from
the firing line. There was quite a slope and we thought the mud would run if we could
only get it started. We had rubber boots on and were up to our thighs in the stuff. It was
too soft to shovel out and yet the darned thing was not watery enough to flow. This part
of the trench we gave up as hopeless. It was only in March, when the ground began to
dry, that the trench became passable. What we failed to achieve Dame Nature did.
For four months we were continuously wrestling with trenches and dug-outs, shovelling,
draining, ditching, digging, revetting, filling sandbags, carrying timber, corrugated iron,
etc. When in reserve almost every night, as soon as darkness set in, we had to hike to the
Engineer's dump at Kemmel and carry stuff up the line. We were usually too early at the
dump and lay around in the mud and rain for half an hour to an hour waiting for the
arrival of the Engineer. Orders called for our presence at a certain time and orders had to
be obeyed. Meanwhile we would hang around, too often soaked to the skin and our
clothes and equipment as heavy as lead, waiting at the side of the road for word to load
up and move on. These working parties were a regular nightmare. Often when we were
figuring on a fine rest, word would come along telling us to get ready for fatigue
immediately. Wearily and with many complaints we would get up, get our goat skins on,
equipment, rifle, and lastly our raincoat. If it drizzled the raincoat was admirable, but if it
rained it soaked up the wet like blotting paper and sent a perfect stream of water down
our thighs and legs. With a view to improving matters many fellows cut several inches
off the coat but it did not help. Others substituted the waterproof sheet for it. Anyway,
night after night in mud and rain saw us squatting around Kemmel, shivering to the bone,
waiting to set out with our loads for the line. . . .
At the break of day, Gen. Turner, the commander of the 2nd Division, came down the
line from the 27th direction and stopped to question Sgt. Boyd regarding the units on his
flanks. He also enquired if the boys had their rations and rum. He was up looking over
the line with a view to consolidating the position. Whatever plans he had formulated were
never properly executed for Fritz shortly afterwards started shelling; the fire intensifying
later and developing as the time went on, so that no opportunity was given for trench
work. At 9:30 a.m. prompt the hostile artillery began to speak and by noon it was raging
in all its fury. Shrapnel came pouring over the lines in a ceaseless whine, interrupted only
by the crumps of 4.3s and 5.9s [shells]. From every direction this fire storm was turned
upon us. Every gun within range seemed to have cut loose and the very gates of hell let
open. Overhead bursts, then deadly sprays of shrapnel, were showered into our midst.
Heavy shells rocked the earthworks and buried their occupants. The artillery
concentration was tremendous and the range was painfully accurate. Imperials, who had
been at Loos and previous battles, never experienced such a concentrated fire on so small
a frontage. There seemed to be a nest of batteries on the northern flank. Men were
digging in feverishly to escape this blast of iron, but to no avail. The bombers were the
first to suffer and before long half of them were casualties. Crater 7 quickly became
untenable and the survivors stole along to crater 6 for protection, but it was only going
from the frying pan to the fire.
Sgt. Wilson of the bombers, one of our Company, was struck down early in the day. He
lay there till darkness set in before he could be got at and removed. His injuries were
fearful yet no one could succour him, his arm being almost blown off and bodily wounds
besides. He was ultimately removed but succumbed later. The Cpl. of the bombers,
George, who had found a German rifle and had taken it to the supports for safe-keeping
intending to take it out as a souvenir, was returning to his post when a shell burst almost
upon him, mortally wounding him and injuring an officer, who fled out to the dressing
station. George, when dying, requested the boys to tell his parents "that he had died like a
soldier. " He left a widow and a child he had never seen. The second sergeant, with three
or four bombers, was sent up to reinforce his badly stricken comrades, bursting into the
crater in the face of heavy fire. But they could not stick it, they soon began to fall. Before
being relieved the enemy had taken its toll. Tom Smith going to the assistance of a
wounded man was sniped at receiving an explosive bullet in the arm and shattering it
completely, returning to Calgary several months later, an amputation case. Blackie Sayce
had his arm almost torn off and is disabled for life. Hannan was also wounded and both
bombing officers were casualties. L/Cpl. Dalziel, 6 ft. 2 ins. of humanity, finally came
out of the shambles, leading the remaining bombers with an enhanced reputation. For his
gallant work he was awarded the D.C.M., but never knew of the honour, for the day it
appeared in orders, he was killed in the Canadian Battle Of Ypres. Meanwhile the
company was gradually being wiped out as shell after shell burst burying and unburying
dead and living. The fire was so murderous that it was impossible to live under it. It was a
miracle that anyone emerged alive.
One saddening case was a stretcher bearer near half a dozen dead Tommies, a little to the
right of the trench leading to crater 7. He was sitting with a bandage between his hands in
the very act of bandaging his leg, when his life gave out, and his head fell back, his
mouth open, and his eyes gazing up to heaven, as if in piteous appeal. There he sat in a
natural posture as if in life, the bandage in his hands, and the Red Cross bag by his side.
Lovett was his name, and he belonged to the King's Liverpool. Another strange, appalling
spectacle was a couple of Tommies sitting on the firing step; the head of one had fallen
forward on his chest, and between his fingers he still held a cigarette. There he was as if
asleep, yes, but in a sleep that knows no awakening. His comrade beside him was in a
sitting position but inclining sideways. Both were unmarked and must have met their
doom by concussion.
In the support line an Imperial with a Balaclava cap on was lying on a stretcher, dead.
Eight bodies of British soldiers were collected in the crater for burial, when a shell came
over and burst amongst them, plastering Webber and Doull with gangrened flesh. At
daybreak one of the bombers was shocked to find himself standing between a dead
German and an English officer, whilst close by was a German private and English
Tommy. What trench mats there were seemed to rest on bodies. One could not dig
anywhere without coming across a human corpse. Huddled together amongst the dead
our men passed their lonely vigil in the early hours of April 4th. "Amidst life is death"
was indelibly printed on the minds of everyone present on that fateful morning.
It rained practically all the time we were there, making movement almost impossible. The
artillery concentration was too much for us and what attacks were engineered on our side
were on a ridiculously small scale. There was not much display of generalship. Affairs
ran themselves. Our men hung on till they were completely wiped out by shell fire.
Unfortunately, though the opposing artillery held us, ours could not restrain them from
attacking. Those who were in the center of the conflict quickly realized that the positions
were impossible, that they were untenable, and casualties would have been saved by
withdrawing, but the command only realized this several days later when the whole line
was lost, and then they ceased aggressive action. St. Eloi taught us a lesson, a lesson the
ordinary soldier through bitter experience quickly learned; namely, that it spells disaster
to attack over a small frontage, for it allows the enemy artillery to concentrate its fire.
The Canadian command, however, failed to grasp this significance and the same errors
were repeated at Fresnoy and Lens. Objectives at those places were taken but we had to
retire shortly afterwards, after suffering heavy losses. As usual the command to bolster up
their cause would give out the usual announcement that we inflicted heavy casualties on
the enemy, when all the time the engagements were rank failures.
About 2:00 p.m. of the 19th the enemy started shelling, principally with light stuff. After
a pause he reopened with heavies creating a number of casualties. Later on a
bombardment of terrific intensity commenced and heavy casualties were created, many of
the wounded were killed, and shelters smashed in. The gunfire switched to Crater 7 and
shortly afterwards rifle fire opened up from the opposing craters and when it died down
fifty to sixty Germans started across. It was raining and our men were glued in the mud.
The survivors were in no condition to offer fight being dazed and shell shocked. The
rifles were clogged and useless, only two or three being capable of firing. These
commenced but the feeble fire soon died away. By this time the enemy were into Crater 7
and our men had their hands up surrendering. The order was given to those in Crater 6 to
retire if they wished but only five did so, the rest being disinclined to take the risk. Out of
this number, two were wounded. Along with a wounded officer they regained their lines,
but only one man got back untouched. Thus ended the closing tragedy of the craters
whose garrison of ninety men were practically all killed or taken prisoners. The Germans
did not occupy the ground but left it to the dead.
For the last few days, shelling was more constant than usual but no prominence was
given to this for the Ypres salient is at all times stormy and every battalion that takes up
its abode in this stricken field usually returns to a more peaceful front very much
attenuated in numbers. In these days it was a byword amongst the men that one was not a
soldier unless he had served on the Ypres front. Since the fall of 1914 till armistice was
declared this countryside has been bathed in blood. Here have fallen thousands of our
best manhood. Many a soldier grievously wounded has staggered back plastered with
mud and blood from head to foot and dazed almost beyond reckoning. The traffic in
human flesh in this region is scandalous. Thousands pass up to the line, returning shortly
afterwards completely shattered. It will always be a debatable point--was the salient
worth holding? The Germans themselves had a dread of this front. The mention of Ypres
conveyed a sort of horror to them. It had always sinister forebodings of death. . . .
About 6:00 a.m. of June 2, General Mercer, the 3rd Divisional General and Brigadier
Williams of the 8th Brigade, with a few of their staff set out for battalion headquarters,
which they reached about 8:00 o'clock. A few minutes later they started for the line and
on the way up the comparative stillness of the morning was broken by a crash from the
enemy's guns as a torrent of metal came streaming down on our trenches. The success at
St. Eloi had taught the Hun the advantages of intensive fire and he prepared himself
accordingly. His plans were laid; our trenches had been registered upon with an artillery
accumulation and he simply sailed into us and we soon floundered amidst the wreckage
of obliterated trenches, smashed dugouts and torn sandbags. Our men simply melted
away under this tornado. In less than no time the ground was strewn with the remains of
the mangled and the dying. The survivors, few in number, tried to creep away. It was in
this inferno that the Generals were caught. Enveloped in shell fire, the Brigadier was
wounded and when the enemy came over, captured. General Mercer tried to win his way
back, but he never got further than Armagh Wood for there his body was found several
days later with three wounds in it. He was buried at Poperinghe, a village where, in the
old cemetery on the western side of the Reninghelst-Poperinghe Road, lie the mortal
remains of Colonels Hart-Machary and Boyle of the 7th and 10th Battalions respectively,
killed more than a year previously in the Second Battle of Ypres.
The fire continued for about four hours and when resistance was considered broken the
Germans emerged from their trenches in the southwest carrying packs and overcoat, and
advanced in several waves. After pulverizing our front line the artillery lifted and
barraged the supports and approaches, creating heavy casualties in the communications
lines. Our supports held but if the enemy had never made the common error of easing up
when the road was clear and the line confused, they could have advanced much further.
As it was they threw away their opportunity and gave us time to rush up reserves. It is
said some of their patrol penetrated as far as Zillebeke, but were beaten back in
skirmishes, paying the penalty in full for their rashness. Though the attack started on the
right it gradually worked its way north and soon the 7th Brigade were in desperate straits.
Both C.M.R. battalions had been snowed under and in consequence resistance was weak.
The 4th C. M. R. 's had 640 casualties and the 1st fared little better, their trenches being
completely flattened and casualty roll 367. The Princess Pats now came in for a gruelling.
They resisted valiantly, fighting rearguard bombing actions. Being surrounded, the
remnants had to retire to the supports early next morning.
During the retirement two eighteen pounders, sacrifice guns, were lost in Sanctuary
Wood. Sacrifice guns are placed in advanced positions to be utilized in case of
emergency either for attack or defence. Consequently they are silent, till the moment
arrives for special action. It is essential that they refrain from shooting if they wish to
escape detection. Being so close up, an imprudent shot would be at once observed and
woe to the unfortunate gunners. These guns opened up when the attack started and kept
on firing till the enemy appeared over Observatory Ridge. Practically all the gunners
were killed. The attack still continued northward but came to a halt opposite the R.C.R.'s.
Instead of pushing against a weak line, the enemy made the fatal error of digging in in
Armagh and Sanctuary Woods. The Engineers who followed up the infantry quickly had
suitable trenches dug.
A counter-attack was planned but it had to be postponed several times because certain
units did not reach their jumping off positions. When it was ultimately launched, there
was no co-ordinated effort and it failed, nevertheless a few patrols were brushed away
and we established ourselves nearer the German line. The members of the battalions
participating belonged to the 7th, 10th, 15th, 14th, 52nd, 60th and 49th. The casualties
were heavy, the 14th losing nearly 390 men. The attack should never have been
delivered. The artillery preparation was poor; the exact positions of the enemy uncertain--
- and the time was daylight. In addition there was no cohesion or definite understanding.
Our men were met by a withering fire and did the best they could in digging in. The 52nd
and 60th were badly cut up in the communication trench having been caught in barrages.
The 49th had also a disastrous time getting in. It is estimated over eight thousand took
part in the assault. The troops were the Wurttemburg, under the command of the Duke of
Wurttemberg and the furthest point they reached was seven hundred yards in the
direction of Zillebeke. They captured besides General Williams, Colonel Usher, thirteen
officers, 518 non-commissioned officers and men, 168 of whom were wounded. The
enemy was now in possession of the Ridge and our left Rank was in the air. Up to this
period our losses were about 80 officers and 2,000 men. . . .
Word has just eked out that we are in for our third engagement: first, St. Eloi; second,
Third Battle of Ypres; and now the Somme, this time not as defenders, but as aggressors
primed up for the event. The announcement that at 6:20 tomorrow morning we would
make a charge, co-operating with the Brilish and French created quite a stir. Some looked
upon the matter in a serious light, others were indifferent while the remainder treated the
whole affair in a humorous vein. A few discussed the mode of attack, chances of success,
but the knowing felt and knew that the result depended upon the artillery. Exaggerated
tales had reached us that the attacks on the Somme were a series of walkovers and there
was nothing for us to do but gather in the spoils. I believe most of us hearing such stories,
treated the derences with, if not contempt, at least with levity.
As zero hour approached I glanced around looking for signs to charge. The signal came
like a bolt from the blue. Right on the second the barrage opened with a roar that seemed
to split the heavens. Looking along the right, about forty yards away, I caught the first
glimpse of a khaki-clad figure climbing over the parapet. It was the start of the first wave,
the 27th Battalion. More Winnipeg men followed. Then glancing back over the parados I
saw Sgt. Teddy Torrens rise up from a shell hole and wave his platoon forward. So quick,
however, were the men of the 31stl on the heels of the 27th that when I turned my head,
those of my platoon beside Sgt. Hunter were actually up and over the parapet with a good
five to ten yards start ahead of me. In a hurry to overtake them and carry the line as even
as possible, I was up and over in a trice, running into shell holes, down and up for about
twenty yards, until I found that if I continued this procedure and rate, loaded up as I was,
I would be exhausted before I could get to grips with Fritz.
It was at this juncture that instinct told me to avoid the shell holes and move along the
edges. I raised my head for the first time and looked at the Hun trench, and to my
astonishment, saw Heinie after Heinie ranging along the line, up on the firing step,
blazing wildly into us, to all appearances unmolested. Seriousness and grim
determination took possession of me as I stared hard and menacing at those death-dealing
rifles. Strange to say they all seemed to be pointing at me, an illusion but nevertheless
that is how it appeared. My eyes were for a moment glued a little ahead to the right on
Sgt. Hunter, who was leading with little Lt. Newlands beside him. He appeared a picture
heroic in the extreme; his rush had dwindled to practically a walk, and he strode forward
with body erect, rifle in the forefront, a target for innumerable shots. As I was fast
levelling up on the left, it seemed a thousand miracles that he was not laid low.
My wits sharpened when it burnt deeply into me that death was in the offing. At this
stage an ever changing panorama of events passed quickly before my gaze, and my mind
was vividly impressed. The air was seething with shells. Immediately above, the
atmosphere was cracking with a myriad of machine-gun bullets, startling and
disconcerting in the extreme. Bullets from the enemy rifles were whistling and swishing
around my ears in hundreds, that to this day I cannot understand how anyone could have
crossed that inferno alive. As I pressed forward with eyes strained, to the extent of being
half-closed, I expected and almost felt being shot in the stomach All around our men
were falling, their rifles loosening from their grasp. The wounded, writhing in their
agonies, struggled and toppled into shell holes for safety from rifle and machine-gun fire,
though in my path the latter must have been negligible, for a slow or even quick traverse
would have brought us down before we reached many yards into No Man's Land. Rifle
fire, however, was taking its toll, and on my front and flanks, soldier after soldier was
tumbling to disablement or death, and I expected my turn every moment. The transition
from life to death was terribly swift.
Halfway across the first wave seemed to melt and we were in front, heading for Fritz,
who was firing wildly and frantically, and scared beyond measure as we bore down upon
him. Their faces seemed peculiarly foreign to me. Their trench was full and firing strong
and as the remnants of us were nearing bombing reach, we almost, as one man, dropped
into shell holes, a move wisely done and swiftly executed. Further progress and it is more
than likely that we would have stepped into a volley of grenades. At this time, I had the
shell hole to myself and took cover behind the left front edge, which was higher than any
other part of the lip, and I could see without being seen from the immediate front, the
flanks to the Hun line and the left rear right back to our trench. I was hardly down, when
a man around the forty mark, medium-sized, well built, with a heavy sandy moustache, of
Scandinavian appearance, came up on my left and stopped not a yard away. He seemed to
be non-plussed as if wondering what came over those who were ahead of him a moment
ago, as it suddenly dawned upon him that he was the nearest moving soldier to Fritz. I
will never forget the look of bewilderment which came over his face, but it quickly
changed to puzzled thought, as if wondering what to do next, when a rifle bullet caused
him to shudder as if he had received an electric shock. In a flash another must have tore
into his vitals for he winced with the shock, then his eyes opened wide and a terrified
look of despair and helplessness crept over his features, his eyes rolled, and with a heart-
rending shriek as he realized his end had come, he fell forward flat on his face, stone
dead, almost on top of me.
It all happened in a twinkling, his death practically instantaneous, but that fatal moment,
the wincing, the hopeless, piteous look, were indelibly printed on my mind forever.
Glancing back I saw waves of men coming on, right away back to the parapet, but they
were collapsing right and left and not a single one got as far forward as the remnants our
own Company. I saw one poor fellow stretched out, apparently dead, with a bullet wound
in the head beside the ear, with a face waxen white, and a line of blood tracing down his
cheek and neck. The moment after dropping into shell holes we started sniping. The
target was so easy it was impossible to miss. The Huns, not many yards ahead, were up
on the firing step, blazing in panic at the advancing men behind us, seemingly with only
one thought, namely to stop those moving, and in their fright and fear, forgot our little
band lying close at hand. Heiny after Heiny fell back in a heap as we closed upon the
On my left at the edge of the shell hole, a few inches from my shoulder a little ground
flew up, and at once I saw I was observed and that a Fritz had just missed me. Pulling in
my rifle I lay quiet. Looking back not a man was moving, the attack had stopped. By this
time, Cross and Judge, formerly of the 56th Battalion, had jumped into the shell hole one
after the other. Fritz finding no movement across No Man's Land, turned his attention to
those nearest his line. Cpl. Recknell, who was in a shell hole about ten yards away on my
right and very slightly ahead, got up on his knees and stretching his head, curious to see
what was happening ahead, got slung in a second by a rifle bullet, quivered, doubled up
and dropped forward, killed instantaneously. He appeared to have been struck in the
body. Bobby Bisset, a stocky little Scotsman, who was lying in the same shell hole,
crawled up on Recknell, caught him by the shoulders, as if to speak and shake him, and
immediately his head fell and he practically lay dead on the top of Charlie. The next
instant, adjoining Recknell, still further to the right, another soldier was killed as he
peered over the shell hole. It looked like Thiebot. Nearer still and on my right was
Grewzelier. He was sniping steadily. I saw him get shot also. Just when he was on the
point of firing, a bullet got him and he rolled completely round on his back, stone dead.
They were killed within a few moments of each other and I think by the same Hun.
At this lime a strange incident happened; a German, without arms and equipment,
climbed over the parapet on my right and ran into No Man's Land, shrieking and waving
his arms, apparently stark, staring mad. He ran about twenty-five yards, wheeled round in
a circle several times, the circles narrowing each time, then flopped dead. It was a weird
and uncanny spectacle and I was held spellbound, watching his cantrips. I do not think
any of our men shot him when he was in the open. He seemed to be in his death throes
when he clambered over the parapet and reeled into No Man's Land. Thrilling sights
passed before my eyes, during what must have been seconds though they could easily
have been construed into hours, so great was the tension, and so miraculous was it that I
and a few others in this vicinity escaped destruction. Lt. Newlands rose up a little from
me and gallantly endeavoured to signal us forward by a sweep of his hand, but the time
was inopportune and no one moved. He himself was hardly up, when he was wounded
and fell back into the shell hole. In the adjoining shell hole, almost touching ours, Lt.
Foster got up almost simultaneously with Newlands and promptly collapsed back again,
having been hit in the upper arm or shoulder. Freudemacher jumped in beside him to
render first aid. It seemed that Foster was painfully hit, for I could see for a minute or
two, an arm waving back and forward above the shell hole, as if he was in pain.
As the attack subsided and not a soul moved in No Man's Land save the wounded
twisting and moaning in their agony, it dawned upon me that the assault was a failure and
now we were at the mercy of the enemy. It was suicide to venture back and our only hope
lay in waiting until darkness set in and then trying to win our way back. During this
period of waiting, I expected we would be deluged by bombs, shrapnel and shell fire, and
when darkness set in, ravaged by machine-gun fire, altogether a hopeless outlook,
especially for our lot, who were lying up against his trench. The situation seemed critical
and the chances of withdrawal to safety nigh impossible. So many things had happened,
so many lives were snuffed out since I left the comparative safety of our front line, that I
lost completely all idea of time. Lying low in the shell hole contemplating events with
now and then a side glance at my sandy-moustached comrade, lying dead beside me, his
mess tin shining and scintillating on his back, a strange and curious sight appeared. Away
to my left rear, a huge gray object reared itself into view, and slowly, very slowly, it
crawled along like a gigantic toad, feeling its way across the shell-stricken field. It was a
tank, the "Creme de Menthe," the latest invention of destruction and the first of its kind to
be employed in the Great War. I watched it coming towards our direction. How painfully
slow it travelled. Down and up the shell holes it clambered, a weird, ungainly monster,
moving relentlessly forward. Suddenly men from the ground looked up, rose as if from
the dead, and running from the flanks to behind it, followed in the rear as if to be in on
the kill. The last I saw of it, it was wending its way to the Sugar Refinery. It crossed
Fritz's trenches, a few yards from me, with hardly a jolt.
When first observed it gave new life and vigour to our men. Seeing away behind men
getting up, and no one falling, I looked up and there met the gaze of some of my
comrades in the shell holes. Instinctively I jumped up and quickly, though warily, ran to
where I could see into Fritz's trench, with bayonet pointing and finger on the trigger.
Running my eyes up and down his trench, ready to shoot if I saw any signs of hostility,
and equally on the alert to jump out of view if I saw a rifle pointing at me, it was a tense
and exciting moment but I felt marvellously fit and wits extremely acute, for any
encounter. I expected opposition and was ready for danger, but a swift glance, and to my
amazement, not a German was staring at me, far less being defiant. Down the trench
about a hundred yards, several Huns, minus rifles and equipment, got out of their trench
and were beating it back over the open, terrified at the approach of the tank. Only a
moment sufficed to show that it was safer in the German trench than being up in the
open, where one may be sniped, so with a leap I jumped into the trench, almost
transfixing myself with my bayonet in the effort.
When I jumped into the trench, the sight I beheld, for sheer bloodiness and murder,
baffles description. Apparently our artillery had sent over a last minute shrapnel barrage,
for the Huns were terribly mangled about the head and shoulders which coupled with our
sniping, completely wiped out every Heiny in the bays in front of us. Everyone of them
was either dead or dying and the trench literally was running blood. As each bay
contained three to five men, it required no imagination to picture the carnage. In the
middle of a bay, a Heiny with a dark, stiff moustache, completely doubled up, was
suspended, stuck between the parapet and parados. It seemed a peculiar and strange sight
to see this Hun, head and knees almost touching, blocking the trench. A few feet north, at
a corner, another Hun lay in the bottom of the trench, his head and face terribly lacerated,
feebly groaning to death. Every soldier practically stepped on his face when passing
south along the trench. Lying around a bend he was trod on before one was aware of his
presence. Several times I ran over him. He appeared to be unconscious and was gasping
his last breaths.
A German with ruddy face, clean shaven and intelligent looking, was lying on his back
on the firing step, minus equipment, as if he had been placed there. At first I wondered
what happened to him for he appeared unmarked. His feet, however, were torn to shreds.
He had a pleasant countenance and looked as if he was smiling in death. It was from that
I took the Iron Cross ribbon. A typical Hun, big, fat with a double chin, was sitting on the
parapet in the south corner of the bay, his stomach so protruding over his thighs that very
little of the latter could be seen, stone dead, and not a mark to be seen. There was no shell
hole near him, so I conjecture he must have died of fright and not concussion. In the other
corner of the bay, reclining back against the parapet, lay a young German, a bullet wound
in the head, his face ashen white and with a look as if he sickened to death. How deadly
the sprays of metal had done their work, how effective our sniping had been, was plainly
discernible. In every bay lay dead and dying Germans, lying in grotesque shapes, and
some huddled on the top of each other. Most of them had fearful wounds and the whole
line resembled a shambles.
65. Vladimir Illyich Lenin: What is to be Done, 1902 (Russian Revolution)
In this text, Lenin makes his argument for a coherent, strictly controlled party of
dedicated revolutionaries as a basic necessity for a revolution. Some have seen an anlogy
with the Jesuit Order in his proposals for an elite corps to lead the masses. One may see
in Lenin's proposals a deep insight into to necessary requisites for a revolution, or a deep
contempt for the working classes.
The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is
able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e, it may itself realise the necessity for
combining in unions, for fighting against the employers and for striving to compel the
government to pass necessary labour legislation, etc. The theory of socialism, however,
grew out of the philosophic, historical and economic theories that were elaborated by the
educated representatives of the propertied classes, the intellectuals. According to their
social status, the founders of modern scientific socialism, Marx and Engels, themselves
belonged to the bourgeois intelligentsia. Similarly, in Russia, the theoretical doctrine of
Social Democracy [Note: By "social democracy" Lenin means revolutionary political
Marxism, not the later concept of "moderate" socialism] arose quite independently of the
spontaneous growth of the labour movement; it arose as a natural and inevitable outcome
of the development of ideas among the revolutionary socialist intelligentsia. At the time
of which we are speaking, i.e., the middle of the nineties, this doctrine not only
represented the completely formulated programme of the Emancipation of Labour group,
but had already won the adherence of the majority of the revolutionary youth in Russia.
It is only natural that a Social Democrat, who conceives the political struggle as being
identical with the "economic struggle against the employers and the government," should
conceive of an "organisation of revolutionaries" as being more or less identical with an
"organisation of workers." And this, in fact, is what actually happens; so that when we
talk about organisation, we literally talk in different tongues. I recall a conversation I
once had with a fairly consistent Economist, with whom I had not been previously
acquainted. We were discussing the pamphlet Who Will Make the Political Revolution?
and we were very soon agreed that the principal defect in that brochure was that it
ignored the question of organisation. We were beginning to think that we were in
complete agreement with each other-but as the conversation proceeded, it became clear
that we were talking of different things. My interlocutor accused the author of the
brochure just mentioned of ignoring strike funds, mutual aid societies, etc.; whereas I had
in mind an organisation of revolutionaries as an essential factor in "making" the political
revolution. After that became clear, I hardly remember a single question of importance
upon which I was in agreement with that Economist!
What was the source of our disagreement? The fact that on questions of organisation and
politics the Economists are forever lapsing from Social Democracy into trade unionism.
The political struggle carried on by the Social Democrats is far more extensive and
complex than the economic struggle the workers carry on against the employers and the
government. Similarly (and indeed for that reason), the organisation of a revolutionary
Social Democratic Party must inevitably differ from the organisations of the workers
designed for the latter struggle. A workers' organisation must in the first place be a trade
organisation; secondly, it must be as wide as possible; and thirdly, it must be as public as
conditions will allow (here, and further on, of course, I have only autocratic Russia in
mind). On the other hand, the organisations of revolutionaries must consist first and
foremost of people whose profession is that of a revolutionary (that is why I speak of
organisations of revolutionaries, meaning revolutionary Social Democrats). In view of
this common feature of the members of such an organisation, all distinctions as between
workers and intellectuals, and certainly distinctions of trade and profession, must be
obliterated. Such an organisation must of necessity be not too extensive and as secret as
1 that no movement can be durable without a stable organisation of leaders to maintain
2 that the more widely the masses are spontaneously drawn into the struggle and form
the basis of the movement and participate in it, the more necessary is it to have such an
organisation, and the more stable must it be (for it is much easier for demogogues to
sidetrack the more backward sections of the masses);
3 that the organisation must consist chiefly of persons engaged in revolutionary
activities as a profession;
4 that in a country with an autocratic government, the more we restrict the membership
of this organisation to persons who are engaged in revolutionary activities as a
profession and who have been professionally trained in the art of combating the
political police, the more difficult will it be to catch the organisation, and
5 the wider will be the circle of men and women of the working class or of other classes
of society able to join the movement and perform active work in it....
The active and widespread participation of the masses will not suffer; on the contrary, it
will benefit by the fact that a "dozen" experienced revolutionaries, no less professionally
trained than the police, will centralise all the secret side of the work-prepare leaflets,
work out approximate plans and appoint bodies of leaders for each urban district, for each
factory district and to each educational institution, etc. (I know that exception will be
taken to my "undemocratic" views, but I shall reply to this altogether unintelligent
objection later on.) The centralisation of the more secret functions in an organisation of
revolutionaries will not diminish, but rather increase the extent and the quality of the
activity of a large number of other organisations intended for wide membership and
which, therefore, can be as loose and as public as possible, for example, trade unions,
workers' circles for self-education and the reading of illegal literature, and socialist and
also democratic circles for all other sections of the population. etc, etc We must have as
large a number as possible of such organisations having the widest possible variety of
functions, but it is absurd and dangerous to confuse those with organisations of
revolutionaries, to erase the line of demarcation between them, to dim still more the
masses already incredibly hazy appreciation of the fact that in order to "serve" the mass
movement we must have people who will devote themselves exclusively to Social
Democratic activities, and that such people must train themselves patiently and
steadfastly to be professional revolutionaries.
Aye, this appreciation has become incredibly dim. The most grievous sin we have
committed in regard to organisation is that by our primitiveness we have lowered the
prestige o revolutionaries in Russia. A man who is weak and vacillating on theoretical
questions, who has a narrow outlook who makes excuses for his own slackness on the
ground that the masses are awakening spontaneously; who resembles a trade union
secretary more than a people's tribune, who is unable to conceive of a broad and bold
plan, who is incapable of inspiring even his opponents with respect for himself, and who
is inexperienced and clumsy in his own professional art-the art of combating the political
police-such a man is not a revolutionary but a wretched amateur!
Let no active worker take offense at these frank remarks, for as far as insufficient training
is concerned, I apply them first and foremost to myself. I used to work in a circle that set
itself great and all embracing tasks; and every member of that circle suffered to the point
of torture from the realisation that we were proving ourselves to be amateurs at a moment
in history when we might have been able to say, paraphrasing a well known epigram:
"Give us an organisation of revolutionaries, and we shall overturn the whole of Russia!"
66. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. This treaty forged a peace between Russia and
Germany in 1917 after the Russian Revolution (WWI. Russian Revolution)
Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey, for the one part, and Russia, for the
other part, declare that the state of war between them has ceased. They are resolved to
live henceforth in peace and amity with one another.
The contracting parties will refrain from any agitation or propaganda against the
Government or the public and military institutions of the other party. In so far as this
obligation devolves upon Russia, it holds good also for the territories occupied by the
Powers of the Quadruple Alliance.
The territories lying to the west of the line agreed upon by the contracting parties which
formerly belonged to Russia, will no longer be subject to Russian sovereignty; the line
agreed upon is traced on the map submitted as an essential part of this treaty of peace.
The exact fixation of the line will be established by a Russo-German commission.
No obligations whatever toward Russia shall devolve upon the territories referred to,
arising from the fact that they formerly belonged to Russia.
Russia refrains from all interference in the internal relations of these territories. Germany
and Austria-Hungary purpose to determine the future status of these territories in
agreement with their population.
As soon as a general peace is concluded and Russian demobilization is carried out
completely Germany will evacuate the territory lying to the east of the line designated in
paragraph 1 of Article III, in so far as Article IV does not determine otherwise.
Russia will do all within her power to insure the immediate evacuation of the provinces
of eastern Anatolia and their lawful return to Turkey.
The districts of Erdehan, Kars, and Batum will likewise and without delay be cleared of
the russian troops. Russia will not interfere in the reorganization of the national and
international relations of these districts, but leave it to the population of these districts, to
carry out this reorganization in agreement with the neighboring States, especially with
Russia will, without delay, carry out the full demobilization of her army inclusive of
those units recently organized by the present Government. Furthermore, Russia will
either bring her warships into russian ports and there detain them until the day of the
conclusion of a general peace, or disarm them forthwith. Warships of the States which
continue in the state of war with the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance, in so far as they
are within Russian sovereignty, will be treated as Russian warships.
The barred zone in the Arctic Ocean continues as such until the conclusion of a general
peace. In the Baltic sea, and, as far as Russian power extends within the Black sea,
removal of the mines will be proceeded with at once. Merchant navigation within these
maritime regions is free and will be resumed at once. Mixed commissions will be
organized to formulate the more detailed regulations, especially to inform merchant ships
with regard to restricted lanes. The navigation lanes are always to be kept free from
Russia obligates herself to conclude peace at once with the Ukrainian People's Republic
and to recognize the treaty of peace between that State and the Powers of the Quadruple
Alliance. The Ukrainian territory will, without delay, be cleared of Russian troops and the
Russian Red Guard. Russia is to put an end to all agitation or propaganda against the
Government or the public institutions of the Ukrainian People's Republic.
Esthonia and Livonia will likewise, without delay, be cleared of Russian troops and the
Russian Red Guard. The eastern boundary of Esthonia runs, in general along the river
Narwa. The eastern boundary of Livonia crosses, in general, lakes Peipus and Pskow, to
the southwestern corner of the latter, then across Lake Luban in the direction of Livenhof
on the Dvina. Esthonia and Livonia will be occupied by a German police force until
security is insured by proper national institutions and until public order has been
established. Russia will liberate at once all arrested or deported inhabitants of Esthonia
and Livonia, and insures the safe return of all deported Esthonians and Livonians.
Finland and the Aaland Islands will immediately be cleared of Russian troops and the
Russian Red Guard, and the Finnish ports of the Russian fleet and of the Russian naval
forces. So long as the ice prevents the transfer of warships into Russian ports, only
limited forces will remain on board the warships. Russia is to put an end to all agitation
or propaganda against the Government or the public institutions of Finland.
The fortresses built on the Aaland Islands are to be removed as soon as possible. As
regards the permanent non-fortification of these islands as well as their further treatment
in respect to military technical navigation matters, a special agreement is to be concluded
between Germany, Finland, Russia, and Sweden; there exists an understanding to the
effect that, upon Germany's desire, still other countries bordering upon the Baltic Sea
would be consulted in this matter.
In view of the fact that Persia and Afghanistan are free and independent States, the
contracting parties obligate themselves to respect the political and economic
independence and the territorial integrity of these states.
The prisoners of war of both parties will be released to return to their homeland. The
settlement of the questions connected therewith will be effected through the special
treaties provided for in Article XII.
The contracting parties mutually renounce compensation for their war expenses, i.e., of
the public expenditures for the conduct of the war, as well as compensation for war
losses, i.e., such losses as were caused [by] them and their nationals within the war zones
by military measures, inclusive of all requisitions effected in enemy country.
Diplomatic and consular relations between the contracting parties will be resumed
immediately upon the ratification of the treaty of peace. As regards the reciprocal
admission of consuls, separate agreements are reserved.
As regards the economic relations between the Powers of the Quadruple Alliance and
Russia the regulations contained in Appendices II-V are determinative....
The reestablishment of public and private legal relations, the exchange of war prisoners
and interned citizens, the question of amnesty as well as the question anent the treatment
of merchant ships which have come into the power of the opponent, will be regulated in
separate treaties with Russia which form an essential part of the general treaty of peace,
and, as far as possible, go into force simultaneously with the latter.
In the interpretation of this treaty, the German and Russian texts are authoritative for the
relations between Germany and Russia; the German, the Hungarian, and Russian texts for
the relations between Austria-Hungry and Russia; the Bulgarian and Russian texts for the
relations between Bulgaria and Russia; and the Turkish and Russian texts for the relations
between Turkey and Russia.
The present treaty of peace will be ratified. The documents of ratification shall, as soon
as possible, be exchanged in Berlin. The Russian Government obligates itself, upon the
desire of one of the powers of the Quadruple Alliance, to execute the exchange of the
documents of ratification within a period of two weeks. Unless otherwise provided for in
its articles, in its annexes, or in the additional treaties, the treaty of peace enters into force
at the moment of its ratification.
In testimony whereof the Plenipotentiaries have signed this treaty with their own hand.
Executed in quintuplicate at Brest-Litovsk, 3 March, 1918.
67. Treaty of Versailles, Jun 28, 1919 (WWI)
On June 28,1919, the Allied powers presented the Treaty of Versailles to Germany for
signature. The following are the key territorial and political clauses.
Article 22. Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached
a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally
recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a
Mandatory [i.e., a Western power] until such time as they are able to stand alone. The
wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the
Article 42. Germany is forbidden to maintain or construct any fortifications either on the
left bank of the Rhine or on the right bank to the west of a line drawn 50 kilometres to the
East of the Rhine.
Article 45. As compensation for the destruction of the coal mines in the north of France
and as part payment towards the total reparation due from Germany for the damage
resulting from the war, Germany cedes to France in full and absolute possession, with
exclusive right of exploitation, unencumbered and free from all debts and charges of any
kind, the coal mines situated in the Saar Basin....
Article 49. Germany renounces in favor of the League of Nations, in the capacity of
trustee, the government of the territory defined above.
At the end of fifteen years from the coming into force of the present Treaty the
inhabitants of the said territory shall be called upon to indicate the sovereignty under
which they desire to be placed.
Alsace Lorraine. The High Contracting Parties, recognizing the moral obligation to
redress the wrong done by Germany in 1871 both to the rights of France and to the
wishes of the population of Alsace and Lorraine, which were separated from their country
in spite of the solemn protest of their representatives at the Assembly of Bordeaux, agree
upon the following....
Article 51. The territories which were ceded to Germany in accordance with the
Preliminaries of Peace signed at Versailles on February 26, 1871, and the Treaty of
Frankfort of May 10, 1871, are restored to French sovereignty as from the date of the
Armistice of November 11, 1918.
The provisions of the Treaties establishing the delimitation of the frontiers before 1871
shall be restored.
Article 119. Germany renounces in favor of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers
all her rights and titles over her overseas possessions.
Article 156. Germany renounces, in favour of Japan, all her rights, title and privileges . . .
which she acquired in virtue of` the Treaty concluded by her with China on March 6,
1898, and of all other arrangements relative to the Province of Shantung.
Article 159. The German military forces shall be demobilised and reduced as prescribed
Article 160. By a date which must not be later than March 31, 1920, the German Army
must not comprise more than seven divisions of infantry and three divisions of cavalry.
After that date the total number of effectives in the Army of the States constituting
Germany must not exceed 100,000 men, including officers and establishments of depots.
The Army shall be devoted exclusively to the maintenance of order within the territory
and to the control of the frontiers.
The total effective strength of officers, including the personnel of staffs, whatever their
composition, must not exceed four thousand....
Article 231. The Allied and Associated Governments affirm and Germany accepts the
responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the
Allied and Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a
consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany and her allies.
Article 232. The Allied and Associated Governments recognize that the resources of
Germany are not adequate, after taking into account permanent diminutions of such
resources which will result from other provisions of the present Treaty, to make complete
reparation for all such loss and damage.
The Allied and Associated Governments, however, require, and Germany undertakes,
that she will make compensation for all damage done to the civilian population of the
Allied and Associated Powers and to their property during the period of the belligerency
of each as an Allied or Associated Power against Germany.
68. Hymn to Stalin (Stalinist Russia. Propaganda. Cult of Personality)
Thank you, Stalin. Thank you because I am joyful. Thank you because I am well. No
matter how old I become, I shall never forget how we received Stalin two days ago.
Centuries will pass, and the generations still to come will regard us as the happiest of
mortals, as the most fortunate of men, because we lived in the century of centuries,
because we were privileged to see Stalin, our inspired leader. Yes, and we regard
ourselves as the happiest of mortals because we are the contemporaries of a man who
never had an equal in world history.
The men of all ages will call on thy name, which is strong, beautiful, wise and marvelous.
Thy name is engraven on every factory, every machine, every place on the earth, and in
the hearts of all men.
Every time I have found myself in his presence I have been subjugated by his strength,
his charm, his grandeur. I have experienced a great desire to sing, to cry out, to shout
with joy and happiness. And now see me--me!--on the same platform where the Great
Stalin stood a year ago. In what country, in what part of the world could such a thing
I write books. I am an author. All thanks to thee, O great educator, Stalin. I love a young
woman with a renewed love and shall perpetuate myself in my children--all thanks to
thee, great educator, Stalin. I shall be eternally happy and joyous, all thanks to thee, great
educator, Stalin. Everything belongs to thee, chief of our great country. And when the
woman I love presents me with a child the first word it shall utter will be : Stalin.
O great Stalin, O leader of the peoples,
Thou who broughtest man to birth.
Thou who fructifies the earth,
Thou who restorest to centuries,
Thou who makest bloom the spring,
Thou who makest vibrate the musical chords...
Thou, splendour of my spring, O thou,
Sun reflected by millions of hearts.
69. Stalin's Purges, 1935 (Show Trials. Propaganda. Totalitarian State)
In 1936, Stalin began to attack his political opponents in a series of" purges" aimed at
destroying the vestiges of political opposition to him. What follows is the official
explanation from textbooks published before Stalin's excesses were repudiated by his
The achievements of Socialism in our country were a cause of rejoicing not only to the
Party, and not only to the workers and collective farmers, but also to our Soviet
intelligentsia, and to all honest citizens of the Soviet Union.
But they were no cause of rejoicing to the remnants of the defeated exploiting classes; on
the contrary, they only enraged them the more as time went on.
They infuriated the lickspittles of the defeated classes - the puny remnants of the
following of Bukharin and Trotsky.
These gentry were guided in their evaluation of the achievements of the workers and
collective farmers not by the interests of the people, who applauded every such
achievement, but by the interests of their own wretched and putrid faction, which had lost
all contact with the realities of life. Since the achievements of Socialism in our country
meant the victory of the policy of the Party and the utter bankruptcy of their own policy,
these gentry, instead of admitting the obvious facts and joining the common cause, began
to revenge themselves on the Party and the people for their own failure, for their own
bankruptcy; they began to resort to foul play and sabotage against the cause of the
workers and collective farmers, to blow up pits, set fire to factories, and commit acts of
wrecking in collective and state farms, with the object of undoing the achievements of the
workers and collective farmers and evoking popular discontent against the Soviet
Government. And in order, while doing so, to shield their puny group from exposure and
destruction, they simulated loyalty to the Party, fawned upon it, eulogized it, cringed
before it more and more, while in reality continuing their underhand. subversive activities
against the workers and peasants.
At the Seventeenth Party Congress, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky made repentant
speeches, praising the Party and extolling its achievements to the skies. But the congress
detected a ring of insincerity and duplicity in their speeches; for what the Party expects
from its members is not eulogies and rhapsodies over its achievements, but conscientious
work on the Socialist front. And this was what the Bukharinites had showed no signs of
for a long time. The Party saw that the hollow speeches of these gentry were in reality
meant for their supporters outside the congress, to serve as a lesson to them in duplicity,
and a call to them not to lay down their arms.
Speeches were also made at the Seventeenth Congress by the Trotskyites, Zinoviev and
Kamenev, who lashed themselves extravagantly for their mistakes, and eulogized the
Party no less extravagantly for its achievements. But the congress could not help seeing
that both their nauseating self-castigation and their fulsome praise of the party were only
meant to hide an uneasy and unclean conscience. However, the Party did not yet know or
suspect that while these gentry were making their cloying speeches at the congress they
were hatching a villainous plot against the life of S. M. Kirov.
On December 1, 1934, S. M. Kirov was foully murdered in the Smolny, in Leningrad, by
a shot from a revolver.
The assassin was caught red-handed and turned out to be a member of a secret counter-
revolutionary group made up of members of an anti-Soviet group of Zinovievites in
S. M. Kirov was loved by the Party and the working class, and his murder stirred the
people profoundly, sending a wave of wrath and deep sorrow through the country.
The investigation established that in 1933 and 1934 an underground counter-
revolutionary terrorist group had been formed in Leningrad consisting of former
members of the Zinoviev opposition and headed by a so-called "Leningrad Centre." The
purpose of this group was to murder leaders of the Communist Party. S. M. Kirov was
chosen as the first victim. The testimony of the members of this counter-revolutionary
group showed that they were connected with representatives of foreign capitalist states
and were receiving funds from them.
The exposed members of this organization were sentenced by the Military Collegium of
the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. to the supreme penalty - to be shot.
Soon afterwards the existence of an underground counter-revolutionary organization
called the "Moscow Centre" was discovered. The preliminary investigation and the trial
revealed the villainous part played by Zinoviev, Kamenev, Yevdokimo and other leaders
of this organization in cultivating the terrorist mentality among their followers, and in
plotting the murder of members of the Party Central Committee and of the Soviet
To such depths of duplicity and villainy had these people sunk that Zinoviev, who was
one of the organizers and instigators of the assassination of S. M. Kirov, and who had
urged the murderer to hasten the crime, wrote an obituary of Kirov speaking of him in
terms of eulogy, and demanded that it be published.
The Zinovievites simulated remorse in court; but they persisted in their duplicity even in
the dock. They concealed their connection with Trotsky. They concealed the fact that
together with the Trotskyites they had sold themselves to fascist espionage services. They
concealed their spying and wrecking activities. They concealed from the court their
connections with the Bukharinites, and the existence of a united Trotsky-Bukharin gang
of fascist hirelings.
As it later transpired, the murder of Comrade Kirov was the work of this united Trotsky-
The chief instigator and ringleader of this gang of assassins and spies was Judas Trotsky.
Trotsky's assistants and agents in carrying out his counter-revolutionary instructions were
Zinoviev, Kamenev and their Trotskyite underlings. They were preparing to bring about
the defeat of the U.S.S.R. in the event of attack by imperialist countries; they had become
defeatists with regard to the workers' and peasants' state; they had become despicable
tools and agents of the German and Japanese fascists.
The main lesson which the Party organizations had to draw from the trials of the persons
implicated in the foul murder of S. M. Kirov was that they must put an end to their own
political blindness and political heedlessness, and must increase their vigilance and the
vigilance of all Party members....
Purging and consolidating its ranks, destroying the enemies of the Party and relentlessly
combating distortions of the Party line, the Bolshevik Party rallied closer than ever
around its Central Committee, under whose leadership the Party and the Soviet land now
passed to a new stage - the completion of the construction of a classless, Socialist society.
70. John Maynard Keynes: The Economic Consequences of the Peace, 1920
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) was an important English economist. In his The
Economic Consequences of the Peace he attacked the effects of Versailles Settlement for
its effects on Germany. His remarks were probably correct, but it is also probably that
discomfort among the intellectual elite of the victor countries contributed to a lack of
resistance when Hitlerism took over Germany.
This chapter must be one of pessimism. The Treaty includes no provisions for the
economic rehabilitation of Europe, - nothing to make the defeated Central Empires into
good neighbors, nothing to stabilize the new States of Europe, nothing to reclaim Russia;
nor does it promote in any way a compact of economic solidarity amongst the Allies
themselves; no arrangement was reached at Paris for restoring the disordered finances of
France and Italy, or to adjust the systems of the Old World and the New.
The Council of Four paid no attention to these issues, being preoccupied with others, -
Clemenceau to crush the economic life of his enemy, Lloyd George to do a deal and
bring home something which would pass muster for a week, the President to do nothing
that was not just and right. It is an extraordinary fact that the fundamental economic
problems of a Europe starving and disintegrating before their eyes, was the one question
in which it was impossible to arouse the interest of the Four. Reparation was their main
excursion into the economic field, and they settled it as a problem of theology, of politics,
of electoral chicane, from every point of view except that of the economic future of the
States whose destiny they were handling....
The essential facts of the situation, as I see them, are expressed simply. Europe consists
of the densest aggregation of population in the history of the world. This population is
accustomed to a relatively high standard of life, in which, even now, some sections of it
anticipate improvement rather than deterioration. In relation to other continents Europe is
not self-sufficient; in particular it cannot feed itself. Internally the population is not
evenly distributed, but much of it is crowded into a relatively small number of dense
industrial centers. This population secured for itself a livelihood before the war, without
much margin of surplus, by means of a delicate and immensely complicated organization,
of which the foundations were supported by coal, iron, transport, and an unbroken supply
of imported food and raw materials from other continents. By the destruction of this
organization and the interruption of the stream of supplies, a part of this population is
deprived of its means of livelihood. Emigration is not open to the redundant surplus. For
it would take years to transport them overseas, even, which is not the case, if countries
could be found which were ready to receive them. The danger confronting us, therefore,
is the rapid depression of the standard of life of the European populations to a point
which will mean actual starvation for some (a point already reached in Russia and
approximately reached in Austria). Men will not always die quietly. For starvation, which
brings to some lethargy and a helpless despair, drives other temperaments to the nervous
instability of hysteria and to a mad despair. And these in their distress may overturn the
remnants of organization, and submerge civilization itself in their attempts to satisfy
desperately the overwhelming needs of the individual. This is the danger against which
all our resources and courage and idealism must now co-operate.
On the 13th May, 1919, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau addressed to the Peace Conference of
the Allied and Associated Powers the Report of the German Economic Commission
charged with the study of the effect of the conditions of Peace on the situation of the
German population. "In the course of the last two generations," they reported, "Germany
has become transformed from an agricultural State to an industrial State. So long as she
was an agricultural State, Germany could feed forty million inhabitants. As an industrial
State she could insure the means of subsistence for a population of sixty-seven millions;
and in 1913 the importation of foodstuffs amounted, in round figures, to twelve million
tons. Before the war a total of fifteen million persons in Germany provided for their
existence by foreign trade, navigation, and the use, directly or indirectly, of foreign raw
material." After rehearsing the main relevant provisions of the Peace Treaty the report
continues: "After this diminution of her products, after the economic depression resulting
from the loss of her colonies, her merchant fleet and her foreign investments, Germany
will not be in a position to import from abroad an adequate quantity of raw material. An
enormous part of German industry will, therefore, be condemned inevitably to
destruction. The need of importing foodstuffs will increase considerably at the same time
that the possibility of satisfying this demand is as greatly diminished. In a very short
time, therefore, Germany will not be in a position to give bread and work to her
numerous millions of inhabitants, who are prevented from earning their livelihood by
navigation and trade. These persons should emigrate, but this is a material impossibility,
all the more because many countries and the most important ones will oppose any
German immigration. To put the Peace conditions into execution would logically involve,
therefore, the loss of several millions of persons in Germany. This catastrophe would not
be long in coming about, seeing that the health of the population has been broken down
during the War by the Blockade, and during the Armistice by the aggravation of the
Blockade of famine. No help however great, or over however long a period it were
continued, could prevent these deaths en masse." "We do not know, and indeed we
doubt," the report concludes, "whether the Delegates of the Allied and Associated Powers
realize the inevitable consequences which will take place if Germany, an industrial State,
very thickly populated, closely bound up with the economic system of the world, and
under the necessity of importing enormous quantities of raw material and foodstuffs,
suddenly finds herself pushed back to the phase of her development, which corresponds
to her economic condition and the numbers of her population as they were half a century
ago. Those who sign this Treaty will sign the death sentence of many millions of German
men, women and children."
I know of no adequate answer to these words. The indictment is at least as true of the
Austrian, as of the German, settlement. This is the fundamental problem in front of us,
before which questions of territorial adjustment and the balance of European power are
insignificant. Some of the catastrophes of past history, which have thrown back human
progress for centuries, have been due to the reactions following on the sudden
termination, whether in the course of nature or by the act of man, of temporarily
favorable conditions which have permitted the growth of population beyond what could
be provided for when the favorable conditions were at an end.
71. Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism? 1932
Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) over the course of his lifetime went from Socialism - he
was editor of Avanti, a socialist newspaper - to the leadership of a new political
movement called "fascism" [after "fasces", the symbol of bound sticks used a totem of
power in ancient Rome].
Mussolini came to power after the "March on Rome" in 1922, and was appointed Prime
Minister by King Victor Emmanuel.
In 1932 Mussolini wrote (with the help of Giovanni Gentile) and entry for the Italian
Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism.
Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity
quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility
nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a
renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone
brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the
peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really
put men into the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of
life or death....
...The Fascist accepts life and loves it, knowing nothing of and despising suicide: he
rather conceives of life as duty and struggle and conquest, but above all for others --
those who are at hand and those who are far distant, contemporaries, and those who will
...Fascism [is] the complete opposite of…Marxian Socialism, the materialist conception
of history of human civilization can be explained simply through the conflict of interests
among the various social groups and by the change and development in the means and
instruments of production.... Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in
heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect.
And if the economic conception of history be denied, according to which theory men are
no more than puppets, carried to and fro by the waves of chance, while the real directing
forces are quite out of their control, it follows that the existence of an unchangeable and
unchanging class-war is also denied - the natural progeny of the economic conception of
history. And above all Fascism denies that class-war can be the preponderant force in the
transformation of society....
After Socialism, Fascism combats the whole complex system of democratic ideology,
and repudiates it, whether in its theoretical premises or in its practical application.
Fascism denies that the majority, by the simple fact that it is a majority, can direct human
society; it denies that numbers alone can govern by means of a periodical consultation,
and it affirms the immutable, beneficial, and fruitful inequality of mankind, which can
never be permanently leveled through the mere operation of a mechanical process such as
...Fascism denies, in democracy, the absur[d] conventional untruth of political equality
dressed out in the garb of collective irresponsibility, and the myth of "happiness" and
...Given that the nineteenth century was the century of Socialism, of Liberalism, and of
Democracy, it does not necessarily follow that the twentieth century must also be a
century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy: political doctrines pass, but humanity
remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority...a century
of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be
expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State....
The foundation of Fascism is the conception of the State, its character, its duty, and its
aim. Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all
individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State.
The conception of the Liberal State is not that of a directing force, guiding the play and
development, both material and spiritual, of a collective body, but merely a force limited
to the function of recording results: on the other hand, the Fascist State is itself conscious
and has itself a will and a personality -- thus it may be called the "ethic" State....
...The Fascist State organizes the nation, but leaves a sufficient margin of liberty to the
individual; the latter is deprived of all useless and possibly harmful freedom, but retains
what is essential; the deciding power in this question cannot be the individual, but the
...For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an
essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples which are
rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist; and
renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to
represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are
rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude. But empire
demands discipline, the coordination of all forces and a deeply felt sense of duty and
sacrifice: this fact explains many aspects of the practical working of the regime, the
character of many forces in the State, and the necessarily severe measures which must be
taken against those who would oppose this spontaneous and inevitable movement of Italy
in the twentieth century, and would oppose it by recalling the outworn ideology of the
nineteenth century - repudiated wheresoever there has been the courage to undertake
great experiments of social and political transformation; for never before has the nation
stood more in need of authority, of direction and order. If every age has its own
characteristic doctrine, there are a thousand signs which point to Fascism as the
characteristic doctrine of our time. For if a doctrine must be a living thing, this is proved
by the fact that Fascism has created a living faith; and that this faith is very powerful in
the minds of men is demonstrated by those who have suffered and died for it.
72. The Beginning of World War II, 1939. Hitler Receives an Ultimatum
Hitler's aggressive acquisition of territory began in 1936 when he ordered his army to
reoccupy the Rhineland district of Germany. Bordering France, the Rhineland had been
designated as a demilitarized zone by the Versailles Treaty ending World War I. It was a
high-risk endeavor for Hitler. The German troops were unprepared, poorly equipped and
had orders to retreat if the French offered any resistance. In the end, the maneuver went
smoothly without any hindrance. Encouraged by this result, Hitler went on to absorb
Austria and the German dominated Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia into the German
Third Reich in 1938. In March of the next year he occupied the remainder of
Bolstered by the lack of a forceful response by Britain or France, Hitler set his sights on
Poland. However, British Prime Minister Chamberlain had come to the realization that
Hitler's territorial ambitions could not be tempered by submitting to his demands. In
March 1939 he declared that Britain guaranteed Poland's independence and vowed to
come to her aid if attacked. France soon joined Britain in support of Poland.
Hitler was undeterred. On August 23, 1939 he stunned the world with the announcement
that he had signed a non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union. The German Fuhrer
was now assured that he could invade Poland without fear of Russian interference.
The assault was originally scheduled to begin in the early morning hours of August 26th.
However, on August 25th, Britain announced that her guarantee of Polish independence
had been formalized by an alliance between the two countries. Hitler wavered and
postponed his attack to September 1.
The Germans concocted a story of Polish troops crossing their border and firing on
various installations. In supposed retaliation, German tanks rolled across the Polish
border during the early hours of September 1, 1939. Tensions were running high
throughout Europe. Britain and France began mobilization of their armies while Italy's
Mussolini desperately tired to intervene with Hitler to forestall war. The British and
French representatives met with German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop warning that they
would fulfill their obligation to Poland and go to war if German forces did not withdraw
from Polish territory.
At 9:00 on the morning of September 3, Sir Neville Henderson, Britain's ambassador to
Germany, delivered an ultimatum stating that if hostilities did not stop by 11 AM, a state
of war would exist between Great Britain and Germany. Germany did not respond and at
11:15 on the morning of September 3, 1939 Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain went on
the radio to announce to the British people that they were at war with Germany.
"...there was complete silence. Hitler sat immobile, gazing before him."
Paul Schmidt was a translator in the German Foreign Ministry and present at the history-
making events of those last days peace in Europe. The scene is the office of the German
Foreign Ministry in Berlin. It is just after midnight on September 3, 1939 and the German
juggernaut continues to slam its way into Poland. The Germans have not responded to an
earlier British and French demand to withdraw its troops and a message is received
stating that Sir Neville Henderson, the British Ambassador to Germany, wishes to meet
with German Foreign Minister Ribbontrop. It is obvious to all that the Ambassador's
message will probably mean war.
We join Schmidt's story as Ribbentrop decides that the translator should meet with the
British ambassador alone:
"It was after midnight when the British Embassy telephoned to say that Henderson had
received instructions from London to transmit a communication from his Government at
9 a.m., and that he asked to be received by Ribbentrop at the Foreign Office at that time.
It was clear that this communication could contain nothing agreeable, and that it might
possibly be a real ultimatum. Ribbentrop in consequence showed not the slightest
inclination to receive the British Ambassador personally next morning. I happened to be
standing near him.
'Really, you could receive the Ambassador in my place,' he said to me. 'Just ask the
English whether that will suit them, and say that the Foreign Minister is not available at 9
o'clock.' The English agreed, and therefore I was instructed to receive Henderson next
morning - that is, in five hours time, it being now 4 o'clock in the morning.
On Sunday, September 3rd, 1939, after the pressure of work over the last few days, I
overslept, and had to take a taxi to the Foreign Office. I could just see Henderson entering
the building as I drove across the Wilhelmsplatz. I used a side entrance and stood in
Ribbentrop's office ready to receive Henderson punctually at 9 o'clock. Henderson was
announced as the hour struck. He came in looking very serious, shook hands, but
declined my invitation to be seated, remaining solemnly standing in the middle of the
'I regret that on the instructions of my Government I have to hand you an ultimatum for
the German Government,' he said with deep emotion, and then, both of us still standing
up, he read out the British ultimatum. 'More than twenty-four hours have elapsed since an
immediate reply was requested to the warning of September 1st, and since then the
attacks on Poland have been intensified. If His Majesty's Government has not received
satisfactory assurances of the cessation of all aggressive action against Poland, and the
withdrawal of German troops from that country, by 11 o'clock British Summer Time,
from that time a state of war will exist between Great Britain and Germany.'
When he had finished reading, Henderson handed me the ultimatum and bade me
goodbye, saying: 'I am sincerely sorry that I must hand such a document to you in
particular, as you have always been most anxious to help.'
I too expressed my regret, and added a few heartfelt words. I always had the highest
regard for the British Ambassador.
I then took the ultimatum to the Chancellery, where everyone was anxiously awaiting me.
Most of the members of the Cabinet and the leading men of the Party were collected in
the room next to Hitler's office. There was something of a crush and I had difficulty in
getting through to Hitler.
When I entered the next room Hitler was sitting at his desk and Ribbentrop stood by the
window. Both looked up expectantly as I came in. I stopped at some distance from
Hitler's desk, and then slowly translated the British Government's ultimatum. When I
finished, there was complete silence.
Hitler sat immobile, gazing before him. He was not at a loss, as was afterwards stated,
nor did he rage as others allege. He sat completely silent and unmoving.
After an interval which seemed an age, he turned to Ribbentrop, who had remained
standing by the window. 'What now?' asked Hitler with a savage look, as though
implying that his Foreign Minister had misled him about England's probable reaction.
Ribbentrop answered quietly: 'I assume that the French will hand in a similar ultimatum
within the hour.'
As my duty was now performed, I withdrew. To those in the anteroom pressing round me
I said: 'The English have just handed us an ultimatum. In two hours a state of war will
exist between England and Germany.' In the anteroom, too, this news was followed by
Goering turned to me and said: 'If we lose this war, then God have mercy on us!'
Goebbels stood in a corner, downcast and self-absorbed. Everywhere in the room I saw
looks of grave concern, even amongst the lesser Party people."
73. Inside a Nazi Death Camp, 1944 (Holocaust. WW2)
Hitler established the first concentration camp soon after he came to power in 1933. The
system grew to include about 100 camps divided into two types: concentration camps for
slave labor in nearby factories and death camps for the systematic extermination of
"undesirables" including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally retarded and others.
As the allied armies raced towards final victory, advancing troops liberated the camps
one-by-one, revealing the horrors of the Nazi concept of establishing a "pure" society.
The first liberation came in July 1944 when Soviet troops entered Maidanek, a death
camp located in Poland two miles from the city of Lublin. Alexander Werth, a
correspondent for the London Sunday Times and the BBC, accompanied the Soviet
troops and described the camp a month after its capture.
The BBC refused to air his report of the camp as his description was so unbelievable they
considered it a Soviet propaganda ploy. It was not until the later capture of Buchenwald,
Dachau and other camps on the western front that his description was accepted as true.
"It looked singularly harmless."
The Maidanek camp was established by the Nazis in 1941 soon after their conquest of the
then Russian occupied region of Poland. The primary purpose of the facility was the
speedy extermination of new arrivals (mostly Jews) transported in from various countries
including Czechoslovakia, France, Austria, and Holland. The majority of victims,
however, came from the immediate area. It is estimated that 1.5 million died at the camp
during its three years of operation.
Soviet troops entered the camp in July 1944. A week later, Alexander Werth joined a
group of fellow reporters in a guided tour of the facility:
"My first reaction to Maidanek was a feeling of surprise. I had imagined something
horrible and sinister beyond words. It was nothing like that. It looked singularly harmless
from outside. 'Is that it?' was my first reaction when we stopped at what looked like a
large workers' settlement. Behind us was the many towered skyline of Lublin. There was
much dust on the road, and the grass as dull, greenish-grey colour. The camp was
separated from the road by a couple of barbed-wire fences, but these did not look
particularly sinister, and might have been put up outside any military or semi-military
establishment. The place was large; like a whole town of barracks painted a pleasant soft
green. There were many people around - soldiers and civilians. A Polish sentry opened
the barbed-wire gate to let cars enter the central avenue, with large green barracks on
either side. And we stopped outside a large barrack marked Bad und Desinfektion II.
'This,' somebody said, 'is where large numbers of those arriving at the camp were brought
The inside of this barrack was made of concrete, and water taps came out of the wall, and
around the room there were benches where the clothes were put down and afterwards
collected. So this was the place into which they were driven. Or perhaps they were
politely invited to 'Step this way, please?' Did any of them suspect, while washing
themselves after a long journey, what would happen a few minutes later? Anyway, after
the washing was over, they were asked to go into the next room; at this point even the
most unsuspecting must have begun to wonder. For the "next room" was a series of large
square concrete structures, each about one-quarter of the size the bath-house, and, unlike
it, had no windows. The naked people (men one time, women another time, children the
next) were driven or forced from the bath-house into these dark concrete boxes - about
five yards square - and then, with 200 or 250 people packed into each box - and it was
completely dark there, except for a small light in the ceiling and the spyhole in the door -
the process of gassing began. First some hot air was pumped in from the ceiling and then
the pretty pale-blue crystals of Cyclon were showered down on the people, and in the hot
wet air they rapidly evaporated. In anything from two to ten minutes everybody was
dead. . .
There were six concrete boxes - gas-chambers - side by side. 'Nearly two thousand people
could be disposed of here simultaneously,' one of the guides said.
But what thoughts passed through these people's minds during those first few minutes
while the crystals were falling; could anyone still believe that this humiliating process of
being packed into a box and standing there naked, rubbing backs with other naked
people, had anything to do with disinfection?
At first it was all very hard to take in, without an effort of the imagination. There were a
number of very dull-looking concrete structures which, if their doors had been wider,
might anywhere else have been mistaken for a row of nice little garages. But the doors -
the doors! They were heavy steel doors, and each had a heavy steel bolt. And in the
middle of the door was a spyhole, a circle, three inches in diameter composed of about a
hundred small holes. Could the people in their death agony see the SS man's eye as he
watched them? Anyway, the SS-man had nothing to fear: his eye was well protected by
the steel netting over the spyhole...
...Then a touch of blue on the floor caught my eye. It was very faint, but still legible. In
blue chalk someone had scribbled the word "vergast" and had drawn crudely above it a
skull and crossbones. I had never seen this word before but it obviously meant" gassed" -
and not merely "gassed" but: with, that eloquent little prefix ver, 'gassed out'. That's this
job finished, and now for the next lot. The blue chalk came into motion when there was
nothing but a heap of naked corpses inside. But what cries, what curses, what prayers
perhaps, had been uttered inside that gas chamber only a few minutes before?..." \
74. The Fall of Berlin, 1945 (WW2)
The final chapter in the destruction of Hitler's Third Reich began on April 16, 1945 when
Stalin unleashed the brutal power of 20 armies, 6,300 tanks and 8,500 aircraft with the
objective of crushing German resistance and capturing Berlin. By prior agreement, the
Allied armies (positioned approximately 60 miles to the west) halted their advance on the
city in order to give the Soviets a free hand. The depleted German forces put up a stiff
defense, initially repelling the attacking Russians, but ultimately succumbing to
overwhelming force. By April 24 the Soviet army surrounded the city slowly tightening its
stranglehold on the remaining Nazi defenders. Fighting street-to-street and house-to-
house, Russian troops blasted their way towards Hitler's chancellery in the city's center.
Inside his underground bunker Hitler lived in a world of fantasy as his "Thousand Year
Reich" crumbled above him. In his final hours the Fuehrer married his long-time mistress
and then joined her in suicide. The Third Reich was dead.
Beginning of the End
Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel was a twenty-nine-year-old wife and mother living in
Berlin. She and her young daughter along with friends and neighbors huddled within
their apartment building as the end neared. The city was already in ruins from Allied air
raids, food was scarce, the situation desperate - the only hope that the Allies would
arrive before the Russians. We join Dorothea's account as the Russians begin the final
push to victory:
"Friday, April 20, was Hitler's fifty-sixth birthday, and the Soviets sent him a birthday
present in the form of an artillery barrage right into the heart of the city, while the
Western Allies joined in with a massive air raid.
The radio announced that Hitler had come out of his safe bomb-proof bunker to talk with
the fourteen to sixteen year old boys who had 'volunteered' for the 'honor' to be accepted
into the SS and to die for their Fuhrer in the defense of Berlin. What a cruel lie! These
boys did not volunteer, but had no choice, because boys who were found hiding were
hanged as traitors by the SS as a warning that, 'he who was not brave enough to fight had
to die.' When trees were not available, people were strung up on lamp posts. They were
hanging everywhere, military and civilian, men and women, ordinary citizens who had
been executed by a small group of fanatics. It appeared that the Nazis did not want the
people to survive because a lost war, by their rationale, was obviously the fault of all of
us. We had not sacrificed enough and therefore, we had forfeited our right to live, as
only the government was without guilt. The Volkssturm was called up again, and this
time, all boys age thirteen and up, had to report as our army was reduced now to little
more than children filling the ranks as soldiers."
Encounter with a Young Soldier
"In honor of Hitler's birthday, we received an eight-day ration allowance, plus one tiny
can of vegetables, a few ounces of sugar and a half-ounce of real coffee. No one could
afford to miss rations of this type and we stood in long lines at the grocery store patiently
waiting to receive them. While standing there, we noticed a sad looking young boy across
the street standing behind some bushes in a self-dug shallow trench. I went over to him
and found a mere child in a uniform many sizes too large for him, with an anti-tank
grenade lying beside him. Tears were running down his face, and he was obviously very
frightened of everyone. I very softly asked him what he was doing there. He lost his
distrust and told me that he had been ordered to lie in wait here, and when a Soviet tank
approached he was to run under it and explode the grenade. I asked how that would work,
but he didn't know. In fact, this frail child didn't even look capable of carrying such a
grenade. It looked to me like a useless suicide assignment because the Soviets would
shoot him on sight before he ever reached the tank.
By now, he was sobbing and muttering something, probably calling for his mother in
despair, and there was nothing that I could do to help him. He was a picture of distress,
created by our inhuman government. If I encouraged him to run away, he would be
caught and hung by the SS, and if I gave him refuge in my home, everyone in the house
would be shot by the SS. So, all we could do was to give him something to eat and drink
from our rations. When I looked for him early next morning he was gone and so was the
grenade. Hopefully, his mother found him and would keep him in hiding during these last
days of a lost war."
he Russians Arrive
"The Soviets battled the German soldiers and drafted civilians street by street until we
could hear explosions and rifle fire right in our immediate vicinity. As the noise got
closer, we could even hear the horrible guttural screaming of the Soviet soldiers which
sounded to us like enraged animals. Shots shattered our windows and shells exploded in
our garden, and suddenly the Soviets were on our street. Shaken by the battle around us
and numb with fear, we watched from behind the small cellar windows facing the street
as the tanks and an endless convoy of troops rolled by…
It was a terrifying sight as they sat high upon their tanks with their rifles cocked, aiming
at houses as they passed. The screaming, gun-wielding women were the worst. Half of
the troops had only rags and tatters around their feet while others wore SS boots that had
been looted from a conquered SS barrack in Lichterfelde. Several fleeing people had told
us earlier that they kept watching different boots pass by their cellar windows. At night,
the Germans in our army boots recaptured the street that the Soviets in the SS boots had
taken during the day. The boots and the voices told them who was who. Now we saw
them with our own eyes, and they belonged to the wild cohorts of the advancing Soviet
Facing reality was ten times worse than just hearing about it. Throughout the night, we
huddled together in mortal fear, not knowing what the morning might bring.
Nevertheless, we noiselessly did sneak upstairs to double check that our heavy wooden
window shutters were still intact and that all outside doors were barricaded. But as I
peaked out, what did I see! The porter couple in the apartment house next to ours was
standing in their front yard waving to the Soviets. So our suspicion that they were
Communists had been right all along, but they must have been out of their minds to
openly proclaim their brotherhood like that.
As could be expected, that night a horde of Soviet soldiers returned and stormed into their
apartment house. Then we heard what sounded like a terrible orgy with women
screaming for help, many shrieking at the same time. The racket gave me goosebumps.
Some of the Soviets trampled through our garden and banged their rifle butts on our
doors in an attempt to break in. Thank goodness our sturdy wooden doors withstood their
efforts. Gripped in fear, we sat in stunned silence, hoping to give the impression that this
was a vacant house, but hopelessly delivered into the clutches of the long-feared Red
Army. Our nerves were in shreds."
"The next morning, we women proceeded to make ourselves look as unattractive as
possible to the Soviets by smearing our faces with coal dust and covering our heads with
old rags, our make-up for the Ivan. We huddled together in the central part of the
basement, shaking with fear, while some peeked through the low basement windows to
see what was happening on the Soviet-controlled street. We felt paralyzed by the sight of
these husky Mongolians, looking wild and frightening. At the ruin across the street from
us the first Soviet orders were posted, including a curfew. Suddenly there was a
shattering noise outside. Horrified, we watched the Soviets demolish the corner grocery
store and throw its contents, shelving and furniture out into the street. Urgently needed
bags of flour, sugar and rice were split open and spilled their contents on the bare
pavement, while Soviet soldiers stood guard with their rifles so that no one would dare to
pick up any of the urgently needed food. This was just unbelievable. At night, a few
desperate people tried to salvage some of the spilled food from the gutter. Hunger now
became a major concern because our ration cards were worthless with no hope of any
Shortly thereafter, there was another commotion outside, even worse than before, and we
rushed to our lookout to see that the Soviets had broken into the bank and were looting it.
They came out yelling gleefully with their hands full of German bank notes and jewelry
from safe deposit boxes that had been pried open. Thank God we had withdrawn money
already and had it at home."
"The next day, General Wilding, the commander of the German troops in Berlin, finally
surrendered the entire city to the Soviet army. There was no radio or newspaper, so vans
with loudspeakers drove through the streets ordering us to cease all resistance. Suddenly,
the shooting and bombing stopped and the unreal silence meant that one ordeal was over
for us and another was about to begin. Our nightmare had become a reality. The entire
three hundred square miles of what was left of Berlin were now completely under control
of the Red Army. The last days of savage house to house fighting and street battles had
been a human slaughter, with no prisoners being taken on either side. These final days
were hell. Our last remaining and exhausted troops, primarily children and old men,
stumbled into imprisonment. We were a city in ruins; almost no house remained intact."
75. Surviving the Atomic Attack on Hiroshima, 1945 (WW2. Atomic Age)
August 6, 1945 - the sun rose into a clear blue sky over the city of Hiroshima, Japan
promising a warm and pleasant day. Nothing in the day's dawning indicated that this day
would be any different from its predecessors. But this day would be different, very
different. This day would change the world. On this day a single bomb dropped by a
single airplane destroyed the city, leading to the end of World War II and introducing
mankind to the Atomic Age.
Dr. Michihiko Hachiya lived thorough that day and kept a diary of his experience. He
served as Director of the Hiroshima Communications Hospital and lived near the
hospital approximately a mile from the explosion's epicenter. His diary was published in
English in 1955
Suddenly, a strong flash of light...
"The hour was early; the morning still, warm, and beautiful. Shimmering leaves,
reflecting sunlight from a cloudless sky, made a pleasant contrast with shadows in my
garden as I gazed absently through wide-flung doors opening to the south.
Clad in drawers and undershirt, I was sprawled on the living room floor exhausted
because I had just spent a sleepless night on duty as an air warden in my hospital.
Suddenly, a strong flash of light startled me - and then another. So well does one recall
little things that I remember vividly how a stone lantern in the garden became brilliantly
lit and I debated whether this light was caused by a magnesium flare or sparks from a
Garden shadows disappeared. The view where a moment before had been so bright and
sunny was now dark and hazy. Through swirling dust I could barely discern a wooden
column that had supported one comer of my house. It was leaning crazily and the roof
Moving instinctively, I tried to escape, but rubble and fallen timbers barred the way. By
picking my way cautiously I managed to reach the roka (an outside hallway)and stepped
down into my garden. A profound weakness overcame me, so I stopped to regain my
strength. To my surprise I discovered that I was completely naked How odd! Where were
my drawers and undershirt?
What had happened?
All over the right side of my body I was cut and bleeding. A large splinter was
protruding from a mangled wound in my thigh, and something warm trickled into my
mouth. My check was torn, I discovered as I felt it gingerly, with the lower lip laid wide
open. Embedded in my neck was a sizable fragment of glass which I matter-of-factly
dislodged, and with the detachment of one stunned and shocked I studied it and my
Where was my wife?
Suddenly thoroughly alarmed, I began to yell for her: 'Yaeko-san! Yaeko-san! Where are
you?' Blood began to spurt. Had my carotid artery been cut? Would I bleed to death?
Frightened and irrational, I called out again 'It's a five-hundred-ton bomb! Yaeko-san,
where are you? A five- hundred-ton bomb has fallen!'
Yaeko-san, pale and frightened, her clothes torn and blood stained, emerged from the
ruins of our house holding her elbow. Seeing her, I was reassured. My own panic
assuaged, I tried to reassure her.
'We'll be all right,' I exclaimed. 'Only let's get out of here as fast as we can.'
She nodded, and I motioned for her to follow me."
It was all a nightmare...
Dr. Hachiya and his wife make there way to the street. As the homes around them
collapse, they realize they must move on, and begin their journey to the hospital a few
hundred yards away.
"We started out, but after twenty or thirty steps I had to stop. My breath became short,
my heart pounded, and my legs gave way under me. An overpowering thirst seized me
and I begged Yaeko-san to find me some water. But there was no water to be found.
After a little my strength somewhat returned and we were able to go on.
I was still naked, and although I did not feel the least bit of shame, I was disturbed to
realize that modesty had deserted me. On rounding a corner we came upon a soldier
standing idly in the street. He had a towel draped across his shoulder, and I asked if he
would give it to me to cover my nakedness. The soldier surrendered the towel quite
willingly but said not a word. A little later I lost the towel, and Yaeko-san took off her
apron and tied it around my loins.
Our progress towards the hospital was interminably slow, until finally, my legs, stiff from
drying blood, refused to carry me farther. The strength, even the will, to go on deserted
me, so I told my wife, who was almost as badly hurt as I, to go on alone. This she
objected to, but there was no choice. She had to go ahead and try to find someone to
come back for me.
Yaeko-san looked into my face for a moment, and then, without saying a word, turned
away and began running towards the hospital. Once, she looked back and waved and in a
moment she was swallowed up in the gloom. It was quite dark now, and with my wife
gone, a feeling of dreadful loneliness overcame me.
I must have gone out of my head lying there in the road because the next thing I recall
was discovering that the clot on my thigh had been dislodged and blood was again
spurting from the wound.
I pressed my hand to the bleeding area and after a while the bleeding stopped and I felt
better.Could I go on?
I tried. It was all a nightmare - my wounds, the darkness, the road ahead. My movements
were ever so slow; only my mind was running at top speed.
In time I came to an open space where the houses had been removed to make a fire lane.
Through the dim light I could make out ahead of me the hazy outlines of the
Communications Bureau's big concrete building, and beyond it the hospital. My spirits
rose because I knew that now someone would find me; and if I should die, at least my
body would be found. I paused to rest. Gradually things around me came into focus.
There were the shadowy forms of people, some of whom looked like walking ghosts.
Others moved as though in pain, like scarecrows, their arms held out from their bodies
with forearms and hands dangling. These people puzzled me until I suddenly realized
that they had been burned and were holding their arms out to prevent the painful friction
of raw surfaces rubbing together. A naked woman carrying a naked baby came into
view. I averted my gaze. Perhaps they had been in the bath. But then I saw a naked man,
and it occurred to me that, like myself, some strange thing had deprived them of their
clothes. An old woman lay near me with an expression of suffering on her face; but she
made no sound. Indeed, one thing was common to everyone I saw - complete silence.
All who could were moving in the direction of the hospital. I joined in the dismal parade
when my strength was somewhat recovered, and at last reached the gates of the
76. The Sentencing and Execution of Nazi War Criminals, 1946 (Holocaust. WW2)
In November 1945, twenty-one men sat in the dock of a Nuremberg courtroom on trial for
their lives. The group represented the "cream of the crop" of the Nazi leadership
including Herman Goering, Hitler's heir apparent until falling out of favor in the closing
days of the war, and Rudolph Hess, Hitler's deputy who had been in custody since
parachuting into England in 1941. (A 22nd defendant - Martin Bormann - had escaped
capture and was tried in absentia).
Each defendant was accused of one or more of four charges: conspiracy to commit
crimes alleged in other counts; crimes against peace; war crimes; or crimes against
humanity. Specific charges included the murder of over 6 million Jews, pursuing an
aggressive war, the brutality of the concentration camps and the use of slave labor. The
judges represented the major victors in the war in Europe - Britain, France, the Soviet
Union and the United States. The defendants all proclaimed their innocence, many
declaring that they were just following orders or questioning the authority of the court to
The verdicts were announced on October 1, 1946. Eighteen of the defendants were found
guilty while three were acquitted. Eleven of the guilty were sentenced to death by
hanging, the remainder received prison sentences ranging from 10 years to life.
The Defendants React to their Sentences
Dr. G. M. Gilbert was a prison psychologist assigned the responsibility of monitoring the
behavior of the defendants while they stood trial. He became intimately familiar with all
the defendants and was present when each was escorted from the courtroom to their
prison cell after hearing their verdict. His description of each individual reaction
provides insight into the mindset of the Nazi hierarchy. Here are a few of his
observations: (Click the name of each defendant for more information.)
Goering came down first and strode into his cell, his face pale and frozen, his eyes
popping. 'Death!' he said as he dropped on the cot and reached for a book. His hands were
trembling in spite of his attempt to be nonchalant. His eyes were moist and he was
panting, fighting back an emotional breakdown. He asked me in an unsteady voice to
leave him alone for a while.
When Goering collected himself enough to talk, he said that he had naturally expected
the death penalty, and was glad that he had not gotten a life sentence, because those who
are sentenced to life imprisonment never become martyrs. But there wasn't any of the old
confident bravado in his voice. Goering seems to realize, at last, that there is nothing
funny about death, when you're the one who is going to die.
Hess strutted in, laughing nervously, and said that he had not even been listening, so he
did not know what the sentence was and what was more, he didn't care. As the guard
unlocked his handcuffs, he asked why he had been handcuffed and Goering had not. I
said it was probably an oversight with the first prisoner.
Hess laughed again and said mysteriously that he knew why. (A guard told me that Hess
had been given a life sentence.)
Ribbentrop wandered in, aghast, and started to walk around the cell in a daze, whispering,
'Death!-Death! Now I won't be able to write my beautiful memoirs. Tsk! Tsk! So much
hatred! Tsk! tsk!' Then he sat down, a completely broken man, and stared into space. . .
Keitel was already in his cell, his back to the door, when I entered. He wheeled around
and snapped to attention at the far end of the cell, his fists clenched and arms rigid, horror
in his eyes. 'Death-by hanging!' he announced his voice hoarse with intense shame. 'That,
at least, I thought I would be spared. I don't blame you for standing at a distance from a
man sentenced to death by hanging. I understand that perfectly. But I am still the same as
before. - If you will please only - visit me sometimes in these last days.' I said I would.
Frank smiled politely, but could not look at me. 'Death by hanging,' he said softly,
nodding his head in acquiescence. 'I deserved it and I expected it, as I've always told you.
I am glad that I have had the chance to defend myself and to think things over in the last
Doenitz didn't know quite how to take it. 'Ten years! - Well - anyway, I cleared U-boat
warfare. - Your own Admiral Nimitz said - you heard it.' He' said he was sure his
colleague Admiral Nimitz understood him perfectly
Jodl marched to his cell, rigid and upright, avoiding my glance. After he had been
unhandcuffed and faced me in his cell, he hesitated a few seconds, as if he could not get
the words out. His face was spotted red with vascular tension. 'Death - by hanging! - that,
at least, I did not deserve. The death part - all right, somebody has to stand for the
responsibility. But that -' His mouth quivered and his voice choked for the first time.
'That I did not deserve.'
Speer laughed nervously. 'Twenty years. Well; that's fair enough. They couldn't have
given me a lighter sentence, considering the facts, and I can't complain. I said the
sentences must be severe, and I admitted my share of the guilt, so it would be ridiculous
if I complained about the punishment.' "
The hangings were carried out during the early morning hours of October 16, 1946 in a
small gymnasium erected in the prison's courtyard. Three gallows filled the room - two to
be used alternatively as each condemned man was dispatched and the third to act as a
spare. The executions were briskly conducted - the entire procedure lasted just over 3 ?
Herman Goering cheated the hangman by swallowing a cyanide capsule and dying in his
cell shortly before his scheduled hanging.
Kingsbury Smith was a reporter for the International News Service and was selected as
the sole representative of the American press at the executions. Here are some of his
"Von Ribbentrop entered the execution chamber at 1:11 a.m. Nuremberg time. He was
stopped immediately inside the door by two Army sergeants who closed in on each side
of him and held his arms, while another sergeant who had followed him in removed
manacles from his hands and replaced them with a leather strap. It was planned
originally to permit the condemned men to walk from their cells to the execution chamber
with their hands free, but all were manacled immediately following Goering's suicide.
Von Ribbentrop was able to maintain his apparent stoicism to the last. He walked steadily
toward the scaffold between his two guards, but he did not answer at first when an officer
standing at the foot of the gallows went through the formality of asking his name. When
the query was repeated he almost shouted, 'Joachim von Ribbentrop!' and then mounted
the steps without any sign of hesitation. When he was turned around on the platform to
face the witnesses, he seemed to clench his teeth and raise his head with the old
arrogance. When asked whether he had any final message he said, 'God protect
Germany,' in German, and then added, 'May I say something else?'
The interpreter nodded and the former diplomatic wizard of Nazidom spoke his last
words in loud, firm tones: 'My last wish is that Germany realize its entity and that an
understanding be reached between the East and the West. I wish peace to the world.'
As the black hood was placed in position on his head, Von Ribbentrop looked straight
Then the hangman adjusted the rope, pulled the lever, and Von Ribbentrop slipped away
to his fate.
Keitel entered the chamber two minutes after the trap had dropped beneath Von
Ribbentrop, while the latter still was at the end of his rope. But Von Ribbentrop's body
was concealed inside the first scaffold; all that could be seen was the taut rope.
Keitel did not appear as tense as Von Ribbentrop. He held his head high while his hands
were being tied and walked erect toward the gallows with a military bearing. When asked
his name he responded loudly and mounted the gallows as he might have mounted a
reviewing stand to take a salute from German armies.
He certainly did not appear to need the help of guards who walked alongside, holding his
arms. When he turned around atop the platform he looked over the crowd with the iron-
jawed haughtiness of a proud Prussian officer. His last words, uttered in a full, clear
voice, were translated as 'I call on God Almighty to have mercy on the German people.
More than 2 million German soldiers went to their death for the fatherland before me. I
follow now my sons - all for Germany.'
Hans Frank was next in the parade of death. He was the only one of the condemned to
enter the chamber with a smile on his countenance. Although nervous and swallowing
frequently, this man, who was converted to Roman Catholicism after his arrest, gave the
appearance of being relieved at the prospect of atoning for his evil deeds.
He answered to his name quietly and when asked for any last statement, he replied in a
low voice that was almost a whisper, 'I am thankful for the kind treatment during my
captivity and I ask God to accept me with mercy.'
Ninth in the procession of death was Alfred Jodl. With the black coat-collar of his
Wehrmacht uniform half turned up at the back as though hurriedly put on, JodI entered
the dismal death house with obvious signs of nervousness. He wet his lips constantly and
his features were drawn and haggard as he walked, not nearly so steady as Keitel, up the
gallows steps. Yet his voice was calm when he uttered his last six words on earth: 'My
greetings to you, my Germany.'
At 2:34 a.m. Jodl plunged into the black hole of the scaffold.
The last of the condemned men was executed at 2:38 AM. Although Herman Goering
had escaped the hangman's noose, his death had to be officially recognized:
…the gymnasium doors opened again and guards entered carrying Goering's body on a
He had succeeded in wrecking plans of the Allied Control Council to have him lead the
parade of condemned Nazi chieftains to their death. But the council's representatives
were determined that Goering at least would take his place as a dead man beneath the
shadow of the scaffold.
The guards carrying the stretcher set it down between the first and second gallows.
Goering's big bare feet stuck out from under the bottom end of a khaki-colored United
States Army blanket. One blue-silk-clad arm was hanging over the side.
The colonel in charge of the proceedings ordered the blanket removed so that witnesses
and Allied correspondents could see for themselves that Goering was definitely dead. The
Army did not want any legend to develop that Goering had managed to escape.
As the blanket came off it revealed Goering clad in black silk pajamas with a blue jacket
shirt over them, and this was soaking wet, apparently the result of efforts by prison
doctors to revive him.
The face of this twentieth-century freebooting political racketeer was still contorted with
the pain of his last agonizing moments and his final gesture of defiance.
They covered him up quickly and this Nazi warlord, who like a character out of the days
of the Borgias, had wallowed in blood and beauty, passed behind a canvas curtain into
the black pages of history."
77. The Assassination of Gandhi, 1948
"Just an old man in a loincloth in distant India: Yet when he died, humanity wept." This
was the observation of a newspaper correspondent at the death of Mahatma Gandhi. The
tragedy occurred in New Delhi as the gaunt old man walked to a prayer-meeting and was
engulfed by one of history's great ironies - a life-long pacifist and promoter of non-
violence struck down by an assassin's bullet.
Gandhi's violent death came just months after the realization of his long sought-after
goal - the independence of India from Great Britain. It was a bittersweet victory for
Gandhi because along with India's independence came the partitioning of the sub-
continent into two separate states - Muslim-based Pakistan and Hindu-based India - an
action he thoroughly opposed. Gandhi did not take part in the celebration of India's
Vincent Sheean was an American reporter and author who had covered trouble spots
around the world in the years prior to and during World War II. In 1947, Sheean traveled
to India and became a disciple of Gandhi in an attempt to find meaning in the violent and
disruptive events he had witnessed during his years of reporting. We join his account as
he rushes to join a prayer-meeting with Gandhi in the heart of New Delhi in the early
evening hours of January 30, 1948:
"I got a taxi and went out to Birla House in time for the prayer-meeting. This time I was
alone. I stationed my taxi under a tree opposite the gate of Birla House and walked down
the drive to the prayer-ground. It was not yet five o'clock and people were still streaming
in on foot, in cars and with tongas. As I came on to the prayer-ground at the end of the
garden I ran into Bob Stimson, the Delhi correspondent of the B.B.C. We fell into talk
and I told him about the journey to Amritsar and what had taken place there. It was
unusual to see any representatives of the press at the prayer-meeting; Bob explained that
he had submitted some questions to the Mahatma for the B.B.C. and thought he might as
well stay for the prayers since he was on the premises. He looked at his watch and said:
'Well, this is strange. Gandhi's late. He's practically never late.'
We both looked at our watches again. It was 5:12 by my watch when Bob said: 'There he
is.' We stood near the corner of the wall, on the side of the garden where he was coming,
and watched the evening light fall on his shining dark-brown head. He did not walk under
the arbor this evening but across the grass, in the open lawn on the other side of the
flower-beds. (There was the arbored walk, and a strip of lawn, and a long strip of flower-
bed, and then the open lawn.)
It was one of those shining Delhi evenings, not at all warm but alight with the promise of
spring. I felt well and happy and grateful to be here. Bob and I stood idly talking, I do not
remember about what, and watching the Mahatma advance toward us over the grass,
leaning lightly on two of 'the girls,' with two or three other members of his 'family'
(family or followers) behind them. I read afterward that he had sandals on his feet but I
did not see them. To me it looked as if he walked barefoot on the grass. It was not a warm
evening and he was wrapped in homespun shawls. He passed by us on the other side and
turned to ascend the four or five brick steps which led to the terrace or prayer-ground.
Here, as usual, there was a clump of people, some of whom were standing and some of
whom had gone on their knees or bent low before him. Bob and I turned to watch - we
were perhaps ten feet away from the steps-but the clump of people cut off our view of the
Mahatma now; he was so small. Then I heard four small, dull, dark explosions. 'What's
that?' I said to Bob in sudden horror. 'I don't know,' he said. I remember that he grew pale
in an instant. 'Not the Mahatma!' I said, and then I knew.
Inside my own head there occurred a wavelike disturbance which I can only compare to a
storm at sea-wind and wave surging tremendously back and forth. I remember all this
distinctly; I do not believe that I lost consciousness even for a moment, although there
may have been an instant or two of half-consciousness. I recoiled upon the brick wall and
leaned against it, bent almost in two. I felt the consciousness of the Mahatma leave me
then-I know of no other way of expressing this: he left me. ...The storm inside my head
continued for some little time-minutes, perhaps; I have no way of reckoning.
...lt was during this time, apparently, that many things happened: a whole external series
of events took place in my immediate neighborhood - a few yards away - and I was
unaware of them. A doctor was found; the police took charge; the body of the Mahatma
was, carried away; the crowd melted, perhaps urged to do so by the police. I saw none of
this. The last I saw of the Mahatma he was advancing over the grass in the evening light,
approaching the steps. When I finally took my fingers out of my mouth and stood up,
dry-eyed, there were police and soldiers and not many people, and there was Bob
Stimson. He was rather breathless; he had gone somewhere to telephone to the B.B.C. He
came with me down the steps to the lawn, where we walked up and down beside the
flower-bed for a while. The room with the glass doors and windows, by the rose garden at
the end of the arbor, had a crowd of people around it. Many were weeping. The police
were endeavoring to make them leave. Bob could not tell me anything except that the
Mahatma had been taken inside that room. On the following day he told me that he had
seen him carried away and that the khadi which he wore was heavily stained with blood."
78. Winston S. Churchill: "Iron Curtain Speech", March 5, 1946 (Cold War)
Winston Churchill gave this speech at Westminster College, in Fulton, Missouri, after
receiving an honorary degree. With typical oratorical skills, Church introduced the
phrase "Iron Curtain" to describe the division between Western powers and the area
controlled by the Soviet Union. As such the speech marks the onset of the Cold War.
The speech was very long, and here excerpts are presented.
The United States stands at this time at the pinnacle of world power. It is a solemn
moment for the American democracy. For with this primacy in power is also joined an
awe-inspiring accountability to the future. As you look around you, you must feel not
only the sense of duty done, but also you must feel anxiety lest you fall below the level of
achievement. Opportunity is here now, clear and shining, for both our countries. To reject
it or ignore it or fritter it away will bring upon us all the long reproaches of the aftertime.
It is necessary that constancy of mind, persistency of purpose, and the grand simplicity of
decision shall rule and guide the conduct of the English-speaking peoples in peace as they
did in war. We must, and I believe we shall, prove ourselves equal to this severe
I have a strong admiration and regard for the valiant Russian people and for my wartime
comrade, Marshal Stalin. There is deep sympathy and goodwill in Britain -- and I doubt
not here also -- toward the peoples of all the Russias and a resolve to persevere through
many differences and rebuffs in establishing lasting friendships.
It is my duty, however, to place before you certain facts about the present position in
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across
the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and
Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and
Sofia; all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the
Soviet sphere, and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but
to a very high and in some cases increasing measure of control from Moscow.
The safety of the world, ladies and gentlemen, requires a unity in Europe, from which no
nation should be permanently outcast. It is from the quarrels of the strong parent races in
Europe that the world wars we have witnessed, or which occurred in former times, have
Twice the United States has had to send several millions of its young men across the
Atlantic to fight the wars. But now we all can find any nation, wherever it may dwell,
between dusk and dawn. Surely we should work with conscious purpose for a grand
pacification of Europe within the structure of the United Nations and in accordance with
In a great number of countries, far from the Russian frontiers and throughout the world,
Communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute
obedience to the directions they receive from the Communist center. Except in the British
Commonwealth and in the United States where Communism is in its infancy, the
Communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to Christian
The outlook is also anxious in the Far East and especially in Manchuria. The agreement
which was made at Yalta, to which I was a party, was extremely favorable to Soviet
Russia, but it was made at a time when no one could say that the German war might not
extend all through the summer and autumn of 1945 and when the Japanese war was
expected by the best judges to last for a further eighteen months from the end of the
I repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable -- still more that it is imminent. It is
because I am sure that our fortunes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power
to save the future, that I feel the duty to speak out now that I have the occasion and the
opportunity to do so.
I do not believe that Soviet Russia desires war. What they desire is the fruits of war and
the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines.
But what we have to consider here today while time remains, is the permanent prevention
of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as
possible in all countries. Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our
eyes to them. They will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens; nor will
they be removed by a policy of appeasement.
What is needed is a settlement, and the longer this is delayed, the more difficult it will be
and the greater our dangers will become.
From what I have seen of our Russian friends and allies during the war, I am convinced
that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they
have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness.
For that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. We cannot afford, if
we can help it, to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength.
Last time I saw it all coming and I cried aloud to my own fellow countrymen and to the
world, but no one paid any attention. Up till the year 1933 or even 1935, Germany might
have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been
spared the miseries Hitler let loose upon mankind.
There never was a war in history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which
has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented, in my
belief, without the firing of a single shot, and Germany might be powerful, prosperous
and honored today; but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the
We must not let it happen again. This can only be achieved by reaching now, in 1946, a
good understanding on all points with Russia under the general authority of the United
Nations Organization and by the maintenance of that good understanding through many
peaceful years, by the whole strength of the English-speaking world and all its
If the population of the English-speaking Commonwealth be added to that of the United
States, with all that such cooperation implies in the air, on the sea, all over the globe, and
in science and in industry, and in moral force, there will be no quivering, precarious
balance of power to offer its temptation to ambition or adventure. On the contrary there
will be an overwhelming assurance of security.
If we adhere faithfully to the Charter of the United Nations and walk forward in sedate
and sober strength, seeking no one's land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control
upon the thoughts of men, if all British moral and material forces and convictions are
joined with your own in fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear,
not only for us but for all, not only for our time but for a century to come.
Winston Churchill - March 5, 1946
79. The Truman Doctrine, 1947 (Cold War)
President Harry Truman's Address Before A Joint Session of Congress 3/12/47
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Congress of the United States:
The gravity of the situation which confronts the world today necessitates my appearance
before a joint session of the Congress. The foreign policy and the national security of this
country are involved.
One aspect of the present situation, which I wish to present to you at this time for your
consideration and decision, concerns Greece and Turkey.
The United States has received from the Greek Government an urgent appeal for
financial and economic assistance. Preliminary reports from the American Economic
Mission now in Greece and reports from the American Ambassador in Greece
corroborate the statement of the Greek Government that assistance is imperative if
Greece is to survive as a free nation.
I do not believe that the American people and the Congress wish to turn a deaf ear to the
appeal of the Greek Government.
Greece is not a rich country. Lack of sufficient natural resources has always forced the
Greek people to work hard to make both ends meet. Since 1940, this industrious and
peace loving country has suffered invasion, four years of cruel enemy occupation, and
bitter internal strife.
When forces of liberation entered Greece they found that the retreating Germans had
destroyed virtually all the railways, roads, port facilities, communications, and merchant
marine. More than a thousand villages had been burned. Eighty-five per cent of the
children were tubercular. Livestock, poultry, and draft animals had almost disappeared.
Inflation had wiped out practically all savings.
As a result of these tragic conditions, a militant minority, exploiting human want and
misery, was able to create political chaos which, until now, has made economic recovery
Greece is today without funds to finance the importation of those goods which are
essential to bare subsistence. Under these circumstances the people of Greece cannot
make progress in solving their problems of reconstruction. Greece is in desperate need of
financial and economic assistance to enable it to resume purchases of food, clothing, fuel
and seeds. These are indispensable for the subsistence of its people and are obtainable
only from abroad. Greece must have help to import the goods necessary to restore
internal order and security, so essential for economic and political recovery.
The Greek Government has also asked for the assistance of experienced American
administrators, economists and technicians to insure that the financial and other aid given
to Greece shall be used effectively in creating a stable and self-sustaining economy and in
improving its public administration.
The very existence of the Greek state is today threatened by the terrorist activities of
several thousand armed men, led by Communists, who defy the government's authority at
a number of points, particularly along the northern boundaries. A Commission appointed
by the United Nations security Council is at present investigating disturbed conditions in
northern Greece and alleged border violations along the frontier between Greece on the
one hand and Albania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia on the other.
Meanwhile, the Greek Government is unable to cope with the situation. The Greek army
is small and poorly equipped. It needs supplies and equipment if it is to restore the
authority of the government throughout Greek territory. Greece must have assistance if it
is to become a self-supporting and self-respecting democracy.
The United States must supply that assistance. We have already extended to Greece
certain types of relief and economic aid but these are inadequate.
There is no other country to which democratic Greece can turn.
No other nation is willing and able to provide the necessary support for a democratic
The British Government, which has been helping Greece, can give no further financial or
economic aid after March 31. Great Britain finds itself under the necessity of reducing or
liquidating its commitments in several parts of the world, including Greece.
We have considered how the United Nations might assist in this crisis. But the situation is
an urgent one requiring immediate action and the United Nations and its related
organizations are not in a position to extend help of the kind that is required.
It is important to note that the Greek Government has asked for our aid in utilizing
effectively the financial and other assistance we may give to Greece, and in improving its
public administration. It is of the utmost importance that we supervise the use of any
funds made available to Greece; in such a manner that each dollar spent will count
toward making Greece self-supporting, and will help to build an economy in which a
healthy democracy can flourish.
No government is perfect. One of the chief virtues of a democracy, however, is that its
defects are always visible and under democratic processes can be pointed out and
corrected. The Government of Greece is not perfect. Nevertheless it represents eighty-
five per cent of the members of the Greek Parliament who were chosen in an election last
year. Foreign observers, including 692 Americans, considered this election to be a fair
expression of the views of the Greek people.
The Greek Government has been operating in an atmosphere of chaos and extremism. It
has made mistakes. The extension of aid by this country does not mean that the United
States condones everything that the Greek Government has done or will do. We have
condemned in the past, and we condemn now, extremist measures of the right or the left.
We have in the past advised tolerance, and we advise tolerance now.
Greece's neighbor, Turkey, also deserves our attention.
The future of Turkey as an independent and economically sound state is clearly no less
important to the freedom-loving peoples of the world than the future of Greece. The
circumstances in which Turkey finds itself today are considerably different from those of
Greece. Turkey has been spared the disasters that have beset Greece. And during the war,
the United States and Great Britain furnished Turkey with material aid.
Nevertheless, Turkey now needs our support.
Since the war Turkey has sought financial assistance from Great Britain and the United
States for the purpose of effecting that modernization necessary for the maintenance of its
That integrity is essential to the preservation of order in the Middle East.
The British government has informed us that, owing to its own difficulties can no longer
extend financial or economic aid to Turkey.
As in the case of Greece, if Turkey is to have the assistance it needs, the United States
must supply it. We are the only country able to provide that help.
I am fully aware of the broad implications involved if the United States extends
assistance to Greece and Turkey, and I shall discuss these implications with you at this
One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of
conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from
coercion. This was a fundamental issue in the war with Germany and Japan. Our victory
was won over countries which sought to impose their will, and their way of life, upon
To ensure the peaceful development of nations, free from coercion, the United States has
taken a leading part in establishing the United Nations, The United Nations is designed to
make possible lasting freedom and independence for all its members. We shall not realize
our objectives, however, unless we are willing to help free peoples to maintain their free
institutions and their national integrity against aggressive movements that seek to impose
upon them totalitarian regimes. This is no more than a frank recognition that totalitarian
regimes imposed on free peoples, by direct or indirect aggression, undermine the
foundations of international peace and hence the security of the United States.
The peoples of a number of countries of the world have recently had totalitarian regimes
forced upon them against their will. The Government of the United States has made
frequent protests against coercion and intimidation, in violation of the Yalta agreement,
in Poland, Rumania, and Bulgaria. I must also state that in a number of other countries
there have been similar developments.
At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between
alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one.
One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free
institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty,
freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression.
The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the
majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed
elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are
resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.
I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own
I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is
essential to economic stability and orderly political processes.
The world is not static, and the status quo is not sacred. But we cannot allow changes in
the status quo in violation of the Charter of the United Nations by such methods as
coercion, or by such subterfuges as political infiltration. In helping free and independent
nations to maintain their freedom, the United States will be giving effect to the principles
of the Charter of the United Nations.
It is necessary only to glance at a map to realize that the survival and integrity of the
Greek nation are of grave importance in a much wider situation. If Greece should fall
under the control of an armed minority, the effect upon its neighbor, Turkey, would be
immediate and serious. Confusion and disorder might well spread throughout the entire
Moreover, the disappearance of Greece as an independent state would have a profound
effect upon those countries in Europe whose peoples are struggling against great
difficulties to maintain their freedoms and their independence while they repair the
damages of war.
It would be an unspeakable tragedy if these countries, which have struggled so long
against overwhelming odds, should lose that victory for which they sacrificed so much.
Collapse of free institutions and loss of independence would be disastrous not only for
them but for the world. Discouragement and possibly failure would quickly be the lot of
neighboring peoples striving to maintain their freedom and independence.
Should we fail to aid Greece and Turkey in this fateful hour, the effect will be far
reaching to the West as well as to the East.
We must take immediate and resolute action.
I therefore ask the Congress to provide authority for assistance to Greece and Turkey in
the amount of $400,000,000 for the period ending June 30, 1948. In requesting these
funds, I have taken into consideration the maximum amount of relief assistance which
would be furnished to Greece out of the $350,000,000 which I recently requested that the
Congress authorize for the prevention of starvation and suffering in countries devastated
by the war.
In addition to funds, I ask the Congress to authorize the detail of American civilian and
military personnel to Greece and Turkey, at the request of those countries, to assist in the
tasks of reconstruction, and for the purpose of supervising the use of such financial and
material assistance as may be furnished. I recommend that authority also be provided for
the instruction and training of selected Greek and Turkish personnel.
Finally, I ask that the Congress provide authority which will permit the speediest and
most effective use, in terms of needed commodities, supplies, and equipment, of such
funds as may be authorized.
If further funds, or further authority, should be needed for purposes indicated in this
message, I shall not hesitate to bring the situation before the Congress. On this subject the
Executive and Legislative branches of the Government must work together.
This is a serious course upon which we embark.
I would not recommend it except that the alternative is much more serious. The United
States contributed $341,000,000,000 toward winning World War II. This is an investment
in world freedom and world peace.
The assistance that I am recommending for Greece and Turkey amounts to little more
than 1 tenth of 1 per cent of this investment. It is only common sense that we should
safeguard this investment and make sure that it was not in vain.
The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow
in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a
people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive.
The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms.
If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world -- and we shall
surely endanger the welfare of our own nation.
Great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of events.
I am confident that the Congress will face these responsibilities squarely.
80. John F. Kennedy: Address on the Cuban Crisis October 22, 1962
Good evening, my fellow citizens. This Government, as promised, has maintained the
closest surveillance of the Soviet military build-up on the island of Cuba. Within the past
week unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile
sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purposes of these bases can be
none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.
Upon receiving the first preliminary hard information of this nature last Tuesday
morning (October 16) at 9:00 A.M., I directed that our surveillance be stepped up. And
having now confirmed and completed our evaluation of the evidence and our decision on
a course of action, this Government feels obliged to report this new crisis to You in
The characteristics of these new missile sites indicate two distinct types of installations.
Several of them include medium-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear
warhead for a distance of more than 1,000 nautical miles. Each of these missiles, in
short, is capable of striking Washington, D.C., the Panama Canal, Cape Canaveral,
Mexico City, or any other city in the southeastern part of the United States, in Central
America, or in the Caribbean area.
Additional sites not yet completed appear to be designed for intermediate-range ballistic
missiles capable of traveling more than twice as far-and thus capable of striking most of
the major cities in the Western
Hemisphere, ranging as far north as Hudson Bay, Canada, and as far south as Lima, Peru.
In addition, jet bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, are now being uncrated
and assembled in Cuba, while the necessary air bases are being prepared.
This urgent transformation of Cuba into an important strategic base-by the presence of
these large, longrange, and clearly offensive weapons of sudden mass destruction--
constitutes an explicit threat to the peace and security of all the Americas, in flagrant and
deliberate defiance of the Rio Pact of 1947, the traditions of this nation and Hemisphere,
the joint Resolution of the 87th Congress, the Charter of the United Nations, and my own
public warnings to the Soviets on September 4 and 13.
This action also contradicts the repeated assurances of Soviet spokesmen, both publicly
and privately delivered, that the arms build-up in Cuba would retain its original
defensive character and that the Soviet Union had no need or desire to station strategic
missiles on the territory of any other nation.
The size of this undertaking makes clear that it has been planned for some months. Yet
only last month, after I had made clear the distinction between any introduction of
ground-to-ground missiles and the existence of defensive antiaircraft missiles, the Soviet
Government publicly stated on September I I that, and I quote, "The armaments and
military equipment sent to Cuba are designed exclusively for defensive purposes," and,
and I quote the Soviet Government, "There is no need for the Soviet Government to shift
its weapons for a retaliatory blow to any other country, for instance Cuba," and that, and
I quote the Government, "The Soviet Union has so powerful rockets to carry these
nuclear warheads that there is no need to search for sites for them beyond the boundaries
of the Soviet Union." That statement was false.
Only last Thursday, as evidence of this rapid offensive build-up was already in my hand,
Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko told me in my office that he was instructed to make it
clear once again, as he said his Government had already done, that Soviet assistance to
Cuba, and I quote, "pursued solely the purpose of contributing to the defense capabilities
of Cuba," that, and I
quote him, "training by Soviet specialists of Cuban nationals in handling defensive
armaments was by no means offensive," and that "if it were otherwise," Mr. Gromyko
went on, "the Soviet Government would never become involved in rendering such
assistance." That statement also was false.
Neither the United States of America nor the world community of nations can tolerate
deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We
no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient
challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril. Nuclear weapons are so
destructive and ballistic missiles are so swift that any substantially increased possibility
of their use or any sudden change in their deployment may well be regarded as a definite
threat to peace.
For many years both the Soviet Union and the United States, recognizing this fact, have
deployed strategic nuclear weapons with great care, never upsetting the precarious status
quo which insured that these weapons would not be used in the absence of some vital
challenge. Our own strategic missiles have never been transferred to the territory of any
other nation under a cloak of secrecy and deception; and our history, unlike that of the
Soviets since the end of World War 11, demonstrates that we have no desire to dominate
or conquer any other nation or impose our system upon its people. Nevertheless,
American citizens have become adjusted to living daily on the bull's eye of Soviet
missiles located inside the U.S.S.R. or in submarines.
In that sense missiles in Cuba add to an already clear and present danger-although it
should be noted the nations of Latin America have never previously been subjected to a
potential nuclear threat.
But this secret, swift, and extraordinary build-up of Communist missiles-in an area well
known to have a special and historical relationship to the United States and the nations of
the Western Hemisphere, in violation of Soviet assurances, and in defiance of American
and hemispheric policy-this sudden, clandestine decision to station strategic weapons for
the first time outside of Soviet soil-is a deliberately provocative and unjustified change
in the status quo which cannot be accepted by this country if our courage and our
commitments are ever to be trusted again by either friend or foe.
The 1930's taught us a clear lesson: Aggressive conduct, if allowed to grow unchecked
and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war. This nation is opposed to war. We are also true
to our word. Our unswerving objective, therefore, must be to prevent the use of these
missiles against this or any other country and to secure their withdrawal or elimination
from the Western Hemisphere.
Our policy has been one of patience and restraint, as befits a peaceful and powerful
nation, which leads a world-wide alliance. We have been determined not to be diverted
from our central concerns by mere irritants and fanatics. But now further action is
required-and it is underway; and these actions may only be the beginning. We will not
prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the
fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth-but neither will we shrink from that risk at
any time it must be faced.
Acting, therefore, in the defense of our own security and of the entire Western
Hemisphere, and under the authority entrusted to me by the Constitution as endorsed by
the resolution of the Congress, I have directed that the following initial steps be taken
First: To halt this offensive build-up, a strict quarantine on all offensive military
equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for
Cuba from whatever nation or port will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive
weapons, be turned back: This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of
cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the
Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.
Second: I have directed the continued and increased close surveillance of Cuba and its
military build-up. The Foreign Ministers of the Organization of American States in their
communiqu6 of October 3 rejected secrecy on such matters in this Hemisphere. Should
these offensive military preparations continue, thus increasing the threat to the
Hemisphere, further action will be justified. I have directed the Armed Forces to prepare
for any eventualities; and I trust that in the interests of both the Cuban people and the
Soviet technicians at the sites, the hazards to all concerned of continuing this threat will
Third: It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from
Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on
the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.
Fourth: As a necessary military precaution I have reinforced our base at Guantanamo,
evacuated today the dependents of our personnel there, and ordered additional military
units to be on a standby alert basis.
Fifth: We are calling tonight for an immediate meeting of the Organ of Consultation,
under the Organization of American States, to consider this threat to hemispheric security
and to invoke articles six and eight of the Rio Treaty in support of all necessary action.
The United Nations Charter allows for regional security arrangements-and the nations of
this Hemisphere decided long ago against the military presence of outside powers. Our
other allies around the world have also been alerted.
Sixth: Under the Charter of the United Nations, we are asking tonight that an emergency
meeting of the Security Council be convoked without delay to take action against this
latest Soviet threat to world peace. Our resolution will call for the prompt dismantling
and withdrawal of all offensive weapons in Cuba, under the supervision of United
Nations observers, before the quarantine can be lifted.
Seventh and finally: I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this
clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations
between our two nations. I call upon him further to abandon this course of world
domination and to join in an historic effort to end the perilous arms race and transform
the history of man. He has an opportunity now to move the world back from the abyss of
destruction-by returning to his Government's own words that it had no need to station
missiles outside its own territory, and withdrawing these weapons from Cuba-by
refraining from any action which will widen or deepen the present crisis-and then by
participating in a search for peaceful and permanent solutions.
This nation is prepared to present its case against the Soviet threat to peace, and our own
proposals for a peaceful world, at. any time and in any forum in the Organization of
American States, in the United Nations, or in any other meeting that could be useful-
without limiting our freedom of action.
We have in the past made strenuous efforts to limit the spread of nuclear weapons. We
have proposed the elimination of all arms and military bases in a fair and effective
disarmament treaty. We are prepared to discuss new proposals for the removal of tensions
on both sides-including the possibilities of a genuinely independent Cuba, free to
determine its own destiny. We have no wish to war with the Soviet Union, for we are a
peaceful people who desire to live in peace with all other peoples.
But it is difficult to settle or even discuss these problems in an atmosphere of
intimidation. That is why this latest Soviet threat-or any other threat which is made either
independently or in response to our actions this week-must and will be met with
determination. Any hostile move anywhere in the world against the safety and freedom of
peoples to whom we are committed-including in particular the brave people of West
Berlin-will be met by whatever action is needed.
Finally, I want to say a few words to the captive people of Cuba, to whom this speech is
being directly carried by special radio facilities. I speak to you as a friend, as one who
knows of your deep attachment to your fatherland, as one who shares your aspirations for
liberty and justice for all. And I have watched and the American people have watched
with deep sorrow how your nationalist revolution was betrayed and how your fatherland
fell under foreign domination. Now your leaders are no longer Cuban leaders inspired by
Cuban ideals. They are puppets and agents of an international conspiracy which has
turned Cuba against your friends and neighbors in the Americas-and turned it into the
first Latin American country to become a target for nuclear war, the first Latin American
country to have these weapons on its soil.
These new weapons are not in your interest. They contribute nothing to your peace and
well being. They can only undermine it. But this country has no wish to cause you to
suffer or to impose any system upon you. We know that your lives and land are being
used as pawns by those who deny you freedom.
Many times in the past Cuban people have risen to throw out tyrants who destroyed their
liberty. And I have no doubt that most Cubans today look forward to the time when they
will be truly free-free from foreign domination, free to choose their own leaders, free to
select their own system, free to own their own land, free to speak and write and worship
without fear or degradation. And then shall Cuba be welcomed back to the society of free
nations and to the associations of this Hemisphere.
My fellow citizens, let no one doubt that this is a difficult and dangerous effort on which
we have set out. No one can foresee precisely what course it will take or what costs or
casualties will be incurred. Many months of sacrifice and self-discipline lie ahead-months
in which both our patience and our will will be tested, months in which many threats and
denunciations will keep us aware of our dangers. But the greatest danger of all would be
to do nothing.
The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are; but it is the
one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments
around the world. The cost of freedom is always high-but Americans have always paid it.
And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.
Our goal is not the victory of might but the vindication of right-not peace at the expense
of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this Hemisphere and, we hope, around
the world. God willing, that goal will be achieved.
81. Cahiers of 1789, The Third Estate of Carcassonne.
The cahiers, drawn up in accordance with an ancient custom by the three orders of the
realm, form one of the most extraordinary historical documents of all time. The
conditions under which they were drafted were, on the whole, favorable to a frank and
general expression on the part of all classes of the French people of their suggestions for
reform. A portion of one of the cahiers of the third estate, selected somewhat at random,
is given below.
Cahier of the grievances, complaints, and protests of the electoral district of
Carcassonne, drawn up by the commissioners named by the general assembly of the third
estate and based upon the various cahiers received from the several communities of the
The third estate of the electoral district of Carcassonne, desiring to give to a beloved
monarch, and one so worthy of our affection, the most unmistakable proof of its love and
respect, of its gratitude and fidelity, desiring to cooperate with the whole nation in
repairing the successive misfortunes which have overwhelmed it, and with the hope of
reviving once more its ancient glory, declares that the happiness of the nation must, in
their opinion, depend upon [Page 398] that of its king, upon the stability of the monarchy,
and upon the preservation of the orders which compose it and of the fundamental laws
which govern it.
Considering, too, that a holy respect for religion, morality, civil liberty, and the rights of
property, a speedy return to true principles, a careful selection and due measure in the
matter of the taxes, a strict proportionality in their assessment, a persistent economy in
government expenditures, and indispensable reforms in all branches of the
administration, are the best and perhaps the only means of perpetuating the existence of
The third estate of the electoral district of Carcassonne very humbly petitions his
Majesty to take into consideration these several matters, weigh them in his wisdom, and
permit his people to enjoy, as soon as may be, fresh proofs of that benevolence which he
has never ceased to exhibit toward them and which is dictated by his affection for them.
In view of the obligation imposed by his Majesty's command that the third estate of this
district should confide to his paternal ear the causes of the ills which afflict them and the
means by which they may be remedied or moderated, they believe that they are fulfilling
the duties of faithful subjects and zealous citizens in submitting to the consideration of
the nation, and to the sentiments of justice and affection which his Majesty entertains for
his subjects, the following:
I. Public worship should be confined to the Roman Catholic apostolic religion, to the
exclusion of all other forms of worship; its extension should be promoted and the most
efficient measures taken to reestablish the discipline of the Church and increase its
2. Nevertheless the civil rights of those of the king's subjects who are not Catholics
should be confirmed, and they should be admitted to positions and offices in the public
administration, without however extending this privilege - which reason and humanity
alike demand for them - to judicial or police functions or to those of public instruction.
3. The nation should consider some means of abolishing the annates and all other dues
paid to the holy see, to [Page 399] the prejudice and against the protests of the whole
[Pluralities should be prohibited, monasteries reduced in numbers, and holidays
suppressed or decreased.]
7. The rights which have just been restored to the nation should be consecrated as
fundamental principles of the monarchy, and their perpetual and unalterable enjoyment
should be assured by a solemn law, which should so define the rights both of the monarch
and of the people that their violation shall hereafter be impossible.
8. Among these rights the following should be especially noted : the nation should
hereafter be subject only to such laws and taxes as it shall itself freely ratify.
9. The meetings of the Estates General of the kingdom should be fixed for definite
periods, and the subsidies judged necessary for the support of the state and the public
service should be voted for no longer a period than to the close of the year in which the
next meeting of the Estates General is to occur.
10. In order to assure to the third estate the influence to which it is entitled in view of the
number of its members, the amount of its contributions to the public treasury, and the
manifold interests which it has to defend or promote in the national assemblies, its votes
in the assembly should be taken and counted by head.
11. No order, corporation, or individual citizen may lay claim to any pecuniary
exemptions. . . . All taxes should be assessed on the same system throughout the nation.
12. The due exacted from commoners holding fiefs should be abolished, and also the
general or particular regulations which exclude members of the third estate from certain
positions, offices, and ranks which have hitherto been bestowed on nobles either for life
or hereditarily. A law should be passed declaring members of the third estate qualified to
fill all such offices for which they are judged to be personally fitted.
13. Since individual liberty is intimately associated with national liberty, his Majesty is
hereby petitioned not to [Page 400] permit that it be hereafter interfered with by arbitrary
orders for imprisonment. . .
14. Freedom should be granted also to the press, which should however be subjected, by
means of strict regulations to the principles of religion, morality, and public decency. . .
---------- 60. The third estate of the district of Carcassonne places its trust, for the rest, in
the zeal, patriotism, honor, and probity of its deputies in the National Assembly in all
matters which may accord with the beneficent views of his Majesty, the welfare of the
kingdom, the union of the three estates, and the public peace.
82. Reply to the Impertinent Question: What is a Sans-Culotte?" (April 1793)
A sans-culotte you rogues? He is someone who always goes on foot, who has no millions
as you would all like to have, no chateaux. No valets to serve him, and who lives simply
with his wife and children, if he has any, on a fourth or fifth story.
He is useful, because he knows how to work in the field, to forge iron, to use a saw, to
use a file, to roof a house, to make shoes, and to shed his last drop of blood for the safety
of the Republic.
And because he works, you are sure not to meet his person in the Café de Chartres, or in
the gaming house where others conspire and game, nor at the National theatre . . . nor in
the literary clubs. . . .
In the evening he goes to his section, not powdered or perfumed, or smartly booted in the
hope of catching the eye of the citizenesses in the galleries, but ready to support good
proposals with all his might, and to crush those which come from the abominable faction
Finally, a sans-culottes always has his sabre sharp, to cut off the ears of all enemies of the
Revolution; sometimes he even goes out with his pike, but at the first sound of the drum
he is ready to leave for the Vendée, for the army of the Alps or to the army of the North. .
83. Maximilien Robespierre: Justification of the Use of Terror
Maximilien Robespierre (1758 1794) was the leader of the twelve man Committee of
Public Safety elected by the National Convention, and which effectively governed France
at the height of the radical phase of the revolution. He had once been a fairly
straightforward liberal thinker - reputedly he slept with a copy of Rousseau's Social
Contract at his side. But his own purity of belief led him to impatience with others.
The committee was among the most creative executive bodies ever seen - and rapidly put
into effect policies which stabilized the French economy and began the formation of the
very successful French army. It also directed it energies against counter-revolutionary
uprisings, especially in the south and west of France. In doing so it unleashed the reign
of terror. Here Robespierre, in his speech of February 5,1794, from which excerpts are
given here, discussed this issue. The figures behind this speech indicate that in the five
months from September, 1793, to February 5, 1794, the revolutionary tribunal in Paris
convicted and executed 238 men and 31 women and acquitted 190 persons, and that on
February 5 there were 5,434 individuals in the prisons in Paris awaiting trial.
Robespierre was frustrated with the progress of the revolution. After issuing threats to
the National Convention, he himself was arrested in July 1794. He tried to shoot himslef
but missed, and spent his last few hours with his jaw hanging off. He was guillotined, as
a victim of the terror, on July 28, 1794.
But, to found and consolidate democracy, to achieve the peaceable reign of the
constitutional laws, we must end the war of liberty against tyranny and pass safely across
the storms of the revolution: such is the aim of the revolutionary system that you have
enacted. Your conduct, then, ought also to be regulated by the stormy circumstances in
which the republic is placed; and the plan of your administration must result from the
spirit of the revolutionary government combined with the general principles of
Now, what is the fundamental principle of the democratic or popular government-that is,
the essential spring which makes it move? It is virtue; I am speaking of the public virtue
which effected so many prodigies in Greece and Rome and which ought to produce much
more surprising ones in republican France; of that virtue which is nothing other than the
love of country and of its laws.
But as the essence of the republic or of democracy is equality, it follows that the love of
country necessarily includes the love of equality.
It is also true that this sublime sentiment assumes a preference for the public interest over
every particular interest; hence the love of country presupposes or produces all the
virtues: for what are they other than that spiritual strength which renders one capable of
those sacrifices? And how could the slave of avarice or ambition, for example, sacrifice
his idol to his country?
Not only is virtue the soul of democracy; it can exist only in that government ....
Republican virtue can be considered in relation to the people and in relation to the
government; it is necessary in both. When only the govemment lacks virtue, there
remains a resource in the people's virtue; but when the people itself is corrupted, liberty is
Fortunately virtue is natural to the people, notwithstanding aristocratic prejudices. A
nation is truly corrupted when, having by degrees lost its character and its liberty, it
passes from democracy to aristocracy or to monarchy; that is the decrepitude and death of
the body politic....
But when, by prodigious efforts of courage and reason, a people breaks the chains of
despotism to make them into trophies of liberty; when by the force of its moral
temperament it comes, as it were, out of the arms of the death, to recapture all the vigor
of youth; when by tums it is sensitive and proud, intrepid and docile, and can be stopped
neither by impregnable ramparts nor by the innumerable ammies of the tyrants armed
against it, but stops of itself upon confronting the law's image; then if it does not climb
rapidly to the summit of its destinies, this can only be the fault of those who govern it.
From all this let us deduce a great truth: the characteristic of popular government is
confidence in the people and severity towards itself.
The whole development of our theory would end here if you had only to pilot the vessel
of the Republic through calm waters; but the tempest roars, and the revolution imposes
on you another task.
This great purity of the French revolution's basis, the very sublimity of its objective, is
precisely what causes both our strength and our weakness. Our strength, because it gives
to us truth's ascendancy over imposture, and the rights of the public interest over private
interests; our weakness, because it rallies all vicious men against us, all those who in their
hearts contemplated despoiling the people and all those who intend to let it be despoiled
with impunity, both those who have rejected freedom as a personal calamity and those
who have embraced the revolution as a career and the Republic as prey. Hence the
defection of so many ambitious or greedy men who since the point of departure have
abandoned us along the way because they did not begin the journey with the same
destination in view. The two opposing spirits that have been represented in a struggle to
rule nature might be said to be fighting in this great period of human history to fix
irrevocably the world's destinies, and France is the scene of this fearful combat. Without,
all the tyrants encircle you; within, all tyranny's friends conspire; they will conspire until
hope is wrested from crime. We must smother the internal and external enemies of the
Republic or perish with it; now in this situation, the first maxim of your policy ought to
be to lead the people by reason and the people's enemies by terror.
If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular
government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is
fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice,
prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a
special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to
our country's most urgent needs.
It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government
therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of
liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed. Let the despot
govern by terror his brutalized subjects; he is right, as a despot. Subdue by terror the
enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. The government of
the revolution is liberty's despotism against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime?
And is the thunderbolt not destined to strike the heads of the proud?
. . . Indulgence for the royalists, cry certain men, mercy for the villains! No! mercy for
the innocent, mercy for the weak, mercy for the unfortunate, mercy for humanity.
Society owes protection only to peaceable citizens; the only citizens in the Republic are
the republicans. For it, the royalists, the conspirators are only strangers or, rather,
enemies. This terrible war waged by liberty against tyranny- is it not indivisible? Are the
enemies within not the allies of the enemies without? The assassins who tear our country
apart, the intriguers who buy the consciences that hold the people's mandate; the traitors
who sell them; the mercenary pamphleteers hired to dishonor the people's cause, to kill
public virtue, to stir up the fire of civil discord, and to prepare political counterrevolution
by moral counterrevolution-are all those men less guilty or less dangerous than the
tyrants whom they serve?
Source: Robespierre: On the Moral and Political Principles of Domestic Policy
84. Prince Klemens von Metternich: Political Confession of Faith, 1820
Prince Klemens von Metternich (1773-1859) was the leading figure in European
government up until 1848. As political master of the Austrian Empire, he was the
architect of an alliance system among the European powers after Napoleon's defeat - a
system which tried to undo the damage to traditional dynastic politics wroght by the
From Prince Klemens von Metternich. Political Confession of Faith (1820)
The Source of the Evil
Man's nature is immutable. The first needs of society are and remain the same, and the
differences which they seem to offer find their explanation in the diversity of influences,
acting on the different races by natural causes, such as the diversity of climate,
barrenness or richness of soil, insular or continental position, &c. &c. These local
differences no doubt produce effects which extend far beyond purely physical
necessities; they create and determine particular needs in a more elevated sphere;
finally, they determine the laws, and exercise an influence even on religions.
It is, on the other hand, with institutions as with everything else. Vague in their origin,
they pass through periods of development and perfection, to arrive in time at their
decadence; and, conforming to the laws of man's nature, they have, like him, their
infancy, their youth, their age of strength and reason, and their age of decay.
Two elements alone remain in all their strength, and never cease to exercise their
indestructible influence with equal power. These are the precepts of morality, religious
as well as social, and the necessities created by locality. From the time that men attempt
to swerve from these bases, to become rebels against these sovereign arbiters of their
destinies, society suffers from a malaise which sooner or later will lead to a state of
convulsion. The history of every country, in relating the consequences of such errors,
contains many pages stained with blood, but we dare to say, without fear of
contradiction, one seeks in vain for an epoch when an evil of this nature has extended its
ravages over such a vast area as it has done at the present time.
The progress of the human mind has been extremely rapid in the course of the last three
centuries. This progress having been accelerated more rapidly than the growth of
wisdom (the only counterpoise to passions and to error); a revolution prepared by the
false systems, the fatal errors into which many of the most illustrious sovereigns of the
last half of the eighteenth century fell, has at last broken out in a country advanced in
knowledge, and enervated by pleasure, in a country inhabited by a people whom one can
only regard as frivolous, from the facility with which they comprehend and the
difficulty they experience in judging calmly.
Having now thrown a rapid glance over the first causes of the present state of society, it
is necessary to point out in a more particular manner the evil which threatens to deprive
it, at one blow, of the real blessings, the fruits of genuine civilisation, and to disturb it in
the midst of its enjoyments. This evil may be described in one word - presumption; the
natural effect of the rapid progression of the human mind towards the perfecting of so
many things. This it is which at the present day leads so many individuals astray, for it
has become an almost universal sentiment....
The causes of the deplorable intensity with which this evil weighs on society appear to
us to be of two kinds....
. . . We will place among the first the feebleness and the inertia of Governments. It is
sufficient to cast a glance on the course which the Governments followed during the
eighteenth century, to be convinced that not one among them was ignorant of the evil or
of the crisis towards which the social body was tending….
France had the misfortune to produce the greatest number of these men. It is in her
midst that religion and all that she holds sacred, that morality and authority, and all
connected with them, have been attacked with a steady and systematic animosity, and it
is there that the weapon of ridicule has been used with the most ease and success. Drag
through the mud the name of God and the powers instituted by His divine decrees, and
the revolution will be prepared! Speak of a social contract, and the revolution is
accomplished! The revolution was already completed in the palaces of Kings, in the
drawing-rooms and boudoirs of certain cities, while among the great mass of the people
it was still only in a state of preparation. The scenes of horror which accompanied the
first phases of the French Revolution prevented the rapid propagation of its subversive
principles beyond the frontiers of France, and the wars of conquest which succeeded
them gave to the public mind a direction little favourable to revolutionary principles.
Thus the Jacobin propaganda failed entirely to realise criminal hopes.
Nevertheless the revolutionary seed had penetrated into every country and spread more
or less. It was greatly developed under the régime of the military despotism of
Bonaparte. His conquests displaced a number of laws, institutions, and customs; broke
through bonds sacred among all nations, strong enough to resist time itself; which is
more than can be said of certain benefits conferred by these innovators. From these
perturbations it followed that the revolutionary spirit could in Germany, Italy, and later
on in Spain, easily hide itself under the veil of patriotism…
We are convinced that society can no longer be saved without strong and vigorous
resolutions on the part of the Governments still free in their opinions and actions. We are
also convinced that this may yet be, if the Governments face the truth, if they free
themselves from all illusion, if they join their ranks and take their stand on a line of
correct, unambiguous, and frankly announced principles.
By this course the monarchs will fulfil the duties imposed upon them by Him who, by
entrusting them with power, has charged them to watch over the maintenance of justice,
and the rights of all, to avoid the paths of error, and tread firmly in the way of truth.
Placed beyond the passions which agitate society, it is in days of trial chiefly that they
are called upon to despoil realities of their false appearances, and to show themselves as
they are, fathers invested with the authority belonging by right to the heads of families,
to prove that, in days of mourning, they know how to be just, wise, and therefore strong,
and that they will not abandon the people whom they ought to govern to be the sport of
factions, to error and its consequences, which must involve the loss of society. The
moment in which we are putting our thoughts on paper is one of these critical moments.
The crisis is great; it will be decisive according to the part we take or do not take....
Union between the monarchs is the basis of the policy which must now be followed to
save society from total ruin....
The first principle to be followed by the monarchs, united as they are by the coincidence
of their desires and opinions, should be that of maintaining the stability of political
institutions against the disorganised excitement which has taken possession of men's
minds- the immutability of principles against the madness of their interpretation; and
respect for laws actually in force against a desire for their destruction....
Let [the Governments] in these troublous times be more than usually cautious in
attempting real ameliorations, not imperatively claimed by the needs of the moment, to
the end that good itself may not turn against them - which is the case whenever a
Government measure seems to be inspired by fear.
Let them not confound concessions made to parties with the good they ought to do for
their people, in modifying, according to their recognised needs, such branches of the
administration as require it.
Let them give minute attention to the financial state of their kingdoms, so that their
people may enjoy, by the reduction of public burdens, the real, not imaginary, benefits of
a state of peace.
Let them be just, but strong; beneficent, but strict.
Let them maintain religious principles in all their purity, and not allow the faith to be
attacked and morality interpreted according to the social contract or the visions of
Let them suppress Secret Societies, that gangrene of society.
In short, let the great monarchs strengthen their union, and prove to the world that if it
exists, it is beneficent, and ensures the political peace of Europe: that it is powerful only
for the maintenance of tranquillity at a time when so many attacks are directed against it;
that the principles which they profess are paterllal and protective, menacing only the
disturbers of public tranquillity....
To every great State determined to survive the storm there still remain many chances of
salvation, and a strong union between the States on the principles we have announced
will overcome the storm itself.
From Prince Klemens von Metternich, Memoirs of Prince Metternich, 1815-1829, ed.
Prince Richard Metternich (New York: Howard Fertig, 1970; photoreprint of a Scribner
and Sons 1881 edition), Vol. 3, pp. 456-463, 469-471, 473-476.
85. Carlsbad Resolutions
Editor's Note: The extreme phase in the spirit of reaction was reached in Germany when
the laws given below were enacted by the Diet. Using the murder of Kotzebue as an
excuse, Metternich called a conference of the larger states of the Confederation at
Carlsbad (Bohemia) in August, 1819. Here a series of resolutions were drawn up, with
the aim of checking the free expression of opinions hostile to existing institutions and of
discovering and bringing to justice conspirators, who were supposed to exist in
dangerous numbers. These Carlsbad Resolutions were laid before the Diet, which, under
Austria's influence, reluctantly ratified them.
A special representative of the ruler of each state shall be appointed for each university,
with appropriate instructions and extended powers, and shall reside in the place where the
university is situated. This office may devolve upon the existing curator or upon any
other individual whom the government may deem qualified.
The function of this agent shall be to see to the strictest enforcement of existing laws and
disciplinary regulations; to observe carefully the spirit which is shown by the instructors
in the university in their public lectures and regular courses, and, without directly
interfering in scientific matters or in the methods of teaching, to give a salutary direction
to the instruction, having in view the future attitude of the students. Lastly, he shall
devote unceasing attention to everything that may promote morality, good order, and
outward propriety among the students. . . .
2. The confederated governments mutually pledge themselves to remove from the
universities or other public educational institutions all teachers who, by obvious deviation
from their duty, or by exceeding the limits of their functions, or by the abuse of their
legitimate influence over the youthful minds, or by propagating harmful doctrines hostile
to public order or subversive of existing governmental institutions, shall have
unmistakably proved their unfitness for the important office intrusted to them. . . .
No teacher who shall have been removed in this manner shall be again appointed to a
position in any public institution of learning in another state of the union.
3. Those laws which have for a long period been directed against secret and unauthorized
societies in the universities shall be strictly enforced. These laws apply especially to that
association established some years since under the name Universal Students' Union
(Allgemeine Burschenschaft), since the very conception of the society implies the utterly
unallowable plan of permanent fellowship and constant communication between the
various universities. The duty of especial watchfulness in this matter should be impressed
upon the special agents of the government.
The governments mutually agree that such persons as shall hereafter be shown to have
remained in secret or unauthorized associations, or shall have entered such associations,
shall not be admitted to any public office.
4. No student who shall be expelled from a university by a decision of the university
senate which was ratified or prompted by the agent of the government, or who shall have
left the institution in order to escape expulsion, shall be received in any other university. .
I. So long as this decree shall remain in force no publication which appears in the form
of daily issues, or as a serial not exceeding twenty sheets of printed matter, shall go to
press in any state of the union without the previous knowledge and approval of the state
Writings which do not belong to one of the above-mentioned classes shall be treated
according to the laws now in force, or which may be enacted, in the individual states of
the union. . .
4. Each state of the union is responsible, not only to the state against which the offense is
directly committed, but to the whole Confederation, for every publication appearing
under its supervision in which the honor or security of other states is infringed or their
constitution or administration attacked. . . .
6. The Diet shall have the right, moreover, to suppress on its own authority, without
being petitioned, such writings included in Article I, in whatever German state they may
appear, as, in the opinion of a commission appointed by it, are inimical to the honor of
the union, the safety of individual states, or the maintenance of peace and quiet in
Germany. There shall be no appeal from such decisions, and the governments involved
are bound to see that they are put into execution. . . .
7. When a newspaper or periodical is suppressed by a decision of the Diet, the editor
thereof may not within a period of five years edit a similar publication in any state of the
Establishment of an investigating Committee at Mayence
1. Within a fortnight, reckoned from the passage of this decree, there shall convene,
under the auspices of the Confederation, in the city and federal fortress of Mayence, an
extraordinary commission of investigation to consist of seven members, including the
2. The object of the commission shall be a joint investigation, as thorough and extensive
as possible, of the facts relating to the origin and manifold ramifications of the
revolutionary plots and demagogical associations directed against the existing
constitution and the internal peace both of the union and of the individual states; of the
existence of which plots more or less clear evidence is to be had already, or may be
produced in the course of the investigation. . . .
10. The central investigating commission is to furnish the Diet from time to time with a
report of the results of the investigation, which is to be carried out as speedily as possible.
86. Revolution, Liberalism, and Nationalism in Europe, 1789-1914
Intellectual and Cultural Life, 1815-1848
Conservatism became the credo of those--kings, aristocrats, and clergy--who opposed the
French Revolution and the movements it spawned. To these men, Enlightenment ideas of
natural rights, equality, the innate goodness of man, and progress led directly to
Robespierre and the Terror. Hence, for those who defended traditional ideas of absolute
monarchy, aristocracy, and church conservatism emerged as the answer to the thought of
the Enlightenment. Among the first conservative spokesmen to appear was Edmund
Burke, author of Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), who predicted
(correctly, as it turned out) that the Revolution would lead to terror and military
dictatorship. Burke appealed to history, wisdom, and experience as the only true guides
in politics, arguing that human society, like a living organism, is infinitely complex and
can only change slowly. He also rejected the Enlightenment concepts of natural rights
and the social contract. In a famous passage, he declared:
Society is, indeed, a contract. It is a partnership in all science, a partnership in all art, a
partnership in every virtue and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot
be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who
are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be
born. Each contract of each particular state is but a clause in the great primeval contract
of eternal society, linking the lower with the higher natures, connecting the visible with
the invisible world, according to a fixed compact sanctioned by the inviolable oath which
holds all physical and moral natures, each in their appointed place.
In the years subsequent to Burke's treatise, conservative thinkers like Joseph de Maistre,
the Vicomte de Bonald, and others developed a core of central ideas for conservatism.
1. It venerated and found moral authority in time-tested institutions, traditions, and
2. It rejected the Enlightenment notion that man could shape political and social
institutions according to theoretical and rational models.
3. In contrast to the philosophes and the Revolutionaries who put great store in the power
of human reason and abstract ideas, conservatives emphasized its limitations.
4. Conservatives believed that men were not good by nature but inherently wicked, just as
the Christian religion had taught, and their behavior had therefore to be checked by
institutions, traditions, and beliefs. In this regard, Bonald wrote:
We are bad by nature, we are made good by society! Those who begin by supposing we
are born good are like architects, who, about to build an edifice, suppose that the stones
appear from the quarry ready cut. [Theory of Political and Religious Power, 1796]
5. Conservatives emphasized the importance of the church, monarchy, and aristocracy as
guardians of civilized behavior.
6. Conservatives did not reject change outright, they argued that societies were like
organisms held together by ancient bonds and they favored a slow pace of change, one
that could take centuries; in this regard, the English constitution became a model.
7. They also believed the community to be more important than the individual; rights
therefore came from society, not from some abstraction like nature.
8. They considered God, nature, and history the legitimate sources of political authority.
In short, conservative thinkers emphasized authority and order not the individual and his
rights, as did de Maistre when he wrote:
All greatness, all power, all order depends on the executioner. He is the tie that binds
society together. Take away this incomprehensible force and at every moment order is
suspended by chaos, thrones fall, and states disappear.
John Stuart Mill, the great English liberal thinker of the 19th century, summarized the
core of liberalism in his On Liberty (1859).
The only purpose for which power [government] can rightfully be exercised over any
member of a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own
good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.
As this quotation makes clear, 19th century liberals favored limits on the amount of
control that government could exercise over an individual's liberty.
1. To limit the power of government, they favored written constitutions, representative
governments with a restricted electorate, ministers responsible to the legislature, and an
2. 19th century liberals were not democrats, for they rarely favored universal manhood
3. Limits on the power of government meant that the individual had to take responsibility
for his own fate.
4. With regard to political and social institutions, most liberals favored utilitarianism, a
rational belief that every idea, institution, or law should be measured according to its
social usefulness, irregardless of how venerable its existence.
5. In the intellectual sphere, liberals like Mill argued for almost absolute freedom of
thought and expression, arguing that the clash of beliefs within the free market place of
ideas would lead to truth.
6. Mill also worried that the majority of the population in democratic societies would
seek to control thought, and he warned against the "tyranny of the majority".
Those most inclined to adopt liberal ideas were men of the Middle Class, businessmen,
professional men, or innovating landlords who favored the modern, the efficient, and the
enlightened. When applied to economics, liberalism called for economic individualism,
laissez-faire, freedom of contract, free competition and trade, and obedience to the
natural laws of the marketplace. The successful and hard- working men who made the
first Industrial Revolution in England were frequently champions of liberalism, both
political and economic.
Some historians argue that nationalism became the dominant spiritual force in the
nineteenth century, supplanting a declining Christianity. It may be defined as "an
awareness shared by a group who feel strongly attached to a particular land and who
possess a common [language] culture and history marked by shared glories and
sufferings. Nationalism is accompanied by a conviction that one's highest loyalty and
devotion should be directed toward the nation. Nationalist exhibit great pride in their
people's history and traditions and often feel that their nation has been specially chosen
by God or history. Like a religion, nationalism provides the individual with a sense of
community and with a cause worthy of self-sacrifice." [Perry, 2nd ed, 513]
Common ingredients of Nationalism:
1) A certain defined (often vaguely) unit of territory (whether possessed or coveted);
2) Some common cultural characteristics such as language (or widely understood
languages), customs, manners, and literature (folk tales and lore are a beginning). If an
individual believes he shares these, and wishes to continue sharing them, he/she is
usually said to be a member of the nationality;
3) Some common dominant social (as Christian) and economic (as capitalistic or,
recently, communistic) institutions;
4) A common independent or sovereign government (type does not matter) or the desire
for one. The ‗principle‘ that each nationality should be separate and independent is
5) A belief in a common history (it can be invented) and in a common origin (often
mistakenly conceived as racial in nature);
6) A love or esteem for fellow nationals (not necessarily as individuals);
7) A devotion to the entity (however little comprehended) called the nation, which
embodies the common territory, culture, social, and economic institutions, government,
and the fellow nationals, and which is at the same time (whether organism of not) more
than their sum;
8) A common pride in the achievements (often the military more than the cultural) of this
nation and a common sorrow in its tragedies (particularly its defeats);
9) A disregard for or hostility to other (not necessarily all) like groups, especially if these
prevent or seem to threaten the separate national existence;
10) A hope that the nation will have a great and glorious future (usually in territorial
expansion) and become supreme in some way (in world power if the nation is already
large). [Source: Boyd C. Shafer, Nationalism: Myth and Reality (New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich, 1955): 7-8]
Modern historians frequently identify two types of nationalism during nineteenth-century
Europe, one characteristic of the nation-states of Western Europe, the other characteristic
of Eastern and Southern Europe, where such states had yet to take shape. In England and
France, for example, the formation of the state preceded the creation of the nation, and by
the nineteenth century, the fusion of the two had more or less taken place, although in
France the government was still working on what Eugen Weber called making "peasants
into Frenchmen". In contrast, in Eastern and Southern Europe during the nineteenth
century, there existed numerous peoples who began to think of themselves as nations, but
who lacked states. Therefore, their primary aspiration became the acquisition of a piece
of land that they could call their own. Such was true of the Germans, the Italians, and the
diverse peoples of Eastern Europe, particularly those within the Austrian Empire. While
Italians like Giuseppe Mazzini argued for a risorgimento and for Italian unity, more
important nationalist ideas came from Germany, ideas that are important for
understanding the nineteenth century and for the Nazi movement in the twentieth.
The origins of modern nationalism are usually found in the French Revolution,
particularly in the notion of popular sovereignty and in the idea that the people are united
by citizenship in a fatherland. The French Revolution also stimulated the birth of
nationalist ideas in Germany, and these ideas were part of an anti-French cultural rebirth
that followed defeats by Napoleonic France. Also important is the romantic movement,
especially in Germany and Eastern Europe, for it lead to a renewed interest in language,
literature, and folkways of the people. Scholars like Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-
1803) believed that each people (= the Volk) had a Volkgeist and that it could be found in
the language, literature, monuments, and folk traditions; hence the efforts of the Grimm
brothers to compile a dictionary of the German language and to collect folk tales.
Romantic nationalists in Germany thus emphasized the unique qualities of German
history, of the German Volk, and the German nation. They were especially attracted to
medieval Germany (especially medieval tales and cities like Nuremburg) and they
believed that the individual should identify himself with the nation before all; indeed, the
German nationalists argued that the national community was a vital force that gave the
individual both an identity and purpose in life. The state thus became something holy,
the expression of the divine spirit of a people, a living organism that linked each
individual to a sacred past, imbued individuals with a profound sense of community, and
subordinated the citizen to the nation. [Perry, 513-516]
Finally, there appeared during the 19th century a number of advocates of
humanitarianism, thinkers who argued that the world in which most men live is cruel and
harsh and that efforts, often by governments, should be made to improve the general lot
of humanity. Among the humanitarians were, for example, those who advocated the
abolition of slavery.
This Page is Maintained by Robert W. Brown
Last Update: 29.III.2005
Return to the HST 329 Homepage