Tag: european history

A Multi-Level Treasure Hunt

 

In 1764 Tsarina Catherine the Great of Russia started a major war in Europe. It was a culture war. She collected fine art as aggressively as she fought on the battlefield. It spurred Europe’s crowned heads, especially Louis XVI of France and Frederick the Great of Prussia, to compete at obtaining and displaying art, especially fine paintings.

“The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck,” by Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees, records a casualty of that culture war Dutch Master paintings purchased at auction for Catherine the Great were sent from Holland to St Petersburg aboard the Dutch merchantman Vrouw Maria. Caught in a storm, the ship sank off the Finnish coast.

The book uses the shipwreck, to frame the story. Among the paintings lost was Gerrit Dou’s triptych The Nursery. Largely forgotten today, Dou was then the most admired Golden Age Dutch Master. (One of Dou’s paintings hung in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa.) The Nursery was considered Dou’s finest work.

Book Review: Protestants, by Alec Ryrie

 

I have read and recommended many books to friends, acquaintances, and strangers over the years, but I have done so selectively, carefully choosing what I recommend and to whom I recommend it.  I have found few books, aside from dictionaries and Douglas Adams, that I would urge on others almost without condition.  I have added one to that list: Protestants: The Radicals Who Made The Modern World, by Alec Ryrie.  

The Protestant Reformation made and remade what we consider to be modern Western Civilization, and regardless of what your faith is (Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist), Protestantism has affected it for good or ill, even if you live half a world away from the epicenters of its origins in Europe.  Regardless of whether you are even a Christian, you live in a world where Protestant Christianity has shaped, and even governed the way entire nations have thought and acted.  If the 20th Century was the American Century, and the 19th Century was the British, then both were also the Protestant Centuries, for the very identities of those nations were inextricably bound up with Protestantism, both in their greatest triumphs and darkest sins.  Alec Ryrie, a devout Anglican himself, presents the history of Protestant thought, denominations, and life in a single narrative volume that spans the past 500 years.  It is his love letter to his faith, but told fairly and written with honesty and humor, and as such, it is an invaluable window into seeing the state of the modern world, and the origins and workings out of much of what we assume to be true.

Protestants are fighters and lovers.  They will argue with anyone about almost anything.  Some of these arguments are abstruse, others brutally practical. If we look at the great ideological battles of the past half-millennium – for and against toleration, slavery, imperialism, fascism, or Communism – we will find Protestant Christians on both sides…. But Protestants are also lovers.  From the beginning, a love affair with God has been at the heart of their faith.  Like all long love affairs, it has gone through many phases, from early passion through companionable marriage and sometimes strained coexistence, to rekindled ardour.” (pages 1-2)

Member Post

 

It’s my understanding that perhaps the worst plague in recorded history was in the 14th century — also known as the Black Death. It originated in rodents in Asia and then via fleas to humans. Trade via the Silk Road brought these rodents and their fleas in ships to southern Italy and started to spread […]

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Victor Davis Hanson places the new film Dunkirk in its full historical context, explaining the events that preceded it, the scope of the challenges facing the British military, and the reason why German forces didn’t strike a killing blow despite Allied vulnerability.

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The parallels between Kennedy’s first year as president and Obama’s entire first term are eerie: presidencies preceded by divisive campaigns against the “old way of doing things,” rejections of lessons already learned about the use of power, and the dangers of a rudderless America trying to retreat from the world stage. There is no doubt […]

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