Prince Henry of Portugal (1394-1460), known as “the Navigator,” was a deeply religious man who may well have been moved by a desire to convert the populations of India and the Far East. Indeed, many in the West were convinced that these distant peoples were already Christian, and for true salvation needed only to be brought in direct contact with the Roman Catholic church.
The Song of the Shirt,” by the minor English poet Thomas Hood (1799-1845), was prompted by a London news report about the arrest of a seamstress for pawning articles belonging to her employer. Paid by the piece, she could earn at the maximum seven shillings a week, on which she was expected to support herself and two young children.
Till the brain begins to swim; Work—work—work
Till the eyes are heavy and dim! Seam, and gusset, and band, Band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep And sew them on in a dream!
0! Men, with Sisters dear!
Scholars used to believe that the startling expansion of Islam was due to the zeal of converts to the new faith. Now students of early Islam often argue that overpopulation of the Arabian peninsula set off the expansion. The first stages of the advance into lands already infiltrated by Arabs. The movement quickly gathered momentum; Islam was its battle cry, but its motives included the age- old ones of conquest for living space and booty.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) was the first major Italian writer to embody some of the qualities that were to characterize Renaissance literature. Much of Dante’s writing and outlook bore the stamp of the Middle Ages, and the grand theme of the Divine Comedy was medieval, the chivalric concept of disembodied love inspiring his devotion to Beatrice, whom he seldom saw.
Great Britain was the first nation to suffer from the ills of postindustrial development. In the postwar period Conservatives wanted to preserve private industry and advocated protective tariffs against foreign competition. Labour called for nationalization of key industries.
Political democratization continued in Britain with all men over age twenty-one receiving the vote. Women over age twenty-one finally gained equal voting rights in 1928. A slight economic recovery in the later 1920s was followed by the Great Depression.
The textile industry was the first to exploit the potentialities of power-driven machinery. Beginning with the spinning jenny in the 1760s, the use of machinery gradually spread to other processes.
In June 1867, the Dinner of the Three Emperors brought together Alexander II, czar of Russia, the czarevich (the future Alexander III), and the future emperor William I (then king of Prussia) at the Cafe Anglais in Paris to dine most royally, as the menu indicates. Guests had a choice of soups and could substitute fritters of beef brain steeped in Seville orange juice for one of the main courses. Otherwise all foods and wines were served to everyone.
Souffle a la Reine
Fillet of sole Venetian
Collops of turbot au gratin
John Stuart Mill grew up in an atmosphere dense with the teachings of utilitarianism and classical economics. From his father, he received an education almost without parallel for intensity and speed.
He began the study of Greek at three, was writing history at twelve, and at sixteen organized an active Utilitarian Society. At the age of twenty the overworked youth suffered a breakdown. He turned for renewal to music and to the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge; presently he fell in love with Mrs. Harriet Taylor, to whom he assigned the major credit for his later writings.
Before the first contacts with the Greeks, the Romans had already evolved their own religion—the worship of the household spirits, the lares and penates, that governed their everyday affairs, along with those spiritual beings that inhabited the local woods, springs, and fields. Like the Greek goddess Hestia, the Roman Vesta presided over the hearth and had in her service specially trained vestal virgins. From the Etruscans the Romans took the belief in omens which they never abandoned.
By the mid-1930s, many commentators believed that a second world war was inevitable.
A series of interconnected events, in China and Ethiopia, in Germany, Austria, and Spain, and sometimes faltering responses by Britain, France, the United States, and other nations, brought full- scale war ever closer.
Between 1931 and 1939, these events precipitated the world once again into war.