Facts about Simon Bolivar

  • Simon Bolivar was responsible for liberating the modern-day countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. He is one of the very few people who have had a country named after them.
  • His parents died when he was young and he was brought up by a family slave called Hipolita. He described Hipolita as the ‘only mother I have known.
  • During the movement for independence, 696 battles were fought using on average 1,400 men. Bolivar often acted as a military leader and sometimes left to his chief commander Antonio Jose de Sucre.
  • Bolivar married in 1801, but his wife Maria died early the next year from yellow fever. Bolivar was so upset he vowed never to marry again, which he didn’t. He did have several lovers.
  • When Bolivar was only 22 years old, he got down on his knees and made a vow to his friend Alexander von Humboldt that he would lead his people to freedom. He was standing on Monte Sacro, Rome – a hill famous for being the scene of a popular uprising of poor Romans against the upper-class.
  • Bolivar was at the coronation of Napoleon, and he was impressed with the adulation Napoleon received. Bolivar couldn’t hide the fact he wanted to be a great hero. He loved to receive praise and flattery.
  • On 5 July 1811, the national congress of Venezuela declared its independence. Bolivar was overjoyed and to mark the occasion of Venezuela’s freedom he made the decision to free all the slaves in his family. (at a time when slavery was important to the economy)
  • In 1815, he fled to Jamaica where he wrote one of his most powerful words on freedom

“A people that love freedom will in the end be free. We are a microcosm of the human race. We are a world apart, confined within two oceans, young in arts and sciences, but old as a human society. We are neither Indians nor Europeans, yet we are a part of each.” – Bolivar, Letter from Jamaica, 1815

  • Bolivar received support from many countries and rulers across Latin America. For example, President Alexandre Petion of Haiti gave substantial support to Bolivar. Haiti had recently freed itself from French rule.
  • Bolivar was a great self-publicist and he used this to good effect. When he returned to Venezuela in 1816, he was successful in spreading rumours about his successful army. Even inventing military victories. This helped bolster morale amongst the population for the cause of liberation.
  • One story about Bolivar is that he was on his own when he saw 15 Spanish troops about to encircle him. He shouted out to his own troops the order to attack. (his troops were not there) but the Spanish retreated rather than face his imaginary army.
  • Bolivar visited Great Britain and was impressed at their model of political governance. He sought to emulate their government in his own constitution. He was able to secure the help of many troops from Great Britain and Ireland which were vital in later battles to drive out the Spanish.

“The freedom of the New World is the hope of the Universe.” – Simon Bolivar

  • In 1819, hBatalla_de_Junin-1824inter of 1824, he led his troops over another Andes pass – 3,600m high to liberate Peru. He lost many men due to exposure and the blinding sun, but proceeded to defeat the Spanish forces at the Battle of Junin, starting the liberation of Peru. Never one to hold back on drama, Bolivar exclaimed to his men on the trek

“Soldiers you are about to finish the greatest undertaking Heaven has confided to men – that of saving an entire world from slavery!”

  • Bolivar had a grand plan and vision for a federation of southern American states. It was bold and forward thinking but alas did not come to anything as there was too much internal division.

“It is harder to maintain the balance of freedom that it is to endure the weight of tyranny.” – Simon Bolivar

  • The last few years for Bolivar were upsetting. Despite achieving the liberation of many countries, former allies turned on him and there was a serious attempt on his life. His greatest general, Sucre was assassinated on the orders of a former friend of Bolivar – Jose Maria Cordoba.
  • In 1829, Bolivars own country Venezuela left the Gran Colombia federation.
  • Bolivar died from tuberculosis in the house of a Spaniard who was loyal to Bolivar. He requested all his papers destroyed but his friends did not listen.
  • Bolivar has often been called the “Washington of South America” – like George Washington, Bolivar had to deal with poorly equipped and poorly paid armies. They both overcame great odds to liberate their country from a colonial power. Both were enlightenment thinkers though Bolivar freed his slaves, Washington never did. Bolivar was also more of a dictator than Washington.
  • Bolivar was born rich to an aristocratic family. But, throughout his life, his wealth diminished and he died quite poor. Despite loving fame and flattery, he had little interest in material wealth.
  • Bolivar was first buried in Santa Maria where he died. But, in 1842, his remains were moved to Caracas in Venezuela. In 1842, he was moved to the cathedral of Caracas and in 1876, he was relocated to a monument at the Pantheon of Venezuela. In 2010, his remains were dug up and tested for poison, but found to be negative.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Facts Simon Bolivar”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, Last updated 21 March 2020.

 

Bolivar: American Liberator

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Bolivar: American Liberator at Amazon

Related

Jennifer_Lopez Famous Hispanics – A list of famous people of Spanish-speaking origin. Includes Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Simon Bolivar, Selena and Jorge Ramos.

Courageous people – People who have overcome difficult circumstances and difficult odds. Includes Joan of Arc, Galileo, Harriet Tubman, Socrates, Malala Yousafzai.

Simon Bolivar (1783 – 1830) Bolivar was known as ‘El Libertador’ – the Liberator. He led several Latin American countries (Peru, Bolivar, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela) to independence from the Spanish monarchy. After successfully leading the liberation struggle, he served as president for a federation of Latin American countries until his death in 1830.

 

Roaring Twenties definition and facts

The Roaring Twenties is a term used to describe Western society in the 1920s. Sometimes known as the Jazz Age, it was characterized by new freedoms in social, economic and cultural aspects of life. It is often synonymous with pleasure seeking and people having a good time after the devastation of the First World War. In America especially, the economy boomed, with mass consumerism arriving for the first time. For the first time in history, ordinary workers were able to purchase goods, such as motor cars and radios. The Roaring Twenties also saw a loosening of social morality, though, in America, prohibition saw alcohol outlawed and the subsequent growth of criminal bootlegging.

Facts about the Roaring Twenties

  • Bright Young Things was a term given to a group of bohemian young people, who enjoyed partying in 1920s London. These were predominately aristocrats and the ‘idle rich.’
  • P.G. Wodehouse in his humorous novels, e.g. Jeeves and Wooster lampooned the habits of these ‘bright young things’ and idle rich.
  • During the 1920s, millions of African-Americans migrated from the south to north – to escape segregation and racism. It was termed the Great Migration.
  • The new black communities, helped to forge a new black identity, especially in major cities, like New York. The Harlem Renaissance was considered the flowering of a new negro identity and culture.
  • The 1920s also saw a re-emergence of the Klu Klux Klan, with membership peaking at over 4 million people during the 1920s.
  • Despite growing wealth and conspicuous consumption – during the 1920s, more than 60 per cent of Americans lived just below the poverty line – especially black-Americans and those living in rural areas.
  • In 1920, all women were given the right to vote in the US. (19th Amendment)
  • In 1921, Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The greater availability of contraception, helped to liberate women, enabling a greater sexual promiscuity without risk of pregnancy
  • In the 1920s, divorce was made easier, and the number of divorces doubled.
  • In the 1920s, more Americans lived in cities than in rural communities for the first time.
  • The 1920s saw the explosion of numerous dance crazes, including the Charleston and the Breakaway.
  • The Cotton Club was the most famous jazz club, played by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and other masters of jazz.
  • In 1927, ‘The Jazz Singer’ starring Al Jolson was the first major ‘talking’ movie. This led to the decline of the silent movie, but growth in cinema attendance.
  • The 1920s saw an explosion in ownership of the radio. By the end of the 1920s, there were over 100 million radios in circulation.
  • Flappers was a term used to describe young women, who wore short skirts, listened to jazz music and took rebellious attitudes to old standards of morality.
  • In the 1920s, many banks, including the Federal Reserve had an ‘anti-flapper code’ – prohibiting women dressing too attractively.
  • Due to prohibition, speakeasies – illegal salons selling alcohol – became popular and numerous as the Prohibition years progressed.
  • In 1927, Charles_Lindbergh_and_the_Spirit_of_Saint_Louis_(Crisco_restoration,_with_wings)Charles Lindbergh was the first pilot to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic – in the “Spirit of Saint Louis”.
  • The economic boom of the 1920s was not equally felt across the country. Agriculture suffered from low prices and entered recession, even before the Stock Market Crash of 1929.
  • Art deco was a new style of architecture, which was based on pure, geometric shapes. The Empire State building was designed in the late 1920s and built in 1930-31.
  • Buying on the margin. The stock market boom caused many investors to buy shares on the margin – a way of increasing profits by taking more risk. This led to the creation of many new ‘paper millionaires.’
  • In the 1920s, there was a credit and share price bubble. The S&P 500 Share price index saw a rise in earnings per share from 20 (1922) to 100 in 1929. (What caused Wall Street Crash?)
  • The Roaring Twenties came to a shuddering halt on 29 October 1929 (Black Tuesday. Share prices fell by $40 billion in a single day. By 1930 the value of shares had fallen by 90%.

Iconic people of the Roaring Twenties

Calvin_Coolidge Calvin Coolidge (1872 –  1933) US president (1923–29) Coolidge presided over a booming economy. He adopted a laissez-faire approach – cutting taxes and reducing regulation. Some criticise him for the unsustainable boom which preceded the Great Depression. He spoke up for civil rights and sought to eradicate lynching. Coolidge articulated the aspirations of many middle-class Americans who sought to benefit from the economic growth of the 1920s.

Warren_G_Harding Warren Harding (1865 – 1923) US President for just two years, 1921-23, Harding presided over a dramatic economic recovery, after the slump at the end of the First World War. He cut tax rates and authorised federal money to be spent on building new roads. He announced America was now living in the age of the motor car.

Andrew-Mellon Andrew Mellon (1855 – 1937) US Secretary of the Treasury 1921-31. Mellon was a key figure in the US economy during the 1920s. He reformed the tax system, cutting income and corporation tax and seeking to reduce the federal debt. Mellon’s tax cuts helped to boost investment in new multi-ethnic neighbourhoods. Mellon became unpopular after ineffective measures to halt the Great Depression. F.D. Roosevelt hated Mellon for embodying ‘everything wrong with the 1920s’.

Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) US president (1913-1921). Wilson was a Democrat and leading progressive. Under his presidency, he passed many progressive bills, including a graduated income tax, Federal Reserve Act, anti-trust legislation and federal support for agriculture and the beginnings of a welfare state. In international affairs, Wilson was an idealist, who sought to create a League of Nations after the end of the First World War. During his presidency, laws on prohibition were passed.

Business figures

Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) Pioneer of the mass use and distribution of electricity. Edison was one of the most prolific inventors, who developed commercially available electric light bulbs. Edison was at the cutting edge of the modernisation of American society, which dramatically changed people’s lives in the 1920s.

Henry Ford (1864-1947) Founder of Ford motor company. Ford pioneered the use of the assembly line for making cars, helping to reduce the price and make cars affordable for the average American consumer. Ford’s Model T car was a ubiquitous sight in the 1920s.

John Maynard Keynes writer (1883 – 1946) one of the most influential economists of the Twentieth Century. In the 1920s, he was highly critical of the Versailles Peace Treaty and Britain’s decision to return to the gold standard (causing a boom in the US, and depression in the UK). Keynes was also an influential cultural figure and member of the Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals.

 

Cultural figures

writer Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) Groundbreaking modernist American writer. Famous works included For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940) and A Farewell to Arms (1929). A Farewell to Arms was a devastating account of his experience in the First World War.

F_Scott_Fitzgerald F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940) American author. Iconic writer of the ‘jazz age’. Notable works include The Great Gatsby (1925), and Tender Is the Night (1934) – Iconic and cautionary tales about the ‘Jazz decade’ and the American Dream based on pleasure and materialism.

Langston_Hughes Langston Hughes (1902 – 1967) Poet, author and social activist. Hughes was considered the leader of the Harlem Renaissance. This was a celebration of African-American culture and music.  Hughes also was associated with the civil rights movement, having his poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” in “Crisis” – the journal of the NAACP.

Col_Charles_Lindbergh Charles Lindbergh (1902 – 1974) US air pilot, inventor and environmentalist. In 1927, Lindbergh succeeded in making the first non-stop flight from New York to Paris. It created a major global sensation and was iconic of the new age of global airtravel.

writer D H Lawrence (1885 – 1930) English poet, novelist and writer. One of his best-known works included:  Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) – which was banned for its sexual promiscuity and intermingling of social classes – an illustration of the new age clashing against the old.

writer Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941) English modernist writer, member of the Bloomsbury group. Famous novels include Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928).

james-joyceJames Joyce (1882 – 1941) Irish writer from Dublin. Joyce was one of the most influential modernist avant-garde writers of the Twentieth Century. His novel Ulysses (1922), was ground-breaking for its stream of consciousness style.

louis-armstrong Louis Armstrong (1901 – 1971) Jazz musician. During the 1920s, Armstrong helped to popularise jazz music among both black and white Americans. Armstrong’s gregarious and non-political nature helped him become one of the few black Americans accepted by white America.

emily-murphy Emily Murphy (1868–1933) The first woman magistrate in the British Empire. In 1927 she joined forces with four other Canadian women who sought to challenge an old Canadian law that said, “women should not be counted as persons.”

Picasso Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) Spanish, modern ‘cubist’ painter. Picasso was a leading pioneer of modern art, which redrew boundaries and styles of art

Coco-Chanel Coco Chanel (1883–1971) French fashion designer. One of the most innovative fashion designers, Coco Chanel was instrumental in defining feminine style and dress during the 20th Century. She made clothes which were both stylish and more comfortable and practical. The 1920s saw a revolution in female dress style as the corset, and other Victorian relics fell out of fashion.

Margaret-Sanger Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) – Sanger was a leading pioneer in offering contraception and health care services to women. Controversial at the time, Sanger is credited with playing a leading role in the acceptance of contraception. She founded the American Birth Control League.

Walt Disney (1901 – 1966) American film producer
and creator of cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney pioneered the successful film portrayal of classic fairy tales, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

al_capone Al Capone (1899-1947)  American gangster who rose to fame during the prohibition era. He was an uncompromising boss of the Chicago Outfit – behind the St Valentine’s Day Massacre. Eventually convicted of income tax evasion. Capone is an iconic representative of the mafia mobster and the dark side of the ‘Roaring Twenties’.

Babe Ruth (1895 – 1948) Iconic baseball player. Babe Ruth was one of the greatest baseball players whose popularity transcended sport and epitomised the Roaring Twenties for his laid-back style. In 1927 in 1927 Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs

Amelia Earhart (1897– 1937) – Female aviator. She broke several records and became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932. She epitomised both the new age of exploration and setting new ideas for what it was possible for women to do.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan.  “The Roaring Twenties”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net, 11th Jan 2017

 

A History of the Roaring Twenties twentiesAnything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties at Amazon.com

Related pages

Woodrow_Wilson The Progressive Era (1890-1920) A period of increased federal intervention to tackle the abuse of the Gilded Age. The Progressive Era also saw women gain the vote, and increased efforts to tackle corruption.

Douglas_Haig People of the First World War (1914 to 1918) The principal figures involved in the First World War from Germany, Britain, US and the rest of the world.

al_capone Famous Americans – Great Americans from the Founding Fathers to modern civil rights activists. Including presidents, authors, musicians, entrepreneurs and businessmen.

100px-MKGandhi Inter-war era (1918 to 1939) A period of peace in between the two world wars. Characterised by economic boom and bust, and the growth of polarising ideologies.

 

External links

 

Books that changed the world

A selection of over 50 books that helped to influence and change the world. These books have all had an impact on human society and human culture.

Bhagavad-Gita Bhagavad Gita (c. 3100 B.C)  – ‘The Song of God‘ – is a classic Hindu scripture which records the discourse of Sri Krishna and Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukshetra. Sri Krishna taught a practical spirituality that could be practised in the world and did not require world-renunciation. The philosophy of the Gita includes bhakti yoga (devotion) and karma yoga (selfless action)

iliad-homer The Iliad (8th Century BC) – Homer. One of the earliest surviving classics of Western literature, the Iliad is an epic poem telling the story and characters of the Trojan War – such as Achilles and King Agamemnon. The Iliad also tells of ancient Greek legends.

the-histories-heroditus The Histories (c. 450 – 420s BC) – Herodotus  (Greek)  The Histories was one of the first major works of history – documenting the peoples and times of ancient Greece, Persia and Northern Africa. It is an important source for knowledge about those times and set an important precedent for documenting history.

torah The Torah (c. 600 – 400 BC) Judaism believes the Torah was received by Moses on Mount Sinai; it incorporates five main books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). It is the principal account of Jewish history, traditions and customs. It is highly influential in Judeo-Christian culture, and the five principle books were incorporated into the Bible.

dhammapada The Dhammapada (c 3rd-1st Century BC) – Sayings of the Buddha. The Dhammapada is a written account of Buddha’s sayings on the spiritual life and his advice to monks. They contain the essence of Buddhism through topics, such as meditation, detachment, liberation and controlling the mind.

analects The Analects c. 475 BC–221 BC) – Confucius  The Analects contain the sayings of the Chinese sage Confucius. The Analects encourage people to cultivate wisdom (ren) through devotion to one’s parents/family and loyalty to their ruler. It is essentially a conservative philosophy encouraging morally and ethically upstanding citizens. It is the most influential book in Chinese history and is widely read today.

plato-the-republic The Republic (c. 4th Century BC) – Plato. The Republic is a highly influential book on political and social philosophy. It is written in the form of a Socratic dialogue where different participants discuss concepts of justice, good governance, the nature of the soul, and ideas of what constitutes happiness. Plato argues that one of the best forms of government would be to give power to philosopher-kings – independently minded arbiters of just rule.

euclid-elements-150 Euclid’s Elements (c. 300 BC) A mathematical and geometric treatise consisting of 13 books written by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid in Alexandria. Euclid combined many different aspects of mathematics and presented them in a coherent and logical format. His clarity meant this became the standard mathematics textbook into the Nineteenth Century.

geography-ptlomey Geographia (c. 100- 170 AD) Ptolemy Ptolemy created a book of maps, atlas which summarised the Roman knowledge of world geography. It was translated into Latin in Europe during the early part of the Renaissance and provided an influential starting point for European knowledge of world geography.

quran The Qu’ran (c. 609 AD – 632 AD). The Qu’ran,  meaning “recitation” is considered the holy book of Islam. Muslims believe the Qu’ran contains revelations from God revealed by the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammad. The Qu’ran teaches a monotheistic religion, where followers are encouraged to surrender to God.

canon-medicine Canon of Medicine (1025AD) – Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna). The Canon of Medicine is an encyclopaedia of medical knowledge compiled by Persian philosopher Ibn Sīnā. It includes some of the most important medical knowledge of the time – including Galenic medicine, Chinese medicine and some of Aristotle’s writings. It served as a medical textbook in Europe into the Seventeenth Century.

the_canterbury_tales_by_geoffrey_chaucer The Canterbury Tales (c. 1390s) – Geoffrey Chaucer’s  ‘The Canterbury Tales‘ are a collection of 20 books written in Middle English, telling accounts of English life in the Middle Ages. Chaucer was a master storyteller, also including criticism of the church and aspects of English life. The book was an influential moment in encouraging the use of English – as opposed to Latin.

don-quixote Don Quixote (1605) – Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha) is one of the world’s greatest novels. It is highly influential in Western literature – and Spanish literature in particular. It explores themes of chivalry, realism, justice and simplicity.

holy-bible The Bible – King James Version (1611) Commissioned shortly after the first English translation of the Bible by John Wycliffe. The King James Bible was translated from Greek and Aramaic and became the defining English translation for the Western World; it became the most printed book in the world. It has been admired for its quality of English and poetic descriptions.

William_Shakespeare_First_Folio_1623 First Folio (1623) – William Shakespeare. The first comprehensive publication of Shakespeare’s plays. The First Folio includes 36 of Shakespeare’s plays and is the primary source material for much of Shakespeare’s work. Its publication began the gradual process of making Shakespeare the most widely read author in the English language. Shakespeare’s influence on language, literature are hard to quantify – given the global and universal appeal of his work.

anatomy-harvey An Anatomical Study of the motion of the heart and blood in Animals (1628) – William Harvey. A pioneering work on the circulation of blood. Harvey also offered a revolutionary scientific method – with hypothesis, experiments and observations. It influenced our understanding of physiology and also set a benchmark for scientific studies.

dialogue-galileo Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (1632) – Galileo Galilei –  In this Italian book, Galileo compared Copernicus’ heliocentric view of the world with the contemporary view of Ptolemy (earth centre of the universe) Galileo’s findings were influential in shifting opinion about the nature of the universe. His book was placed on the Catholic Church’s list of prohibited books until 1835.

newton-principia Principia Mathematica (1687) – Isaac Newton Full title – Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Latin for “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy” This great work formed the basis of modern physics. Newton included his theory of gravity, the law of motion/mechanics and consolidated Kepler’s law of planetary motion. Newton developed new modes of mathematics and calculus to offer proof for his ideas. Widely considered to be the most influential science book of all time.

Johnson-Dictionary A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) – Samuel Johnson. Johnson did not write the first dictionary, but his was by far the most comprehensive dictionary and became the standard for English dictionaries until the OED in 1888. The Johnson dictionary was commissioned by printers who wanted a better quality dictionary to meet with the growing literacy and demand for books. Even the OED – 187 years later – used many of Johnson’s explanations.

sorrows-of-young-werther The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774)– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe’s novel about a sensitive and passionate young man became a best seller and was translated into several European languages. The book helped Goethe become one of the first international literary celebrities. The novel and romantic ideals had a significant impact on the burgeoning Romantic Movement of the late Eighteenth Century.

wealth-of-nations The Wealth of Nations (1776) – Adam Smith. Smith’s work on economics became the founding cornerstone of classical economics – helping to define the relatively new subject, which was becoming increasingly important with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. Smith’s work considered free markets, free trade, the division of labour and monopoly power.

common-sense Common Sense (1776) – Thomas Paine. Common Sense was a political pamphlet published at the beginning of the American Revolution. It spoke in simple and direct language about the benefits of American Independence from Great Britain. It appealed to ordinary people and helped to garner support for American Independence. It was also revolutionary for ushering in a more democratic and Republican politics.

lyrical-ballads Lyrical Ballads (1798)– William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  These volumes of poetry include some of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s finest poetry – such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Coleridge) and Lines written above Tintern Abbey (Wordsworth). The poetry was influential for its simpler lyrical style. Wordsworth wrote that the book was an experiment to see if the language of poetry could be made more accessible to ordinary people – as opposed to the more rigid and highly formalised styles of 18th Century poetry. Lyrical Ballards is often considered to be the start of the English Romantic Movement, marking a defining shift in English literature.

Pride-And-Prejudice Pride and Prejudice (1813) – Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice is one of the most enduringly popular novels in the English language. It deals with issues of class, marriage, manners and morality. It’s popularity and a lasting legacy on this romantic genre of novel. Jane Austen’s success also made it easier for women to be taken seriously as writers.

Charles_Dickens-A_Christmas_Carol A Christmas Carol (1843)– Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of Dicken’s most popular short stories. It deals with the contrasting themes of the joy of Christmas and the unhappiness of being miserly and devoted to money. It helped revitalise Christmas traditions, while containing some classic Dickens satire of Victorian Capitalism.

communist-manifesto The Communist Manifesto 1848 – Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The Communist Manifesto is a short and succinct revolutionary document which called for the overthrow of Capitalist society. Unlike Marx’ denser works, the language of the Manifesto was incendiary and inspirational for those who wanted to see the end of Capitalism. Marxism became a driving philosophy behind the Russian Revolution and influenced other Western states who became fearful of a Communist Revolution.

Uncle-Toms-Cabin Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) – Harriet Beecher Stowe. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is an anti-slavery novel, which portrayed the harsh realities of slavery. It also offered an optimistic view of how Christian charity and love could overcome a man-made evil such as slavery. It is considered to be highly influential in shaping American public opinion and turning people against slavery – which was a key issue of the civil war.

Madame_Bovary Madame Bovary (1857) – Gustave Flaubert (French). Flaubert’s novel depicts the life of a doctor’s wife who pursues affairs and excitement to escape the banality of life. It’s publication was considered shocking for its depiction of adultery – the resulting obscenity trial helped increase its profile and sales. Its gritty realism was also very significant for the development of the modern realistic genre of literature.

Gray's_Anatomy Gray’s Anatomy (1858) An English-language textbook of human anatomy, originally written by Henry Gray. It is was the first comprehensive analogy of human anatomy and part of the movement to formalise and clarify medical treatment. It was so useful that it became the classic textbook for physicians. It has been continually revised and republished since 1858.

Origin_of_Species-darwin On the Origin of Species (1859) – Charles Darwin –  On the Origin of Species was a culmination of Darwin’s life work examining the development of life and species. It is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology and critical for overturning mankind’s idea of where it came from. The theory of evolution was a direct challenge to a literal interpretation of the Bible, and its publication was met with significant controversy.

on-liberty-j.s-mill On Liberty (1859) – John Stuart Mill On Liberty is an influential justification for personal liberty and defining the limits of state intervention.  – “The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.” – Mill. On Liberty was an attempt to defend the philosophy of utilitarianism, but also defend individual rights against the ‘tyranny of the majority’.

War-and-Peace War and Peace (1869) – Leo Tolstoy (Russian). War and Peace is Tolstoy’s great historical epic based on the French Napoleonic invasion of Russia. It deals with all aspects of life – human emotion, politics and philosophy. In many ways, the book transcended traditional genres and brought in new literary styles, such as the ability to offer a variety of perspectives on the same scene.

The_interpretation_of_dreams-freud The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) – Sigmund Freud – Freud was a pioneering psychologist. His work on the Interpretation of Dreams was influential for advancing Freud’s theory of the unconscious and the Oedipus Complex. Freud’s theory of psycho-analysis has proved very controversial, but his work inspired a new branch of medical science to either further or reject his initial work.

protocols-zion The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – (1905) This was published in Russia and was a fraudulent attempt to suggest there was a Jewish conspiracy to gain control over the world through manipulation of the press and subverting Christian ideals. Although shown to be a fraud, it was widely distributed around the world and was used as a textbook in Nazi Germany, fuelling anti-Semitism.

poems-wilfred-owen Poems (1920) – Wilfred Owen. Owen’s war poetry was highly influential in creating a negative view of the First World War. His biting, ironic poems highlighted the absurdity and horror of war. The power of his poems was influential in creating a strong peace movement in Great Britain, which opposed re-armament in the 1920s and 30s.

relativity-einstein Relativity: The Special and General Theory (1920) – Albert Einstein. Einstein’s great work on relativity helped redefine concepts of physics and our understanding of the universe. It was the most revolutionary development in physics since Newton. Einstein’s work showed that time and space are not linear and absolute, but could vary depending on circumstances. Einstein also showed that energy and mass are actually equivalent through his famous formula –  E=mc²

Ulysses-joyce Ulysses (1922) James Joyce – Ulysses is a highly influential modernist work of fiction, which used experimental techniques such as a stream of consciousness writing, combined with an offbeat sense of humour – based on puns, allusions and parodies. It was unprecedented in length, scope and style, and influenced many other modernist writers.

Mein_Kampf Mein Kampf (1925) – Adolf Hitler. Mein Kampf was written by Hitler when he was in prison for the failed Munich Putsch attempt. It expresses Hitler’s desire for a new world order – based on his anti-Semitism and desire for expanding Germany into Eastern territories. After his rise to power in 1933, it was widely disseminated in Nazi Germany. It was also used by many who feared Hitler’s rise to power as evidence of his intent.

Lady_Chatterleys_Lover Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) – D.H. Lawrence. The book was highly controversial for its depiction of a love affair between a working-class man and an upper-class women. It was prohibited in the UK for many decades because of its explicit sexual content. In 1960, Penguin wished to publish the book, leading to a trial about whether it contravened the obscenity act. Penguin won and it was published in 1961.

general-theory-keynes The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (1936) John Maynard Keynes –  Keynes wrote his classic economic theory against the backdrop of the Great Depression. Keynes argued the persistence of mass unemployment was unnecessary and effective government action could overcome a prolonged slump. His book was the founding work of a new branch of economics – macro-economics. Keynesian economics continues to be highly influential both theoretically and practically for dealing with recessions.

Diary_of_Anne_Frank The Diary of Anne Frank (1947) – Anne Frank (Dutch) – Originally published as a “Diary of a Young Girl”. The magnitude of the holocaust, with six million Jews killed, was hard for many to comprehend. The Diary of Anne Frank gave readers a personal link behind the numbers killed and helped put the holocaust into human terms.

if-this-is-a-man If This is a Man (1947) – Primo Levi (Italian) Levi wrote this personal account of his 12-month incarceration in Auschwitz concentration camp. It is considered one of the most intimate and direct accounts of life under the degrading and dehumanising conditions of a concentration camp. It was one of the earlier personal accounts of surviving the holocaust to be published and is considered a pre-eminent first-hand account.

Animal_Farm Animal Farm (1945) – George Orwell.  Orwell was a democratic socialist who fought in the Spanish civil war. Animal Farm is a dystopian fairy-tale, which gives a biting and immediate allegory of a revolution betrayed.  It was written as a satirical tale against Stalin’s Soviet Union and became part of the literary Cold War Propaganda against Communism.

The_Common_Sense_Book_of_Baby_and_Child_Care_(hardcover) The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946) – Dr Spock. Spock was an American paediatrician who wrote a manual for child care, which emphasised the importance of parents relying on their natural instincts in pursuing a balanced and empathetic approach to discipline and bringing up children. He has been blamed for encouraging a decline in discipline and respect for authority, though this was partly due to his active opposition to the Vietnam War.

1984-george-orwell Nineteen Eighty FourGeorge Orwell – 1949. Orwell’s classic dystopian novel. 1984 is a stark warning against the dangers of totalitarianism. It forewarns against the over-reaching power of the state and the desire to control the lives of individuals. Many phrases and ideas from 1984, such as ‘Big Brother’ and the ‘thought police’ have become part of the English language.

second-sex The Second Sex (1949) – Simone De Beauvoir The Second Sex was written by De Beauvoir, a French existentialist philosopher. It is considered an important work in the second wave of feminism, which sought to address feminist issues, such as sexual violence, discrimination against women and equal opportunities. She also rejected the theories of Freud.

Rye_catcher The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger – 1951. Salinger’s novel became an iconic work for teenage rebellion, dealing with issues of identity, alienation and respect for authority. It is considered influential for the ‘beat generation’ of the 1960s, which saw a widespread challenging of authority and conventional customs.

Fellowship-Ring-780 Lord of the Rings (1954) – J.R.R.Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings is an epic three-part fantasy novel based in mythological Middle-earth. It became one of the best selling works of the Twentieth Century and was influential for the 1960s beat generation. It also spawned a renewed interest in the fantasy genre.

Silent_Spring Silent Spring (1962) – Rachel Carson. Silent Spring documented the danger to the environment from chemical pesticides. It is considered a seminal work in the new environmental movement which evolved from the early 1960s and which sought to give priority to protecting the environment.

Quotations_from_Chairman_Mao_Tse-Tung_bilingual Quotations from Chairman Mao (1964) – Mao Zedong Between 1964 and Mao’s death in 1976, ‘Quotations from Chairman Mao’ or the ‘Little Red Book’ became one of the most widely published books in the world. It was distributed to nearly every Chinese person and helped cement the personality cult of Mao and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s / 70s.

harry-potter Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone (1997) – J.K.Rowling. One of the greatest publishing sensations of all time. This was the first book in the seven-part Harry Potter series. It has become the best selling series of books in the world, credited with revitalising interest in reading by children. It has encouraged more books from a similar genre.

 

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Books that changed the world”, Oxford, UK www.biographyonline.net Last updated 04 Jan 2020, Originall published. 4 April 2015.

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100 Most influential books ever written  at Amazon

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Famous Firsts

A list of famous firsts throughout human history. Including famous firsts in exploration, science, transport, politics, sport, culture and the arts.

First in Exploration

1492Christopher Colombus becomes the first European from a major power to land in the Americas (now the Bahamas). Columbus was probably preceded by others, such as the Viking Leif Erikson in the 10th Century.

1773 – Captain James Cook – becomes the first person to cross the Antarctic Circle.

1911 – 14th December – Roald Amundsen (Norway) first person to reach the South Pole.

Amundsen

Amundsen at the South Pole

1926 – Roald Amundsen (Norway) recognised as being the first person to reach the North Pole.

1932 – Amelia Earhart – 1st transatlantic solo flight by a woman. Flying from Newfoundland to Ireland in 15 hours.

1947 – Chuck Yeager becomes the 1st person to fly faster than the speed of sound. (670 mph in the Bell X-1 rocket.)

everest

Mount Everest

1953 – Sir Edmund Hillary, with Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay, become the first men to climb Mt. Everest.

Flight

1783 – Nov. 21. – Marquis d’Arlandes and Pilatre de Rozier become the first humans to fly in a hot-air balloon for 20 minutes, in Paris.

First_flight2

1903 – 17 Dec. Wright Brothers make the first powered flight in North Caroline in a flight lasting 12 seconds.

Firsts in Politics

508 BC – First attempts to introduce concepts of democracy on a significant scale in ancient Greece, e.g.  democratic reforms of Cleisthenes. (see: People who shaped democracy)

Magna_Carta

Magna Carta

1215 – 15 June. Magna Carta. The 1st charter which sought to limit the power of kings by law. Magna Carta established principle of habeas corpus (see: Key events in history of democracy)

1542 – Spain enacted the first European law Leyes Nuevas‘ abolishing colonial slavery.

1777 – Thomas Jefferson drafted Virginia’s  Act of Establishing Religious Freedom. First bill to explicitly allowing religious freedom in

1789 1st Amendment to US constitution allowing freedom of thought and religious belief was adopted.

1789 – John Jay becomes 1st US Supreme Court chief justice.

1870  – Jefferson Long becomes the 1st African American elected to U.S. House of Representatives (for Georgia)

1946 – Trygve Lie (Norway) becomes the 1st Secretary General of United Nations.

1967 – Thurgood Marshall the 1st African American to become a Supreme Court justice.

1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor – 1st female US Supreme Court justice.

Invention / Science

1668 – First reflecting telescope invented by Sir Isaac Newton.

1790 – Samuel Hopkins became the holder of US Patent #1. He patented a process for making potash and pearl ashes.

Mariecurie 1911  – Marie Curie becomes the 1st person ever to win two Nobel Prizes. Curie received Nobel Prizes in Physics (1903) and the second in Chemistry (1911) She was also the first women to receive Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry.

Firsts in Sport

490 BC – 1st Marathon. Greek legend says that Pheidippides, a Greek messenger ran from the battle of Marathon to Athens to declare Greece had won. (and collapsed and died after delivering the message.)

1896 – Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (French) – Organises the 1st Modern Olympic games.

1896 – 10 April 1st Olympic marathon was won by Spyridon Louis, in 2:58:50

1872 – 16 March 1872 Wanderers beat Royal Engineers in the first F.A. Cup final, at the Kennington Oval. The first major football competition to be played.

1875 – Matthew Webb  (GB) becomes the first person to swim across the English Channel.

1903 – Maurice Garin (France) 1st Tour de France winner.

1930  – 30 July. Uruguay becomes the first country to win the first World Cup, held in Uruguay.

1954 – 6 May – Roger Bannister (GB) becomes the 1st person to run a mile race in under four minutes (3 minutes 59.4 seconds). He broke the four-minute barrier at Iffley Road, Oxford on the. His time was

1968 – Jim Hines (US) – First person to run 100m under 10 seconds (9.95)

1969 – 19 November  Pelé scored his 1000th goal in all competitions. Becoming the first and only player to reach that milestone.

1984 – Joan Benoit (US) wins first women’s Olympic Marathon in a time of 2 hours 24 minutes and 52 seconds.

usain-bolt 2012 – Usain Bolt (Jamaica) becomes the first athlete in history to retain the Olympic 100m and 200m titles after winning previous 2008 games. He went on to win another three gold medals at the 2016 Olympics

Firsts in Culture

105 – Cai Lun (China) credited with the first papermaking process

1440 – Johannes Gutenberg (Germany) invents the world’s first printing press which enables the mass production of books.

gutenberg-press

1455 – The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed in Europe with movable metal type by Johannes Gutenberg.

1597 – Jacopo Peri (Italy) writes the world’s first opera in Florence in Italy. It was called Dafne.

1623 – William Shakespeare’s First Folio publishes 36 of Shakespeare’s plays.

1917 – Original Dixieland Jazz band make first ‘jazz’ recording “Livery Stable Blues”

1920 – Babe Ruth becomes the first player to hit 50 home runs in a season – changing the game of baseball into a big hitting game

1927 – Al Jolson is the main star of the first talking movie – “The Jazz Singer.”

1939 – Franklin D. Roosevelt – 1st US president to speak on television.

1955  – Nat King Cole – 1st African American US Television host on  “The Nat King Cole Show”

2000 – Amazon and Microsoft collaborate to make available one of the first ebook readers. Also, free software Glassbook ebook reader for PC is launched.

First in Transport

1817 – Karl von Drais (Germany) builds the first ‘wooden horse’ a prototype for the modern bicycle (though there were no pedals on this wooden horse)

1830 – George Stephenson builds the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The world’s first major inter-city railway.

1837  –  Isambard Kingdom Brunel launches the ‘Great Western’, – the first steamship to engage in transatlantic service

1885 – John Kemp Starley, produced the first successful “safety bicycle” – which is close to the standard used by bicycles today.

1885/86 – Karl Benz built and tested the world’s first purpose-built car powered by an internal petrol combustion engine

1887 – John Dunlop invents the first practical pneumatic tyre, first used on bicycles and later on motor cars

1892 – Rudolf Diesel (German) patents his first diesel engine for the motor car

1961 – Yuri  Gagarin (Russian) becomes the first man to travel to outer space – completing an orbit of the earth on 12 April 1961.

1969 – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become first men to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo moon landing programme

1963 – Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova – Russian cosmonaut becomes the 1st woman in space.

Women

1553 – Queen Mary I –  1st reigning queen of England.

1608 – Juliana Morell  (Spanish nun) First woman to earn a doctorate degree – Doctor of Laws degree

1865 – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836 – 1917) – Britain’s first qualified female doctor. She passed the medical exam and obtained a licence (LSA) from the Society of Apothecaries. She set up her own medical practice. In 1873 was the first women to be admitted to the British Medical Association (BMA)

1875 – Stefania Wolicka, first women to receive honours degree in the modern era – from the University of Zurich in 1875.

1762 – Ann Franklin – 1st woman to hold the title of a newspaper editor, “The Newport Mercury” in Newport, RI.

1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell – 1st woman to receive a medical degree in US. (from the Medical Institution of Geneva, N.Y.)

1869 – Arabella Mansfield (US) 1st American woman lawyer. A year later, Ada H. Kepley, of Illinois, graduates from the Union College of Law in Chicago. She is the first woman lawyer to graduate from a law school.

1893 –  Elizabeth Yates (NZ) elected Mayor of Onehunga,  the first female mayor in the British Empire. In that year, Women given the vote in New Zealand, a first for modern democracies.

1894 – Ida Wells becomes the first African-American women in US to write for a white, mainstream newspaper (Daily Inter-Ocean), where she denounced practise of lynching

1972 – Billy Jean King – named Sports Illustrated ‘sportsperson of the year’ – becoming the first women to be given honour.

1975 – Junko Tabei (Japan)  — 1st woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

1979 – Margaret Thatcher  – 1st Female Prime Minister of UK (1979-90)

1988 – Benazir Bhutto – 1st Female Prime Minister of Pakistan, and first female Prime Minister of Muslim country.

Environmentalism firsts

1306, the English king Edward I passed laws limiting coal burning in London due to smog and pollution.

1780 Jeremy Benthu, wrote An Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation which was first major philosophic argument in defense of argued for animal rights.

1970, 22nd April – The first World Earth Day – raising awareness of environmental issues.

2015 – Nov. Around the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, an independent group of students advocated an international school strike.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Famous Firsts”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net Published 3 Feb. 2015. Last updated 23 September 2019.

 

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Famous religious figures and leaders

A selection of famous spiritual/religious figures and leaders. Many of these religious personalities have founded a new religion or new religious movement. In other cases, they helped to revitalise a particular religion or spiritual movement.

 

Sri Ramachandra (c. 7th century BC) A principal figure of the Ramayana – an important spiritual classic of Hinduism. Rama is considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu and the supreme teacher of dharma – the devotion to duty, self-control and virtue.

krishna Sri Krishna (3/4th Century BC) – Within Hinduism, Krishna is recognised as an Avatar of Vishnu. Krishna’s teachings to Arjuna form the basis of the Bhagavad Gita, which is considered one of the most sacred texts of Hinduism. Devotion to Krishna is a major aspect of Hinduism in the Vaishnava tradition.

moses Moses (1391 BC – 1271 BC) Moses was a key prophet of the Old Testament. He received the Torah (law) on Mount Sinai, which includes the Ten Commandments. Moses is a prophet within Judaism, but also Christianity and Islam.

lao-tzu Laozi (Lao Tsu) (c 571 BC) Laozi was a Chinese poet and philosopher. He was the author of the Tao Te Ching and the founder of philosophical Taoism. Also important figure in traditional Chinese religions.

Pythagoras (c. 570 BC – c 495 BC) Greek philosopher, spiritual leader and mathematician. Pythagoras was credited by Plato with many key ideas in maths, science, ethics and philosophy. Pythagoras was a religious leader of a secret mystical school.

writer Confucius (551–479 BC) Chinese philosopher and author of The Analects. Confucius shaped Chinese culture, writing about family, loyalty, virtue and respect for elders. His philosophy created Confucianism.

Zarthushtra Zoroaster / Zarathustra (c 550-523 BC) A prophet and spiritual teacher who founded the religion of Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster was a religious reformer teaching a monotheistic religion based on choosing between light and darkness/truth and falsehood.

mahaviraMahavira (540 BCE–468 BCE) Mahavira was an important propagator and reformer of Jainism. He helped to spread the Jain religion of non-violence across India.

buddha Buddha (c 560BC – c 460BC) Siddharta the Buddha attained nirvana after years of meditation and spent many years teaching his philosophy of enlightenment. His teachings led to the creation of Buddhism.

Jesus Christ (around 0 AD – 32 AD) Jesus Christ was a spiritual teacher who taught a gospel of love and forgiveness. His message was spread by his disciples and it led to the birth of Christianity.

St Paul (c.5 – c. 67) – Missionary and influential early Christian. The letters of St Paul form a significant part of the New Testament. St Paul is responsible for the growth and development of Christianity as a modern religion.

mani Mani (216–274 AD) founder of Manichaeism, a gnostic religion of Late Antiquity. Mani taught a form of Gnostic Christianity fused with elements of Buddhism and Hinduism. Manichaeism, like Zoroastrianism, stressed the battle between good and evil and the necessity for individuals to strive for purification and greater devotion.

Bodhidharma Bodhidharma (5th or 6th century AD) Buddhist spiritual teacher who travelled from India to China and founded the branch of Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, which focuses on meditation as a path to enlightenment.

muhammad Muhammad (c. 570 – 8 June 632) Prophet and messenger of God. The revelations he shared became the foundation of the Qu’ran and the Muslim religion. His main spiritual teachings were centred on the complete “surrender” (lit. Islam) to the One God.

Sankaracharya Adi Shankara (9th Century AD) Shankaracharya was a noted spiritual teacher and philosopher. He spread a philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, which stresses the underlying unity of creation. He also founded the Dashanami monastic order

St Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) St Francis devoted his life to poverty, chastity and living the truth of the Gospels. He successfully persuaded the Pope to allow the creation of a new religious order. (The Franciscans) – devoted to the spirit of the gospels.

wycliffe John Wycliffe (1330 -1384) Translated some of the first versions of Bible into English. Wycliffe was an early critic of the Papacy and clerical power. His followers became known as Lollards and were precursors to the Protestant Reformation.

historicalGuru Nanak (1469-1539) Spiritual Guru and founder of Sikhism. Nanak was born in a Hindu family but taught God was beyond religious distinction and sought to teach that God was in all.

Sri Chaitanya (1486–1534) a devotee of Lord Krishna, Sri Chaitanya’s followers saw him as an incarnation of Vishnu. Sri Chaitanya taught the path of bhakti – devotional love for Sri Krishna. Chaitanya played a significant role in the revitalisation of Vaishnavism in India and Bengal in particular.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) – Sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church which he felt had been corrupted and lost its original focus. Luther was a principal figure in the Protestant Reformation and growth of the Protestant tradition.

St_Ignatius_of_Loyola Ignatius of Loyola (1491– 1556) Basque Spanish Priest and theologian. Ignatius founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) during the Counter-Reformation – emphasising absolute loyalty to the Pope and Catholic Church.

Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515 – 1582) – Spanish mystic, writer and reformer. St Terese of Avila was an influential and pivotal figure of her generation. She reformed and helped to expand the Carmelite order.

george-fox George Fox (1624 – 1691 ) Founder of the Quaker movement – known as the Religious Society of Friends. Fox was a radical religious reformer who spoke against rituals and outer prestige, developing a religion which encouraged equality, the importance of silence and using meditation as well as scripture.

Emanuel_Swedenborg Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772) Christian mystic who wrote a volume on the afterlife, Heaven and Hell (1758). He advocated a version of Christianity where works count as much as faith.

Baal_Shem_Tov Baal Shem Tov (1698–1760) Polish Jewish mystic. Founder of Hasidic Judaism. Baal Shem taught the importance of immanent spiritual experience and rejected some of the more legalistic aspects of Judaism.

John Wesley (1703-1791) – Anglican preacher and evangelist. Wesley is credited with founding the Anglican tradition of Methodism. Methodism stresses the role of social service to cultivate love of one’s fellow man.

jonathan-edwards Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758) American Christian revivalist preacher. Edwards was a leading figure in the Reformed movement of Christian evangelism which swept America in the Eighteenth Century. He gave a classic sermon – “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” (1741)

Raja_Ram_Mohan_Roy Raja Rammohun Roy (1772 – 1833) Influential political and cultural activist who helped found the Brahmo Samaj. – A social/religious organisation dedicated to the revival of rational/modern Hinduism.

Brigham_Young Brigham Young (1801 – 1877) was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement. He led his early Mormon followers to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Joseph_Smith Joseph Smith (1805 – 1844) Founder of Mormonism / Latter Day Saint movement. Smith published the Book of Mormon which is an important text to the Latter Day Saint Movement.

Bahá’u’lláh (1817 – 1892) Bahá’u’lláh was the founder of the Bahai Faith. Bahaism is a monotheistic faith which has roots with Shia Islam. Bahaullah is seen as the last in a line of prophets stretching from Moses, to Jesus, Muhammad and also Krishna and Buddha.

Mary_Baker_Eddy Mary Baker Eddy (1821 – 1910) Founder of Christian science – a new religious movement which believes physical illness is a mental illusion that can only be corrected through prayer.

William Booth (1829 – 1912) Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army. This was a Christian humanitarian charity which sought to help and evangelise the underprivileged sections of society.

helena-blavetsky Helena Blavatsky (1831 – 1891) Co-founder of the Theosophical movement. Blavatsky was a medium and mystic who helped develop the esoteric and philosophical society.

Sri Ramakrishna (1836 – 1886) An influential Bengali mystic and spiritual Guru. Ramakrishna followed the practices of all religions and came to the conclusion that all religions and sects could lead a man to God. The Ramakrishna Math was founded by his disciple Vivekananda.

Swami Vivekananda (1863 – 1902 ) A disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda helped bring yoga to the West and spoke about the underlying unity of world religions at the Parliament of World Religions (1893). Vivekananda also founded the Ramakrishna Movement or Vedanta Movement.

Sri Aurobindo (1872 – 1950 ) A spiritual Teacher, philosopher and poet. He taught an integral yoga – a yoga of world acceptance and divine surrender. His spiritual philosophy was expressed in works such as The Life Divine and Savitri.

Ramana-Maharshi-100 Ramana Maharshi (1880 – 1950) Spiritual teacher who experienced self-realisation at the age of 16 and spent the remainder of his life at the Holy Mountain of Arunachala in south India. He taught a path of self-inquiry. “Who Am I?”

Pope_John_XXIII Pope Saint John XXIII (1881 – 1963) Pope of the Roman Catholic Church (1958-63). He instigated the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–65) which introduced many new reforms for the Catholic church.

A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada: (1896-1977) Founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the “Hare Krishna Movement”. His mission was to spread a form of Vaishnavism in the West.

Mother Teresa (1910-1997) – Albanian Catholic nun. Mother Teresa devoted her life to the care and service of the poor, especially in India where she founded her Missionaries of Charity organisation.

L._Ron_Hubbard L Ron Hubbard (1911–1986) American science fiction writer and creator of Scientology religion.

Abbe Pierre (1912-2007) – French Catholic priest who found the Emmaüs movement, which has the goal of helping the poor, homeless and refugees.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918- 2008) Indian spiritual Teacher, who founded the popular Transcendental meditation movement.

Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005) Polish Pope of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II was an influential pope who helped define the role of the Catholic church in modern society.

Thich Nhat Hanh (1926 – ) Vietnamese monk who inspired the movement of engaged Buddhism. Hanh has been a prominent peace activist and has written extensively on incorporating Buddhist teachings into everyday life.

Dalai Lama (14th) (1950 – ) The leader of Tibetans both politically and spiritually. The Dalai Lama taught the importance of loving kindness and a practical Buddhism for both Easterners and Westerners.

sadhguru-100Sadhguru (1954 – ) Indian yogi and guru. Founder of Isha Yoga centre. Teaches course of ‘Inner Engineering” Frequently travels around the world answering questions on yoga, politics and spirituality.

Pope Francis (1936 – ) The first Jesuit Pope and the first Pope from the Americas. Pope Francis has been credited with revitalising the Catholic Church by concentrating on the basic message of the Gospels, ‘selflessness, humility, charity and faith.’

amma Amma Mata Amritanandamayi (1953 – ) Indian / Hindu saint who has embraced millions of pilgrims from around the world.

 

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Famous spiritual/religious leaders”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net Last updated 24 March 2020. Originally published 20th March 2015.

World Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained

Book CoverWorld Religions: The Great Faiths Explored & Explained at Amazon – A refreshing approach to understanding different faiths and insights into the world’s most important religions—offering a deeper appreciation of the beliefs central to each.

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Facts about Mother Teresa

MotherTeresa_ “Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love….The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.”
Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light (2007)

  •  Mother Teresa (1910–1997) was a Roman Catholic nun who devoted her life to serving the poor and destitute around the world.
  • She was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu on 26 August 1910.
  • In Albanian Gonxhe means “rosebud” or “little flower”.
  • She considered 27 August to be her real birthday as it was the day she was baptized.
Memorial_house_of_Mother_Teresa

Memorial house of Mother Teresa in Macedonia.

  • She was born in the town Uskup (now Skopje). Her family were Kosovan-Albanians. In 1910 Skopje was part of the Ottoman Empire. It is now in the Republic of Macedonia.
  • Her mother was known for her charity to the poor, often inviting the poor to share food with the family. As she counselled her daughter. “My child, never eat a single mouthful unless you are sharing it with others,’
  • 330px-Mother_Teresa_1 In 1928, At the age of 18 Teresa, left home with the aim of becoming a Catholic missionary. She went first to the Loretto sisters in Ireland. She never saw her family again.
  • In 1929, she travelled to India, where she learnt Bengali. She arrived with the equivalent of 5 Rupees.
  • Mother Teresa learned and spoke five languages fluently. She spoke English, Albanian, Serbo-Croat, Bengali, and Hindi
  • In 1931 she made the decision to be a nun. She chose the name Teresa to honour St Therese of Lisieux and St Teresa of Avila.
  • She taught History and Geography at St Mary’s High School in Kolkata for 15 years and became its headmistress. Many of first to join her in her missionary work were former students.
  • Distressed by the sight of poverty and suffering, in 1946, she felt an inner call to serve the poor.

“I heard the call to give up all and follow Christ into the slums to serve Him among the poorest of the poor.” – Mother Teresa.

  • Mother Teresa gave up her traditional nun habit and adopted an Indian Sari – white with a blue edge.
  • The symbolism of her sari was that it was practical and in harmony with Indian culture. The colour blue is associated with the Mother Mary. White is associated with truth and purity. The three blue bands represent the three main vows of the order.
  • In Calcutta, Mother Teresa began an open-air school and established a home for the destitute. She persuaded the local city government to donate a dilapidated building she could use.
  • Over the next two decades, she established a leper colony, an orphanage, a nursing home, a family clinic and a string of mobile health clinics
  • In 1971, she opened her first house of charity in the west – in New York, US.
  • Mother Teresa often commented that the spiritual poverty of the west was harder to remove than the material poverty of the east.

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” – Mother Teresa (1989)

  • She eventually suffered a heart attack and had a pacemaker surgically fitted to her chest. Even after this devastating blow to her health, she continued her work for another eight years.
  • In 1958, the trademark white and blue saris were specially made in Titagarh by the Gandhiji Prem Niwas for leprosy patients.
  • In 1950 Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity. A religious order within the Roman Catholic church. It has over 4,000 nuns who take vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service to the poor.  Its mission statement was to serve.

“The hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

  • The life and work of Mother Teresa were brought to the wider attention of the world through a film (1969) and a book (1972), Something Beautiful for God, by Malcolm Muggeridge.
  • Teresa did not seek to convert those she encountered to Catholicism. She wished to bring people closer to God, however they understood God.

“‘Yes, I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu, or a better Muslim, or a better Protestant, or a better Catholic, or a better Parsee, or a better Sikh, or a better Buddhist. And after you have found God, it is for you to do what God wants you to do.”

  • Teresa saw herself as a spokesperson for the Vatican; she upheld the conservative teachings of the Catholic church on contraception, abortion and opposition to the death penalty.
  • Despite her apparent faith in dedicating her life to the poor, she also experienced periods of spiritual dryness.

“Where is my Faith—even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness—My God—how painful is this unknown pain.” Mother Teresa ‘Come be my Light

Prizes and honours

  • In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • She turned down the Nobel honour banquet and requested the $192,000  prize money to be used to help the poor in India.
  • After receiving the prize, she was asked: “What can we do to promote world peace?” Mother Teresa answered, “Go home and love your family.”
  • In 1985, President Ronald Reagan awarded her the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • In 1972 she was awarded the Indian ‘Nehru Prize’ –“for the promotion of international peace and understanding”.

Mother Teresa holding Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run. October 1st 1994. Church of San Gregorio in Rome, Italy

  • Mother Teresa, died of heart failure on September 5, 1997 age 87 – just five days after Princess Diana. Whom she had recently met.
  • In 2016, Mother Teresa was declared a saint by Pope Francis.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Facts about Mother Teresa”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, 18th Jan 2019.

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Major periods in world history

This is a list of the major periods in world history. It includes broad global eras, such as the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. It also includes modern eras, which have lasted only a few decades, such as the Gilded Age, Progressive Age and the Information Age.

 

stone-age Stone Age (50,000–3000 BCE) The Stone Age refers to the broad range of ‘pre-history’ which lasted from approx 30,000 BC to 6,000BC, where the first metals started to be used. In the stone age, the use of metals was scarce, and the most common building materials and weapons were wood and stone. Much of this history is undocumented, though some archaeological evidence persists.

bronze-age Bronze Age (3000–1300 BCE) The Bronze age refers to the broad period of history when cultures in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world made the first uses of bronze, from mining copper and tin. Bronze enabled more powerful tools and weapons. It was an age where the first writing systems became devised and used.

iron-age Iron Age (1200–230 BCE) The iron age was a period of economic development, where iron and steel enabled a greater use of metal tools which were stronger than previous Bronze Age items. The era led to developments in agricultural production, and we see the first evidence of written manuscripts, which includes great religious texts such as the Indian Vedas, (Sanskrit), and the Hebrew Bible.

egypt-pyramids-sphinx Ancient Egypt (3000–300 BCE) Ancient Egypt was a civilisation which inhabited the banks of the Nile. Egypt was successful in using technology to increase agricultural production, giving spare labour for other pursuits, such as cultural, religious and military. Egypt was ruled by powerful Pharaohs, though there began a slow decline after being invaded by foreign powers. By 30 BC, Egypt fell under the rule of the Roman Empire.

mahabharata-monument Ancient India (7000 BCE or earlier to c. 500CE) Ancient India refers to a long period of history which includes the Vedic ages and the development of Indus and Aryan; it. Ancient India includes the period from the earliest Vedic sages and Vedas, and the great Indian epics of the  Ramayana and Mahabharata are said to have occurred. See: Famous Indians

Akropolis by Leo_von_Klenze Ancient Greece (8th Century BCE–0 CE) Ancient Greece is considered the birthplace of modern democracy and representative government. Ancient Greece also produced some of the earliest Western philosophy, with great thinkers such as Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Ancient Greece also was an important source of early Western literature, with epic poets such as Homer. Other contributions of Ancient Greece include modern sports (Olympics) and scientific innovations. See: Famous Greeks

Roman_forum Ancient Rome (8th Century BCE–476 CE) The Roman Empire was centred on the city of Rome and the Italian peninsula. Rome went through different phases, from classical Republic government to autocratic Emperors. At its peak, the power of Rome extended throughout the majority of Europe, laying many foundations of Western civilisations. Towards the end of the Roman Empire, it adopted Christianity as its official religion; this helped the religion to spread across Europe. See: Famous Italians

Bayeux_Tapestry-250 Middle Ages (Europe, 4CE–1500CE) Also known as the post-classical era. The Middle Ages stretches from the end of the Roman Empire and classical period and the Renaissance of the 15th Century. It includes the rise of Islam in the Middle East. The Middle Ages is often considered a period of relative cultural ‘darkness’, with severe wars (e.g. 100-year war, crusades), plagues, religious persecution and a relative lack of learning.

sunset-mosque-250 Islamic Golden Age (Middle East, 750CE–1300CE) This refers to a period in the Islamic World which saw a flourishing of science, mathematics, and preservation of classical writings, such as Aristotle. The Islamic Golden Age saw the creation of centres of learning, science, and culture, beginning with the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.

map-explorers-world Age of Discovery (or Exploration) (Europe, 1400CE–1700CE) The Age of Discovery refers to a period in the late Middle Ages/Renaissance where foreign travel and discovery was an influential part of European societies. In the Age of Discovery, European powers discovered and settled in different continents, changing the fate of the Americas, Africa and Asia. It led to a global spread of Christianity and ideas of Western civilisation; it also marked the growth of the global slave trade. See: Famous explorers

protestant-reformation The Protestant Reformation (Europe, 16th century) The Protestant Reformation was a Christian movement, which criticised the excesses of the Catholic Church and promoted a new branch of Protestant Christianity which emphasised the pre-eminence of the Bible over the priesthood and the church. The Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther pinning 95 theses to the church door of Wittenburg, Saxony. The ideas of the Reformation were spread with the help of the newly developed printing press.

renaissance The Renaissance (1350s–1650s) The Renaissance was a period in the late Middle Ages which saw a rebirth of culture, arts, science and learning. The Renaissance included artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo and scientists such as Galileo and Copernicus. See:  People of the Renaissance | Facts about the Renaissance

age-enlightenment- The Enlightenment (1650s–1780s) The Enlightenment is a period which saw the growth of intellectual reason, individualism and a challenge to existing religious and political structures. Enlightenment ideas influenced the American and French revolutions and also limited the power of religious authority. See:  Famous People of The Enlightenment

Academie_des_Sciences_1698The Scientific Revolution (1640 – 18th Century). The scientific revolution was an element of The Enlightenment period. The Scientific Revolution focused on the development of modern science based on the scientific method of deductive reasonsing.

liberty-france Age of Revolution (1750–1917) The Age of Revolution is a period in which the Western world underwent several major revolutions, changing society from autocratic monarchies to more democratic republics. Major revolutions of this era, include the American and French revolution, European-political revolts of 1848, nationalist revolutions of Italy, Greece and Latin America. It also includes the Haitian revolution against slavery. See: Famous Revolutionaries

romantic-era The Romantic Era (1790s–1850s) Romantic poets (Blake, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Shelley) and Romantic artists, composers and writers. The Romantic era was partly a reaction against faith in reason alone. It was also a reaction to the industrial revolution, emphasising a faith in nature and man’s spiritual needs.

Powerloom_weaving

Powerloom weaving

Industrial Revolution (1750s–1900) The industrial revolution is a phase of social development which saw the growth of mass industrial production and the shift from a largely agrarian economy to an industrial economy based on coal, steel, railways and specialisation of labour.

british-empire Age of Imperialism (c. 1700–1950s) The Age of Imperialism refers to the process of (mostly) European powers conquering and annexing other countries. Imperial powers ruled dominion countries directly. The most widely spread Empire was the British Empire, which at its peak covered 25% of the globe, in countries, such as India, the West Indies and parts of Australasia.

Troops-first-world-war The First World War (1914–1918) The First World War was a devastating global war, mostly centred on Europe and the battlefields of France and Belgium. It featured troops from across the world and later involved the US. See: People of The First World War

Interwar+Period- Inter-war era (1918–1939) A period of peace in between the two world wars. It was characterised by economic boom and bust, and the growth of polarising ideologies, in particular, Fascism and Communism.

1920s-Jazzing_orchestra_1921 Roaring Twenties (1919–1929) The roaring twenties refers to the period of rapid economic expansion and rise in US living standards. It also saw an emergence of new music and a decline in strict morality. The ‘Roaring Twenties’ was associated particularly with the East coast of the US and major European cities, such as Paris and London.

unemployed-great-depression Great Depression (1929–39) The 1930s were a period of global economic downturn. Major economies experienced mass unemployment and stark poverty. It also led to the rise of political extremism, e.g. Nazi Party in Germany.

Cold-war-flag The Cold War (1948–1990) The Cold War refers to the period of ideological conflict between the Communist East, and Western democracies. The cold war saw a period of rising tension, especially over the proliferation of nuclear weapons. There was no direct war between the US and the Soviet Union, but both sides gave support to ideologically similar regimes in minor conflicts around the world. See: People of The Cold War

First_Web_Server-250 Information Age (1971–present)
The Information age refers to the new modern technologies which have shaped the modern world. These technologies include computers, the Internet and mobile phones. Key figures include business entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Periods of American history

american-revolution American Revolution (1765–1783) The American Revolution was the period of political upheaval in which the American colonies declared their independence from British rule.

american-civil-war American Civil War (1861–1865) The American civil war was the intense fighting between the Federal army, led by President Abraham Lincoln and the Confederate armies of the South, who wished to break away from the union to defend slavery.

reconstruction-era Reconstruction Era (1865–1877) The period of rebuilding in the south after the civil war.

railway The Gilded Age (1870–1900)  The Gilded Age refers to the last part of the US industrial revolution. The Gilded Age included rapid economic growth, but also refers to the immorality behind the accumulation of great wealth by a few leading industrialists, such as J.D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie, who came to define the Gilded Age.

Votes-for-Women Progressive Era (1890–1920) The progressive era was a period of political activism which included causes such as votes for women, labour and trade unions movements and civil rights. It also included movements to regulate aspects of Capitalism and big business.

Civil_Rights Civil rights movement (1950–1960) The civil rights movement is principally aimed at supporting rights of African Americans and ending segregation. The wider civil rights movement has spread over the whole of American history, but the 1950s and 60s saw some of the most intense activism. Further reading: Civil rights activists


 

Periods of British history

william-Shakespeare Elizabethan period (England, 1558–1603) A period in English history marked by the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. It saw Britain emerge as a major world power. It also saw the English Renaissance, with figures, such as Shakespeare and William Byrd.

Queen_Victoria Victorian age (1837–1901) The Victorian Age co-coincided with the latter part of the Industrial Revolution. In Britain, it also saw the growing strength and extent of the British Empire. The Victorian Age is associated with a stricter type of morality.

Edward_vii Edwardian Age  (1901–1914) A period of growth in science, technology and also rising tensions between the major European powers. Also saw the ‘heroic age’ of exploration.

 

Historical centuries

rene-descartes People of the Seventeenth Century (1601–1700) Famous people of the 17th century, which included the emerging European Enlightenment. Including; Shakespeare, Charles I, Louis XIV, Rene Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Locke and Galileo.

Peter-the-great People of the Eighteenth Century (1701–1800) Famous leaders, statesmen, scientists, philosophers and authors. Including; Louis XIV, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

giuseppe-garibaldi The Nineteenth Century (1801–1900) The Nineteenth Century saw the economic boom of the industrial revolution and worldwide movements for political change, which included the suffrage movement for women, growing nationalist movements and also the emergence of workers movements in response to the inequality of the industrial revolution.

Winston_S_Churchill People of the Twentieth Century (1901–2000) Famous people of the turbulent century. Including Lenin, Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt and Thatcher.

Barack_Obama People of the Twenty-First Century (2001–) Politicians, musicians, authors, scientists and sports figures.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Different Periods of World History” Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, 29/02/2016. Updated 22nd Une 2019.

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Facts about the American Revolution

  • The American Revolution was a struggle between 13 American colonies and Great Britain.
  • The American colonies wished to attain independence and create a new sovereign nation – the United States.
  • The American Revolutionary War lasted for eight years – between April 1775 to September 1783.
  • The American colonists supporting independence were named Patriots.
  • The American army was known as the Continental Army after the Continental Congress of 13 states.
  • The 13 colonies were Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island.
  • Colonists remaining loyal to the British crown were known as ‘loyalists’.
  • British soldiers were known as ‘redcoats’ or ‘devils.’
  • During the war, the majority of people living in the American colonies were ‘fence sitters’ not taking either side.
  • The American Commander in Chief was George Washington.
  • The British military commander at the start of Revolution was Sir William Howe, though he was later replaced due to failures in the British war effort.
  • King George III led British resistance to American independence. The British Prime Minister was Lord North (a Tory)
  • Not all British MPs supported military action against the American Patriots. The ‘Whig’ faction, e.g. Edmund Burke criticised military action to resolve the issue.
  • During the war, African-American slaves served on both sides of the war. The British offered freedom to slaves who escaped their masters and served with loyalist forces. After 1776, George Washington raised a small number of black only units.
  • During the chaos of war, many slaves were able to escape.  In South Carolina, 30% of slaves escaped, migrated or died during the conflict.
  • Approx 25,000 American Patriots died during military service – the biggest cause of death was disease – often in unsanitary prisoner of warships.
  • Compared to the ratio of the population, The War of Independence was the second-deadliest American conflict after the Civil War.
  • In 1776, the population of the 13 American colonies was estimated at 2.4 million. 85% of the white population was of British descent, with 9% of German origin and 4% Dutch.
  • Approx 42,000 British sailors deserted in the war. American colonies also had difficulties raising troops due to the economic need to stay on a farm. 90% of the American population worked on farms.
  • The British army was weakened by needing to also fight in the Caribbean.

Read On…

Facts about the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution was a period between the late 18th Century and early 20th Century, which saw rapid growth in mechanisation, industrial production and change in society.

Two stages of Industrial Revolution

  • The first stage of the Industrial Revolution (1770-1870) – Centred on steam, water, iron and shift from agriculture.
  • The second stage of Industrial Revolution (1870-1914) – New technologies of electricity, development of petrol engine, oil, and greater use of cheap steel.

Key features of the Industrial Revolution

  • Population shift – moving from rural agriculture to work in factories in cities.
  • Mass production of goods, increased efficiency, reduced average costs and enabled more to be produced.
  • The rise of steam power, e.g. steam trains, railways and steam-powered machines.
  • Industrial and scientific discoveries enabled a revolution in our understanding of the material world.
  • Rapid industrialisation had a cost in terms of pollution and poor working conditions for labour.

Reasons for the Industrial Revolution

railway

Birmingham New Street station

  • New technologies dramatically improved speed of transporting people and goods. The first Intercity railway was built in 1830 between Liverpool and Manchester. The railways enabled more freight to be transported cheaply and quickly.
  • In 1700, it took four days to travel from London to Manchester, by 1870, it took four hours.
  • Application of steam engines. The development of the steam engine was critical for the Industrial Revolution. It enables steam trains, but also steam-powered pumps and machines, which increased the productivity of labour.
  • Agricultural revolution enabled higher food output from fewer farm workers, leading to surplus workers who could go and work in factories. This revolution in agriculture was due to new techniques like crop rotation, selective breeding, economies of scale from bigger farms and better transport.
  • Growth in global trade. Helped by Britain’s effective shipping capacity and Empire, which was a source of raw materials.

Read On…

Facts about the Renaissance

The Renaissance was a period in history between the 14th and 17th Centuries, associated with a wave of new artistic, scientific and cultural achievements.

  • The French word renaissance literally means ‘rebirth’, and was first seen in English in the 1830s.
  •  The first quote of Renaissance in English:
    “A style possessing many points of rude resemblance with the more elegant and refined character of the art of the Renaissance in Italy.” – W Dyce and C H Wilson’s Letter to Lord Meadowbank (1837)
  • The Renaissance is seen as a period of rebirth from the Dark Ages of Europe to the more enlightened and progressive ages of Europe.
  • The century before the Renaissance was particularly dark with the Hundred Years war (1337–1453) devastating much of Europe, the failed Crusades and also the Black Death (1346–1353) killing about 25 million people, 33% of the population at the time.
  • However, some academic scholars feel the term ‘Renaissance’ is too vague and the ‘Renaissance years’ were not particularly enlightened. Some scholars feel that the Renaissance was more accurately part of a ‘Longue Duree’ of European history.
  • The Renaissance period still saw real problems, such as religious wars, political corruption, inequality, witch-hunts and corrupt Borgia Popes. Most people who lived through the Renaissance did not view it as a ‘Golden Era’!
  • The Renaissance was a period of groundbreaking explorations, with the discovery of new lands outside Europe by famous explorers, such as Christopher Columbus and Vespucci.
  • The Renaissance was also a period of scientific discovery. Galileo Galilei and René Descartes (1596–1650) promoted a new view of astrology and mathematics, which challenged old Aristotelian ideas.
  • N.Copernicus began the process of changing the whole view of the world. He argued the Sun was the centre of the galaxy rather than the Earth. This heliocentric view of the world was controversial because it challenged the existing teaching of the church. But, during the Renaissance, this heliocentric view gradually came to be accepted.
  • The Renaissance was most strongly associated with Italy and Florence in particular. But most other European countries had their own Renaissance.
  • For example, The Netherlands developed its own Renaissance revival of painting, including Jan van Eyck. The artistic style of the Netherlands later had an influence on Italy.
  • The English Renaissance began later, in the late 15th Century, and was focused more on literature and music – less on art.
  • Key figures of the English Renaissance included William Shakespeare, John Milton, William Byrd (music) and William Tyndale (translating Bible into English)

Art of the Renaissance

Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour

Leonardo’s famous portrait of the perfect man was based on Vitruvius’ De Architectura (1st century BCE) – mostly a treatise on architecture, but also the human body.

Creation_de_Adam

The ceiling of Sistine Chapel was commissioned by Pope Julius II, and painted by Michelangelo.

“Without having seen the Sistine Chapel one can form no appreciable idea of what one man is capable of achieving.”

— Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 23 August 1787

Michelangelos_David

‘David’ by Michelangelo is one of the great masterpieces of the Renaissance. It symbolises the defence of the civil liberties of Florence, with the eyes of David turned towards Rome.

monalisa

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is perhaps the world’s most famous painting. Da Vinci worked on the painting continuously for over 20 years – striving to attain perfection.

  • Sfumare‘ was a new painting technique of the Renaissance; it means to evaporate or to fade out. It was developed by da Vinci and enabled greater depth and realism to be given to a painting.
  • The term chiaroscuro refers to the fine art painting modelling effect of using a strong contrast between light and dark.

Reasons for the Renaissance

Sandro_Botticelli-medici-family

Sandro Botticelli portrays the family of Piero de’ Medici in Madonna del Magnificat.

  1. The Black Death decimated the population of Europe in the 14th Century but left survivors with relatively more wealth and ability to climb social/political structures. It led to a decline of feudalism.
  2. New political structures – with new men in positions of power, patronage of the arts was a way to secure greater status and prestige.
  3. This new political order led to the patronage of the powerful and wealthy Medici family in Florence, who could afford to give commissions to artists.
  4. Migration of Greek scholars and texts from Constantinople to Europe after the conquest by the Ottoman Turks (1453).
  5. Creation of the printing press by J.Gutenberg c.1440 allowed greater printing of books and the spread of knowledge to a wider range of the population. This was particularly important for printing of Bibles, including for the first time Bibles in English and not Latin.
  6. New secular/humanist ideas. Thinkers like Plutarch (1304–1374) and Erasmus (1466–1536) helped make classical texts and humanistic ideas more relevant and popular to a Christian society.
  7. Artistic genius of people such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael.
  8. Greater openness of the Church. In response to a decline in the temporal power of the Catholic Church, the Vatican sponsored more arts and reforms as part of the Counter-Reformation in response to the criticism of Luther. Pope Nicholas V and Leo X  sponsored many Renaissance art projects as a way to bolster the church.
  9. Greater trade between Italy and the rest of Europe. Also, ironically, the wars between Italy and France helped spread Renaissance ideas.
  10. The Crusades led to the exposure of many European scholars to Eastern ideas; it also facilitated the growth of trade and commerce.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan “Facts of the Renaissance”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, 12th February 2016. Updated 26 June 2017.

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