June 6, 1944 was arguably the most pivotal day of World War II. Operation Overlord was set to be launched and if successful, was to open a second front in Europe so as to attack Germany from all sides. Stalin’s Soviet Army had been battling the German Army since late 1942 in Stalingrad, Leningrad, and Moscow. Germany was unable to force the Soviets into surrender and Stalin’s troops slowly pushed the Germans back from Russia. The Soviet soldiers defended their motherland honorably; however, they needed a reprieve from the German armor and killing squads sent east to execute and imprison Russian Jews and political prisoners. The Western front Stalin had been insisting upon was finally coming into the realm of reality.
The invasion named Operation Overlord was planned to unfold in three parts; the break-in, the buildup, and the breakout. The first stage was the most dangerous and challenging as the Allied troops were tasked with attacking and holding the beaches of Normandy in the face of an open German assault. The elements of nature seemed to conspire against the Allies and the German defenses, although not optimal, were solid and treacherous. The ultimate detriments to the Allied strategy of the break-in phase; however, were the mistakes made by the Allies themselves.
The history of Mesothelioma is complicated. Medicine struggled to establish its existence and understand what caused it. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that forms on the “tissues that cover the lungs and abdomen.” Mesothelioma is typically tied to the exposure of people to asbestos in either their environment or workplace. If asbestos exposure leads to mesothelioma it is extraordinarily serious, because it is an incurable and typically fatal type of cancer.
Asbestos has been widely used by humans because it was extraordinary fire resistance and could be woven in fabrics. Unforunately, this has put humans into close contact with asbestos for over two millennia. Asbestos is comprised of fibrous silicates that are resistant “to thermal and chemical breakdown, tensile strength, and fibrous habit” that makes it possible to be “woven into textiles.” It is not clear when humans first began using asbestos, but it has been used for at 2000 years.
While it took a long time for mesothelioma to be connected to asbestos exposure, it was well known that people could develop asbestosis. Asbestosis was caused by the scaring of the lungs by asbestos fibers. Asbestosis was caused by long-term exposure and while incurable it can in many cases be treated. Unlike mesothelioma, it was not necessarily fatal. Still in severe cases, patients may need lung transplants. Mesothelioma, on the other hand, is almost always fatal.
The House of Borgia was an Italo-Spanish noble family, who became one of the most prominent and powerful families of the Italian Renaissance. They were very active in the ecclesiastical and the political affairs in Italy in the late 16th century. The family produced two Popes and Cesare Borgia, one of the most infamous figures of the Renaissance. The family was suspected of many crimes and they have become legendary figures. This article will attempt to disentangle fact from fiction and evaluate the contribution of the Borgia Family to the Italian Renaissance and the Papacy. Ultimately, the family played a very important part in the evolution of the Papacy. Their ambitions also destabilized Renaissance Italy and Cesare Borgia efforts to create a principality for himself out of the Papal States wreaked havoc on Italy.
The family originated from Valencia in modern Spain, then in the Kingdom of Aragon. There have been claims that the family was of Jewish origin. The first prominent Borgia was Alfonse de Borja (1372-1458) who was a distinguished law professor who later worked in the Curia, (Papal bureaucracy) and became a cardinal. He eventually became Pope Calixtus II, at an advanced age, but he only reigned as Pope for less than three years. He did not achieve much as Pope apart from appointing his nephew to the Curia. Rodrigo Borgia (1451-1503) was a brilliant and charismatic man who was a gifted canon lawyer and able diplomat. He was made a cardinal and proved an able administrator. Rodrigo was elected Pope in 1492 and became Alexander VI. Like many other clerics, at the time, he had illicit relationships with women and he had four children with the beautiful Giula Farnese.
The Renaissance placed human beings at the center of life and showed that this world was not just a ‘vale of tears.’ Instead, life on Earth could meaningful on its own and it was possible for people to live without reference to the divine. The Renaissance or ‘rebirth’ was influenced by the ideas of the ancient past and it drew from Roman and Greek civilization in order to provide a solution to current problems.
The Renaissance was a Pan-European phenomenon and changed the mental worldview of the elites in Europe and indeed the emerging middle class across the continent. The cultural movement was to have a profound impression on people’s worldview. The Renaissance produced the Humanists who were a movement of educationalists and scholars, they sought truth and knowledge by re-examining classical texts and the bible. The Humanists ideas, the growth in textual analysis, and the Northern Renaissance changed the intellectual landscape and encouraged many Church reformers, such as Martin Luther and they later broke with Rome and divided Europe into two confessional camps, Protestantism and Catholicism.
The Italian Renaissance had placed human beings at the centre of life and had promoted secular values as opposed to religious ones. Influenced by the ideas of the ancient past it conceived of a new way of life and provided a new worldview. The Renaissance was a period of great works of art, literature, and philosophy. The Renaissance or ‘re-birth’ was not just confined to Italy. There was also a Northern Renaissance. This is the term given to the cultural flowering that occurred north of the Alps, in German-speaking countries, the Lowlands, France, and England. The Northern Renaissance was a unique event and although influenced by the Italian Renaissance was distinct from it. The origins of the Northern Renaissance were a result of the spread of printing, the influence of Italy, growing wealth and the decline of the culture associated with feudalism.
The Northern Renaissance was similar to the Italian Renaissance. It also was interested in the ancient past and believed that it was a guide to the present day. The Northern Renaissance was also very much concerned with humanism and its values. This was the idea that humans with the use of their reason could improve their circumstances and their society. It was more concerned with the individual. The movement believed in the possibility of human freedom and in the perfectibility of man. However, the Northern Europe Renaissance was much more religious in its nature than the Italian Renaissance. Many Northern scholars such as Erasmus were very much interested in the reform of the Church and denounced superstitions and clerical abuses and corruption, in the name of the true faith. The great scholar Erasmus, who was born in modern-day Netherlands, was religious and also very interested in the classical world.
However, he, like many other German and other Northern Humanists saw no contradictions between Christianity and ancient cultures and believed that they could be reconciled. The religious character of the Renaissance north of the Alps was due in part to the continuing influence of the Church, unlike in Italy, where the Church was in decline. The Northern Renaissance was an impressive cultural epoch and its achievements were as great as those in Italy. It produced writers of the stature of Rabelais, Montaigne, Erasmus and Thomas More. In the arts, it also was a time that saw the production of many masterpieces by artists such as Durer and Bosch. The Northern Renaissance, humanists, were not just concerned with the study of ancient texts but also the bible. Scholars began to study the bible in a new and critical way. Scholars produced more reliable versions of key biblical texts and produced commentaries on the New and Old Testament. These were very influential and the Northern Humanists ‘New Learning’ inspired many to question the teachings and authority of the Church and this did much to pave the way for the Reformation
As the calendar flipped from June to July in 1863, two events changed the course of the Civil War. The first event occurred in in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Gettysburg, a small market town founded in the soft, rolling hills of south central Pennsylvania on Samuel Gettys farm half a century before, was unknown to most Americans. Four days later, on July 4, it had become “The Most Famous Small Town in America,” as boosters would come to call it.
On the morning of July 1, Robert E. Lee and 76,000 troops of the Army of Northern Virginia arrived in Gettysburg where they were engaged by 92,000 men under the command of Union General George Meade.  Over the next three days fighting would rage across 25 square miles surrounding Gettysburg, finally ending with a desperate Confederate infantry charge across open ground directly into the heart of the Union’s defensive line. The attack ended in disaster and Lee’s only invasion into Northern territory was over. More men fought at Gettysburg and more men died than any battle ever contested on American soil.
With Lee and his army in full retreat on July 4, it was obvious that the armies of the South would never be able to conquer their Northern opposition in the “War of Northern Aggression.” It did not, however, mean that the rebel cause was lost and, in fact, the Army of Northern Virginia would continue to fight for nearly two more years. It was the events taking place the very same day 1,000 miles in Vicksburg to the west that doomed the Confederacy and insured their defeat.
As one travels across the southern United States, it is not unusual to find monuments and memorials to the Confederate dead in many small towns. In fact, these sculptural pieces, often composed of the same statues and plinths from the Monumental Bronze Co. of Bridgeport, Conn., can be found as far north as Pennsylvania and New York. A study in 2016 found some 1,500 monuments still standing. While in recent years these monuments have become a new source of political conversation their very erection was a movement by Confederate women.
In the years following the Civil War, Confederate women’s efforts at preservation and memorialization led them to form memorial groups who worked to keep the memory of their local dead alive, through obtaining land for Confederate cemeteries, maintaining far-flung grave sites, and erecting public monuments. Among the earliest postwar female charitable organizations in the south, these groups were also some of the longest lasting. Often composed of upper-class women, these organizations were female-led though they occasionally included male members, who liaised with the community or completed those tasks considered unseemly for women. These groups, which spread across the south, gave Confederate women outlets for mourning and fueled the creation of the “New Southern Woman”. They paved the way for a variety of other women’s organizations through which elite women created roles for themselves in the community and outside their homes’ domestic spaces.
These women’s groups were part of a larger social movement which melded the Victorian ideal of the woman as the “Angel in the House” with a need to do something to cope with the large scale grief and death. Groups of middle and upper-class women came together, seeking to memorialize the large numbers of dead in their families and communities as well as their lost cause of the Confederacy. These early efforts came in the same vein as the later romanticism of the plantation most famously seen in “Gone With the Wind” – a book and film which serves, for many individuals in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as their main point of reference for what pre-war southern life was like, as well as the southern experience during the war. Like Margaret Mitchell’s later fiction, these public memorials were designed to maintain the social and cultural hierarchy of the old south, in this case by placing visual reminders of white male Confederate veterans and the Confederacy in public places and at high vantage points. These actions epitomize the postwar political climate during which Confederate Veterans and their children dominated the positions of power in local governments and communities, but while those politicians were men in male roles, the monuments represent a trend in women’s work outside the home and their incursion within the traditionally masculine realm of politics.