Slavery first began in the West when Portuguese slave-trading ships, loaded with captured African men, women and children, landed in the harbors of the Americas. Although this trade was begun by Portugal, England, Holland and France joined in the 17th century.
The slaves were taken on ships from West Africa to Brazil, the Caribbean Islands and British North America. Continue reading
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821) was a French official and a commander of the French army after the French Revolution. He was appointed first consul by the French government. Soon after, a new constitution was passed, which gave Napoleon absolute power over France. In 1802, he was appointed consul for life. Two years later, he created the Code Napoléon, wherein were listed new laws, traditions and customs.
One major step taken by Napoleon after the disastrous French Revolution was to reunite the Catholic Church and France. In 1801 Pope Pius VII and Napoleon came to an agreement, closing the gap between them. Some of the terms were:
- Catholicism would be acknowledged as the official religion of France
- Bishops would be chosen by Napoleon and approved by the Pope
- Priests would be selected by the bishops from government pre-approved lists
However, there were concessions made by the Pope. Two of these were that the priests would remain government employed (government would pay their salaries), and that the church lands that had been confiscated during the Revolution would not be returned to the pope.
In 1802, Napoleon Continue reading
The Glorious Revolution of England took place during the year 1688, under the rule of King James II (r. 1685-1688). King James was the successor of Charles II, who had re-established the English monarchy in 1660 after the dictatorship of the Puritan army general Oliver Cromwell.
King James II (James, Duke of York) had converted to Catholicism in 1667. When this Catholic king came into power, the Protestant majority of England became worried. They did not want the Catholic Church to overtake England. So, when in 1688 the king had a son, Continue reading
The useless, boring, nerve wrecking, futile Hundred Years War (1337 – 1453) was between the rival kingdoms of England and France. The cause of this ridiculous war was a feud over the land of Aquitane, France. The English ruled Aquitane but because it was located in France, the English had to pay allegiance to the French monarch. They refused to do so.
The English king, Edward III, also laid a claim to the throne of France. He argued that his mother was the daughter of the French king, Philip IV. Therefore he was the grandson of Philip IV. However, the French refuted this by saying that because Edward’s lineage was through a woman, it was illegitimate.
Finally, the French and English kings decided upon war, as the nobles thought it was the best and easiest method of gaining the rival’s kingdom. So the House of Plantagenet (English) and the House of Valois (French) embarked upon a war that would last over a hundred years. Continue reading
The Magna Carta was written under the reign of John I of England (r. 1199 – 1216), whose predecessor had been Richard the Lionheart. The goal of a document such as the Magna Carta was to establish a common law for all, including the king. In 1215, King John signed the Magna Carta, which had been drafted by Archbishop Stephen Langton. The Magna Carta became an important part in the historical process which led to a constitutional law in England and beyond. Parts of this document continue to be used to the present day.
To read the translation of the Magna Carta click here.