The 1900 Total Eclipse That Helped Prove Einstein’s Theory of Relativity

It was a matter of the right eclipse, the right place, and the right time. By Charles EmmersonHistorian and Author When Albert Einstein published the first draft of his general relativity theory in 1911, it predicted that light would bend when passing the gravitational pull of a large object. To verify his calculations, he needed[…]

The Real Alexander von Humboldt: A Scientist of the Romantic Age

Humboldt almost invented the electric battery– in fact, he came very close. Alexander von Humboldt was born 250 years ago this fall. As his legacy is celebrated across the globe, I continue to be struck by the grandiose claims that are made about him in the existing literature. The narrative that emerges is of an intrepid explorer, striding out to[…]

Charles VI: ‘Mad King Charles’ in Medieval France

During one attack in 1393, Charles could not remember his name, did not know he was king, and fled in terror from his wife. Introduction Charles VI the Well-Beloved, later known as Charles VI the Mad (French: Charles VI le Bien-Aimé, later known as Charles VI le Fol) (December 3, 1368 – October 21, 1422)[…]

Nero: Unstable ‘Mad Emperor’ of Ancient Rome

He is traditionally viewed as the second of the so-called “Mad Emperors,” the first being Caligula. Introduction Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (December 15, 37 C.E. – June 9, 68 C.E.), born Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, also called Nero Claudius Drusus Germanicus, was the fifth and last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty (54 C.E. –[…]

Ferdowsi and the ‘Epic of Kings’ in Medieval Persia

He was the author of the Shāhnāmeh (Epic of Kings), the national epic of the Persian-speaking world. Introduction Hakīm Abū l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī, more commonly transliterated as Ferdowsi (also Firdowsi), (935–1020) was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shāhnāmeh (Epic of Kings), the national epic of the Persian-speaking world. He[…]

Cyrus the Great and Religious Tolerance in Achaemenid Persia

Cyrus was far different from other kings of his time in the ways he chose to rule. “Whenever you can, act as a liberator. Freedom, dignity, wealth–these three together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.”[1] Vision and Motivation In 550[…]

Roosevelt’s Smashing of Landon in the 1936 Presidential Election

Roosevelt won the greatest electoral landslide since the beginning of the two-party system in the 1850s. Introduction The 1936 United States presidential election was the 38th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 3, 1936. In the midst of the Great Depression, incumbent Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Republican Governor Alf Landon of Kansas.[…]

Consequences of Magna Carta

Considering the Civil War, the re-issue of the charter and the formation of early forms of parliament. Introduction The agreement at Runnymede in 1215 had broad consequences for medieval England. The charter agreed at Runnymede was intended merely as the beginning of a process of reform, not an end in itself. Magna Carta’s first purpose[…]

Tyranny, Democracy, and the Polity: Aristotle’s Politics

Aristotle argued that there were six general ways in which societies could be organized under political rule. The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that questions of the state, how it should be organized, and how it should pursue its ends, were fundamental to the achievement of happiness. His text Politics is an exploration of different types of state[…]

Aristotle’s ‘Constitution of the Athenians’

Ancient accounts of Aristotle credit him with 170 Constitutions of various states. Introduction The Constitution of the Athenians is a work by Aristotle or one of his students. The work describes the constitution of Classical Athens, commonly called the Areopagite constitution. It was preserved on two leaves of a papyrus codex discovered at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt[…]

How a Heritage of Black Preaching Shaped MLK’s Voice in Calling for Justice

A long heritage of black preachers who played an important role for enslaved people shaped Martin Luther King Jr.’s moral and ethical vision. Introduction The name Martin Luther King Jr. is iconic in the United States. President Barack Obama mentioned King in both his Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance and victory speeches in 2008, when[…]

The “Success” of the Yellow Turban Rebellion

They wanted to create a utopian state different from the current Confucian form of government. By Ryann Cervantes The Han dynasty in China lasted from 206 BCE to 220 CE and was ultimately brought down by the conflict that came from the Yellow Turban Rebellion and dynasty’s own inability to keep control of its territory.[…]

The Mandate of Heaven and the Yellow Turban Rebellion in Ancient China

A dynasty was considered just and worthy to rule only as long as it upheld divine will, determined by how well the government cared for the people. Introduction Throughout history, in order for a government to be respected and obeyed, it must possess some form of legitimacy recognized by the governed. Governmental systems have relied[…]

Ancient Roman Censors: Moral Monitors, Population Counters, Tax Collectors

Censors were elected every four or five years by the comitia centuriata, the assembly of Rome with a wealth qualification for members. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction A censor was one of two senior magistrates in the city of ancient Rome who supervised public morals, maintained the list of citizens and their tax obligations known as[…]

Henry W. Grady: Journalism and White Supremacy in Late-19th Century Georgia

Grady wanted to promote northern investment in the South, and he was willing to ignore lynchings and the exploitation of black labor. Introduction The press is an essential guardrail of democracy. As The Washington Post tells its readers, “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” But the press has not always been a champion of democracy. In the[…]

‘The San Francisco Illustrated WASP’: Racism and Satire in the 19th Century

The Wasp meted out ridicule to a myriad of caricatured subjects, from senators and presidents to Chinese immigrants and Mormon polygamists. By Nicholas Sean Hall Introduction The West Coast was going down in flames. Or at least that was how The San Francisco Illustrated Wasp depicted the region to its readership of middle- and working-class[…]

A History of the Controversy over the Christian ‘Great Commission’

It raises a fundamental question about whether religious diversity is a reality to be celebrated or an obstacle to be overcome. Introduction A majority of church-going American Christians are unfamiliar with the term, the “Great Commission,” a recent survey found. Even among those familiar with it, 25 percent recognized the phrase but could not explain[…]

Apocalypse Now: Our Incessant Desire to Picture the End of the World from Medieval Times to Today

Each generation, each epoch, has seen themselves apocalyptically, albeit with great differences as to what the actual end will involve. Introduction As is typical of our time, over the past few months, many newscasters have used the words apocalypse or apocalyptic to evoke the negative implications of events as diverse as the threat of Grexit,[…]

The Medieval ‘Apocalypse Tapestry’ of Louis I, Duke of Anjou

Created between 1377 and 1382, it is the oldest surviving French tapestry. Introduction The Apocalypse Tapestry is a large medieval French set of tapestries commissioned by Louis I, the Duke of Anjou, and produced between 1377 and 1382. It depicts the story of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation by Saint John the Divine[…]

Loie Fuller and the Serpentine

Exploring Fuller’s unlikely stardom and how her beguiling art embodied the era’s newly blurred boundaries between human and machine. This article, Loie Fuller and the Serpentine, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ In 1892, Loie Fuller (née Mary-Louise Fuller, in[…]

Sentiment and Sensibility: Sheridan and ‘The School for Scandal’

Examining 18th-century satirist Richard Brinsley Sheridan and his most famous play, The School for Scandal. Introduction Perhaps Sheridan’s greatest play, The School for Scandal is one of the supreme triumphs of 18th-century theatre and is sometimes described as the greatest comedy of manners in the English language. A crackling satire on ostensibly polite society, it[…]

Of Pears and Kings

Investigating an early 19th-century meme in the press to criticize the corrupt and repressive policies of King Louis-Philippe. This article, Brilliant Visions: Peyote among the Aesthetes, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ Images have long provided a means of protesting[…]

Ancient Athens, Pericles, and the Alcmeonids

The career of Pericles and of the extension of Athenian democracy that took shape under his direction. Introduction In 432 B.C. , just prior to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, the Spartans escalated their diplomatic offensive against the Athenians by reminding them that their leader Pericles was polluted by a curse, and they demanded[…]