Archive for January, 2011
CAVOUR, COUNT CAMILLO (1810-1861) Italian
His crowning achievement in melding different Italian states was equally important as giving it a constitutional structure. Camillo, born into an aristocratic Piedmontese family, was earmarked for a career in the army, even though his interests were more political than military.
When Charles Albert, the king of Piedmont (1831-1849), opened the first war of independence against Austria. Camillo retired to manage the family estate at Grinzane. He also served as mayor there from 1832 to the revolutionary upheaval of 1848.
This year was a turning point in his political career.
On March 23, 1848, in an article in the Risorgimento, Cavour called upon his king to join the national crusade and the king agreed. His country’s defeat at Custozza in July prompted Cavour to court France in order to oust the Austrians from Piedmont. Following year another war and defeat led to the abdication of the king in favor of his son, Vittorio Emanuele. Suspicious of the Pope XI and cashing in on the anti-Papal sentiment in Italy he came into national prominence. He did not support the Neo-Guelph program which dreamed that the pope would play a leading role in the unification movement. He became prime minister at the end of 1852.
During the course of the Crimean War, he ranged Piedmont alongside England and France, and in 1856 presented the Italian case before the Congress of Paris and the tribunal of world opinion. In Paris the Count through the support of Napoleon III, could garner popular support for his anti-Austrian, national campaign in 1859-1860.
The Second War of Italian Independence opened in April 1859. In July Napoleon signed an armistice at Villafranca with Franz-Josef, without consulting his Piedmont allies. Cavour, unwilling to accept the terms that left Venetia in Austrian hands, resigned.
Cavour returned to power in January 1860, and in March signed another secret agreement with Napoleon. On March 17, Cavour had the Piedmontese parliament proclaim Victor Emanuel II, king of Italy. Cavour also persuaded the parliament to proclaim the city of Rome the future capital of the kingdom, hoping to resolve the Roman question on the basis of an agreement with the church. He died shortly thereafter, and did not live to see the Italian occupation of Rome in 1870.
Born in Turin when it was under French control, Cavour was sponsored in baptism by Napoleon’s sister Pauline, and her husband, Prince Camille Borghese, after whom Camillo was named.(Ack:Frank J. Coppa)
Robert Burns called one day at his printers in Kilmarnock. He had his poem ‘the Holy Friar’. Asked if he was not afraid to attack on the clergy, he replied, “As to my purse, you know they can make nothing of it. As for my person (brandishing his oak stick), I carry an excellent cudgel!”
While dining at the Brownhill Inn where the landlord was, oddly enough, named Bacon and the principal dish served that day was bacon, he was interrupted by a visiting Englishman. He asked the poet to prove he really was Burns, the poet.
Instantly the poet came up with,
“At Brownhill we always get dainty cheer;
And plenty of bacon each day in the year;
We’ve all thing that ‘s nice and mostly in season;
But why always Bacon- come give the reason?”
In his poorer days Burns was so hard up, he went out in the streets of Dumfries, shabby and disorderly. Meeting some of his close friends he told them sadly,” I am going to ruin as fast as I can; the best I can do, however is to go consistently.”
Burns, though lowly in circumstances, disliked to be tutored in matters of taste. Once visiting a fine house with many beautiful objects on display, where a party of visitors expressed their admiration over items, a lady asked him, “But Burns, have you nothing to say of this?”
To which glancing at the one who was holding attention of the crowd he replied, “Nothing, madam, nothing, for an ass is already braying over it.”
While visiting a popular beauty spot, Creehope-Linn in Dumfriesshire, he was called upon at every turn, admire the scene.
Finally tiring of the criticism he didn’t show enthusiasm adequately enough he stopped and said, “But I couldn’t admire it more, gentlemen, if He who made it were to ask me to do it.”
While attending a church service in Dumfries, the poet found a girl in front of him furiously searching the Bible for the text. The sermon for the day was ‘a fierce denunciation of obstinate sinners.’ She thumbed through the pages in vain. Hurriedly the poet penned some lines and handed it to her.
“Fair maid, you need not take the hint,
Nor idle texts pursue;
‘Twas guilty sinners that he meant,
Not angels- such as you”.
Once two farmers passing Burns thought to have some fun at his expense. One said, “Boo” at which the poet penned this quatrain:
“There’s Mr. Scott and Mr. Boyd
Of grace and manners they are void;
Just like the bull among the kye (=cows)
They say ‘Boo’ at folk when they gae by.”
A doctor attending Burns in his last illness tried to give up the bottle and he said that the coat of his stomach was entirely gone.
The poet retorted, “Ah well, if that is the case, then I’ll just go on drinking. If the coat is gone, it’s no worth the while to keep carrying about the waistcoat.”
Burns, the ploughman poet of Scotland was taking a walk in the town of Leith and on meeting an old friend he stopped to talk to him.
A snobbish lady asked why he had thought fit to talk one so shabbily dressed, Burns had this reply: “Madam it was the man I was talking to. Do you suppose it was the man’s clothes I was addressing,-his hat, his clothes, his boots?”
The Cat ©
On stealth he moves
No wake he follows
But his own:
Jewels with starburst scan
And silently he settles
To his own wake;
Furry tail with a butt,
All-still to a world
Mad with desire.
reprinted from my blog Pup of my Doggerels 24-1-11
Richelieu, Armand Jean du Plessis de (1585-1642)
Richelieu called the Red Eminence (L’Eminence Rouge)and feared. He was crafty and ruthless in his attempt to lift France from medieval backwardness to the glory she was destined for. He dominated French politics from 1610 till his death.
A bright child, Armand-Jean du Plessis studied theology as a teen and at the young age of 21 was appointed Bishop of Luçon. In 1622 he was made a cardinal and from there rose to become head of the Royal Council and prime minister of France in 1624. He was adviser to the widow of Henri IV and her son Louis XIII. King Louis XIII was a weak ruler and Richelieu filled the void, more or less running the empire. He established royal absolutism in France by suppressing the political power of the Huguenots. The siege and capture of Rochelle, which he conducted in person (1628) was followed by the submission of other Huguenot strongholds. Richelieu, however, secured for the Huguenot body a certain measure of religious toleration. His astuteness is evident in the way he used his success in this conflict with moderation.
He reduced the influence of the nobles by blowing up their castles and banning private armies. In foreign policy, he sought to weaken Habsburg control of Europe and involved France in the Thirty Years’ War. Though France was a Catholic country he supported Protestant countries in order to diminish the hold of the Catholic league of states. The asuteness of his foreign policy saw France emerge at the end of Thirty Years War as the most powerful nation in Europe. In order to cut the power of Spain he supported the Portuguese in their struggle for independence. Devious and brilliant, he increased the power of the Bourbon dynasty and established orderly government in France.
One of the less known but of far reaching influence he exerted was in the way he encouraged arts. He founded the Académie Française and rebuilt the Sorbonne.
He brought innovation in administering the kingdom through superindents of regions who exerted extensive powers but were directly responsible to the central government that was in himself.
He encouraged road and canal constructions throughout the length and breadth to spur trade and industry. He also encouraged French colonial expansion in the Far East,India and the West indies.
Ever since Dumas’ novel Three Musketeers (1844)in Richelieu’s name has become synonymous with political intrigue and ambitious power “behind the throne.”