This Week in History

Redshirts Invade St. Peter’s Patrimony: September 29, 1867

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. For ordering information on this and our other texts, please click here.

Pope Pius IX

The pope’s army was very small—no more than four thousand men. It was only this small force that stood between him and the tens of thousands Italy could gather for an army of conquest. The treaty with Napoleon III, Pope Pius thought, would not restrain King Vittorio Emanuele.

Yet, after the departure of French troops from Rome, Pius IX carried on as if he had no enemy in the world. He continued, as was his wont, to visit hospitals and other charitable institutions. As before, he visited the neighborhoods of Rome to meet and speak with all his subjects. In 1867, for the eighteenth centenary of the martyrdom of Sts. Peter and Paul, the pope decided to hold a grand celebration in Rome. At his invitation, Catholic pilgrims from all over the world flocked to Rome.

About 500 bishops, 20,000 priests, and 500,000 laymen entered the holy city to show their devotion to Peter and his successor, the pope.


This Week in History

A Peasants Revolt, Led by a Priest: September 16-28, 1810

The following comes from our text, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. It continues the story of the firsts Mexican Revolution that we began last week and which you may read here. For ordering information on this and our other texts, please go here.

Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, by Clemente Orozco, the Government Palace, Guadalajara, Mexico

A group of creole intellectuals and army officers had been meeting secretly in Querétaro, about 200 miles northwest of Mexico City. Calling themselves the Academia Literaria (Literary Academy), the group’s aims were ostensibly literary; but their work was really political, for they were working for the overthrow of the gauchupines and a Mexico indepen­dent of Spain (though ostensibly at least still faithful to Fernando VII.) Among their number were the army officers Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama, and a priest, the 57-year old cura of the nearby village of Dolores, Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo y Costilla.


This Week in History

A Coup that Sparked a Revolution: September 15, 1808

The following comes from our text, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. For ordering information on this and our other texts, please go here.

It was not conditions in New Spain that finally precipitated revolution, but events across the Atlantic. The mother country, Spain, was rocked with civil war.

Joseph Bonaparte

Carlos IV, who had occupied the Spanish throne since 1788, had become inconvenient to France’s Emperor Napoleon, who had brought nearly all of Europe under his sway. An independent Spain did not serve Napoleon’s purposes; so, on May 6, 1808, he pressured Carlos IV and his son Fernando VII to relinquish all claim to the Spanish throne, and, in their place, made his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, king. Popular indignation broke out against the new king, and all over Spain, juntas were formed to oppose the French. At the end of September 1808, the juntas formed themselves into one body, called the Junta Central Gubernativa del Reino (Central Governing Body of the Kingdom) and formed a cortes (parliament) to represent both Spain and America.


This Week in History

Martyrdom in California:

November 4, 1775

This text comes from our high school text, Lands of Hope and Promise: A History of North America. Please visit our webpage to peruse sample chapters of our book. For ordering information on Lands of Hope and Promise and our other texts, please click here.

Don Pedro Fages

In California as in Florida and other Spanish colonies, questions of jurisdiction sparked tensions between the friars and the royal governors. Fray Junípero clashed with the second governor, Pedro Fages, over the question of who commanded the soldiers at the missions. Every mission had four soldiers to guard it; and in some of the missions, soldiers were becoming a problem. Having left their wives behind in Mexico, the soldiers went after Indian women. The soldiers could be cruel. Once some soldiers hanged and mutilated a band of Indians for stealing horses.

Fray Don Antonio María Bucareli y Ursua

When Fages ignored his complaints, Fray Junípero decided to appeal to Mexico City. He undertook the long journey by sea to the capital in 1773 and there met with the viceroy, Fray Don Antonio María Bucareli y Ursua, a member of the lay Order of St. John of Jerusalem (the Knights of Malta). The viceroy listened sympathetically to Serra and asked him to write down his recommendations for California. Bucareli adopted almost all of Fray Junípero’s recommendations in the regulations for California he promulgated shortly after Serra’s return in 1774. (more…)

This Week in History

Freedom for a Treacherous King: October 1, 1823

This text comes from our book, Light to the Nations II: The Making of the Modern World. See sample chapters, here. For ordering information on Light to the Nations II and our other texts, please click here.

Though the vast majority of those who had fought in the Spanish resistance against Napoleon had done so out of love for their homeland and devotion to their Catholic Faith, most of the resistance leaders (members of the bourgeoisie, scholars, and military officers) were thorough Liberals. After establishing a junta, these leaders had in 1812 drawn up a constitution that granted most governmental power to a legislature (called the cortes) and very little power to the king. The king had the power to sign bills into law, but no power to make laws. He had only a suspensive veto power: he could delay bills becoming laws, but he could not stop them entirely.

Proclamation of the Constitution of 1812

The Spanish “Constitution of 1812,” as it was called, was in some ways very similar to the French Constitution of 1791. But it differed from France’s constitution in some very important ways. The Constitution of 1812 said, for instance, that the “Catholic Apostolic Roman and only true faith” was the religion of the “Spanish nation.” The state, the constitution said, should protect the Church and prevent the practice of any other religion. It allowed for freedom of the press, except that publications were not permitted to attack the Catholic Faith. Yet, like the French constitution, the Constitution of 1812 did not allow the nobility or the Church to have representatives in the one-house cortes. This meant that these two estates no longer had any legal means to protect their interests and rights. (more…)