Suez Canal III

Lead: Facing almost universal skepticism, the Suez Canal Company under Ferdinand de Lesseps raised the money and dug the Canal.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Prime Minister Palmerston of Britain called him a swindler and a fool. Bankers such as Baron de Rothschild rejected his pleas for capital. Yet, de Lesseps succeeded against all odds. Raising money from small investors and operating with a design approved by the International Commission for the Piercing of the Isthmus of Suez, he broke ground in 1859 near the future Port Said. It took ten years to construct the canal. At any given point 30,000 workers were employed often under harsh, forced conditions. More than a million were so engaged and thousands of laborers died on the project. Progress was often delayed by labor disputes and the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, but in the end the canal was completed primarily due to the importation of giant French-designed steam shovels and dredges.

 

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Suez Canal II

Lead: In 1869, finally, the land bridge between Egypt and Suez was pierced with a canal, thanks in large measure to Ferdinand de Lesseps.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: He was no engineer, had no great fortune, had no access to capital, and was in no way an effective administrator, unanimated by tedium. Yet, if anyone might be called the Father of the Suez, it was de Lesseps. Other than his indefatigable energy and dedication to the project, he largely succeeded in building the canal because of his personal connection to two people.

 

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Suez Canal I

Lead: In 1869 French engineers and Egyptian laborers completed work eliminating one of the world’s two great blocks to navigation. They opened the canal at Suez.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Until the 19th and 20th centuries there were two significant places in the world where the passage of oceangoing commerce and transportation were impeded by relatively short land bridges. The Isthmus of Panama fell before the assaults of U.S. doctors and engineers in 1914. Creating a passage between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea was much longer in coming. It had attracted the attention of rulers such as Ramesses II of the 12th Egyptian dynasty in the 2nd Millennium BCE and Persian conqueror Darius I. They built narrow canals from the Nile to the Red Sea but these soon fell into disuse.

 

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Copernicus and the Church II

Lead: The year was 1540. Nicolaus Copernicus’s controversial theory that the planets revolved around the sun instead of the Earth was about to become public.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1540, a student and supporter of Copernicus, Rheticus, published Naratio Prima, otherwise known as A First Account. This encouraged the aging astronomer to print his own theory. A devout Catholic, Copernicus had struggled for many years between his loyalty to the Church and his scientific theory that asserted heliocentrism, that the sun was the center of the solar system. He decided it was finally time for the world to hear his opinion of the truth. Three years later, just prior to his death, Copernicus published his treatise De revolutionibus orbium coelestium.

 

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Copernicus and the Church I

Lead: Often requiring discipline, compassion, and self-denial, religion can be a powerful force for good, but religious institutions can also be short-sighted, conservative, willing to throw themselves across the path of progress.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Nikolaj Kopernik was born on February 19, 1473 in Thorn, Poland. He was raised by his maternal uncle following the death of Nicolaj’s wealthy father. His uncle convinced the young student to attend the University of Krakow. Caught by the spirit of the Italian Renaissance, with a name now latinized to Nicolas Copernicus, he continued a continental education, excelling in medicine, law and the liberal arts. While not abandoning his church calling, he actively practiced medicine, studied economics, and surrendered to a life-long fascination with astronomy.

 

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King Henry II II

 

Lead: One of England’s most important monarchs, Henry II saw his birthright begin to crumble even before his death in CE 1189.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Despite his undoubted administrative brilliance and successful imperial ambitions, Henry was not a popular leader, not well-liked, and found himself in almost constant conflict with his wife and sons. He married the remarkable Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and together they had eight children. As both were strong unbending personalities, their marriage was hardly a work in connubial harmony, and in Henry’s later years he would come to regret the near-constant friction that from the beginning inhabited his household. Two great crises helped undermine the legacy he had worked so hard to build since becoming King of England in CE ll54.

King Henry II I

 

Lead: King Henry II of England began his reign with few prospects for a successful rule. He succeeded beyond all expectations.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When Henry was crowned in Westminster Abbey in CE 1154, the kingdom he inherited was a mess. For two decades a civil war between his mother, the Empress Matilda, and a usurper, King Stephen, had rent the unity of the Anglo-Norman lands. The Welsh had made inroads in the West and the Scots in the North, yet Henry was to become one of England’s great monarchs laying the groundwork for the Plantagenet dynasty that would last for 250 years. Through a combination of inheritance, a fortuitous marriage to the extraordinary Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, and his own determined exertions, he brought under his control the largest assemblage of lands any English King had ruled to that point, from Dublin to Flanders from Scotland to the Pyrenees.

Robert the Bruce of Scotland II

Lead: Some wag has said that treason is often a matter of timing. He could not have found a better example of that truism than the conflicted career of Scotland’s liberator, Robert the Bruce.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the 1290s English King Edward I was meddling in Scottish affairs. He forced the Scottish nobles to heel and to accept his candidate for the empty throne, John de Balliol. This was a bit too much for the Scots who rebelled and took up with the French. Edward invaded in 1296 and beat them badly, confiscating the sacred Stone of Scone on which Scottish kings had been crowned. Edward also crushed William Wallace’s popular rebellion at Falkirk in 1298, but the English king, despite prodigious campaigning, could not completely subdue the Scots.