History’s Turning Points: The Black Death II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Among history’s turning points: Consider the results of the Black Death.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After the arrival of the bubonic plague in the 1340s, the people of Europe did not know what was consuming them. This ignorance spawned great acts of courage and compassion, particularly among the clergy, but also near barbaric brutality. Many people blamed the Jews, specifically for poisoning the drinking water. Christian civility went out the window and thousands of Jews were murdered. According to one source, 16,000 were killed in 1349 in Strasbourg alone. Many fled to Poland where in the 20th Century their descendants would be consumed in another Holocaust of human origin.

History’s Turning Points: The Black Death I

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. We examine history’s turning points: Consider the Black Death.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In early October 1347, a ship left the city of Caffa in Southern Russia, bound for the Sicilian port of Messina. Along with its cargo it played host to its usual compliment of migratory black rats. They in turn were infested with tiny fleas bearing the deadly bacillus, identified finally in 1800s as pasteurella pestis, the bubonic plague.

Napoleon at Waterloo IV

Lead: From 1793 Napoleon increasingly dominated the affairs of France and Europe and, though defeated and banished in 1815, Napoleon’s legend grew during his life and showed no signs of going away after his death.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Napoleon Bonaparte died in 1821 at his place of exile on the British island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. Almost immediately authors and historians began to examine his life for clues as to Napoleon’s legacy. He had detractors and defenders as befit any colossal personality. His enemies sought to diminish his accomplishments, his allies, and particularly ambitious family members such as future Emperor Louis Napoleon, wished to enhance the luster of his name for their own benefit.

Napoleon at Waterloo III

Lead: In March 1815 Napoleon Bonaparte, deposed Emperor of the French, banished to the Mediterranean island of Elba, escaped, landed in southern France and attempted to reclaim his greatness. His daring quest ended at Waterloo.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: The 100 days of Napoleon’s last campaign sent shivers of panic throughout a Europe which had thought itself rid of Le Petit Caporal. He landed at Cannes with his guard, won over the regiment sent to capture him, and was in Paris by March 20th. While the French people were weary of Napoleon and had acquiesced in his exile after his abdication in the Treaty of Fontainebleau, they were committed to the essential elements of the Revolution and resented the attempt by restored King Louis XVIII to set back the clock. Napoleon’s welcome was at best tentative as he also wished to turn back the clock to the Empire, something many of his former Republican allies were loathe to do. Also, he faced a daunting array of allied armies converging on France to stamp out permanently the menace he represented. Once again, he would have to fight for his place in the sun.

Napoleon at Waterloo II

Lead: Napoleon Bonaparte, humiliated and banished, attempted to win back his losses in a dynamic campaign that began with his dramatic escape from the island of Elba.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: It must have been very discouraging, living there on that tiny island just off the coast of west Italy. The Emperor of the French, whose power at its height, like a colossus stretched from Portugal to the Urals, from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, this larger-than-life personality, reduced to 86 square miles of rock. He said, upon his arrival, that he wished to live as a justice of the peace, but such resignation was hardly possible for a man of such restless vigor who had led millions in battle since he burst on the scene in 1793.

Napoleon at Waterloo I

Lead: Having built his political and military career on acts of daring and boldness, Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, in 1814, attempted to resurrect and salvage his greatness at the Battle of Waterloo.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Napoleon Bonaparte was born on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, the second surviving child of a politically well-connected lawyer whose family emigrated to Corsica from Tuscany in North Central Italy during the 1500s. His father’s connections made it possible to send his sons to France for their education. Napoleon was not an exceptional student, graduating in 1785 42nd in a class of 58 from the Military Academy in Paris. Despite this lackluster record, however, he continued to develop his understanding of tactics and strategy by readings in the military masters and to hone his understanding of public policy while consuming the political works of Voltaire and Rousseau.

The Dreyfuss Affair IV

Lead: Imprisoned for treason he did not commit, French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus became the focus of a great national crusade.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Dreyfus was clearly innocent. His 1894 conviction was fixed by military authorities anxious to protect the Army from the embarrassing discovery of a German spy in the War Ministry, but they got the wrong man. While Dreyfus served his sentence on Devil's Island, the infamous French prison colony off the coast of South America, his family and a growing number of supporters worked to prove his innocence. Among the most prominent of the Dreyfusards were George Clémenceau, the future wartime Premier, and the novelist and left wing agitator, Emile Zola.

The Dreyfus Affair III

Lead: Accused of spying for the Germans in 1894, French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus became the subject of a furious cultural struggle.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the last half of the 1900s France was a study in conflict. Little more than half the population even spoke the French language. Rural areas were suspicious of the more prosperous industrial cities. Railroads which would help bring the country together were delayed until late in the century. Many Frenchmen openly advocated a return to monarchy and deeply resented the so-called Third Republic, set up after the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Leading the call for monarchy were many Roman Catholics who felt threatened by republican attacks on Catholic schools.