Eleanor of Aquitaine II

Lead: Turned out by one royal husband, the King of France, Eleanor of Aquitaine married his rival, the future King of England.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Strong and independent, Eleanor resisted at each stage of her career the role of quiet docile wife. After a stormy fifteen years in 1152, Louis VII of France had their marriage annulled. Their four daughters remained with the King and Eleanor was sent home to Poitiers a very eligible lady, possibly the richest woman in Europe. Within two months she was married, this time to Henry Plantagenet, the namesake and grandson of the King of England who was at that time pressing his claim to inherit the Crown. A successful invasion of England and the death of his chief rival yielded him the throne. Henry and Eleanor became King and Queen of England in December 1154.

Eleanor of Aquitaine I

Lead: At her father's unexpected death in 1137, fifteen-year-old Eleanor, daughter of Duke Guillaume of Aquitaine, found herself heiress to a huge region of western France. It made one of the most eligible catches in Europe.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In a long and busy life Eleanor would be Queen of France and England, either marry or closely advise four kings, conduct romantic dalliances, engineer rebellions, rule England directly for long stretches of time and this in an era in which women were generally considered at best attractive appendages to their husbands and sons.

Madame Tussaud

Lead: Despite the advent of television and the internet, the biggest tourist attraction in Britain remains a bizarre collection of wax figures imported to England two centuries ago for a temporary stay.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Marie Tussaud (nee Grosholz) did her apprenticeship with Philippe Curtius in the heady revolutionary days of Paris, 1789. Crowds of the curious flocked to their salons to see exhibits featuring among other oddities, King Louis XVI and his Queen Marie-Antoinette eating their inedible dinner in frozen solitude. The most avid interest then and now continues to be the Chamber of Horrors, the waxed collection of notorious murderers caught in the act of taking their victims.

Emma Lazarus

Lead: At first reluctant, Emma Lazarus gave in and wrote the words that helped build the symbol of America's welcome.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: The money wasn't coming in and Joseph Pulitzer was becoming very frustrated. Publisher of the New York World, a Hungarian immigrant who fought in the Civil War, Pulitzer had taken, as his personal crusade, the task of raising money to build the pedestal on which the colossus was to rest. The arrangement was that France would supply the statue if the United States would build the base. Work in Paris was on schedule but in America, people did not seem to be very concerned.

 

Read more →

Folies Bergere

Lead: Historically, the human desire for diversion and entertainment, like religion, morals and politics, is always nearly subject to evolution and changing tastes. Consider as an example if you will the Parisian Folies Bergère:

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 Content: When it comes to entertainment, with apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the French are not like you and me. From the middle of the 19th century until surpassed by American culture in the age of mass communication, the undisputed pace setter in entertainment was France. French theater was considered by many to be indecent, even obscene; it was certainly provocative and pushed the edge of the envelope in morals and taste. For most of that period, since its founding in 1869 as the Folies Trevise, both taking their names from nearby streets, the Folies Bergère always strove to be out front, slightly racier than the competition.

 

Read more →

Diderot’s Encyclopedie

Lead: There is no doubt. In the 1700s the best-selling book was the multi-volume Encyclopédie, edited by Jean d’Alembert and Denis Diderot.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: This massive compendium of knowledge actually got its start as a failed attempt at a French translation of Englishman Ephraim Chambers Cyclopedia in 1745. Chambers’ work was a well-respected summary of human knowledge popular on both sides of the English Channel, but the translators did a poor job. To save the project the printer sought out d’Alembert and Diderot, two of French society’s most respected young intellects. The printer had salvage on his mind, the two future collaborators had something far ambitious on theirs. They set out to assemble a exhaustive presentation of universal facts based on a new way of thinking.

 

Read more →

Guillotine

Lead: One of the most fearsome and famous methods of capital punishment was actually developed as a more humane and democratic way of execution. It is named for an obscure member of the French National Assembly, a young physician, Joseph-Ignace Guillotine.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Decapitation as a means of execution has been a part of the human experience since the dawn of time. The quick easy removal of the victim’s head brought a swift conclusion to their earthly journey; a sharp blade, a heavy well-placed blow brought matters to a timely end. Mechanical devices for execution may have used in various European countries before 1300, but there is no evidence for this prior to the execution of Murcod Ballagh near Merton Ireland in 1307. By 1564 in Scotland such a mechanism was in common use. It was called “The Maiden,” and consisted of two grooved upright posts held together at the top by a cross-member and at the bottom by diagonal supports. The person to be offed was trussed-up, laid faced down with their neck lined up with the grooves. At the moment of execution a very heavy oblique, steel-clad, iron blade held in lead-lined wooden casing would be released and the victim’s head would be quickly and painlessly severed from his torso.

Read more →

Gutenberg Press II

Lead: In 1455, Johannes Gutenberg began the first book printed in the western world using moveable metal type. Those copies of the Gutenberg Bible that have survived are among the most valued artifacts in the world.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After spending almost two decades in Strasbourg, working secretly on a new type of printing press, Johannes Gutenberg returned to his hometown of Mainz and formed a partnership so as to exploit his revolutionary invention - movable metal type. There is evidence that movable type had been used in China for thousands of years and even in Europe before Gutenberg’s invention, but the process used fashioned letters from clay or porcelain or wood. They would break, splinter or wear down after a few uses. Gutenberg spent years solving the problem of deterioration. Blocks, each one bearing a precise metallic raised letter on its face were held together tightly in a wooden form, ink was rolled over the raised letters, then the form was pressed against paper. Because the letters were metallic they were extremely durable, could be used over and over again and reformatted to make different words and sentences.

 

Read more →