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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Jean Baptiste Colbert – II

Lead: Schooled in the intricate politics of the royal administration of France’s King Louis XIV, Jean Baptiste Colbert had ambitious plans for France’s economy. His hopes were crushed by King’s rush to war.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Colbert served in many capacities over the years, adapting quickly to the King’s desire to build a civil administration based not on connections, wealth or aristocracy, but rather on talent. Colbert gathered many jobs under his wing over the years but his most important was Superintendent of Finance. In that capacity, he revised the tax system, removing many of the exemptions that the nobility enjoyed from paying the taille, a land tax, the principal source of national revenue. He created a new civil office, the intendent, royal agents sent into the provinces to collect taxes and keep the King informed about local public opinion. He helped build Paris into a more modern capital but was frustrated in this by the King’s diversion of enormous sums into the construction of Versailles the magnificent royal lodge in the Paris suburbs.

Jean-Baptiste Colbert I

Lead: Jean-Baptiste Colbert, royal finance minister, was French King Louis XIV closest cabinet advisor. Louis’ war with the Dutch, shot down Colbert’s dreams of making France an economic superpower.

  Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 Content: When his father, Louis XIII, died, the future King was five years old. During the years before he reached maturity, France was wracked by popular unrest and governmental chaos. Once he took the reigns of power, Louis determined that he would not depend on the services of a chief minister as had his father who elevated Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin to unprecedented power. Louis decided to rule France himself and that rule would be iron-fisted, competent and absolute. The closest that one of his servants came to having the chance to wield independent power was Jean-Baptiste Colbert and he had big plans for France.