All posts by Sarah Patten

Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri_(1)

Pilate’s Wife: She Tried to Intervene For Jesus

“What is truth?”

Pilate asked Jesus that question. It’s a very appropriate one because of the confusion going on at that time. Within the last day and a half, Jesus had suffered for the sins of the world in Gethsemane which would have killed anyone else. He was betrayed, denied, and left alone by friends. He was moved from court to court being questioned by the Jewish and Roman officials for hours. Any other person would have cracked under such circumstances. But there he stood poised. What was going on? It’s no surprise Pilate “Marvelled greatly.”

Pilate’s wife probably shared those views and worries. She must have struggled with the question “What is truth?” That question—or something similar—likely hovered over her head. Somehow she knew some important truths and was brave enough to step forward. As her husband deliberated, she tried to intervene on Jesus’ behalf.

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Message_of_Pilate's_Wife._Pilate_-_James_Tissot

When he [Pilate] was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.

800px-The_dream_of_Pilate's_wife_by_Alphonse_François

As I have pondered that verse, one word sticks out.

Just.

But Pilate was persuaded by Jewish leaders to release a robber in place of Jesus , and put Jesus to death through crucifixion. Even after the declared death sentence, Pilate still tried to convince the people not to crucify him.

He tried to prolong it and did remember the words of his wife. He said to the crowds, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person”

Though Pilate’s wife was no Martha or Mary in describing the divinity of Christ, she knew he was an extraordinary man who was innocent of all the accusations. She was not one of the women who saw the resurrected Lord, but she also had to be brave to face the future.

Ecce_homo_by_Antonio_Ciseri_(2)

A few years later, Pilate’s career plummeted, and she might have been alive when it’s thought he committed suicide. What happened to her?  She had been married to a man that Jews and Romans didn’t respect. Did she feel shame? Did she survive?

Some believe her to be Claudia, a converted Christian, mentioned in 2 Timothy. Romans were weary of Christianity and perhaps early Christians viewed her with suspicions. It would have been a dangerous life.

She was brave in her attempt to intervene for Jesus. In that way, I feel like she could be counted among the women who made sacrifices to champion Him.  I can’t help but think of a James E. Talmage quote:

“The greatest champion of women and womanhood is Jesus Christ.”

She knew little about Jesus Christ, but she was brave in sharing what she knew as truth.

 

(Click here to view a video that gives an overview of Gethsemane, Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, and Resurrection entitled “He is Risen: John the Beloved’s Witness of the Resurrection”)

Sources
Matthew 27
John 18
http://www.womeninthescriptures.com/2009/05/pontius-pilates-wife.html
T
he Illegal Trial of Christ by Steven W. Allen
2 Timothy 4

Images:
The Message of Pilate’s Wife. by James Tissot
The Dream of Pilate’s Wife by Alphonse Francois
Ecce Homo by Antonio Ciseri

 

 

The_birthday_cake

Twenty-nine. Such an Awkward Number.

The eve of my birthday, I received a comforting e-card from an eleven-year-old friend who said,

I heard that you are turning twenty-nine. That seems like such an awkward number, doesn’t it? But I’m sure you’ll pull it off beautifully.”

It was even more reassuring than the other insightful articles about people who also freaked out when they turned twenty-nine. Some articles were silly, serious, and a combo.  I came across memorable quotes. Actress Helen Mirren wrote some gems:

“The hardest period in life is one’s twenties. It’s a shame because you’re your most gorgeous, and you’re physically in peak condition. But it’s actually when you’re most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s frightening.”

I see where’s she coming from.

I haven’t completed the duties one has do before they reach thirty. Like travel. Do something incredibly crazy. Have a successful career Get married. Have a family.

This year might be the most frightening of all. And it’s not just about the pressures to fulfill all twenties expectations. It’s to see if I can survive. The type of attitude winning survivors put on. Some of these survivors are found on this very website.   Some who didn’t live up to their culture’s ideals while they lived their terrifying twenties. Yet, they would shine later on…

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bride-groom-new-testament_1154694_inl by Lyle Beddes

The pressure to produce posterity was perhaps greater for Jewish women in biblical times.

Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist, had been expected to have children by her twenties. Did others think she did something wrong? But the Bible assures us she and her husband “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” I’d imagine that she had to make the decision if she was going to be faithful young. She had made the choice to keep all the commandments and people looked up to her. She was a sort of mentor when the young Mary stayed with her for three months.

Mary visiting Elisabeth, who was someone she could turn for guidance.

Mary visiting Elisabeth, who was someone she could turn for guidance.

Elisabeth’s life became more eventful as she and her son were on the run during the Massacres of the Innocents. (Luke 1:6-7, 56;Luke 11:51; Matthew 2:16)

 

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rtiist: After Dirk Stoop

At 23, the little Portuguese princess didn’t know the humiliations and scandals that awaited her in England.

628px-Catherine_of_Braganza_-_Lely_1663-65

She expressed a desire to go home from early on, Perhaps it was the realization of protecting Portugal that motivated her to stay in England and dodge lurking dangers.

While in her twenties, Catherine of Braganza became queen of England. Despite striving to do the right thing, she never did produce an heir. She became a forty-seven-year old widow but had learned to survive–and she eventually thrived. During the last twenty years of her life, she accumulated more money, returned to Portugal as a hero, ruled as regent, and was a mentor and maternal figure to her nephew who later became king of Portugal.

Catherine_of_Braganza_by_Gennari

Catherine gave herself a new life at 47. She died at 67 and every inch a queen.

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Let’s recall the Barrett sisters, Elizabeth and Henrietta. By the time they were in their twenties, they lost siblings and their mother. How were they supposed to look at the world? They might have  struggled to answer. Elizabeth became a successful poet early on but still faced serious illnesses. Henrietta had loved once, but experienced heartbreak. Such losses and experiences, however, would lead to a more accomplished life.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The possibilities of getting a new last name looked slim, but they wouldn't be Barretts forever!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The possibilities of getting a new last name looked slim, but she and Henrietta wouldn’t be  Moulton-Barretts forever!

We wouldn’t have gotten Elizabeth’s most famous poem “How Do I Love Thee” without the hardships of the Barrett family. She wrote that sonnet among other classics in her late thirties during her courtship to Robert Browning. By age forty, she eloped with him to Italy. She became active in politics and had a child at forty-three.

Elizabeth_Barrett_Browning_with_her_son_Pen

Elizabeth with her son Pen whom she gave birth to when she was 43. Henrietta had her last child at 47.

Henrietta, didn’t give up on love either. She married at age forty-one. Between ages forty-two and forty-seven, she gave birth to three children.

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These numbers and accomplishments I’m spurting out motivate me!  I’m less afraid of what I haven’t done and more excited for the future. As C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

I admit I’m still  frightened. My sister pointed out:

“ We are constantly evolving and ever changing. I don’t think a decade defines us. We can always become something new. The gospel is one of progression, so that means we are always working toward something-not limited to our past.”

Dramatic or not, I’m thrilled to adapt plans I’m working on. I’ve decided not only to accept what I haven’t done, but also to celebrate it! Go forward with faith. Not all the best things in life have to be compacted in the twenties package.

I’ll get through twenty-nine.

And I’ll do it beautifully.

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Pictures
Painting of Bride and Groom by Lyle Beddes from lds.org New Testament Student Manuel

La Visitatio by Niolas Labbe 

Catherine of Braganza paintings:
Dirk Stoop
Peter Lely
Benedettp Gennari

Images of Elizabeth Barrett Browning are also public domain.

 

Henri_Fantin-Latour_-_The_Two_Sisters

The Austen Vs. Barrett Sisters

Sisters.

One sister was near marriage but outside forces dashed those hopes. Her writer-sister had a proposal of marriage and….

How will such a story end?

The Austens

Cassandra’s fiance  worked in order for them to get married. He went on a military mission but died after he caught yellow fever in 1797. Cassandra now had some money, but no man to share it with. She never married.

Then we all know Jane.

CassandraAusten-JaneAusten(c.1810)_hiresParties, balls, humor, but never she seemed to find Mr. Right. She briefly accepted a proposal in 1802. The man was financially secured and perhaps it would have been perfect if she loved him. She didn’t and soon declined.  One portrayal of possible romances include Becoming Jane.

The Barretts

Henrietta could have been a character out of an Austen novel—was religious but determined to have fun and find romance at balls and parties. It seemed marriage was in her grasp at one point, but  any suitor was kicked out of her life by her father.

Mr. Barrett would never let his children marry.

Elizabeth couldn’t spend time outside like she used to, but kept contact with her family, friends, and intellectuals through  correspondences and others visiting her.  Her mind was active, but felt close to death till fellow poet Robert Browning showed intense interest in her.Elizabeth-Barrett-Browning,_Poetical_Works_Volume_I,_engraving One of the sonnets she wrote during their courtship starts:

“My future will not copy fair my past.”

The sonnet talks about the new life she feels like she’s been given. She can’t go back to the past where she thought love was lost.

Elizabeth couldn’t make the same mistakes other did. She had to be stealthier than Henrietta. And unlike Jane, Elizabeth had the means to support herself and was in love with a man who loved her. But could Elizabeth back out at the proposal of marriage from Robert? Would she find enough strength to go through with the marriage?

She did. She eloped with Robert Browning to Italy in 1846.. Elizabeth’s father disowned her but she continued to compose poems.

Now what of Henrietta?

Could she find true love? Even if she did, could she find a way to marry?

Four years after her sister eloped, Henrietta married a Captain William Cook.  Like Elizabeth, she too was disowned by her father.

We don’t know much about Henrietta but we know she displayed gumption. Some of that gumption is portrayed in, The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

Though the Barrett sisters could afford marriage, could they be indebted to the Austen sisters who gave some do’s and don’ts when it came to marriage and love?

P.S. And which film is better–Becoming Jane or The Barretts of Wimpole Street?

Sources:

http://www.browningscorrespondence.com/biographical-sketches/?id=977

wikipedia.org
Pictures:
"The Two Sisters" by Henri Fantin-Latour
Portrait of Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Engraving September, 1859,      by Macaire Havre, engraving by T. O. Barlow
80s prom (2)

All Grandma Wanted For Christmas Was…

All Grandma Wanted For Christmas Was…

Christmas of ’76 was memorable for my dad and his family.

Just a few days before that Christmas, my grandpa wrote:

 December 22, 1976 – Geraldine had the operation in the St. John’s Hospital. All went well. We all visited her except John – under 14 not admitted to the hospital…

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My dad tells it to me:

Grandma had to have some surgery, and elected to do it during the holidays because she felt that she would get better service – on account of so many patients wanting to be out of the hospital for Christmas. Gerald and Cathy felt the children should all band together and pay for the operation.  I was going to optometry school at that time and didn’t have a penny to my name.  My 3 youngest siblings were likewise poor. 

So Gerald and Cathy, and also Yvonne and Bill, contributed the lion share of the bill.  They paid it ahead of when Grandpa went down to see how much he owed for the operation and hospital care. 

 I wondered what I could do to help my mom? I hoped that there might be something that I could do for her, as I loved her as much as anyone else. I went up to see her and to try and figure out what that special something could be that I could give. I said to Grandma, “Mom—What would you really like for Christmas?”

 Grandma astonished me with her answer.

” I want to see your little brother”.

ANother group chart (2)

 That might be impossible. My little brother, John, was not old enough (according to the posted signs) to enter the hospital.  The hospital was guarded on the front steps by an armed guard. Gun at his side.

 As I prayed and pondered I remembered the time a few years before when I had dressed up like Santa when the youth of our ward went Christmas caroling. I thought, I could do that again and maybe – just maybe – I could get John in, if he was dressed up like an elf.

 I asked my sisters, Beth and Joyce,if they could help me with John’s costume. I would need green tights and green everything for John. They assured me that they could furnish the costume. I asked John if he was willing to go along with the idea, explaining that there was a chance that it might not work and that we could be severely reprimanded by the guard or hospital authorities. John said he was willing to give it a try.

So John and I got all dressed up – I as Santa Claus and John as an elf. We went up to the hospital entrance. The guard spotted us coming.

 “Well, what have we here? Santa and his helper! Right this way!”

 It was hard to get up to Grandma’s room. When I dressed up like Santa before, I just ran around with the other youth in the ward singing Christmas carols. People seemed to think it was cute that Santa was along. I had not anticipated this time that so many patients would want to say hi to Santa or to tell him that they had been good.  It was a treat for Santa to be where they were in the hospital.

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Eventually our family – including John and I in costume -made our way up to Grandma’s room. Grandma seemed to be resigned to her circumstances, and comforted by the fact that she was indeed getting find treatment. You should have seen the look on her face when she saw us, and spotted John – she was overjoyed! We had a nice visit that day. 

“You brought me the best thing ever!”    

John and I walked away with a feeling that I will never forget.

 To this day that is one of my most memorable Christmases.

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 My Grandpa’s Diary Entry for that Christmas:

December 25, 1976.

All gathered around the Christmas tree at 8:00 am, except Geraldine who was still in St. John’s Hospital. We all opened the presents. We had a wonderful Christmas time.

Cathy Lynn prepared the Christmas dinner. It was truly a banquet. We had lots of leftovers.

At 2 pm we all went to the hospital to see Geraldine. Douglas dressed as Santa in the Ward’s Santa Claus suit, and John was made up as an Elf. We put all her presents in Santa’s bag- she was really surprised to see us. We spent about an hour at the hospital. On the way out of the hospital Douglas and John made several stops to see children both young and old to wish them a Merry Christmas.

 We all felt at the end of the day it had been the best Christmas we had ever had, even though Gerri was in the hospital. We begin to see that even during trying times we are able to have very choice experiences and good times. The Lord truly has been good to us. He has blessed us in so very many ways. But best of all he has blessed us with each other.

A better family I could not be part of, they are really great.

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Marie-Antoinette with her children by Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun.

Marie-Antoinette: The Maligned Queen

I wrote how impressed I was with how Philippa Langley headed the operation to find Richard III’s grave.

Richard III. A very complex man. Shakespeare brought us the image of a murderous hunchback with a withered arm which caused the king to be maligned.

Is there a “maligned queen” in history?

Hollywood and sensational biographers keep bringing an image of an irresponsible  Marie-Antoinette only caring about looks, the most expensive luxuries in life, and her dashing lovers. And we keep falling for it.

Even I resisted the idea to give her her own post. Everyone knows who Marie-Antoinette is, so why bother? But as I researched her sister-in-law and daughter I was led to a different side of the queen who NEVER said “Let them eat cake.” Very few actually know the real Marie-Antoinette.

One of my favorite websites about strong woman is Elena Maria Vidal’s website Tea at Trianon.  Anyone truly interested in Marie- Antoinette needs to go there. Good layout, pictures, and FACTS about Marie-Antoinette. Vidal backs up her articles with credible sources and gives references where we can learn more. I like how she discusses when certain myths appeared, who made them popular, and their motives. Her article  “Marie Antoinette: A Reputation in Shreds” is a must-read for every student who studies the French Revolution era and every history teacher—including college professors.

Arrest of Louis XVI and His Family Varennes, 1791

Arrest of Louis XVI and His Family Varennes, 1791

Before I post about the three wise women of Christmas, I knew I had to post about Marie-Antoinette. She kept coming to my mind because she was a person who understood the true meaning of Christmas. I thought how she encouraged her children to give away their Christmas presents. How she didn’t leave her husband, and how she strived to keep the family together to the point of her hair actually turning white in prison.

Marie-Antoinette is one of the women I respect most in history.

Marie-Antoinette in the Temple

Marie-Antoinette in the Temple

 

Paintings:
Marie-Antoinette with Her Children by Élisabeth Vigée-LebrunVarennes, 21st June 1791, XIX sec. painting
Marie Antoinette in The Temple, XIX sec. painting

Catherine_of_Braganza_-_Lely_1663-65 September (3)

Keeping Up Appearances: Catherine of Braganza, Charles II’s Underestimated Wife

Game Face

I love it when the “just there” players in reality TV shows make it to the end—and win. Their opponents hadn’t realized they were making moves the whole way. One “just there” historical player is Catherine of Braganza. She played one of the best games in the history of queens vs. mistresses.

It’s easy to overlook the Portuguese princess who married Charles II in 1662. Oh that shameless Charles II. He restored the English monarchy but any wisdom he possessed was overshadowed by his foolishness. The Merry Monarch openly had mistresses and acknowledged his illegitimate children. They even received more attention and had greater political influence than his wife.

“Poor Catherine” and “pity” are the phrases included in articles about the Queen of England. I had similar reactions at first. Catherine was a tender wife. I believe she would not want to be remembered as the pitiful queen who, at best, brought the tradition of tea drinking to England. I think we’ve been deceived. She played the game well and walked away with the money and ultimately didn’t need a man to fight her battles.

We can only feel a little bit of her great pain, but we need to focus on her practical side. What was her agenda?  Why did she stay in a marriage where she was rejected? How did she do it? She had her reasons for staying. After Charles’ death, she wrote to her brother that she married the king for the sake of Portugal. Portugal relied on the marriage alliance for protection.  Catherine had a lot riding on her shoulders.

Escaping Death and Divorce

Catherine got sick from pressures expected of her. She suffered three miscarriages and caught an illness that temporarily left her deaf loss and unable to walk. Good thing she recovered. She loved dancing and continued to enhance the quality of Italian music in the catholic friary she built. Technically British monarchs were not supposed to be practicing Catholics go there but she practiced her religion anyway. She was definitely in danger of treason, though, when she was accused of planning to poison the king along with other conspiracies. King Charles didn’t believe the accusations against his wife and ignored suggestions to divorce her. He said, “She could never do anything wicked, and it would be a horrible thing to abandon her.”

“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

She might have had trouble learning English, but she found ways to communicate and change people’s perceptions. Catherine literally painted herself out to be a saint. After she was painted as St. Catherine, other women at court followed suit. Some of the mistresses attempted at being depicted as heavenly but it wouldn’t do. They had influence in government but Catherine was bold enough to remind them she was the only one who held the title of queen.

For example, look closely at this portrait.

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An accident? It’s almost as if she’s pointing at the crown. Time went on, and most of her portraits included the crown and sovereign orb.

Catherine worked hard on her public image of being a pious woman (but she also loved to party), and conveyed the message that she was still the queen.

The person she needed to convince most was the king. Though he had many mistresses, he viewed the queen as infallible.

The King’s Apology

Part luck, part strategy, and all miracle, Catherine outlived her husband by twenty years. She must have been envied—and admired—by past queens when her husband actually asked for her forgiveness on his deathbed. She sent a message: “to beg his pardon if she offended him all his life.” He said “Alas poor woman! She asks for my pardon? I beg hers with all my heart, take her back that answer.”

Sweet and Sassy

Catherine had been Charles’ angel, but others saw her as someone difficult to work with. Before Catherine returned to Portugal, she stayed in England to pursue a lawsuit. She was determined to get money back from a former chamberlain who neglected her finances. She proved she hadn’t come all the way to a foreign country over two decades before just to be cheated on. She became very wealthy.

Catherine’s current chamberlain worked closely with the now dowager-queen. He took the blame for Catherine’s actions when Mary II found out that Catherine forbade the chapels at Somerset House to say prayers for King William. William once tried to get Catherine out of Somerset House, but Catherine reminded him she was protected with certain rights. It took Queen Mary to talk through things with Catherine.  Finally it was agreed upon that it would be best if she returned to Portugal.

She Rules!

Catherine was greeted like a hero when she returned to Portugal, She assisted her brother ruling as regent. Her rule included victories over invading threats. One of her greatest victories though, was acting as a mother figure to her motherless nephew. She lifted his spirits when his mother died. When Catherine died, he became depressed again. This shows what a positive influence she could have over people.

So, here’s a queen of two countries, who didn’t produce an heir, and surprisingly, didn’t get a divorce. She was accused of treason, but stayed alive well after her husband’s death and left with the wealth she deserved. Catherine, the queen of England and Portugal, proved to be a capable leader and mother figure. The odds were against her, but she came up on top.

The Catherine Club

Catherine of Braganza shared more than just her namesake with some of the Catherines that graced England’s royal scene. .

 

425px-CatherineAragon Catherine of Aragon. Aragon was 23 when she married Henry VIII. Braganza was also 23 when she married Charles. Both marriages lasted about 23 years. Aragon lost her husband through annulment and Braganza lost her husband through the king’s death.

 

Catherine_Parr_from_NPG_croppedCatherine Parr. Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife who’s also known as the one who survived. She and Braganza experienced rumors of divorce and accusations of treason. Despite threats, they both ended up finding favor and outlived their kings.

 

182px-Catherine,_Duchess_of_CambridgeKate Middleton.   Perhaps the Catherine that Braganza identifies with most. The now Duchess of Cambridge will be the first British queen to be named Catherine since Braganza. She is also married to the first direct descent of Charles II expected to inherit the throne.

 

CatherineofBraganza In Black (2)Though Charles II had many illegitimate children, they weren't entitled to the throne. It would be over three centuries before a direct descendant would be eligible to be king.

William_and_Kate_wedding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image credits:
Queen Catherine of Braganza (featured image) by Peter Lely
Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England (pointing to crown) by Jean Baptiste Gaspars
Catherine of Aragon by Michel Sittow
Catherine Parr by William Scrots
Catherine,  Duchess of Cambridge
Catherine of Braganza (in black) by Peter Lely
Charles II in the robes of the Order of the Garter, by John Michael Wright
The Royal Family on the Balcony 

Further Credits:
Catherine of Braganza: Charles II’s Queen by Hebe Elsna

 Catherine of Braganca: Infanta of Portugal and Queen-Consort of England By Lillias Campbell Davidson

Lives of the Queens of England from the Norman Conquest By Agnes Strickland, Elizabeth Strickland

Catherine of Braganza by Thomas Fredrick Tout

http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/queen_of_reg/catherine.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_of_Braganza

 

Charlotte Corday

Jael vs. Charlotte Corday: History’s Heroines or Villainesses?

The Bible’s Jael and French Revolution’s Charlotte Corday committing murder has to gone down with some of the most controversial moves in history.  It’s hard to say if they did the right thing . To understand why they did what they did, we need to look at the overall picture.

Jael

"Jael" by Spillberg

“Jael” by Spillberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barak wanted Deborah to go with him and his troops to face Canaanite army led by Sisera. Deborah agreed and told him, “The Lord shall sell Sisera in the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9).

When Jael saw Siseria approaching, she acted as a friendly hostess. She welcomed him in her tent, gave him milk and blanket, and made sure he’s not disturbed. Then she “took a hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened into the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died” (Judges 4:21).

Tissot_Jael_Smote_Sisera,_and_Slew_Him

“Jael Smote Sisera and Slew Him” by Tissot

"Jael Shows to Barak Sisera Lying Dead" by Tissot

“Jael Shows to Barak Sisera Lying Dead” by Tissot

She went out to meet Barak who was no doubt graetful. Thanks to Jael, Israel gained momentum in fighting Canaan.  “God subdued on that day Jabin king of Canaan before the children of Israel. And the hand of the children of Israel prospered, and prevailed against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan” (Judges 4:23-24).

What a wonderful and victorious ending. She killed a key captain making way for Israel to eventually kill the king.

Deborah praised Jael: “Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent” (Judges 5:2)

"Deborah Praises Jael" by Gustave Dores

“Deborah Praises Jael” by Gustave Dores

 

Charlotte Corday

Charlotte Corday

“Charlotte Corday” From Evert A. Duykinck’s “A Portrait Gallery of Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America, with Biographies.”

 

During the French Revolution, a twenty-four-year old gave herself a mission. She planned to kill Jean-Paul Marat.

Charlotte Corday lived in in Normandy. She sympathized with the Girondists, a political group moderates—who were not for an absolute monarchy but didn’t like where the revolution was going. She, like other Girondists, were disgusted with the politics of the Jacobins, members of a radical political club, who used terror and violence to wipe out their opponents in the Reign of Terror such as the nobles and Girondists. Jean-Paul Marat, propaganda journalist and one of the Jacobin leaders, played a big role in that and most notably in the mass killings in Paris in 1792 which became known as the September Massacres. That event and the threat of civil war motivated Charlotte to take action and take out such a threat.

Going for the Most Venerable Leader

Without telling her plans to anyone, Charlotte traveled from Normandy to Paris with the intent to kill Marat. As mentioned before, Marat was a leader of the Jacobins, but he wasn’t the head leader.  Maximillian de Robespierre led the Reign of Terror. It’s been argued if she had to kill someone, it should have been Robespierre. That would have been like going for a king which actually would have made her mission impossible. Like Jael, Charlotte was going to wipe out a captain-figure not a type of king.

You could say both Charlotte and Jael used unorthodox weapons that usually served for every day use. Jael used a hammer and stake, and Charlotte used a six-inch blade kitchen knife she bought when she got to Paris .

Charlotte planned to kill Marat in front of the National Convention.  Due to illnesses, he was unable to make public appearances. He had developed a skin disorder probably from hiding in sewers. Charlotte found out he was staying with his wife Simone.  The first two times Charlotte went to the apartment, Simone turned her away. Charlotte claimed to have a list of Girondists that were plotting an uprising. On her third attempt, Marat wanted to speak with her.

Charlotte Corday et Marat by Jules Aviat 1880

Charlotte Corday et Marat by Jules Aviat 1880

L'Assassinat de Marat by Jean-Joseph Weerts

L’Assassinat de Marat by Jean-Joseph Weerts

Marat’s skin condition was so serious he did his work from the bathtub. As he wrote down the names, he was unaware that he was in such a vulnerable state. Charlotte stabbed him in the chest. He yelled to Simonne, and then he died. This was followed by a huge uproar and the arrest of Charlotte Corday on July 13, 1793.

Triumph?

Charlotte didn’t meet the same triumph as Jael. When Charlotte was tried, she was asked why she killed Marat.  She said she did it to save thousands. This answer had reflected Robespierre’s reaction to executing Louis XVI. Four days after killing Marat, Charlotte’s head went on the scaffold.

Did Charlotte Corday fail in her mission? It’s hard to say. She didn’t get the immediate praise Jael got for killing, but she made an immediate impact. One witness at her execution named Pierre Notelet said, “Her beautiful face was so calm, that one would have said she was a statue. Behind her, young girls held each other’s hands as they danced. For eight days I was in love with Charlotte Corday.”

"Charlotte Corday" by Jean-Jacques Hauer. This portrait was done in prison at her request.

“Charlotte Corday” by Jean-Jacques Hauer. This portrait was done in prison at her request.

Adam Lux, another witness, was so impressed with Charlotte Corday, he published pamphlets that deemed Charlotte’s actions justified and for freedom. He was also executed. I believe this shows that people got thinking who the actual enemy of was. It wasn’t pro-monarchs or true republicans. Those in power during the Reign of Terror didn’t have the French citizens’ best interests in mind. They were dictators who used sources, like the press, to deceive and threaten the people. There were those like Charlotte Corday who called them out.  A year after Charlotte’s death, those who corrupted the government also had a date with Madame Guillotine, including Robespierre.

Charlotte Corday went on to influence others with her patriotic zeal. Writer Alphonse de Lamartine nicknamed her the “angel of assassination” in his 1847 book Histoire des Girondins.

In 1860, France was on the road to a republic that Charlotte had desired. The Jacques-Louis David’s 1793 painting portraying Marat as a martyr that the Jacobins used as propaganda was literally painted at a different angle. In Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudr’s 1860 painting, Corday is portrayed as the heroine.

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“Death of Marat” 1793by Jaques-Louis David. Here Marat is portrayed as martyr.

 

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“Charlotte Codray” 1860 by Paul-Jaques-Aime Badry. Now, Charlotte is seen as the hero.

 

The Verdict

Did Jael do the right thing? Was Charlotte’s act justifiable?
I have studied the biblical text more and the Reign of Terror closer in order to come to a verdict. I’ve also considered the circumstances of war in their cases. I will not be a judge in the final judgement, but I’ve made my personal conclusions,
Jael: By killing the captain of the opposing army, Israel was able to win the battle and the war. She protected a nation by weakening the enemy. Verdict: Not guilty. Heroine.
Charlotte: Murdering a journalist responsible for massacres. It looked like she lost the battle, but her sacrifice was a necessary loss to win the war in finding freedom. She identified France’s true enemies. Verdict: Not guilty. Heroine.

Do you agree with my verdicts?  The situations are in gray areas. I see these two women acting for their great good their country. One lived to see victorious results, and the other died before she could witness the enemies’ downfalls.

Helpful information from
The Bible
wikipedia.com
alstewart.com 

 Images from
http://madameguillotine.org.uk
http://commons.wikimedia.org/

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Poet Profile: Princess Marie-Therese of France

Marie-Therese did not like to think of the time she spent in the cell and would not like to be remembered for being a prisoner in it for so long. Hopefully, she wouldn’t mind being regarded as an example on how to deal with loneliness and painful circumstances.

In an earlier article, I wrote about her aunt Elisabeth helping her find ways to cope and what to do when she was completely alone. Her aunt advised her to keep quiet around guards, When Marie-Therese was alone and needed to voice her frustrations, she turned to writing. Writing was a means of survival. She called herself “the most unhappy creature in the world.” No matter how depressing her writings, writing kept her from going totally insane.

Reading Treasures: A Retreat for Everything Marie Antoinette  included a translation of some of Marie-Therese’s poetry in their post called  “I was your king’s daughter:the poetry of Marie Therese Charlotte in captivity” Her poem “I Was Your King’s Daughter” was found in a book kept by  family of Madeleine Bocquet-Chanterenne. The translation in English reads:

I was your king’s daughter
separated from all my family.
I languish in this sad jail
Alas! I say with good reason
Even though I am alone and sad
My jail would appear happy to me
If I was in this place with my brother.
To my mother, to the Conciergerie
I asked to be reunited
But as an answer, my jailers
Say: this has nothing to do with us.
Spread your blessings on her,
God! Open promptly your jail.
A short time ago, at night
I was sleeping peacefully in my bed.
I got suddenly woken up
By the enraged noise of my locks.
They were coming to my door, they were knocking.
I replied immediately: who is there?
I was asked to open up, I replied:
I am getting up and leaving my bed.
I was hoping that I would get out,
I was expecting to leave the tower.
I go to the door, I finally open it!
They come in with my jailer
I look at them, hoping they would ask me
to follow them and come.
But alas! They stare at me
And suddenly without saying a word, they go out with my jailer.
This poem makes me want to go back in time and say to the teenager that she’ll make it out alive. It was a horrible ordeal but she kept fighting.
This poem also shows it’s important for schools to let their students write poetry. I taught a little English class after school. There was so much material that needed to be covered, I didn’t think about poetry that much. After the last day (when the students actually wrote a poem), I regretted that I hadn’t incorporated  more poetry into the lessons.  Writing poetry wasn’t an academic requirement but I think it would have helped the children more with problems outside of school.
Portrait of Marie Thérèse of France (1778-1851) by Heinrich Fuger 
800px-Salem_witch2 by Joseph Baker

“Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History”—What Does That Mean?

Laurel Ulrich was perplexed that she couldn’t find much information about Puritan women. As a graduate student at the University of New Hampshire, she was writing a seminar and then an article on early American women. She wanted to let people know that there were other women instead of just the witches. In her article, she wanted to stress that we need to pay attention to the invisible women and wrote “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

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She wrote that in 1976. Nearly twenty years later, a journalist called her up and asked if she could use that quote. Ulrich said yes and soon got asked by others if they could to print that phrase on t-shirts. “Sure! Send me a t-shirt,” Ulrich replied. It was then that the phrase turned into a slogan and phenomenon. It’s been seen on bumper stickers, quilts, coffee mugs, and used by organizations. (Sometimes without her permission.) People interpreted it a variety of ways, and it was used quite differently than she intended. However, she took an interest in the different views of the phrase and saw why people used it the way they did.

So Ulrich decided to write a book called Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History which explores why some women are remembered and why some are not, how they’re remembered, what has been done for them to be remembered, and what we can do. The book centers around three feminist writers—Christine de Pizan of France who lived in the fifteenth century, American Elizabeth Cady Stanton who lived in the nineteenth century, and Virginia Woolf of England who lived in the twentieth century. Though these three women lived in different time periods and places, they were concerned with the way women were viewed. Ulrich reflects on their lives while branching out to many other women who made a mark on history. I learned about women I hadn’t heard of and new information on subjects I already knew about it.

For example, I knew about Rosa Parks, but didn’t know there were other women before her who refused to give up their seat on the bus, but a journalist decided that she was the best candidate. Since she came from a conservative background, her actions would make a bigger impact.  Lots of times it’s the way people are presented that help them make history. Ulrich points out that it depends on what you mean by “well-behaved.”

Some daring women were almost not remembered—it took years and multiple efforts to publish an early biography of Harriet Tubman. How many other women need biographies? There are just so many women that are waiting for their stories to be told! At an authors’ conference discussing her book, Ulrich said “History is a dialogue between present and past….What we bring to it is our questions and our concerns. If some women are invisible in history it’s because for some reason that link between the present and past has been broken.”

It’s interesting to note that Ulrich doesn’t really discuss royalty—and that is actually quite refreshing! Ulrich uses a huge spectrum of women. From Joan of Arc being a controversial figure to Mormon polygamist wives who were career women and to the extreme 1970s to milkmaids’ contributions to society and back to us in modern times, your eyes will be opened and you will want to get out there and discover stories—including family stories. The importance of writing your own personal history also stands out.

Ulrich succeeded in writing as she put it a “feel good book.” (It’s already being used as a  future reference for this writer!) Her last chapter is powerful. It includes another woman, Jill Portugal, who owns a small t-shirt business. Her t-shirts say things like, “Ignore Celebrities” and “Anti-Porn Star.” Though she’s up against an industry that makes billions, her motto is brilliant: “Taking over the world one shirt at a time.”

Ulrich says, “If well-behaved women seldom make history, it is not only because gender norms have constrained the range of female activity but because history hasn’t been very good at capturing the lives of those whose contributions have been local and domestic.”

The last statement Ulrich makes has three valid points about how people can make history—the last being the most important. “Well-behaved women make history when they do the unexpected, when they create and preserve records, and when later generations care.”

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Pictures: Salem Witch by Joseph E. Baker, A Fair Puritan by E. Percy Moran,  and photograph of woman and child reading taken by unknown photographer

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The Aunt Who Saved Her Niece : Princess Elisabeth of France

French Revolution. What comes to mind?
Madam Guillotine,  Marie Antoinette, and sink me–The Scarlet Pimpernal. The 1982 film adaption of the book made me laugh so hard. I was also in awe. Did such heroes exist?

There were those who smuggled nobles into other countries. The films shows that Marie-Antoinette and Louis’s son survived and was taken from their prison to a safer place.

Wrong.

The sole survivor was the king and queen’s daughter, Marie-Therese. who clung on to some hope that maybe her brother and mother who were taken away had survived.

I can’t believed I went on for years not knowing about her–or her aunt Elisabeth, the king’s sister.  Elisabeth made sacrifice after sacrifice for the royal family–refusing to marry or take other available routes that would take her out of the country. She endured violent attacks with them and even posed as the queen to buy her sister-in-law more time during one ambush. It’s little wonder that Marie-Antoinette and Louis counseled their children to listen to their aunt.

All too soon the royal family was taken to the Temple Tower. They endured unfair trials and living conditions grew worse.  the king was executed and little Louis was taken to a separate cell. Marie-Antoinette was taken away and also executed, but Elisabeth and Marie-Therese only knew the king’s fate. However, I believe Elisabeth knew her sister-in-law was dead and had a strong feeling her nephew was slowly dying. Marie-Therese had the best chance of surviving.

The Heroic Aunt

The heroic aunt. Elisabeth de France by Vigee-Lebrun.

 
When it was just Elisabeth and Marie-Therese in the cell, Elisabeth comforted her niece. She was an example of piety and
Marie-Therese later said much of her survival was due to prayer. Elisabeth showed and advised her niece on how to groom herself, keep the cell as clean as possible, and how to handle the guards. It was just a matter of time before Elisabeth was taken away and was prepared to die a martyr. Marie-Therese would not find out what happened to her aunt, mother, and brother till much later. The information that her aunt watched around twenty-five nobles executed before her and was purposely saved for last would be withheld.

Marie-Therese was eventually freed and taken to Vienna in 1795 for safety.

The sole survivor. Portrait of Marie Thérèse of France by Heinrich Furger.

The sole survivor. Portrait of Marie Thérèse of France by Heinrich Furger.

She would go on to help royal refugees and raise troops against Napoleon dubbed her the “only man in the family.” She worked hard to preserve the memory of her family. The following comment about her aunt needs to be remembered.”I feel I have her nature . . . [she] considered me and cared for me as her daughter, and I, I honored her as a second mother.”
I hope I have some of Princess Elisabeth in me. Her story sticks out to me. In times of tough decisions, I have thought of my growing niece and my desire to be a good example. The thought points me in the right direction. I love my nieces and nephew. I’m honored when my brothers and their wives let me watch over their kids. Princess Elisabeth is a wonderful role model.  Her story is inspiring because it can make us think of ways we can be more loving toward our families.