Remembering the Easter Rising has never been a straightforward business. The first anniversary of the insurrection, commemorated at the ruins of the General Post Office on Easter Monday, 1917, descended into a riot. This year its centenary has been marked by dignified ceremonies, the largest public history and cultural event ever staged in Ireland and, in Northern Ireland, political discord, and menacing shows of paramilitary strength. Over the past century, the Rising’s divisiveness has remained its most salient feature.
This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising, a violent attempt by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland. Though a momentous event in itself, the Rising should be understood in the context of a decade of revolutionary activity during which Irish political culture was profoundly radicalised and partition came to look inevitable. It must also be understood in the context of the First World War.
This Easter, Dublin experienced the culmination of the commemorative activities planned for the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising. There was the traditional reading of the Proclamation in front of the General Post Office (GPO), the military parade, and a series of talks and seminars, held at various locations of historical and national significance.
This past Easter marked the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, an armed uprising by Irish rebels against British rule in 1916. An insurrection that lasted almost a week, the Easter Rising began as a small rebellion on Easter Sunday and turned into a full uprising by Easter Monday, 24 April 1916.
Most entries to the Eurovision song contest are frothy pop tunes, but this year’s contribution from Ukraine addresses Stalin’s deportation of the entire Tatar population of Crimea in May 1944. It may seem an odd choice, but is actually very timely if we dig a little into the history of mass repression and inter-ethnic tensions in the region. Almost a quarter of a million Tatars, an ethnically Turkic people indigenous to the Crimea, were moved en masse to Soviet Central Asia as a collective punishment for perceived collaboration with the Nazis.
Easter was late in 1916, falling on 23 April, St George’s Day. This coincidence of faith and patriotism was inevitably both heightened and tempered by the ongoing struggles of the First World War. April 1916 came amidst the protracted fighting of the Battle of Verdun, a long and bloody conflict yet one which was only a foretaste of the horrors to come at the Somme the summer following. It also happened to mark the Tercentenary of the death of William Shakespeare.
Some four decades ago the late Sir Moses Finley, then Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge University, published a powerful series of lectures entitled Democracy Ancient and Modern (1973, republished in an augmented second edition, 1985). He himself had personally suffered the atrocious deficit of democracy that afflicted his native United States in the 1950s, forcing him into permanent exile, but my chief reason for citing his book here, apart from out of continuing intellectual respect, is that its title could equally well have been Democracy Ancient Versus Modern.
15 October 2015. Another cold, grey afternoon in Hamburg-Langenhorn. My last research visit to Helmut Schmidt’s private archive next to his home, a simple bungalow in the northern suburbs of the city. I was there to check some final references before sending my book off to press. But unexpectedly there was a chance to say hello to the former Chancellor, now ailing and housebound, before I took a taxi to the airport.
In France today, pork has become political. A series of conservative mayors have in recent months deliberately withdrawn the pork-free option from school lunch menus. Advocates of the policy claim to be the true defenders of laïcité, the French secular principle that demands neutrality towards religion in public space.
In early November 2015, the Belgian and Dutch press announced that a small land swap was in the making between Belgium and the Netherlands. Agreement has been reached at the local level that Belgium would cede a small peninsula in the river Maas [Meuse] of about 14 hectares – the size of 28 soccer fields – to the Netherlands. In return, Belgium would get a smaller piece of Dutch territory where it had already built a water lock.
Brexit—the prospect of Britain exiting the European Union—has garnered a great deal of attention in the past year as Britons debate the pros and cons of remaining a member of the EU. So-called Eurosceptics oppose integration with Europe for a variety of reasons, among them the constraints it places on the UK’s ability to negotiate more advantageous trade agreements, and the regulations and bureaucratic excesses the EU imposes on Britain in economic, financial, and judicial matters.
While the French revolutionary era is a period of the past, it remains one of the most defining moments in the country’s legacy and history. The major victors and vices are well known in these moments of violence and change—but what about the forgotten? From radical cleric Henri Grégoire to military leader Armand-Louis de Gontaut, here are but four overlooked figures of the French Revolution.
Pope Francis recently announced a “Year of Mercy.” He called on all Catholics to once again realize that God is love and that this includes infinite mercy. Yet, the message of mercy, also with its practical consequences, has been constant on the agenda of the Catholic Church, even in the eighteenth century—a time which is allegedly known for its rigid, sectarian close-mindedness. Here are four ways that the Catholic Church has emphasized “mercy” over time.
The politics and religious turmoil of 16th century England provided Shakespeare with the fascinating characters and intriguing plots. From the publication of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, which some historians argue ignited the Protestant cause, to the publication of the Geneva Bible in 1560, English religious history has dramatically influenced Shakespeare’s work.
Religious belief has been allied, for centuries, with fundamentalism and intolerance. It’s possible to have one without the other, but it requires a degree of self-criticism that is not easily acquired. When Calvin endorsed the execution of Michael Servetus in 1553, he justified his decision by appeal to the certainty of his own religious faith.
On 12 November 2015 the Ukrainian Parliament took the bold step of recognizing the destruction of the Crimean Tatar nation by the Soviet Army in 1944 as a genocide. The surviving Crimean Tatars hope that this long overdue action will shine an expository light on a genocide that has been kept hidden for decades and is still not recognized by Russia.