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Question of The Week - European History

Go to This Week's Question

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Each week I will ask a question relating to either American history or politics. You should e-mail me the answer to get extra credit. Please put EURO QOW in your email subject line. Try your luck at guessing or researching the answers to this week's question. Answers will be posted after I have posted the answer at school on the following Monday. No answers will be accepted after 6:00 AM on that Monday morning. Please put EURO QOW in the heading of your email and be sure to tell me what period you are in.

Go to This Week's Question - By Monday morning, this link will take you to the new question for next week, so be sure you answer the question for the correct week. If your answer comes in after I've already posted the answer, you will not get credit. I will always let you know if you've gotten the answer right so if you don't hear back from me within 24 hours, I probably didn't receive your email. If you're wrong, you can try again and again until you're successful.

Week of August 11 - 21

Italian humanists seem to have trouble resting in their graves.  Answer these questions about three humanists whose bodies have been recently exhumed.

A. Which early humanist and poet’s body was exhumed in 2003 to measure his height, only to find that the grave had the wrong skull? Francesco Petrarch

B. As a part of CSI-type documentary on Italian TV, which philosopher’s body was exhumed to discover that he had died due to arsenic poisoning? Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

C. Another Renaissance poet’s body was also exhumed at the same time as the man in question ‘B’ and the results show that he had also died from arsenic poisoning.  Name that poet. Poliziano

Week of August 21 - 28

Answer these questions about three figures of the Age of Reformation.

A. Name the pope, one of the most powerful in papal history, who led the Church’s efforts against the Protestant Reformation.  He also issued a papal bull against enslaving the native peoples of the Americas.  Despite his interest in church reform, he also infamously practiced nepotism when he appointed two of his grandsons as cardinals at the ages of fourteen and sixteen years old.  In fact, he was originally appointed a cardinal by the Borgia pope, Alexander VI, because his sister was Pope Alexander’s mistress. Pope Paul III

B. What Reformation figure who took a very controversial position rejecting the trinity was also a scholar of math and the sciences being the first European to describe pulmonary circulation?  This Spanish polymath is regarded as one of the very first Unitarians for his arguments against belief in the Trinity. He came to a tragic end when John Calvin had him burned at the stake, but also became a hero for the freedom of religious conscience.  Michael Servetus

C. Name this 16th century former Catholic priest from a province in the Netherlands who became the leading Anabaptist.  His followers were notable for their commitment to pacifism.  There are an estimated 1.7 million followers of his teachings today in countries all over the world.  Some of his earliest followers settled in colonial Pennsylvania.  As such they were known as Plain people and included groups such as the Amish. You may be familiar with the fair-trade stores, Ten Thousand Villages, established by contemporary followers of this man’s teachings.
Menno SimonsWeek of August 28 - September 4

The Index of Prohibited Books, created in 1558 and promulgated at the Council of Trent, included some works and writers whose presence there might not really surprise us such as Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli.  Galileo’s compete works were put on the Index, but in 1718, the ban was lifted except for his Dialogue Concerning the Two chief World Systems concerning Copernican astronomy.  Surprisingly, the works of Charles Darwin and Karl Marx were never placed on the Index.  In 1966, the Church abolished the Index and placed the decision on the individual whether to read works that could threaten their faith and morality.

Identify these writers whose works were place on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

A. One work by this famed writer was placed on the list, his early 14th century book, De Monarchia, which argued that both the Pope and Holy Roman Emperor were human and derived their authority from God and neither had the power to rule over the other’s domain.  You can see why the Church wouldn’t approve of that. Dante Alighieri

B.  This Italian adventurers whose Mémoires were placed on the list became so famous for his amorous adventures that his name has entered the language to mean a promiscuous philanderer or, as the Urban Dictionary put it, “A smooth-talking charmer who has mastered the art of finding, meeting, attracting and seducing beautiful women into the bedroom. One he accomplishes his goal, he leaves the woman in fear of having a relationship and proceeds to find his next conquest.” Giacoma Casanova

C. Both this father and his illegitimate son who shared the same name were placed on the list.  The father was placed on the list in 1863 for all his love stories, but interestingly didn’t include one of his most famous books about a man who seeks to revenge himself on his enemies who had had him falsely imprisoned 25 years earlier. The son was also placed on the list a century later for his love stories, the most famous one, The Lady of the Camellias, was the story of beautiful courtesan dying of tuberculosis and which became the basis for Verdi’s opera, La Traviata. Alexandre Dumas, père and fils

Week of September 4 - 11

Answer these questions about the mistresses of French kings.

1. Name this mistress of Henry II to whom he gave the beautiful to which she added the famed bridge across the Loire.  The castle was recognized as one of the most beautiful in France so the king’s widow, Catherine de’ Medici forced the mistress to give it to her after the king’s death. Diane de Poitiers

2. Another king later purchased the château for his favorite mistress, Gabrielle d'Estrées.  The king
was well known for his many affairs, but he so loved this mistress that he wanted to marry her after his marriage to Marguerite de Valois was annulled.  This would have caused a great scandal and many feared what would have happened if he’d tried to name his sons by her as heirs.  Sadly for him, but perhaps fortunately for peace in France, she died from an eclampsia in her pregnancy.  Name this king whose romantic hopes were so sadly dashed. Henry IV

3. Louis XIV had many mistresses.  Name this mistress by whom he had seven children.  Her reign as Maîtresse-en-titre, or chief mistress of the king, came to an end when she was implicated in the infamous “Affair of the Poisons” and it became known that she had bought aphrodisiacs to keep the king’s affections. Madame de Montespan

4. Perhaps the most famous of French royal mistresses is this mistress of Louis XV.  She became very influential in the court.  She helped negotiate the so-called “Diplomatic Revolution” which involved France forming an alliance with its former enemy, Austria.  That led to the marriage of the heir to the throne with Marie Antoinette of Austria as well as France’s involvement in the Seven Years War on Austria’s side.  Name this famed and powerful mistress who sponsored the arts, Enlightenment philosophes and economists. Madame de Pompadour

Week of September 11 - 18

Answer these questions about plots against Tudor rulers

1. When Henry VII took the throne in 1485, his rather uncertain claim to the throne was challenged a couple of times by pretenders to the throne who claimed to be one of the “Princes in the Tower,” the sons of Edward IV who had disappeared mysteriously during the reign of Richard III.  The largest rebellion was in 1497 centering on this young man who claimed to be Richard, Duke of York.  He obtained the support of Margaret of Burgundy, the young princes’ aunt, and the support of James IV of Scotland.  Name this young man who eventually captured and hanged. Perkin Warbeck

2. After Edward VI died, there was a plot to put this young cousin of the king on the throne in place of his sisters Mary and Elizabeth.  Name this young woman who served as queen for nine days before she was overthrown by Mary and sentenced to death. Lady Jane Grey

3.  There were several plots to assassinate Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.  Name this 1586 plot, named after the young English Catholic nobleman who was the chief conspirator, and that was the final after several of these other plots.  The evidence of Mary’s perfidy was obtained using a double agent and a famous cipher code that was used as evidence to try Mary and sentence her to death. The Babington Plot

Week of September 188 - 25

Answer these questions about famous intellectuals of the 17th century.

A. Which prominent thinker was born prematurely supposedly when his mother heard of the coming invasion of the Spanish Armada and later wrote that his “mother gave birth to twins: myself and fear”? 

B. One of the most famous poets in English literature wrote his most famous work as an expression of his disappointment in the failure of the English Revolution in the wake of the Restoration of Charles II.  He also wrote a pamphlet advocating for divorce on the basis of incompatibility between spouses.  Apparently, he was motivated to his position on divorce by his wife’s desertion of him soon after their marriage.     One of his most important works was an essay arguing for freedom of speech and press that has been cited as a foundation for our own First Amendment freedoms. 

C. Name this famed English metaphysical poet and friend of the poet in question #2 who reportedly convinced Charles II not to execute that poet in #2.  This poet served as a tutor to the daughter of Lord General Thomas Fairfax who had led the New Model Army.  He wrote poems to Fairfax and an ode about Cromwell’s return from Ireland although his lyric poetry is more famous.  As a Member of Parliament during the Restoration reign of Charles II, he wrote several satirical poems about Charles II’s reign and pamphlet, An Account of the Growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government in England, charging that there was a plot to introduce absolutist tyranny, French slavery, and Popish idolatry into England. 

D) Name this prominent writer thought to have written the first novel in English who also wrote pamphlets and poems defending William III in his wars against the French.  He was a Presbyterian dissenter who was sentenced to the pillory for his writings in defense of dissenters.  He wrote articles and pamphlets supporting the 1707 Treaty of Union between England and Scotland and served as a spy in Scotland to undermine those who opposed the Union.