Controversy surrounding the Queen reached a fever pitch in 1785–86 in what was known as the "diamond–necklace affair." A court schemer, Jeanne de la Motte, wove a complex web of intrigue, in which she convinced Cardinal Louis de Rohan—an aristocrat from a long–standing noble family who was determined to become the Queen’s lover—to purchase for Marie Antoinette an elaborate jewel necklace (made... Read More »
Bread was the basic staple of most people’s diets, and variations in the price of bread were keenly felt by the poor, especially by women who most frequently bought bread in the marketplace. Women would sometimes protest against what they thought to be unjust price increases for bread in what were known as "bread riots." As this excerpt shows, these were not usually violent, nor did they... Read More »
In the rioting over prices of February 1793, women appealed first to the authorities, showing that they intended to communicate directly with their representatives in the municipal government of Paris. By explicitly referring to themselves as "citizens," these women publicly claimed their right to be heard.
On May 11, 1988, Józef Czyrek, a member of the Polish Politburo, inaugurated the Polish Club of International Relations, an organization unprecedented in that it included both members of the government and of opposition organizations. Meant to coincide with the announcement of dramatic economic reforms by the Sejm (historically the lower half of parliament in Poland, during the Socialist... Read More »
Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) was an Italian intellectual who joined first the Socialist and then the Communist Party. Between 1924 and 1926 Gramsci was the head of the Italian Communist Party. In 1926 he was arrested by the Mussolini fascist government and sent to prison where he remained until 1937. The excerpt that follows comes from his prison notebooks and demonstrates his fascination with... Read More »
In the summer of 1989, President George Bush made an official visit to several East European countries, each in the midst of democratic demonstrations and public pressure on their Communist regimes. These visits provided President Bush an opportunity to lend support for the dramatic changes in Eastern Europe. In Hungary, for example, the President gave a speech at the famous Karl Marx... Read More »
The second image, a color drawing by the popular English caricaturist James Gillray in 1805 during the Empire, takes a different view of the Directory, suggesting that it is a time of moral decadence and self–aggrandizement. It depicts Paul Barras, while in power as a member of the five–man executive Directory in 1797, being entertained by the naked dancing of two wives of prominent men, the... Read More »