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Mencius and his Mother: A Lesson Drawn from Weaving thumbnail

Mencius and his Mother: A Lesson Drawn from Weaving

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This illustration depicts a scene from the Traditions of Exemplary Women (Lienü zhuan) of Liu Xiang (ca. 77-6 BCE), one of China's first didactic texts on feminine morality. The text to this story is provided below the illustration. The story recounts the upbringing of Mencius (ca. 371-289 BCE), one of the greatest Confucian philosophers of early China. Mencius, or Mengzi, as he is... Read More »

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Meng Ch'iu, Empress Ma in coarse-woven silk

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"Meng Ch'iu" translates as "Beginner's Guide." This text by Li Han, who lived during the early Tang Dynasty (618-907), presented the stories of famous figures in China's history and legendary tales. It joined a prominent genre of literature for children as one of the many instructional texts that took both history and biography as its focus. Not only would Meng Ch'iu serve as an educational... Read More »

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Meng Ch'iu, K'uang Heng bores a hole in the wall Sun Ching shuts his door

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"Meng Ch'iu" translates as "Beginner's Guide." This text by Li Han, who lived during the early Tang Dynasty (618-907), presented the stories of famous figures in China's history and legendary tales. It joined a prominent genre of literature for children as one of the many instructional texts that took both history and biography as its focus. Not only would Meng Ch'iu serve as an educational... Read More »

Montesquieu, "The Spirit of the Laws"

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In The Spirit of the Laws published in 1748, Montesquieu took a less playful tone. Rather than lampooning French customs as he did in The Persian Letters, he offered a wide–ranging comparative analysis of governmental institutions. He argued that the type of government varied depending on circumstances. This idea might not seem very radical today, but in the eighteenth century it implied that... Read More »

Montesquieu’s The Persian Letters (1721)

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Charles–Louis de Sécondat, Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu (1689–1755), was born into a family of noble judges near Bordeaux. He published The Persian Letters anonymously because he feared that his criticisms of the recently deceased Louis XIV might get him into trouble with government officials. The novel made him an overnight sensation. He sold his position as a judge and devoted himself... Read More »

Moreau, "Principles of Monarchy" (1773)

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Jacob–Nicolas Moreau wrote his "lessons of morality, politics and law" for the instruction of the Dauphin. Throughout the 200–page book, Moreau defends the power of the King to rule France without opposition. In this passage, he emphasized that the current King must be actively involved in governing and could no longer inspire respect from his subjects merely by occupying the throne, as had... Read More »

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Mourning Rituals for Deceased Children

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This moving tribute, carved in the stone of an elaborate shrine, honored a five-year-old boy who died in 170 CE. While the emotions expressed in this inscription seem universal in nature, it is important to note that in Chinese antiquity, mourning a small child was considered to be highly irregular.

According to an ancient Chinese text on ritual called the Yili, mourning rites are... Read More »

Necker, "Account to the King" (1781)

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Unlike the British, where the crown’s finance minister gave an annual report to Parliament, the French royal treasury’s accounts were a closely guarded secret. Yet Louis XVI’s second finance minister, Jacques Necker, a Swiss banker, who claimed to be more attuned to the benefits of public confidence than to palace intrigue at court, thought the crown would be better able to raise funds if it... Read More »

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