© 2019-20 Ryan Setliff. Man of Letters and the ColorTwist logo are the intellectual property of Ryan M. Setliff. All rights reserved.
Photographs Below: Forest and streams in the Bankhead National Forest, Northwestern Alabama, United States of America.
"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit. . .
—The Apostles Creed
Conservative [kənˈsərvədiv]: adjective 1. attitudes and values and cautious about change and innovation, in relation to politics or religion.
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man who asketh you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear."
—1 Peter 3:15
His·to·ri·an [hiˈstôrēən]: noun. An expert in or student of history, especially that of a particular period, geo-graphical region, or social phenomenon.
"a military historian"
Occidentalist [ɒk sɪˈdɛn tlˌɪzt]: noun. A person who is an enthusiast for Western civilization and its distinctive culture.
Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, borrowed from Latin occidentālis, from occident-,
Traditionalist [trə-ˈdish-nə-list]: noun. 1: adherence to the doctrines or practices of an advocate of maintaining tradition 2: the beliefs of those opposed to modernism, liberalism, or radicalism.
A man of letters is a man who is well-versed in humanities, literature and related scholarly pursuits. That's me. From an early age, I was always fascinated by the world around me. My father's best friend bought me a National Geographic Atlas at age eight. My parents bought me an encyclopedia not long beforehand. I am fascinated by architecture, arts, the Bible, the classics, economics, high culture, history, humanities, literature, military science, philosophy, political science, theology, and Western Civilization.
"The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations."
agrarian [ə-ˈgrer-ē-ən]: adjective. 1. of or relating to fields or lands or their tenure.
2 a: of, relating to, or characteristic of farms or their way of life.
"He's a promoter of agrarian virtues."
b: organized or designed to promote agricultural interests.
"He belongs to an agrarian movement."
Conservationist [känsərˈvāSHənəst]: noun. A person who advocates or acts for the protection and preservation of the environment and wildlife.
clas·si·cist [ˈklasəsəst]: noun 1. a person who studies the Classics (of ancient Greek and Latin). 2. a follower of classicism in the arts.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
An·glo·phile [aNGɡləˌfīl]: noun 1. a person who is fond of or greatly admires England or Britain. adjective 1. fond or admiring of England or Britain.
The prestigious University of Notre Dame is enmeshed in my family tradition, and it stands out for its commitment to excellence in academics and athletics. Its football team pioneered the invention of the forward pass; Notre Dame claims 13 national football titles.
Medievalist: noun. An expert in medieval history, literature, philosophy, etc. A person who is greatly attracted to the art, culture, spirit, etc., of the Middle Ages.
Scandophile [ˈskan dō fil]: A person who admires & is fascinated by the cultures, languages, & varied geography of Scan-dinavia (i.e. Denmark, Norway, Sweden).
e.g. "After Ryan find out he had Vikings in his family tree, he's a veritable Scandophile."
Cel·to·phile [ˈkel-toˌfīl]: noun 1. a person who is a lover of all things Celtic or Gaelic, as exemplified by the cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, et al. regions.
Christian [kris-chən]: noun. A person who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
"The Christian Church promotes the teachings and way of salvation manifest in the revealed revelation of Jesus Christ, the incarnate logos, that is God in the flesh."
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Above Art Credit: "The Architect's Dream" oil painting originally by Thomas Cole (1853) (public domain)
The American Cause by Russell Kirk (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2002).
The American Cause explains the bedrock principles upon which the United States of America's republic was founded upon. Russell Kirk, a luminary among conservative intellectuals, elicited notoriety for his series of books on conservative political philosophy. Kirk intended this book to be a platform of the underlying moral and social principles that upheld the American nation and its project in republican self-government. Kirk examines in lucid detail how various cultural, political, economic, and religious ideas animate these principles into a coherent worldview that have united Americans in crisis hour when faced with challenges from within and without by the enemies of ordered liberty.
The American Republic: Primary Sources, ed. by Bruce Frohnen (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2002)
An insightful compilation of primary source documents explaining the American Republic's rootedness in inprinciples pertaining to idividual liberty, the autonomy of the local community, states' rights, federalism, the limited delegation of federal power, and the character and nature of the American constitutional order. This wonderful anthology of primary sources is perfect for the student of political philosophy and everyday Americans who endeavor to learn more about the republican principles upon which the United States of America was founded upon. This is an excellent reference book and the perfect addition to your library!
The Roots of American Order by Russell Kirk (Intercollegiate Studies Inst., 2015).
What holds America together? In this classic work, Russell Kirk describes the beliefs and institutions that have nurtured the American soul and commonwealth. Beginning with the Hebrew prophets, Kirk examines in dramatic fashion the sources of American order. His analytical narrative might be called “a tale of five cities”: Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and Philadelphia. For an understanding of the significance of America at the dawn of a new century, Russell Kirk’s masterpiece on the history of American civilization is unsurpassable. This edition includes a new foreword by the distinguished historian Forrest McDonald.
Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory That Changed American History (New York, NY: Sentinel, 2019).
In 1836, the feared Mexican General Santa Anna massacred more than two-hundred Texans who had been besieged in the Alamo. After two weeks of fighting, American frontiersmen Jim Bowie and Davey Crockett died there, along with scores of other Americans who had moved west to Texas in hopes of obtaining a fresh start in life! It proved to be a crushing blow to Texans in their bid for independence. The defeat galvanized Texan settlers, under the leadership of General Sam Houston, who rallied a spirited defense and counterattack against the Mexican Army. This is the tale of their shocking victory and triumph, all in a bid to win the independence of Texas. This is historical storytelling at its best, as Brian Kilmeade tells the tale of the Texas Revolution! The American spirit tamed the West, and it did so bringing the spirit of 1776 to Texas, as Steve Austin and Sam Houston quickly rallied Texans in a moment that continues to resound in the popular historical memory. The last stand at the Alamo started it all, and became the basis of the rally cry: 'Remember the Alamo!'
I am an American by birth and citizenship. I am a native of Virginia, and I am proud of my country of birth, and a patriot. It was born in the Age of Discovery, and followed by a wave of settlements, as it was peopled primarily by Englishmen, Scots, Irish, French, Dutch, Swedes, and later Germans. England transmitted its culture and legal system to this new nation in a slow process spanning the centuries from the seventeenth century onward.
Russell Kirk's The American Cause notes:
“[A] people needs to understand what freedom is. We Americans are fortunate that the Founders and their generation possessed that understanding. They knew that freedom, per se, is not enough. They knew that freedom must be limited to be preserved. This paradox is difficult for many students to grasp. Young people generally think freedom means authority figures leaving them alone so they can 'do their own thing.' That's part of what it means to be free, but true freedom involves much, much more. As understood by our Founders and by the best minds of the young republic, true freedom is always conditioned by morality. John Adams wrote, 'I would define liberty as a power to do as we would be done by.' In other words, freedom is not the power to do what one can, but what one ought. Duty always accompanies liberty. Tocqueville similarly observed, 'No free communities ever existed without morals.' The best minds concur: there must be borders: freedom must be limited to be preserved.
"What kinds of limits are we talking about?
The moral limits of right and wrong, which we did not invent but owe largely to our Christian heritage.
Intellectual limits imposed by sound reasoning. Again, we did not invent these but are in debt largely to Greco-Roman civilization, from the pre-Socratic philosophers forward.
Political limits such as the rule of law, inalienable rights, and representative institutions, which we inherited primarily from the British.
Legal limits of the natural and common law, which we also owe to our Western heritage.
Certain social limits, which are extremely important to the survival of freedom. These are the habits of our hearts--good manners, kindness, decency, and willingness to put others first, among other things--which are learned in our homes and places of worship, at school and in team sports, and in other social settings.
"All these limits complement each other and make a good society possible. But they cannot be taken for granted. It takes intellectual and moral leadership to make the case that such limits are important. Our Founders did that. To an exceptional degree, their words tutored succeeding generations in the ways of liberty. It is to America's everlasting credit that our Founders got freedom right."
―Russell Kirk, American Cause
An explanation of the American concept of freedom excerpted from "THE AMERICAN CAUSE" by Russell Kirk
"The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism . . ."
Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots by Thomas Kidd (Basic Books, 2011).
Most Americans know Patrick Henry as a fiery speaker whose pronouncement “Give me liberty or give me death!” rallied American defiance to the British Crown. But Henry's skills as an orator—sharpened in the small towns and courtrooms of colonial Virginia—are only one part of his vast, but largely forgotten, legacy. As historian Thomas S. Kidd shows, Henry cherished a vision of America as a virtuous republic with a clearly circumscribed central government. These ideals brought him into bitter conflict with other Founders and were crystallized in his vociferous opposition to the U.S. Constitution.
In Patrick Henry, Kidd pulls back the curtain on one of our most radical, passionate Founders, showing that until we understand Henry himself, we will neglect many of the Revolution's animating values.
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, — “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light, —
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”
Then he climbed to the tower of the church,
Up the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry-chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade, —
Up the light ladder, slender and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town,
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead
In their night-encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still,
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, “All is well!”
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay, —
A line of black, that bends and floats
On the rising tide, like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride,
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now gazed on the landscape far and near,
Then impetuous stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle-girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry-tower of the old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely, and spectral, and sombre, and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height,
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns!
A hurry of hoofs in a village-street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed that flies fearless and fleet:
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
It was twelve by the village-clock,
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river-fog,
That rises when the sun goes down.
It was one by the village-clock,
When he rode into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, blank and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village-clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning-breeze
Blowing over the meadows brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket-ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British regulars fired and fled, —
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard-wall,
Chasing the red-coats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm, —
A cry of defiance, and not of fear, —
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beat of that steed,
And the midnight-message of Paul Revere.
“I cannot live without books," proclaimed Thomas Jefferson. My attraction to books is twofold. First, I value knowledge for its own sake. Likewise I value the ability to acquire knowledge that comes from reading and contemplating the content of various books. When I was a child and discovered the public library, my summers were spent making pilgrimages to borrow books while taking full advantage of their generous lending practices that allowed for a large volume of books at the time of check-out.
I've included a selection of some of my favorite books that are available for purchase online. Just point and click the books to link to the purchase form, and they can be dropped shipped directly to your home or office. Commissions paid by Amazon.com to me help to offset the cost of operating this web site's server.
A BIBLIOPHILE IS A LOVER OF BOOKS. . . NEW SELECTIONS. . .
The Birth of the West: Rome, Germany, France, and the Creation of Europe in the Tenth Century by Paul Collins (Public Affairs, 2014).
The tenth century dawned in violence and disorder. Charlemagne's empire was in ruins, most of Spain had been claimed by Moorish invaders, and even the papacy in Rome was embroiled in petty, provincial conflicts. The stability once provided by Imperial Rome had dissolved, leaving a perilous landscape behind. Yet the story of the tenth century is the story of our culture's birth. This was the moment that civilization emerged from the Dark Ages into the light of day.
The Birth of the West tells the story of a transformation from chaos to order, exploring the alien landscape of Europe in transition. It thoroughly renovates older conceptions of feudalism and what medieval life was actually like. The result is a wholly-new vision of how civilization sprang from the unlikeliest of origins, and proof that our tenth-century ancestors are not as remote as we might think.
Liberty, State, & Union: The Political Theory of Thomas Jefferson by Marco Bassani (Atlanta, GA: Mercer Univ. Press)
Thomas Jefferson—the author of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat, Secretary of State under George Washington, and former president of the United States—is the most widely studied and genuinely representative Founding Father of his age. University of Milan professor and historian Marco Bassani surveys Thomas Jefferson's views on the rights of man and state's rights—the fulcrum and pivot point of his political ideas and reflective statesmanship. After careful examination of his political theory, Thomas Jefferson is justifiably recognized as a champion of limited government, natural rights and antagonism of the states towards interference by remote federal powers.
Calhoun and Popular Rule: The Political Theory of the Disquisition and Discourse (Columbia, MO: Univ of Missouri Press) by H. Lee Cheek, Jr.
The late Senator John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) remains one of the most influential political figures in antebellum American political thought, and many of his modern critics have strived to discredit him as merely a fire-eater Southern partisan whose ideas were anachronistic even in his own lifetime. In Calhoun and Popular Rule, political scientist H. Lee Cheek, Jr., attempts to correct such misconceptions with a thoughtful analysis and exposition upon Calhoun's political theory, which presents Calhoun as an original political thinker who devoted his political life to the recovery of a "proper mode of popular rule." H. Lee Cheek persuassively postulates that Calhoun had a coherent, systematic view of human nature and civil society, and Calhoun made an insightful and astute contribution to the the disciple of political science, and theory underlying the balance of powers and interest in the context of American constitutionalism and republican rule.
The Morality of Everyday Life: Rediscovering an Ancient Alternative to the Liberal Tradition by Thomas Fleming (Columbia, MO: Univ. of Missouri Press, 2007).
In The Morality of Everyday Life, classicist Thomas Fleming, a prominent contributor to Chronicles Magazine, offers an antidote to the varied liberalism of such disparate thinkers as Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, Ayn Rand, and John Rawls. These divergent philosophers in an essentially liberal tradition have much disagreement over important issues, however, they find common accord in their view that moral and political problems of our age should be looked at from an objective point of view, and the basis for handling such problems emanates from a rational perspective that is generally considered universal in all comparable cases. Fleming rather emphasizes the importance of the attachment to the particular, the local, and the moral dimension. Hence Fleming must be seen as an advocate of restoration of an essentially premodern tradition, as manifest in the texts of Aristotle, Homer, Plato, the Bible, and varied folk wisdom from classical Hellenic literature, in order to find a solution to the ethical conundrums of our modern age. What separates Fleming from the liberals and postmodernists is rejection of abstraction, and liberals and postmodernists simply refuse to recognize that mankind by experience and nature refuses to live in a world reduced to universal abstractions. Fleming would regard the fealty of parent to child, the self-sacrificial love, as among the highest levels of morality, whereas Kant and Kohlberg would reject such views. This volume should resonate with students of both the classics, philosophy, and ethics, as well as the literate reader. This book is not overly technical nor wrought with jargon, but simply delivers an insightful message in clean crisp prose.
A Student's Guide to Philosophy by Ralph M. Mcinerny (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 1999).
Ralph M. Mcinerny has put together an insightful, erudite introductory guide for students of philosophy. He offers an overview of philosophy, and details on various philosophers through the ages from antiquity to modernity.
A Student's Guide to Psychology by David N. Robinson (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2003)
Psychology is a popular discipline across American college campuses, but the discipline's dominance by secular humanistic thinking presents a temptation for it being a most treacherous influence. In this student's guide, Daniel Robinson presents a cursory survey of the philosophical and historical antecedents underlying modern psychology. Therein, he proceeds to sketch the various schools of thought and offer insights on influential thinkers within this discipline. Understanding the human mind is important, but so to is understand the mindset of those who attempt to write on the human mind. A prudent view of psychology has to account for human nature and the Christian Augustian teaching of Original Sin.
A Students Guide To American Political Thought by George W. Carey (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2004).
Who are the most influential political thinkers and statesman in the American political tradition? How should we regard the motivations of the founders, the debate over the framing and subsequent ratification of the Constitution of the United States? What perspective should we take on the American War for Independence, essentially the British Empire's Civil War between Great Britain and its former colonies? What do we make of the rise of the modern bureaucratic state led by an imperial presidency? George W. Carey endeavors to answer these questions, and more.
A Students Guide to Natural Science by Stephen M. Barr (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2006).
Physicist Stephen Barr's enlightening Student's Guide to Natural Science endeavors to explain to the reader about the nature, history, and great ideas emanating from the discipline of natural science from antiquity to modernity. Enormous clarity of focus is given to the systematic usage of reason and the reality that phenomena often have natural explanations. Barr contextualizes the medieval antecedents of the later scientific revolution in the seventeenth century, which has shaped our approaches to epistemology and science.
A Student's Guide to Religious Studies by D.G. Hart (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2005).
D.G. Hart explores religious studies and theology in the academy, and offers counsel to the theologically inclined for approaching the pedagogy and study of religion in learning environments that are often hostile to the faith.
Punic Wars and Cultural Wars: Christian Essays on History and Teaching by Joe Ben House (Covenant Media Press, 2008)
This is a striking anthology of essays about history, literature, the classics, culture and the incidental culture wars. House offers an engaging read as he takes his readers on an intellectual odyssey. With a characteristic southern wit, a bombastic iconclastic flavor, this man of letters demonstrates a remarkable depth of knowledge and brings moral clarity to the study of culture and history. What is more, with all of the insipid cultural Marxist, Progressive and Straussian materials out there, its a sea change to get perspectives of culture, historiography and pedagogy from a man far removed from the political Left. Drawing insight from C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and possessed of a keen love of history, Ben House has assembled some remarkable insights amidst his many years of study. This book is definitely worth considering for Christian students of history, and more especially classical Christian educators.
“Henceforth, any project of constructing a global empire would be seen as a second global rebellion against God. Although the punishment for Babel was cancelled at Pentecost, when every man ‘out of every nation under heaven’ heard the Galilean apostles ‘speak in his own language’ (Acts 2:5-6), this was a spiritual and not a political unity. Augustine himself (in the preface to Civitas Dei) told his readers not to believe that the end of all earthly states was at hand but to put their hope in God.“A Christian’s love for the universal Church was not inconsistent with his duty of obedience to a secular, even non-Christian, ruler (as Paul made clear in the famous thirteenth chapter of Romans). Although the pagan emperor Julian forbade Christians to serve in the army on the grounds that they could not shed blood, this was a slander. In fact, many Christians had served in the Roman army.“In the Christian Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, compared the power of the king with that of the father and took it for granted that kingdoms were part of the natural order ordained by God. Protestant churches were, for the most part, national institutions that enjoyed obedience and respect for the nation and its rulers, and even the Catholic Church, which claimed universal jurisdiction, did not dispute the legitimacy of nations or nation-states. In the difficult years following the Italian kingdom’s conquest of the Catholic Church’s estates, when the Church forbade Catholics to take part in Italian politics, Pope Leo XIII declared (in his 1890 encyclical Sapientiae christianae) that a supernatural love for the Church and a natural affection for one’s country were ‘twin affections sprung from the same everlasting principle’.”
—Thomas Fleming, The Morality of Everyday Life (University of Missouri Press, 2004) extract from page 49.
A Student's Guide to Liberal Learning (ISI Guides to the Major Disciplines) by James V. Schall (Wilmington, DE: ISI, 2014)
A seasoned scholar offers insights on the content of an authentic, full-fledged liberal arts education, intentionally broad in scope, and apt to interact with great books in the tradition of humanistic education that has fundamentally shaped Western Civilization and culture.
The Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean by John Julius Norwich (New York, NY: Vintage, 2007).
This illustrated tome gives an intriguing account of the civilizations and myriad peoples that thrived along the shores of the Mediterranean from the thalassocratic* Phoenicians to the Egyptians, the Romans, the Hellenes and their successors, the Byzantines, the French, the Venetians, as well as the Papacy and pirates. The Mediterranean—the Middle Sea—functioned as an enormous ancient maritime throughfare for the exchange of goods, services, ideas, cultures, and peoples. Through this conduit civilization itself spread, and in many ways one may speak of a Mediterranean civilization, which through a cross-pollination of cultures and ideas, culminated in a series of events that helped give rise to the classical civilizations of antiquity indelibly shaping the subsequent medieval ages and modernity.
*Thalassocratic is a term from Classical Greek θάλασσα (thalassa) and κρατεῖν (kratein), meaning "power"; Koine Greek θαλασσοκρατία (thalassokratia), "sea power")
The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students by Allan Bloom (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1987, 2012).
First published in 1987, The Closing of the American Mind, was a trenchant cultural critique by the eminent political philosopher Allan Bloom. In an incisive analysis, Bloom persuassively argues that the deep cultural, moral, political and social crises of our age are symptomatic of a larger intellectual crisis: the product of a dangerous enervation of the intellect, and shunning the old spirit of discovery and curiosity. Now, with more than a million copies in print, this twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Bloom's book is complimented by a new essay written by journalist Andrew Ferguson who offers an assessment of the impact of Bloom’s overall scholarly argument, which in its heyday caused such an uproar at the time of its initial release, and had many scholars revisiting its arguments in the ensuing years to follow. Our culture today continues to resist the many truths that make of the substance of Bloom's brilliant scholarly work.
A Students Guide To Core Curriculum by Mark C. Henrie (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2000).
Mark C. Henrie, an Ivy League-educated scholar, and formerly editor of the Intercollegiate Review and senior editor of Modern Age, offers an insightful work, A Student's Guide to the Core Curriculum, which articulates the rudiments of an integral higher education curriculum.
A Student's Guide to the Classics by Bruce Thornton (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2003).
Bruce Thornton’s lucid and insightful tract, A Student’s Guide to Classics, offers readers a detailed overview of each of the major dramatists, literary writers, poets, playwrights, philosophers, and historians of ancient Greece and Rome. This book features biographical vignette sketches of major figures and an accompanying bibliography of suggested readings on the classics. This is the 'goto' book for students new to the study of the classical world.
A Student's Guide To The Study Of History by John Lukacs (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2000).
John Lukacs explains the study of history, historiography, and historical methods, its relationship to epistemology, truth, as well as prudent methods for studying history with an eye to the preservation of factual evidence, and recognition of interpretative bias.
A Student's Guide to Political Philosophy by Harvey C. Mansfield (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2001).
Harvard University’s Harvey C. Mansfield, one of America’s leading political philosophers offers an erudite little tome designed to introduce readers to political philosophy. This slim volume asks and answers substantive questions pertaining to politics and political philosophy? What is the nature of political power? Why does man need government? What implications emanate from human nature pertaining to government?
Photo Above: John Smith, played by Dennis Farmer, claims the land for England during a re-enactment of the 400th anniversary of the First Landing in the New World. Settlers from the ships the Godspeed, Discovery and the Susan Constant landed in Virginia Beach before relocating to Jamestown four days later. The photo is taken by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew Bookwalter.
An Anglophile is a person who admires England, its people, and its culture. The term Anglophile first appeared in print in 1864 by novelist Charles Dickens in All the Year Round, when he opined the Revue des deux Mondes as "an advanced and somewhat 'Anglophile' publication." Though in the strictest sense, the term only refers to an affinity for the things, people, places, and culture of England, it is used to refer to those with an affinity for the British Isles in general. As an Anglophile, I maintain an appreciation for English historical figures of great renown, and contributors to English literature, such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Samuel Johnson. Some American Anglophiles prefer the Oxford orthography to the American Webster's orthography of the English language, utilizing spelling conventions such as 'colour' instead of 'color,' 'centre' rather than 'center,' and 'traveller' as opposed to 'traveler.'
As an American, my country at its founding was essentially English in its culture and institutions as my English forbears helped found the colonies and settlements of British North America. My love of my English heritage emanates from my genealogical roots, as my ancestry is primarily rooted in the British Isles, chiefly the constituent countries of England and Scotland; and my Scottish ancestors have deep roots lineage going back to Normandy, France, and ultimately Scandinavia, while my "Welsh" ancestors ultimately proved to be English gentry with land titles that settled there sometime after King Edward's march and effort to integrate England into Wales.
TedEd - "Why You Should Read Shakespeare's The Tempest?"
Schama's magnum opus encompasses over 1,500 years of Britain's history, from the times of Roman occupation with the building of Hadrian's Wall to the early seventeenth century reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Schama is one of the leading historians of our time, and he paints a colorful, vibrant portrait of the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish peoples of Great Britain. Breathtaking in its scope, full of rich historical insights, Schama's triology is destined to be a classic for years to come.
History of Britain, A: The Wars of the British, 1603-1776 by Simon Schama
The second volume of Simon Schama's A History of Britain brings the histories of Britain's civil wars to life. British history is possessed of shocking carnage, melodramtic twists and turns, and completely unexpected final outcomes. These sporadic and often violent conflicts were fought variously between the nations of the islands, Ireland, England, and Scotland over the course of centuries, and also between Parliament and the Crown. Learn about Britain's coming of age into modernity, and the birth of empire with Schama's insightful volume.
History of Britain, A - Vol. III - The Fate of the Empire 1776-2000 by Simon Schama (New York, NY: Miramax, 2002)
Renowned historian Simon Schama produced an engrossing narrative history of Great Britain that's easy-to-read and accessible to laity. Schama begins this intriguing tome with the French Revolution. Radicals among the English, such as Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft began to demand far-reaching, sweeping, revolutionary changes to the British government. Britain being conservative and sober-minded marched to progress incrementally without the tumult of violent revolution. Schama paints an intriguing narrative too of the advent of British colonialism and mercantilism as it planted its flag in the Americas and India. The British "civilizing mission" came to define the history of the modern world, as the benovolent imperialism of the British sought to bring indigenous peoples of Africa and Asia into the modern world pioneered by the West. In this masterful epic history, Simon Schama tells the tale of the lives of prominent Englishmen in modern history from the Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington to Winston Churchill.
The Isles: A History by Norman Davies (New York, New York: MacMillan).
Written by one of the most brilliant and provocative historians at work today, The Isles is a revolutionary narrative history that presents a new perspective on the development of Britain and Ireland, looking at them not as self-contained islands, but as an inextricable part of Europe.
This richly layered history begins with the Celtic Supremacy in the last centuries BC, which is presented in the light of a Celtic world stretching all the way from Iberia to Asia Minor. Roman Britain is seen not as a unique phenomenon.
The White Horse King: The Life of Alfred the Great by Benjamin Merkle (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009).
Alfred the Great was one of the few monarchs to win the title "the Great." Why? He was a cultured man, not originally literate, but he endeavored to study, and become literate, a patron of arts, humanities, and religion. He also organized England's defense of the realm against the marauding pagan Vikings from Scandinavia, and mounted a spirited defense. In a show of humility, he baptized his enemies in his own court, and accepted them as Christian brethren. This is the tale of The White Horse King.
Hastings 1066: The Fall of Saxon England by Christopher Gravett (Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2000).
The battle of Hastings was the onset of the Norman Conquest of England that dethroned Harold Godwinson, and set the stage for Duke William of Normandy taking the English throne by virtue of martial victory. William's crossed the English Channel from Normandy, France, and landed near Pevensey, Sussex and the two rival armies met on the battle field at Hastings in 1066 A.D. Here in this Osprey campaign is a retelling of the pivotal battle amongst the English.
Video above: 'History Time' - The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (871) / Primary Source
Video above: 'History Time' - The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (872-77) / Primary Source
Video Above: 'History Time' - The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (878) / Primary Source
Tribute Video dedicated to the British Empire
Photo Above: Statue of King Alfred the Great
Baz Battles - "Battle of Hastings, 1066."
Earning notoriety as one of the greatest battles in English and European history, the Battle of Hastings was fought on 14 October 1066 between the Norman-French army of William, the Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson, which was the defining moment at the onset of the Norman conquest of England.
Duke William lands near Pevensey, Sussex and heads east and northward exacting the Norman Conquest of England, and effectively securing the claim to the monarchy of England. This animated video documentary from 'Baz Battles' chronicles the series of events that lead to the clash between English and Norman forces a few kilometers west of Hastings.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves, PhD Cambridge - "Alfred the Great & Anglo-Saxon England."
Ted-Ed - 'Why You Should Read MacBeth?'
There’s a play so powerful that an old superstition says its name should never be uttered in a theater. A play that begins with witchcraft and ends with a bloody, severed head. A play filled with riddles, prophecies, nightmare visions, and lots of brutal murder. But is it really all that good? Brendan Pelsue explains why you should read (or revisit) "Macbeth."
Video Documentary Above and Portrait Below: Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, daughter of Alfred the Great and sole ruler of the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Mercia from 911 – 918 AD both on the home-front and on the battlefield too.
Illustration Below: Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians.
Caesar, to his wife, explaining why he accepts his death and she should not fear death for the valiant often partake of it.
“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.” (Julius Caesar)
Cassius, prompting Brutus to join the conspiracy against Caesar.
“Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” (Julius Caesar)
King Claudius, admitting to himself that his prayers are not heartfelt.
“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.” (Hamlet)
Hamlet contemplating suicide in his famous soliloquy.
“To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;” (Hamlet)
Macbeth, upon learning of the death of the queen.
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare and edited by Michael A. Cramer
No library is complete without the classics! This leather-bound edition includes the complete works of the playwright and poet William Shakespeare, considered by many to be the English language’s greatest writer. Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Hamlet, and Macbeth—the works of William Shakespeare still resonate in our imaginations four centuries after they were written. The timeless characters and themes of the Bard’s plays fascinate us with their joys, struggles, and triumphs, and now they are available in a special volume for Shakespeare fans everywhere.
This Canterbury Classics edition of William Shakespeare’s works includes all of his poems and plays in an elegant, leather-bound, keepsake edition. Whether for a Shakespeare devotee or someone just discovering him, this is the perfect place to experience the drama of Sir William Shakespeare’s eloquent prose. An erudite introduction provides historical background, context and insight into the many poems and plays therein.
Video Above: Ted-Ed - 'Why Shakespeare loved iambic pentameter' by David T. Freeman and Gregory Taylor
Shakespeare's seemingly anachronistic English is sometimes the subject of curiosity and mockery in high schools for various reasons from his plot twists to antiquated language. A closer examination of the rhythm of his words reveals a poet deeply rooted in the way his contemporaries spoke in his time — and still speak today. Why do Shakespeare’s words resonate throughout history? Literary scholars David T. Freeman and Gregory Taylor uncover the power of iambic pentameter.
A Celtophile is a person who professes interest in the distinctive culture of the Celtic peoples, commonly associated with the nations of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and few regional enclaves in present-day France and Spain, such as Britanny, Asturias and Galicia. The Celts (pronounced sɛlts) are an Indo-European ethnolinguistic group, identified by their distinctive cultural and linguistic characteristics. Celtic origins are somewhat mythical, with varying theories that are subject to disputation.
An early nineteenth century theory posited that the people of the Iron Age Hallstatt culture in central Europe ( circa 800-450 BC) based around Hallstatt, Austria, constituted a sort of a primordial Celtic cradle. By the La Tène period (circa 450 BC to the time of the Roman conquest), Celtic culture expanded by a combination of trans-cultural diffusion and/or migration to the British Isles and peripheries of western Europe, including present-day Belgium, France, Iberia, and as far east as present-day Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Galatia in Anatolia (Asia Minor) which is present-day Turkey. Other theories trace Celtic origins to the probable cradle of collective Indo-European peoples in the vicinity of the Russian steppes alongside the Black Sea. More recently, a new compelling thesis based on recent archaeological and genetic evidences considered in tandem reveals that Celtic culture and languages likely coalesced in the Atlantic Zone of coastal France and Iberia, and spread back across the continent, and onto the British Isles from this cradle homeland.
Nowadays in the popular imagination medieval Celtic culture and language are best exemplified by the Gaelic peoples of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland whose rich history has indelibly shaped the history of the British Isles, and indeed the world as the British Empire endeavored to leave its imprint throughout the globe.
My Celtophilia emanates in part from my genealogical roots, as my ancestry is includes Scots and Welsh on both my father's side of the family and mother's side of the family respectively. My father's mother's family were of the Clan MacGregor that fought alongside of the legendary Rob Roy MacGregor.
Video Above - History Time - "Towers of the North: The Brochs of Iron Age Scotland (3000 BC - 200 AD)"
Video Above: History Time - "Gergovia 52 BC - Caesar's First Defeat at the hands of the Gauls of present-day Belgium, France and Switzerland.
Above Picture: Celtic stele from
Galicia, 2nd century
History Time - "The Sea-Kingdom: Dál Riata & The Birth of Scotland"
A new power emerged in the wild north of Britain after the Roman withdrawal in the Fifth Century AD. It’s name was Dál Riata and it occupied the many islands and archipelagos on both sides of the wild sea between Ireland and Scotland. For a time during the late Sixth and early Seventh Centuries this sea kingdom prospered under the rule of it’s king, Áedán mac Gabráin, who sent his war fleets and trading vessels far and wide throughout the waterways of Northern Britain. Eventually over the centuries the Gaelic inhabitants of Dál Riata merged to a certain extent with the neighbouring Picts to eventually develop into the Kingdom of Scotland
The Ancient Celts by Sir Barry Cunliffe (New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2018).
The Celts of old were formidable warriors, skilled artisans and craftsmen, and known throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. They personified the barbarians of the north in the eyes of the supposedly more civilized Greeks and Romans. Their origins are shrouded in considerable mystery. Herein Barry Cunliffe posits a provocative thesis that the Celtic language and culture arose not in Halstatt Austria, but rather in the Atlantic coastal regions of Western Europe, and spread throughout the continent via the vallies and river basins. This controversial debate is the subject of much tension among historians, archaeologists, and geneticists. While Sir Barry Cunliffe's classical study was first published in 1997, much advances have taken place since that time, and new means of appropriating DNA haplogroup records have helped shape our understanding of Celtic origins and movements. All of these developments have been considered, and have help shaped a revised narrative based on genetics and current archaeological findings.
Exploring Celtic Origins, ed. Sir Barry Cunliffe & John T. Koch (Barnsley, England: Oxbow Books, 2019).
An influential anthology of essays constituting the latest research findings based on new discoveries in archaeology and genetics. The contributors have worked towards the goal of synthesizing an informative corpus of research with the goal of describing the background of the Bronze age and Beaker Period of the people who emerged as the Celts, and subsequent speakers of Celtic languages documented in the historial annals since the Iron Age and later times. Sir Barry Cunliffe and John Koch, along with other scholars, present an interdisciplinary approach to exploring Celtic origins.
After genome-wide sequencing of ancient DNA has transpired over the last twenty years, new research findings have had profound implications for our understanding of Celtic history, ancient migrations, and origins, and this has profound implications for our understanding of European prehistory as well. Science has met history, and informed its understanding by inductive reasoning and compelling genetic evidences.
Britain Begins by Barry Cunliffe (New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014).
The last Ice Age swept the bands of hunter-gatherers from the lands that now constitute Britain and Ireland, and as the ice sheets retreated and the climate improved so as to be more hospitable to human settlement, various peoples spread slowly northwards, recolonizing the land that had been laid waste by glacial cover and snow. From that time forward, Britain has been continuously inhabited and its population has spiraled upward. Learn about Britain's primordial beginnings and the coalesce of Celtic, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, and Roman cultures that made it happen.
The Celtic Realms: The History and the Culture of the Celtic Peoples From Pre-History to the Norman Invasion Myles Dillion and Nora Chadwick (Castle, 2003).
Myles Dillion and Nora Chadwick, notable Celtic Studies scholars, present a sweeping narrative history of the genius of the Celts in their literature, religion, and visual arts. This breathtaking book spans the period from the Celt's pre-historical origins to the Norman invasion of Britain. Celtic Art is seldom understood by laypersons, no less than scholars, yet Chadwick and Dillon have marshaled ample resources in support of their compelling work. Filled with an abundance of illustrations of Celtic artifacts and art-work, the reader is left with an impressive annotated history of The Celtic Remains.
The Origins of the Irish by J.P. Mallory (Thames and Hudson, 2017).
J.P. Mallory is an Irish-American archaeologist, historian with considerable expertise on Indo-European and Celtic origins, a world expert on ancient linguistics, and Emeritus Professor at Queen's University Belfast. Mallory is the author of In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth, and coauthor of The Tarim Mummies. In his groundbreaking erudite work, Mallory explores the peopling of Ireland, and the roots of the Irish people. Mallory draws from a reservoir of interdisciplinary research materials, including the latest archaeological findings, up-to-date genetics research, geography, history, and mythology to synthesize a fascinating study on Gaelic origins. Competing theories abound about the origins of the Irish people, with one such theory tracing their origins from ancient Iberian fisherman that crossed the Bay of Biscay or otherwise moved northward through Gaul (France) before crossing into the British Isles, and another theory tracing their origins back to the steppes of southern Russia and the Ukraine alongside the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, while a synthesis theory places primeval roots of that aforesaid migratory Celtic populace that came from Iberia as having their ultimate origins in the steppes of southern Russia and the Ukraine.
Brian Boru is one of the most famous Irishmen that lived in medieval times, and his death at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 A.D. was one of the seminal events in the broad chasm of Irish history. Sean Duffy's book offers a reassessment of the legendary historical figure, Brian Boru, and it proceeds to explain the disruption, influence and role of Vikings in Irish affairs, and it gives context to how Brian Boru emerged from relative obscurity to attain high-kingship by his cleverness at exploiting the Viking presence in Ireland by shrewd diplomatic genius and cunning. Despite Brian's passing at Clontarf, the battle's legacy was one of success as it preempted a major new Viking offensive in Ireland.
Magnus Magnusson charts the long trajectory of Scotland's ascendancy to nationhood, as he delves into a cultural exploration of the original Scots, and examines how Romans, Picts, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings were introduced into this primordial soup of cultures and peoples that were so instrumental in shaping Alba, the realm of northern Britain. This sweeping history spans a breadth of time from the Mesolithic settlers that were thought to inhabit Scotland as far back as 7,000 B.C. to the present-day movements for Scottish independence. The Story of a Nation is an epic history, and constitutes essential reading for anyone interested in the brilliant historical tapestry of Scotland that was weaved together from Celtic, English, Viking, and Roman antecedents.
Picture Above: - Statue of Queen Boudica of the Celts who fought the Roman invasion of ancient Britain
Video Above: "Lecture by Sir Barry Cunliffe on March 17, 2008"
"The Celts living in the middle of Europe were the fearsome opponents of the Greeks and Romans and in c. 390 B.C. they actually besieged Rome. The classical writers have much to say about their warlike activities but where did they come from? Until recently it used to be thought that they emerged in Eastern France and Southern Germany and spread westwards to Spain, Brittany, Britain and Ireland taking their distinctive language with them which survives today as Breton, Welsh, Gaelic and Irish. But recent work is suggesting that the Celtic language may have developed in the Atlantic zone of Europe at a very early date, and DNA studies offer some support to this. So who were the Celts? We will explore the evidence and try to offer an answer."
The Historical Atlas of the Celtic World by John Haywood (Author) and Forward by Barry Cunliffe
This epic historical atlas possesses ample scope, through a compilation of fifty-four color maps, spanning an epic of three millenniums of time, and geographical breadth spanning the European continent into Asia Minor.
“Well written, edited, and produced, this is just the book for a Celtophile to wile away the hours and the pints with.”
Expansion of the Celtic culture in the third century BC according to Francisco Villar
Video Above: J.P. Mallory, Emeritus Professor at Queen's University, Belfast, lectures on The Origins of the Irish.
Britain Begins - Author Interview with Barry Cunliffe
Author, historian and researcher Barry Cunliffe discusses his new book Britain Begins and the new ideas on the origins of the Celts. His new book covers the early history of the British Isles, a period of nearly 10,000 years - from the time the first men settled while glaciers receded all the way to the Northern Conquest.
The People Profiles - "Robert the Bruce: King of Scots" - This is a biographical documentary of the life of Robert the Bruce. This half-hour documentary on the life of King Robert I of Scotland chronicles his rise against the forces King Edward I of England, to his subsequently being crowned King of Scots, and thereafter defeating the English armies of Edward II at the battle of Bannockburn.
An Scandophile is a person who admires Scandinavia, i.e., Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, its varied peoples, and its culture. The Nordic peoples of Denmark, Iceland, and Norway, known previously as Goths in antiquity, are a Germanic or Teutonic people, sharing a genetic, cultural and linguistic heritage similar to that of Germany and Austria. They elicit notoriety for the medieval Vikings with their distinctive longships, as they were known for frequent maritime raids, pillaging and plundering their Christian neighbors to the west and south and southeast of Scandinavia. Gradually by the midpoint of the Middle Ages, Scandinavians were Christianized with King Olaf of Norway's reception of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The fierce Vikings would provide the leadership to the Kievan Rus (later known as the Russians) in Kiev, which formed in 882 A.D. Renowned for their martial valor, the legendary and fierce Norseman provided the mercenary guards of the later Byzantine Empire of the Greeks, known as the Varangian Guards. In Greek mythology, the Hyperboreans were said to be a race of tall giants who lived "beyond the North Wind;" this land was supposed to be perfect, with the sun shining twenty-four hours a day, it ultimately suggests a possible location within the Arctic Circle during the midnight sun-time of year. The ancient peoples and lands of Scandinavia likely provided the basis for the ancient Greek myth of Hyperborea.
My Scandophilia emanates in part from my genealogical roots, as my ancestry includes Norman Vikings on my father's mother's side of the family.
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Video Above: History Time - "1000 AD: A Tour of the Viking World // Vikings Documentary"
Above Picture: A medieval carving of a snake from Scandinavia.
Below Picture: Prow of the Oseberg ship, at Oslo Museum.
History Time - "The Nordic Bronze Age"
This impressive documentary explores the primordial history of ancient Scandinavia and the Nordic peoples in the age of bronze. Known to the ancient Greeks as Hyperborea, this land of mystery was said to be the home of formidable, tall warrior-kings who were the gods of the north.
The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings by John Haywood
Norse scholar John Haywood has assembled a fascinating and insightful historical atlas on the medieval Vikings of Scandinavia. This legendary race of maritime explorers, pirates, and traders stampe their indelible influence on a breadth of territory spanning from the Caspian Sea to coastal Canada in a few short centuries. Bursting out of the North, they looked for more fertile and prosperous lands to colonize, settle, as well as pillage and plunder. These peoples were eventually Christianized at the behest of Anglo-Saxon and Frankish Christian missionary activity on behalf of the church.
The Complete Sagas of Icelanders by Vidar Hreinsson (Editor), Robert Cook, Terry Gunnell, Keneva Kunz, and Bernard Scudder, (Associate Editors) (Reykjavik, Iceland: Leifur Eiriksson Publishing, Ltd., 1997.)
This definitive slip-cased hardcover English translation of the entire corpus of the Sagas of Icelanders together with the forty-nine tales connected with them. Thirty translators were carefully selected for the epic research and translation project, including leading international scholars and university teachers from seven countries who have studied and written on Nordic medieval literature and culture. All the translators are native English speakers and writers. Meticulous editorial planning and coordination ensured that translators followed a sound translation methodology, embracing a high level of accuracy, and readability. Coordination work included use of consistent English terms for key words and concepts, recurrent proverbs and phrases, and other cultural realia. Eleven Icelandic medieval specialists then carefully checked the translations against the original Icelandic texts to ensure accurate renderings and returned them to the translators for revision. A further revision stage concentrated on the English style in a sweeping final revision.
Viking Age Iceland is a facinating history of the clan folkways of the medieval Icelanders, and demonstrably proves the point that Jesse Byock shows that Norse society in Iceland was actually a de facto republican free state, with neither warlords or kings, but instead an early vestige of representative government rooted in the assembly or Althing. This is a scholarly work with an interdisciplinary nature broaching anthropology, archaeology, and history, and assembling a vast corpus of research evidences that serve to buoy Byock's thesis about life in Viking Age Iceland..
The Sagas of Icelanders (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) by Robert Kellogg (Introduction) and Jane Smiley (Introduction) (New York, NY: Penguin).
This primary source material constitutes a unique body of medieval literature, and is arguably one of the great literary treasures of the Western world, every bit as epic and profound as Homer, as enduring as the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf, and characteristically human as Shakespeare. These sagas transpried roughly around the turn of the last millennium, and depict the lives and deeds of valiant Vikings, the legendary Norse men and women of old who first peopled Iceland, and engaged in subsequent exploration of neighboring Greenland to the West, and Helluland, Markland and Vinland in present-day Canada.
Northmen: The Viking Saga, AD 793-1241 by John Haywood (New York, NY: Thomas Dunne Books, 2016)
Northmen tells the tale of the Nordic fury that erupted from Scandinavia. Driven by a yearning for discovery, passion, conquest, and heroism, Norse warriors emerged from Norway, Denmark, and Sweden to build strongholds based on trading and raiding. They eventually settled a wide spanse of territory across areas of Europe, Asia, and the North Atlantic. Their violent and insurgent culture left its imprint on medieval history, and prefigured the Age of Discovery inaugurated by Columbus and Magellan. John Haywood gives key insights on such monumental battles as the sack of Lindisfarne in 793 A.D. and the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066. Haywood's erudite work is packed with rich scholarly research and offers an engaging narrative.
The Sea Wolves: A History of the Vikings by Lars Brownsworth (London, UK: Crux Publishing, 2014).
Lars Brownworth’s The Sea Wolves will be the ideal introduction to the historical Vikings. It is written in an accessible manner, and grants no prior academic knowledge on the subject, so it focuses on an astute and readable popular history for the masses. It reads more like an action-packed story, much as interest in the Vikings has been popularized by the History Channel's Vikings series, this book fits the spirit of the times. It's entertaining as well as informative. It focuses on varying aspects of Norse life, highlights the role of Vikings as warriors, raiders, mercenaries, and explorers.
James Graham-Campbell’s The Viking World (London, UK: Frances Lincoln, 2013).
James Graham-Campbell’s The Viking World stands apart from other books, though comparable in scope to Brownworth and Winroth, in presenting a good generalized overview of the Viking Age for readers new to the topic, no less than academics, but it is also rich in illustrations, pictures, including color photographs of archaeological artifacts, diagrams of Norse architecture and longships, and historical maps. The cumulative effect of all of the vibrant prose and rich content brings the Age of Vikings to life in an aesthetically-pleasing way. It's great for the visual learner.
Video Above: Kulning - Ancient Swedish herdingcall - Remember the sounds from the ancient times when people called for them over far distances.
Video Below: BBC - History and Cosmos:
The Viking age in European history was from about AD700 to 1100. During this period many Vikings left their homelands in Scandinavia and travelled by longboat to other countries, like Britain and Ireland.When the people of Britain first saw the Viking longboats they came down to the shore to welcome them. However, the Vikings fought the local people, stealing from churches and burning buildings to the ground.The people of Britain called the invaders 'Danes', but they came from Norway and Sweden as well as Denmark.
Photo Above: Old Viking statue of Thor, the God of Thunder, Göteborgs Naturhistoriska Museum, Museivägen, Gothenburg, Sweden
The Icelandic Sagas by Magnus Magnusson (Editor), John Vernon Lord (Illustrator) (London: Folio Society, 1999).
The Icelandic Sagas are violent, fast-paced adventures into the pagan world of the medieval Norse who garnered renown for their unique oral tradition of folk tales. Often, these stories revolved around clan feuds, and the pursuit of vengeance. Brilliant morality plays emerge in this rich heritage of medieval Scandinavian literature.
The Folio Society has put together an aesthetically-pleasing leather-bound, hardcover volume of this great classic!
Picture Above - Erik the Red
Video Above: History Time - "Before the Vikings // Evolution of the Viking Longship #1 (10,000 BC-750 AD)"
Video Below: History Time - "Age of the Vikings // Evolution of the Viking Longship #2 (750-975 A.D.)"
Historical Articles of Interest
A History of the Vikings by Gywn Jones (London: Folio Society, 1999).
This book is a treasure trove on Viking realms, and it chronicles their many cultural achievements at home and abroad. This immensely readable narrative follows the history of the Northern peoples, so called Nordmenn, from their speculative origins in pre-history to their glorious military triumphs of Canute to the subsequent defeat at Stamford Bridge in 1066, which ended the Viking Age in symbolic fashion. This masterful classic by Gwyn Jones recalls the exploits of the marauding medieval Norsemen in war, trade, discovery, and colonization. The fierce Vikings launched expeditions deep into the heart of Slavic domains, Byzantium, and even on the peripheries of the Islamic world in central Asia and north Africa. They Vikings launched bold western voyages of discovery and inaugurated settlements in Iceland, Greenland, and the Americas. This breathtaking portrait of Viking civilization explains its enduring contribution to Western Civilization.
"An utterly splendid book, quite the most brilliantly written, balanced, and explanative general work on the Vikings ever to appear in English or in any language."
“Historical Anglicanism” aims to be a succinct exposition of historic Anglicanism for laypersons, and builds upon the findings of the article “The Anglican Way” by Dr. Gerald Bray, and this exposition points towards a more historic Anglicanism as the model, deeply imbued in its Protestant and Reformed heritage.
My ancestral family were participants in the English Reformation, not just as spectators. Sir Matthew Sutcliffe, Dean of Exeter and Chaplain to King James I of England (James VI of Scotland), rigorously defended His beloved Anglican Church.* In addition to being a trusted confidant of King James, the Cambridge-educated lawyer and divine, administered the Word and Sacrament, and was a patron of Anglican ministers and ran a school in Chelsea for polemical studies against semi-pelagian Arminian and Roman Catholic theology. His name is invoked in the 1620 Charter of the New England Confederation as “our well beloved, Sir Matthew Sutcliffe,” and he was a prominent investor in the Plymouth Adventurers’ Company and personal friends with Captain John Smith. For all these reasons, rediscovery of historical Anglicanism is very much like returning to the church of my forefathers.
The tenets of historical Anglicanism are deeply embedded in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (1571 anno domini) and implemented through the liturgical practice of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer bequeathed to us by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. It's a communion devoted to Christ-centered worship, sound biblical expository preaching, an apostolic view of the sacraments, and orderly worship.
Drawing from a rich religious heritage rooted in the British Isles that arguably dates back to the third-century anno domini, we embrace the Anglican faith of our Christian forefathers. It was the faith of notable Christians such as Saint Patrick, King Alfred the Great, and Æthelwulf, and later Protestant reformers such as John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Matthew Sutcliffe, and modern voices such as J.C. Ryle, and J.I. Packer. Historian Joel McDurmon tenders this erudite observation:
The English way of being Christian started at least fourteen hundred years before the Reformation, having taken root in England from before 200 AD (when Tertullian wrote of Britons “subjugated to Christ”). The English Celtic church developed a distinctive spirituality both creational and Trinitarian that has shaped Anglican piety ever since. The Anglican way was anti-Roman from before the Synod of Whitby (633) on important issues like the date of Easter, penance and Eucharistic consecration, and this hostility to Roman primacy continued through the Pope’s deposition of King John in the thirteenth century and Wycliffe’s denial of papal authority and transubstantiation in the fourteenth century—long before the Reformation.History, then, is the first answer to the question. Anglicanism took on a distinctive character long before there was a Reformed movement.
(see also “Foundations of Christianity in Britain”)
So, what does it mean to confessionally profess 'Historical Anglicanism,' following the reforms of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer: that is concurrently avow being Christian, Catholic, Confessional, Evangelical, and Protestant, and Reformed?
*My surname Setliff derives from Sutcliffe as Setliff was the spelling convention that took form among Sutcliffes settling in the American South.
Image Above: Early Anglo-Saxons following their conversion to catholic Christianity and the reign of Æthelberht of Kent.
First, we are catholic (term for ‘universal’), in the sense that we adhere to God's universal church, rooted in the apostolic Christian faith and in accord with the early church councils of Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), Chalcedon (451), et al. As John Jewel, Bishop of Salisbury observes in Apologia Anglicanae: “We believe that there is one Church God and that it is not shut up in one corner of the world or one kingdom, as was formerly the case with the Jews, but that it is Catholic or universal and spread throughout the whole world, so that there is now no nation which has to complain that it is shut out, and cannot belong to the Church and people of God.” J.I. Packer notes, “Basic Anglicanism. . . sees itself as mainstream Christianity, as pure and well-proportioned and well-balanced by biblical standards as any version of Christianity that you can find anywhere in Christendom.” Hence Anglicanism is rooted in an historical, catholic Christian faith — both reformed and apostolic in practice.
Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) notes in his Catechetical Instructions:
The Church is called Catholic or universal because it has spread throughout the entire world, from one end of the earth to the other. Again, it is called Catholic because it teaches fully and unfailingly all the doctrines which ought to be brought to men’s knowledge, whether concerned with visible or invisible things, with the realities of heaven or the things of earth. Another reason for the name Catholic is that the Church brings under religious obedience all classes of men, rulers and subjects, learned and unlettered. Finally, it deserves the title Catholic because it heals and cures unrestrictedly every type of sin that can be committed in soul or in body, and because it possesses within itself every kind of virtue that can be named, whether exercised in actions or in words or in some kind of spiritual charism.
The Anglican sense of identity does not start tabula rasa in the English Reformation, rather in the apostolic church progressing to the early missions in Celto-Roman Britain spanning from the third to the sixth centuries, nor can it be understood apart from the English Reformation. “The Church of England before the Reformation and the Church of England after the Reformation are as much the same Church as a garden before it is weeded and after it is weeded, is the same garden. . .,” observed John Bramhall in 1854, Archbishop of Armagh (1661-63), and Bishop of Derry (1641-61). Anglicans claim a line of apostolic succession through the original twelve apostles. Bishops and priests are ordained through the laying on of hands of elders, and this tradition represents a thread back through the apostolic church.
The Anglican sense of identity does not start tabula rasa in the English Reformation, rather in the apostolic church progressing to the early missions in Celto-Roman Britain spanning from the third to the sixth centuries, nor can it be understood apart from the English Reformation. “The Church of England before the Reformation and the Church of England after the Reformation are as much the same Church as a garden before it is weeded and after it is weeded, is the same garden. . .,” observed John Bramhall in 1854, Archbishop of Armagh (1661-63), and Bishop of Derry (1641-61). Anglicans claim a line of apostolic succession through the original twelve apostles. Bishops and priests are ordained through the laying on of hands of elders, and this tradition represents a thread back through the apostolic church.
Anglicans feel a deep spiritual bond and historical kinship to the apostolic and early Christian church. Accordingly Reformed Anglicanism endeavors for a purer order of worship, rather than pretending that the voluminous doctrinal errors, liturgical and sacramental excesses that coalesced in the middle ages somehow finds any credible basis in the example of the apostolic church, but are rather the errors of the Roman Bishop. Sir Matthew Sutcliffe notes that Anglicans “detest. . . all those errors and corruptions in doctrine both concerning faith and manners, which the synagogue of Rome and her lovers. . . have received, professed and taught, either contrary to the doctrine & institution of Christ and his apostles, or else above the same, and above the faith of the ancient primitive church.” Sutcliffe granted that the Papacy “does hold an profess the articles of the [Apostles] Creed, and divers other points deduced of them, or consonant unto them, which both the Apostles and ancient fathers, and we also believe and profess.”
Second, we are confessional about our beliefs and doctrine. We recognize a belief in the virtue of an unambiguous assent to the entirety of a religious teaching. We eschew the notion of divergent interpretations within a communion, especially those in direct opposition to a held teaching, such as the foundational articles of an apostolic and catholic Christianity, namely the Nicene Creed. Teachings contrary to Christian orthodoxy simply cannot be accommodated. According to the Apostle Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, sound doctrine is the cherished religious heritage of any communion that is to be revered in this generation and faithfully transmitted to the next (2 Tim. 3:16, c.f. Mark 7:7-8). J.I. Packer observed, “The word catechesis comes from the Greek, and it enshrines a Greek verb kætəˈkiːsɪs (κατήχησις), which means ‘instruct.’ The nature and essence of catechesis is instruction in which two things happen together—the two things that actually make up Gospel instruction through the New Testament and the church’s life. The two things are the doctrine by which Christians live and how to live by it is taught also. In Sunday Schools, in pulpits, and study gatherings during the week, those things are not always linked in the way in which catechesis links them.” Catechesis becomes the instrument of living out the faith, thus upholding the sound doctrines of the Christian faith.
Third, we are evangelical in the sense that we recognize the imperative need for embracing the Lord's call to evangelism and discipleship. The moniker “evangelical” comes from the Greek word euangelion (εὐαγγέλιον), meaning “the good news” or the “gospel.” This “gospel” of Jesus Christ is the news of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14-15), manifest in the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ’s earthly ministry, and Christ’s triumphant atoning death, burial and climatic resurrection—all in order to restore people's relationship with God and glorify God.
Anglicanism focuses on the “good news” of salvation brought to sinners by the Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelicals, by their very nature, are growth-oriented and seek to expand the church body by maintaining a faithful Gospel witness through the ages. Historic Anglicanism is rooted in its evangelical traditions of "conversionism, activism, biblicism and crucicentrism" as noted by historian David Bebbington.
Fourth, we are Protestant as we acknowledge our religious heritage in the two millennium catholic church, and in reaction to the Roman Catholic Church‘s errant teachings, which encrusted upon the pure apostolic faith in the mode of barnacles on a fisherman's wharf, thus warranting extirpation. Continental Reformers endeavored to effect reform of the church in fealty to the untarnished Gospel of the apostolic church. When the Papal Magisterium mounted much resistance by way of counter-reformation, the Protestants in turn opted for separation, making recourse to the centuries-old precedent denying the primacy of the Roman Bishop over other bishops that the Papacy claims. The term Protestant derives from the letter of protestation from German princes in 1529 against an edict of the Diet of Speyer condemning the teachings of Martin Luther as heretical. We Protestants are in the words of the Apostle Paul, “separated to the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1).
Having tendered protest and remonstrance for reformation from the fourteenth to the fifteenth century, English Reformers opted for formal separation from the Roman patriach in furtherance of Reformed ideals. Robert Charles Sproul notes, “From Wittenberg directly to England, or from Wittenberg to Geneva to England, in this roundabout route, the seeds of the Reformation that were planted in Germany sprouted into full bloom as they made their way into the English empire.” So far from being a via media (i.e., “middle way”) between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, Historical Anglicanism is a via media between Wittenberg and Geneva—that is to say between Lutheran Reformation and Swiss Reformation. Historic Anglicans are less interested in ritual, pomp and ceremony, and much more interested in Christ-centered worship, biblical expository preaching, and orderly worship in accord with the apostolic teaching.
Fifth, we are Reformed in the sense that we embrace the Reformation inheritance rooted in the labors of the English, Scottish and continental Reformers who sought to renew, revitalize and reform the church in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Ashley Null observes that the Reformers “confessed what all catholic Christians had always held to be true everywhere in the early church” and “the Protestant Reformers championed the ancient creeds and believed in the nature of the Trinity and of Christ as taught by the first four general councils.”
A proto-Reformer, John Wycliffe, emerged in the fourteenth century and tendered a theology of reformation that was quickly suppressed by civil and ecclesiastical authorities. The later church struggle effected the martyrdom of Anglican priests, such as William Tyndale and Thomas Cranmer, who sacrificed their lives for the purity of the Gospel. Tyndale translated the Bible from Latin to the English language making it accessible to laity.
Cranmer defied the Papacy’s errant teachings by way of remonstrance and teaching. Both were sentenced to death. G.W. Bromiley observes of Cranmer, “He gave to his church a Bible, biblical preaching, a catechism, a Prayer Book and a confession of faith. If he has nothing much to offer in the way of dogmatic treatises, the reforms for which he himself was the main responsible are all at the theological level.”
“The theology of the founding documents of the Anglican church—the Book of Homilies, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion—expresses a theology in keeping with the Reformed theology of the Swiss and South German Reformation. It is neither Lutheran, nor simply Calvinist, though it resonates with many of Calvin’s thoughts,” notes Michael P. Jensen. Among distinctive Reformed doctrines are great stress upon the normative authority of the Word of God, thus superior to any extra-biblical traditions of man, and a passion for expository preaching and confessional Protestantism rooted in the historical creeds and the XXXIX Articles. Historical Anglicans yearn for sound Gospel preaching, proclaimed with authority and believed with sincerity, and a liturgy that finds itself thoroughly rooted in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Reformed soteriology is monergistic in fealty to the Augustinian-Pauline understanding of salvation, and the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, as salvation is all of God, by grace alone, through faith alone, and is contrasted with the synergism that became ascendant in the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodoxy during the middle ages. Soli deo gloria! (“All glory be to God!”)
As the English Reformation embraced continuity within a catholic Christianity and a good sense of its past, the English Reformers are sharply contrasted with the radical reformation of the antinomians, anabaptists, Mennonites and Quakers.
Gerald Bray notes, “The first Book of Common Prayer appeared in 1549. It contained services for daily worship, both morning and evening, and forms for the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, along with other ceremonies that were used less often.” This proved to be a great innovation, not only mainstreaming the English language of the common man in daily devotion, but: “The Prayer Book was common not only in the sense that it was uniform across the country, but also in the sense that it was shared among the community for the common good, and in this sense it was precisely an evangelical project: an endeavour to spread the good news of the gospel” observed Ethan H. Shagan.
Anglican services were rich in biblical aphorisms and imagery; and Anglicans absorbed much insight into the Holy Scripture from this prayer book, which was oft repeated and easily memorized. Attentiveness was given to the Lord’s Supper. Bray notes that Cranmer incorporated medieval liturgies like the Sarum rite (“Sarum” is Latin for the town of Salisbury), an eleventh century liturgy drawn from Norman, Anglo-Saxon, and Roman traditions. Cranmer, notes Bray, consciously restructured the liturgies, in a manner to effect the primacy of justification by faith alone among Anglican parishioners. “The communicant’s attention was directed away from the consecration of the bread and wine, which recalled the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, and refocused on his spiritual state, in line with Reformed teaching.”
In 1552, with the judicious aid of Martin Bucer and John Knox, Thomas Cranmer effected composition of a more radically Protestant Prayer Book. Later Queen Mary would ban the 1552 book, though it was eventually restored in England with slight modification. The early Episcopal Church of eighteenth century America drew from the more ‘high church’ Anglican tradition with its revised 1786 prayer book, thus reflecting a Romish slant.
In 1595, the Lambeth Articles were drawn up by Dr. William Whitaker, Regius Professor of Divinity in Cambridge, in consultation with Dr. Richard Fletcher, Bishop of London, Dr.Richard Vaughan, Bishop-elect of Bangor, and Humphrey Tyndall, Dean of Ely. These succinct articles articulated a monergistic soteriology with regards to predestination, redemption, justification, et al.:
1. God from eternity has predestined some men to life, and reprobated some to death. 2. The moving or efficient cause of predestination to life is not the foreseeing of faith, or of perseverance, or of good works, or of anything innate in the person of the predestined, but only the will of the good pleasure of God. 3. There is a determined and certain number of predestined, which cannot be increased or diminished. 4. Those not predestined to salvation are inevitably condemned on account of their sins. 5. A true, lively and justifying faith, and the sanctifying Spirit of God, is not lost nor does it pass away either totally or finally in the elect. 6. The truly faithful man—that is, one endowed with justifying faith—is sure by full assurance of faith ("plerophoria fidei") of the remission of sins and his eternal salvation through Christ. 7. Saving grace is not granted, is not made common, is not ceded to all men, by which they might be saved, if they wish. 8. No one can come to Christ unless it be granted to him, and unless the Father draws him: and all men are not drawn by the Father to come to the Son. 9. It is not in the will or power of each and every man to be saved.
Queen Elizabeth I was said to give opposition to the Lambeth Articles and opposed their enactment. The court of King James I of England (VI of Scotland) convened the Hampton Court Conference in 1604 with several prelates who met with the Puritan ministers. Dr. Reynolds formally requested that the “nine orthodoxal assertions concluded on at Lambeth might be inserted into the Book of Articles.” But they were never formally added to the Church of England’s XXXIX Articles. They were subsequently accepted by the Dublin Convocation of 1615 and formally ingrafted onto the Irish Articles (1615), which are believed to be the work of the Bishop of Armagh, James Ussher, who would later become Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland in 1625. “And since the Churches of England and Ireland were so closely allied, some English churchmen argued that the Irish Articles could appropriately be used to explain the English ones,” noted Stephen Hampton. The Lambeth Articles made an appearance at the Synod of Dordt in the Netherlands by the English deputies as the judgment of the Church of England on soteriological matters and in regards to the Arminian question.
The Westminster Assembly of Divines was a council of divines (aptly theologians in modern parlance) authorized by a mandate from the English Parliament. Members of the Assembly were appointed to restructure the Church of England and convened from 1643 to 1653. Several Scotsman of renown also attended, and the Westminster Assembly's work was formally adopted by the Church of Scotland. The Westminster Assembly was a council of divines (or theologians) acting on a mandate from the English Parliament. Members of the Assembly were appointed to restructure the Church of England and convened from 1643 to 1653. Several Scotsman of renown also attended, and the Westminster Assembly's work was formally adopted by the Church of Scotland. “The Westminster divines realized that the Articles [of Religion] were products of their time and needed supplementing even in the mid-seventeenth century, and few voices would dissent from that judgment today,” observed Gerald Bray. “What the Articles say is fair enough, but they need to be developed further if their doctrine is going to be appreciated and used in the modern church. Whether this can be done in the current state of the Anglican Communion is doubtful,” opined Bray, “but the Articles remain a touchstone of Reformed Anglicans, and perhaps their brief and judicious statements will one day gain them greater acceptance within the wider Reformed community.”
The Church of England’s liturgical expressions were meant to be things of beauty and aesthetic marvel, from the vibrant homilies to the rich sacred choral music to the monumental gothic and baroque style cathedrals, which invigorates worship in the mind of parishioners as to the glory and majesty of God. Anglicanism as established maintains a vibrant confessional witness, in order to “make the Gospel credible, attractive, show ourselves totally committed to it, demonstrate its power in our own lives, but always with the outward look for the Kingdom of God is meant to spread worldwide,” surmises J.I. Packer.
Picture above: A wall painting of the Apostles' Creed from Wales, dating to the early modern era.
Image Above: This illumination from a 13th-century manuscript shows the apostles writing the Creed, receiving inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
The Faith We Confess: An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles by Gerald Bray (London, UK: Latimer Trust)
The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are one of the three historic 'formularies' of the original Church of England, which serve as its constitutional documents. Along with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal, these documents indelibly shaped the distinctive identity of the English Church at the time of both the English and Continental Reformation, an identity which has had a formative influence on worldwide Anglicanism. These formularies shaped the Anglican Communion in profond ways, and though the tendency among liberals has been to ignore the Articles and Anglo-Catholics to engage in counter-factual reinterpretation of the Articles, their revival constitutes a basis for enlivening the common Anglican tradition.
Image Above: This mosaic from Ravenna depicts the Apostle Paul who helped proclaimed the way of salvation through Jesus Christ in the first century anno domini.
“Basic Anglicanism. . . sees itself as mainstream Christianity, as pure and well-proportioned and well-balanced by biblical standards as any version of Christianity that you can find anywhere in Christendom.”
Painting Above: Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, father of the English Reformation.
A Brief History of the English Reformation by Derek Wilson (London, UK: Robinson Publishing, 2001).
In his intriguing historical account of the English Reformation, Wilson describes the discrete impacts of political, economic, social, and religious change upon English identity in the wake of Reform, as well as its subsequent influence upon England's precarious relationship with its European neighbours on the continent, such as the 'Catholic superpowers' of France, Spain and Portugal.
This handbook offers a full suite of doctrinally determinative documents of the English Reformation and an annotated commentary.
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) played a formative role in the creation of the Church of England, the development of its liturgy as he compiled the Book of Common Prayer. From his intriguing appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1532, through his granting of Henry VIII's divorce from Queen Katharine, his emergence under Edward VI as a passionate church reformer with the fervor of his European contemporaries such as Calvin and Bullinger, and his memorable martyr's death under Mary Tudor in 1556 defined his life as a champion of the Gospel. He is remembered as the prime editor and creator of the two Books of Common Prayer of 1549 and 1552, and these indeed stand at the head of Anglican liturgical identity and tradition. Their influence and importance cannot be overstated.
Conceptualized under the deeply-held belief that the future of the global Anglican Communion hinges on a lucid, well-defined, and theologically rich vision, this reference tome was created with the aim of helping clergy and educated laity grasp the beauty, coherence, depth and theological soundness of the historical Reformation Anglican tradition.
To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism by J.I. Packer
Catechesis is an ancient practice of disciple making in according with the apostolic teachings and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It utlizes a simple question-and-answer format to instruct new believers, and church members in the tenants of Christianity. Written by a team of evangelicals leaders in order to renew this oft-forgotten tradition for contemporary Christians. With over 360 questions and answers, plus Scripture references to support each teaching,
In these days of spiritual ignorance in the country and doctrinal laxity in the church, many Anglicans look back to former times with a certain degree of wistfulness. One date lingers in the collective Anglican memory as suggestive of a golden era: 1662.
Cranmer functioned as a spiritual father of the Anglican Church, and he set its standard in accord with apostolic fathers and early ecumenical councils such as Nicaea and the Chalcedon Definition. This particular selection of his writings focuses on his theological understanding of what is commonly referred to as the Eucharist, Communion, or the Lord's Supper.
Volume one of The Oxford History of Anglicanism: Reformation and Identity c. 1520-1662 examines an epoch when the substance of 'Anglicanism' was contested and the source of disputation. Rather than merely tracing the emergence of primordial developments that we associate with later Anglican doctrine and practice, the contributors instead discuss the malleable nature of the Church of England's religious identity in these formative years while the church's destiny, shape, and form were being hammered by the reformers who debated and tendered the parameters of an 'Anglican' orthodoxy. After the cursory introduction and narrative chapters give credence to an historical background, later chapters then analyse different understandings of the early church and church history; variant readings of the meaning of the royal supremacy, the role of bishops and canon law, and the significance of cathedrals; the very diverse experiences of religion in parishes, styles of worship and piety, church decoration, and Bible usage; and the competing claims to 'Anglican' orthodoxy represented by puritanism, 'avant-garde conformity' and Laudianism. Also analysed are the debates over the Church of England's confessional identity and its associations with the continental European Reformed Churches, and other models tendered by English Protestant sects in Ireland, Scotland and North America. The English reforms of the 1640s and 1650s are given attentiveness. The volume concludes that historical circumstances of disputation, with many disputations still going on today, have not solidified a definitive 'Anglican identity' in the popular imagination, however, considering the shape of Anglicanism of the seventeenth century at the behest of Cranmer and English Reformers gives us an appreciation of the ideal. For many like myself, this primordial Reformation Anglicanism is a window to its true chracter without the blemishes and disfigurement wrought by later liberals, Arminians, and the Oxford Movement.
Above Video: R.C. Sproul - "The Task of Apologetics" - This message will define apologetics and explain its basic task and purpose.
"The Christian faith is an objective faith; therefore, it must have an object that is worthy of faith. Salvation comes not from the strength of our beliefs, but from the object of our beliefs. Yes, salvation comes through faith (Eph. 2:8, 9; John 6:29), but the merit of faith depends upon the object believed (not the faith itself).”
―Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World
I'm an apologist for the Christian faith, specifically orthodox Nicene Trinitarian Christianity revealed in the Holy Scriptures. Why? Theologian Robert Charles Sproul, paraphrasing the First Epistle of Peter, writes that "The defense of the faith is not a luxury or intellectual vanity. It is a task appointed by God that you should be able to give a reason for the hope that is in you as you bear witness before the world." The First Epistle Peter reads: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with" (1 Pet. 3:15).
Accordingly, I believe in theism, and a personal Creator God, that formed all the universes, galaxies, and worlds. I believe in special creation and intelligent design. The basic building block of life itself, DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, manifests evidence of intelligent design and a highly sentient programmer, namely the creator God.
I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is God incarnate in man, that he lived a perfect, sinless life, and He forms the singular and only sound basis for the salvation of humanity, specifically all those that believe in Christ's meritous works and lay hold of His righteousness on the basis of faith in his atoning death, burial, and resurrection. Mankind is under the curse of sin and death, having fallen from a previous state of grace, because of the willful volition of the first man, Adam, to choose sin, knowledge of good and evil, thus partaking of the consequences of the fall, which entailed spiritual separation from God, and inevitably both physical and spiritual death. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, just, holy, and righteous, and accordingly God persisted in showing a subsect of humanity forbearance, patience, and grace, and made a way of redemption and salvation possible through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Belief alone wasn't the only action necessary for salvation. Christ said, "Unless you repent ye shall all likewise perish?" Repent meant to turn around literally, and change. Christ issued commands as strategic imperatives for Christians, namely to "Love the Lord your God. . ." and to "Love one another. . ." and we show our love for God and our fellow man, but striving to do good, to exhibit love, to be deferential, and respectful of one another.
"'But of the many things he did, one of the most striking to me is his forgiving of sin.' 'Really?' I said, shifting in my chair, which was perpendicular to his, in order to face him more directly. 'How so?' 'The point is, if you do something against me, I have the right to forgive you. However, if you do something against me and somebody else comes along and says, I forgive you, what kind of cheek is that? The only person who can say that sort of thing meaningfully is God himself, because sin, even if it is against other people, is first and foremost a defiance of God and his laws. When David sinned by committing adultery and arranging the death of the woman’s husband, he ultimately says to God in Psalm 51, ‘Against you only have I sinned and done this evil in your sight.’ He recognized that although he had wronged people, in the end he had sinned against the God who made him in his image, and God needed to forgive him.”
―Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus
Down through history, God gave us a road-map, namely the Bible, a manifestation of the providence and sovereign intervention of God in human history, so as to effect the redemption of a fallen humanity. God foretold various signs, covenants, and conditions imposed upon his flock through His prophets. These prophets spoke of things that mankind should watch for so that the Messiah would be both recognized following his earthly appearance and also believed to be who he says he is. These signs, prophecies, and shadows were given to us in the Old Testament, the most substantial component of the Bible, written prior to the Incarnation of Jesus Christ on earth. Its writings were completed in 450 B.C. Though the Bible was compiled and written hundreds of years before Jesus' birth, it contains over 300+ prophecies that Jesus Christ fulfilled through his Incarnation, earthly ministry, life, death, burial, and resurrection. Mathematically the odds of any single person fulfilling this amount of prophecy are mind-boggling. The odds of a singular person fulfilling 300+ prophecies are phenomenal. The intricacy, magnificent detail of these prophecies substantiate the Bible as the inspired Word of God, renowned for its historical details, accuracy, and breadth of knowledge and wisdom. The New Testament was written following the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It stood as the disciples and apostles means of substantiating a testimony to the veracity of Jesus Christ, his person, and the doctrine that he is who he says he is.
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:1-3).
The Case for Christ trailer
Film starring: Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, Faye Dunaway. Based on the story of journalist Lee Stroebel, author of The Case for Christ, and other apologetics books made a journey from atheism to Christianity by God's grace, and proceeded to compile and tender evidences for belief, and eventually sought ordination as an evangelical pastor.
Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World by Josh McDowell (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015).
The modern apologetics classic that started it all is now completely revised and updated—because the truth of the Bible doesn’t change, but its critics do. With the original Evidence That Demands a Verdict, bestselling author Josh McDowell gave Christian readers the answers they needed to defend their faith against the harshest critics and skeptics. Since that time, Evidence has remained a trusted resource for believers young and old. Bringing historical documentation and the best modern scholarship to bear on the trustworthiness of the Bible and its teachings, this extensive volume has encouraged and strengthened millions. Now, with his son Sean McDowell, Josh McDowell has updated and expanded this classic resource for a new generation. This is a book that invites readers to bring their doubts and doesn’t shy away from the tough questions.
The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus (Expanded Edition) (Paperback) [Kindle Edition] by Lee Strobel (Zondervan, 2016).
Is there credible evidence that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God? Former atheist and Chicago Tribune journalist Lee Strobel says yes! In this revised and updated bestseller, The Case for Christ, Strobel cross-examines a dozen experts with doctorates from schools such as Cambridge, Princeton, and Brandeis, asking hard-hitting questions - and building a captivating case for Christ's divinity. Strobel challenges them with questions like, How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence for Jesus exist outside the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event? Winner of the Gold Medallion Book Award and twice nominated for the Christian Book of the Year Award, Strobel's tough, point-blank questions read like a captivating, fast-paced novel. But it's not fiction. It's a riveting quest for the truth about history’s most compelling figure.
Why I Believe (Revised Edition) by D. James Kennedy (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005).
In this compelling declaration of both belief and conviction, the late Donald James Kennedy, a Presbyterian minister at Coral Ridge Ministries in the Presbyterian Church of America, explores the biblical and spiritual foundations of the Christian faith. He offers reasons to believe for skeptics, and especially new believers, and seasoned Christians. This book will butress the faith of its readers by offering compelling answers to a number of relevant questions concerning the character and nature of God, the reality of heaven and hell, the imperative of moral absolutes, such as right and wrong, the resurrection, Christianity, the new birth, the person of the Holy Spirit, and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Warner Wallace (Colorado Springs, CO: David Cook, 2013).
Written by a Los Angeles County homicide detective, former atheist, and born-again Christian, Cold-Case Christianity examines the claims of the New Testament using the competencies, skills, and strategies of a skeptical criminal investigator. The claims of Christianity could be deemed analogous to a “cold case," for the reason, it makes a claim about an event from the distant past for which there is little forensic evidence. In this gripping book, J. Warner Wallace uses his detective methodologies to closely examine and scrutinize the available evidence and eyewitnesses behind Christian beliefs. Including compelling stories from his decades-long career, and visualization techniques he developed for usage in court trails, Wallace uses illustration to examine the compelling evidence that indeed validates the claims of Christianity. Wallace inspires readers to have confidence in the Bible's teachings, claims, and revealed truth regarding the person and deity of Jesus Christ as it prepares them to articulate an apologetical case for Christianity.
Video Below: "Always Ready" - Stephen Nichols - A sermon by Stephen Nichols explaining the purpose and rationale for Christian apologetics which emanates from an apostolic imperative exhorting believers to be prepared to give a reason for their hope in the resurrection.
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:1-3).
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity by Nabeel Qureshi
Nabeel Qureshi offers an intriguing overview of his dramatic transition from being a devotee of the Islamic religion to a born again Christian, and follower of Jesus Christ. This book explains the friendships, inquiries, and supernatural dreams along the way. Qureshi offers a backdrop of his early life in a devout Muslim home, and he was possessed of a passion for Islam before the providential happenstance of being drawn to Christianity, finding evidence that Jesus rose from the dead, and claimed to be God in the flesh. Qureshi became unable to deny the claims of Christianity after initially researching it with the intention of debunking it. The author describes the inner turmoil of ex-Muslims and those coming to faith in Christ from Islamic families, and why it's an often difficult path to choose. This book tells a compelling story of the clash between Islam and Christianity as it occurred in one man's mind and heart, but also elucidates upon the peace he ultimately found in Christ Jesus.
Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith by Douglas Goorthuis (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011).
The religion of the Christian, and its sacred Scriptures, posits answers to the most enduring questions of human existence. But are those answers trustworthy? In this systematic apologetics textbook, Douglas Groothuis makes a systematic apologetical case for the rationality and veracity of Christian theism, first proceeding from a defense of objective truth to an overview of pertinent arguments for God. Therein, he covers a number of bases, including the case for Christ, His Deity, Incarnation, and Atoning Death, Burial, and Resurrection! Throughout, Groothuis considers alternative views and how they fare intellectually. This stimulating book is a must-read for new Christians, skeptics, and seasoned students of apologetics and theology.
The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions by David Berlinski (New York, NY: Crown Forum, 2008).
Militant atheism is on the rise. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens produce New York Times bestselling books all aimed at denigrating religious belief and attacking the epistemic foundations of Christianity. These 'New Atheist' authors are merely the leading edge of a movement–one that now includes much of the scientific community. David Berlinski, however, tenders a cogent series of arguments that give one cause for skepticism of skepticism. Pardon the pun!
John of Damascus, First Apologist to the Muslims: The Trinity and Christian Apologetics in the Early Islamic Period by Daniel J. Janosik (Author), Peter G. Riddell (Foreword)
A significant part of the world nowadays is convulsed in an epic struggle between the Christian West and Islam. Followers of both faiths, scholars, and onlookers seeking to understand these sensitive issues scour the annals of history and religious documents in order to unearth the roots of this conflict. Of immense value in this endeavor are the writings of an eyewitness, a Christian devotee, who served as Treasurer and Comptroller of the Umayyad Empire, John of Damascus (675-750 A.D.), who wrote his influential corpus of writings in the formatives years of Islam, when it emerged out of the Arabian peninsula and was fast developing into the creed of a new militant empire founded on conquest and devotion to its purported god, Allah. John of Damascus authored Heresy of the Ishmaelites and The Disputation between a Christian and a Saracen, all in order to provide an apologetic response to followers of Islam from a Christian perspective.
Why God Won't Go Away - Engaging with the New Atheism by Alister McGrath
The recent rise of the New Atheist movement has aroused the interest of Christian believers and skeptics alike. Both sides toss up questions of fundamental importance, which have a vigorous public discourse. Building on this discourse, Alister McGrath asks Why God Won't Go Away and invites us to consider the issues at stake. This intriguing tome surveys the main ideas of the New Atheism, as expressed in the works of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. Its foundational views are examined and scrutinized cosely, put under the microscope, and appeals to the words of New Atheists themselves. Among the many questions addressed, as originally posed by the New Atheists: the issue of whether religion is delusional and evil; the belief that human beings are fundamentally goodl whether we should have faith only in what can be proved through reason and science; and the idea that the best hope for humanity is a 'New Enlightenment.' The result is a lively, thought-provoking debate that poses a number of interesting questions.
Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews by David Noebel (Summit Books, 2015).
Your view of God determines your view of the world. This tome offers an insightful, expansive look at the how the tenets of the Christian worldview compares with the five major competing worldviews of our day: Islam, Secular Humanism, Marxism, New Age, and Postmodernism. This is a systematic way to understand the ideas that rule our world. While this resource is expansive, the engaging, easy-to-understand prose invites you to discover the truths of God – and our world, and enables you to articulate, understand, and defend a Christian worldview.
I believe in intelligent design and special creationism. I accept microevolution (e.g. and along with microevolution, genetic drift, and natural selection) as opposed to the broader macroevolutionary theory, which presumes that mankind evolved from single-cell organisms to rodents to apes, which I wholeheartedly reject. Microevolution studies small changes in alleles that occur within a discrete population. Over time, the culimation of these small changes can accumulate, resulting in profound differences within the overall population. Dogs have been artificially selected for certain traits, resulting in a wide range of breeds with a broad range of divergent characteristics.
I find support for my views not merely in my rootedness in Christianity and the Bible, but on the basis of credible scientific evidence.
This held position of intelligent design and special creationism is often apt to elicit criticism from the secular academy and atheists. For instance, Richard Sternberg, a Smithsonian scientist with two Ph.D.s in evolutionary biology, was fired as editor of a Smithsonian science journal for publishing an article written by Cambridge-educated scientist Stephen Meyer. Why? In his own words, "Because Dr. Meyer’s article presented scientific evidence for intelligent design in biology, I faced retaliation, defamation, harassment, and a hostile work environment at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History that was designed to force me out as a Research Associate there."† In spite of the fact that Sternberg himself was an adherent of macroevolutionary Darwinian theory, he committed the cardinal sin among the establishment. He published an article by Cambridge-educated scientist Stephen Meyer, which boldly tendered scientific reasons for acceptance of 'intelligent design,' as Meyer suggested naturalistic theories cannot provide a satisfactory explanation for the great complexity and intricacy which we encounter in the universe, rather there were compelling reasons for an embrace of intelligent design.
A later report in the Washington Post revealed that Sternberg was dismissed as a result of a concerted effort by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a lobbying group that perpetually fights to keep criticism of naturalistic public schools out of the academy.‡ It was not that Meyer tendered unsound arguments on the surface that they were rejected, rather these self-anointed scientific elites deemed that the questioning of naturalistic evolution was not permitted. The effect of Sternberg's firing has had a chilling effect on academic freedom. Many biology, chemistry, and geology professors refrain from expressing their doubts about macroevolutionary theory, because they fear for the integrity of their careers and employability. I nevertheless stand by the courage of my convictions that there are compelling reasons to reject the Darwinian worldview and the specious notion that my primordial ancestors were ape-men.
†"Smithsonian Controversy," RichardSternberg.com. www.richardsternberg.com/smithsonian.php
‡Robert L. Crowther, II , "Smithsonian Scientist Was Demoted for Views Critical of Darwinian Evolution," Evolution News and Science Today https://evolutionnews.org/2006/12/the_house_government_reform_su/
Atheist philosopher Richard Rorty, a famous twentieth century academic, admitted:
The fundamentalist [by which he means Christian] parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire “American liberal establishment” is engaged in a conspiracy. These parents have a point. When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization. Rather, I think these students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft [teaching] of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents.
Biology has yielded an abundance of findings that point to intelligent design, such as the complexity and organization of the cell, as well as the irreducible complexity of complex life-forms, such organ systems, or the eye. If one enzyme or substrate is out of place, these complex life systems cease to function. The intricacy, the detail, the programming manifest in DNA, all point to intelligent design.
"The result of these cumulative efforts to investigate the cell—to investigate life at the molecular level—is a loud, clear, piercing cry of 'design!' The result is so unambiguous and so significant that it must be ranked as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science. The discovery rivals those of Newton and Einstein, Lavoisier and Schrödinger, Pasteur, and Darwin.”
―Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
Geology has yielded evidence throwing a monkey-wrench in macroevolutionary theory and buoys the case for intelligent design and special creation.
“If Darwin is right, Agassiz argued, then we should find not just one or a few missing links, but innumerable links shading almost imperceptibly from alleged ancestors to presumed descendants. Geologists, however, had found no such myriad of transitional forms leading to the Cambrian fauna. Instead, the stratigraphic column seemed to document the abrupt appearance of the earliest animals. Agassiz.”
―Stephen C. Meyer, Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design
Biochemistry has yielded evidence throwing a monkey-wrench in macroevolutionary theory and buoys the case for intelligent design and special creation.
“The conclusion of intelligent design flows naturally from the data itself. . . Inferring that biochemical systems were designed by an intelligent agent is a humdrum process that requires no new principles of logic or science. It comes simply from the hard work that biochemistry has done over the past forty years, combined with consideration of the way in which we reach conclusions of design every day.”
―Michael J. Behe, Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.
Do you want to learn more about special creationism and intelligent design? Contrary to popular belief, science is not wholly against special creationism and intelligent design. There are credible inductively-reasoned (probabilistic) rationales based on scientific evidence for the irreducible complexity of living organisms that precludes the Darwinian theory of macroevolution and likewise precludes subsequent revisionism by contemporary macroevolutionary thinkers such as the theory of punctuated equilibrium. As a Christian, I ultimately accept the special creation narrative of the Bible on the basis of faith. Howeve, here is my reading list that I have compiled based on my scholarly explorations and research, and it tenders credible reasons to beleive in God's hand in special creation and intelligent design. Furthermore, while my interpretation is in favor of intelligent design, special creationism, and acknowledging the legitimacy of micro- as opposed to macro- evolution, I have included a variety of sources and include a few so-called theistic macroevolutionary theorists for the sake of comparison and contrast.
A Comprehensive Bibliography and Reading List of Creationist Apologetics & Intelligent Design Resources
Darwin's Dilemma. Director: Lad Allen. DVD. (La Habra, CA: Illustra Media, 2010).
Metamorphosis: The Beauty and Design of Butterflies. DVD. (La Habra, CA: Illustra Media, 2012).
The Privileged Planet. Director: Lad Allen. DVD. (La Habra, CA: Illustra Media, 2010).
Unlocking the Mystery of Life: The Scientific Case for Intelligent Design. DVD. (La Habra, CA: Illustra Media, 2004).
Sproul, R.C., Creation or Chaos: Modern Science and the Existence of God. CD-Audio. (Sanford, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2000).
Alexander, Denis. Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? (Toronto, ON: Monarch Books, 2008).
Ashton, John F. In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation (Green Forest, AR:New Leaf Publishing, 2001).
Aston, John, and Michael Westacott. The Big Argument: Does Got Exist? Twenty-Four Scholars Explore How Science, Archaeology, and Philosophy Haven't Disproved God (Green Forest,AR: Green Leaf Pub., 2005).
Behe, Michael J., William A. Dembski, Stephen C. Meyer, Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe (The Proceedings of the Wethersfield Institute Vol. 9) (SanFrancisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2000).
Behe, Michael J. Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, Rev. 2nd Ed.(New York, NY: Free Press, 1996, 2006).
Behe, Michael J. The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism (New York, NY:Free Press, 2007).
Berlinski, David, Casey Luskin, Stephen C. Meyer, Paul Nelson, Jay Richards and Richard Sternberg, Signature of Controversy: Responses to Critics of Signature in the Cell, David Klinghoffer, ed. (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2011).
Berlinski, David, The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays (Hillsdale, MI: Hillsdale College Press,2010).
Berlinski, David. The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions (New York, NY:Basic Books, 2009).
Bigalke, Ron. The Genesis Factor: Myths and Realities (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2008).
Black, Jim Nelson. The Death of Evolution: Restoring Faith and Wonder in a World of Doubt (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010).
Boice, James Montgomery. Genesis. 3 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Pub., 1998, 2006).
Brown, Walt. In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood. 8th Ed. (Center for Scientific Creation, 2008).
Campbell, Heidi, and Heather Looy, eds., A Science and Religion Primer (Adi, MI: Baker Academic, 2009).
Colling, Richard G. Random Designer: Created from Chaos to Connect with the Creator (Bourbonnais, IL: Browning Press, 2004).
Collins, Francis. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York, NY:Free Press, 2006).
Collins, Francis. The Language of Life: DNA and the Revolution in Personalized Medicine (New York, NY: Harper, 2010).
Dembski, William A., and Michael Ruse, eds. Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007).
Dembski, William A., and Charles W. Colson. The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004).
Dembski, William A., and Jonathan Wells. The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence In Biological Systems (Richardson, TX: Foundation for Thought and Ethics, 2007).
Dembski, William A., ed. Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2004).
Dembski, William. Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
Dembski, William and Jonathan Witt. Intelligent Design Uncensored: An Easy-to-Understand Guide to the Controversy (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010).
Dembski, William. The Design Inference: Eliminating Chance through Small Probabilities (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
Dembski, William. The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions about Intelligent Design (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004).
Denton, Michael. Evolution: A Theory In Crisis - Why New Developments in Science Are Challenging Orthodox Darwinism (London, England: Burnett Books, 1985).
Dewolf, David K., John G. West, Casey Luskin, and Jonathan Witt. Traipsing Into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2012).
Flannery, Michael A. Nature's Prophet: Alfred Russel Wallace and His Evolution from Natural Selection to Natural Theology (Univ. of Alabama Press, 2018).
Flew, Anthony. There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (New York,NY: Harper Collins, 2007).
Fowler, Thomas B., and Daniel Kuebier. Evolution Controversy, The: A Survey of Competing Theories (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Pub., 2007).
Frederick, Fr Justin B. A., Wayne J. Downs, and William A. Dembski. The Patristic Understanding Of Creation: An Anthology Of Writings From The Church Fathers On Creation And Design (Erasmus Press, 2008).
Gauger, Ann, Douglas Axe, and Casey Luskin. Science and Human Origins (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2012).
Geisler, Norman L. Creation and the Courts: Eighty Years of Conflict in the Classroom and the Courtroom (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007).
Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (Wheaton, IL: Crossway,2004).
Giberson, Karl W. and Francis S. Collins. The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions (Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011).
Giberson, Karl W. Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution (New York, NY: K.S. Giniger, 2008).
Gitt, Werner. Did God Use Evolution? Observations from a Scientist of Faith (Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Publishing, 2006).
Gitt, Werner. Without Excuse (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Pub., 2011).
Godfrey, W. Robert. God’s Pattern for Creation: A Covenantal Reading of Genesis 1 (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 2003).
Gonzalez, Guillermo, and, Jay Richards, The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2004)
Gordon, Bruce L. and William Dembski. The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2011).
Jeffrey, Grant R. Creation: Remarkable Evidence of God's Design (Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 2003).
Johnson, Phillip. Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1991).
Johnson, Phillip. Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997).
Jordan, James B. Creation in Six Days: A Defense of the Traditional Reading of Genesis One (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1999).
Kelly, Douglas. Creation And Change: Genesis 1.1 - 2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms (Mentor, 2000).
Larson, Edward J., and Richard B. Russell. 3rd Ed. Trial and Error: The American Controversy Over Creation and Evolution (New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 1985, 1989,2003).
Lennox, John. God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007).
Lennox, John. God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (Chicago, IL: Lion, 2006, 2009).
Lennox, John. Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004).
Lisle, Jason. Taking Back Astronomy: The Heavens Declare Creation (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2006).
Lubenow, Marvin L. Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils (Ada, MI: Baker Pub., 2004).
MacArthur, John. The Battle For the Beginning: Creation, Evolution and the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005).
Machen, J. Gresham. Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B.
Marsden, George. Fundamentalism and American Culture, 2nd Ed. (New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006).
Meyer, Stephen C. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design (New York, NY: Harper, 2013).
Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 2009).
Miller, Kenneth B., Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul (New York, NY: Penguin, 2008).
Monton, Bradley. Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design (Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2009).
Moreland, J.P., The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1994).
Muncaster, Ralph O. Dismantling Evolution: Building the Case for Intelligent Design (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2003).
Nagel, Thomas. Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False (New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012).
Nash, Ronald H. Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).
Nevin, Norman. Should Christians Embrace Evolution? (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Pub., 2011).
Noebel, David. Understanding the Times: The Religious Worldviews of Our Day and the Search for Truth, 7th Ed. (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1995).
Noll, Mark. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1995).
Numbers, Ronald L. The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism (Los Angeles, CA: Univ. of California Press, 1992).
Pearcey, Nancy R., and Charles B. Thaxton. The Soul of Science: Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994).
Plantinga, Alvin. Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011).
Poythress, Vern Sheridan. Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2006).
Ratzch, Del. Science and Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009).
Rose, Seraphim, Fr. Genesis, Creation and Early Man (Platina,CA: St. Herman Press, 2000).
Safarti, Jonathan. By Design: Evidence for Nature's Intelligent Designer—the God of the Bible (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Pub., 2008).
Safarti, Jonathan. Refuting Compromise: A Biblical and Scientific Refutation of "Progressive Creationism" (Billions of Years) As Popularized by Astronomer Hugh Ross (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Pub., 2011).
Safarti, Jonathan. Refuting Evolution (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Pub., 1999, 2008).
Safarti, Jonathan. Refuting Evolution 2 (Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Pub., 2011).
Schroeder, Gerald L. The Hidden Face of God: Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth (New York, NY: Free Press, 2002).
Schroeder, Gerald L. The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom (New York, NY: Free Press, 2009).
Sewell, Granville. In The Beginning And Other Essays on Intelligent Design (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2010).
Sire, James. The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. 5th Ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009).
Smith, Wolfgang. Theistic Evolution: The Teilhardian Heresy (Tacoma: WA: Angelico Press, 2012)
Snoke, David. Biblical Case for an Old Earth (Ada, MI: Baker Pub., 2006).
Spitzer, Robert J. New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2010).
Sproul, R.C. Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004).
Sproul, R.C. Defending Your Faith: An Introduction to Apologetics (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003, 2009).
Sproul, R.C. The Consequences of Ideas: Understanding the Concepts that Shaped Our World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2003, 2009).
Sproul, R.C., Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology (Adi, MI: Baker Pub., 1999).
Strobel, Lee. The Case For A Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005).
Van Til, Cornelius. Christian Apologetics, 2nd Ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing,2003).
Van Til, Cornelius. The Defense of the Faith. K. Scott Oliphint, ed. 4th ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ:P&R Publishing, 1967, 2008).
Walton, John H. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009).
Weikart, Richard. From Darwin to Hitler: Evolutionary Ethics, Eugenics, and Racism in Germany (Palgrave MacMillan, New York, NY: 2004).
Wells, Jonathan. Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2002).
Wells, Jonathan. The Myth of Junk DNA (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2011).
Wells, Jonathan. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2006).
West, John, ed. The Magician's Twin: C.S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society (Seattle,WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2011).
West, John. Darwin's Conservatives: The Misguided Quest (Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press, 2006).
Woodward, Thomas, James Gills, The Mysterious Epigenome: What Lies Beyond DNA (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2011).
"In the beginning God created the Heavens and the earth. . ." (Genesis 1:1)
Above Video: Revolutionary - Michael Behe and the Mystery of Molecular Machines. This video documentary explains Michael Behe, a biochemist and former macroevolutionist's repudiation of macroevolutionary theory, his credible reasoning for this change of thought, and his ultimate acceptance of intelligent design.
Above Video: Unlocking the Mystery of Life by Illustra Media. This video documentary explains how prominent scientists came to take issue with the academy's orthodoxy of macroevolutionary theory, and come to accept the reasonableness of the intelligent design argument.
Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution by Michael Behe (Harper One, 2019).
The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism by Michael Behe (Free Press, 2006).
Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (Free Press, 2001).
In his controversial bestseller Darwin’s Black Box, biochemist Michael Behe challenged Darwin’s theory of evolution, arguing that science itself has proven that intelligent design is a better explanation for the origin of life. In The Edge of Evolution, Behe presents presents the evidence of the genetics revolution — the first direct evidence of nature's mutational pathways — to radically redefine the debate about Darwinism. In Darwin Devolves, Behe advances his argument, presenting new research that offers a startling reconsideration of how Darwin’s mechanism works, weakening the theory’s validity even more.
A system of natural selection acting on random mutation, evolution can help make something look and act differently. But evolution never creates something organically. Behe contends that Darwinism actually works by a process of devolution—damaging cells in DNA in order to create something new at the lowest biological levels. This is important, he makes clear, because it shows the Darwinian process cannot explain the creation of life itself. “A process that so easily tears down sophisticated machinery is not one which will build complex, functional systems,” he writes.
In addition to disputing the methodology of Darwinism and how it conflicts with the concept of creation, Behe reveals that what makes Intelligent Design unique—and right—is that it acknowledges causation. Evolution proposes that organisms living today are descended with modification from organisms that lived in the distant past. But Intelligent Design goes a step further asking, what caused such astounding changes to take place? What is the reason or mechanism for evolution? For Behe, this is what makes Intelligent Design so important.
The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design by William A. Dembski (Intervarsity Press, 2004).
The Design Revolution by William A. Dembski was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist. It asks the question regarding the posited theory of intelligent design? Is it scientific? Is it merely religious? What is the Design Revolution precisely? Today scientists, including biologists, chemists, physicists, as well as mathematicians, and philosophers have joined the intelligent design movement and posing a challenge to a popular view within the scientific community. These men and women challenge the notion that there is scientific reason to exclude the consideration of sentient intelligence, agency, design, and even planned purpose from truly scientific research. These intellectuals maintain that science already gives credeence to these factors. William A. Dembski endeavors to answer questions surrounding this so called Design Revolution, which challenges orthodox Darwinian macroevolutionary theory, and he nimbly answers questions posed to challenge the intelligent design program. Dembski makes his research accessible to laity with easy-to-understand terms, and explanations.. Dembski makes it resoundingly clear that The Design Revolution will challenge the scientific community to reevaluate its faulty epistemology, methodologies, and bias that are deliberately orchestrated all with the purpose of suppressing and denying inductive reasoning and evidences that lend credence to intelligent design. By reading this erudite work, the reader will have a better idea of the prospects of this revolution in thinking.
Intelligent Design: The Bridge Between Science and Theology by William A. Dembski (IVP Academic, 2002).
William Dembski address the challenges and criticisms posed agaisnt the intelligent design movement. In this erudite tome, Dembski addresses evidences for divine action in nature, why the significance of miraculous divine supernatural intervention should be considered, and the fate of British natural theology. Dembski illustrates astutely how intelligent design can be inferred as a theory of information and it rests upon a plausible epistemological foundation. Phillip Johnson dubs this crucial book "one of the most important of the design theorists who are sparking a scientific revolution by legitimating the concept of intelligent design in science."
With Christianity losing its former ascendancy in the modern West, and the conformist tendency to make the church more like the world, it's often suggested that we minimize secondary doctrine for the sake of Christian unity. I would insist that this doctrinal minimalism is in fact the wrong approach, and is woefully misguided. Rather just as all true Christians should stand for the furtherance of Christ's Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven, we should also stand athwart the militant secularism. For all these reasons, we need robust biblical expressions of Christianity. We need a confessional faith. We need creeds and confessions. Because the popular culture, or global anti-culture, continues to assail Christianity in these troubled times, we need the Bible's comprehensive theological support structure, and its rich teachings find an articulate exposition in the historical creeds, confessions, and formularies of the Christian Church. The Apostle Paul stressed the importance of "sound doctrine. . ." When the popular culture is against the Gospel, our evangelism and discipleship efforts must be theologically robust, doctrinally sound, and impassioned.
Adapted from the "The Truth of the Council of Nicea" by Ryan Setliff first published on 23 August 2017 on Facebook.
The person of the Lord Jesus Christ was at center stage in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., and all subsequent councils appealing to the precedent, weight and authority of the First Council. As Augustine of Hippo opined, ". . .we make our own the profession of the faith that we carry in our heart. . . We have the catholic faith in the creed, known to the faithful and committed to memory, contained in a form of expression as concise as has been rendered admissible by the circumstances.” In the creed was affirmation of belief in the authority of the Word of God, the incarnate Logos, namely the Lord Jesus Christ:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-5)
In the span of church history, the cities of Alexandria and Antioch figure prominently as centers of theological influence as well as dissension. Both heroes of the faith and heretics hailed from either of these two cities. Erstwhile a young Berber from Libya studied theology at the Christian catechetical school in Antioch under the mentorship of Lucian of Antioch, a protege of heretic bishop Paul of Samosata. Though none of Lucian’s extant writings are today known, scholars attribute to him a number of heresies in the early Christian church.
Supposedly the heresy of Arius, owed to the influence of Lucian, a protégé of Paul of Samosata, was an overreaction to another perceived heresy, namely that of Sabellianism (modalism.) One of the great ironies of the swinging pendulum of heresy is it often produces peculiar reactionaries, themselves heretical in nature, who by ignorance or passion, overcompensate and soon slip up themselves. As riots broke out on 318 A.D., in Alexandria, over the contests between Arius’ followers and the the followers of Bishop Alexander, presbyters from afar took note of the ordeal. In 321, Bishop Alexander summarily expelled Arius from the city of Alexandria. His expulsion did not end the matter. Arius made flight to Palestine and promoted his ideas there. Alexander wrote several epistles to the churches in the area issuing cautionary warnings. Word of the affair quickly spread. Not long thereafter, bishops throughout Christendom endeavored to enter the fray of controversy and address the heretical voices for the sake of the integrity of the Gospel and unity of the church.
Accordingly the church held its first ecumenical catholic (“universal”) council to settled longstanding doctrinal and ecclesiastical conflicts: namely the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. The presbyters (elders) of the church were summoned for the express purpose of giving a more concrete exposition of the nature of Jesus' relationship to the Father, thus reaffirming His unique status as "Son of God", the incarnate "Word" or "Logos", and His divinity, in light of divine revelation manifest in Scriptural truth.
Presided over by Emperor Constantine, drawing from the wellspring of knowledge in the Holy Scriptures, and with prayers and supplications in appeal to the Holy Spirit for divine guidance, the Council articulated the rudiments of an orthodox Christian theology, as it tendered the classical orthodox Christology and the Doctrine of the Trinity. The resultant creed that capstones their labors became known as the Nicene Creed and later a final clarion statement appeared in the Niceno-Constantinopolian Creed in 381 A.D. Excepting the apostolic council in Jerusalem recorded in Acts of the Apostles, chapter fifteen, Nicea stands above other early councils of the church given the depth of its focus, the clarity and solemnity of its subsequent authoritative creedal statements.
The council was no rash innovation as revisionists and pseudo-Christian cultists claim. Among its Scriptural truths reaffirmed was Christ’s divinity. Earlier Melito of Sardis (c. 170-180) gave a second century exposition on the widely understood apostolic church teaching of the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ:
And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was provided too, to indicate who was being killed. Who was it? It is a heavy thing to say, and a most fearful thing to refrain from saying. But listen, as you tremble in the face of him on whose account the earth trembled. He who hung the earth in place is hanged. He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place. He who made all things fast is made fast on the tree. The Master is insulted. God is murdered. The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand.
The creeds that emanated from the ecumenical councils of the early Christian church have served as effective guardrails, in effect keeping God's people marching on a path of truth. These early church fathers under the guidance of the Holy Spirit articulated these beautiful sublime statements of faith in fealty to the Holy Scriptures with an eye to upholding its integrity and adherence to the true Gospel of Jesus of Christ and the faith of the apostles. Though not infallible, these wise statements of faith form an enduring legacy and serve as a barometer of theological truth in age torn asunder by relativism and trendy theological fads.
Gerald Bray remarks, “the creeds of the Early Church. . . are intended to express the content of belief necessary for salvation. Because of this, they are brief and as comprehensive as possible.” The Nicene truth would be transmitted to faraway lands and was a testament to unity within the church, for as Saint David of Wales avowed: "Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us." The simple Nicene creed is a sublime statement of Christian orthodoxy and finds expression in worship within the Christian church’s confessional tradition.
The creed makes available a reliable way to learn the doctrinal tenets of an orthodox Christianity. In teaching the catechetical creed of Jerusalem circa 350 A.D., Cyril of Jerusalem, explained that believers are aided by a concise formula of belief, a confession, in order to keep as close to the center of the apostolic faith as possible, by God’s grace and in and through the power of His Holy Spirit. The creed is that:
which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures. For since all cannot read the Scriptures, some being hindered from the knowledge of them by lack of learning, and others because they lack leisure to study, in order that the soul should not be starved in ignorance, the church has condensed the whole teaching of the faith in a few lines. This summary I wish you both to commit to memory when I recite it, and to rehearse it with all diligence among yourselves, not writing it out on paper, but engraving it by the memory upon your heart, taking care while you rehearse it that no catechumen may happen to overhear the things which have been delivered to you. I wish you also to keep this as a provision through the whole course of your life, and beside this to receive no alternative teaching, even if we ourselves should change and contradict our present teaching. (Catechetical Lectures 5.12)
Above Video: "Arius and Nicea" - Lecture by Ryan Reeves
Ryan M. Reeves (Ph.D Cambridge) is Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and here he lectures on the controversy settled at the Council of Nicea following the church's reaction to the heresy of Arius, which resulted in the censure and excommunication of Arius and his followers.
Above Video: "Chalcedonian Definition" Lecture by Ryan Reeves, Cambridge PhD
The Chalcedonian Definition is a diophysite declaration of the two natures of Christ, adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451. Chalcedon was an early centre of Christianity located in Asia Minor.
The Creedal Imperative by Carl Trueman (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012).
What if contrary to so called non-denominational evangelical wisdom, the aphorism “No creed but the Bible” is actually unbiblical? What if damage is done to the dissemination and preservation of "sound doctrine" among the church body by the rejection of the historic statements of belief embraced and affirmed by the early Christian church? The historic role of confessions and creeds has been the basis of on-going debate today, and it has profound implications for the future of the Christian church. Many confessional Christians are embracing the summons to return to Christianity’s ancient roots, which includes esteem for the early apostles, the church fathers, and the authority of the early ecumenical councils, such as First and Second Councils of Nicaea, the Chalcedonian Council, the Council of Ephesus, and the Council of Orange. Advocating on behalf of the historic creeds and confession, Reformed Protestant theologian Carl Trueman tenders an insightful analysis of why these historical formularies are vitally requisite, how they came into being and have been appropriated over time, and how they can continue to function in the church.
I Believe: Exploring the Apostles' Creed by Alister McGrath (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Press).
The rudiments of Christian faith have remained the same for centuries, timeless, unchanged, and are reflected by the teachings of the sacred inspired scripture of the Bible itself. Affirmed by the church for centuries all around the world, these sacred truths are summarized in formularies known as creeds. Among these statements, the Apostles' Creed is one of the most enduring. In this succinct overview, religious scholar Alister McGrath introduces the reader to the essential truths about the persons of the Trinity, namely God the Father, the person and work of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. These sacred truths are embodied in the Apostles Creed, and McGrath offers a cogent scholarly exposition upon the Apostles Creed.
What We Believe: Understanding and Confessing the Apostles' Creed by R.C. Sproul (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2015).
What do Christians believe about God the Father, Jesus Christ, the church, salvation, eternal life, and more? This contemporary classic from theologian R. C. Sproul provides a matchless introduction to the basics of the Christian faith.
What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’ Creed by Michael Bird (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Modern Christians have entertained a strain of thought that makes them reluctant to affirm the ancient creeds because of their uninformed “nothing but the Bible” tradition. In this insightful apologetic for the historical formulary of the Apostles Creed, theologian Michael Bird opens our eyes to the possibilities of the Apostle’s Creed as a way to explore and understand the basic teachings of the Christian faith. As Jeremy Treat of Biola notes, "We all have a tradition through which we read Scripture, and Michael Bird argues that the Apostle’s Creed ought to be that tradition. Far from competing with the Bible, this ancient summary of the faith is an aid in rightly understanding the Bible. Bird approaches the creed as a syllabus for teaching basic Christian belief, and like the experienced professor that he is, guides his readers through the creed by highlighting the contours of the narrative and the convictions of the faith."
J.I. Packer, Affirming the Apostles' Creed (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008).
The learned Anglican theologian, J.I. Packer, offers insights into the theology of one of the most fundamental creeds of Western Christendom, the Apostles Creed. This scholarly work gives a biblical rationale for the theology of the creed, and helps the layperson better ascertain the Trinitarian theology and christology manifest in this essential formulary of Christian orthodoxy. J. I. Packer (DPhil, Oxford University) serves as the Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College. Packer is the author of countless books and scholarly articles, including the best-seller Knowing God. Packer served as general editor for the English Standard Version (ESV) Bible and as the theological editor for the ESV Study Bible.
Above Video: The Nicene Creed sung as hymnody
Above Video: "Creeds and Councils: What are they?" - Lecture by Ryan Reeves
Ryan M. Reeves (Ph.D Cambridge) is Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and here he lectures on the role of the creeds and early ecumenical councils of the Church.
Above Video: "What is the Apostles Creed? (In 90 Seconds)," Lecture by Ryan Reeves
Many churches affirm the Apostles Creed from the early church or Patristic period. But who wrote the Apostles Creed? Did the 12 apostles of Jesus write the Apostles Creed or someone else? This 90 second (or so) video explains how the Apostles Creed was written in the early centuries of the Christian church.
Ecumenical by definition has two denotations according to Merriam-Websters' Dictionary. First, "of, relating, or representing the whole of a body of churches;" and second, "promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation. . ." To the extent I am ecumenical, I acknowledge a diversity of bodies, communions, congregations, and indeed peoples within Christ's church, and this comes attendant to the universal Gospel. After all, the redeemed church of Christ shall embody: ". . . a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. . ." (Revelation 7:9) The nuance I add is that I do not believe that the truth of the Gospel should be sacrificed in pursuit of ecumenicalism; there are good and bad forms of ecumenicalism.
“Christian unity,” remarks J.I. Packer, “is a matter should be taken seriously because God takes it seriously. . . In the Bible, the Lord Jesus prays that all of his disciples everywhere, at all times, will be one. One in their fellowship with Him. One in their life together. When the Apostle Paul writes the church it talks about the unity of spirit as a given reality, which embraces all Christians here and now. So, church unity, doesn’t mean primarily or even essentially church union. A lot of people make that mistake and think it does. Christian unity means acknowledging that all of us are sharers in the love of the same Savior, the power of the same Holy Spirit, and the worship of the same Heavenly Father. And being together in that brings us together as brothers and sisters in a single family, so that all Christians, straight away, must see themselves as brothers, sisters, and friends straight away to every Christian in the world.”
The Apostle Paul exhorts us to “be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Here we see the person of the Holy Spirit represented as a giver of unity within the body of Christ, which aims to promote love among the brethren. “In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free — and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). The Nicene credal orthodoxy views the Bible as a basic unity, with both the Old and the New Testaments declaring the one triune God, one Savior from sin, one way of salvation, and one covenant of grace. This orthodoxy reflects the “sound doctrine” that Paul spoke of.Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God, the Apostle Paul wrote:
Accordingly if we truly care about showing our community, family, friends and even enemies the truth, love and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, we should heed His summons to unity. We should demonstrate our unity in faith. Unity and peaceful harmonious relations among the brethren serves the cause of Jesus Christ. Our demonstrated unity as believer is important evidence to the truth of the Gospel, which can offer to an unbelieving and sinful world:
As the Psalmist writes, “How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!" (Psa. 133:1). As 1 Peter 3:8 notes, unity entails being “like-minded,” possessed of “love” for “one another, and “sympathetic.” And indeed the Gospel serves a purpose not simply in the salvation of souls, the glory of God, but to “bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Eph. 1:10.)
Christian Unity, but at what cost?
Sound, or healthy, doctrine points to a pattern of worship that, when followed, promotes unity within the body of Christ, as well as faith and love among the brethren (Jn. 4:23; Eph. 4:11-13). It should go without saying that this unity does NOT come at the expense of “sound doctrine” (2 Tim 2:2). Compromise of the integral truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is properly understood, a cause for division (Amos 3:3). “I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them” (Rom. 16:17-20). Division separates the brethren and causes strife and conflict (Col. 3:13-14).
The Apostle Paul admonished the discordant church at Corinth to unity. It was a body divided into competing sects; disorder prevailed in their assemblies; the Lord's Supper had been corrupted with people partaking of it in an unworthy manner; sins such as adultery were even tolerated, and some even denied the future bodily resurrection of believers. Paul endured with them amid heresy, dissension and lawlessness. But, why? Foremost Paul loved God. Also he loved the body and wanted to see them extirpate all impediments to true worship and Christian fraternity. He instructed them under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 1:11). He was steadfast in renouncing their sin, and exhorting them to repentance. However, Paul subjected the practitioners of lawlessness and heretics to discipline, effecting their expulsion from among the assembly, in the hope that certain individuals find true faith, repentance and restoration.
“Error, indeed,” wrote Irenaeus, “is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced. . . more true than the truth itself.” With an eye to the Gnostic sect who read and quoted from the Bible, the orthodox Irenaeus had in mind Jesus' admonition in the Gospel of Matthew 7:15 about false prophets who come in sheep's clothing but are inwardly as ravenous wolves. Some may represent themselves as Christ followers, but by their words and deeds they deny the true Gospel of Jesus Christ (Mt. 7:21-22, 12:37; Gal. 1:8-9).
For example, the Gnostic sect fundamentally rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul is clear in his epistle to the Galatians about the perils of perverting the Gospel: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:18.) Here Paul declares the spiritual condition of such a man as being under God’s curse, thus “dead in your transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1). This is not a condition that points to possessing the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul expressly warned of those “having a form of godliness but denying its power. . .” as they are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” “And from such people turn away!” (2 Tim. 3:5-7.)
For more information on cults, in particular pseudo-Christian Cults which often profess to be “Christians” or “Christ followers,” see Walter Martin and Ravi Zacharias, The Kingdom of the Cults (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2003), which offers an exposition on anti-Christian cults, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Identity, True Nation Israelite Congregation, Eastern Lightning, and others, espousing another Gospel that leads to certain damnation, unless they forsake such heresy in favor of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One of the ways Satan has strives to strike at the integrity of the Gospel and at His church is nurturing the Spirit of Error: “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). When contrasting the temperament of the Apostle Paul, it’s worthy of notation that he was gentle and conciliatory with non-believers pertaining to his witness as 2 Timothy 2:24-25 observes, however, when “wolves” appeared within the assembly, manifesting the “doctrines of devils” (Mt. 7:15; 1 Tim. 4:1), Paul was sharp in his rebuke, and censure of those espousing heresy that threatened the adherence of the flock to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, thus spreading error and heresy, which justifies excommunication of the guilty parties in absence of demonstrated repentance (Mt. 18:15-20).
Hymenaeus and Alexander were men in the early church in Ephesus who had “suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith” and so were “handed over to Satan” by the Apostle Paul (1 Tim. 1:19–20). What does it mean when a prominent apostolic figure hands one over to Satan? It certainly implies a loss of favor from God, and precludes salvation if such a state is not reversed, yet God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Mt. 5:45.) If an excommunicated party, professes faith in the true Gospel, demonstrates repentance, and recognizes his error through the power of the Holy Spirit, he may be received once more by the church (Eph. 2:1; Titus 3:5).
God in His sovereign grace and mercy utilized the disputation within the apostolic church to allow the apostles, under the inspiration, guidance and direction of the person of the Holy Spirit, to reproof error, discipline the lawlessness, and to effect the removal of tares from the body of Jesus Christ who through grave moral sin, disobedience or heresy threatened the health of the body of Jesus Christ.
A short lesson with author and theologian J.I. Packer.
Christian Unity: An Exposition of Ephesians 4:1-16 by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998).
Vital themes behind Christian unity are often overlooked in the press of sentiment for greater ecumenicity. This study seeks to examine the depths of true spiritual unity.
The Basis of Christian Unity by David Martin Lloyd-Jones (Scotland: The Banner of Trust Press, 1957)
Christian unity is the result of a shared faith in Christ and His gospel among the body of Christ. This is what emerges from Dr. Davud Martin Lloyd-Jones' consideration of John 17 and Ephesians 4 in the addresses to the Westminster Fellowship republished here. Lloyd-Jones' presentation was given against the background of the spirited debate engendered by the ecumenical movement of the time. His thorough presentation demonstrated that Christian unity is never something arrived at by minimizing truth. For the reason, it elucidates timeless truths about the truth of Scripture, this trenchant exposition of the issues underlying Christian unity is still relevant in spite of first appearing in 1962.
Heresies: Heresy and Orthodoxy in the History of the Church by Harold O. J. Brown
The history of Christian theology is in large part a history of heresies, because Jesus and the claims he made . . . seemed incredible," writes the author.Heresies presents "the story of how succeeding generations of Christians through almost twenty centuries have tried to understand, trust, and obey Jesus Christ." Particularly concerned with christology and trinitarianism, the author calls on the four major creeds of the churchApostles', Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonianto separate orthodoxy from heresy. He acknowledges that heresy has done much more than confuse and divide the church. It has also helped the church to classify orthodoxy. Just as heresy served this purpose historically, so it serves this purpose pedagogically in Heresies.
An evangelist bears good tidings of joy, which come through sharing the good news, or the Gospel, about the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel is epitomized by Jesus Christ in the following proclamation: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news." (Mark 1:15) Through Christ's atoning death, burial, and resurrection, the elect believers among humanity find hope of redemption in the next life (John 3:16; Acts 1:2; Acts 2:32; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8). He constitutes the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and He lived a holy, righteous, and just life as the model human being who was perfect and without blame (1 Peter 2:22; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 1:15). He was God in the flesh, and the miracle of the Incarnation manifests God's great love for humanity who bear His image (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; John 1:14; Luke 17:24; Galatians 4:4). As Theopedia states of the Gospel, in part it is "the proclamation of God in Jesus Christ that the kingdom of God has come near and that it is a call for the proper response of repentance." There's a sense of urgency that Christ's followers or His disciples more aptly proclaim the Good News about Jesus!
Because we as humanity share in the Image of God (Imago Dei), we're culpable morally for how we live in this life (Romans 14:12). Each of us are posessesed of will and volition, yet ensnared by the perilous consequences of the fall of man, thus tainted with a depraved sin nature, and accordingly, we must embrace the righteousness of Christ that comes as a free gift on the basis of faith in Christ's finished work (Romans 3:23, 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-10). The fruit of a geniune saving faith is walking day-by-day in hope of the future bodily resurrection (John 5:28-29; Hebrews 12:1-2), abiding love, joy, charity, and goodwill towards our fellow man (Galatians 5:22-23). We should find motivation to live and share our faith with others, not least being because God has commanded us to do as such (Mark 16:15).
“The preacher should work to convert his congregation; the wife should work to save her unbelieving husband. Christians are sent to convert, and they should not allow themselves, as Christ's representatives in the world, to aim at anything less. Evangelizing, therefore, is not simply a matter of teaching, and instructing, and imparting information to the mind. There is more to it than that. Evangelizing includes the endeavor to elicit a response to the truth taught.”
—J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God
The solace of the evangelist who acts, and preaches and proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that He did act, and out of a desire to please God, He endeavored to proclaim the Gospel as He was commanded to do. That he did as His Savior instructed him to do, by proclaiming the truth of the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of His Lord Jesus Christ manifests obedience to the received teachings of Scripture. It's imperative that evangelist proclaim why it's both right and necessary to receive the free gift of salvation on the basis of "grace through faith" in the risen Savior! There's no other way but Jesus Christ to redemption (John 14:6), and certainly no hope for mortal man apart from faith in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:27).
I began evangelism after I transferred to a Christian college, Liberty University, as an undergraduate leaving a secular community college and the University of North Carolina system for what I believed was an education more consonant with my newfound faith in Jesus Christ. I was obligated to do "Christian service" as part of my graduation requirements, and I noticed a lot of people were shy about embracing evangelism outreach. Afterwards, I eventually got in the habit of doing it on-again, off-again after graduation when it wasn't required of me. I even returned more than a year after graduating to embrace evangelism outreach.
I confess when I first started, I was not satisfied with the means by which I was undertaking my evangelistic endeavors. I wasn't brash nor was I rude. I wasn't shy, though I didn't embrace sufficient forethought about my word choice and presentation either. But I did not necessarily like how others around me endeavored to proclaim the Word either, as I found it was too man-centered, and too apt to beguile the recipient into a hasty confession of faith. For me, it came to matter less now that I elicit a confession of faith at the time of the evangelistic endeavor, rather that I simply faithfully proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ and His Salvation, which comes on the basis of grace through faith in his meritous atonement for sins! It is important to compel those to whome we witness to embrace fellowship in a congregation or parish of Christian believers.
I endeavored to study a modus operandi of evangelism more consonant with the Scriptures. I ate up the words of the Apostle Paul on the subject and committed them to memory (2 Timothy 2:24-15, 4:2; 1 Peter 3:15). I first went to the Bible. The simplest reason a Christian is to evangelize is that He's commanded to do so by God himself (Matthew 10:7; Mark 16:15; Luke 9:2). God, in fact, blesses and rewards the endeavor as an act of faith (Matthew 6:19-21). Later I went to resources, such as Living Waters Ministries, which produces Ray Comfort's series The Way of the Master.
Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper
The most important question any person will confront in their lives, are usually along the lines of: "Why was Jesus Christ crucified?"; "Was Jesus Christ the Son of God, and what does this mean?"; "Why did he suffer so much, and why was this necessary?"; "What has all of this to do with me?"; "Who sent Jesus to his death?"
The answer to the last question is that God did. Jesus gave himself willingly as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of a fallen humanity, and by his sacrifice atonement was to made on behalf of the faithful believers, who embrace the truth of the Gospel on the basis of faith in the meritous atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and likewise by repentance. Jesus was God's Son. His suffering was unsurpassed, and substantial, but the tenor of the entire message of the Scriptures was that it was not without purpose, and certainly not in vain. No Christ didn't deserve this suffering for He was perfect and without reproach. The fundamental issue of Christ's death is not the cause, but the meaning. That book endeavors to explore and answer that question. The distinguished evangelical pastoral minister John Piper has gathered from the New Testament more fifty reasons why Jesus came to die, all in an effort to explain what God achieved on behalf of sinners like you and I by sending His Son in the world to suffer for us, and take our justly deserved punishment for our sins, and fallen nature.
The School of Biblical Evangelism: 101 Lessons - How to Share Your Faith, Simply, Effectively, Biblically... The Way Jesus Did by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron [Kindle Edition] (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2018).
In this informative book, you will learn how to share your Christian faith simply, effectively, and in a manner honoring God's Word. Discover the God–given evangelistic tools that will enable you to speak with confidence about your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
If God is all-powerful, or omnipotent, all-knowing, or omnipresent, and basically in control of virtually everything, wouldn't it stand to reason that Christ-followers could sit back, and not bother to evangelize? Does man's role in the work of redemptive history and active evangelism imply that God is not really sovereign? J.I. Packer astutely examines these issues in the new edition of a popular IVP Classic, and reveals how these attitudes and views are false. Drawing from the rich tapestry of inspired Scripture, Packer brilliantly shows how a right understanding of God's sovereignty is not so much a wall to effective evangelism, but rather an incentive and support for the endeavor. With over 100,000 copies of this successful work in print, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is truly a classic that should be read by every Christian.
Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did by Randy Newman, Forward by Lee Strobel (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2017).
Randy Newman's book challenges the Christian reader to understand Jesus' method and means of evangelism, which penetrated the hearts of those he spoke to with a persuasive quality, and an empathy-based approach that manifests love and concern with his audience with whom he spoke. Jesus had a mission. He had a purpose. He tasked his disciples and apostles with telling sinful man about that life, mission, and purpose, all in order to effect the redemption of his flock. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever shall believe in him shall not perish, but shall have eternal life" (John 3:16).
The Bible Project - Luke Ch. 3-9
The second in a five-part series on the Gospel of Luke. We watch Jesus launch his ministry of good news for the poor and how he brought together people from very diverse backgrounds to live together in peace.
The Bible Project - Euangelion: "Gospel"
“Gospel” is one of the most common words in a Christian’s vocabulary. But what does it mean in the original languages of the Bible? In this video, we’ll discover that “gospel” is a royal announcement about Jesus, who is the crucified and risen King of the world who overcame death with his love.
The Bible Project - "The Gospel of Kingdom"
In this video, we trace the origins of the word “gospel” and how it ties the story of the Old Testament together with the story of Jesus and his announcement of God’s kingdom. Jesus brought God’s rule and reign to the world in a very upside-down way, which is the best news you could ask for.
The Bible Project - Luke Ch. 1&2
The first in a five-part series on the Gospel of Luke. We explore the amazing events surrounding the birth of Jesus. The humble conditions of his family and their low status in Israelite society foreshadow the upside-down nature of Jesus’ kingdom.
The Bible Project - Luke Ch. 9-19
Part three explores the central part of Luke's Gospel. Jesus continues his controversial announcement of good news for the poor during his long road-trip to Jerusalem, which increases conflict with Israel’s religious leaders. This tension provides the setting for the famous parable of the Prodigal Son.
John Calvin: Man of the Millennium by Philip Vollmer (Author), Wesley Strackbein (Editor) (San Antonio, TX: Vision Forum, 2009).
The famous Genevan's life and labors shook the foundations of the Western world, and blazed a trail for liberty and Gospel proclamation around the globe, making him arguably the most influential men of the last millennium. Calvin's worldview inspired Huguenot freedom-fighters to stand athwart Bourbon-Papal tyranny in France, ignited evangelistic missionary outreach to pagan tribes world-wide, and, with John Knox's aid, rekindled the faith among the Scottish worthies.
The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World by Douglas F. Kelly (P & R Publishing, 1992).
A thoughtful challenge to conventional Enlightenment historiography. Kelly's book illustrates the influential Protestants roots of ordered liberty in the Western world, particularly in the United States today. The forgotten founding father of America was really John Calvin. Douglas Kelly illustrates how Calvin and Knox inspired the Protestant doctrine of interposition by the lesser magistrates and public officers against the usurpations of absolutists and despots in the higher echelons of power, and on behalf of the people. Some manner of institutionalized corporate resistance is vitally requisite to preserve any free constitution. The animating force behind the ideas fueling the colonial resistance precipitating the American Revolution of 1775 were the ideas of John Calvin more so than John Locke. The American colonial charters preceded the birth of Enlightenment thinkers John Locke, John-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu by more than a century, and they were invoked in Christ's name, and it was an appeal to the customs and conventions of those charters, and professed want of their preservation, which compelled the colonial resistance led by James Otis and Samuel Adams to denounce the Tory oppression, and pronounce justification of separation.
Roland Bainton’s biography is a sweeping introduction to the great Reformer and is obligatory reading for anyone seeking to understand this luminary historical figure.
Luther the Reformer: The Story of the Man and His Career by James M. Kittelson
Engrossing and informative, Kittleson's popular biography of the German Reformer is here ― represented with a new cover and new preface by the author. His single-volume biography has become a go-to guide for those who wish to delve into the depths of the Reformer without drowning in a sea of scholarly concerns.
Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer by Scott H. Hendrix
The sixteenth-century German friar whose very open and public conflict with the medieval Bishop of Rome, i.e., the Papacy, triggered the Protestant Reformation, which proved to be a watershed event in Western Civilization with profound effects in its aftermath. Aspirant Reformer Martin Luther was neither an unblemished saint nor a single-minded religious zealot according to this compelling biography. Luther emerges as a man of his time: a well-read, educated scholar, a teacher, and a gifted albeit flawed man imbued by an optimistic vision of “true religion.”
I am a Protestant by faith and conviction. A Protestant is a disciple of any of those Christian bodies that isolated from the Church of Rome during the Reformation, or any subsequent group that dropped from their ranks. During the Reformation, the term protestant was not utilized outside of German politics. The term derives from the Protestation at Speyer from German Lutheran Princes in 1529 against a declaration of the Diet of Speyer that had earlier denounced the lessons of Martin Luther as blasphemous and contrary to the church. These Protestants, however, reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy, its ecclesiology, and its teachings on the sacraments which it saw as encrustations of barnacles with man-made, extrabiblical doctrines and superstitions. They instead emphasize salvation in Christ alone (sola christus) (John 14:6), the priesthood of all believers (1 Corinthians 4:1), justification by faith alone (sola fide) (Romans 3:28) rather than faith in tandem with good works, (though they saw good works as the fruit of a saving faith, but not as the instrument of our justification); and they held to the highest authority of the Bible alone (rather than also with sacred tradition) in faith and morals (sola scriptura.) Though there were prior breaks and endeavors to change the Roman Catholic Church—outstandingly by Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, and Jan Hus—only Luther prevailed in starting a more enduring enterprise that continues to this present day. In the sixteenth century, Lutheranism spread from Germany into greater Scandinavia—Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Iceland. Reformed (or Calvinist) sects proliferated in Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland and France at the behest of reformers, for instance, John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Knox. The political partition of the Church of England from the pope under King Henry VIII started Anglicanism, bringing England and Wales into this broader Reformation development. The Protestant Reformation was a significant sixteenth century European development that brought the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church into question while affirming the authority of the early ecumenical councils. Its strict perspectives were enhanced by aspiring political rulers who needed to expand their capacity and control to the detriment of the Church. The Reformation finished the solidarity forced by medieval Christianity and, according to numerous history specialists, flagged the start of the cutting edge time.
Throughout the hundreds of years, there had been many change endeavors inside the Catholic Church. On 31 October 1517, in one of the significant occasions of western history, Martin Luther, a German Augustinian priest, posted 95 postulations on the congregation entryway in the college town of Wittenberg. That demonstration was a normal scholarly act of the day and filled in as an encouragement to discuss. Luther's suggestions tested a few segments of Roman Catholic regulation and various practices.
 Richard Pratt, Jr., "Reformed Theology Is Covenant Theology," Ligonier Ministries. 1 Jun 2010. https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/reformed-theology-covenant-theology/
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge Ph.D) lectures on how Martin Luther started the Reformation in 1517 when he posted the 95 Theses. But did Luther mean to leave the Catholic Church? Or did Luther want to reform the church from within? This video explains the early years of the Protestant Reformation and Luther's theology.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge Ph.D.) - 'The Importance of the Reformation' - Why did the Protestant Church leave the Roman Catholic Church? Martin Luther and other Protestants led the Reformation out of the medieval period, and this short video explains why.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge, Ph.D) - 'Luther's Breakthrough on Justification' - While still a monk, Martin Luther had a breakthrough in his view on justification by faith alone. But what was Luther's breakthrough? What changed in Luther's view of salvation that led to the Protestant Reformation? This video explains Luther's breakthrough and his new understanding of justification by faith.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge Ph.D) lectures on the issue of whether or not Jan Hus predicted the rise of another reformation within 100 years of his execution. Jan Hus allegedly said "In 100 years, God will raise up a man whose calls for reform cannot be suppressed." But did Jan Hus predict Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation? This eight minute video explains.
The above admonition by Hus first appeared in “Vyklad Viry” from Opera Omnia, as quoted in Thomas A. Fudge, Jan Hus: Religious Reform and Social Revolution in Bohemia (I.B. Tauris, 2017).
Video Above: R.C. Sproul (M.Div, Drs., Ph.D.) - 'What Was the Reformation All About?' - More than 500 years ago, a monk named Martin Luther started a protest that exploded into a worldwide movement. In this short video, R.C. Sproul explains the Reformation. Share it with your family and friends and listen in a wide variety of languages.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge, Ph.D) - 'Huguenots and the French Reformation' - The French Reformation gave us the Huguenots or French Calvinism. The Huguenot movement, though, is often not understood. This video tells the story of the Huguenots, French Calvinists, and the French Wars of Religion.
Here in audiobook format is Foxe's Book of the Martyrs narrated by Tim Côté. For nearly two millennia, courageous men and women have been tortured and killed because of their confessions of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Stories of heroic bravery and triumphant faith were recalled vy John Foxe. Here are stories of an abiding love of God and Christ, which exalt virtues of sacrifice, and above all: the amazing grace of God that enabled faithful men, women, and children to endure persecutions and horrible deaths.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge, Ph.D) - 'Calvin, England, and Scotland' - This video explores the cross-pollination of ideas of the magisterial Reformer John Calvin based in Geneva, Switzerland and the English and Scottish Reformations which transpired on the British Isles.
Centuries on, what the English Reformation was and what it accomplished remain controversial. Peter Marshall's sweeping history posits that 16th-century England was a society neither desperate for nor allergic to change, but stood open to ideas of "reform" in various modes. King Henry VIII wanted an orderly, uniform Reformation, though the intent didn't always lead to quiet deliberation, but tumult and social upheavel. Here is a monumental sweeping history of the reform of the English church, which inspired counter reforms, and later spin-offs such as Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians.
The Doctrine on Which the Church Stands or Falls: Justification in Biblical, Theological, Historical, and Pastoral Perspective by Matthew Barrett (Author, Contributor), D. A. Carson (Foreword) (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019).
Numerous factors and historical circumstances coalesced to give rise to the Protestant Reformation, however one of the most noteworthy was the discussion over the convention of the doctrine by justification alone. Truth be told, Martin Luther contended that this understanding is the principle on which the congregation stands or falls. This exhaustive volume of twenty-six papers from a large group of researchers investigates the doctrine from the focal points of history, the Bible, theology, and pastoral practice—uncovering the lasting significance of this mainstay of Protestant religious teaching.
In Christ Alone, Stephen Wellum considers Christ's particular uniqueness and centrality scripturally, generally, and today, in our pluralistic and postmodern age. He inspects the underlying foundations of the tenet, particularly in the Reformation period, and afterward shows how the uniqueness of Christ has gone under explicit assault today. At that point, he guides readers through the Biblical narrative, from Christ's one of a kind personality and work as prophet, priest, and lord, to the use of his work to adherents and our covenantal union with him to show that Christ there is the only basis of salvation. Wellum shows that we should recuperate a strong scriptural and philosophical doctrine of Christ's humanity, person and work even with the present difficulties. He clarifies why a new examination of the Reformation truth of Christ alone is required of us today.
In Faith Alone – The Doctrine of Justification researcher Thomas Schreiner explores the historical and scriptural foundations of justification by faith alone. He condenses the historical backdrop of the doctrine, spanning breadth of history from the early church to the works of a few of the Reformers. At that point, he directs his concentration toward the Scriptures and guides readers through an assessment of the key messages in the Old and New Testament. He talks about whether support is transformative or forensic and acquaints readers with the contemporary difficulties to the Reformation teaching of sola fide, with specific regard for the new point of view on Paul.
Grace Alone: Salvation As A Gift of God by Carl Trueman
This volume by Carl Trueman discusses grace, and the exclusivity of Christ's free and meritous grace as the basis of our salvation as believers in Him!
In God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture, scholar and pastor Matthew Barrett looks at the historical and biblical roots of the doctrine that Scripture alone is the final and decisive authority for God’s people. He examines the development of this theme in the Reformation and traces the crisis that followed resulting in a shift away from the authority of Scripture.
God's Glory Alone: The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life by David Vandrunen
Historians and theologians have perceived that the core of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation were five declarations, often referred to as the ‘solas’: sola scriptura, solus Christus, sola gratia, sola fide, and soli Deo gloria. These five euphemisms encapsulate much of what Reformation theology was about, and they help differentiate Protestantism from other expressions of the Christian faith such as Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Protestants place ultimate authority in the Scriptures as opposed to the traditions of men, and they acknowledge and stress the work of Christ alone as sufficient for redemption, and they further recognize that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, and theyseek to do all things for God’s glory.
Charles Hodge: The Pride of Princeton (American Reformed Biographies) by W. Andrew Hoffecker
Charles Hodge (1797-1878) is viewed by countless scholars and theologicans as among the more influential American scholars of the nineteenth century. Hodge drove forward the development of philosophical training, advanced the study of theology, and added to Presbyterianism's wide-going impact in modern life. His support of Reformed theology conventionality joined with pietistic devotion challenged Old School Presbyterianism and renewed it with a peculiarly American zeal. Hodge pioneered a distinctive clerical model—the pastor-scholar—which made a lasting impact upon Reformed Christian social circles contemporaneously.
This biography explores the life of Nevin and the various facets of Nevin's far-reaching critique of the revivalist tradition, and explores its relevance today. Hart delves into the past of this little-known nineteenth-century theologian, and highlights his impact and contemporary relevance amid debates in balancing church practice with liturgical emphases or a revivalist mode of worship. This book is well-documented, and features a substantial bibliographical essay and a comprehensive indices. Nevin (1803—1886) taught at Mercersburg Seminary in a town in Pennsylvania sharing the name of the seminary. During that tenure, he wrote The Anxious Bench (1843) and The Mystical Presence (1846), tomes dealing with revivalism and the Lord's Supper as well. Contemporaneously there is a newfound interest in this figure in theological certains, who was a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and who substituted for Hodge during his two-year study-leave in Europe.
(See also "John Williamson Nevin," 5 Minutes in Church History with Stephen Nichols for a cursory background.)
I am a Reformed by faith and conviction. "Reformed theology is often associated with 'covenant theology.' If you listen carefully, you’ll often hear pastors and teachers describe themselves as 'Reformed and covenantal.' The terms Reformed and covenant are used together so widely that it behooves us to understand why they are connected." Covenant theology alludes to one of the essential convictions that Calvinists have held about the Bible. Faithful to the legacy of Calvin and Luther, all Protestants affirm Sola Scriptura, the conviction that God and the Bible is our predominant authority, and God has spoken to us through His inspired Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Covenant Theology contrasts the Reformed perspective on Scripture from other Protestant standpoints by underlining that God's covenants bind together the lessons of the whole Bible. The late James Montgomery Boice, former pastor of Tenth Street Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia warrants being quoted at length in his enduring description of what Reformed theology is:
Reformed theology gets its name from the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation, with its distinct theological emphases, but it is theology solidly based on the Bible itself. Believers in the reformed tradition regard highly the specific contributions of such people as Martin Luther, John Knox, and particularly John Calvin, but they also find their strong distinctives in the giants of the faith before them, such as Anselm and Augustine, and ultimately in the letters of Paul and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Reformed Christians hold to the doctrines characteristic of all Christians, including the Trinity, the true deity and true humanity of Jesus Christ, the necessity of Jesus' atonement for sin, the church as a divinely ordained institution, the inspiration of the Bible, the requirement that Christians live moral lives, and the resurrection of the body. They hold other doctrines in common with evangelical Christians, such as justification by faith alone, the need for the new birth, the personal and visible return of Jesus Christ, and the Great Commission. What, then, is distinctive about reformed theology.
 Richard Pratt, Jr., "Reformed Theology Is Covenant Theology," Ligonier Ministries. 1 Jun 2010. https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/reformed-theology-covenant-theology/
Video Above: Ligonier Ministries - 'What is Reformed Theology?' - Liberal, Catholic, Dispensational, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Reformed… with so many different theologies out there, where do you start? Beginning this series about Reformed Theology, Dr. Sproul examines distinctive aspects of Reformed Theology which set it apart from the many theologies that have developed before and after the Protestant Reformation.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge, Ph.D) - 'Calvin, England, and Scotland' - This video explores the cross-pollination of ideas of the magisterial Reformer John Calvin based in Geneva, Switzerland and the English and Scottish Reformations which transpired on the British Isles.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge, Ph.D) - 'Calvin and French Reform' - This video explores the efforts of French-born Reformer John Calvin who had cast his fortunes with the persecuted Huguenots, and though he had aspirations to reform the Christian church in France, but was compelled to take refuge in Geneva, Switzerland.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge, Ph.D) - 'Organization of Geneva' - This lecture articulates why the magisterial Reformer French-born John Calvin should be understood as an organizer of the Reformation and of Geneva, Switzerland itself.
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge, Ph.D) - 'Martin Luther on Justification' - Why did Martin Luther characterize Justification as "the article upon which the church rises or falls. . ."
Video Above: Ryan Reeves (Cambridge, Ph.D) - 'Calvin on Early Geneva' - Protestant Reformed John Calvin shaped the political theology of Geneva, Switzerland and articulated a political theology rooted in the Scriptures, reflective of his efforts to reform the church in accord to the Word of God. Here Ryan Reeves lectures on the influence of Calvin post-Reformation.
(American Reformed Biographies)
Orange convened a synod in 529 A.D. which affirmed much of the theology of Augustine of Hippo, and made numerous remonstrances of protest against what later would become known as Pelagian doctrine. The Pelagians errantly held that mankind are born in a state of innocence, i.e., there is no such thing as original sin. The synod that convened in Orange, France, dealt specifically with an eye towards the false teachings of Pelagius. Pelagians held errantly that mankind, though fallen and possessed of a sinful nature, is still "good" enough to lay hold of the grace of God through an act of unredeemed human will. The Council in essence upheld and vindicated the teachings of Augustine of Hippo on Original Sin, thus repudiating Pelagius.
The Canons of the Council of Orange
CANON 1. If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was "changed for the worse" through the offense of Adam's sin, but believes that the freedom of the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject to corruption, he is deceived by the error of Pelagius and contradicts the scripture which says, "The soul that sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:20); and, "Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey?" (Rom. 6:16); and, "For whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved" (2 Pet. 2:19).
CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam's sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12).
CANON 3. If anyone says that the grace of God can be conferred as a result of human prayer, but that it is not grace itself which makes us pray to God, he contradicts the prophet Isaiah, or the Apostle who says the same thing, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me" (Rom 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1).
CANON 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, "The will is prepared by the Lord" (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).
CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism -- if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.
CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, "For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, "Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5).
CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him "unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3).
CANON 9. Concerning the succor of God. It is a mark of divine favor when we are of a right purpose and keep our feet from hypocrisy and unrighteousness; for as often as we do good, God is at work in us and with us, in order that we may do so.
CANON 10. Concerning the succor of God. The succor of God is to be ever sought by the regenerate and converted also, so that they may be able to come to a successful end or persevere in good works.
CANON 11. Concerning the duty to pray. None would make any true prayer to the Lord had he not received from him the object of his prayer, as it is written, "Of thy own have we given thee" (1 Chron. 29:14).
CANON 12. Of what sort we are whom God loves. God loves us for what we shall be by his gift, and not by our own deserving.
CANON 13. Concerning the restoration of free will. The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, for what is lost can be returned only by the one who was able to give it. Hence the Truth itself declares: "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).
CANON 14. No mean wretch is freed from his sorrowful state, however great it may be, save the one who is anticipated by the mercy of God, as the Psalmist says, "Let thy compassion come speedily to meet us" (Ps. 79:8), and again, "My God in his steadfast love will meet me" (Ps. 59:10).
CANON 15. Adam was changed, but for the worse, through his own iniquity from what God made him. Through the grace of God the believer is changed, but for the better, from what his iniquity has done for him. The one, therefore, was the change brought about by the first sinner; the other, according to the Psalmist, is the change of the right hand of the Most High (Ps. 77:10).
CANON 16. No man shall be honored by his seeming attainment, as though it were not a gift, or suppose that he has received it because a missive from without stated it in writing or in speech. For the Apostle speaks thus, "For if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose" (Gal. 2:21); and "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men" (Eph. 4:8, quoting Ps. 68:18). It is from this source that any man has what he does; but whoever denies that he has it from this source either does not truly have it, or else "even what he has will be taken away" (Matt. 25:29).
CANON 17. Concerning Christian courage. The courage of the Gentiles is produced by simple greed, but the courage of Christians by the love of God which "has been poured into our hearts" not by freedom of will from our own side but "through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Rom. 5:5).
CANON 18. That grace is not preceded by merit. Recompense is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be done.
CANON 19. That a man can be saved only when God shows mercy. Human nature, even though it remained in that sound state in which it was created, could be no means save itself, without the assistance of the Creator; hence since man cannot safe- guard his salvation without the grace of God, which is a gift, how will he be able to restore what he has lost without the grace of God?
CANON 20. That a man can do no good without God. God does much that is good in a man that the man does not do; but a man does nothing good for which God is not responsible, so as to let him do it.
CANON 21. Concerning nature and grace. As the Apostle most truly says to those who would be justified by the law and have fallen from grace, "If justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose" (Gal. 2:21), so it is most truly declared to those who imagine that grace, which faith in Christ advocates and lays hold of, is nature: "If justification were through nature, then Christ died to no purpose." Now there was indeed the law, but it did not justify, and there was indeed nature, but it did not justify. Not in vain did Christ therefore die, so that the law might be fulfilled by him who said, "I have come not to abolish them, but to fulfil them" (Matt. 5:17), and that the nature which had been destroyed by Adam might be restored by him who said that he had come "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10).
CANON 22. Concerning those things that belong to man. No man has anything of his own but untruth and sin. But if a man has any truth or righteousness, it from that fountain for which we must thirst in this desert, so that we may be refreshed from it as by drops of water and not faint on the way.
CANON 23. Concerning the will of God and of man. Men do their own will and not the will of God when they do what displeases him; but when they follow their own will and comply with the will of God, however willingly they do so, yet it is his will by which what they will is both prepared and instructed.
CANON 24. Concerning the branches of the vine. The branches on the vine do not give life to the vine, but receive life from it; thus the vine is related to its branches in such a way that it supplies them with what they need to live, and does not take this from them. Thus it is to the advantage of the disciples, not Christ, both to have Christ abiding in them and to abide in Christ. For if the vine is cut down another can shoot up from the live root; but one who is cut off from the vine cannot live without the root (John 15:5ff).
CANON 25. Concerning the love with which we love God. It is wholly a gift of God to love God. He who loves, even though he is not loved, allowed himself to be loved. We are loved, even when we displease him, so that we might have means to please him. For the Spirit, whom we love with the Father and the Son, has poured into our hearts the love of the Father and the Son (Rom. 5:5).
CONCLUSION. And thus according to the passages of holy scripture quoted above or the interpretations of the ancient Fathers we must, under the blessing of God, preach and believe as follows. The sin of the first man has so impaired and weakened free will that no one thereafter can either love God as he ought or believe in God or do good for God's sake, unless the grace of divine mercy has preceded him. We therefore believe that the glorious faith which was given to Abel the righteous, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and to all the saints of old, and which the Apostle Paul commends in extolling them (Heb. 11), was not given through natural goodness as it was before to Adam, but was bestowed by the grace of God. And we know and also believe that even after the coming of our Lord this grace is not to be found in the free will of all who desire to be baptized, but is bestowed by the kindness of Christ, as has already been frequently stated and as the Apostle Paul declares, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake" (Phil. 1:29). And again, "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and it is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). And as the Apostle says of himself, "I have obtained mercy to be faithful" (1 Cor. 7:25, cf. 1 Tim. 1:13). He did not say, "because I was faithful," but "to be faithful." And again, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7). And again, "Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17). And again, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven" (John 3:27). There are innumerable passages of holy scripture which can be quoted to prove the case for grace, but they have been omitted for the sake of brevity, because further examples will not really be of use where few are deemed sufficient.
According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul. We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema. We also believe and confess to our benefit that in every good work it is not we who take the initiative and are then assisted through the mercy of God, but God himself first inspires in us both faith in him and love for him without any previous good works of our own that deserve reward, so that we may both faithfully seek the sacrament of baptism, and after baptism be able by his help to do what is pleasing to him. We must therefore most evidently believe that the praiseworthy faith of the thief whom the Lord called to his home in paradise, and of Cornelius the centurion, to whom the angel of the Lord was sent, and of Zacchaeus, who was worthy to receive the Lord himself, was not a natural endowment but a gift of God's kindness.
Ryan M. Reeves (PhD Cambridge) is Assistant Professor of Historical Theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and outlines the history of the earliest Christians, and the apostolic fathers.
Christianity is not about knowing a lot of things. It is about deeply knowing the one true God in order that your whole person may be conformed into His image.
Core Christianity | Michael Horton
Christian Life | Sinclair Ferguson
Basic Christianity | John Stott
Truth for All Time | John Calvin
A Summary of Christian Doctrine | Louis Berkhof
Bible Overview | Steve Levy
God's Big Picture | Vaughan Roberts
An Introduction to the Christian Faith | Michael Reeves
Reformed Confessions Harmonized | editor, Joel Beeke
Grow deeper in the knowledge of God by studying how the Gospel trains us in every area of life.
Attributes of God | Arthur Pink
Church History in Plain Language | Bruce Shelly
Pilgrim Theology | Michael Horton
Desiring God | John Piper
Finally Alive | John Piper
Holiness of God | R. C. Sproul
How People Change | Timothy Lane & Paul Tripp
In Christ Alone | Sinclair Ferguson
Just Do Something | Kevin DeYoung
Knowing God | J. I. Packer
Knowing Scripture | R. C. Sproul
Prayer and the Knowledge of God | Graeme Goldsworthy
Putting Amazing Back Into Grace | Michael Horton
Redemption Accomplished & Applied | John Murray
Seeing with New Eyes | David Powlison
Today's Gospel | Walter Chantry
Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? | J. M. Boice
When Grace Comes Home | Terry L. Johnson
Some things God has revealed about himself are difficult to understand. Careful study of these works will be greatly rewarding.
Chosen for Life | Sam Storms
Economy of the Covenants | Herman Witsius
The Existence and Attributes of God | Stephen Charnock
Christless Christianity | Michael Horton
All That Is in God | James Dolezal
Courage to be Protestant | David Wells
Doctrine of the Knowledge of God | John Frame
Systematic Theology | Wayne Grudem
Reformed Dogmatics (4 Volume Set) | Herman Bavinck
Reformed Dogmatics | Geerhardus J. Vos
Systematic Theology | Louis Berkhof
Institutes of the Christian Religion | John Calvin
The Christian's Reasonable Service, 4 Vols. | Wilhelmus Brakel
Systematic Theology - (3 Volume Set) | Charles Hodge
Institutes of Elenctic Theology - (3 Volume Set) | Francis Turretin
Systematic Theology | John Frame
Westminster Confession | Westminster Divines
Reformation Theology: A Systematic Summary | Matthew Barrett, .ed
A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life | Joel Beeke, Mark Jones
There is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance.
The Holy Trinity | Robert Letham
The Forgotten Trinity | James White
The Trinity | Augustine
Delighting in the Trinity | Michael Reeves
Reformed Dogmatics Vol. 2 | Herman Bavinck
The Deep Things of God | Fred Sanders
The Triune God (New Studies in Dogmatics) | Fred Sanders
The Doctrine of God | Gerald Bray
The Doctrine of God | John Frame
Reformed Dogmatics: Theology Proper | Geerhardus J. Vos, Jr.
The Attributes of God | A. W. Pink
The Existence and Attributes of God | Stephen Charnock
All That Is in God | James Dolezal
Defending Constantine: The Twilight of an Empire and the Dawn of Christendom by Peter J. Leithart (Basic Books, 2011).
Of Constantine, we know that he:
issued the Edict of Milan in the year 313 anno domini.
outlawed paganism and decreed Christianity the official religion of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire.
manipulated the Council of Nicea in the year 325
exercised absolute authority over the church, co-opting it for the aims of empire
If the legacy and role of Constantine the emperor were not problem enough, we all know that Constantinianism has been very bad for the church, right? Or do we really know these things? Peter Leithart addresses these claims and finds them wanting. Moreover, as modern eyes have focused on these historical mirages, in turn, we have failed to notice the true cultural, historical, political, and theological significance of Constantine and Rome baptized. For beneath the surface of this contested story there emerges a deeper narrative of the end of Roman sacrifice—a tectonic shift in the political theology of an empire—and with far-reaching implications. In this incisive and informative book Leithart examines the real Constantine, weighs the charges against Constantinianism, and sets the terms for a new dialogue about this pivotal emperor and the Christendom that emerged—forever changing history and the Western world.
An Analysis of the Roman Government:
THE THREE kinds of government, monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, were all found united in the commonwealth of Rome. And so even was the balance between them all, and so regular the administration that resulted from their union, that it was no easy thing to determine with assurance, whether the entire state was to be estimated an aristocracy, a democracy, or a monarchy. For if they turned their view upon the power of the consuls, the government appeared to be purely monarchical and regal. If, again, the authority of the senate was considered, it then seemed to wear the form of aristocracy. And, lastly, if regard was to be had to the share which the people possessed in the administration of affairs, it could then scarcely fail to be denominated a popular state. The several powers that were appropriated to each of these distinct branches of the constitution at the time of which we are speaking, and which, with very little variation, are even still preserved, are these which follow.
The consuls, when they remain in Rome, before they lead out the armies into the field, are the masters of all public affairs. For all other magistrates, the tribunes alone excepted, are subject to them, and bound to obey their commands. They introduce ambassadors into the senate. They propose also to the senate the subjects of debates; and direct all forms that are observed in making the decrees. Nor is it less a part of their office likewise, to attend to those affairs that are transacted by the people; to call together general assemblies; to report to them the resolutions of the senate; and to ratify whatever is determined by the greater number. In all the preparations that are made for war, as well as in the whole administration in the field, they possess an almost absolute authority. For to them it belongs to impose upon the allies whatever services they judge expedient; to appoint the military tribunes; to enroll the legions, and make the necessary levies, and to inflict punishments in the field, upon all that are subject to their command. Add to this, that they have the power likewise to expend whatever sums of money they may think convenient from the public treasury; being attended for that purpose by a quaestor; who is always ready to receive and execute their orders. When any one therefore, directs his view to this part of the constitution, it is very reasonable for him to conclude that this government is no other than a simple royalty. Let me only observe, that if in some of these particular points, or in those that will hereafter be mentioned, any change should be either now remarked, or should happen at some future time, such an alteration will not destroy the general principles of this discourse.
To the senate belongs, in the first place, the sole care and management of the public money. For all returns that are brought into the treasury, as well as all the payments that are issued from it, are directed by their orders. Nor is it allowed to the quaestors to apply any part of the revenue to particular occasions as they arise, without a decree of the senate; those sums alone excepted. which are expended in the service of the consuls. And even those more general, as well as greatest disbursements, which are employed at the return every five years, in building and repairing the public edifices, are assigned to the censors for that purpose, by the express permission of the senate. To the senate also is referred the cognizance of all the crimes, committed in any part of Italy, that demand a public examination and inquiry: such as treasons, conspiracies, poisonings, and assassinations. Add to this, that when any controversies arise, either between private men, or any of the cities of Italy, it is the part of the senate to adjust all disputes; to censure those that are deserving of blame: and to yield assistance to those who stand in need of protection and defense. When any embassies are sent out of Italy; either to reconcile contending states; to offer exhortations and advice; or even, as it sometimes happens, to impose commands; to propose conditions of a treaty; or to make a denunciation of war; the care and conduct of all these transactions is entrusted wholly to the senate. When any ambassadors also arrive in Rome, it is the senate likewise that determines how they shall be received and treated, and what answer shall be given to their demands.
In all these things that have now been mentioned, the people has no share. To those, therefore, who come to reside in Rome during the absence of the consuls, the government appears to be purely aristocratic. Many of the Greeks, especially, and of the foreign princes, are easily led into this persuasion: when they perceive that almost all the affairs, which they are forced to negotiate with the Romans, are determined by the senate.
And now it may well be asked, what part is left to the people in this government: since the senate, on the one hand, is vested with the sovereign power, in the several instances that have been enumerated, and more especially in all things that concern the management and disposal of the public treasure; and since the consuls, on the other hand, are entrusted with the absolute direction of the preparations that are made for war, and exercise an uncontrolled authority on the field. There is, however, a part still allotted to the people; and, indeed, the most important part. For, first, the people are the sole dispensers of rewards and punishments; which are the only bands by which states and kingdoms, and, in a word, all human societies, are held together. For when the difference between these is overlooked, or when they are distributed without due distinction, nothing but disorder can ensue. Nor is it possible, indeed, that the government should be maintained if the wicked stand in equal estimation with the good. The people, then, when any such offences demand such punishment, frequently condemn citizens to the payment of a fine: those especially who have been invested with the dignities of the state. To the people alone belongs the right to sentence any one to die. Upon this occasion they have a custom which deserves to be mentioned with applause. The person accused is allowed to withdraw himself in open view, and embrace a voluntary banishment, if only a single tribe remains that has not yet given judgment; and is suffered to retire in safety to Praeneste, Tibur, Naples, or any other of the confederate cities. The public magistrates are allotted also by the people to those who are esteemed worthy of them: and these are the noblest rewards that any government can bestow on virtue. To the people belongs the power of approving or rejecting laws and, which is still of greater importance, peace and war are likewise fixed by their deliberations. When any alliance is concluded, any war ended, or treaty made; to them the conditions are referred, and by them either annulled or ratified. And thus again, from a view of all these circumstances, it might with reason be imagined, that the people had engrossed the largest portion of the government, and that the state was plainly a democracy.
Such are the parts of the administration, which are distinctly assigned to each of the three forms of government, that are united in the commonwealth of Rome. It now remains to be considered, in what manner each several form is enabled to counteract the others, or to cooperate with them.
When the consuls, invested with the power that has been mentioned, lead the armies into the field, though they seem, indeed, to hold such absolute authority as is sufficient for all purposes, yet are they in truth so dependent both on the senate and the people, that without their assistance they are by no means able to accomplish any design. It is well known that armies demand a continual supply of necessities. But neither corn, nor habits, nor even the military stipends, can at any time be transmitted to the legions unless by an express order of the senate. Any opposition, therefore, or delay, on the part of this assembly, is sufficient always to defeat the enterprises of the generals. It is the senate, likewise, that either compels the consuls to leave their designs imperfect, or enables them to complete the projects which they have formed, by sending a successor into each of their several provinces, upon the expiration of the annual term, or by continuing them in the same command. The senate also has the power to aggrandize and amplify the victories that are gained, or, on the contrary, to depreciate and debase them. For that which is called among the Romans a triumph, in which a sensible representation of the actions of the generals is exposed in solemn procession to the view of all the citizens, can neither be exhibited with due pomp and splendor, nor, indeed, be in any other manner celebrated, unless the consent of the senate be first obtained, together with the sums that are requisite for the expense. Nor is it less necessary, on the other hand, that the consuls, how soever far they may happen to be removed from Rome, should be careful to preserve the good affections of the people. For the people, as we have already mentioned, annuls or ratifies all treaties. But that which is of greatest moment is that the consuls, at the time of laying down their office are bound to submit their past administration to the judgment of the people. And thus these magistrates can at no time think themselves secure, if they neglect to gain the approbation both of the senate and the people.
In the same manner the senate also, though invested with so great authority, is bound to yield a certain attention to the people, and to act in concert with them in all affairs that are of great importance. With regard especially to those offences that are committed against the state, and which demand a capital punishment, no inquiry can be perfected, nor any judgment carried into execution, unless the people confirm what the senate has before decreed. Nor are the things which more immediately regard the senate itself less subject than the same control. For if a law should at any time be proposed to lessen the received authority of the senators, to detract from their honors and pre-eminence, or even deprive them of a part of their possessions, it belongs wholly to the people to establish or reject it. And even still more, the interposition of a single tribune is sufficient, not only to suspend the deliberations of the senate, but to prevent them also from holding any meeting or assembly. Now the peculiar office of the tribunes is to declare those sentiments that are most pleasing to the people: and principally to promote their interests and designs. And thus the senate, on account of all these reasons, is forced to cultivate the favor and gratify the inclinations of the people.
The people again, on their part, are held in dependence on the senate, both to the particular members, and to the general body. In every part of Italy there are works of various kinds, which are let to farm by the censors, such are the building or repairing of the public edifices, which are almost innumerable; the care of rivers, harbors, mines and lands; every thing, in a word, that falls beneath the dominion of the Romans. In all these things the people are the undertakers: inasmuch as there are scarcely any to be found that are not in some way involved, either in the contracts, or in the management of the works. For some take the farms of the censors at a certain price; others become partners with the first. Some, again, engage themselves as sureties for the farmers; and others, in support also of these sureties, pledge their own fortunes to the state. Now, the supreme direction of all these affairs is placed wholly in the senate. The senate has the power to allot a longer time, to lighten the conditions of the agreement, in case that any accident has intervened, or even to release the contractors from their bargain, if the terms should be found impracticable. There are also many other circumstances in which those that are engaged in any of the public works may be either greatly injured or greatly benefited by the senate; since to this body, as we have already observed, all things that belong to these transactions are constantly referred. But there is still another advantage of much greater moment. For from this order, likewise, judges are selected, in almost every accusation of considerable weight, whether it be of a public or private nature. The people, therefore, being by these means held under due subjection and restraint, and doubtful of obtaining that protection, which they foresee that they may at some time want, are always cautious of exciting any opposition to the measures of the senate. Nor are they, on the other hand, less ready to pay obedience to the orders of the consuls; through the dread of that supreme authority, to which the citizens in general, as well as each particular man, are obnoxious in the field.
Thus, while each of these separate parts is enabled either to assist or obstruct the rest, the government, by the apt contexture of them all in the general frame, is so well secured against every accident, that it seems scarcely possible to invent a more perfect system. For when the dread of any common danger, that threatens from abroad, constrains all the orders of the state to unite together, and co-operate with joint assistance; such is the strength of the republic that as, on the one hand, no measures that are necessary are neglected, while all men fix their thoughts upon the present exigency; so neither is it possible, on the other hand, that their designs should at any time be frustrated through the want of due celerity, because all in general, as well as every citizen in particular, employ their utmost efforts to carry what has been determined into execution. Thus the government, by the very form and peculiar nature of its constitution, is equally enabled to resist all attacks, and to accomplish every purpose. And when again all apprehensions of foreign enemies are past, and the Romans being now settled in tranquility, and enjoying at their leisure all the fruits of victory, begin to yield to the seduction of ease and plenty, and, as it happens usually in such conjunctures, become haughty and ungovernable; then chiefly may we observe in what manner the same constitution likewise finds in itself a remedy against the impending danger. For whenever either of the separate parts of the republic attempts to exceed its proper limits, excites contention and dispute, and struggles to obtain a greater share of power, than that which is assigned to it by the laws, it is manifest, that since no one single part, as we have shown in this discourse, is in itself supreme or absolute, but that on the contrary, the powers which are assigned to each are still subject to reciprocal control, the part, which thus aspires, must soon be reduced again within its own just bounds, and not be suffered to insult or depress the rest. And thus the several orders, of which the state is framed, are forced always to maintain their due position: being partly counter-worked in their designs; and partly also restrained from making any attempt, by the dread of falling under that authority to which they are exposed.
The Military Institutions of the Romans: As soon as the consuls are declared, the military tribunes are next appointed. Of these, fourteen are taken from the citizens who have carried arms in five campaigns; and ten more from those who completed ten. For every citizen, before he arrives at the age of forty-six, is obliged to serve either ten years in the cavalry, or sixteen in the infantry: those alone excepted who are placed by the censors below the rate of four hundred drachmae; and who are all reserved for the service of the sea. In the case of any pressing danger the time of continuing in the infantry is extended to twenty years. No citizen is permitted by the laws to sue for any magistracy before he has completed the serving of ten campaigns.
When the enrollments are to be made the consuls give notice before to the people of a certain day, upon which all the Romans that are of sufficient age are required to attend. This is done every year. And when the day arrives, and the men all appear at Rome, and are assembled afterwards in the Capitol, the tribunes of the youngest order divide themselves, as they are appointed either by the consuls or the people, into four separate bodies. For this division corresponds with the first and general distribution of all the forces into four separate legions. Of these tribunes, therefore, the four first named are assigned to the first legion; the three next to the second; the following four to the third; and the last three appointed to the fourth. Of the tribunes of the oldest order the two that are first named are placed in the first legion; the three second in the second; the two that follow in the third; and the remaining three in the fourth. By this distribution and division an equal number of commanders is allotted to each legion.
When this is done, the tribunes of each legion, having taken their seats apart, draw out the tribes one by one by lot; and calling to them that upon which the lot first falls, they select from it four young men, as nearly equal as is possible in age and stature. And when these are brought forward from the rest, the tribunes of the first legion first choose one; then those of the second a second; those of the third take the third; and those of the fourth the last. After these four more are made to approach. And now the tribunes of the second legion first make their choice; then those of the rest in order; and last of all the tribunes of the first. In the same manner again, from the next four that follow, the tribunes of the third legion choose the first; and those of the second the last. And thus, by observing the same method of rotation to the end, it happens that the legions, with respect to the men of which they are composed are all alike and equal. The number allotted to each legion is four thousand and two hundred; and sometimes five thousand, when any great and unusual danger is foreseen. After these had been thus selected it was anciently the custom to choose the cavalry; and to add two hundred horsemen to each four thousand of the infantry But in the present times, the citizens, of whom the cavalry is composed, are first enrolled; having been before appointed by the censors, according to the rate of their revenue; and three hundred are assigned to every legion.
When the enrollments are in this manner finished, the tribunes having assembled together in separate bodies the soldiers of their respective legions, choose out a man that seems most proper for the purpose, and make him swear in the following words: "that he will be obedient to his commanders, and execute all the orders that he shall receive from them to the utmost of his power." The rest of the soldiers of the legion, advancing one by one, swear also that they will perform what the first has sworn. About the same time, likewise, the consuls send notice to the magistrates of the allied cities of Italy, from which they design to draw any forces, what number of troops are wanted, and at what time and place they are required to join the Roman army. The cities, having raised their levies in the same manner that has now been mentioned, and administered to them the same oath, send them away attended by a paymaster and a general.
At Rome the tribunes, after the ceremony of the oath is finished, command all the legions to return without arms upon a certain day, and then dismiss them. And when they are met together again at the appointed time, those that are youngest, and of the lowest condition, are set apart for the light-armed troops. From the next above these in age are selected the hastati; from those that are in full strength and vigor, the principes; and the oldest of all that are enrolled are the triarii. For every legion is composed of all these different bodies; different in name, in age, and in the manner in which they are armed. This division is so adjusted that the triarii amount to six hundred men; the principes are twelve hundred; the hastati an equal number; and all the rest light-armed. If a legion consist of more than four thousand men, the several bodies are increased in due proportion; except only that the number of the triarii always remains the same.
The youngest of these troops are armed with a sword, light javelins, and a buckler. The buckler is both strongly made, and of a size sufficient for security. For it is of a circular form, and has three feet in the diameter. They wear likewise upon their heads some simple sort of covering; such as the skin of a wolf, or something of a similar kind; which serves both for their defense, and to point out also to the commanders those particular soldiers that are distinguished either by their bravery or want of courage in the time of action. The wood of the javelins is of the length of two cubits, and of the thickness of a finger. The iron part is a span in length, and is drawn out to such a slender fineness towards the point, that it never fails to be bent in the very first discharge, so that the enemy cannot throw it back again. Otherwise it would be a common javelin.
The next in age, who are called the hastati, are ordered to furnish themselves with a complete suit of armor. This among the Romans consists in the first place of a shield of a convex surface; the breadth of which is two feet and a half; and the length four feet, or four feet and a palm of those of the largest size. It is composed of two planks, glued together, and covered first with linen, and afterwards with calves' skin. The extreme edges of it, both above and below, are guarded with plates of iron; as well to secure it against the strokes of swords, as that it may be rested also upon the ground without receiving any injury. To the surface is fitted likewise a shell of iron; which serves to turn aside the more violent strokes of stones, or spears, or any other ponderous weapon. After the shield comes the sword, which is carried upon the right thigh, and is called the Spanish sword. It is formed not only to push with at the point; but to make a falling stroke with either edge, and with singular effect; for the blade is remarkably strong and firm. To these arms are added two piles or javelins; a helmet made of brass; and boots for the legs. The piles are of two sorts; the one large, the other slender.
Of the former those that are round have the breadth of a palm in their diameter; and those that are square the breadth of a palm likewise is a side. The more slender, which are carried with the other, resemble a common javelin of a moderate size. In both sorts, the wooden part is of the same length likewise, and turned outwards at the point, in the form of a double hook, is fastened to the wood with so great care and foresight, being carried upwards to the very middle of it, and transfixed with many close-set rivets, that it is sooner broken in use than loosened; though in the part in which it is joined to the wood, it is not less than a finger and a half in thickness. Upon the helmet is worn an ornament of three upright feathers, either red or black, of about a cubit in height; which being fixed upon the very top of the head, and added to their other arms, make the troops seem to be of double size, and gives them an appearance which is both beautiful and terrible. Beside these arms, the soldiers in general place also upon their breasts a square plate of brass, of the measure of a span on either side, which is called the guard of the heart. But all those who are rated at more than ten thousand drachmae cover their breasts with a coat of mail. The principes and the triarii are armed in the same manner likewise as the hastati; except only that the triarii carry pikes instead of javelins.
From each of these several sorts of soldiers, the youngest alone excepted, ten men of distinguished merit are first selected; and after these, ten more. These are all called commanders of companies; and he that is first chosen has a seat in the military council. After these, twenty more are appointed to conduct the rear; and are chosen by the former twenty. The soldiers of each different order, the light troops excepted, are then divided into ten separate parts; to each of which are assigned four officers, of those who have been thus selected: two to lead the van, and two to take the care of the rear. The light-armed troops are distributed in just proportion among them all. Each separate part is called a company, a band, or an ensign; and the leaders, captains of companies or centurions. Last of all, two of the bravest and most vigorous among the soldiers are appointed by the captains to carry the standards of the company.
It is not without good reason that two captains are assigned to every company. For as it always is uncertain, what will be the conduct of an officer, or to what accidents he may be exposed; and, as in the affairs of war, there is no room for pretext or excuse; this method is contrived, that the company may not upon any occasion be destitute of a leader. When the captains therefore both are present, he that was first chosen leads the right, and the other the left of the company. And when either of them is absent, he that remains takes the conduct of the whole. In the choice of these captains not those that are the boldest and most enterprising are esteemed the best; but those rather, who are steady and sedate; prudent in conduct, and skillful in command. Nor is it so much required, that they should be at all times eager to begin the combat, and throw themselves precipitately into action; as that, when they are pressed, or even conquered by a superior force, they should still maintain their ground, and rather die than desert their station.
The cavalry is divided also into ten parts or troops. In each of these, three captains first are chosen; who afterwards appoint three other officers to conduct the rear. The first of the captains commands the whole troop. The other two hold the rank and office of decurions; and all of them are called by that name. In the absence of the first captain, the next in order takes the entire command. The manner in which these troops are armed is at this time the same as that of the Greeks. But anciently it was very different. For, first, they wore no armor upon their bodies; but were covered, in the time of action, with only an undergarment. In this method, they were able indeed to descend from their horses, or leap up again upon them, with greater quickness and facility; but, as they were almost naked, they were too much exposed to danger in all those engagements. The spears also that were in use among them in former times were, in a double respect, very unfit for service. First, as they were of a slender make, and always trembled in the hand, it not only was extremely difficult to direct them with exactness towards the destined mark; but very frequently, even before their points had reached the enemy, the greatest part of them were shaken into pieces by the bare motion of the horses. Add to this, that these spears, not being armed with iron at the lowest end, were formed to strike only with the point, and, when they were broken by this stroke, were afterwards incapable of any farther use.
Their buckler was made of the hide of an ox, and in form was not unlike to those globular dishes which are used in sacrifices. But this was also of too infirm a texture for defense; and, as it was at first not very capable of service, it afterwards became wholly useless, when the substance of it had been softened and relaxed by rain. The Romans, therefore, having observed these defects, soon changed their weapons for the armor of the Greeks. For the Grecian spear, which is firm and stable, not only serves to make the first stroke with the point in just direction and with sure effect; but, with the help of the iron at the opposite end, may, when turned, be employed against the enemy with equal steadiness and force. In the same manner also the Grecian shields, being strong in texture, and capable of being held in a fixed position, are alike serviceable both for attack and for defense. These advantages were soon perceived, and the arms adopted by the cavalry. For the Romans, above all other people, are excellent in admitting foreign customs that are preferable to their own.
As soon as this partition of the troops is finished, and the necessary orders given by the tribunes concerning their arms, they are then commanded to return to their respective habitations, till the day arrives, upon which they are bound by oath to assemble together in a certain place appointed by the consuls. Each of the consuls usually appoints a different place for the assembling of his whole army: for to each of them are allotted separately two Roman legions, together with an equal part of the allies. No pretense of accident is at any time allowed to those that are enrolled; nor any excuse admitted, in opposition to their oath, to discharge them from appearing on the day prescribed; unless some auspices should intervene, or some disaster happen, which renders their attendance absolutely impracticable. When they are all met together, the distribution of the allies, who are assembled also with the Romans, is regulated by twelve officers, called prefects, and appointed by the consuls, in the following manner. They first choose out from all the allies a body of the bravest and most skillful soldiers, both cavalry and infantry, to serve near the person, and under the immediate orders, of the consuls. These are called the extraordinary, or selected troops. The whole infantry of the allies is usually the same in number with that of the Romans; but the cavalry three times as many. Among these, about a third part of the cavalry, and a fifth part of the infantry, are set apart as extra-ordinaries. The rest are then divided by the prefects into two equal bodies; one of which is called the right, and the other the left wing. When all things are thus prepared, the tribunes direct both the Romans and the allies to encamp.
As soon as the encampment is completed, the tribunes, having assembled together all the persons, both free men and slaves, that are in the army, administer to every one of them apart the following oath: "That they will not steal any thing from the camp; and even if they find any thing that they will bring it to the tribunes." Two companies are then selected from the principes and the hastati of each legion; to whose care is assigned the ground that lies before the tents of the tribunes. For as the Romans usually pass the whole time of day in this open space, they employ great care to keep it continually cleansed and sprinkled. Of the remaining eighteen companies three are allotted to every tribune. For in every legion there are twenty companies of principes and hastati, as we have already mentioned, and six tribunes. The service which these three companies are obliged to perform in turn for the tribune to whom they are respectively assigned is to fix his tent, to make the ground around it plain and level, and to cover his baggage, if it be necessary, with a fence. It is their duty likewise to place a double guard near him for his security. This guard consists of four soldiers, two of whom are stationed before the tent, and two behind it, near to the horses. As three companies are thus allotted to every tribune, and as each company, without including the triarii and the light-armed troops, who are both exempted from this duty, contains more than a hundred men, this service falling to each company in turn upon every fourth day only, becomes very light and easy; and, while it ministers in all things that are necessary to the convenience of the tribunes, renders their office likewise more illustrious, and brings respect to their authority.
The triarii are discharged from bearing any part in this attendance. But each of their companies is obliged to furnish every day a guard to the troop of cavalry that lies close behind it. The duty of this guard, among other functions, is principally to observe the horses; that they may not at any time be rendered unfit for service by being entangled in the bands that hold them; or by breaking away, and falling in among other horses, create tumult and disorder in the camp. One company alone, which is selected in turn from the whole body of these troops, is stationed round the tent of the consul; as well to secure his person against all surprise, as for the sake of adding splendor also to his dignity.
The entrenchment is made by the allies, on those two sides, near to which their wings are encamped. The two other sides are left to the Romans; to each legion, one. Each side is divided into certain portions, according to the number of the companies: and a centurion assigned, to overlook the work in every portion. The whole side is afterwards examined and approved by two of the tribunes; whose office it is to attend to every thing that is done in the camp. For the tribunes, dividing among themselves the time of their campaign, and presiding, two in turn, during two months of the six, have the supreme direction of every kind of necessary work and service, that falls within the time of their command. The same duty is performed, in the same manner likewise, among the allies, by the officers who are called prefects. As soon as daylight appears, the leaders of the cavalry, and the centurions, attend all together at the tents of the tribunes; and the tribunes at that of the consul. The necessary orders are then delivered by the consul to the tribunes; by the tribunes to the centurions and the leaders of the cavalry; and by these, as the proper time for each arrives, to the rest of the army.
The delivery of the signal for the night is secured in the following manner. Every tenth cohort, both of infantry and cavalry, is lodged at the extreme end of those lines which form the separate streets. From each of these a soldier is selected, who is discharged from all the duties of the guard. This soldier, every day about the time of the setting of the sun, goes to the tent of the tribune, and receives from him the signal; which is a flat tablet of wood, with some word inscribed upon it; and having returned back again to his own company, he then delivers the tablet with the signal, in the presence of some witnesses, to the leader of the cohort that is lodged next to his own. From him again, it passes to the following cohort; and, in the same manner, through all the rest in order, till it arrives at the first cohorts, which lie nearest to the tents of the tribunes; and from thence it is carried back again to the tribunes, while it is yet day. If all the tablets that were delivered are brought back, the tribune then perceives that the signal has passed through all the camp. But if any one be wanting, he immediately examines into the fact; and, having discerned by the inscriptions in what quarter the tablet has been stopped, inflicts a suitable punishment upon those that have been the cause of that neglect.
The guards for the night are thus disposed. One entire company is always stationed around the consular tent. The tents of the tribunes, and the cavalry, are guarded by soldiers taken ,rom each company, in the manner that has before been mentioned. Each separate company appoints a guard likewise for itself from its own body. The other guards are disposed as the consul directs. But the usual custom is, to allot three soldiers to the quaestor; and two to each of the members of the council. The external sides of the camp are guarded by the light-armed forces; who are distributed every day along the whole entrenchment. From the same body, ten men are also stationed before every gate that leads into the camp.
Among those that are appointed for the watch, one soldier from each guard, the same whose duty it is to take the first watch, is carried in the evening to the tribune, by one of the conductors of the rear of every company. The tribune, having given to all of them some small tablets of wood, inscribed with a certain character, and appropriated to each particular guard, dismisses them to their respective stations.
The care of making the rounds is entrusted to the cavalry. The captain of the first troop in each of the legions is bound to send his orders in the morning to one of the conductors of the rear; commanding him to appoint, before the time of dinner, four soldiers of the troop to go the rounds; and to send notice also afterwards, in the evening, to the leader of the second troop, that it is his turn to inspect the watch on the following day. The leader of the second troop gives notice, in like manner, for the third day; and the same method is observed through all the rest. The four soldiers, who are thus selected from the first troop by the conductor of the rear, having determined among themselves each particular watch by lot, go afterwards to the tent of the tribune, and receive from thence in writing an account of the several posts, and of the number of guards, which they are required to visit. They then take their station near to the first company of the triarii. For the leader of this company has the care of marking the time of every watch by the sound of a trumpet. And when the signal is made, he, to whose inspection the first watch was allotted, taking with him some of his friends as witnesses, goes round to all the posts that are recited in his orders, and visits all the guards: not those alone that are stationed round the entrenchment, and before the gates, but those also that are placed in every single company and in every troop. If he finds the sentinels awake and fixed in their several stations, he receives from them the wooden tablets. But if he discovers that any one is sleeping, or has left his post, he desires those that are present to bear testimony to the fact, and then retires. The same method is observed in all the following watches. The care of sounding the trumpet, by which notice is given in the same moment both to the sentinels and the inspectors of the watch, is left, as we have said, to the captains of the first company of the triarii, who perform this duty alternately, day by day.
As soon as the morning appears, those who have made the rounds carry the tablets to the tribune. If they bring the full number back they are suffered to depart without any question. But if the number be less than that of the guards, the inscriptions are immediately examined, in order to discover from what particular guard the tablet has not been returned. When this is known, the centurion is ordered to attend and to bring with him the soldiers that were appointed for that guard; that they may be questioned face to face with him who made the rounds. If the fault be in the guard, he that made the rounds appeals at once to the testimony of his friends who were present. Such evidence always is demanded from him; and in case that he is not able to bring this proof, the whole blame rests upon himself. The council is then assembled; the cause is judged by the tribune, and the guilty person sentenced to be bastinadoed. This punishment is inflicted in the following manner.
The tribune, taking a stick into his hand, gently touches the criminal; and immediately afterwards all the soldiers of the legion attack him with sticks and stones; so that the greatest part of those that are thus condemned are destroyed immediately in the camp. If any one escapes, yet he is not saved. For all return into his country is shut against him: nor would any of his friends or kindred ever dare to receive him into their houses. Those, therefore, who have once fallen into this misfortune are lost without resource. The conductor of the rear, and the leader of the troops, if ever they neglect to give the necessary notice in due time, the first to the inspectors of the watch, and the second to the leader of the succeeding troop, are subject also to this punishment. From the dread of a discipline so severe, and which leaves no place for mercy, every thing that belongs to the guards of the night is performed with the most exact diligence and care.
The soldiers are subject to the control of the tribunes, as these are to that of the consuls. The tribunes have the power of imposing fines, and demanding sureties, and of punishing with stripes. The same authority is exercised by the prefects among the allies. The punishment of the bastinadoe is inflicted also upon those who steal any thing in the camp; those who bear false testimony; who, in their youth, abuse their bodies; and who have been three times convicted of one fault. These offenses are punished as crimes. There are others that are regarded as the effects of cowardice, and disgraceful to the military character. When a soldier, for example, with a view of obtaining a reward, makes a report to the tribunes of some brave action which he has not performed. When any one, through fear, deserts his station, or throws away his arms in the time of engagement. For hence it happens that many, through the dread of the allotted punishment, when they are attacked by much greater numbers, will even encounter manifest destruction, rather than desert that post which they had been ordered to maintain. Others again, when they have lost their shield, or sword, or any other part of their arms in the time of action, throw themselves precipitately into the very midst of the enemy; hoping either to recover what they have lost, or to avoid by death the reproaches of their fellow-soldiers, and the disgrace that is ready to receive them.
If it happens that many are at one time guilty of the same fault, and that whole companies retire before the enemy, and desert their station; instead of punishing all of them by death, an expedient is employed which is both useful and full of terror. The tribune, assembling together all the soldiers of the legion, commands the criminals to be brought forward: and, having sharply reproached them with their cowardice, he then draws out by lot either five, or eight, or twenty men, according to the number of those that have offended. For the proportion is usually so adjusted, that every tenth man is reserved for punishment. Those, who are thus separated from the rest by lot, are bastinadoed without remission in the manner before described. The others are sentenced to be fed with barley instead of wheat; and are lodged without the entrenchment, exposed to insults from the enemy. As the danger, therefore, and the dread of death, hangs equally over all the guilty, because no one can foresee upon whom the lot will fall; and as the shame and infamy of receiving barley only for their support is extended also alike to all; this institution is perfectly well contrived, both for impressing present terror, and for the prevention of future faults.
The method by which the young men are animated to brave all danger is also admirable. When an action has passed in which any of the soldiers have shown signal proofs of courage, the consul, assembling the troops together, commands those to approach who have distinguished themselves by any eminent exploit. And having first bestowed on every one of them apart the commendation that is due to this particular instance of their valor, and recounted likewise all their former actions that have ever merited applause, he then distributes among them the following rewards. To him who has wounded an enemy, a javelin. To him who has killed an enemy, and stripped him of his armor, if he be a soldier in the infantry, a goblet; if in the cavalry, furniture for his horse; though, in former times, this last was presented only with a javelin. These rewards, however, are not bestowed upon the soldiers who, in a general battle, or in the attack of a city, wound or spoil an enemy; but upon those alone who, in separate skirmishes, and when any occasion offers, in which no necessity requires them to engage in single contest, throw themselves voluntarily into danger, and with design provoke the combat. When a city is taken by storm, those who mount first upon the walls are honored with a golden crown. Those also who have saved the lives of any of the citizens, or the allies, by covering them from the enemy in the time of battle, receive presents from the consul, and are crowned likewise by the persons themselves who have thus been preserved, and who, if they refuse this office, are compelled by the judgment of the tribunes to perform it.
Add to this, that those who are thus saved are bound, during the remainder of their lives, to reverence their preserver as a father, and to render to him all the duties which they would pay to him who gave them birth. Nor are the effects of these rewards, in raising a spirit of emulation and of courage, confined to those alone who are present in the army, but extended likewise to all the citizens at home. For those who have obtained those presents, beside the honor which they acquire among their fellow soldiers, and the reputation which immediately attends them in their country, are distinguished after their return, by wearing in all solemn processions such ornaments as are permitted only to be worn by those who have received them from the consuls as the rewards of their valor. They hang up likewise in the most conspicuous parts of their houses the spoils which they have taken, as a monument and evidence of their exploits. Since such, therefore, is the attention and the care with which the Romans distribute rewards and punishments in their armies, it is not to be thought strange that the wars in which they engage are always ended with glory and success.
The military stipends are thus regulated. The pay of a soldier in the infantry is two obols by the day; and double to the centurions. The pay of the cavalry is a drachma. The allowance of corn to each man in the infantry consists of about two-third parts of an Attic bushel of wheat by the month. In the cavalry, it is seven bushels of barley, and two of wheat. To the infantry of the allies the same quantity is distributed as to that of the Romans: but their cavalry receives only one bushel and a third of wheat, and five of barley. The whole of this allowance is given without reserve to the allies. But the Roman soldiers are obliged to purchase their corn and clothes, together with the arms which they occasionally want, at a certain stated price, which is deducted by the quaestor from their pay.
In breaking up the camp the following order is observed. When the first signal is made, the soldiers all take down the tents, and collect the baggage. No tent, however, is at any time either set up or taken down until those of the consul and the tribunes are first set up, or first removed. Upon the second signal the baggage is placed upon the beasts of burden; and at the third, the foremost of the troops begin their march, and the whole camp is put in motion. In the van are usually placed the extra-ordinaries; and after these the right wing of the allies, which is followed by the baggage of both these bodies. Next to these marches the first of the Roman legions, with its baggage also behind it. The second legion follows; having behind it likewise both its own baggage, and the baggage of the allies, who are in the rear; for the rear of all the march is closed with the left wing of the allies. The cavalry marches sometimes in the rear of the respective bodies to which it belongs; and sometimes on the flanks of the beasts that are loaded with the baggage; keeping them together in due order, and covering them from insult. When an attack is expected to be made upon the rear, the extra-ordinaries of the allies, instead of leading the van, are posted in the rear. In all the other parts the disposition remains the same.
Of the two legions, and the two wings of the allies, those that are on one day foremost in the march, on the following day are placed behind; that, by thus changing their rank alternately all the troops may obtain the same advantage in their turn, of arriving first at water and at forage. There is also another disposition which is used when any immediate danger threatens, and the march is made through an open country. At such times, the hastati, the principes, and the triarii, are ranged in three parallel lines, each behind the other, with the baggage of the hastati in the front. Behind the hastati is placed the baggage of the principes, who are followed likewise by that of the triarii; so that the baggage and the several bodies are mingled in alternate order. The march being thus disposed, the troops, as soon as an attack is made, turning either to the left or to the right, advance forwards from the baggage towards that side upon which the enemy appears. And thus, in a moment of time, and by one single movement, the whole army is formed at once in order of battle; except only that the hastati are perhaps obliged to make an evolution; and the beasts of burden also, with all those that attend upon the baggage, being now thrown into the rear of all the troops, are covered by them from all danger.
At the end of a march, when the army arrives near the place of their encampment, a tribune and some centurions, who are appointed always for this purpose, advance before the rest. And having surveyed the whole ground upon which the encampment is to be made, they first determine the place of the consular tent, and on which side of it the legions may most commodiously be lodged. When this is done, they measure out the space that is allotted for the consul; and then draw a line for the place of the tents of the tribunes; and parallel to it another line, below which the legions are to be encamped. In the same manner also the several portions of the ground, which lies on the other side of the consular tent, and which we have already particularly described, are ascertained by lines. And as the distances are fixed, and well known by use, the admeasurement of the whole is easy, and soon completed. Four ensigns are then planted in the ground, the first in the place in which the tent of the consul is to be set up; the second, on that side of the consular ground which has been chosen for the front of the camp; the third in the middle of the line that is designed for the tents of the tribunes; and the last upon the other parallel line below which the legions are to be encamped. These ensigns are all of a purple color; that of the consul excepted, which is white. The portions on the other side of the consular ground are sometimes marked by simple pikes fixed in the ground, and sometimes by ensigns of some different color. Last of all, the several streets are drawn out by measure, and pikes also planted to denote the limits of each particular street.
The necessary effect of this method is, that when the troops upon their march approach so near as to discover the place of their encampments, they are able to discern at once all the different parts of the camp; being taught by the ensign of the consul to point out and distinguish all the rest. And as they all occupy the same place always in the camp, so that each man knows in what particular street, and in what part also of the street, he is going to be lodged, their entrance very much resembles that of a body of soldiers into their own native city. For as these, already knowing, both in general and in particular, the quarters of the city in which their habitations stand, turn aside immediately from the gates, and arrive at their several houses without mistake; just so it happens in the Roman camp. It is to this facility indeed that the Romans chiefly attend upon such occasions; and, for the sake of obtaining it, pursues contrary a method to that of the Greeks. For the Greeks, when they encamp, consider principally the natural strength of the place that is chosen, and accommodate their disposition to it; being partly studious to avoid the labor of throwing up an entrenchment; and partly persuaded also, that fortifications raised by art are always less secure than those that are made by nature. In compliance, therefore, with what the nature of the ground demands, they not only are obliged to give every kind of figure to their camp, but to vary also the position of the several parts, as the place for each is favorable or improper. And from hence it happens that the soldier never knows with certainty either his own place in the camp, or that of the body to which he belongs. But the Romans willingly submit to the task of making an entrenchment, and to other painful works, for the sake of the advantage that is found, in employing a method which is never changed, and which renders all the parts of the camp familiar to the army.
Such then in general are the institutions of the Romans, which belong to the establishment of their armies, and more especially to the manner of their encampment.
Rome and Carthage Compared:
The government of Carthage seems also to have been originally well contrived with regard to those general forms that have been mentioned. For there were kings in this government, together with a senate, which was vested with aristocratic authority. The people likewise enjoy the exercise of certain powers that were appropriated to them. In a word, the entire frame of the republic very much resembled those of Rome and Sparta. But at the time of the war of Hannibal the Carthaginian constitution was worse in its condition than the Roman. For as nature has assigned to every body, every government, and every action, three successive periods; the first, of growth; the second, of perfection; and that which follows, of decay; and as the period of perfection is the time in which they severally display their greatest strength; from hence arose the difference that was then found between the two republics. For the government of Carthage, having reached the highest point of vigor and perfection much sooner than that of Rome, had now declined from it in the same proportion: whereas the Romans, at this very time, had just raised their constitution to the most flourishing and perfect state. The effect of this difference was, that among the Carthaginians the people possessed the greatest sway in all deliberations, but the senate among the Romans. And as, in the one republic, all measures were determined by the multitude; and, in the other, by the most eminent citizens; of so great force was this advantage in the conduct of affairs, that the Romans, though brought by repeated losses into the greatest danger, became, through the wisdom of their counsels, superior to the Carthaginians in the war.
If we descend to a more particular comparison, we shall find, that with respect to military science, for example, the Carthaginians, in the management and conduct of a naval war, are more skillful than the Romans. For the Carthaginians have derived this knowledge from their ancestors through a long course of ages; and are more exercised in maritime affairs than any other people. But the Romans, on the other hand, are far superior in all things that belong to the establishment and discipline of armies. For this discipline, which is regarded by them as the chief and constant object of their care, is utterly neglected by the Carthaginians; except only that they bestow some little attention upon their cavalry. The reason of this difference is, that the Carthaginians employ foreign mercenaries; and that on the contrary the Roman armies are composed of citizens, and of the people of the country. Now in this respect the government of Rome is greatly preferable to that of Carthage. For while the Carthaginians entrust the preservation of their liberty to the care of venal troops; the Romans place all their confidence in their own bravery, and in the assistance of their allies. From hence it happens, that the Romans, though at first defeated, are always able to renew the war; and that the Carthaginian armies never are repaired without great difficulty. Add to this, that the Romans, fighting for their country and their children, never suffer their ardor to be slackened; but persist with the same steady spirit till they become superior to their enemies. From hence it happens, likewise, that even in actions upon the sea, the Romans, though inferior to the Carthaginians, as we have already observed, in naval knowledge and experience, very frequently obtain success through the mere bravery of their forces. For though in all such contests a skill in maritime affairs must be allowed to be of the greatest use; yet, on the other hand, the valor of the troops that are engaged is no less effectual to draw the victory to their side.
Now the people of Italy are by nature superior to the Carthaginians and the Africans, both in bodily strength, and in courage. Add to this, that they have among them certain institutions by which the young men are greatly animated to perform acts of bravery. It will be sufficient to mention one of these, as a proof of the attention that is shown by the Roman government, to infuse such a spirit into the citizens as shall lead them to encounter every kind of danger for the sake of obtaining reputation in their country. When any illustrious person dies, he is carried in procession with the rest of the funeral pomp, to the rostra in the forum; sometimes placed conspicuous in an upright posture; and sometimes, though less frequently, reclined. And while the people are all standing round, his son, if he has left one of sufficient age, and who is then at Rome, or, if otherwise, some person of his kindred, ascends the rostra, and extols the virtues of the deceased, and the great deeds that were performed by him in his life. By this discourse, which recalls his past actions to remembrance, and places them in open view before all the multitude, not those alone who were sharers in his victories, but even the rest who bore no part in his exploits, are moved to such sympathy of sorrow, that the accident seems rather to be a public misfortune, than a private loss. He is then buried with the usual rites; and afterwards an image, which both in features and complexion expresses an exact resemblance of his face, is set up in the most conspicuous part of the house, inclosed in a shrine of wood. Upon solemn festivals, these images are uncovered, and adorned with the greatest care.
And when any other person of the same family dies, they are carried also in the funeral procession, with a body added to the bust, that the representation may be just, even with regard to size. They are dressed likewise in the habits that belong to the ranks which they severally filled when they were alive. If they were consuls or praetors, in a gown bordered with purple: if censors, in a purple robe: and if they triumphed, or obtained any similar honor, in a vest embroidered with gold. Thus appeared, they are drawn along in chariots preceded by the rods and axes, and other ensigns of their former dignity. And when they arrive at the forum, they are all seated upon chairs of ivory; and there exhibit the noblest objects that can be offered to youthful mind, warmed with the love of virtue and of glory. For who can behold without emotion the forms of so many illustrious men, thus living, as it were, and breathing together in his presence? Or what spectacle can be conceived more great and striking? The person also that is appointed to harangue, when he has exhausted all the praises of the deceased, turns his discourse to the rest, whose images are before him; and, beginning with the most ancient of them, recounts the fortunes and the exploits of every one in turn. By this method, which renews continually the remembrance of men celebrated for their virtue, the fame of every great and noble action become immortal. And the glory of those, by whose services their country has been benefited, is rendered familiar to the people, and delivered down to future times. But the chief advantage is, that by the hope of obtaining this honorable fame, which is reserved for virtue, the young men are animated to sustain all danger, in the cause of the common safety. For from hence it has happened, that many among the Romans have voluntarily engaged in single combat, in order to decide the fortune of an entire war. Many also have devoted themselves to inevitable death; some of them in battle, to save the lives of other citizens; and some in time of peace to rescue the whole state from destruction. Others again, who have been invested with the highest dignities have, in defiance of all law and customs, condemned their own sons to die; showing greater regard to the advantage of their country, than to the bonds of nature, and the closest ties of kindred.
Very frequent are the examples of this kind, that are recorded in the Roman story. I shall here mention one, as a signal instance, and proof of the truth of all that I have affirmed. Horatius, surnamed Cocles, being engaged in combat with two enemies, at the farthest extremity of the bridge that led into Rome across the Tiber, and perceiving that many others were advancing fast to their assistance, was apprehensive that they would force their way together into the city. turning himself, therefore, to his companions that were behind him, he called to them aloud, that should immediately retire and break the bridge. While they were employed in this work, Horatius, covered over with wounds, still maintained the post, and stopped the progress of the enemy; who were struck with his firmness and intrepid courage, even more than with the strength of his resistance. And when the bridge was broken, and the city secured from insult, he threw himself into the river with his armor, and there lost his life as he had designed: having preferred the safety of his country, and the future fame that was sure to follow such an action, to his own present existence, and to the time that remained for him to live. Such is the spirit, and such the emulation of achieving glorious action, which the Roman institutions are fitted to infuse into the minds of youth.
In things that regard the acquisition of wealth, the manners also, and the customs of the Romans, are greatly preferable to those of the Carthaginians. Among the latter, nothing is reputed infamous, that is joined with gain. But among the former, nothing is held more base than to be corrupted by gifts, or to covet an increase of wealth by means that are unjust. For as much as they esteem the possession of honest riches to be fair and honorable, so much, on the other hand, all those that are amassed by unlawful arts, are viewed by them with horror and reproach. The truth of this fact is clearly seen in the following instance. Among the Carthaginians, money is openly employed to obtain the dignities of the state: but all such proceeding is a capital crime in Rome. As the rewards, therefore, that are proposed to virtue in the two republics are so different, it cannot but happen, that the attention of the citizens to form their minds to virtuous actions must be also different.
But among all the useful institutions, that demonstrate the superior excellence of the Roman government, the most considerable perhaps is the opinion which the people are taught to hold concerning the gods: and that, which other men regard as an object of disgrace, appears in my judgment to be the very thing by which this republic chiefly is sustained. I mean, superstition: which is impressed with all it terrors; and influences both the private actions of the citizens, and the public administration also of the state, in a degree that can scarcely be exceeded. This may appear astonishing to many. To me it is evident, that this contrivance was at first adopted for the sake of the multitude. For if it were possible that a state could be composed of wise men only, there would be no need, perhaps, of any such invention. But as the people universally are fickle and inconstant, filled with irregular desires, too precipitate in their passions, and prone to violence; there is no way left to restrain them, but by the dread of things unseen, and by the pageantry of terrifying fiction. The ancients, therefore, acted not absurdedly, nor without good reason, when they inculcated the notions concerning the gods, and the belief of infernal punishments; but much more those of the present age are to be charged with rashness and absurdity, in endeavoring to extirpate these opinions. For, not to mention effects that flow from such an institution, if, among the Greeks, for example, a single talent only be entrusted to those who have the management of any of the public money; though they give ten written sureties, with as many seals and twice as many witnesses, they are unable to discharge the trusts reposed in them with integrity. But the Romans, on the other hand, who in the course of their magistracies, and in embassies, disperse the greatest sums, are prevailed on by the single obligation of an oath to perform their duties with inviolable honesty. And as, in other states, a man is rarely found whose hands are pure from public robbery; so, among the Romans, it is no less rare to discover one that is tainted with this crime. But all things are subject to decay and change. This is a truth so evident, and so demonstrated by the perpetual and the necessary force of nature, that it needs no other proof.
Now there are two ways by which every kind of government is destroyed; either by some accident that happens from without, or some evil that arises within itself. What the first will be is not always easy to foresee: but the latter is certain and determinate. We have already shown what are the original and what: the secondary forms of government; and in what manner also they are reciprocally converted each into the other. Whoever, therefore, is able to connect the beginning with the end in this enquiry, will be able also to declare with some assurance what will be the future fortune of the Roman government. At least in my judgment nothing is more easy. For when a state, after having passed with safety through many and great dangers, arrives at the highest degree of power, and possesses an entire and undisputed sovereignty; it is manifest that the long continuance of prosperity must give birth to costly and luxurious manners, and that the minds of men will be heated with ambitious contest, and become too eager and aspiring in the pursuit of dignities. And as these evils are continually increased, the desire of power and rule, and the imagined ignominy of remaining in a subject state, will first begin to work the ruin of the republic; arrogance and luxury will afterwards advance it: and in the end the change will be completed by the people; as the avarice of some is found to injure and oppress them, and the ambition of others swells their vanity and poisons them with flattering hopes. For then, being with rage, and following only the dictates of their passions, they no longer will submit to any control, or be contented with an equal share of the administration, in conjunction with their rulers; but will draw to themselves the entire sovereignty and supreme direction of all affairs. When this is done, the government will assume indeed the fairest of all names, that of a free and popular state; but will, in truth, be the greatest of all evils, the government of the multitude.
As we have thus sufficiently explained the constitution and the growth of the Roman government; have marked the causes of that greatness in which it now subsists; and shown by comparison, in what view it may be judged inferior, and in what superior, to other states; we shall here close this discourse. But as every skillful artist offers some piece of work to public view, as a proof of his abilities: in the same manner we also, taking some part of history that is connected with the times from which we were led into this digression and making a short recital of one single action, shall endeavor to demonstrate by fact as well as words what was the strength, and how great the vigor, which at that time were displayed by this republic.
When Hannibal, after the battle of Cannae, had taken prisoners eight thousand of the Romans, who were left to guard the camp; he permitted them to send a deputation to Rome, to treat of their ransom and redemption. Ten persons, the most illustrious that were among them, were appointed for this purpose: and the general, having first commanded them to swear that they would return to him again, suffered them to depart. But one of the number, as soon as they had passed the entrenchment, having said that he had forgotten something, went back into camp, took what he had left, and then continued his journey with the rest; persuading himself that by his return he had discharged his promise, and satisfied the obligation of the oath. When they arrived at Rome, they earnestly entreated the senate not to envy them the safety that was offered, but to suffer them to be restored to their families, at the price of three minae for each prisoner, which was the sum that Hannibal demanded; that they were not unworthy of this favor; that they neither had through cowardice deserted their post in battle, nor done anything that had brought dishonor upon the Roman name; but that having been left to guard the camp, they had been thrown by unavoidable necessity, after the destruction of the rest of the army, into the power of the enemy.
The Romans were at this time weakened by repeated losses; were deserted by almost every one of their allies; and seemed even to expect that Rome itself would instantly be attacked; yet when they had heard the deputies, they neither were deterred by adverse fortune from attending to what was fit and right, nor neglected any of those measures that were necessary to the public safety. But perceiving that the design of Hannibal in this proceeding was both to acquire a large supply of money and at the same time to check the ardor of his enemies in battle, by opening to their view the means of safety, even though they should be conquered, they were so far from yielding to this request, that they showed no regard either to the distressed condition of their fellow citizens, or to the services that might be expected from the prisoners: but resolved to disappoint the hopes and frustrate the intentions of this general, by rejecting all terms of ransom. They made a law also, by which it was declared that the soldiers that were left must either conquer or must die; and that no other hope of safety was reserved for them, in case that they were conquered. After this determination they dismissed the nine deputies, who, on account of their oath were, willing to return, and taking the other, who had endeavored to elude by sophistry what he had sworn, they sent him bound back to the enemy; so that Hannibal was much less filled with joy from having vanquished the Romans in the field, than he was struck with terror and astonishment at the firmness and magnanimity what appeared in their deliberations.
Excerpted from "Rome at the end of the Punic Wars" by Polybius.
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Sketch of Aurelius Constantine
The Apostle Paul was a Jew and former persecutor of members of the Christian sect, but felt a divine calling from God to proclaim the Good News (Gospel) testimony of Jesus Christ, and Paul emerged as one of the most influential witnesses to the earthly ministry, death, burial, and purported resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Video Above: Kings and Generals - "Battle of Salamis 480 BC" - Two of the very first civilizations - Greek and Persian - fought for millennia, so it is not a surprise that some of the most memorable battles of the ancient era were between them. The battle of Salamis of 480 BC was central in defence of free Greece against the Persian invasion and can be considered a focal point the history of mankind.
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Europe: A History by Norman Davies (New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 1998)
Here is Norman Davies' magnum opus, which is brilliant historical narrative that spans the chasm of time from the Ice Age to the Space Age. It tells the tale of a continent people primarily by Indo-Europeans that arose in the steppes of southern Russia along the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. Norman Davies's breadth and scope of history should give the reader insight into a number of key events in the annals of time—including the rise and fall of Athens, the rise and fall of Rome, the barbarian invasions by Goths, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Alans, Vandals and Magyars, the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England, the later Norman Conquests, the struggles for ecclesial power surrounding the Papacy, the Renaissance of classical culture, and the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Europe's rise to hegemony over the entire world, and its subsequent eclipse in power occurring in our own century, which followed two cataclysmic world wars. This breathtaking work gives balanced coverage of all of Europe—Western, Central, and Eastern—and it illuminates the presence of ethnic and religious minority communities that appeared in Europe. With an astute historical narrative, a strong factual basis for its claims, and appendices awash in illustrations, maps, figures, and data, the reader is armed with precious knowledge on one of the most influential continents and peoples in the world to date who succeeded in globalizing Western Civilization from the Americas to Oceania.
They Went That-A-Way: How the Famous, the Infamous, and the Great Died by Malcolm Forbes
Anecdotes record the deaths. some graceful, some disgraceful, of famous people from the past three millenia, from Christopher Columbus to Hermann Goering to Jim Morrison.
South of Argos, and away from the sea, rise the peaks of the Parnon range. They are beautiful, but still more pleasing to the eye is the Eurotas River that runs between them and the taller, darker, snow-tipped range of Taygetus on the west. In that seismic valley lay Homer’s “hollowLacedaemon,” a plain so guarded by mountains that Sparta, its capital, needed no walls. At its zenith Sparta (“The Scattered”) was a union of five villages, totaling some seventy thousand population. Today it is a hamlet of four thousand souls; and hardly anything remains, even in the modest museum, of the city that once ruled and ruined Greece.
1. The Expansion of Sparta
From that natural citadel the Dorians dominated and enslaved the southern Peloponnesus. To these long-haired northerners, hardened by mountains and habituated to war, there seemed no alternative in life but conquest or slavery; war was their business, by which they made what seemed to them an honest living; the non-Dorian natives, weakened by agriculture and peace, were in obvious need of masters. So the kings of Sparta, who claimed a continuous lineage from the Heracleidae of 1104, first subjected the indigenous population of Laconia, and then attacked Messenia. That land, in the southwestern corner of the Peloponnesus, was relatively level and fertile, and was tilled by pacific tribes. We may read in Pausanias how the Messenian king, Aristodemus, consulted the oracle at Delphi for ways to defeat the Spartans; how Apollo bade him offer in sacrifice to the gods a virgin of his own royal race; how he put to death his own daughter, and lost the war.19 (Perhaps he had been mistaken about his daughter.) Two generations later the brave Aristomenes led the Messenians in heroic revolt For nine years their cities bore up under attack and siege; but in the end the Spartans had their way. The Messenians were subjected to an annual tax of half their crops, and thousands of them were led away to join the Helot serfs.
The picture that we are to form of Laconian society before Lycurgus has, like some ancient paintings, three levels. Above is a master class of Dorians, living for the most part in Sparta on the produce of fields owned by them in the country and tilled for them by Helots. Socially between, geographically surrounding, the masters and the Helots were the Perioeci (“Dwellers Around”): freemen living in a hundred villages in the mountains or on the outskirts of Laconia, or engaged in trade or industry in the towns; subject to taxation and military service, but having no share in the government, and no right of intermarriage with the ruling class. Lowest and most numerous of all were the Helots, so named, according to Strabo, from the town of Helus, whose people had been among the first to be enslaved by the Spartans.20 By simple conquest of the non-Dorian population or by importing prisoners of war, Sparta had made Laconia a land of some 224,000 Helots, 120,000 Perioeci, and 32,000 men, women, and children of the citizen class.*21
The Helot had all the liberties of a medieval serf. He could marry as he pleased, breed without forethought, work the land in his own way, and live in a village with his neighbors, undisturbed by the absentee owner of his lot, so long as he remitted regularly to this owner the rental fixed by the government. He was bound to the soil, but neither he nor the land could be sold. In some cases he was a domestic servant in the town. He was expected to attend his master in war, and, when called upon, to fight for the state; if he fought well he might receive his freedom. His economic condition was not normally worse than that of the village peasantry in the rest of Greece outside of Attica, or the unskilled laborer in a modern city. He had the consolations of his own dwelling, varied work, and the quiet friendliness of trees and fields. But he was continually subject to martial law, and to secret supervision by a secret police, by whom he might at any moment be killed without cause or trial.22
In Laconia, as elsewhere, the simple paid tribute to the clever; this is a custom with a venerable past and a promising future. In most civilizations this distribution of the goods of life is brought about by the normally peaceful operation of the price system: the clever persuade us to pay more for the less readily duplicable luxuries and services that they offer us than the simple can manage to secure for the more easily replaceable necessaries that they produce. But in Laconia the concentration of wealth was effected by irritatingly visible means, and left among the Helots a volcanic discontent that in almost every year of Spartan history threatened to upset the state with revolution.
2. Sparta’s Golden Age
In that dim past before Lycurgus came, Sparta was a Greek city like the rest, and blossomed out in song and art as it would never do after him. Music above all was popular there, and rivaled man’s antiquity; for as far back as we can delve we find the Greeks singing. In Sparta, so frequently at war, music took a martial turn—the strong and simple “Doric mode”; and not only were other styles discouraged, but any deviation from this Doric style was punishable by law. Even Terpander, though he had quelled a sedition by his songs, was fined by the ephors, and his lyre nailed mute to the wall, because to suit his voice, he had dared to add another string to the instrument; and in a later generation Timotheus, who had expanded Terpander’s seven strings to eleven, was not allowed to compete at Sparta until the ephors had removed from his lyre the scandalously extra strings.23
Sparta, like England, had great composers when she imported them. Towards 670, supposedly at the behest of the Delphic oracle, Terpander was brought in from Lesbos to prepare a contest in choral singing at the festival of the Carneia. Likewise Thaletas was summoned from Crete about 620; and soon after came Tyrtaeus, Alcman, and Polymnestus. Their labors went mostly to composing patriotic music and training choruses to sing it. Music was seldom taught to individual Spartans;24 as in revolutionary Russia, the communal spirit was so strong that music took a corporate form, and group competed with group in magnificent festivals of song and dance. Such choral singing gave the Spartans another opportunity for discipline and mass formations, for every voice was subject to the leader. At the feast of the Hyacinthia King Agesilaus sang obediently in the place and time assigned to him by the choral master; and at the festival of the Gymnopedia the whole body of Spartans, of every age and sex, joined in massive exercises of harmonious dance and antistrophal song. Such occasions must have provided a powerful stimulus and outlet to the patriotic sentiment.
Terpander (i.e., “Delighter of Men”) was one of those brilliant poetmusicians who inaugurated the great age of Lesbos in the generation before Sappho. Tradition ascribed to him the invention of scolia or drinking songs, and the expansion of the lyre from four to seven strings; but the heptachord, as we have seen, was as old as Minos, and presumably men had sung the glories of wine in the forgotten adolescence of the world. Certainly he made a name for himself at Lesbos as a kitharoedos—i.e., a composer and singer of musical lyrics. Having killed a man in a brawl, he was exiled, and found it convenient to accept an invitation from Sparta. There, it seems, he lived the remainder of his days, teaching music and training choruses. We are told that he ended his life at a drinking party: while he was singing—perhaps that extra note which he had added at the top of the scale—one of his auditors threw a fig at him; which, entering his mouth and his windpipe, choked him to death in the very ecstasy of song.25
Tyrtaeus continued Terpander’s work at Sparta during the Second Messenian War. He came from Aphidna—possibly in Lacedaemon, probably in Attica; certainly the Athenians had an old joke about the Spartans, that when the latter were losing the Second War they were saved by a lame Attic schoolmaster, whose songs of battle woke up the dull Spartans, and stirred them to victory.26 Apparently he sang his own songs to the flute in public assembly, seeking to transform martial death into enviable glory. “It is a fine thing,” says one of his surviving fragments, “for a brave man to die in the front rank of those who fight for their country. . . . Let each one, standing squarely on his feet, rooted to the ground and biting his lips, keep firm. . . . Foot to foot, shield to shield, waving plumes mingling and helmets clashing, let the warriors press breast to breast, each sword and spear-point meeting in the shock of battle.”27 Tyrtaeus, said the Spartan King Leonidas, “was an adept in tickling the souls of youth.”28
Alcman sang in the same generation, as friend and rival of Tyrtaeus, but in a more varied and earthly strain. He came from far-off Lydia, and some said that he was a slave; nevertheless the Lacedaemonians welcomed him, not having yet learned the xenelasia, or hatred of foreigners, which was to become part of the Lycurgean code. The later Spartans would have been scandalized at his eulogies of love and food, and his roster of Laconia’s noble wines. Tradition ranked him as the grossest eater of antiquity, and as an insatiable pursuer of women. One of his songs told how fortunate he was that he had not remained in Sardis, where he might have become an emasculate priest of Cybele, but had come to Sparta, where he could love in freedom his golden-haired mistress Megalostrata.29 He begins for us that dynasty of amorous poets which culminates in Anacreon, and he heads the list of the “Nine Lyric Poets” chosen by Alexandrian critics as the best of ancient Greece.* He could write hymns and paeans as well as songs of wine and love, and the Spartans liked especially the parthenia, or maiden songs, which he composed for choruses of girls. A fragment now and then reveals that power of imaginative feeling which is the heart of poetry:
Asleep lie mountain-top and mountain-gully, shoulder also and ravine; the creeping things that come from the dark earth, the beasts that lie upon the hillside, the generation of the bees, the monsters in the depths of the purple sea; all lie asleep, and with them the tribes of the winging birds.†30
We may judge from these poets that the Spartans were not always Spartans, and that in the century before Lycurgus they relished poetry and the arts as keenly as any of the Greeks. The choral ode became so closely associated with them that when the Athenian dramatists wrote choral lyrics for their plays they used the Doric dialect, though they wrote the dialogue in the Attic speech. It is hard to say what other arts flourished in Lacedaemon in those halcyon days, for even the Spartans neglected to preserve or record them. Laconian pottery and bronze were famous in the seventh century, and the minor arts produced many refinements for the life of the fortunate few. But this little Renaissance was ended by the Messenian Wars. The conquered land was divided among the Spartans, and the number of serfs was almost doubled. How could thirty thousand citizens keep in lasting subjection four times their number of Perioeci, and seven times their number of Helots? It could be done only by abandoning the pursuit and patronage of the arts, and turning every Spartan into a soldier ready at any moment to suppress rebellion or wage war. The constitution of Lycurgus achieved this end, but at the cost of withdrawing Sparta, in every sense but the political, from the history of civilization.
Greek historians from Herodotus onward took it for granted that Lycurgus was the author of the Spartan code, just as they accepted as historical the siege of Troy and the murder of Agamemnon. And as modern scholarship for a century denied the existence of Troy and Agamemnon, so today it hesitates to admit the reality of Lycurgus. The dates assigned to him vary from 900 to 600 B.C.; and how could one man take out of his head the most unpleasant and astonishing body of legislation in all history, and impose it in a few years not only upon a subject population but even upon a self-willed and warlike ruling class?33 Nevertheless it would be presumptuous to reject on such theoretical grounds a tradition accepted by all Greek historians. The seventh century was peculiarly an age of personal legislators—Zaleucus at Locris (ca. 660), Draco at Athens (620), and Charondas at Sicilian Catana (ca. 610)—not to speak of Josiah’s discovery of the Mosaic code in the Temple at Jerusalem (ca. 621). Probably we have in these instances not so much a body of personal legislation as a set of customs harmonized and clarified into specific laws, and named, for convenience’s sake, from the man who codified them and in most cases gave them a written form.* We shall record the tradition, while remembering that it has in all likelihood personified and foreshortened a process of change, from, custom to law, that required many authors and many years.
According to Herodotus,34 Lycurgus, uncle and guardian of the Spartan King Charilaus, received from the oracle at Delphi certain rhetra, or edicts, which were described by some as the laws of Lycurgus themselves, or by others as a divine sanction for the laws that he proposed. Apparently the legislators felt that to alter certain customs, or to establish new ones, the safest procedure would be to present their proposals as commands of the god; it was not the first time that a state had laid its foundations in the sky. Tradition further relates that Lycurgus traveled in Crete, admired its institutions, and resolved to introduce some of them into Laconia.35 The kings and most of the nobles grudgingly accepted his reforms as indispensable to their own security; but a young aristocrat, Alcander, resisted violently, and struck out one of the legislator’s eyes. Plutarch tells the story with his usual simplicity and charm:
Lycurgus, so far from being daunted or discouraged by this accident, stopped short, and showed his disfigured face, and eye beaten out, to his countrymen. They, dismayed and ashamed at the sight, delivered Alcander into his hands to be punished. . . . Lycurgus, having thanked them, dismissed them all, excepting only Alcander; and taking him with him into his house, neither did nor said anything severely to him, but . . . bade Alcander to wait upon him at table. The young man, who was of an ingenuous temper, without murmuring did as he was commanded; and being thus admitted to live with Lycurgus, he had an opportunity to observe in him, besides his gentleness and calmness of temper, an extraordinary sobriety and an indefatigable industry; and so, from being an enemy, became one of his most zealous admirers, and told his friends and relations that he was not that morose and ill-natured man they had taken him for, but the one mild and gentle character of the world.36
Having completed his legislation, Lycurgus (says a probably legendary coda to his story) pledged the citizens not to change the laws till his return. Then he went to Delphi, retired into seclusion, and starved himself to death, “thinking it a statesman’s duty to make his very death, if possible, an act of service to the state.”37
4. The Lacedaemonian Constitution
"When we attempt to specify the reforms of Lycurgus the tradition becomes contradictory and confused. It is difficult to say which elements of the Spartan code preceded Lycurgus, which were created by him or his generation, and which were added after him. Plutarch and Polybius `020438 assure us that Lycurgus redistributed the land of Laconia into thirty thousand equal shares among the citizens; Thucydides `020439 implies that there was no such distribution. Perhaps old properties were left untouched, while the newly conquered land was equally divided. Like Cleisthenes of Sicyon and Cleisthenes of Athens, Lycurgus ( viz., the authors of the Lycurgean constitution) abolished the kinship organization of Laconian society, and replaced it with geographical divisions; in this way the power of the old families was broken, and a wider aristocracy was formed. To prevent the displacement of this landowning oligarchy by such mercantile classes as were gaining leadership in Argos, Sicyon, Corinth, Megara, and Athens, Lycurgus forbade the citizens to engage in industry or trade, prohibited the use or importation of silver or gold, and decreed that only iron should be used as currency. He was resolved that the Spartans (i.e., the landowning citizens) should be left free for government and war.
It was a boast of ancient conservatives that the Lycurgean constitution endured so long because the three forms of government-monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy- were united in it, and in such proportions that each element neutralized the others against excess. Sparta's monarchy was really a duarchy, since it had concurrently two kings, descending from the invading Heraclids. Possibly this strange institution was a compromise between two related and therefore rival houses, or a device to secure without absolutism the psychological uses of royalty in maintaining social order and national prestige. Their powers were limited: they performed the sacrifices of the state religion, headed the judiciary, and commanded the army in war. In all matters they were subordinate to the Senate; and after Plataea they lost more and more of their authority to the ephors. The aristocratic and predominant clement of the constitution resided in the Senate, or gerousia, literally and actually a group of old men; normally citizens under sixty were considered too immature for its deliberations. Plutarch gives their number as twenty-eight, and tells an incredible story of their election.
When a vacancy occurred candidates were required to pass silently and in turn before the Assembly; and he who was greeted with the loudest and longest shouts
was pronounced elected.
Perhaps this was thought to be a realistic and economical abbreviation of the fuller democratic process. We do not know which of the citizens were eligible to such election; presumably they were the homoioi, or equals, who owned the soil of Laconia, had served in the army, and brought their quota of food to the public mess. The Senate originated legislation, acted as a supreme court in capital crimes, and formulated public policy.
The Assembly, or apella, was Sparta's concession to democracy. Apparently all male citizens were admitted to it upon reaching the age of thirty; some eight thousand males were eligible in a population of 376,000. It met on each day of the full moon. All matters of great public moment were submitted to it, nor could any law be passed without its consent. Few laws, however, were ever added to the Lycurgean constitution; and these the Assembly might accept or reject, but not discuss or amend. It was essentially the old Homeric public meeting, listening in awe to the council of chiefs and elders, or to the army-commanding kings. Theoretically sovereignty resided in the apella; but an amendment made to the constitution after Lycurgus empowered the Senate, if it judged that the Assembly had decided "crookedly," to reverse the decision. `020443 When an advanced thinker asked Lycurgus to establish a democracy Lycurgus replied, "Begin, my friend, by setting it up in your own family." Cicero compared the five ephors (i.e., overseers) to the Roman tribunes, since they were chosen annually by the Assembly; but they corresponded more to the Roman consuls, as wielding an administrative power checked only by the protests of the Senate. The ephorate existed before Lycurgus, and yet is not mentioned in such reports of his legislation as have reached us. By the middle of the sixth century the ephors had become equal in authority to the kings; after the Persian War they were practically supreme. They received embassies, decided disputes at law, commanded the armies, and directed, absolved, or punished the kings. The enforcement of the government's decrees was entrusted to the army and the police. It was the custom of the ephors to arm certain of the younger Spartans as a special and secret police (the krypteia ), with the right to spy upon the people, and, in the case of Helots, to kill at their discretion. This institution was used at unexpected times, even to do away with Helots who, though they had served the state bravely in war, were feared by the masters as able and therefore dangerous men. After eight years of the Peloponnesian War, says the impartial Thucydides,
the Helots were invited by a proclamation to pick out those of their number who claimed to have most distinguished themselves against the enemy, in order that they might receive their freedom; the object being to test them, as it was thought that the first to claim their freedom would be the most high-spirited and the most apt to rebel. As many as two thousand were selected accordingly, who crowned themselves and went round the temples, rejoicing in their new freedom. The Spartans, however, soon afterwards did away with them, and no one ever knew how each of them perished.
The power and pride of Sparta was above all in its army, for in the courage, discipline, and skill of these troops it found its security and its ideal. Every citizen was trained for war, and was liable to military service from his twentieth to his sixtieth year. Out of this severe training came the hoplites of Sparta- those close-set companies of heavy-armed, spear-hurling citizen infantry that were the terror even of the Athenians, and remained practically undefeated until Epaminondas overcame them at Leuctra. Around this army Sparta formed its moral code: to be good was to be strong and brave; to die in battle was the highest honor and happiness; to survive defeat was a disgrace that even the soldier's mother could hardly forgive. "Return with your shield or on it," was the Spartan mother's farewell to her soldier son. Flight with the heavy shield was impossible.
5. The Spartan Code
To train men to an ideal so unwelcome to the flesh it was necessary to take them at birth and form them by the most rigorous discipline. The first step was a ruthless eugenics: not only must every child face the father's right to infanticide, but it must also be brought before a state council of inspectors; and any child that appeared defective was thrown from a cliff of Mt. Taygetus, to die on the jagged rocks below. A further elimination probably resulted from the Spartan habit of inuring their infants to discomfort and exposure. Men and women were warned to consider the health and character of those whom they thought of marrying; even a king, Archidamus, was fined for marrying a diminutive wife. Husbands were encouraged to lend their wives to exceptional men, so that fine children might be multiplied; husbands disabled by age or illness were expected to invite young men to help them breed a vigorous family. Lycurgus, says Plutarch, ridiculed jealousy and sexual monopoly, and called it "absurd that people should be so solicitous for their dogs and horses as to exert interest and pay money to procure fine breeding, and yet keep their wives shut up, to be made mothers only by themselves, who might be foolish, infirm, or diseased." In the general opinion of antiquity the Spartan males were stronger and handsomer, their women healthier and lovelier, than the other Greeks.
Probably more of this result was due to training than to eugenic birth. Thucydides makes King Archidamus say: “There is little difference” (at birth, presumably) “between man and man, but the superiority lies with him who is reared in the severest school.”51 At the age of seven the Spartan boy was taken from his family and brought up by the state; he was enrolled in what was at once a military regiment and a scholastic class, under a paidonomos, or manager of boys. In each class the ablest and bravest boy was made captain; the rest were instructed to obey him, to submit to the punishments he might impose upon them, and to strive to match or better him in achievement and discipline. The aim was not, as at Athens, athletic form and skill, but martial courage and worth. Games were played in the nude, under the eyes of elders and lovers of either sex. The older men made it their concern to provoke quarrels among the boys, individually and in groups, so that vigor and fortitude might be tested and trained; and any moment of cowardice brought many days of disgrace. To bear pain, hardship, and misfortune silently was required of all. Every year, at the altar of Artemis Orthia, some chosen youths were scourged till their blood stained the stones.52 At twelve the boy was deprived of underclothing, and was allowed but one garment throughout the year. He did not bathe frequently, like the lads of Athens, for water and unguents made the body soft, while cold air and clean soil made it hard and resistant. Winter and summer he slept in the open, on a bed of rushes broken from the Eurotas’ banks. Until he was thirty he lived with his company in barracks, and knew none of the comforts of home.
He was taught reading and writing, but barely enough to make him literate; books found few buyers in Sparta,53 and it was easy to keep up with the publishers. Lycurgus, said Plutarch, wished children to learn his laws not by writing but by oral transmission and youthful practice under careful guidance and example; it was safer, he thought, to make men good by unconscious habituation than to rely upon theoretical persuasion; a proper education would be the best government. But such education would have to be moral rather than mental; character was more important than intellect. The young Spartan was trained to sobriety, and some Helots were compelled to drink to excess in order that the youth might see how foolish drunkenness can be.54 He was taught, in preparation for war, to forage in the fields and find his own food, or starve; to steal in such cases was permissible, but to be detected was a crime punishable by flogging.55 If he behaved well he was allowed to attend the public mess of the citizens, and was expected to listen carefully there so that he might become acquainted with the problems of the state, and learn the art of genial conversation. At the age of thirty, if he had survived with honor the hardships of youth, he was admitted to the full rights and responsibilities of a citizen, and sat down to dine with his elders.
The girl, though left to be brought up at home, was also subject to regulation by the state. She was to engage in vigorous games—running, wrestling, throwing the quoit, casting the dart—in order that she might become strong and healthy for easy and perfect motherhood. She should go naked in public dances and processions, even in the presence of young men, so that she might be stimulated to proper care of her body, and her defects might be discovered and removed. “Nor was there anything shameful in the nakedness of the young women,” says the highly moral Plutarch; “modesty attended them, and all wantonness was excluded.” While they danced they sang songs of praise for those that had been brave in war, and heaped contumely upon those that had given way. Mental education was not wasted upon the Spartan girl.
As to love, the young man was permitted to indulge in it without prejudice of gender. Nearly every lad had a lover among the older men; from this lover he expected further education, and in return he offered affection and obedience. Often this exchange grew into a passionate friendship that stimulated both youth and man to bravery in war.56 Young men were allowed considerable freedom before marriage, so that prostitution was rare, and hetairai here found no encouragement.57 In all of Lacedaemon we hear of only one temple to Aphrodite, and there the goddess was represented as veiled, armed with a sword, and bearing fetters on her feet, as if to symbolize the foolishness of marrying for love, the subordination of love to war, and the strict control of marriage by the state.
The state specified the best age of marriage as thirty for men and twenty for women. Celibacy in Sparta was a crime; bachelors were excluded from the franchise, and from the sight-of public processions in which young men and women danced in the nude. According to Plutarch the bachelors themselves were compelled to march in public, naked even in winter, singing a song to the effect that they were justly suffering this punishment for having disobeyed the laws. Persistent avoiders of marriage might be set upon at any time in the streets by groups of women, and be severely handled. Those who married and had no children were only less completely disgraced; and it was understood that men who were not fathers were not entitled to the respect that the youth of Sparta religiously paid to their elders.58
Marriages were usually arranged by the parents, without purchase; but after this agreement the bridegroom was expected to carry off the bride by force, and she was expected to resist; the word for marriage was harpadzein, to seize.59 If such arrangements left some adults still unmarried, several men might be pushed into a dark room with an equal number of girls, and be left to pick their life mates in the darkness;60 the Spartans thought that such choosing would not be blinder than love. It was usual for the bride to stay with her parents for a while; the bridegroom remained in his barracks, and visited his wife only clandestinely; “in this relation,” says Plutarch, “they lived a long time, insomuch that they sometimes had children by their wives before even they saw their faces by daylight.” When they were ready for parentage custom allowed them to set up a home. Love came after marriage rather than before, and marital affection appears to have been as strong in Sparta as in any other civilization.61 The Spartans boasted that there was no adultery among them, and they may have been right, for there was much freedom before marriage, and many husbands could be persuaded to share their wives, especially with brothers.62 Divorce was rare. The Spartan general Lysander was punished because he left his wife and wished to marry a prettier one.63
All in all, the position of woman was better in Sparta than in any other Greek community. There more than elsewhere she preserved her high Homeric status, and the privileges that survived from an early matrilinear society. Spartan women, says Plutarch,64 “were bold and masculine, overbearing to their husbands . . . and speaking openly even on the most important subjects.” They could inherit and bequeath property; and in the course of time—so great was their influence over men—nearly half the real wealth of Sparta was in their hands.65 They lived a life of luxury and liberty at home while the men bore the brunt of frequent war, or dined on simple fare in the public mess.
For every Spartan male, by a characteristic ordinance of the constitution, was required from his thirtieth to his sixtieth year to eat his main meal daily in a public dining hall, where the food was simple in quality and slightly but deliberately inadequate in amount. In this way, says Plutarch,the legislator thought to harden them to the privations of war, and to keep them from the degeneration of peace; they “should not spend their lives at home, laid on costly couches at splendid tables, delivering themselves up to the hands of their tradesmen and cooks, to fatten them in corners like greedy brutes, and to ruin not their minds only but their very bodies, which, enfeebled by indulgence and excess, would stand in need of long sleep, warm bathing, freedom from work, and, in a word, of as much care and attendance as if they were continually sick.”66 To supply the food for this public meal each citizen was required to contribute to his dining club, periodically, stated quantities of corn and other provisions; if he failed in this his citizenship was forfeited.
Normally, in the earlier centuries of the code, the simplicity and asceticism to which Spartan youth was trained persisted into later years. Fat men were a rarity in Lacedaemon; there was no law regulating the size of the stomach, but if a man’s belly swelled indecently he might be publicly reproved by the government, or banished from Laconia.67 There was little of the drinking and the revelry that flourished in Athens. Differences of wealth were real, but hidden; rich and poor wore the same simple dress—a woolen peplos, or shirt, that hung straight from the shoulders without pretense to beauty or form. The accumulation of movable riches was difficult; to lay up a hundred dollars’ worth of iron currency required a large closet, and to remove it, nothing less than a yoke of oxen.68 Human greed remained, however, and found an outlet in official corruption. Senators, ephors, envoys, generals, and kings were alike purchasable, at prices befitting their dignity.69 When an ambassador from Samos displayed his gold plate at Sparta, King Cleomenes I had him recalled lest the citizens be spoiled by alien example.70
The Spartan system, fearful of such contamination, was inhospitable beyond precedent. Foreigners were rarely welcomed. Usually they were made to understand that their visits must be brief; if they stayed too long they were escorted to the frontier by the police. The Spartans themselves were forbidden to go abroad without permission of the government, and to dull their curiosity they were trained to a haughty exclusiveness that would not dream that other nations could teach them anything.71 The system had to be ungracious in order to protect itself; a breath from that excluded world of freedom, luxury, letters, and arts might topple over this strange and artificial society, in which two thirds of the people were serfs, and all the masters were slaves.
Video Above: Greece in 18 Minutes — Homer, The Minotaur, 300 spartans, Greek theatre, Parthenon, democracy — everything that you once knew, but forgot, in a crash course video.
Oil painting "Lycurgus of Sparta" (1791)
painted by Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825)
(public domain, creative commons).
Iliad & Odyssey (Leather-bound Classics) by Homer (Author), Samuel Butler (Translator)
No home library is complete without the classics! Iliad & Odyssey brings together the two essential Greek epics from the poet Homer in an elegant, leather-bound, omnibus edition-a keepsake to be read and treasured.
The Iliad and The Odyssey are two of the oldest works of western literature--yet these ancient myths still offer powerful lessons for our times. From the fascinating fall of Troy to Odysseus' perilous journey home, from the gods and goddesses to the Sirens and the suitors, the events and characters of these epic tales captivate us, teach us, and inspire us.
The Ethics of Rhetoric by Richard M. Weaver (Brattleboro, VT: Echo Point Books & Media, 2015).
In The Ethics of Rhetoric, Richard M. Weaver offers insights into cultural and ethical dimensions of rhetoric and its implications for the broader civil society. Weaver appeals to classical insights on rhetoric in Plato's Phaedrus, and he examines the multi-faceted dimensions of language usage, rhetoric, and the added implications of the manipulation of language. Weaver examines and scrutinizes modern thinkers, such as Lincoln, Burke, and Milton. In this antheology of essays, Weaver explains how the authors of rhetoric persuade and influence people. He further analyzes their varying levels of efficacy and credibility, and in final appeal makes manifest that the manner of argumentation, rhetoric, and the style of persuasion are ultimatley indicators of one's character. Weaver argues for the cultivation of pure, transparent, and honest language, and that it cultivates good ethics within people. First published in 1953, this seminal work gives a depth of understanding to the usage of rhetoric, drawing heavily from Weaver's insights on the classical philosophy no less than the great modern thinkers and influential leaders of our age.
Plato's Symposium by Plato, A Translation by Seth Benardete with Commentaries by Allan Bloom and Seth Benardete [Hardcover | Kindle Edition] (Chicago, IL: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2013).
Plato has been described as the philosopher of love by Allan Bloom, and his Symposium is perhaps his most seminal work on the nature of love. This edition translated by the acclaimed disciple of Leo Strauss, Seth Benardete, a classicist, offers an insightful commentary roundtable featuring Benardete's "On Plato's Symposium" and Allan Bloom's "The Ladder of Love. The occasion of the Symposium is Plato's recollection of a drinking party that follows an evening meal, and the luminaries in attendance include the poet Aristophanes, the drunken Alcibiades, and the wise, anointed Socrates. Here they discuss topics concerning love and desire, and the dialogues have the effect of drawing out Platonic philosophy's greatest insights, such as the relationship between philosophy and poetry, the nature of good, and the aesthetics of beauty and their relationship to desire and love.
The Bow and the Lyre: A Platonic Reading of the Odyssey by Seth Benardete [Kindle Edition] (New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008).
Classicist Seth Benardete offers an intriguing and revisionist interpretation of the Odyssey going beyond the conventional exegesis of Literature teachers, and suggests that Homer may have been among the first to philosophize in the similitude of Plato. He reasons that the Odyssey aims to examine the relationship between philosophy and poetery, and further scrutinizes the issue of rationality and irrationality in humans. Having drawn enormous insight from the late Leo Strauss on exegesis of classical literary works, Benardete has produced an insightful and informative work.
Socrates' Second Sailing: On Plato's Republic [Softcover] by Seth Benardete [Hardcover Edition] (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992).
Benardete persuassively reasons that Plato's Republic constitutes an illuminating holistic, esoteric analysis upon aesthetics as it relates to the nature of beauty, as well the notions of goodness and justice, and human excellence. This invigorating interpretation of Plato builds on the insights of Plato and Socrates, and unravels their cryptic allusions, paradoxes, and posits answers to the questions they raised. All in all, it's a brilliant and erudite contribution to modern classics scholarship, and well worth the read!
The Humanity of Thucydides by Clifford Orwin by Clifford Orwin (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1997).
Thucydides has garnered notoriety for his hard-hitting realism manifest in his exposition of public political life. But as many classicist scholars have been keen to observe in recent years, the works of Thucydides also manifest a deep sense of humanity. In this groundbreaking study, Clifford Orwin argues that Thucydides' humanity is not a mere reflection of the author's disposition and temperament, but his exposition of the central problem of political life, namely the tension between right and coercion.
The Landmark Thucydides by Thucydides (Auth.), Robert B. Strassler (Ed.), Richard Crawley (Trans.)
Thucydides aptly described his in-depth account of the wars between Athenians and Spartans as "a possession for all time," and this account remains his first and most well-known work, and it stands out as an exemplar of the classical Western historical tradition. This has been deemed essential reading for military strategists, statesmen, and philosophers. And in many ways the lessons to be learned from The Peloponnesian War represent a veritable gold mine of wisdom, spanning the chasm of multiple disciplines: military science, moral and political philosophy, and politics and the art of rulership and statesmanship.
The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories by Herodotus (Auth.), Robert B. Strassler (Auth., Ed.), Andrea L. Purvis (Trans.), and Rosalind Thomas (Introduction) (Anchor Books, 2009).
Robert B. Strassler, the editor of the much celebrated The Landmark Thucyides has produced a new epic translation and commentary of The Histories by Herodotus. The Roman orator dubbed Herodotus "the father of history," and his only known surviving work that's with us today, The Histories, is considered among the first masterpieces of historical writing in Western literature. Herodotus was a trend setter that came to define historical methods and narrative story-telling as a chronologist of events in antiquity. With clear and concise prose, Herodotus gave an elucidating account of the rise of the Persian Empire, the rise of the Greek city-states, and tells the tale of the remarkable series of conflicts that emerged between the broader Hellenic and Persian civilizations. Breathtaking in its scope, this edition is illustrated, annotated, and pack full of informative and helpful maps and study aids—with an introduction by Rosalind Thomas, commentaries in the appendices written by highly respected scholars, and a new translation by Andrea L. Purvis—this impressive, scholarly edition of Herodotus' Histories brings one of the great historical works of antiquity back into the light of illumination.
Hellenika covers the years between 411 and 362 B.C., a period in which Athens, Sparta, Thebes, and Persia were in fluctuating series of conflicts and shifting alliances. This work taken in tandem with Herodotus and Thucydides completes the narrative history of classical Greece and its contiguous civilizations.
The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian (Author), James Romm (Editor), Robert B. Strassler (Series Editor), Pamela Mensch (Translator), Paul Cartledge (Introduction)
After more than twelve years of being tested by challenging military campaigns, Alexander the Great controlled an enormous empire whose territorial breadth spanned from the Adriatric Sea to the west and the northern borderlands of India to the east. Arrian, a military commander, also functions as an historian, and combines firsthand accounts with other ancient sources to tell the tale of Alexander's military campaigns.
Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician (Softcover) by Anthony Everitt [Hardcover | Kindle Edition]
This is an intriguing biography of Rome's most astute orator, rhetorician, and statesman, Marcus Tullus Cicero. Cicero, or Tully, as he's often nicknamed stood out as a lion among orators, and was the quintissential statesmen for his age. A magnificent public speaker, Cicero gripped the ancient Roman Senate by his spellbinding oratory and his polished rhetoric. Here Anthony Everitt brings the ancient politician back to life in this magnificent biographical sketch, entitled simply Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician.
Cicero: Selected Political Speeches (Penguin Classics) by Cicero (New York, NY: Penguin).
This is an anthology of the Roman statesman Cicero's more compelling political speeches, which stand out as persuassive works of rhetoric.
The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition by E. Christian Knopf (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books, 2003).
A respected classicist at the University of Colorado, Knopf believes that the removal of Latin and Greek from the standard university curriculum has severed American culture from the unique literature, history, philosophy, and political traditions that should rightly constitute its intellectual infrastructure. His cultural criticism is ultimately a summons for the restorative of a tradition classical liberal arts tradition, whereby students learn and interact with the classics in their original languages. He recommends reading Aristotle, Homer, Plato, Ovid, and the New Testament in the original Greek, whether Attica or Koine Greek. He advocates a radical reform of pedagogy and starting classics education from the time of elementary school.
The Penguin Historical Atlas of Greece (New York, NY: Penguin, 1997).
Ancient Greece was arguably the cradle of Western Civilization. From the days of the ancient Minoans, this marvelous land of philosophers, merchants, and soldiers came to have a profound influence on the course of the modern world. This dynamic civilization began not under a monolithic system of central government, but rather as a network of culturally similar city-states that engaged in trade, commerce, and cultural exchange amongst themselves and with their neighbors in the Middle East and North Africa. The Greeks colonized the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea basins. The Greeks contributed to the arts, humanities, philosophy, and sciences. Its wars with Persia, and subsequent efforts to build a universal empire at the behest of the Macedonian Greek Alexander left a lasting legacy. Now you can learn about the ancient Greeks with this colorful series of historical maps with detailed descriptions and informative insights upon their exploits throughout ancient history.
Durant's perennial classic, a history on Hellenic civilization from its early beginnings, and of civilization in the Near East from the times of Alexander the Great to the Roman conquest of Greece. This is the second volume of the classic Pulitzer Prize-winning book series, The Story of Civilization.
The Greeks: A Great Adventure by Issac Asimov (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1965)
This illuminating history tells the tale of the ancient Greeks, spanning the chasm of early antiquity as far back as 4,000 B.C. up through the present day, though its overarching focus is upon the classical Hellenic civilization of antiquity.
The Republic by Plato (Auth.) and Allan Bloom (Auth. and Trans.)
This translation has elicited notoriety as the most accurate rendering of Plato's Republic that has yet been published and translated to date, and this masterful translation and interpretative esssay by Allan Bloom represents among the first strictly literal translation of a timeless classic, as it draws out the deep esoteric meaning intended by Plato.
Professor Frederic M. Wheelock's Latin first appeared in 1956, and it was greeted with widespread enthusiasm by both seasoned Latin classicists and new students alike. It was admired for its organization, brevity, and scope all packaged in one neat parcel. It has since become the standard instructive text for introducing students to elementary Latin. This new seventh edition has the familiar features, but has been improved and expanded. It features forty plus chapters with grammatical explanations and reading selections from the great classics of Rome, tutorial exercises for independent study and practice, an exhaustive English-to-Latin, Latin-to-English dictionary of vocabulary terms, and etymological aids explaining word origins, and other tools illustrating classical culture and its relevance today.
Workbook for Wheelock's Latin 3rd Revised Edition by Paul T. Comeau (Author), Richard A. LaFleur (Contributor)
This is a necessary companion to the landmark textbook on classical Latin. It features drills, vocabulary, and study materials, and follows a time-tested pedagogy for teaching Latin to generation after generation.
Wheelock's Latin Reader, (2nd Ed.): Selections from Latin Literature (The Wheelock's Latin Series) by Richard A. LaFleur (Author)
This intermediate-level Latin course offers a vibrant selection of classical Prose and poetry from a broad base of classical Roman authors, as well as medieval Latin.
The Landmark Julius Caesar: The Complete Works: Gallic War, Civil War, Alexandrian War, African War, and Spanish War by Kurt A. Raaflaub (Editor), Robert B. Strassler (Series Editor)
This edition of Julius Caesar chronicles the military campaigns of Julius Caesar, which presents a detailed picture of political and military developments in the Roman Republic as it evolved into an Imperium. The Gallic War presents Caesar's narrative account of his conquests of both Britain and Gaul (present-day France), Belgica (Belgium), and Helvetica (Switzerland). Caesar's account of the Civil War elucidates on the ensuing conflict that followed the death of his chief rival, Pompey, and the defeat of Pompey's heirs and supporters, which resulted in Caesar being the solitary power in ancient Rome. Caesar also produced other succinct works, given us accounts of the Alexandrian War, the African War, and the Spanish War, which were most likely written not by Caesar himeself but probably Roman military officers, and Caesar chose to incorporate them into his chronicle. Julius Caesar offered lucid, crisp prose which offers remarkable insight into ancient warfare, and it offers an intriguing view of the Roman people, and lastly it presents Caesar as a skillful, capable, and intelligent leader.
The Bonfire of Humanities: Rescuing the Classics In An Impoverished Age [Kindle Edition] by Victor David Hanson.
The classics have become a beleagured discipline, and are continually assaulted by anti-western progressives, multiculturalists, and technocrats who want to subordinate all education to concern for job training rather than exhibit any concern for a deep educaton in the morality plays manifest in the study of the classics. This rich anthology of essays calls for a return to the study of the classics, and restoration of its study to its former prominence. This book is possessed of penetrating and substantive cultural criticism and serves up a masterful polemic against arrogant academics possessed of contempt for the classics of Greco-Roman Civilization. The recovery of the classics are vitally requisite for awakening literacy, and recovering the idea of striving for human excellence.
I have been a contributor and co-founder of Plato - Discover the Classics, and have helped its chief founder from its impetus, by assisting in branding it, producing graphics, visual content, and video production.
Greek Ways: How the Greeks Created Western Civilization by Bruce Thornton
Classicist Bruce Thornton challenges the polemical attacks of anti-western progressives, multiculturalists, and advocates of a bizzarre counter-factual theory that the ancient Greeks stole their 'culture' from "black" Egyptians. Thorton elucidates upon the immense value of the classics and the importance of the study of classical civilization.
More than seventy years, Edith Hamilton first published a book entitled, The Greek Way, explaining the immense debt that the modern western world owes to classical Greece, and explains how a dozen city-states came to develop "the spirit of the West" some two and half millennium ago. Thornton's book is a worthy successor to Hamilton.
The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome by Chris Scarre (New York, NY: Penguin, 1995).
Fifteen centuries ago, the Roman Empire fell, and to this date it remains one of the formative pivotal influences on the history of Europe, and the broader Western Civilization. This vast empire stretched in territorial breadth from the borderlands of Scotland to the deserts of Syria 3,000 miles away. Its cities were once great, bustling with commerce, trade, and cultural exchange. Its vibrant legal institutions indelibly shaped modern practice, and its ideal of a united Europe has inspired countless efforts to revive the Roman Empire throughout history from the Constantine to Charlamagne to Napoleon to Hitler. This historical atlas features more than sixty full-color maps, and traces the rise and fall of the great Roman empire, and offers an in-depth look at its provinces, cities, its robust economy, its military preparations, its foreign conquests, and internal struggles. The historical atlas charts its evolution from a pagan state to a Christian theocracy, and its subsequent fall in 476 A.D.
Above Video: 'Caesar in Britannia and Germania' - 'Kings and Generals' - Between 56 and 55 B,C. Julius Caesar defeated the Gallic Veneti summarily conquering Gaul, effectively annexing it to the Roman Imperium, and then he subsequently became the first Roman to militarily invade both Germania and the island of Britannia.
The Landmark Xenophon's Anabasis by Xenophon, Shane Brennan and Robert B. Strassler (eds.)
The ancient classic--also known as The March of the Ten Thousand or The March Up Country--now in an elegantly designed, newly translated, definitive edition that features illuminating annotations, and copious maps and illustrations.
Video above: 'Epic History TV' - Animated video documentary on the First Crusade continues with the Siege of Antioch. The Crusaders endure immense hardships outside the city walls, but finally take Antioch thanks to a ruse by Bohemond of Taranto. Against the odds, and inspired by their recent discovery of a relic believed to be the 'Holy Lance', the Crusaders then defeat the Seljuk army of Kur Burgha. After disagreements within the Crusader camp, the army finally moves on to Jerusalem in the spring of 1099. During a full-scale assault of the city walls, Godfrey of Bouillon's troops gain a foothold in the defences, and Crusader troops pour into the city. A bloodbath follows. Victory results in the creation of four Crusader states, but their existence is precarious, surrounded by hostile Muslim powers, who will one day return with a vengeance.
Video Above: 'Epic History' - 'First Crusade Part 1 of 2' - The First Crusade was one of the most remarkable, bleeding and huge scenes in medieval history. It started with an intrigue for help from the Christian Byzantine Empire, compromised by the rising intensity of the Muslim Seljuk Turks. Be that as it may, when Pope Urban II lectured a lesson at Clermont in 1095, the outcome was not normal for anything at any point seen previously. The Pope offered profound salvation to those ready to go east to help their kindred Christians in a sacred war, and help free Jerusalem from Muslim standard. Knights and laborers the same joined in their thousands, prompting the tragic People's Crusade, at that point to a considerably more composed and ground-breaking Princes' Crusade. Their powers accumulated at Constantinople, where they made an uncomfortable union with Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. Entering Anatolia, they assisted with winning back the city of Nicaea, at that point won a definitive however hard-battled triumph at Dorlyaeum, before walking on the extraordinary city of Antioch...
Video Above: ' Real Crusades History' - 'El Cid' - the story of history's greatest knight, a hero of Spain and the Reconquista. This is a compilation of all my previous El Cid videos in a documentary presentation.
Video Above: 'Real Crusades History' - 'The Crusades in Five Minutes' - This succinct video gives and overview of the main aspects of the Crusades, such as Pope Urban II's calling of the First Crusade, how the Reconquista in Spain became a Crusade, the nature of crusading and the motivation for crusading.
Video Above: 'Kings and Generals' - 'Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa' (1212) - Reconquista is one of the most significant events in history. By 718 Islamic Invasion reached and then took over most of the Pyrenees sparring only a remote region in the north. The Spanish and Portuguese people fought for almost eight-hundred years to reconquer the Christian lands, and that epic struggle strengthened their sense of identity, and allowed to grow into empires that dominated the world for a few more centuries. This is a documentary on the general events of Reconquista and the decisive battle of Las Navas De Tolosa that took place in 1212 between the alliance of Aragon, Castile, Portugal, Navarre, knightly orders of Santiago, Calatrava, Templars and the Almohad Caliphate.
God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades by Randy Stark (New York, NY: Harper One).
Peter Jenkins notes, God's Battalions "launches a frontal assault on the comfortable myths that scholars have popularized about the crusades. The results are startling. His greatest achievement is to make us see the crusaders on their own terms.” This book endeavors to be a popular history of the Crusades, explaining its rationale and repudiating revisionist politically correct efforts by anti-Christians, progressives, and Islamists to paint the war unfairly, rather it must be understood as a just war against various barbaric encroachments upon Christiandom by Muslims. Stark affirms that: "Current Muslim memories and anger about the Crusades are a twentieth-century creation, prompted in part by ‘post-World War I British and French imperialism and the post-World War II creation of the state of Israel.’ … Eventually, the image of the brutal, colonizing crusader proved to have such polemical power that it drowned out nearly everything else in the ideological lexicon of Muslim antagonism toward the West — except, of course, for Israel and paranoid tales about the worldwide Jewish conspiracy." Stark recognizes that Muslim aggression is trivialized by the agents of political correctness, and they attempt to whitewash the fact that Muslims waged violent, pitiless warfare with the goal of eradicating, conquering and ultimately subjugating Christian civilization, yet modern voices of political correctness have the audacity to fault the leaders of Christendom for the audacity to resist such encroachments and fight back! In Stark’s words: Many critics of the Crusades would seem to suppose that after the Muslims had overrun a major portion of Christendom, they should have been ignored or forgiven; suggestions have been made about turning the other cheek. This outlook is certainly unrealistic and probably insincere. Not only had the Byzantines lost most of their empire; the enemy was at their gates. And the loss of Spain, Sicily, and southern Italy, as well as a hose of Mediterranean islands, was bitterly resented in Europe. Hence, as British historian Derek Lomax (1933–1992) explained, 'The popes, like most Christians, believed war against the Muslims to be justified partly because the latter had usurped by force lands which once belongs to Christians and partly because they abused the Christians over whom they ruled and such Christian lands as they could raid for slaves, plunder and the joys of destruction.'"
The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain by Dario Fernandez-Morera (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books)
Advocates of multiculturalism have lauded the example of Moor-dominated Spain as a portent of the later-day multicultural civilization celebrated by progressives, Leftists, and cultural Marxists. Nevertheless this myth of “al-Andalus” as a multicultural paradise, a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews ostensibly lived in relative harmony, is largely a contrivance of ideologues. In this seminal work, Northwestern University scholar Darío Fernández-Morera paints a radically different picture of Islamic-dominated Spain. The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise illuminates a secret history of Iberia under the invading Moors by appropriating a bountiful corpus of primary source materials that have been conveniently been ignored in pursuit of the politically incorrect agenda of celebrating the Andalusian multicultural paraise.
This supposed beacon of peaceful coexistence began, of course, with the Islamic Caliphate’s conquest of the Iberian peninsula. The encroachment of Islamists into Western Europe hardly established an age of religious tolerance, but rather Islamic Spain was weighed down by cultural repression, and the marginalization of Christians—all in service of a hegemonic, authoritarian ruling class of Muslim leaders.
Author and historian Dario Fernandez-Morera's book provides a much needed reevaluation of the history of medieval Spain challenging the pervasive mythology of cultural Marxists, progressives and their cohorts. As the progressive establishment continues to extol Islamic Spain as a model civilization for its “multiculturalism,” purported tolerance and “diversity,” Fernández-Morera paints a more realistic picture in marked contrast to the multiculturalist fantasy. Here we encounter the real world of Islamic Spain where Christians are subjugated, and repressed.
'Flash Point History' - Reconquista - The Full History
The history of the Reconquista was a 781 year medieval journey. It was the story of the Christian War of Reconquest against Islamic Spain. A struggle that was not always constant or consistent. The Christian kingdoms of the northern Iberian Peninsula held their ground, clinging to survival. In time, as the initiative shifted and the great Caliphate fell; Asturias, Leon, Castile, Navarre, Aragon, and Portugal would have the chance to press the offensive. They were hampered along the way by the Almoravids and later the Almohads - and of course fought amongst themselves. This video covers the full history up till the year 1212 and the famous Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. As requested, all the individual parts were put together for this one continuous piece. Enjoy!
[Note: Flash Point History contains an engrossing narrative, but Ryan Setliff himself questions the wisdom of its revisionism concerning the motives of the Christian Crusaders.]
The Glory of the Crusades (Kindle Edition) by Steve Weidenkopf
Antiquarian Steve Weidenkopf challenges counter-factual revisionism of the Islamists with his breathtaking magnum opus entitled The Glory of the Crusades. Drawing on timely and accurate medieval scholarship, he presents a convincing case for understanding the Crusades as they were the point at which they occurred: "furnished journeys" driven by a sacred energy to recoup vanquished Christian lands. Without whitewashing their disappointments and even wrongdoings, he exposes the various fantasies about the Crusades that the popular culture utilizes to assail the Church and the faith. Instead of these contrivances and myths, he tenders a case for the Crusafes being persued nobly by people of confidence, faith and valor who vowed their lives for the respect of Christ's sacred places and his people. With a narrator's blessing, Weidenkopf relates the Crusades' numerous touchstones—their saints and scoundrels, fights and attacks, interests and fortuitous events—offering a distinctive and engaging record of occasions that have significantly influenced the course of our reality to the current day.
Why Does the Heathen Rage?: A Novel of the Crusades by J. Stephen Roberts (Kindle Edition)
This historical novel explores a monumental but neglected chapter in Crusades history. Against the backdrop of an adolescent Kingdom of Jerusalem, the Christian pilgrims are beset on all sides with enemies, and they face dissent and unease within their own ranks. In the face of unending tribulation, King Baldwin II and his knights fight with duty, passion, and obligation, and are ready to die for the city that Christ made sacred with his blood: Jerusalem.
What is the connection between the Medieval Crusades and the Modern Middle East problems? Was the crusades the equivalent of the Christian Muslim jihad? Historian Thomas F. Madden provides a brilliant and convincing overview of the crusades and their current significance in this sweeping yet crisp history.
Also from author Thomas Madden:
The Crusades Controversy: Setting the Record Straight (Kindle Edition)
A History of The Crusades, 3 Volume Set: The First Crusade, The Kingdom of Jerusalem, The Kingdom of Acre by Steven Runciman (Hardcover, 3 Volume, Slipcase Edition)
Written more than a half-century ago by a renowned scholar, this is the complete history of the Crusades in 3 volumes: Vol. I - The First Crusade and the Foundation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem; Vol. II - The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East (1100-1187); and Vol. III - The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades. Each book contains illuminated illustrations and 5-6 maps. Volume III has a complete genealogical chart of the crusaders. It's well worth the money, and reads well when contemplated by the tandem reading of The Crusades: The Illustrated History by Thomas F. Madden
For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.
Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them. While Muslims can be peaceful, Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword. Muslim thought divides the world into two spheres, the Abode of Islam and the Abode of War. Christianity—and for that matter any other non-Muslim religion—has no abode. Christians and Jews can be tolerated within a Muslim state under Muslim rule. But, in traditional Islam, Christian and Jewish states must be destroyed and their lands conquered. When Mohammed was waging war against Mecca in the seventh century, Christianity was the dominant religion of power and wealth. As the faith of the Roman Empire, it spanned the entire Mediterranean, including the Middle East, where it was born. The Christian world, therefore, was a prime target for the earliest caliphs, and it would remain so for Muslim leaders for the next thousand years.
With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death. They were extremely successful. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt—once the most heavily Christian areas in the world—quickly succumbed. By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul. The old Roman Empire, known to modern historians as the Byzantine Empire, was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.
That is what gave birth to the Crusades. They were not the brainchild of an ambitious pope or rapacious knights but a response to more than four centuries of conquests in which Muslims had already captured two-thirds of the old Christian world. At some point, Christianity as a faith and a culture had to defend itself or be subsumed by Islam. The Crusades were that defense.
Video above: Real Crusades History - "Why did the Crusades fail?," with Dr. Paul Crawford, Dr. Andrew Holt
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From A.D. 849 to A.D. 887
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 849, was born Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, at the royal village of Wanating, (1) in Berkshire, which country has its name from the wood of Berroc, where the box-tree grows most abundantly. His genealogy is traced in the following order. King Alfred was the son of king Ethelwulf, who was the son of Egbert, who was the son of Elmund, was the son of Eafa, who was the son of Eoppa, who the son of Ingild. Ingild, and Ina, the famous king of the West-Saxons, were two brothers. Ina went to Rome, and there ending this life honourably, entered the heavenly kingdom, to reign there for ever with Christ. Ingild and Ina were the sons of Coenred, who was the son of Ceolwald, who was the son of Cudam, who was the son of Cuthwin, who was the son of Ceawlin, who was the son of Cynric, who was the son of Creoda, who was the son of Cerdic, who was the son of Elesa, who was the son of Gewis, from whom the Britonsname all that nation Gegwis, (2) who was the son of Brond, who was the son of Beldeg, who was the son of Woden, who was the son of Frithowald, who was the son of Frealaf, who was the son of Frithuwulf, who was the son of Finn of Godwulf, who was the son of Gear, which Geat the pagans long worshipped as a god. Sedulius makes mention of him in his metrical Paschal poem, as follows: --
When gentile poets with their fictions vain, In tragic language and bombastic strain, To their god Geat, comic deity, Loud praises sing, &c.
Geat was the son of Taetwa, who was the son of Beaw, who was the son of Sceldi, who was the son of Heremod, who was the son of Itermon, who was the son of Hathra, who was the son of Guala, who was the son of Bedwig, who was the son of Shem, who was the son of Noah, who was the son of Lamech, who was the son of Methusalem, who was the son of Enoch, who was the son of Malaleci, who was the son of Cainian, who was the son of Enos, who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam.
The mother of Alfred was named Osburga, a religious woman, noble both by birth and by nature; she was daughter of Oslac, the famous butler of king Ethtelwulf, which Oslac was a Goth by nation, descended from the Goths and Jutes, of the seed, namely, of Stuf and Whitgar, two brothers and counts; who, having received possession of the Isle of Wight from their uncle, King Cerdic, and his son Cynric their cousin, slew the few British inhabitants whom they could find in that island, at a place called Gwihtgaraburgh; (3) for the other inhabitants of the island had either been slain, or escaped into exile.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 851, which was the third after the birth of king Alfred, Ceorl, earl of Devon, fought with the men of Devon against the pagans at a place called Wiegambeorg; (4) and the Christians gained the victory; and that same year the pagans first wintered in the island called Sheppey, which means the Sheep-isle, and is situated in the river Thames between Essex and Kent, but is nearer to Kent than to Essex; it has in it a fine monastery. (5)
The same year also a great army of the pagans came with three hundred and fifty ships to the mouth of the river Thames, and sacked Dorobernia, (6)which is the city of the Cantuarians, and also the city of London, which lies on the north bank of the river Thames, on the confines of Essex and Middlesex; but yet that city belongs in truth to Essex; and they put to flight Berthwulf, king of Mercia, with all the army, which he had led out to oppose them.
After these things, the aforesaid pagan host went into Surrey, which is a district situated on the south bank of the river Thames, and to the west of Kent. And Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, and his son Ethelbald, with all their army, fought a long time against them at a place called Ac-lea, (7) i.e. the Oak-plain, and there, after a lengthened battle, which was fought with much bravery on both sides, the greater part of the pagan multitude was destroyed and cut to pieces, so that we never heard of their being so defeated, either before or since, in any country, in one day; and the Christians gained an honourable victory, and were triumphant over their graves.
In the same year king Athelstan, son of king Ethelwulf, and earl Ealhere slew a large army of pagans in Kent, at a place called Sandwich, and took nine ships of their fleet; the others escaped by flight.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 853, which was the fifth of king Alfred, Burhred king of the Mercians, sent messengers, and prayed Ethelwulf, king of the West Saxons, to come and help him in reducing the midland Britons, who dwell between Mercia and the western sea, and who struggled against him most immoderately. So without delay, king Ethelwulf, having received the embassy, moved his army, and advanced with king Burhred against Britain, (8) and immediately, on entering that country, he began to ravage it; and having reduced it under subjection to king Burhred, he returned home.
In the same year, king Ethelwulf sent his son Alfred, above- named, to Rome, with an honourable escort both of nobles and commoners. Pope Leo (the fourth] at that time presided over the apostolic see, and he anointed for king the aforesaid Alfred, and adopted him as his spiritual son. The same year also, earl Ealhere, with the men of Kent, and Iluda with the men of Surrey, fought bravely and resolutely against an army of the pagans, in the island, which is called in the Saxon tongue, Tenet, (9) but Ruim in the British language. The battle lasted a long time, and many fell on both sides, and also were drowned in the water; and both the earls were there slain. In the same year also, after Easter, Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, gave His daughter to Burhred, king of the Mercians, and the marriage was celebrated royally at the royal vill of Chippenham. (10)
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 855, which was the seventh after the birth of the aforesaid king, Edmund the most glorious king of the East-Angles began to reign, on the eighth day before the kalends of January, i.e. on the birthday of our Lord, in the fourteenth year of his age. In this year also died Lothaire, the Roman emperor, son of the pious Lewis Augustus. In the same year the aforesaid venerable king Ethelwulf released the tenth part of all his kingdom from all royal service and tribute, and with a pen never to be forgotten, offered it up to God the One and the Three in One, in the cross of Christ, for the redemption of his own soul and of his predecessors. In the same year he went to Rome with much honour; and taking with him his son, the aforesaid king Alfred, for a second journey thither, because he loved him more than his other sons, he remained there a whole year; after which he returned to his own country, bringing with him Judith, daughter of Charles, the king of the Franks.
In the meantime, however, whilst king Ethelwulf was residing beyond the sea, a base deed was done, repugnant to the morals of all Christians, in the western part of Selwood. For king Ethelwald [son of king Ethelwulf] and Ealstan, bishop of the church of Sherborne, with Eanwulf, earl of the district of Somerton, are said to have made a conspiracy together, that king Ethelwulf, on his return from Rome, should never again be received into his kingdom. This crime, unheard-of in all previous ages, is ascribed by many to the bishop and earl alone, as resulting from their counsels. Many also ascribe it solely to the insolence of the king, because that king was pertinacious in this matter, and in many other perversities, as we have heard related Ly certain persons; as also was proved by the result of that which follows.
For as he was returning from Rome, his son aforesaid, with all his counsellors, or, as I ought to say, his conspirators, attempted to perpetrate the crime of repulsing the king from his own kingdom; but neither did God permit the deed, nor would the nobles of all Saxony consent to it. For to prevent this irremediable evil to Saxony, of a son warring against his father, or rather of the whole nation carrying on civil war, either on the side of the one or the other, the extraordinary mildness of the father, seconded by the consent of all the nobles, divided between the two the kingdom which had hitherto been undivided; the eastern parts were given to the father, and the western to the son; for where the father ought by just right to reign, there his unjust and obstinate son did reign; for the western part of Saxony is always preferable to the eastern.
When Ethelwulf, therefore, was coming from Rome, all that nation, as was fitting, so delighted in the arrival of the old man, that, if he permitted them, they would have expelled his rebellious son Ethelbald, with all his counsellors, out of the kingdom. But he, as we have said, acting with great clemency and prudent counsel, so wished things to be done, that the kingdom might not come into danger; and he placed Judith, daughter of king Charles, whom he had received from his father, by his own side on the regal throne, without any controversy or enmity from his nobles, even to the end of his life, contrary to the perverse custom of that nation. For the nation of the West-Saxons do not allow a queen to sit beside the king, nor to be called a queen, but only the king's wife; which stigma the elders of that land say arose from a certain obstinate and malevolent queen of the same nation, who did all things so contrary to her lord, and to all the people, that she not only earned for herself exclusion from the royal seat, but also entailed the same stigma upon those who came after her; for in consequence of the wickedness of that queen, all the nobles of that land swore together, that they would never let any king reign over them, who should attempt to place a queen on the throne by his side.
And because, as I think, it is not known to many whence this perverse and detestable custom arose in Saxony, contrary to the custom of all the Theotisean nations, it seems to me right to explain a little more fully what I have heard from my lord Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, as he also had heard it from many men of truth, who in great part recorded that fact.
There was in Mercia, in recent times, a certain valiant king, who was feared by all the kings and neighbouring states around. His name was Offa, and it was he who had the great rampart made from sea to sea between Britain and Mercia. (11) His daughter, named Eadburga, was married to Bertric, king of the West-Saxons; who immediately, having the king's affections, and the control of almost all the kingdom, began to live tyrannically like her father, and to execrate every man whom Bertric loved, and to do all things hateful to God and man, and to accuse all she could before the king, and so to deprive them insidiously of their life or power; and if she could not obtain the king's consent, she used to take them off by poison: as is ascertained to have been the case with a certain young man beloved by the king, whom she poisoned, finding that the King would not listen to any accusation against him. It is said, moreover, that king Bertric unwittingly tasted of the poison, though the queen intended to give it to the young man only, and so both of them perished.
Bertric therefore, being dead, the queen could remain no longer among the West-Saxons, but sailed beyond the sea with immense treasures, and went to the court of the great and famous Charles, king of the Franks. As she stood before the throne, and offered him money, Charles said to her, "Choose, Eadburga, between me and my son, who stands here with me." She replied, foolishly, and without deliberation, "If I am to have my choice, I choose your son, because he is younger than you." At which Charles smiled and answered, "If you had chosen me, you would have had my son; but as you have chosen him, you shall not have either of us."
However, he gave her a large convent of nuns, in which, having laid aside the secular habit and taken the religious dress, she discharged the office of abbess during a few years; for, as she is said to have lived irrationally in her own country, so she appears to have acted still more so in that foreign country; for being convicted of having had unlawful intercourse with a man of her own nation, she was expelled from the monastery by king Charles's order, and lived a vicious life of reproach in poverty and misery until her death; so that at last, accompanied by one slave only, as we have heard from many who saw her, she begged her bread daily at Pavia, and so miserably died.
Now king Ethelwulf lived two years after his return from Rome; during which, among many other good deeds of this present life, reflecting on his departure according to the way of all flesh, that his sons might not quarrel unreasonably after their father's death, he ordered a will or letter of instructions to be written, in which he ordered that his kingdom should be divided between his two eldest sons, his private inheritance between his sons, his daughters, and his relations, and the money which he left behind him between his sons and nobles, and for the good of his soul. Of this prudent policy we have thought fit to record a few instances out of many for posterity to imitate; namely, such as are understood to belong principally to the needs of the soul; for the others, which relate only to human dispensation, it is not necessary to insert in this work, lest prolixity should create disgust in those who read or wish to hear my work. For the benefit of his soul, then, which he studied to promote in all things from his youth, he directed through all his hereditary dominions, that one poor man in ten, either native or foreigner, should be supplied with meat, drink, and clothing, by his successors, until the day of judgment; supposing, however, that the country should still be inhabited both by men and cattle, and should not become deserted. He commanded also a large sum of money, namely, three hundred mancuses, to be carried to Rome for the good of his soul, to be distributed in the following manner: namely, a hundred mancuses in honour of St. Peter, specially to buy oil for the lights of the church of that apostle on Easter eve, and also at the cock-crow: a hundred mancuses in honour of St. Paul, for the same purpose of buying oil for the church of St. Paul the apostle, to light the lamps on Easter eve and at the cock-crow; and a hundred mancuses for the universal apostolic pontiff.
But when king Ethelwulf was dead, and buried at Stemrugam,(12) his son Ethelbald, contrary to God's prohibition and the dignity of a Christian, contrary also to the custom of all the pagans, ascended his father's bed, and married Judith, daughter of Charles, king of the Franks, and drew down much infamy upon himself from all who heard of it. During two years and a half of licentiousness after his father he held the government of the West-Saxons.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 856, which was the eighth after Alfred's birth, the second year of king Charles III, and the eighteenth year of the reign of Ethelwulf, king of the West- Saxons, Humbert, bishop of the East-Angles, anointed with oil and consecrated as king the glorious Edmund, with much rejoicing and great honour in the royal town called Burva, in which at that time was the royal seat, in the fifteenth year of his age, on a Friday, the twenty-fourth moon, being Christmas-day.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 860, which was the twelfth of king Alfred's age, died Ethelbald, king of the West-Saxons, and was buried at Sherborne. His brother Ethelbert, as was fitting, joined Kent, Surrey, and Sussex also to his dominion.
In his days a large army of pagans came up from the sea, and attacked and destroyed the city of Winchester. As they were returning laden with booty to their ships, Osric, earl of Hampshire, with his men, and earl Ethelwulf, with the men of Berkshire, confronted them bravely; a severe battle took place, and the pagans were slain on every side; and, finding themselves unable to resist, took to flight like women, and the Christians obtained a triumph.
Ethelbert governed his kingdom five years in peace, with the love and respect of his subjects, who felt deep sorrow when he went the way of all flesh. His body was honourably interred at Sherborne by the side of his brothers.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 864, the pagans wintered in the isle of Thanet, and made a firm treaty with the men of Kent, who promised them money for adhering to their covenant; but the pagans, like cunning foxes, burst from their camp by night, and setting at naught their engagements, and spurning at the promised money, which they knew was less than they could get by plunder, they ravaged all the eastern coast of Kent.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 866, which was the eighteenth of king Alfred, Ethelred, brother of Ethelbert, king of the West Saxons, undertook the government of the kingdom for five years; and the same year a large fleet of pagans came to Britain from the Danube, and wintered in the kingdom of the Eastern-Saxons, which is called in Saxon East-Anglia; and there they became principally an army of cavalry. But, to speak in nautical phrase, I will no longer commit my vessel to the power of the waves and of its sails, or keeping off from land steer my round-about course through so many calamities of wars and series of years, but will return to that which first prompted me to this task; that is to say, I think it right in this place briefly to relate as much as has come to my knowledge about the character of my revered lord Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, during the years that he was an infant and a boy.
He was loved by his father and mother, and even by all the people, above all his brothers, and was educated altogether at the court of the king. As he advanced through the years of infancy and youth, his form appeared more comely than that of his brothers; in look, in speech, and in manners he was more graceful than they. His noble nature implanted in him from his cradle a love of wisdom above all things; but, with shame be it spoken, by the unworthy neglect of his parents and nurses, he remained illiterate even till he was twelve years old or more; but, he listened with serious attention to the Saxon poems which he often heard recited, and easily retained them in his docile memory. He was a zealous practiser of hunting in all its branches, and hunted with great assiduity and success; for skill and good fortune in this art, as in all others, are among the gifts of God, as we also have often witnessed.
On a certain day, therefore, his mother (13) was showing him and his brother a Saxon book of poetry, which she held in her hand, and said, "Whichever of you shall the soonest learn this volume shall have it for his own." Stimulated by these words, or rather by the Divine inspiration, and allured by the beautifully illuminated letter at the beginning of the volume, he spoke before all his brothers, who, though his seniors in age, were not so in grace, and answered, "Will you really give that book to one of us, that is to say, to him who can first understand and repeat it to yon?" At this his mother smiled with satisfaction, and confirmed what she had before said. Upon which the boy took the book out of her hand, and went to his master to read it, and in due time brought it to his mother and recited it.
After this he learned the daily course, that is, the celebration of the hours, and afterwards certain psalms, and several prayers, contained in a certain book which he kept day and night in his bosom, as we ourselves have seen, and carried about with him to assist his prayers, amid all the bustle and business of this present life. But, sad to say, he could not gratify his most ardent wish to learn the liberal arts, because, as he said, there were no good readers at that time in all the kingdom of the West-Saxons.
This he confessed, with many lamentations and sighs, to have been one of his greatest difficulties and impediments in this life, namely, that when he was young and had the capacity for learning, he could not find teachers; but, when he was more advanced in life, he was harassed by so many diseases unknown to all the physicians of this island, as well as by internal and external anxieties of sovereignty, and by continual invasions of the pagans, and had his teachers and writers also so much disturbed, that there was no time for reading. But yet among the impediments of this present life, from infancy up to the present time, and, as I believe, even until his death, he continued to feel the same insatiable desire of knowledge, and still aspires after it.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 867, which was the nineteenth of the life of the aforesaid king Alfred, the army of pagans before mentioned removed from the East-Angles to the city of York, which is situated on the north bank of the river Humber.
At that time a violent discord arose, by the instigation of the devil, among the inhabitants of Northumberland; as always is used to happen among a people who have incurred the wrath of God. For the Northumbrians at that time, as we have said, had expelled their lawful king Osbert, and appointed a certain tyrant named Aella, not of royal birth, over the affairs of the kingdom; but when the pagans approached, by divine providence, and the union of the nobles for the common good, that discord was a little appeased, and Osbert and Aella uniting their resources, and assembling an army, marched to York. The pagans fled at their approach, and attempted to defend themselves within the walls of the city. The Christians, perceiving their flight and the terror they were in, determined to destroy the walls of the town, which they succeeded in doing; for that city was not surrounded at that time with firm or strong walls, and when the Christians had made a breach as they had purposed, and many of them had entered into the town, the pagans, urged by despair and necessity, made a fierce sally upon them, slew them, routed them, and cut them down on all sides, both within and without the walls. In that battle fell almost all the Northumbrain warriors, with both the kings and a multitude of nobles; the remainder, who escaped, made peace with the pagans.
In the same year, Ealstan, bishop of the church of Sherborne, went the way of all flesh, after he had honourably ruled his see four years, and he was buried at Sherborne.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 868, which was the twentieth of king Alfred's life, there was a severe famine. Then the aforesaid revered king Alfred, but at that time occupying a subordinate station, asked and obtained in marriage a noble Mercian lady, daughter of Athelred, surnamed Mucil, (14)earl of the Gaini. (15) The mother of this lady was named Edburga, of the royal line of Mercia, whom we have often seen with our own eyes a few years before her death. She was a venerable lady, and after the decease of her husband, she remained many years a widow, even till her own death.
In the same year, the above-named army of pagans, leaving Northumberland, invaded Mercia and advanced to Nottingham, which is called in the British tongue, "Tiggocobauc," but in Latin, the "House of Caves," and they wintered there that same year. Immediately on their approach, Burhred, king of Mercia, and all the nobles of that nation, sent messengers to Ethelred, king of the West-Saxons, and his brother Alfred, suppliantly entreating them to come and aid them in fighting against the aforesaid army. Their request was easily obtained; for the brothers, as soon as promised, assembled an immense army from all parts of their dominions, and entering Mercia, came to Nottingham, all eager for battle, and when the pagans, defended by the castle, refused to fight, and the Christians were unable to destroy the wall, peace was made between the Mercians and pagans, and the two brothers, Ethelred and Alfred, returned home with their troops.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 869, which was the twenty- first of king Alfred's life, there was a great famine and mortality of men, and a pestilence among the cattle. And the aforesaid army of the pagans, galloping back to Northumberland, went to York, and there passed the winter.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 870, which was the twenty- second of king Alfred's life, the above-named army of pagans, passed through Mercia into East-Anglia, and wintered at Thetford.
In the same year Edmund, king of the East-Angles, fought most fiercely against them; but, lamentable to say, the pagans triumphed, Edmund was slain in the battle, and the enemy reduced all that country to subjection.
In the same year Ceolnoth, archbishop of Canterbury, went the way of all flesh, and was buried peaceably in his own city.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 871, which was the twenty- third of king Alfred's life, the pagan army, of hateful memory, left the East-Angles, and entering the kingdom of the West- Saxons, came to the royal city, called Reading, situated on the south bank of the Thames, in the district called Berkshire; and there, on the third day after their arrival, their earls, with great part of the army, scoured the country for plunder, while the others made a rampart between the rivers Thames and Kennet on the right side of the same royal city. They were encountered by Ethelwulf, earl of Berkshire, with his men, at a place called Englefield; (16) both sides fought bravely, and made long resistance. At length one of the pagan earls was slain, and the greater part of the army destroyed; upon which the rest saved themselves by flight, and the Christians gained the victory.
Four days afterwards, Ethelred, king of the West-Saxons, and his brother Alfred, united their forces and marched to Reading, where, on their arrival, they cut to pieces the pagans whom they found outside the fortifications. But the pagans, nevertheless, sallied out from the gates, and a long and fierce engagement ensued. At last, grief to say, the Christians fled, the pagans obtained the victory, and the aforesaid earl Ethelwulf was among the slain.
Roused by this calamity, the Christians, in shame and indignation, within four days, assembled all their forces, and again encountered the pagan army at a place called Ashdune, (17) which means the "Hill of the Ash." The pagans had divided themselves into two bodies, and began to prepare defences, for they had two kings and many earls, so they gave the middle part of the army to the two kings, and the other part to all their earls. Which the Christians perceiving, divided their army also into two troops, and also began to construct defences. But Alfred, as we have been told by those who were present, and would not tell an untruth, marched up promptly with his men to give them battle; for king Ethelred remained a long time in his tent in prayer, hearing the mass, and said that he would not leave it, till the priest had done, or abandon the divine protection for that of men. And he did so too, which afterwards availed him much with the Almighty, as we shall declare more fully in the sequel.
Now the Christians had determined that king Ethelred, with his men, should attack the two pagan kings, but that his brother Alfred, with his troops, should take the chance of war against the two earls. Things being so arranged, the king remained a long time in prayer, and the pagans came up rapidly to fight. Then Alfred, though possessing a subordinate authority, could no longer support the troops of the enemy, unless he retreated or charged upon them without waiting for his brother. At length he bravely led his troops against the hostile army, as they had before arranged, but without awaiting his brother's arrival; for he relied in the divine counsels, and forming his men into a dense phalanx, marched on at once to meet the foe.
But here I must inform those who are ignorant of the fact, that the field of battle was not equally advantageous to both parties. The pagans occupied the higher ground, and the Christians came up from below. There was also a single thorn-tree, of strutted growth, but we have ourselves never seen it. Around this tree the opposing armies came together with loud shouts from all sides, the one party to pursue their wicked course, the other to fight for their lives, their dearest ties, and their country. And when both armies had fought long and bravely, at last the pagans, by the divine judgment, were no longer able to bear the attacks of the Christians, and having lost great part of their army, took to a disgraceful flight. One of their two kings, and five earls were there slain, together with many thousand pagans, who fell on all sides, covering with their bodies the whole plain of Ashdune.
There fell in that battle king Bagsac, earl Sidrac the elder, and earl Sidrac the younger, earl Osborn, earl Frene, and earl Harold; and the whole pagan army pursued its flight, not only until night but until the next day, even until they reached the stronghold from which they had sallied. The Christians followed, slaying all they could reach, until it became dark.
After fourteen days had elapsed, king Ethelred, with his brother Alfred, again joined their forces and marched to Basing to fight with the pagans. The enemy came together from all quarters, and after a long contest gained the victory. After this battle, another army came from beyond the sea, and joined them.
The same year, after Easter, the aforesaid king Ethelred, having bravely, honourably, and with good repute, governed his kingdom five years, through much tribulation, went the way of all flesh, and was buried in Wimborne Minster, where he awaits the coming of the Lord, and the first resurrection with the just.
The same year, the aforesaid Alfred, who had been up to that time only of secondary rank, whilst his brothers were alive, now, by God's permission, undertook the government of the whole kingdom, amid the acclamations of all the people; and if he had chosen, he might have done so before, whilst his brother above-named was still alive; for in wisdom and other qualities he surpassed all his brothers, and moreover, was warlike and victorious in all his wars. And when he had reigned one month, almost against his will, for he did not think he could alone sustain the multitude and ferocity of the pagans, though even during his brothers' lives, he had borne the woes of many, -- he fought a battle with a few men, and on very unequal terms, against all the army of the pagans, at a hill called Wilton, on the south bank of the river Wily, from which river the whole of that district is named, and after a long and fierce engagement, the pagans, seeing the danger they were in, and no longer able to bear the attack of their enemies, turned their backs and fled. But, oh, shame to say, they deceived their too audacious pursuers, and again rallying, gained the victory. Let no one be surprised that the Christians had but a small number of men, for the Saxons had been worn out by eight battles in one year, against the pagans, of whom they had slain one king, nine dukes, and innumerable troops of soldiers, besides endless skirmishes, both by night and by day, in which the oft-named Alfred, and all his chieftains, with their men, and several of his ministers, were engaged without rest or cessation against the pagans. How many thousand pagans fell in these numberless skirmishes God alone knows, over and above those who were slain in the eight battles above-mentioned. In the same year the Saxons made peace with the pagans, on condition that they should take their departure, and they did so.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 872, the twenty-fourth of king Alfred's life, the above-named army of pagans went to London, and there wintered. The Mercians made peace with them.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 873, the twenty-fifth of king Alfred, the above-named army, leaving London, went into the country of the Northumbrians, and there wintered in the district of Lindsey; and the Mercians again made treaty with them.
In the year of our Lord's incarnation 874, the twenty-sixth since the birth of king Alfred, the army before so often mentioned left Lindsey and marched to Mercia, where they wintered at Repton. Also they compelled Burhred, king of Mercia, against his will, to leave his kingdom and go beyond the sea to Rome, in the twenty- second year of his reign. He did not long live after his arrival, but died there, and was honourably buried in the school of the Saxons, in St. Mary's church, where he awaits the Lord's coming and the first resurrection with the just. The pagans also, after his expulsion, subjected the whole kingdom of the Mercians to their dominion; but by a most miserable arrangement, gave it into the custody of a certain foolish man, named Ceolwulf, one of the king's ministers, on condition that he should restore it to them, whenever they should wish to have it again; and to guarantee this agreement, he gave them hostages, and swore that he would not oppose their will, but be obedient to them in every respect.
Excerpted from a primary source document, "The Life of King Alfred" by Asser and translated by J.A. Giles
Video above: 'Kings and Generals' - Fall Of Constantinople 1453 - Ottoman Wars
Video above: Ryan Reeves (Ph.D. Cambridge) lectures on an introductionary overview of medieval culture and history.
Video above: 'Kings and Generals' - English Civil War: War of the Roses (1455-1487 A.D.)
Video Above: 'History Time' - King Cnut's Letter to the English People (1019 A.D.) / Primary Source
In 1016 after the conclusion of a successful invasion, Cnut of Denmark became the new king of England. This letter, which survives only in the York Gospels, is addressed to Earl Thorkell, regent in England during Cnut’s absence in his Danish kingdom. Parts of the letter have been subjected to Archbishop Wulfstan of York’s intervention. The letter refers to the 1018 settlement at Oxford to observe Edgar’s law and essentially promises good lordship in return for obedience.
Image Above: King Cnut the Great
Image Above: 'History Time' - 'The Lost History of the North' - 'Thored, Oslac & Yorvik' - The North of northern England was brutal, unforgiving place of conflict between Angles, Britons, Danes, and Saxons.
Video Above: 'Ted-Ed' - 'How the Normans changed the history of Europe' - 'Mark Robinson' - In the year 1066, 7,000 Norman infantry and knights sailed in warships across the English Channel. Their target: England, home to more than a million people. Around the same period of time, other groups of Normans were setting forth all across Europe. Who were these warriors, and how did they leave their mark so far and wide? Mark Robinson shares a brief history of the Normans.
Video Above: 'HistoryTime' - 'William the Conquerer - The Second King of 1066' - The year 1066 was one of the most fateful in all of history. It was a year of battles, it was a year of invasions, and it is often cited as the beginning of the end of the Viking age. This is the story of the second of three claimants to the English throne in 1066. Duke William of Normandy.
Video Above: 'TedEd' - The Rise and Fall of the Byzantine Empire explained in an animated video documentary.
Video Above: 'Kings and Generals' - 'Khazars: History of the Jewish Turkic Nomads' - An animated historical documentary series about the Khazars - their origin, history, religion, struggle with the Eastern Roman (or Byzantine) Empire, and Umayyad empires, and more!
The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain by Dario Fernandez-Morera (Wilmington, DE: ISI Books)
Advocates of multiculturalism have lauded the example of Moor-dominated Spain as a portent of the later-day multicultural civilization celebrated by progressives, Leftists, and cultural Marxists. Nevertheless this myth of “al-Andalus” as a multicultural paradise, a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews ostensibly lived in relative harmony, is largely a contrivance of ideologues. In this seminal work, Northwestern University scholar Darío Fernández-Morera paints a radically different picture of Islamic-dominated Spain. The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise illuminates a secret history of Iberia under the invading Moors by appropriating a bountiful corpus of primary source materials that have been conveniently been ignored in pursuit of the politically incorrect agenda of celebrating the Andalusian multicultural paraise.
This supposed beacon of peaceful coexistence began, of course, with the Islamic Caliphate’s conquest of the Iberian peninsula. The encroachment of Islamists into Western Europe hardly established an age of religious tolerance, but rather Islamic Spain was weighed down by cultural repression, and the marginalization of Christians—all in service of a hegemonic, authoritarian ruling class of Muslim leaders.
Author and historian Dario Fernandez-Morera's book provides a much needed reevaluation of the history of medieval Spain challenging the pervasive mythology of cultural Marxists, progressives and their cohorts. As the progressive establishment continues to extol Islamic Spain as a model civilization for its “multiculturalism,” purported tolerance and “diversity,” Fernández-Morera paints a more realistic picture in marked contrast to the multiculturalist fantasy. Here we encounter the real world of Islamic Spain where Christians are subjugated, and repressed.
The Realm of St Stephen: A History of Medieval Hungary, 895-1526 (International Library of Historical Studies) by Pat Engel, Andrew Ayton (Auths), Tamas Palosfalvi (Trans.)
Engel's tome has elicited notoriety as the standard bearer on the topic of medieval Hungary. This extensive historical work delves deep into the Hungary of the middle ages, as well as central and eastern Europe in general. The author covers the history of Hungary from the settlement of the region by Magyar tribes in 895 A.D. through their battles with the Ottomans. The author astutely explains historical developments at the behest of the dominant Magyar tribe who inherited a desolate land, mostly devoid of people, and they assimilated the few Slavic minorities into their kingdom. The Magyars evolved from an unsophisticated pagan tribe to one of the more cultured Christian kingdoms in Europe over the course of the millenium since its impetus.
Charlemagne by Derek Wilson (New York, NY: Random House, 2007).
Charlemagne was an extraordinary historical figure: an brilliant military strategist and tactician, a wise but formidable leader, a cunning practitioner of statecraft and politics, and a devout believer who ensured the survival of Christianity in the West. He was also a flawed, all-to-human character who sired illegitimate children, and dispatched the mass execution of combatant prisioners of war. Historian Derek Wilson offers an insightful narrative and exposition upon how this complicated, intriguing man of Europe married the military might of his army to the influential spiritual force of the Catholic Church in Rome, thereby forging Western Christendom as we know it today. This tome is a remarkable portrait of Charlemagne, which elucidates in great detail upon the political, religious, and cultural world he dominated. He helped forged Western Civilization as we know it.
A medievalist is a connoisseur or devotee of medieval arts and culture, religious observance, and traditions. (I readily admit I am not a specialist in terms of post-graduate studies geared towards the Middle Ages.) Regardless of the negative attributes ascribed to the term 'medieval,' and insinuations that these times constituted the 'Dark Ages,' which emanated from post-Enlightenment and modernist Progressive ideology, Medieval is derived from the Latin medium aevum ("middle of the ages") that describes a space of time in history. My emphasis on the middle ages revolves principally upon Europe and early Christendom, such as the continuation of the Second Roman Empire in Constantinople, Charlemagne's Kingdom of the Franks that was eventually succeeded by the Holy Roman Empire, the monarchy of England and later Great Britain, the Crusades and Crusader States, the Reconquesta of Iberia, as well as the histories and literature of the medieval Vikings, Scots, Normans, and Slavs.
During the Medium Aevum of Europa, the ideals of chivalry were popularized in literature, such as the Carolingian Cycle, Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae (circa 1130 A.D.), the later of which popularized the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The code of chivalry had its roots in earlier centuries, biblical-Christian ideals of charity, faithfulness and honor. In his Godefridus section of The Broad Stone of Honour (1822), K.H. Digby defined chivalry: "Chivalry is only a name for that general spirit or state of mind which disposes men to heroic actions, and keeps them conversant with all that is beautiful and sublime in the intellectual and moral world." Chivalry placed great emphasis on a sense of duty and obligation, whether to God, one's temporal lord, or fealty to one's family. As Song of Roland recounts Ganelon's word when another man offers to go on the reconquest in his stead: "You will not go in my place! You're not my vassal and I'm not your lord. Charles orders me to render him a service, So I'll go to Saragossa, to Marsile." (The Song of Roland, 21.296-99.) This code, which had variations, emanated from an idealisation of the lives of knights (or cavalryman)—inculcated a discipline and ideal of martial bravery, courage, loyalty, charity, discipline, faith, honour, and service to others—and as historian Barbara Tuchman notes "The gap between medieval Christianity’s ruling principle and everyday life is the great pitfall of the Middle Ages. It is the problem that runs through Gibbon’s history, which he dealt with by a delicately malicious levity, pricking at every turn what seemed to him the hypocrisy of the Christian ideal as opposed to natural human functioning. . . ." Nevertheless an inability to sustain an ideal ordo rerum ("order of things") does not negate an ideal itself, but rather gives cause for reflection upon the duality of man, recognition of mankind's sinful nature (Romans 3:1-23), and an imperative need for wisdom interspersed with knowledge to accommodate the pitfalls of human nature in this temporal realm when it comes to contemplating socio-political order and political theology.
Christian writer and apologist C.S Lewis gave a lengthy exposition of the virtues of chivalry. Lewis loved chivalry, and characterized it as “the one hope of the world.” Lewis appreciated its demands to improve the character and moral fitness of fallen man by code and discipline:
The word chivalry has meant at different times a good many different things—from heavy cavalry to giving a woman a seat in a train. But if we want to understand chivalry as an ideal distinct from other ideals—if we want to isolate that particular conception of the man, comme il faut (as it should be), which was the special contribution of the Middle Ages to our culture—we cannot do better than turn to the words addressed to the greatest of all the imaginary knights in Malory's Morte D'arthur. "Thou wert the meekest man", says Sir Ector to the dead Launcelot. "Thou were the meekest man that ever ate in hall among ladies; and thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest."*
The important thing about this ideal is, of course, the double demand it makes on human nature. The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and the ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth. When Launcelot heard himself pronounced the best knight in the world, "he wept as he had been a child that had been beaten".
What,you may ask, is the relevance of this idea to the modern world? It is terribly relevant. It may or may not be practicable—the Middle Ages notoriously failed to obey it—but it is certainly practical; practical as the fact that men in a desert must find water or die. [. . .]
The medieval ideal brought together two things which have no natural tendency to gravitate towards one another. It brought them together for that very reason. It taught humility and forbearance to the great warrior because everyone knew by experience how much he usually needed that lesson. It demanded valour of the urbane and modest man because everyone knew that he was as likely as not to be a milksop.
In so doing, the Middle Ages fixed on the one hope of the world. It may or may not be possible to produce by the thousand men who combine the two sides of Launcelot's character. But if it is not possible, then all talk of any lasting happiness or dignity in human society is pure moonshine.
If we cannot produce Launcelots, humanity falls into two sections--those who can deal in blood and iron but cannot be "meek in hall", and those who are "meek in hall" but useless in battle--for the third class, who are both brutal in peace and cowardly in war, need not here be discussed. When this disassociation of the two halves of Launcelot occurs, history becomes a horribly simple affair. The ancient history of the Near East is like that. Hardy barbarians swarm down from their highlands and obliterate a civilization. Then they become civilized themselves and go soft. Then a new wave of barbarians comes down and obliterates them. . . The man who combines both characters—the knight—is not a work of nature but of art; of that art which has human beings, instead of canvas or marble, for its medium.
In the world today there is an "enlightened" tradition which regards the combative side of man's nature as a pure, atavistic evil, and scouts the chivalrous sentiment as part of the "false glamour" of war. And there is also a neo-heroic tradition which scouts the chivalrous sentiment as a weak sentimentality, which would raise from its grave (its shallow and unquiet grave!) the pre-Christian ferocity of Achilles by a "modern invocation". . . .
(However), there is still life in the tradition which the Middle Ages inaugurated. But the maintenance of that life depends, in part, on knowing that the knightly character is art not nature—something that needs to be achieved, not something that can be relied upon to happen. And this knowledge is specially necessary as we grow more democratic. In previous centuries the vestiges of chivalry were kept alive by a specialized class, from whom they spread to other classes partly by imitation and partly by coercion. Now, it seems, the people must either be chivalrous on its own resources or else choose between the two remaining alternatives of brutality and softness. . .
The ideal embodied in Launcelot is "escapism" in a sense never dreamed of by those who use that word; Chivalry offers the only possible escape from a world divided between wolves who do not understand, and sheep who cannot defend, the things which make life desirable. . . 
As a conservative and a traditionalist there's a great sense of knowledge, meaning, purpose, and understanding that is derivative of the study of the Middle Ages, particularly pertinent to Christian Europe and the post-Christian Roman Empire. "In general, most conservatives view the Medieval as the standard of what was good," observed Bradley J. Birzer, as well as what is:
. . . true, beautiful, and possible in this world. In particular, conservatives appreciate that the non-political spheres in the Medieval—such as the church, the university, and the family—transcended and trumped political institutions. 'In many ways the greatest contribution of conservatism was that of making the medieval-traditional the standard of excellence for assessment of art, literature, and life itself,' Nisbet argued.
For traditionalist conservatives imbued with a deep sense of the past comes recognition that Medieval Christendom embodied fully integrated social and political orders, effecting a convergence of cultural, patrimonial (that is to say, inherited), political, religious, and national traditions. Institutionally the church and the guild was a basis of social insurance for the afflicted, poor, sick, orphans, and widows. This order brought stability, cohesiveness, and even acted as a check on the aspirations men had for avarice and power. This order is often misunderstood, because it is subjected to interpretation on the basis of post-eighteenth century assumptions about nation, nation-state, and nationalist ideology or post-twentieth century globalist ideology. Historian Lonnie Johnson observes:
It is important to avoid confusing the medieval meaning of the term 'nation' (natio) with its nineteenth-century counterparts 'nation,' 'nation-state,' and 'nationalism.' In the Middle Ages, there were four large political entities in Central Europe: the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the kingdoms of Bohemia, Hungary, and Poland. It would be misleading to call these political bodies 'states' in the modern sense of the word. Rather, they were relatively loose confederations ruled by kings who claimed a limited amount of jurisdiction for specific subordinate political and territorial units, each of which, in turn, was ruled by nobles who exercised a high degree of autonomy in their own domains. These nobles had a mutually dependent and ambivalent relationship with their respective kings, who in some cases had a hereditary claim to the throne but, in others, were elected by the nobility. In the medieval world, these nobles were the constituent members of the 'nations,' a term referring to a relatively small class of blue-blooded persons who held titles and lands, not the population or 'the people' in terms of the modern democratic theory of popular sovereignty. Each of these kingdoms also had its own 'constitutional order.' The kings and the noble members of the political nation were mutually bound to observe certain rights and execute certain duties, a relationship that embodied an inherent conflict. The kings could not expand or centralize their power without infringing on the lords' traditional rights and the lords were interested in limiting or reducing royal interference in their affairs. Hungarian historians, for example, like to compare the Golden Bull issued by the Hungarian King Andrew II in 1222 with the Magna Carta of civil and political liberties granted by England's King John in 1215. In both cases, the idea of 'ancient rights,' 'rights of the nation,' and the limitation of royal power is important.
One of the peculiarities of Central European kingdoms is that they did not evolve into constitutional monarchies like England's, nor did Central European kings manage to create absolute monarchies at the expense of the nobility, as in France. Poles and Hungarians like to point the similiarities between the constitutional developments of their own historical kingdoms, in terms of the protection of individual rights and the rule of law, and the corresponding developments in England. As promising as the auspicious domestic political development of these kingdoms may have been at the time, it was truncated between the sixteenth and late eighteenth centuries by the intervention of foreign empires. Given the subsequent absence of continuity, it would be exaggerating to speak of 'democratic traditions' in the region that reach back to the Middle Ages.
 Kenelm Henry Digby, The Broad-Stone of Honour (London: F. C. & J. Rivington, 1822).
 Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978); c.f., Ryan Setliff, "Politics of the Round Table," Man of Letters: A Cultural Warrior for Christendom. 25 April 2020. https://blog.ryansetliff.online/index.php/2019/11/21/politics-of-the-round-table/
 C.S. Lewis, "The Necessity of Chivalry," Present Concerns. Originally published in Time and Tide, Aug. 1940)
 Bradley J. Birzer, "Is Conservatism an Ideology?" The Imaginative Conservative. 24 April 2020. https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/04/conservatism-ideology-bradley-birzer.html
 Lonnie Johnson, Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends (Oxford, England, UK: Oxford Univ. Press, 1996), 27.
Video above: Ryan Reeves (Ph.D. Cambridge) lectures on an introductionary overview of medieval culture and society.
Video above: Ryan Reeves (Ph.D. Cambridge) lectures on an introductionary overview of medieval knights, chivalry, fealty or liege homage to one's superiors.
Video above: Kings and Generals - "Great Schism: The Bitter Rivalry Between Greek and Latin Christianity." - We will talk about the rivalry between the Catholic and Orthodox churches in the Middle Ages and how it shaped the history of Christianity and the whole world leading to the events of the Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople.
Video Above: 'Ryan Reeves (Ph.D Cambridge)' - 'Who was Charlemagne?' - Charlesmagne was one of the great kinds of medieval Europe. He was coronated by the pope in 800 A.D. and spread the faith of Christianity by sword and conversion. Charlesmagne therefore is controversial, but this 30-mintue video tells his story quickly.
Video Above: 'Kings and Generals' - 'The Origins of the Huns' - An animated historical documentary series that discusses the origins of the Huns who were nomadic warriors who terrorized much of Europe and the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. They were impressive horsemen best known for their astounding military achievements.
Video Above: 'Kings and Generals' - 'Varangians - Elite Bodyguards of the Byzantine Emperors' - An animated historical documentary series on the armies and tactics of the past with a video on the Varangians, who served as the elite bodyguards of the emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire. These loyal and skilled warriors, mostly of the Norse and Saxon ancestry saved the emperors on many occasions, both in battles and in peace.
Video Above: 'Ryan Reeves (Ph.D Cambridge)' - 'Who was Charlemagne?' - Charlesmagne was one of the great kinds of medieval Europe. He was coronated by the pope in 800 A.D. and spread the faith of Christianity by sword and conversion. Charlesmagne therefore is controversial, but this 30-mintue video tells his story quickly.
Image Above: 'History Time' - With the renewed interest in the Vikings as a result of the topic's proliferation in popular culture, and the History Channel production of The Vikings, it helps to clear the air about the person of Rollo, a former Viking and enemy of the Franks, who rose to become an extraordinary defender of the Frankish realms, as well as Duke of Normandy. His posterity included William the Conqueror. Pagan Vikings viewed him as a traitor; and Christendom viewed him as their sword and shield!
Video Above: 'Real Crusaders History' - 'The Teutonic Knights: Crusaders of the North' tells the tale of the chilvaric order of Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, established c. 1192 in Acre, within the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the great history authored by King Alfred the Great, is published here complete with a scholarly introduction by James Ingram.
Even Protestants like myself can elicit value from historian Tom Woods, Jr.'s book on the influence of the Catholic Church and Christianity in the development of Western Civilization, whether it's modern science, the wealth of free-market economics, the security of law, a sense of human rights and freedom, charity as a virtue, splendid art and music, philosophy grounded in reason, and innumerable other gifts we take for granted.
When I was a very small boy, I used to lie under an oak on the hillside above the mill-pond, in the town where I was born, and look beyond the great willows in the river-valley to a curious and handsome house that stood on the opposite slope, away back from the road, with three or four graceful pines pointing the way to it. This was an octagonal house, its roof crowned with a glass domea dignified building, for all its oddity.
Long since, the county planners have chopped down the old willows and converted the land about the old mill-pond into what the traffic engineers and professional town-planners think a "recreational area" should look like: a dull sheet of water with some dwarf evergreens to set it off. And the octagon-house was bought by a man with more money than he knew how to spend, who knocked the house down (that costing him a good deal more money than he had expected, for the place had been built like a fortress), and erected on its site a silly "ranch-type" dwelling vaguely imitated from Californian styles. I record with some satisfaction that later this man, an officer of the Teamsters' Union, was convicted of crimes and sent to prisonthough his having committed an architectural atrocity was not incorporated in his indictment.
As Thoreau used to buy in his fancy all the farms round Walden Pond, so I had made myself, from time to time, in my mind's eye, proprietor of the octagon-house. It still is mine in memorywhich is not a wholly satisfactory form of possession.
This brutal destruction of fine old houses and of the very landscape, in this age of the bulldozer, constitutes a belligerent repudiation of what we call tradition. It is a rejection of our civilized pastand a rejection out of which sharp characters may make a good deal of money. Of course this physical destruction is only one aspect of a general assault upon traditional beliefs, customs, and institutionsa campaign of annihilation that has been carried on, with increasing force, for two centuries.
Every genuine conservative retains some affection for things traditional. So I set down here some observations on America's traditions, and on their sources.
Formerly the word tradition signified oral communication, as distinguished from books or documents; in the twentieth century, however, tradition has been widely employed to mean, also, prescriptive wisdom expressed in literature and, by extension, to include old ways, beliefs, and even material objects that constitute a part of the modern age's cultural patrimony. The Latin verb meaning to "hand down" or "hand over," is the root of our word.
Tradition implies acceptance, preservation, and passing on. It gives permanence to customs and ideas; it confers upon change the element of continuity, keeping the alteration of society in a regular train. Everything which has roots in the spiritual and intellectual achievements of the past. Everything man has his body, his mind, his social order is in large part an inheritance from people long dead. The passage of new acquisitions; but unless men know the past, they are unable to understand distinctions between what is permanent and what is transient in their lives. Man always is beset by questions, of which the largest is the question of his own existence. He cannot even begin to think about his existence, and lesser questions, until he has acquired the command of means that come to him from the past, such as the names that people customarily use with reference to modes of
Man inherits a physical world, a biological world, and a cultural world. Tradition is concerned principally with his cultural world which, nevertheless, is closely joined to his physical and biological worlds. Tradition is the means by which man comes to understand the principles of his own nature and of society; it joins the individual with the generations that are dead and the generations that are yet to be born. In short, tradition is a way of preserving the wisdom of our ancestors and a means by which we can give some significance and application to our own private reason.
In every age, philosophers have spoken of the power of tradition. Cicero, in his Republic and his Offices, shows how the Roman commonwealth was dependent upon custom and inherited belief for justice, order, and freedom. Fulbert of Chartres, in the eleventh century, observed that "We are dwarfs mounted upon the shoulders of giants," able to see so far only because of the stature of the wise men who have preceded us in time. The present moment, in the eyes of men attached to tradition, is merely a film upon the deep well of the past, an illusory line of demarcation between history and futurity. It is upon tradition that the future must be built. The long essential continuity of culture and human intelligence can be maintained only if the past is conserved through living tradition. The man who respects tradition, then, is not a reckless reformer who would alter society and human nature upon some utopian design, but a thinker who tries to reconcile the best in tradition with the constant necessity for change. Burke said that his model of a statesman was one who combined the disposition to preserve with the ability to reform. A healthy society, he suggested elsewhere, is never wholly old or wholly new, but, like any living thing, is forever casting off its old fabric and acquiring new tissue. Prescription, or tradition, is the means by which this healthy society preserves the wisdom of our ancestors and applies that wisdom to the new problems which it faces. The process of growth always involves the process of reform the process by which the acorn becomes the oak. This process is always at work in human affairs. The problem which thinking men always face is the difficulty of distinguishing between necessary and desirable alteration, and unnecessary and undesirable destruction. Tradition is a guide to the permanent qualities in society and thought and private life which needs to be preserved, in one form or another, throughout the process of inevitable change. True progress, improvement, is unthinkable without tradition, as Vazquez Melia suggests, because progress rests upon addition, not subtraction. Change without reference to tradition runs the risk of aimless alteration for, terminating in anarchy or nihilism. Real progress consists in improvement of private and public morality, private and public intelligence, the increase of justice, order, and freedom, and of those material conditions which contribute to human happiness. It is scarcely possible to judge of what humanity wants, or of what measures are calculated to make men better or happier, without knowledge of what benefits have been gained in the past, and of what mistakes have been made. Tradition is the means by which humanity filters out its mistake from its progressive discoveries. Every great institution among civilized men seems to have tried to recapture or preserve the values of the past. This is especially true of the Christian Church, sifting the pre-Christian inheritance of Western culture and "baptizing" whatever might be adapted to Christianity. . .
The process of growth always involves the process of reformthe process by which the acorn becomes the oak. This process is always at work in human affairs. The problem which thinking men always face is the difficulty of distinguishing between necessary and desirable alteration, and unnecessary and undesirable destruction. Tradition is a guide to the permanent qualities in society and thought and private life which need to be preserved, in one form or another, throughout the process of inevitable change.
True progress, improvement, is unthinkable without tradition, as Vazquez de Melia suggests, because progress rests upon addition, not subtraction. Change without reference to tradition runs the risk of aimless alteration for alteration's sake, terminating in anarchy or nihilism. Real progress consists in improvement of private and public morality, private and public intelligence, the increase of justice, order, and freedom, and of those material conditions which contribute to human happiness. It is scarcely possible to judge of what humanity wants, or of what measures are calculated to make men better or happier, without knowledge of what benefits have been gained in the past, and of what mistakes have been made. Tradition is the means by which humanity filters out its mistake from its progressive discoveries. Every great institution among civilized men seems to have tried to recapture or preserve the values of the past. This is especially true of the Christian
Yet there can be error in tradition, and even a tradition made up of errors. Man always is compelled to choose among conflicting traditions, and to sort out from the mass of inherited precept the maxims and customs which truly apply to his present situation in the world. . . Routine without change, and change without routine, appear to be almost equally perilous. . .
Yet it does not follow that all traditions are evanescent. At the core of the body of traditions of any society is to be found a number of customs and precepts, described by some as natural law formulated into traditions, which that society ignores at its peril. And, far from being peculiar to a savage or barbarian condition of society, this seems to be especially true of complex civilizations, which are the more dependent upon certain underlying assumptions about man and society, the more complicated their activities become. Some of these traditions appear to be almost universal in essence, although they are formulated in various ways. The Decalogue expresses some of the more important of these, in the Judeo-Christian culture. The distinctions between good acts and evil acts; the duties within the family; the duties toward other men; the relationship between God and man: these concepts ordinarily are defined and maintained in any society by the force of ancient traditions, accepted almost without question from time out of mind. And when they are doubted or denied by the doctrinaire skeptic, any society is in peril of losing these moral sanctions which make the civil social order possible. Whether regarded as revealed truths or as necessary fictions (Polybius, in the Hellenistic world, took the latter view, as have various cultural relativists since his time), the traditions which govern private and social morality are set too close about the heart of a civilization to bear much tampering with. Skeptics like Hume, and rationalists like Voltaire, have acknowledged the necessity for conventions and traditions to make life in society tolerable.
The religious and ethical convictions which, however weakened in some quarters, still govern Western civilization in large part, are composed of Hebraic, Greek, Roman, and Christian elements; and are sanctioned and sheltered by a complex body of traditions. Shorn of tradition, our modern attitude toward the meaning of life would be meager and feeble. The Christian attitude toward the importance of tradition is suggested in the second epistle of Paul to Timothy, Chapters III and IV: "But continue thou in the things which thou has learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou has learned them. . . . For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." To the Christian, conformity to religious tradition is not superstition, but the part of wisdom; it is the doctrines of presumptuous private rationality and interest that are fables. Tradition, in short, to the religious man, is transcendent truth expressed in the filtered opinions of our ancestors.
What purported revelations are true, and what are false; whether revelation still is possible in human experience, or whether it has ceased to work among men; whether a new revelation could undo a major tradition, and by what tests such a revelation ought to be judgedthese grave questions, and certain others, are not easily answered. But much of life always remains veiled in mystery, and the simple existence of a tradition, accepted for many generations by a people, logically creates a presumption that such a tradition has purpose and significance, unless proof to the contrary is very strong.
Traditions also have been defended upon empirical grounds. That a society seems to have thrived when it obeyed the dictates of tradition, and seems to have suffered when it sought to substitute some new moral or social scheme for prescriptive wisdomthis test has been applied again and again by philosophers and moralists. The decay of tradition is the theme of the Roman satirists and historians: they judge the importance of tradition by the consequences of the disregard of tradition. And this argument is advanced by the Hebrew prophets and the early Christian fathers. Unfortunately for a society which neglects tradition, this proof can be afforded only when the decay of traditional belief has brought society near to catastrophe, if not actually to positive ruin. A society may for a great while appear to be thriving, despite its rejection of tradition, when in reality that society is decaying, and moving toward dissolution; an outward prosperity may mask a cultural and moral decay, the end of which is as sudden as its progress toward disaster has been gradual. The respecter of tradition argues that to abandon traditionthat is, to abandon respect for prescriptive wisdom, what Chesterton calls ''the democracy of the dead," the voice of the wise men who have lived in ages pastis to commit a society inevitably to such dissolution. The lamentations of Jeremiah very frequently are justified by the event, however much a complacent generation may have mocked at the adherents to traditions allegedly outworn. Yet sometimes such lamentations are merely splenetic or misguided, and some traditions actually do wear out. Each generation is compelled to judge for itself just how far to obey the letter of tradition, and just how far to modify tradition by the admission of salutary change. This faculty of distinguishing between needful and imprudent alteration seems to be granted only to a few persons in each generation. In general, the attitude of the respecter of tradition is that of the farseeing Lord Falkland, in the English Civil Wars: "When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change." The fact that humanity has lumbered along tolerably well in obedience to a tradition creates a legitimate presumption, in short, in favor of retaining that tradition; the burden of proof rests upon the innovator.
(Above Image: General Infirmary, Leeds, England, 1956. Morning prayers which begin the day in the wards at the infirmary of the nurses who faithfully prayed for their patients before the start of a shift. , taken by Jack Esten, which won an award from the British Press Pictures of the Year.)
In Defense of Tradition by Richard M. Weaver (Indianapolis, IN: 2001)
Richard M. Weaver, a thinker and writer celebrated for his unsparing diagnoses and realistic remedies for the ills of our age, is known largely through a few of his works that remain in print.
This new collection of Weaver’s shorter writings, assembled by Ted J. Smith III, Weaver’s leading biographer, presents many long-out-of-print and never-before-published works that give new range and depth to Weaver’s sweeping thought.
The Southern Tradition at Bay by Richard M. Weaver (Arlington House, 1976)
Focuses on the basic concepts and principles ruling Southern life including the code of chivalry and the feudal theory of society.
The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver by George M Curtis III and James J Thompson Jr. (Eds.)
Richard M. Weaver (1910–1963), one of the leading figures in the post-World War II development of an intellectual, self-conscious conservatism, believed that Southern values of religion, work ethic, and family could provide a defense against the totalitarian nihilism of fascist and communist statism.
Conservatism: An Invitation to the Great Tradition by Roger Scruton (All Points Book, 2018)
A brief magisterial introduction to the conservative tradition by one of Britain’s leading intellectuals.
In Conservatism, Roger Scruton offers the reader an invitation into the world of political philosophy by explaining the history and evolution of the conservative movement over the centuries. With the clarity and authority of a gifted teacher, he discusses the ideology's perspective on civil society, the rule of law, freedom, morality, property, rights, and the role of the state. In a time when many claim that conservatives lack a unified intellectual belief system, this book makes a very strong case to the contrary, one that politically-minded readers will find compelling and refreshing.
Scruton analyzes the origins and development of conservatism through the philosophies and thoughts of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Adam Smith and Milton Friedman, among others. He shows how conservative ideas have influenced the political sector through the careers of a diverse cast of politicians, such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Disraeli, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. He also takes a close look at the changing relationship between conservative politics, capitalism, and free markets in both the UK and the US. This clear, incisive guide is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand Western politics and policies, now and over the last three centuries.
The Southern Tradition: The Achievement and Limitations of an American Conservatism by Eugene Genovese (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996).
Genovese sketches a masterful work of political and moral philosophy, as well as a work of history, in telling the tale of The Southern Tradition. Formerly a Man of the Far Left, Genovese came to appreciate much about the southern tradition from its acceptance of human nature, manifest in the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, to its skepticism of unbridled capitalism to its underlying populism and preference for republicanism, placing the locus of political power in the hands of the people. To understand the southern mindset, Genovese paints a rich tapestry giving insight into southern conservative thought as it pertains to culture and politics. Within this analysis, he examines and exposits political and constitutional issues, such as states right, concurrent majority, and the nature of political power in a constitutional republic. Genovese gives added attention to the southern critiques of liberal democray, equality, as well as the Leviathan State in its liberal-progressive, socialist, and fascist forms. The core of southern political philosophy is recognition of the separation of civil society and the state, deference for the autonomy not of the individual per se, but of the autonomy of the local community, rooted in a rich tradition of antecedents wrapped up in the South's feudal and Christian culture. Many southern political figures from John Randolph of Roanoke to John C. Calhoun come to center stage in this intriguing exposition on the southern tradition.
The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education by Kevin Clark and Ravi Scott Jain (Camp Hill, PA: Classical Academic Press, 2013).
This book examines the pedagogy, philosophy, and rationale for classical Christian education tradition. The authors bring clarity to the classical curriculum, which is a broader concept than even the seven established liberal arts disciplines of the Trivium and Quadrivium. The authors tells us how history, literature, philosophy, and theology are critical to the tradition. This capsule summary allows for integration of these essential disciplines into the tradition in an integrated, holistic, and humanizing curriculum, known by the acronym: piety, gymnastic, music, arts (the liberal arts), philosophy, and theology. One cannot take a comprehensive worldview with acknowledging the reality of sin and the doctrine of Original Sin, and understanding the character and nature of God, on the basis of divine revelation in inspired Scriptures.
The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What It Means to Be an Educated Human Being, Edited by Richard M. Gamble
Since time immemorial, the Great Tradition has come to define education as the diligent study and discipline of rightly ordering the human soul, helping it to love what it ought to love, and helping it to know both itself, and its Creator God. In the synthesis of both the classical and Christian traditions, the formation of the soul in wisdom, virtue, and eloquence took prominence, including pedagogy aimed at the inculcation of “useful” knowledge. “Traces the thread of education as it is woven into our cultural fabric, spanning more than 2,000 years, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary writers. . . . A rich resource for families, teachers, and schools,” notes Randall Murphree of the American Family Association.
Retroculture: Taking America Back by William S. Lind
If you've ever felt out of place living in the contemporary Western world, Retroculture gives you the opportunity to linger in a different age. Discussing the various aesthetics, architectural styles, principles and manners of the past days, William Lind describes Retroculture concepts and provides the reader with the tool-set to start situating their lives in the "new-old." But this paradigm shift in lifestyle addresses not those simply into nostalgia, but America at large, while urging a return to an era in which truth, politeness, and beauty were considered paramount, thus pointing a way forward to a brighter future for the nation as a whole.
"The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy," observed agrarian writer Wendell Berry, "and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope. It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are." As Virgil observed, "Labor omnia vicit improbus et duris urgens in rebus egestas" ("Toil conquered the world, unrelenting toil, and want that pinches when life is hard.") It was from the constellation of classical writings from Virgil's Aeneid and the Georgics that informed the agrarian republicanism of the American Founding Fathers. Like Virgil, American agrarians saw in the vocation of the farmer, a livelihood apt to cultivate traits of diligence, honesty, and thrift. Cultivating and tilling the soil requires diligence, perseverance, preparation, planning, and wisdom. "The soil is the great connector of lives," notes Wendell Berry, "the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life."
Virgil's the Aeneid and Georgics, and John Taylor of Caroline's Arator are the exemplars of agrarian literature
"Labor omnia vicit improbus et duris urgens in rebus egestas ("Toil conquered the world, unrelenting toil, and want that pinches when life is hard.")
—Virgil, Georgics (29 B.C.)
Virgil: Eclogues. Georgics. Aeneid: Books 1-6 by Publius Vergilius Maro, G.P. Gould (Editor), H. Rushton Fairclough (Trans.) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1999.)
Publius Vergilius Marov (70 B.C. - 19 B.C.), (usually called Virgil in the shorthand English transliteration of his name,) was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major epic works of Latin literature, the Eclogues (or Bucolics), the Georgics. A plethora of other less influential minor poems, compiled in the Appendix Virgiliana, which is attributed to Virgil. Virgil is known for his perfectionism as he ordered the destruction of his epic Aeneid, but the executor of his will, Augustus, simply refused to follow his wishes, believing the work to be profound in spite of Virgil's apprehensions about it. Virgil is ranked as one of ancient Rome's greatest poets. The Aeneid de facto became the national epic of Rome from the time of its composition, and draws influence from Homer's Illiad and Odyssey; it follows the escapades of Aeneas, a Trojan refugee, who arrives in Italy, and helped found Rome.
That the ancient Greeks and Romans influenced immeasurably the political philosophy of the American Founders should be a historical truism. Yet the advent of multiculuralism, with its version of history as therapeutic melodrama designed to boost the self-esteem of selected "victims," has called into question a historical fact once the common knowledge of every schoolboy. Today the roots of American political freedom and order are often traced to the Iroquois League, whose council sachems are the alleged architects of American democracy and federalism. This historical falsehood crops up in countless textbooks, was asserted in a Concurrent Resolution of the U.S. Congress in 1988, and was given the presidential imprimatur when Bill Clinton said to several hundred Indian tribal leaders, "Because of your ancestors, democracy existed here long before the Constitution was drafted and ratified." 
This official endorsement of patently false knowledge on the part of political officials whose Latinate titles and offices testify to their classical roots, would alone justify a return to the question of classical influences on the Founders. The fact is, eighteenth-century Americans were steeped in the language, ideas, texts, speeches, people, and history of the Greeks, particularly as these were refracted through the Roman lens. As Carl J. Richard reminds us, "The classics supplied mixed government theory, the principal basis for the U.S. Constitution. The classics contributed a great deal to the founders' conception of human nature, their understanding of the nature and purpose of virtue, and their appreciation of society's essential role in production. . . In short, the classics supplied a large portion of the founders' intellectual tools." Perhaps as important, the history of the Greeks' political failures provided the Founders with monitory lessons, "a cautionary tale," as Russell Kirk puts it, "of class conflict, disunity, internecine violence, private and public arrogance, imperial vainglory, and civic collapse: what to shun."
Whether the Greeks provided models to emulate or mistakes to avoid, their culture and the Romans' permeated the minds of eighteenth-century educated (and even half-educated) Americans, if only because the classics provided the bulk of the typical curriculum. Even those who opposed classical learning because it was impractical and irrelevant to the new conditions of America, or because it was tainted with elitism, heathenism and slavery, nonetheless were saturated wwith the poets and politicians, the history and literature of the ancients. Benjamin Franklin may have groused that it was "better to bring back from Italian travel a receipt [recipe] for Parmesan cheese than copies of ancient historical inscriptions," yet he still endorsed the study of the classics because it would "fix in the minds of youth deep impressions of the beauty and usefulness of virtue of all kinds." And for all his attacks on the classical curriculum, Benjamin Rush was familiar enough with Greek history to have the sixth-century Athenian statesman Solon appearing in his dreams. Given the ubiquity of the classics in education and public life, most educated Americans at some level could have sympathized with Jefferson's encomium to classical learning: "To read the Latin & Greek authors, in their original, is a sublime luxury. . . I thank on my knees, him who directed my early education, for having put into my possession this rich source of delight; and I would not exchange it for anything which I could then have acquired, & have not since acquired."
Given the importance, then, of Greek and Roman ideas and history for the Founders, a discussion of the georgic tradition can remind us of a neglected example of that influence. Yet the georgic tradition is worthy of examination for another important reason. Since it is concerned with farming and its values and conditions, the georgic ideal spoke more directly and concretely to the experience of the Founders than it can to us moderns who have little or nothing to do with the production of food. In contrast, the life and values of farming were more intimately known to most people before the twentieth century. At the time of the revolution, nine out of every ten people were farmers, as were many of the Founding generation. "During the whole of the American Enlightenment," Henry Steele Commager notes, "every President was a countryman." In the lives and writings of the Founders we repeatedly happen upon fond encomia to the farming life, testifying not just to its ubiquity but to its moral value. John Adams would find respite from the rigors of law school in laboring on the family farm in order "to put the mind into a stirring, thoughtful mood." And George Washington, who was frequently characterized as Cincinnatus, the late-sixth-century Roman leader who temporarily left hiss plow to turn back the invading Gauls, enthused, "To see plantss rise from the earth and flourish by the superior skill and bounty of the laborer fills the contemplative mind with ideas which are more easy to be conceived than expressed." These sentiments, which link farming to contemplation, labor, and virtue, go right to the heart of the georgic vision. Hence an examination of the georgic tradition recovers for us a portion of the intellectual and material contexts of the American political revolution.
Georgic vs. Pastoral
One problem that arises in discussions of American agrarianism is that ii is confused with pastoral at the expense of georgic ideas. Pastoral and georgic thought are very different, both in their conception of the natural world and in the ethics abd values that each conception engenders. Pastoral thought views the natural world from a sophisticated urban perspective, as an artificial locus amoenus, a pleasant landscape of peace, natural beauty, and harmony with humans, a fitting locale for love and art and particularly the otium or leisure in which to practice both. Georgic thought, on the other hand, sees nature as harsh and destructive, a congeries of forces attacking humanity and hence necessitating labor, the hard work needed to create order and virtue in order to keep the forces of disorder at bay. The representative figure of pastoral poetry is the idealistic shepherd, lounging in the shade of the tree while he pipes songs about his lovers. The typical character of the georgic poetry i the practical farmer, plowing beneath the harsh sun as he eyes the gathering clouds.
The georgic tradition begins with Greek poet Hesiod (ca. 700 B.C.) In his Works and Daysi, with its vivid descriptions of harsh winter and scorching summer, he gives us a vision of a cruel and indifferent natural world in which the "gods keep livelihood hidden from men," an Iron-Age world filled with predators and pests, famine and storms, and human passions and appetites like sex or greed or violence that militate against human order as much as nature's forces do. Hence the need for hard work to create order and virtue: "The immortals decreed that man must sweat/to attain virtue," Hesiod says, since "for mortals order is best, disorder is worst." "Work, work," the poet advises his wastrel brorther Perses, "and then Hunger will not be your companion. . . Hunger and the idling man are bosom friends. . . If you work, you will be dearer to immortals / and mortals; they both loathe the indolent." This imperative to labor in turn creates virtues such as duty, piety, and self-control: "Do not postpone for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow; / barns are not filled by those who postpone / and waste time in aimlessness. Work prospers with care; / he who postpones wrestles with ruin." Moreover, self-sufficiency and independence ccan be achieved only by work: "Work, foolish Perses, / for this is what the gods have decreed for men; / others sad-hearted, you will drag your wife and children along / to beg support from neighbor deaf to your pleas." Labor and virtue together create order, both the order of the controlled soul and the orders of culture projected onto a chaotic natural world.
The Roman poet Virgil, whose works were well-known to the Founders, continued the georgic tradition in his Georgics (37-30 B.C.), drawing out further the implications of the georgic ethic for political order and virtue. Like Hesiod, Virgil describes a natural world of plagues, storms, passions, and predators constantly encroaching on the hard-won space of human civilization: "So it is," Virgil sums up the inherent chaos of nature; "for everything by nature's law / Tends to the worse, slips ever backward, backward." Also like Hesiod, Virgil recognizes that only labor can prevent those destructive natural forces from sweeping away every human civilization: "Toil [labor] mastered everything, relentless toil / And the paressure of pinching poverty" (I.145-46). Thi labor is an improving one, for the mind must create skills, crafts, and technologies that compensate for human physical weakness and bend nature's destructive forces to its will, forces Jove intentionally inflicts on people so "that step by step practice and taking thought / should hammer out the crafts" (I.133-34). Labor and technology together create a civilization that allows human beings collectively to overcome their natural weaknesses and conquer a cruel, indifferent environment. The representative figure of this civilizing process is the farmer, who daily struggles with a recalcitrant nature to provide the means for survival, and whose values of hard work, self-control, and duty undergird civilization's social and political order.
The political dimension of georgic thought reflects its historical context. It is no accident that Heiod's work appeared, as Victor Hanson argues, at the same time as a rising class of middling hoplite-farmers. These independent yeoman owned and worked their own land, and their regimen of hard work, self-sufficiency, and distrust of merchant and aristocrat alike created the foundation of the Greek city-state and its unique blend of consensual government of land-owners, militia warfare, and an ethic of middling values, all of which reflected and sustained the experience of small farming. This political dimension of agrarian values is implicit throughout Hesiod, as in his condemnation of the "gift-devouring kings," the aristocrats who know nothing of "how asphodel and mallow mature." Virgil, however, explicitly develops the connection between the small farmer and political order. After all, the Roman republic was a nation of citizen-farmers, and Roman national ideology glorified the rural past and its values even as the collapse of the republic called them into question. The Romans themselves made this connection between small farmers and national greatness a truism, from Cato the Censor (234-149), who said that the old Romans praised a man by calling him a "good farmer" and that farming is the "most highly respected calling," to Cicero, who remarked that the Romans' ancestors "busily worked their own land and did not push for that of others. In this way they augmented with territory and cities and nations this republic, this empire, and the fame of the Roman people."
That the republic's political disintegration followed the abandonment of the simple lifestyle and values of the citizen-soldiers was by Virgil's time another commonplace. At the end of the first Georgic, Virgil links the political and social disorder of the decaying republic to the abandonment of small farming: "So many wars, so many shapes of crime / Confront us; no due honour attends the plough, / The fields, bereft of tillers, are all unkempt, / And in the force the curving pruning-hook / Is made a straight hard sword" (I.506-10). At the end of the second Georgic, he contrasts his portrait of the peaceful, self-sufficient life of the small farmer with the political disorder of a Rome corrupted by luxury and greed and torn by civil strife, a place where "men revel steeped in brothers' blood" (II. 510). Virgil ends the second Georgic by linking the small farmer's life to Roman greatness: "Thus it was / That Rome became the fairest thing in the world" (II.534-35). In Virgil the farmer who works his own land and supports his family is made the building-block of political stability, justice and order, for the values and ethics that farming daily demands—frugality, duty, self-control—are the same ones that create and sustain a participatory political order in which citizens rule rather than aristocratic or plutocratic elites.
Georgic thought's emphasis on nature's harshness, however, does not preclude an appreciation of its beauty. Hesiod and Virgil both have scenes describing the loveliness of nature, and it is perhaps such scenes, particularly Virgil's famous and oft-imitated encomia to Italy and its farms in the second Georgic, that mislead many into characterizing them as pastoral. When Nathaniel Ames II, arguing for the agricultural life in 1767, quotes Virgil's second Georgic—"Oh! ye husbandmen, how happy would ye be, did ye know your own advantages"—it is easy to read such a sentiment as pastoral idealism. But there is a critical difference: the beauty of nature in the georgic tradition and the superiority of the farmer's life are a consequence of human labor and skill; it is the hard-won, human-created beauty of cultivated land and orchards, not the pristine natural beauty of the wild, as in a pastoral scene with its stock tree and stream. Nature in georgic thought can be a lovely locus of peace and leisure, but only as the result of hard human work, a work that is only temporarily set aside. For just as every spring must give way to sterile winter, so every moment of peace and rest must give way to work, for as Virgil says, "The farmer's labour is a treadmill: / All round the year he treads in his own tracks" (III. 400-1). Peace, prosperity, and political stability do not occur naturally; rather, they must be actively created out of human labor, skill, and virtue.
Some Versions of the American Georgic
The first Europeans who discovered America frequently described its landscape with the tropes and imagery of the literary pastoral. To Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Richard Hakluyt, Arthur Barlow and others, the vast continent appeared to be an untouched paradise of noble savages who "danced away their time / Fresh as their groves and happy as their Climes," as John Dryden put it. The rigors of settlement soon disabused the colonists of such fantasies. Farming before the modern agricultural revolution was hard work in any case, but in America the task of "making land" out of wilderness was much harsher. Most farming took place on the frontier, which meant trees has to be cleared and rocks removed with mostly wooden tools; little changed since the ancient Romans. Predators of a type long driven from the European countryside—wolves, foxes, squirrels, crows, blackbirds, caterpillars, grasshoppers, bears, panthers, wildcats—constantly attacked the crops and herds, as did cattle ticks and blackstem rust, a blight affecting wheat. There were noxious weeds like stinkweed, which induced abortion in livestock, and couch grass, which strangled maize. And, of course, the Indians were an ever-present threat.
This harsh existence reinforced the georgic's mode's perception of a destructive nature and its corresponding ethic of labor and virtue and self-sufficiency. As Arthur Schlesinger summarized the colonial farming experience, "By necessity the farmer made a religion out of work. He might on occasion ignore the Word of God, but the voice of nature brooked no indifference or delay." And from this ethic flowed the ideal of the practical, independent yeoman who owned the small holding that supported his family and guaranteed his freedom and self-sufficiency.
By the eighteenth century, the hard experience of settlement had shifted the American vision of nature from a pastoral to a georgic mode, a shift also reinforced by other cultural and historical changes, especially what Anthony Low calls the "georgic revolution" of the seventeeth century. The aristocratic scorn of physical labor and rural clowns retreated before a rising Protestant middle class that saw work as a "calling" and an expression of God's intentions for humanity in a postlapsarian world. A new science turned to improving agricultural technique and implements, with British innovators like Jethro Tull (1674-1740) and Arthur Young (1741-1820)—the latter a correspondent of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—improving the productivity and profitability of farming. Farming became fashionable, "the reigning taste of the present time," Young said, and even George III delighted in his hobby farm and his nickname "Farmer George."
Equally important were the political philosophies in which agriculture and the ownership of property took a central role. In the seventeenth century James Harrington, in his utopian The Commonwealth of Oceana, had predicated political and social stability on an egalitarian distribution of land that gave full scope to a levelling and improving "Industry." There were French physiocrats, who saw agriculture as the divinely ordained productive occupation, so that whatever benefited agriculture benefited society as a whole. More central to the Founders' philosophy was John Locke's assertion of the importance of private property as the guarantor of individual freedom and the self-sufficiency necessary for what J.G.A. Pocock calls "the full austerity of citizenship in the classical sense." Locke's view is georgic in spirit. Though nature is common to all, human labor applied to land confers title to it: "As much Land as a Man Tills, Plants, Improves, Cultivates and can use the Product of, so much is his Property. He by his Labour does, as it were, inclose it from the Common." Moreover, this title is legitimized by the moral virtues typically celebrated in georgic writing: "God gave the World to Men in Common, but. . . it cannot be supposed he meant it should always remain common and uncultivated. He gave it to the use of the Industrious and Rational (and Labour was to be his Title to it;) not to the Fancy or Covetousness of the Quarrelsome and Contentious." As James Montmarquet summarizes, "Locke's theory of property. . . should be seen as a Hesiodicc defense of productivity and its rights; of the value of work and the futility of sectarian quarreling." As well as ensuring the self-suffiency and freedom of the individual, the posession and improvement of arable land supports the political order by increasing productivity and hence benefiting society as a whole, as well as offering scope to individual merit and initiative. The importance of farming to society both politically and economically was a commonplace in the eighteenth century, as can be seen in Samuel Seabury's address to farmers of New York in 1774: "Farmers are of the greatest benefit to the state, of any people in it: They furnish food for the merchant, and mechanic; and the raw materials for most manufacturers, the staple exports of the country, are the produce of their industry: be then convinced of your own importance, and think and act accordingly."
Finally, the georgic vision in America found legitimization in the examples of classical agrarian republics like Sparta and Rome, whose defeat of mercantile Athens and Carthage, in the estimation of colonial historians, was owed "as much to their pastoral virtues as to their government forms. Both produced virtue, the agricultural life by fostering frugality, temperance, and independence, the balanced constitution by encouraging moderation, cooperation, and compromise. The plow was both the symbol and the cause of Cincinnatus' 'Roman virtue.'" In addition, the seemingly endless abundance of land in America suggested that the balance of powers could be nourished indefinitely by the virtues inculcated on small farms worked by their owners. As Jefferson put it, "I think our governments will remain virtuous for many centuries; as long as they are chiefly agricultural; and this will be long as there shall be vacant lands in any part of America."
A survey of some examples of American georgic writing reveals just this emphasis on labor and improving virtues, and the dependence of republican political order on both, typical of classical georgic literature. Frequently we see a disdain for idleness coupled with the imperative to improvement whose roots are both georgic and Christian. As early as 1616, John Rolfe, in his Description of Virginia (written for King James), attributes the first settlement's failure to the colonists' refusal to work hard enough and improve the land's limitless potential. As Rolfe described it, Virginia is "spacious and wide, capable of many hundred thousands of inhabitants," filled with "matter fit for buildings and fortifications, and for the building of shipping." With proper cultivation, "the land might yearlie abound with corne" and "buildings, fortifications, and shipping might be reared, wrought, and framed." Ultimately this labor could establish "a firme and perfect common weale." Notice that Virginia is described in terms not of its intrinsic beauty but of its potential for development, as a ra material that could be made into a habitable space for humans if skill and labor were applied to it. Hence he focuses on the idleness of the first settlers, their unwillingness to work at self-sufficency: "The vulgar sort looked for supplie out of England—neglected husbandry—some wrote—some said there was want of food, yet sought for none—others that would have sought could not be suffered; in which confusion yearlie befell them, and in this government all the miserie." The settlement now is doing better for "men spent not their tyme idely nor improfitably, for they were daily employed in palazadoing and building of townes, impaling grounds and other needful business." The result is the peace and order and abundance Virgil attributes "unrelenting labor": "Everie man sit[s] under his fig tree in safety, gathering and reaping the fruits of their labors with much joy and comfort." Human work must first transform the landscacpe for it to be a sustaining locus of leisure and happiness.
Repeatedly in colonial writing what appear to be pastoral appreciations of beauty and fertility of the landscape are ultimately subordinated to the georgic recognition that labor and virtue create human order out of nature's chaos. Robert Beverley's The History and Present State of Virginia (1705) puts pastoralesque landscape descriptions in the larger context of the necessity of labor to improve nature so that it can sustain civilization, as is apparent in the criticism of the Virginia colonists with which he closes:
Thus they depend altogether upon the Liberality of Nature, without endeavoring to improve its Gifts, by Act or Industry. They spunge upon the Blessings of a warm Sun, and a fruitful Soil, and almost grutch the Pains of gathering the Bounties of the Earth. I should be asham'd to publish this slothful Indolence of my Countrymen, but that I hope it will rotue them out of their Lethargy, and excite them to make the most of all those happy Advantages which Nature has given them. 
Nature's beauty is appreciated not for its own sake but for its potential—georgic labor and technology, what Beverley calls "Art and Industry," are required to develop their potential and create a self-sufficient community that will benefit the greatest number. Without work the landscape remains a pastoral lotus-land that, given the fickleness of nature, will destroy those who trust its deceptive beauty.
This georgic recognition of moral rightness of improving nature through labor recurs repeatedly throughout the eighteenth century. It is evident in the rationalizations of some Scotch-irish squatters in Pennsylvania, who asserted that "it was against the laws of God and nature, that so much land should be idle while so many Christians wanted it to labor on and to raise their bread." This sentiment is georgic as well as Christian: Virgil enjoins farmers to "domesticate / The wild by culture. Do not let your land / Lie idle." A particularly telling example of American georgic thought is found in a poem called Georgia, first published anonymously in 1738. The author describes the land as "prolifick" and "rich," yet still a "wide waste Land" because it has not been cultivated with vines and wheat: "all things into Luxuriance ran / And burden'd Nature ask'd the Aid of Man." Here an uncontrolled, excessive nature is anthropomorphized into desiring the industry and skill of man so that it can realize its full potential: "He bids the eager indulge his Toil," and King George seconds this command with his own injunction to the settlers that they pursue "old wonted Industry" (7, 12). Their change is "to form for Use what Nature's Bounties yield; / To fix the Staple, or till the Field; / To Life's essential Arts their Cares confine" (77-80). That is, they are to exploit the rich potential of the land, to apply it skill and labor so that a cohesive community can arise, one far superior to the wild chaos of unimproved nature: "All with one Voice the needful Task demand, / And long to build the Town, and Clear the Land" (113-14). Like "swarming Bees," the colonists take to their work, clearing the forest and building homes. The result is a joyful vision of future prosperity and abundance:
A sprightlier Scene suceeds the awful Shade,
And distant Landskips open thro' the Glade;
The sunny Hills afar, the prostrate Plains,
Invite the Labours of the lusty Swains;
Their Annual Stores already seem possest,
And future Harvests wave in ev'ry Breast (123-28).
The sunny views of more untamed lands yet to be improved suggest a continuous civilizing process that will sustain more and more settlers and expand England's empire politically and economically. This poem illustrates the truth of Anthony Low's observation that georgic "is preeminently the mode suited to the establishment of civilization and the founding of nations."
The georgic ethic to improve nature in order to create civilization can also be found in an anonymous pamphlet called The Golden Age (1785), in which an angel gives the American patriot Celadon a vision of the nation's future. From a high mountain Celadon is shown a georgic paradise of "farms, plantations, gardens. . . laden with every kind of fruit." Then Celadon turns to view the West, "as yet but an uncultivated desert; the haunt of savages; and range of wild beasts. But the soil in general is much richer than that of the astern divsion." Soon it too will be transformed into a "beauteous world—rising out of a dreary wilderness," American civilization spreading over the globe.  Rather than giving us what Leo Marx calls the "pastoral ideal," this pamplet presents us with the georgic vision of a wild, savage nature tamed and subdued into a sustaining environment for human civilization—the ethical center of georgic thought—recurs over and over: agriculture is "the most useful occupations of man," the "best preservative of morals," the "basis of the subsistence, the comforts and the happiness of man."
So far we have seen versions of georgic thought in which the political dimension is limited, the labor of improvement being directed either to the ultimate benefit of the monarch whose kingdom will be enlarged by these efforts, or to the economic well-being of the nation, as in Celadon's vision of future American prosperity. In the period after the revolution, when the form of the new government has been debated, the role of small freeholds in supporting representative government and individual freedom and equality becomes more prominent in agrarian sentiments. Georgic "Art and Industry" are now linked to the work of statecraft, for just as the farmer must control and exploit the forces of nature, so statesmen must politically balance and limit what John Adams called "passions, interests, and power, which can be resisted only by passion, interest and power."  And the citizens' political freedom, like that of the Romans during the republic, will be underwritten as well by self-sufficiency, independence, and other virtues fostered by working their own land. As Meyer Reinhold summarizes, "American agrarianism was, like its classical antecedent, politico-ethical in nature: an agricultural bse for the republic with availability of freehold land was deemed by most of the Founding Fathers to be a prime safeguard for liberty and stability. The virtuous farmer, the purity and simplicity of his life, were widely invoked, a model conjured up from a classical past simpler than the English and French present." Political philosophy at the end of the eighteenth century affords numerous examples of the agrarian ideal.
Richard Price, for example, in his Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution (1785), after locating political evil in "too great an inequality in the distribution of property," attributes the relative stability of the American states to "the equality which subsists among them." He then launches into a georgic panegyric:
The happiest state of man is the middle state between the savage and the refined or between the wild and luxurious state. Such is the state of society in Conecticut and some others of the American provinces where the inhabitants consist, if I am rightly informed, of an independent and hardy yeomanry, all nearly on a level, trained to arms, instructed in their rights, clothed in home-spun, of simple manners, strangers to luxury, drawing plenty from the ground, and that plenty gathered easily by the hand of industry; . . .the rich and poor, the haughty grandee and the creeping sycophant, equally unknown, protected by the laws which (being of their own will) cannot oppress, and by an equal government, which wanting lucrative places, cannot create corrupt canvassings and ambitious intrigue. 
Every georgic note is sounded in the description, from the self-sufficiency guaranteed by labor on private land, to the middling condition contrasted with the pomp and corruption of urban wealth, a frequent theme of georgic writing. Just as Virgil, small farmers working their own relatively equal plots provide the material and ethical backbone of an "equal government" that guarantees the freedom and independence of the citizenry. This link of labor, independence, and democracy is encapsulated in the following lines written in 1789 by Timothy Dwight: "Democratick laws afford / No towering title to a tyrant lord, / But peace and pleasure, smiling, bless the soil / And he who sows enjoys the product of his toil."
Agrarian idealism was so pervasive that even a Federalist like James Madison, who saw political stability ultimately residing not so much in rural virtue as in the balancing of different interests and the limiting of factions arising out of "the various and unequal distribution of property," nonetheless in 1792 praised the life of small farmers in traditional georgic terms:
The life of the husbandman is pre-eminently suited to the comfort and happiness of the individual. . . Virtue, the health of the soul, is another part of his patrimony, and no less favored by his situation. . . Competency is more universally the lot of those who dwell in the country, when liberty is at the same time their lot. The extremes both of want and of waste have other abodes. . . The class of citizens who provide at once their own food and their own raiment, may be viewed as the most truly independent and happy. They are more: they are the best basis of public liberty, and the strongest bulwark of public safety. It follows, that the greater the proportion of this class to the whole society, the more free, the more independent, and the more happy must be the society itself.
Likewise the arch-mercantilist Alexander Hamilton agreed that "the cultivation of the earth. . . has intrinsically a strong claim to pre-eminence over every other form of industry," if only because the farmers' bounty provided exports. Self-sufficiency, independence, freedom, and equality, not to mention economic benefits, all derive from the middling farmers life, which undergirds the representative government and provides stability in the storms of factional conflict.
Some of the best examples of American georgic sentiments can be found in the writings of J. Hector J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur. The third letter, "What is an American?" from Letters from an American Farmer (1783) makes the farming life and its values the essence of Americanism: "We still are all tillers of the earth. . . a people of cultivators. . . united by the silken bands of mild government, all respecting the laws without dreading their power, because they are equitable. We all animated with the spirit of an industry which is unfettered and unrestrained, because person works for himself." Likewise in Sketches of Eighteenth-Century America, where labor is given a central role in explaining the American character and its ideal of freedom: "All the praises we at present deserve ought to be bestowed on that strength, fortitude, and perseverance which have been requisite to clear so many fields, to drain so many swamps"; "It is the hands of freeman only that could till this asperous soil" (264, 265). Crèvecœur explicitly links labor, freedom, and equality, the latter two resulting from the self-sufficiency and independence fostered by small farmers and their middling condition.
Ultimately, Crèvecœur's praises of the civilizing virtues and labor of small farmers are linked to a larger vision of America's destiny, a future of peace and prosperity guaranteed by the industr of husbandmen:
What a care, what an assiduity does this life require! Who on contemplating the great and important field of action performed every year by a large farmer can refrain from valuing and praising as they ought this useful, this dignified class of men? These are the people who, scattered on the edge of this great continent, have made it to flourish, and have, without the dangerous assistance of mines, gathered, by the sweat of their honest brows and by the help of their ploughs, such a harvest of commercial emoluments for their country, uncontaminated either by spoils or rapine. These are the men who in future will replenish this huge continent, even to its utmost unknown limits, and render this new-found part of the world by far the happiest, the most potent as well as the most populous of any. Happy people! May the poor, the wretched of Europe, animated by our example, invited by our laws, avoid the fetters of their country and come in shoals to partake of our toils as well as of our happiness! (237-38).
The old-world feudal chains that limit individual initiative and merit do not exist in America, where "human industry has acquired a boundless field to exert itself—a field which will not be fully cultivated in many ages," where abundant and egalitarian laws give free rein to the improving labor of all. This labor is a civilizing force leading to progress and prosperity, a creator of virtue that transforms a savage wilderness into a garden. Rather than the pastoral view of nature as a harmonious, lovely backdrop for static human leisure, Crèvecœur instead sees the American land through the georgic lens, as endless potential to be realized by the liberated, dynamic labor and simple virtues of the farmer.
By the turn of the century, such georgic sentiments had become commonplce, and examples could be multiplied. But it is in the writings of Thoams Jefferson, the most famous exemplar of the American georgic, that the link between rural labor, republican virtue, and freedom is most firmly established and has its most significant impact on the new nation and its political ideals.
Jefferson and Georgic
Thomas Jefferson's fondness for classical culture, especially Virgil, and his love for farming both suggest that he would have been sympathetic to the classical georgic vision. We have already noted his appreciation for his classical education. Virgil appears to have been an especial favorite, second perhaps only to Homer: numerous editions of Virgil's works in several languages filled his libraries, and in an essay written for the Marquis de Chastellux, he mused, "But as we advance in life. . . I suspect we are left at last with only Homer and Virgil, perhaps with Homer alone." Jefferson's passion for the farming life was equal to his love of the ancients. Throughout his life and and through all the vicissitudes of his political positions, he maintained a deep affection for farming. In his letters he speaks of being "delighted" with farming, of his return to farming "with an ardor which I scarcely knew in my youth," of his attachment to agriculture "by inclination," all summed up in his letter to Charles Wilson Peale in 1811: "I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth."
Jefferson, moreover, was not just indulging a romantic agrarianism or an idealizing nostalgia. His interest in farming reflected the unpastoral desire for rational improvement that characterized the georgic revolution and goes back to Virgil's emphasis on crafts and technological skills as humanity's response to a fickle environment. In his European travels he constantly inquired into agricultural practices, looking for new and better techniques of cultivation; at Monticello he experimented with crop rotation, and tried to improe old and introduce ne w crops and livestock species to America. Jefferson was no starry-eyed idealist, but rather a rational improver in what he called "the great workshop of nature," one who saw increased productivity and prosperity as the material counterpart to the moral advantages farming afforded.
Those moral benefits, are their link to the political order, however, are what interested Jefferson, and they fall squarely into the American georgic tradition we have been tracing. Once more his letters reflect the privileged position he affords farming in promoting virtue and stability. "The moderate and sure income of husbandry," he wrote to Washington in 1787, "begets permanent improvement, quiet life, and orderly conduct, both public and private"; farming "is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness." This linked of virtue, farming, and improvement of human civilization
The moral value of farming, moreover, is linked to political order.  At a most basic level, farmers, literally tied as they are to the land and dependent mainly on their own labor, are natural conservatives who resist political fad and fashion, and who value freedom and self-determination, the virtues most conducive to political independence and freedom, and hence supportive of the nation's interests. As Jefferson wrote to John Jay in 1785, "Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country, and wedded to its liberty and interests, by the most lasting bonds."  Twelve years later he wrote, "Farmers. . . are the true representatives of the great American interests, and are alone to be relied on for expressing proper American sentiments." These "sentiments," self-reliance, independence, and a commitment to "liberty," all are nurtured and reinforced by the conditions of farming, and they are as well the best guarantors of the "great American interests": the political freedom and independence enshrined in participatory government. Change "American" to "Roman" and this sentence could have been written by Virgil.
The most representative expression of Jefferson's agrarianism occurs in Query 19 of his Notes on Virginia, written in 1781-82 in response to a request by François Barbé-Marbois, secretary to the French minister in Philadelphia, and published in 1787. The ethical and political benefits of farming are here set out and linked to the classical georgic distrust of trade and urbanism:
But we have an immensity of land courting the industry of the husbandman. Is it best then that all our citizens should be employed in its improvement, or that one half should be called off from that to exercise manufactures and handicraft arts for the other? Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape from the face of the earth. Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators is a phaenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example. It is the mark set on those, who not looking up to heaven, to their own soil and industry, as does the husbandman, for their subsistance, depend for it on the casualties and caprice of customers. Dependance begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition. . . The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government, as sores do to the strength of the human body. It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigour. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution. 
This passage is a compendium of the georgic themes we have been tracing: the labor, virtue, and self-sufficiency of the farming life provide the basis of political freedom, a freedom compromised by the subservience and corruption that follows a life entangled in the commercial "cash nexus."
Jefferson's agrarianism, of course, was a powerful force in the great debates over the political form and economic direction of the new nation. The famous Manichean division between the democratic champion of the yeoman, Jefferson, and the promoter of capitalism and centralization, Alexander Hamilton, has been overstated. This is partly because the melodramatic pastoral conflict between rural virtue and urban corruption is more interesting than nuanced complexity; and partly because the confusion of agrarianism with pastoral thought has tended to tilt Jefferson's views on farming with the rosy hues of pastoral idealism, in which a practical concern with profit is in bad taste.  But georgic self-sufficiency, unlike pastoral otium, is not a timeless given but a hard-won benefit, and the necessarily utilitarian farmer knows that his freedom and independence depend solely on his ability to turn a profit. "if your work brings you wealth," Hesiod wrote, "you will be envied by the slothful, / because glory and excellence follows riches."  Virgil's encomium to Italy's landscape of small farms and their owners praises the richness and abundance that rival India and Arabia, fabled for wealth.  So too Jefferson wrote to J. Blair in 1787, "The pursuits of agriculture are the surest road to affluence."  Jefferson's worry was not about money per se, but about the political rootlessness of volatile urban mobs, the economic dependence of the wage-slave, and the corrupting effects of excessive luxury promoted by commercial values. 
Moreover, Jefferson was not so idealistic as to think that industry and commerce could be completely banished from America. He called his agrarianism a "theory" as early as 1785, in a letter to G.K. von Hagendorp: "Were I to indulge my own theory, I should wish them [Americans] to practise neither commerce and navigation. . . We should thus avoid wars, and all our citizens would be husbandmen. . . But this is theory only, & a theory which the servants of America are not at liberty to follow. Our people have decided taste for navigation & commerce."  Commerce and manufacturing were necessary for the American economy, and both were designated by Jefferson as two of the four "pillars," along with agriculture and navigation, equally supporting American independence.  Farming should always have moral and economic preeminence—commerce was to be farming's "handmaid," as his first inaugural address put it—because more than any other occupation it reinforced and nourished the values of self-reliance, independence, and equality that protected the freedom of the individual. This concern for political stability and material benefit is anathema to the pastoral sensibility and its timeless, apolitical otium; but as we have seen, it follows logically from the georgic ethic of improving nature in order to create a sustaining environment for human civilization. Jefferson's agrarianism is neither a "myth" he cynical manipulated nor an escapist pastoral delusion, but rather a coherent version of the classical georgic tradition. 
Jefferson, of course, could not foresee the radical changes that would challenge the preeminence of the family farm—the rapid advance of materialism and the creation of consumerism, the filling of the seemingly endless continent by successive waves of immigrants, and the modern chemical and technological agricultural revolution which has allowed one person to feed ninety-nine. The small farmer and the georgic values he embodies are rapidly disappearing, and the question facing us today is: how can the values of self-reliance, independence, freedom, and a tragic recognition of the limits nature imposes on human will and desire—virtues that once were nurtured in the daily struggle to grow food and that formed the bedrock of republican government—survive the centrifugal forces of consumer hedonism, therapeutic individualism, and mass-produced consensus of taste and opinion, not to mention the failure of our schools to teach the traditions of Western democracy? Or as one of the last heirs of Hesiod, Victor Hanson, poses the question, "With more leisure, more bounty and affluence, more safety, sanitation, and elegance, more spandex between us and the dirt and the grease that are the cost of battling nature, can we, free of the craggy, unpleasant octogeneerian, of the self-employed skeptic, still maintain a republic founded in another age?"
The Greek georgic tradition has always answered "no." Without the ballast of the farmer and his tough independence, the expotentially accelerating forces of mass consumer culture and its ethic of unbridled appetite threaten to sweep all before them, including perhaps democracy itself, and we may end up like the disintegrating Roman republic whose careening descent into chaos Virgil compared at the end of the first Georgic to a chariot "Gathering speed from lap to lap, and a driver / Tugging in vain at the reins is swept along / By his horses and heedless uncontrollable car." If we are to avoid such a disaster, we must turn once more to the insights that shaped the political philosophy of America, the hard questions and tough answers posed by the Greeks—those small farmers who, as all farmers must, looked at life "steadily and whole."