Tuesday, 31 July 2018

DANIEL DEFOE: ROBINSON CRUSOE'S CREATOR IN PRISON

Daniel Defoe
Today, The Grandma has been studying a new lesson of her Intermediate Language Practice manual and she has read a new chapter of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations (Chapter 35).

More information: Articles 2

Charles Dickens had a suffered childhood because his father was in prison for debts. It's the same experience that Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe, had when he was arrested and placed in a pillory on a day like today in 1703. He was prosecuted by his political activities.


Daniel Defoe (13 September 1660-24 April 1731) born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer and spy. He is most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe, which is second only to the Bible in its number of translations.

Defoe is noted for being one of the earliest proponents of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain with others such as Aphra Behn and Samuel Richardson, and is among the founders of the English novel. Defoe wrote many political tracts and often was in trouble with the authorities, including prison time. Intellectuals and political leaders paid attention to his fresh ideas and sometimes consulted with him.
 
Defoe was a prolific and versatile writer, producing more than three hundred works  -books, pamphlets, and journals- on diverse topics, including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology, and the supernatural. He was also a pioneer of business journalism and economic journalism.

Daniel Defoe
Daniel Foe, his original name, was born on 13 September, 1660, likely in Fore Street in the parish of St. Giles Cripplegate, London

Defoe later added the aristocratic-sounding De to his name, and on occasion claimed descent from the family of De Beau Faux. His birthdate and birthplace are uncertain, and sources offer dates from 1659 to 1662, with the summer or early autumn of 1660 considered the most likely. His father James Foe was a prosperous tallow chandler and a member of the Worshipful Company of Butchers.

More information: British Library

In Defoe's early life, he experienced some of the most unusual occurrences in English history: in 1665, 70,000 were killed by the Great Plague of London, and next year, the Great Fire of London left standing only Defoe's and two other houses in his neighbourhood. In 1667, when he was probably about seven, a Dutch fleet sailed up the Medway via the River Thames and attacked the town of Chatham in the raid on the Medway. His mother Annie had died by the time he was about ten.

Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe First Edition
Defoe was educated at the Rev. James Fisher's boarding school in Pixham Lane in Dorking, Surrey

His parents were Presbyterian dissenters, and around the age of 14, he attended a dissenting academy at Newington Green in London run by Charles Morton, and he is believed to have attended the Newington Green Unitarian Church and kept practising his Presbyterian religion. During this period, the English government persecuted those who chose to worship outside the Church of England.

As many as 545 titles have been ascribed to Defoe, ranging from satirical poems, political and religious pamphlets, and volumes.


More information: Yale University Press

Defoe's first notable publication was An essay upon projects, a series of proposals for social and economic improvement, published in 1697. From 1697 to 1698, he defended the right of King William III to a standing army during disarmament, after the Treaty of Ryswick (1697) had ended the Nine Years' War (1688–97). His most successful poem, The True-Born Englishman (1701), defended the king against the perceived xenophobia of his enemies, satirising the English claim to racial purity. 


Daniel Defoe in the pillory
In 1701, Defoe presented the Legion's Memorial to Robert Harley, then Speaker of the House of Commons, and his subsequent employer, while flanked by a guard of sixteen gentlemen of quality. It demanded the release of the Kentish petitioners, who had asked Parliament to support the king in an imminent war against France.

The death of William III in 1702 once again created a political upheaval, as the king was replaced by Queen Anne who immediately began her offensive against Nonconformists.


Defoe was a natural target, and his pamphleteering and political activities resulted in his arrest and placement in a pillory on 31 July 1703, principally on account of his December 1702 pamphlet entitled The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church, purporting to argue for their extermination. In it, he ruthlessly satirised both the High church Tories and those Dissenters who hypocritically practised so-called occasional conformity, such as his Stoke Newington neighbour Sir Thomas Abney. It was published anonymously, but the true authorship was quickly discovered and Defoe was arrested. 

More information: The Guardian

He was charged with seditious libel. Defoe was found guilty after a trial at the Old Bailey in front of the notoriously sadistic judge Salathiel Lovell.

Lovell sentenced him to a punitive fine of 200 marks, to public humiliation in a pillory, and to an indeterminate length of imprisonment which would only end upon the discharge of the punitive fine. 

Daniel Defoe in the pillory
According to legend, the publication of his poem Hymn to the Pillory caused his audience at the pillory to throw flowers instead of the customary harmful and noxious objects and to drink to his health. The truth of this story is questioned by most scholars, although John Robert Moore later said that no man in England but Defoe ever stood in the pillory and later rose to eminence among his fellow men.

After his three days in the pillory, Defoe went into Newgate Prison. Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, brokered his release in exchange for Defoe's co-operation as an intelligence agent for the Tories. In exchange for such co-operation with the rival political side, Harley paid some of Defoe's outstanding debts, improving his financial situation considerably.

Within a week of his release from prison, Defoe witnessed the Great Storm of 1703, which raged through the night of 26/27 November. It caused severe damage to London and Bristol, uprooted millions of trees, and killed more than 8,000 people, mostly at sea. The event became the subject of Defoe's The Storm (1704), which includes a collection of witness accounts of the tempest. Many regard it as one of the world's first examples of modern journalism.


More information: Luminarium

In the same year, he set up his periodical A Review of the Affairs of France which supported the Harley Ministry, chronicling the events of the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–14). The Review ran three times a week without interruption until 1713. Defoe was amazed that a man as gifted as Harley left vital state papers lying in the open, and warned that he was almost inviting an unscrupulous clerk to commit treason; his warnings were fully justified by the William Gregg affair.


Robinson Crusoe
When Harley was ousted from the ministry in 1708, Defoe continued writing the Review to support Godolphin, then again to support Harley and the Tories in the Tory ministry of 1710–14.  

The Tories fell from power with the death of Queen Anne, but Defoe continued doing intelligence work for the Whig government, writing Tory pamphlets that undermined the Tory point of view.

Not all of Defoe's pamphlet writing was political. One pamphlet was originally published anonymously, entitled A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs. Veal the Next Day after her Death to One Mrs. Bargrave at Canterbury the 8th of September, 1705. It deals with interaction between the spiritual realm and the physical realm and was most likely written in support of Charles Drelincourt's The Christian Defense against the Fears of Death (1651). It describes Mrs. Bargrave's encounter with her old friend Mrs. Veal after she had died. It is clear from this piece and other writings that the political portion of Defoe's life was by no means his only focus.



The extent and particulars are widely contested concerning Defoe's writing in the period from the Tory fall in 1714 to the publication of Robinson Crusoe in 1719. Defoe comments on the tendency to attribute tracts of uncertain authorship to him in his apologia Appeal to Honour and Justice (1715), a defence of his part in Harley's Tory ministry (1710–14). Other works that anticipate his novelistic career include The Family Instructor (1715), a conduct manual on religious duty; Minutes of the Negotiations of Monsr. Mesnager (1717), in which he impersonates Nicolas Mesnager, the French plenipotentiary who negotiated the Treaty of Utrecht (1713); and A Continuation of the Letters Writ by a Turkish Spy (1718), a satire of European politics and religion, ostensibly written by a Muslim in Paris.


Robinson Crusoe First Edition, London, 1720
From 1719 to 1724, Defoe published the novels for which he is famous. 

In the final decade of his life, he also wrote conduct manuals, including Religious Courtship (1722), The Complete English Tradesman (1726) and The New Family Instructor (1727). He published a number of books decrying the breakdown of the social order, such as The Great Law of Subordination Considered (1724) and Everybody's Business is Nobody's Business (1725) and works on the supernatural, like The Political History of the Devil (1726), A System of Magick (1727) and An Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions (1727). 

His works on foreign travel and trade include A General History of Discoveries and Improvements (1727) and Atlas Maritimus and Commercialis (1728). Perhaps his greatest achievement with the novels is the magisterial A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain (1724–27), which provided a panoramic survey of British trade on the eve of the Industrial Revolution.

Daniel Defoe died on 24 April 1731, probably while in hiding from his creditors. He often was in debtors' prison. The cause of his death was labelled as lethargy, but he probably experienced a stroke. He was interred in Bunhill Fields, today Bunhill Fields Burial and Gardens, Borough of Islington, London, where a monument was erected to his memory in 1870.




It is better to have a lion at the head of an army of sheep, 
than a sheep at the head of an army of lions.
Daniel Defoe

Monday, 30 July 2018

HANS MAX GAMPER-HAESSIG: MORE THAN A FOUNDER

The Grandma near the Camp Nou, Barcelona
Today, The Grandma has been reading another chapter of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and she has studied a new lesson of her Intermediate Language Practice manual (Chapter 34).

The weather in Barcelona is too hot and the levels of humidity are increasing day by day. The Grandma has decided to visit the Maternitat Park, a beautiful park near her home, searching shadow and air enough to avoid this terrible weather. This park is in front of the Camp Nou, the stadium of Futbol Club Barcelona, and The Grandma has taken advantage to homage and remember its founder Hans Gamper, aka Joan Gamper, one of the most complete athletes at the beginning of the 20th century who died on a day like today eighty-eight years ago.

More information: Articles 1


Hans Max Gamper-Haessig (22 November 1877-30 July 1930), known as Joan Gamper was a Swiss football pioneer, versatile athlete and club president. He founded FC Zürich and FC Barcelona football clubs.

Hans Max Gamper-Haessig
Hans-Max Gamper was born in Winterthur, Switzerland. He was the eldest son and third of five children born to August Gamper and Rosine Emma Haessig. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was eight and the family moved to Zurich. He became a citizen of the city and in his later youth started to learn his craft as a tradesman in an apprenticeship at the silk trade house Grieder at the centrally located Paradeplatz

As a youngster, Gamper was a keen cyclist and runner. Throughout his life he was a lover of all sports and, apart from football, he also played rugby union, tennis and golf. In Switzerland, he was highly regarded as a footballer. His first football club was Excelsior Zurich which was playing in the same colours, red and blue, as later FC Barcelona

After some members of Excelsior split off to form FC Turicum Zurich, they reunited with Excelsior in 1896 to form FC Zurich. Gamper was a co-founder and the first captain of the clubs history. 

More information: Swiss Info

In the early years of football in Switzerland, it was allowed to play for an indefinite number of teams from other cities as a guest player in friendly games, Gamper is known to have played among others two games for FC Winterthur and FC Basel

Joan Gamper
Hans Gamper representing FC Zurich, founded as a polideportivo, was in 1898 holder of the Swiss records over the 800m and 1600m track distances. 

He also organised the first international athletics competition in Zurich during autumn of the same year. Today, this event is one of the most renowned international athletics events worldwide, the Weltklasse Zurich, organised by FC Zurich spin-off LC Zurich

In 1897, work took him temporarily to Lyon in France, where he played rugby for Athletique Union. The other names they called him, all came from the difficulty the Catalan people had, pronouncing the German H and G: Hans became Kans, Gamper became Kamper. But he is most known as Johannes, becoming Joan Gamper.

More information: Barcelonas

In 1899, he went to Barcelona to visit his uncle, Emili Gaissert, who was living there. He was on his way to Africa to help set up some sugar trading companies but fell in love with the Catalan city and decided to stay put. He would later become a fluent Catalan speaker and adopt the Catalan version of his name, Joan Gamper

Joan Gamper and F.C.Barcelona team in 1910
As an accountant, he found work with Crédit Lyonnais, the Sarrià Railway Company and as a sports columnist, he worked for two Swiss newspapers

He joined the local Swiss Evangelical Church and began playing football within the famous local Christian Protestant community in the district of Sarrià-Sant Gervasi. He also attended the Gimnasio Solé and helped publish a magazine, Los Deportes.

On 22 October 1899 Gamper placed an advert in Los Deportes declaring his wish to form a football club. A positive response resulted in a meeting at the Gimnasio Solé on 29 November and Football Club Barcelona was born. The founders included a collection of Swiss, British, Catalan and Spanish enthusiasts.



It is not known, if Gamper chose the legendary club colours, blaugrana, after FC Basel or FC Excelsior Zürich. However, the other Swiss teams Gamper played for, and Merchant Taylors' School in Crosby, Merseyside have all been credited and/or claimed to be the inspiration. Although Gamper was the driving force behind the club, initially he chose only to be a board member and club captain. He was still only 22 and wanted to concentrate on playing the game he loved. He played 48 games for FC Barcelona between 1899 and 1903, scoring over 100 goals. His team mates included Arthur Witty

Joan Gamper with his footballers
In 1900-01 he was a member of the FC Barcelona team that won the clubs first trophy, the Copa Macaya. This competition is now recognised as the first Catalan championship

In 1902 he played in the very first Copa del Rey final. Barça lost 2-1 to Club Vizcaya.

In 1908 Joan Gamper became president of FC Barcelona for the first time. Gamper took over the presidency as the club was on the verge of folding. Several of the club's better players had retired and had not been replaced. This soon began to affect the club's performances both on and off the field. 

The club had not won anything since the Campionat de Catalunya of 1905 and its finances suffered as a result. He was subsequently club president on five separate occasions (1908-09, 1910-13, 1917-19, 1921-23 and 1924-25) and spent 25 years at the helm. One of his main achievements was to help Barça acquire their own stadium. 

More information: Outside of the boot

Until 1909 the team played at various grounds, none of them owned by the club. Gamper raised funds from local businesses and on 14 March 1909, they moved into the Carrer Indústria, a stadium with a capacity of 6,000. He also launched a campaign to recruit more club members and by 1922 the club had over 10,000. This led to the club moving again, this time to Les Corts. This stadium had an initial capacity of 20,000, later expanded to an impressive 60,000.

Joan Gamper with Paulino Alcántara
Gamper also recruited the legendary player Paulino Alcántara, the club's second all-time top-scorer, and in 1917 appointed Jack Greenwell as manager. This saw the club's fortunes begin to improve on the field. During the Gamper era FC Barcelona won eleven Championat de Catalunya, six Copa del Rey and four Coupe de Pyrenées and enjoyed its first golden age. As well as Alcántara the Barça team under Greenwell also included Sagibarba, Ricardo Zamora, Josep Samitier, Félix Sesúmaga and Franz Platko.

His final presidency ended in controversial circumstances and personal tragedy. On 24 June 1925, FC Barcelona fans jeered the Spanish national anthem and then applauded God Save the Queen performed by a visiting British Royal Marine band. The dictatorship of Primo de Rivera accused Gamper of promoting Catalan nationalism. Les Corts was closed for six months. Gamper committed suicide after a period of depression brought on by personal and money problems and was laid to rest on the Cemetery of Montjuïc.


More information: Huffington Post

In 1966 the FC Barcelona president, Enric Llaudet, created the Joan Gamper Trophy in his honour. This is a pre-season tournament featuring international teams as guests and is traditionally used by the club to unveil the team for the forthcoming season. 


Barça's stadium was closed by dictatorship
The club also permanently retired his club membership number and the city named a street, Carrer de Joan Gamper in Les Corts district, after him. In 2016 also in Zurich a small street in a central location of the city already named Gamperstrasse has been dedicated to him.

In 2002 FC Barcelona marked the 125th anniversary of his birth. Perhaps this and the fact that the club developed into a polideportivo, the very personification of Gamper, is the most fitting tribute to this all-round sportsman. 

Today Barcelona is more than just a football club. It promotes amateur track and field sports and has rugby union and cycling teams. All of these were sports played by Gamper. Barça also has professional basketball, handball and roller hockey teams as well as amateur indoor football, women's football, volleyball, baseball and field hockey teams. Over the years they have even had an ice hockey team. 



Under the shield, the heart beats.

Joan Gamper

Sunday, 29 July 2018

NASA: SEARCHING ANSWERS TO EXISTENTIAL QUESTIONS

Joseph de Ca'th Lon at the NASA Center
Today, The Grandma has continued reading a new chapter of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and she has studied a new lesson of her Intermediate Language Practice (Chapter 33) manual. 

After doing her homework, The Grandma has had lunch with Joseph de Ca'th Lon, who has explained her that today is the 60th anniversary of the signature of the National Aeronautics and Space Act that established NASA. They have been talking about the importance of NASA in our lives and how this agency works for searching answers to our existence.

More information: Countable and Uncountable I , II & III


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the Federal government of the United States responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

Golden Record in Voyager 1
President Dwight D. Eisenhower established NASA in 1958 with a distinctly civilian, rather than military, orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science.

The National Aeronautics and Space Act was passed sixty years ago on July 29, 1958, disestablishing NASA's predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The new agency became operational on October 1, 1958. Since that time, most U.S. space exploration efforts have been led by NASA, including the Apollo Moon landing missions, the Skylab space station, and later the Space Shuttle.

More information: NASA

Currently, NASA is supporting the International Space Station and is overseeing the development of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, the Space Launch System and Commercial Crew vehicles. The agency is also responsible for the Launch Services Program (LSP) which provides oversight of launch operations and countdown management for unmanned NASA launches.

Mars Expedition
NASA science is focused on better understanding Earth through the Earth Observing System, advancing heliophysics through the efforts of the Science Mission Directorate's Heliophysics Research Program, exploring bodies throughout the Solar System with advanced robotic spacecraft missions such as New Horizons, and researching astrophysics topics, such as the Big Bang, through the Great Observatories and associated programs. NASA shares data with various national and international organizations such as from the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite.

From 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1. In the early 1950s, there was challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (1957–58). 


More information: NASA

An effort for this was the American Project Vanguard. After the Soviet launch of the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts. 

Juno visits Jupiter
The US Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership, known as the Sputnik crisis, urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his advisers counseled more deliberate measures. 

On January 12, 1958, NACA organized a Special Committee on Space Technology, headed by Guyford Stever. On January 14, 1958, NACA Director Hugh Dryden published A National Research Program for Space Technology stating.

While this new federal agency would conduct all non-military space activity, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application.


More information: NASA

On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 43-year-old NACA intact; its 8,000 employees, an annual budget of US$100 million, three major research laboratories: Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory and two small test facilities. 


Saturn in a photo taken by Cassini
A NASA seal was approved by President Eisenhower in 1959. Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the United States Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into NASA

A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the Space Race with the Soviet Union was the technology from the German rocket program led by Wernher von Braun, who was now working for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), which in turn incorporated the technology of American scientist Robert Goddard's earlier works. 

Earlier research efforts within the US Air Force and many of ARPA's early space programs were also transferred to NASA. In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology.

More information: NASA

NASA has conducted many manned and unmanned spaceflight programs throughout its history. Unmanned programs launched the first American artificial satellites into Earth orbit for scientific and communications purposes, and sent scientific probes to explore the planets of the solar system, starting with Venus and Mars, and including grand tours of the outer planets.


Buzz Aldrin stands on the surface of the Moon
Manned programs sent the first Americans into low Earth orbit (LEO), won the Space Race with the Soviet Union by landing twelve men on the Moon from 1969 to 1972 in the Apollo program, developed a semi-reusable LEO Space Shuttle, and developed LEO space station capability by itself and with the cooperation of several other nations including post-Soviet Russia. Some missions include both manned and unmanned aspects, such as the Galileo probe, which was deployed by astronauts in Earth orbit before being sent unmanned to Jupiter.

More information: NASA

On December 4, 2006, NASA announced it was planning a permanent moon base. The goal was to start building the moon base by 2020, and by 2024, have a fully functional base that would allow for crew rotations and in-situ resource utilization. However, in 2009, the Augustine Committee found the program to be on an unsustainable trajectory.


Pluto, New Horizons Mission
NASA's ongoing investigations include in-depth surveys of Mars, Mars 2020 and InSight and Saturn and studies of the Earth and the Sun. Other active spacecraft missions are Juno for Jupiter, New Horizons, for Jupiter, Pluto, and beyond, and Dawn for the asteroid belt. 

NASA continued to support in situ exploration beyond the asteroid belt, including Pioneer and Voyager traverses into the unexplored trans-Pluto region, and Gas Giant orbiters Galileo (1989–2003), Cassini (1997–2017), and Juno (2011–). The New Horizons mission to Pluto was launched in 2006 and successfully performed a flyby of Pluto on July 14, 2015. The probe received a gravity assist from Jupiter in February 2007, examining some of Jupiter's inner moons and testing on-board instruments during the flyby. On the horizon of NASA's plans is the MAVEN spacecraft as part of the Mars Scout Program to study the atmosphere of Mars.

There was a new executive administration in the United States, which directed NASA to send Humans to Mars by the year 2033. The Europa Clipper and Mars 2020 continue to be supported for their planned schedules.


More information: NASA


NASA has been one of the most successful public investments 
in motivating students to do well and achieve all they can achieve.

Neil Armstrong

Saturday, 28 July 2018

BESALÚ: JEWISH HERITAGE IN A ROMANIC TOWN

The Grandma arrives to Besalú, La Garrotxa
Today The Grandma has studied a new lesson of her Intermediate Language Practice manual (Chapters 31 and 32).

More info: Time Expressions

After, she has travelled to Besalú, Girona, where Tina Picotes was waiting for her to spend an exciting day discovering all the secrets of this wonderful town with lots of Jewish, Romanic and Moorish influences. During the trip, The Grandma has been reading a new chapter of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.

The Grandma loves Middle Age and all its culture. She likes Medieval music, dance and history because all of them are the seeds of our current European societies.


Besalú is a Catalan town in the comarca of Garrotxa, in Girona. The name Besalú is derived from the Latin Bisuldunum, meaning a fort on a mountain between two rivers. It is also the historical capital of the county of La Garrotxa.

One key date is the year 894, when Besalú was converted to a county with its own dynasty. The county changed from L’Empordà to El Ripollès

The Grandma walks across the Jewish quarter
In the year 1111, Besalú lost its independence, for historical reasons in favor of the county of Barcelona.

The town's importance was greater in the early Middle Ages, as capital of the county of Besalú, whose territory was roughly the same size as the current comarca of Garrotxa but sometime extended as far as Corbières and Aude.  


Guifré El Pilós, Wilfred the Hairy, credited with the unification of Catalonia, was Count of Besalú. The town was also the birthplace of Raimon Vidal, a medieval troubadour.


The church of Sant Pere was consecrated in 1003. The town features arcaded streets and squares and also a restored mikveh, a ritual Jewish bath dating from the eleventh or twelfth century, as well as the remains of a medieval synagogue, located in the lower town near the river. Besalú also hosts the Museum of miniatures created by jeweler and art collector Lluís Carreras.


Tina Picotes visits the Jewish quarter
The monument is circled by the ancient wall from the c. XII-XIV. Unfortunately only parts of the original walls still exist today. The urban configuration of the site is almost identical to the original layout. Without a doubt, the Medieval Bridge is the emblem of the town, of an angular design with seven uneven arcs and two towers.

The part of the town nearest to the bridge there are many narrow streets that belong to the ancient Jewish quarter. It is in this area where you will find the Miqvé, the purification baths, which date from c. XII, and demonstrate the presence of an important Jewish community with the
synagogue.

The street from the medieval bridge leads to the Town Square Plaça Major, a square whose arcades date from c. XVI, and used to be the centre of the medieval town.

More information: Visit Pirineus

Important buildings are the Local Government Ajuntament dating from c. XVII, the Royal Curia Cúria Reial, dating from c. XIV, and the Casa Tallaferro. The street Tallaferro leads to the entrance to the Castle precinct. Inside the precinct there remains one of the towers from the ancient County Castle, and the apse of Saint Mary Santa Maria that dates from c. XI.


The Grandma visits the Miqvé, the Jewish baths
Along with the street Portalet these are the remains which best retain the medieval appearance, along with panoramic views of the Romanic Bridge. Leading up from the Main Street Carrer Major, there are the Casa Romà (c. XIV) and the parish church of Saint Vincent Sant Vicenç dating from c. XI-XII which has very sculpturesque doors and windows. 

Near to the Main Town Square, there is the Prat de Sant Pere, wide and spacious which used to be the Cemetery of the Benedictine monastery of Saint Peter Sant Pere.

Today there only remains the three-nave church and one apse, dating from the c. XI. Also there is the small chapel of Saint James Sant Jaume (c. XII) and the Casa Cornellà dating from the c. XII and which has a patio with three galleries. Behind the monastery there is the church of the hospital of Saint Julia Sant Julià, with one nave and no apse, dating from c. XII, and an outstanding entrance portal.

More information: Catalunya-Besalú Medieval

The County of Besalú was one of the landlocked medieval Catalan counties near the Mediterranean coastline. It was roughly coterminous with the modern comarca of Garrotxa and at various times extended as far north as Corbières and Aude, now in France. Its capital was the village of Besalú. Throughout most of its history it was attached to one of the other more powerful counties, but it experienced a century of independence before it was finally and irrevocably annexed to the County of Barcelona.

Besalú was reconquered from the Moors by 785. It was originally a pagus of the County of Girona in the Marca Hispanica. The original pagus comprised the territories of Garrotxa and those neighbouring Montgrony and Setcases in the comarca of Ripollès as far as Agullana and Figueres, in Alt Empordà and Banyoles in Pla de l'Estany.


Tina Picotes visits the Church of Sant Pere, Besalú
In the Ordinatio Imperii of 817, Louis the Pious made it a part of Aquitaine and ruled it directly along with the other maritime counties of the Marca: Roussillon, Girona, Barcelona, and Empúries.  

Besalú, along with Barcelona and Girona were placed under Count Bera, a Visigoth. Under Louis the Pious Gothia saw a reinvigorated monasticism spread first in Pallars and then eastward into Roussillon, Empúries, and Besalú. Under Louis and his successors, a system of aprisiones was established in Besalú, largely held by native Goths and immigrant Gascons.

During the reign of Carles El Calv, Charles the Bald, Besalú was attached to the counties of Urgell and Cerdanya. In 871, Guifré el Pilós, Wilfred the Hairy and his kin began the encastellation of Besalú by constructing a forward castle at Castellaris. Wilfred later separated it and made his brother Radulf its count and it became one of the last de facto independent Catalan counties.


More information: Turisme Garrotxa

Sometime between 913 and 920, Radulf died and Miró El Jove, Miro the Younger, Count of Cerdanya, took over Besalú, even though it should have gone to Sunyer II, Count of Barcelona and Girona. When Miro died in 927, his counties were ruled indivisibly by his widow Ava as regent for his two sons, Sunifred II and Wilfred II. When the two reached their majority, Sunifred governed Cerdanya and the younger Wilfred Besalú under the suzerainty of his older brother.

The brothers, and their younger brothers Oliba Cabreta and Miro Bonfill, acted consonantly throughout their lives. In 943 Sunyer of Barcelona attacked Besalú and Ripoll and Sunifred came to Wilfred's aid. The brother also retained their ties to the French crown, though they often carried the title marchio, probably without royal sanction but perhaps as an honour from Carolingian times. Oliba received royal lands and rights in Besalú from Rudolph in 929, indicating the presence and memory of the royal fisc in Besalú


The Grandma crosses the Medieval Bridge
Wilfred even going to the court of Louis IV in order to solicit a privilege ofimmunity to the monastery of Sant Pere de Camprodon which he and his brother had jointly founded as their legacy. Wilfred also received a portion of the property which the viscount Unifred had treacherously taken from Ermengol of Osona by a precept of Louis's.

In the latter half of the tenth century, the power and authority of the counts of Besalú and Cerdanya increased. In 957, Besalú was rocked by the rebellion of a faction of the noblesse backing the sons of the deceased count Radulf. Wilfred was assassinated and Sunifred annexed the property of the rebels and took over the county. In 965, Sunifred passed all his counties on to Oliba, who gave Besalú as a subordinate countship to Miro, but when Miro became Bishop of Girona in 971, Besalú was reattached to Cerdanya.


More information: Ars Didactica

In 988, Oliba entered Montecassino and left Besalú -along with Vallespir, Fenouillèdes, and Peyrepertuse- to Bernard Tallaferro. He annexed Ripoll in 1002. He inaugurated an independent line of rulers in Besalú and thus diminished the power of his dynasty. Pope Benedict VIII established diocese in Besalú for Bernard's benefit, but it was short-lived.


Map of Catalonia, 900
The last quarter of the 10th century and first quarter of the 11th witnessed very little war in southern France and Catalonia, some of the only instances occurring between Oliba Cabreta and the Counts of Carcassonne. In this period as well, Carolingian courts and Gothic law were still in effect in Besalú, as late as 1031. 

Between 969 and 1020, the county of Besalú minted its own money, though this currency has not been preserved in the form of coins, its only evidence being documentary. Between 1020 and 1111, three different kinds of silver coin were minted in Besalú. The engravings of Besalú in the eleventh century have been considered some of the best exemplars of the Romanesque style.

In 1066, William II died and Besalú was co-ruled by his brother, Bernard II and his son, Bernard III. In 1100, the moderate and stable Bernard II died and Bernard III began to reign on his own. He had little support from the local nobility and Raymond Berengar III of Barcelona took the opportunity to augment his influence in the region.


At the turn of the 12th century, Besalú extended as across the Pyrenees as far as Corbières. It dominated and patronised the monasteries of Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Sant Miquel de Cuixà, and Lagrasse. It encompassed the castles of Tautavel, Vingrau, Queribus, Aguilar, and Peyrepertuse, which were refortified in the thirteenth century by Louis IX of France as forming his southern border with the Crown of Aragon by the Treaty of Corbeil (1259). The rest of Besalú was a part of the Principality of Catalonia within the Crown.

In 1107, Bernard III married Jimena, Raymond Berengar's daughter. In the marriage pact, Raymond Berengar ceded Ausona and the Diocese of Vic with all their castles. In return, Barcelona became the heir of Bernard if he died without children.

Tina Picotes & The Grandma leave Besalú
At the time Bernard was fifty years of age, older than his father-in-law, and Jimena a mere child of seven or eight. It was not unlikely that Bernard would die before the marriage could legally be consummated. 

The aging and ineffectual Count of Besalú showed no desire to govern and readily allowed his new father-in-law to fill the vacuum left by the death of Bernard II.

In 1111, Bernard died and Barcelona inherited Besalú. This led to conflict with Bernard William of Cerdanya, who was the feudal suzerain of Besalú. The problem was solved by the cession of Vallespir, Fenolledès, Peyrepertuse, and Castellnou to Cerdanya for compensation.

Some of the most important monasteries in Catalonia were located in Besalú: Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Santa María de Ripoll, Banyoles, Camprodón, and Sant Pau de Fenollet. There was not, however, a bishop in Besalú. Rather, the abbacies were dependent on the dioceses of Vic, Girona, and Elne. In 1017, Pope Benedict conceded to Bernard Tallaferro the right to establish a diocese of his own. Ignoring the proposals of Joan de les Abadesses and Sant Pau de Fenollet, Bernard founded it in Besalú itself. The first bishop was his own son Wilfred, abbot of Sant Joan de les Abadesses.

On Bernard's death in 1020, the bishops of Girona and Vic reclaimed their ancient rights over the parishes of Besalú. Wilfred, lacking a political protector, retired to his monastery and the diocese of Besalú was abolished.




 The synagogues of late antiquity and the early medieval period 
were built around imagery: imagery of remembering the Temple, 
but also of the celestial zodiac, too. 

Simon Schama

Friday, 27 July 2018

BUGS BUNNY'S ANNIVERSARY: EH, WHAT'S UP DOC?

Mel Blanc, the Bugs Bunny's voice
Today, The Grandma has been reading a new chapter of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and has reviewed a new lesson of her Intermediate Language Practice manual (Chapter 30). 

The Grandma is a great fan of Looney Tunes, especially Coyote, and today is the 78th anniversary of the first appearance of Bugs Bunny one of the Looney Tunes greatest stars. 

Congratulations Bugs! Thanks for hours and hours of humour and entertainment, generation after generation.

More information: Place and Position I & II


Bugs Bunny is an animated cartoon character created by L. Schlesinger Productions, later Warner Bros. Cartoons in the late 1930s and voiced originally by Mel Blanc.

Bugs is best known for his starring roles in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of animated short films, produced by Warner Bros. Though a similar character debuted in the WB cartoon Porky's Hare Hunt (1938) and appeared in a few subsequent shorts, the definitive character of Bugs is widely credited to have made his debut in director Tex Avery's Oscar-nominated film A Wild Hare (1940).

More information: Warner Bros

Bugs is an anthropomorphic gray and white hare or rabbit who is famous for his flippant, insouciant personality. He is also characterized by a Brooklyn accent, his portrayal as a trickster, and his catch phrase Eh... What's up, doc? Due to Bugs' popularity during the golden age of American animation, he became an American cultural icon and the official mascot of Warner Bros. Entertainment. He can thus be seen in the older Warner Bros. company intros.


Bugs Bunny's first appearance
Since his debut, Bugs has appeared in various short films, feature films, compilations, TV series, music records, comic books, video games, award shows, amusement park rides, and commercials. 

He has also appeared in more films than any other cartoon character, is the ninth most-portrayed film personality in the world, and has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

While Porky's Hare Hunt was the first Warner Bros. cartoon to feature a Bugs Bunny-like rabbit, A Wild Hare, directed by Tex Avery and released on July 27, 1940, is widely considered to be the first official Bugs Bunny cartoon.


It is the first film where both Elmer Fudd and Bugs, both redesigned by Bob Givens, are shown in their fully developed forms as hunter and tormentor, respectively; the first in which Mel Blanc uses what would become Bugs' standard voice; and the first in which Bugs uses his catchphrase, What's up, Doc? A Wild Hare was a huge success in theaters and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cartoon Short Subject.

More information: Neatorama

By 1942, Bugs had become the number one star of Merrie Melodies. The series was originally intended only for one-shot characters in films after several early attempts to introduce characters, Foxy, Goopy Geer, and Piggy, failed under Harman–Ising.
By the mid-1930s, under Leon Schlesinger, Merrie Melodies started introducing newer characters.

Bugs Bunny's evolution
Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid (1942) shows a slight redesign of Bugs, with less-prominent front teeth and a rounder head. Bugs was used to advertise World War II because they were low on troops so they found out the most athletic adults watched Bugs Bunny so they used that to attract them into the war so they could fight. In company with cartoon studios such as Disney and Famous Studios, Warners pitted its characters against Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and the Japanese.

More information: Smithsonian

After World War II, Bugs continued to appear in numerous Warner Bros. cartoons, making his last Golden Age appearance in False Hare (1964). He starred in over 167 theatrical short films.


In the fall of 1960, ABC debuted the prime-time television program The Bugs Bunny Show. This show packaged many of the post-1948 Warners cartoons with newly animated wraparounds. After two seasons, it was moved from its evening slot to reruns on Saturday mornings.


Bugs Bunny in Herr Meets Hare (1945)
The Bugs Bunny Show changed format and exact title frequently but remained on network television for 40 years. 

The packaging was later completely different, with each cartoon simply presented on its own, title and all, though some clips from the new bridging material were sometimes used as filler.

From the late 1970s through the early 1990s, Bugs was featured in various animated specials for network television.

Bugs returned to the silver screen in Box-Office Bunny (1991). This was the first Bugs Bunny cartoon since 1964 to be released in theaters and it was created for Bugs' 50th anniversary celebration.


More information: Today in History

In 1996, Bugs and the other Looney Tunes characters appeared in the live-action/animated film, Space Jam, directed by Joe Pytka and starring NBA superstar Michael Jordan. The film also introduced the character Lola Bunny, who becomes Bugs' new love interest.


Bugs Bunny aka Ióssif Stalin in Herr Meets Hare
In 1997, Bugs appeared on a U.S. postage stamp, the first cartoon to be so honored, beating the iconic Mickey Mouse. The stamp is number seven on the list of the ten most popular U.S. stamps, as calculated by the number of stamps purchased but not used.

A younger version of Bugs is the main character of Baby Looney Tunes, which debuted on Kids' WB in 2001. In the action comedy Loonatics Unleashed, his definite descendant Ace Bunny is the leader of the Loonatics team and seems to have inherited his ancestor's Brooklyn accent and comic wit.

In 2011, Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang returned to television in the Cartoon Network sitcom, The Looney Tunes Show.

In 2015, Bugs starred in the direct-to-video film Looney Tunes: Rabbits Run, and later returned to television yet again as the star of Cartoon Network and Boomerang's comedy series New Looney Tunes, formerly Wabbit.




Carrots are devine... 
You get a dozen for a dime, It's maaaa-gic!

Bugs Bunny