Latin in Humanist Europe

Pseudo-Cicero, Rhetorica ad Herennium, Italy, early 15th century. BL, Arundel 271, f.3.

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Humanist Latin was founded on the model of Classical Latin. We can consider Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374) as its creator, who imposed a resolutely different style than the one typical of the late medieval ars dictaminis. The authors that were deemed worthy of imitation were initially all of the ancients, however beginning notably with the late fifteenth century, the Ciceronian model was increasingly favoured to the exclusion of others. A few important exceptions should be noted, such as Angelo Poliziano (1454-1494), who in opposition to Paolo Cortesi (1465-1510) felt that the vitality of writing could not be limited by norms that were too rigid in imitation. At a time when vernacular languages acquired full dignity, Latin became the distinctive language of a restricted social and intellectual group, which through its mastery of Latin lay claim to an administrative and political role. Similarly, apparently erudite discussions on the origin of Latin–which for some such as Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444) was used only by an upper class, even in ancient Rome–helped create an image of an elitist and exclusive language.

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Antarctica: A “European Invention”

Bagpiper Gilbert Kerr with penguin during the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-04. Photo : William Speirs Bruce.

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Antarctica is, in a way, a “European invention”. It has captured the imagination of the old continent from Antiquity to the modern era, when it became the focus of the last great age of heroism and imperialism. Antarctica was the last continent to be the subject of European geographic imperialism, a process through which almost the whole territory of the globe was explored, mapped and ultimately annexed. After the Second World War, it was also a testing ground for the invention of world heritage, through the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 which put territorial claims on ice and established international management. Ever since, Europe has seen itself as the protector of this polar space.

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Berlin Wall (The)

The garland of light, made up of thousands of illuminated balloons: installation created for the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, Berlin, November 9, 2014

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On the evening of November 9, 2014, a « chain of light » lit up the Berlin sky over the Wall’s former route through the city centre, before thousands of balloons rose toward the sky in evocation of the peaceful nature of the fall of the Wall 25 years earlier.

For 28 years the Wall separated the East and the West, dividing a city, a country, Europe, and the world. It was associated at the time with a painful history, although its history did not end on November 9, 1989. Even if only 1.5 km of the Wall remains, it is present everywhere in Berlin through its material and symbolic traces as well as its evocation in maps, photographs, songs…Tourism and economic activity connected to the Wall continue to prosper, with the Wall now recounting a different story, above all that of the end of the Cold War, and the joy and hopes that its fall sparked in Europe. Representations of the Wall testify to this more complex meaning that it took on.

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The Female Actors of European Construction

Simone Veil presiding over a session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on October 12, 1979. © Claude Truong-Ngoc

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Europe only has founding “fathers”, that is, the male European politicians who in the 1950s committed themselves to building the Community. There were no women, and for good reason: at the time they were given very little space in the national political life of the six founding states, even if a few women can be identified in the shadows of the founders behind the European project. None of these, however, had a deciding role. This initial absence of women can lead one to believe that they did not share in in the construction of Europe, although what was true of the 1950s and 1960s, was no longer the case from the beginning of the 1980s.

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Guaranteeing Peace through “Collective Security” in the 20th Century

‘The doormat’, satirical drawing by David Low (1891-1963), published in the Evening Standard, 19 January 1933.

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“Collective security”, an expression that emerged in the 1930s, is an attempt to respond to the outbreak of violence in the two world wars of the twentieth century. In contrast to the notion of security through a balance of power, which characterised the international system in the nineteenth century, collective security instead relies on the “imbalance of power” (Marie-Claude Smouts and Guillaume Devin) that would be amassed by all member states against any aggressor. This system was first institutionalised in the aftermath of the First World War by the League of Nations and taken up again in 1945 by the United Nations. While never bringing the results hoped for by its advocates, it nevertheless marks a turning point in the history of international relations.

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War and Virility

Statue erected in Gallipoli (1922) in honour of Corporal Seyit, hero of the Turkish army

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Since Antiquity, the ideal of virility has been built on the model of the Greek citizen-soldier, notably in war. The Revolution conferred rights upon the soldier, and exalted his courage and acceptance of the supreme sacrifice. During the nineteenth century, Romantics, partisans of colonization, and nationalists continued to base virility in war, while in civil societies a less bellicose masculinity imposed itself. In the twentieth century, increases in firepower, the transformation of combat, and recognition of the fear and psychiatric disorders of combatants, weakened the military-virile model. All the same, the values preached in war and espoused by the army remain first and foremost masculine ones.

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Barbed Wire in Wartim: Uses and Memories

Liberation of children by Soviet troops from the camp of Auschwitz in January 1945, photography by Alexander Voronzow.

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Barbed wire, which is associated in mental representations with the worst totalitarian systems of the twentieth century and with deprivation of the most fundamental liberties, was born in the 1870s in the large prairies of the American Midwest. During World War One it became an essential albeit little-known weapon, and represents a symbol of mass death, which only imperfectly renders the historical conditions of its use.

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Feminization of European Armies

Soviet partisans during World War Two

Nineteenth-century Europe for the most part refused the presence of women in the military, believing that bearing arms was incompatible with femininity, reserving it only for men who possessed the political power from which it was inseparable. Women made their demands in vain, and transgressions of this gender norm were rare. The feminization of the military began in the twentieth century, but initially involved only medical care and auxiliary logistics. The two world wars along with the wars of decolonization amplified the mobilization of women and forced the military in most European countries to establish a lasting legal framework enabling women to become soldiers like anyone else, that is to say like men.

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Ruins and Vestiges in the Time of the Humanists

Maerten van Heemskerck (1498-1574), Self-portrait, with the Colosseum , 1553. Fitzwilliam Museum.

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The study and representation of the remains of ancient Rome had a central role in the emergence of cultural and artistic models in Renaissance Europe. Beginning in the late fourteenth century, humanists developed a collection of scholarly methods (notably epigraphical and topographical) that founded a proto-archaeological approach to ruins. The “science of ruins” went hand in hand with an aesthetic fascination that had a lasting influence through the redefinition of the canons and subjects in artistic practice. Observation of ruins was one of the major inspirations in the creation of “classic” architecture, while ruins became a recurring motif in European painting beginning in the late fifteenth century. Finally, this rediscovery was anchored in a powerful imaginary that conferred memorial and political value on Roman ruins. Humanists in particular made ruins into a warning from History, and formulated a patrimonial ideology of which the pontifical power of the Quattrocento was the primary promoter.

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European Commission’s White Paper on European Governance (2001) (The)

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Anglais

In 2001, the European Commission published European Governance: A White Paper, after six years of preparatory work conducted by civil servants and academics. The notion of participation by civil society plays a fundamental role in the work. A genuine discourse of European participatory governance is established, one of whose primary functions, we believe, is to confer a kind of democratic legitimacy onto Commission civil servants and experts at a key moment in its history.

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