Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Alhambra Decree Is Issued (1492)

Fourteen years after Ferdinand II and Isabella I, the “Catholic Monarchs” of Spain, established the Spanish Inquisition to discover and punish converted Jews—and later Muslims—who were insincere, they issued the Alhambra Decree, an edict ordering the expulsion of all Jews who refused to convert to Christianity. Any Jew who did not convert or leave by the deadline faced execution. Non-Jews found sheltering or hiding Jews had all of their belongings seized. When was the edict officially revoked? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Transfer Day

On March 31, 1917, the US government formally purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark for the sum of $25 million. The US purchased them primarily for their strategic importance, and they are still considered a vital key to the defense of the Panama Canal Zone and the Caribbean. Transfer Day is usually observed in the islands with a parade and other public festivities. There was a major celebration in 1967, 50 years after the transfer took place, with events that underscored Danish-American friendship and a reenactment of the original transfer ceremony of 1917. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Joseph Haydn (1732)

The principal shaper of the Classical style, Haydn was an Austrian composer who exerted major influence on his contemporaries, including Mozart, and future composers. The first great symphonist, he composed 106 symphonies and virtually invented the string quartet. By his later years, he was recognized internationally as the greatest living composer. He composed important works in almost every genre. What legendary composer was a student of Haydn? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Mangroves

Mangroves are large tropical evergreen trees of the genus Rhizophora. They are found in the muddy swamps of tropical and subtropical coastlines and estuaries and grow most abundantly in tropical Asia, Africa, and the islands of the southwest Pacific. Mangrove trunks produce aerial roots that become embedded in the mud and rapidly form close-growing mangrove thickets. These swamps are rich breeding grounds for fish and shellfish. How many plant species can be found in a mangrove habitat? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Hymen Lipman Patents Pencil with Attached Eraser (1858)

In prehistoric times, lumps of colored earth or chalk were used as markers. The so-called lead pencil—a rod of graphite encased in wood—first came into use in the 16th century. However, it was not until the 19th century that the eraser was added—an innovation that earned Hymen Lipman a patent in 1858. In 1862, he sold his patent to Joseph Reckendorfer for $100,000. What happened to Reckendorfe’s patent 13 years later? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day

This national holiday, instituted in 1996, honors an African-American religious sect once outlawed in Trinidad and Tobago. The Spiritual Baptists originally came to the islands as former American slaves. Their style of worship combines African and Baptist beliefs and practices, and services include bell ringing and shouting. In 1917, the government forbade the group from practicing their religion; this law was overturned in 1951. The national holiday honors the Spiritual Baptists’ long struggle against religious persecution. It is observed with speeches and religious services. Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary

Francisco Goya (1746)

Goya was a Spanish painter and printmaker whose work profoundly influenced 19th-century European art. He started out designing tapestries for the royal manufactory of Santa Bárbara and was appointed painter to Charles III in 1786. By 1799—under the patronage of Charles IV—he had become Spain’s most successful and fashionable artist. Goya’s works address all aspects of Spanish life, including the political and social turmoil of his day. Why did his art come under the scrutiny of the Inquisition? Discuss

Source: The Free Dictionary