Sunday, January 27, 2013

Realism vs. Romanticism

Moving forward to the Revolution in the Arts, in this post I'm going to talk about the Romanticism and the Realism, which are really different, almost opposite to each other, even though they developed around the same time and space. 


Romanticism is an artistic, intellectual and literary movement that originated in Europe against the ideas of rationalization, which left out the feelings of a person  to talk only about the facts, the things that could be seen and thought of. Mostly, romanticism was embedded into the arts and literature, but it also had a strong impact in historiography, education and natural sciences. Romanticism was based on the expression of strong emotions, such as apprehension, horror, terror, and awe.

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 1818
This is a great example of a Romantic painting. You may say: "What's the Romantic thing about it? It's just a man standing in some rocks." But if you think about it you can understand the strong emotions in the artist: the feeling of awe when he thought he had reached the summit of life and saw that there was still a long way to go, forward to the unknown above a sea of fog. You may think that this painting has been forgotten, or is only remembered by those who love and study the History of the Arts, but in fact, it is seen often in our modern lives, inspiring different people to do different things. 

All of these movie posters are inspired in Caspar David Friedrich's painting, as it is easy to observe.


Realism, on the other hand, attempted to depict things just as they are seen by a third person point of view, without expressing emotions or feelings, expressing just what the eye can see or the ear can listen. Realism is totally independent from the man's feelings, schemes or mental maps. Realists positioned themselves against the Romanticism, which was growing in France by that time. It believed in the objective reality and began a revolution against the strong emotions expressed in Romanticism. The truth and accuracy became the goals of most Realists, and when photography arrived it was much easier to grow in Realism.

Oswald Achenbach, Abendstimmung in der Campagna, 1850.
This painting by Oswald Achenbach is a beautiful example of Realistic paintings. As you can see, it depicts the scene just as a person would see it, the light, the sheep, the whole landscape makes you feel as if you are there. There's no emotion and nothing left for the imagination. You can do nothing more but to admire the landscape, the light of the sunrise, the colors of that place. Landscapes like this one often are depicted in Realistic paintings. Still, nowadays Realism is based more on photography.

This photograph shows us how Realism is nowadays thanks to photography

1811, Paraguay's Independence

Hi again! I now found this video about Paraguay's Independence in 1811. It is a cartoon movie made in commemoration of a the two hundred anniversary of Paraguay's independence. The video is in Spanish, but I'll write the most important facts in this post.

The Independence of Paraguay

In 1808 Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain and converted it into another French province, putting his own brother Joseph Bonaparte in the throne of Spain. When the news arrived to Paraguay, the authorities began to think about liberty, not knowing what would happen to them. The creoles were resented of the Spanish because they had every high post in government and church, while they weren't born in the New World. In Argentina the people began to arise, to get rid of Spanish control. They once sent an army against Paraguay to capture the governor Velasco, who was Spanish. They wanted to annex Paraguay to the government of Buenos Aires and get them rid of the Spanish. The governor created a little army, and even the creoles fought with him against the army: they wouldn't get rid of Spanish government to be conquered by other people.

The battle began, and it seemed that for Paraguay it was lost, so their forces retreated. Still, while the enemy soldiers were sacking the city, the Paraguayans fell on them, crushing them until they fled. They left them continue marching south for a while, and when their soldiers were tired Paraguayans attacked them again, but they saw that they were even killing young boys, so they stopped the assault. The enemy general accepted defeat sacrificing himself for the good of his men, but the Paraguayans spared them all, inviting them to dinner and letting them go back to their home. 

It had been a great victory; still, when they went back they found out that the Spanish were leaving because they thought they had lost the battle, taking all of their riches with them.They noticed that the Spanish fled while Paraguayans stayed to fight, which revived independence dreams. They thought of making a treaty with the Portuguese, but some were skeptical towards the idea.

Somebody told the government about the conspiracy, so they sent soldiers to arrest the leaders. When they told Francia that they had arrested their leaders, he told them that the Age of the Conquistadors was gone, and it was time for the Americas to continue on their own. For some time the conspirators were in prison, thinking about freedom, not for themselves, but for Paraguay. Many others were thinking about this, many Spanish trembled in fear.

Meanwhile, the news about rebellion in the Americas were beginning to arise doubts within the Spanish: that in Buenos Aires Spanish generals were laying down their swords, that in Venezuela people from good families like Simon Bolivar were leading the rebellion, that creoles formed most of the rebels. The Spanish were looking from help from Portugal, whose queen was sister to the king of Spain.

Francia was one of the most important leaders of Paraguay's Independence War
When the rebels heard about this, they began to make plans of a new government, rid of the Spanish. They decided that they needed Francia to lead their rebellion, and Francia accepted to be the one. He proposed to keep the Spanish happy, and send them out of the capital city slowly. That same night, they captured their artillery and other barracks. Still, no blood had been spilled. They threatened the governor and then he accepted to send all his troops away in exchange of his life.

It was a bloodless and successful revolution, that liberated the people of Paraguay, giving them long-wanted freedom.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Franco-Prussian War

Hi again! Here is another video I found about Europe's 19th Century. This one is kind of long and serious, and I hope you like it. After the video I'll include a summary of the most important things on it. Enjoy.

The Franco-Prussian War

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 was the first modern war in Europe. It was the longest military conflict fought on European soil since the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The end of the war marked the ascendancy of Imperial Germany as the preeminent military power on the continent.

In July 1870, William I sent a telegram to the Counselor of Prussia, Otto Von Bismark, explaining how the French ambassador had been cordially received on the matter of the Spanish Succession. The throne had been offered to a member of the Prussian Royal Family, a cousin of the king, but naturally France had objected. William tried to avoid war with the French by saying they wouldn't send such candidate for the throne. He told Bismark to send it to the French, but his intentions were different: he wanted a war. He altered the message, saying that Bennedetti had been dismissed out of hand. The "EMS Telegram" arrived in Paris on the 14th of July. The French were outraged and within 5 days they declared war on Prussia and its allies. 

This war was the first major disruption of the peace established after the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte around 1815. The German alliance, with Prussia being the leader, became the ruling power of Europe.

The Franco-Prussian War totally changed the way of seeing war in Europe, especially because of the involvement of new weaponry technology. One of the most important weapons used by the Prussians was the well-known bolt action Dreyse Needle Gun, and the Prussians really understood how to use modern technology with steel artillery. They also considered mobility really important, which the French didn't. Even though the French had more firepower with their Chassepot Rifle, they didn't really invest much money in artillery, and that really costed them the war. Another difference in weaponry were the breech-loading weapons, which were better than the muzzle-loading weapons because you get more cover and don't have to move yourself or the weapon to load, aim and shoot. Since breech-loading weapons are loaded from the back you can do all this from the same position. Another weapon was the mitrailleuse, which was kind of a machine gun, but the French didn't use it well and it was smashed by Prussian artillery before making major damage. 

Warfare during the Franco-Prussian War was improved in a major scale, and lots of the weapons and tactics developed were used again during WWI

After France's defeat, the Germans assumed almost total control of Central and Eastern Europe. The French thought they would have another period of peace, but it didn't happen. One of the most bloody and violent insurrection of the 19th century arose from Paris. It was called the Paris Commune. During the Commune there was a period of great suffering, because the revolutionary spirit of the French was suppressed by the remaining French troops. The turmoil of civil war captured France again. The commune wasn't one single phenomenon, but it was many things to many different people. The bloody week was a great example of the suffering during the Commune, in which Paris was sieged. The people of Paris ate rats, making rat hunts and selling them at high prices. On May 28th, 1871 the Commune finally fell, and over 20 thousand people were savagely slaughtered, public buildings were burnt down and France's symbols of past glories were destroyed.

Giuseppe Garibaldi, Hero of Italy

Hello again! Here is another video I found, this one about Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was an Italian soldier who got to become a hero. Unfortunately, the video is in Italian, so I have included a brief summary of the most important things about him.

Giuseppe Garibaldi

He was a legendary hero, loyal, kind, and a good man, even with animals. His passion was the sea, and when he was thirteen years old he saved some friends from death. He lived his youth navigating and one day he felt the desire to help his nation. A while after, he came into service of Mazzini and headed towards America, but in 1848 he came back because his nation needed him. He gathered with his old mother and his loving woman. He fought heading some volunteers in the battle of Lombardi. He helped to defend the Roman Republic, and helped the Italians, staying at Liguria. Later on, he sets back to America, staying with Antonio Meucci. In 1859, back in Italy, he participated in the Second Independence War. Afterwards, he gathers volunteers from every place to help him in the Expedition of the Thousand. In May 5, 1860, the Piamonte sets sails. He is pursued by enemies, policemen and spies, but the Sicilian People support him. His first tough battle was at Calatafimi.

"Qui si fa l'Italia o si moure!" (Garibaldi)

He won the battles of Calatafimi, Palermo and Milazzo. When he was in Caianello, he saluted Vitorio Emanuele II, king of Italy. The hero returns to Caprera, and after two years he returns to Rome during the Third War of Independence in 1866. The honor of the army was saved by Garibaldi, because of his victory at Bezzecca, and he was given the order to stop. In 1867 the French stopped Garibaldi, who was decided to get to Rome. In 1870 he forgets this offense and helps France in its war against Prussia at Digione. He lived his last years quietly in Caprera, dying in 1882. His body lays in a granite tomb, but his spirit watches over his nation, among the great and the poor that turned Italy in a sovereign nation, "Una, Libera, e Independente."

How did Italy become a single unified nation?

As it is mentioned in the video, there were three Italian Independence Wars, two in which Giuseppe Garibaldi participated actively (the last two). By that time, Italy was divided into small provinces, some of which were from France and others from the Austrian Empire. There were three wars between 1848 and 1866, ending with the conquest of the whole Italian Peninsula. The unification, was completed in 1860 by the Conquest of the Kingdom of two Sicilies by Garibaldi's Expedition of the Thousand. All in all, Garibaldi was the Hero who unified and liberated Italy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Crimean War, 1853 to 1856

Hello, I found this video on the Crimean War which is very interesting and I would like to share with you. Here it is, with a summary of what the video is about:

Summary of the Crimean War

The Crimean War began because in 1851, the French forced the Ottomans to name the Holy Lands under the government of France. The Ottomans declared Russia their protector, and Russians moved military forces in. Peace negotiation between France and Russia began, and the British crept in because they said that the negotiations affected Ottomans' sovereignty.

In 1853 Russians annexed some Ottoman territories to their nation, so the British send a fleet to support the French fleet against the Russians. Ottomans, on the other hand, declare war on Russia on their own.

The Battle of Sinop was one of the most important during the Crimean War, one of the factors that made the French and British join the war against Russia.

In 1854 the French and British declare war on the Russians, and the allies capture the Azov Sea.

In 1855 the allies leave the Azov Sea, and the Russians invade some Ottoman territories.

In 1856 peace negotiations begin again with the retreat of all naval and foot Russian military forces. This way, the allies won the war in many ways because they got what they wanted and the battles weren't fought in their territory.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

10 Fun Facts About Napoleon

Throughout World History, some leaders have been famous and are still remembered for their awesome feats. Some of these leaders are admired for applying justice in an efficient way and creating interesting sets of laws; others, for their amazing battle strategies; some others, for their popularity within the different social classes. There are some leaders whose name still make us tremble, because of their cruelty towards their people or enemies. But only a few leaders are remembered for all of these reasons at the same time. One of them is Napoleon Bonaparte.

          Napoleon was a great French leader who rose from middle class to being Emperor of France by winning lots of battles after the French Revolution. He became a hero and lived long enough to see himself become the villain. But as every great person he has a background. This is what this post is about: fun or unknown facts about Napoleon. If you want to learn more about him, you can watch this video:

Ten Fun Facts About Napoleon

1.   When Napoleon was a small kid, he totally despised France and its people; even though, he   later made a military career serving in the French Army, and after some time he even became Emperor of France.

2.   Napoleon could have been a Genovese General instead of a French one had he been born a year before. At the time of his birth, Corsica had only been French for a year, having belonged to the Republic of Genoa before.

3.   Napoleon had many lovers in his youth. One of them, Desiree Bernadotte became Queen of Sweden years later.

Desiree Bernadotte, Napoleon's lover
4.   The Rosetta Stone, a famous archaeological piece that helped archaeologists decipher the Egyptian Hieroglyphics, was found as a direct result of Napoleon's conquer of Egypt.

The Rosetta Stone is now held at the British Museum
5.   He graduated from the military academy in France and became Lieutenant at a very young age of 16, which is 5 year earlier than most of the soldiers.

6.   It is said that he only slept minutes while he was in campaign. Usually he would take naps of between 5 and 10 minutes and wake up fully refreshed for battle.

7.   The first defeat of Napoleon was in the battle of Waterloo. Some historians say that, had he attacked earlier in the day, he might have had better odds in the battle, but he was suffering from hemorrhoids and couldn't attack until later.

8.   Even though Napoleon was a great military leader, there was one man who was able to defeat him several times. Napoleon's nemesis was Horatio Nelson, a British admiral who defeated Napoleon both in the Battle of The Nile and the Battle of the Strait of Trafalgar. Both were naval battles.

Horatio Nelson, Napoleon's Nemesis
9.   Although it is believed that Napoleon died because of a stomach ulcer, there are some doubts about it. The walls of his house were painted with arsenic, so he inhaled this chemical element all the time. Others believe he was poisoned with "Calomel", a drug which can be fatal if consumed along with almonds. Locks of Napoleons hair were given to some people, and when examined with chemical tests they showed high rates of arsenic.

Napoleon's death
10. Since Napoleon was a small man with a big ego, he used to say: "A man's greatness is measured from his head to the heavens."

Napoleon usually appears in paintings with his hand tucked in his coat.