Sparta vs. Athens

Two of the great civilizations of the world – Sparta and Athens – warred with one another for 200 years. From 550 to 350 BC, the two cities found themselves in frequent battles.

Sparta, a small city in southern Greece, was a powerful military force. Strong, fearless, and known to toss unfit babies into gorges. Their men went through grueling training, and Spartan boys were tested on their toughness by enduring whippings. They were fearless warriors on land.

Athens, on the other hand, differed greatly. Known as the birthplace of democracy, the Athenians way of life  was far more laid back than that of the Spartans. It was a city rich in culture, philosophy, art,  and science. Athen’s accomplishments in these areas are one of the most extraordinary in human history. People such as Plato, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristotle, and Socrates sprung from Athen’s grounds. The Athenians were masters of sea time battle.

Sparta War
Sparta War

Despite the greatness of both civilizations, the two warring civilizations dominated the history of Ancient Greece. At one point, the two joined forces to defeat 2 attempted Persian invasions. Once accomplished, though, Sparta and Athens went back to competing against one another for leadership of Greece.

Not until Philip of Macedonia invade from the North did Sparta and Athens finally cease fighting. Philip’s invasion took over the city-stats and their empire. Philip and his son Alexander the Great would go on to conquer many more lands throughout Greece and Asia.

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The Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834)

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” ~Monty Pythons

You may be familiar with the Monty Python’s version of the Spanish inquisition, and it does hold a bit of truth to it in that its accused were never quite sure of what was happening and why.

The actual Spanish Inquisition, started by Ferdinand V and Isabella of Spain and approved by the Pope, set out to unite the country under one religious faith – Catholicism- and purge the country of heretics. Although at the onset, it’s intentions may have been “pure” the Inquisition soon became a vehicle of political corruption and materialism.

This led to religious persecution of the Jews,  particularly those in Juderia of Spain. As the Jews were persecuted, many converted Catholicism and became known as conversos. It is likely they claimed Catholic faith, but still remained loyal to their Jewish traditions. The Spanish Inquisition did not persecute conversos at first, but soon fueled by greed and power they came to attack all Jews, conversos, and those who held any Jewish ancestry whether practicing Catholics or not.

Torture was often used as a means of confession rather than punishment
Torture was often used as a means of confession rather than punishment

In most cases, the accused were not aware of who had accused them or why. Accusations and the Inquisition process remained very secretive to those facing trial.  The Spanish Inquisition would offer an Edict of Grace ( a grace period offering a chance for those who were accused to come forward and have a chance to be reconciled with the Church) .  When the accused finally did come forward, they were then expected to also list any accomplices and thus the Spanish Inquisition never grew short of supply for their cause. After an unspecified detention period where most times the accused properties and assets were seized, a trial would begin. In the trial, methods of torture were used to elicit a confession from the accused. The torture methods were cruel and consisted of acts such as water torture or extreme “stretching”. If a confession was given (and most times were), the accused were condemned to death with the most popular method being burned at the stake.

Although the Spanish Inquisition was in the name of the Catholic church, the Church did not want “blood” on its hands and handed most of its power over to secular authorities for punishments and such.  Heresy was the primary concern, but people were persecuted for a number of reasons including witchcraft, sodomy, bigamy, and blasphemy.

Although the Spanish Inquisition faded out as the decline of the Church came and the French Revolution neared, it still had moments of revival under certain monarchies. Not until 1834 did a Royal Decree declare the end of the Spanish Inquisition.

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King Louis XIV of France

Louis XIV (1638-1715, known as the Sun King , ruled France for seventy two years starting at the young age of 4. During his time of rule from the  awe-inspiring Palace of Versailles, Louis XIV was able to expand French influence in Europe and centralize and strengthen its powers at home. The absolute monarchy which Louis XIV built held more power than France had seen in its history as well as eliminated what was left of feudalism.

Louis XIV - The Sun King
Louis XIV – The Sun King

As King, Louis XIV knew that France’s power was divided among a handful of rich noblemen who reigned over vast parts of the province. In order to gain their trust and compliance, he built his image as that of magnificent and glorious. By association, they too would seem glorious to others by sharing his presence, and thus, when Louis offered the wealthy noblemen to come live in his grand Palace of Versailles, they would accept. This avoided another Fronde (civil uprising of nobles against the French monarchy), and the noble elite were appeased. Louis also built palaces across France as well as expanded Versailles making it the most lavish and magnificent palace in Europe.

Louis’ ambitious ways  gained him unprecedented power, and he was able to even convince the Catholic church to allow him more control. One of his most famous quotes – “I am the state.” -portrayed Louis’ vision of himself as France. There was no separation between the two, and so having the Church under his power seemed fitting to him. Louis XIV tried to foster religious unity often resulting in persecution of others such as Protestants and Jews.

Four days before his 77th birthday, Louis XIV died and left behind a great legacy. Although he led France to strength and power, his absolute monarchy also led to tyrannical behavior which would alter result in the French Revolution in 1789.

Some Art from Frida Kahlo

I haven’t been on the ball lately. It’s already halfway through October, and I have zero costume ideas. Looking through past Halloween photos, I came across one of my former costumes that I loved – Frida Kahlo. I debated putting my own picture up, but my drawn in uni-brown and mustache might scare you.  So here is the real Frida Kahlo.

The next question that usually follows is, Frida who? For today’s little history lesson, I thought I’d give you some information on one of the world’s most interesting and talented painters (in my opinion).

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954), born and raised near Mexico City, was a Mexican painter married to the famous Diego Rivera. Her life was filled with many sorrows, and her paintings depicted both the physical and mental torment she suffered.

Frida was the third daughter of a Hungarian-Jewish father and a Spanish-Mexican mother. Two of her sisters were half -sister’s from her father’s previous marriage. She grew up in the midst of the Mexican Revolution, and throughout her life she would face many struggles. At the age of 6, she contracted Polio. Some also speculate she also had spina bifida. Her original passion was not to be a painter, but to work in medicine. Unfortunately, at the age of 18, she was in a bus accident where she suffered from severe injuries including a broken spinal chord, collarbone, ribs, pelvis, and fractures in her right leg. As a result of this accident, her uterus was also damaged, and she would lose the ability to reproduce.  She was not able to accept this until may later years later, and eventually was able to conceive only to miscarry. This pain is reflected in her work Miscarriage in Detroit (1932). Although she would eventually heal form the accident, it’s memory caused her much trauma and she would often have relapses of reeling pain from it.

From this accident, though, Frida began her painting career. Confined to a hopsital bed, wearing casts that limited her mobility, Frida began painting to pass the time and to deal with her suffering. Her paintings were heavily influenced by traditional Mexican art and consisted of 2-D images in vibrant and bold colors. She painted  155 paintings, with a about a third of them being dedicated to self-portraits. Her pain, miscarriage, and marital difficulties with Deigo Rivera were often depicted.

She traveled to America in her later life with Diego, and held art exhibitions in New York.  She gained some popularity in the 1940’s, but it was not until a revival of the feminist movements in the 1980’s did she gain more fame, many years after her death.  She suffered from cancer, and at the age of 47, passed away. Her artwork is full of passion, compelling and gut-wrenching stories, and depicts the many pains of her life. Here are a few more of her paintings for you to enjoy. Also, Salma Hayek starred in a movie about Frida Kahlo titled Frida. Excellent movie set in the style of magic realism.

From top to bottom: The Little Deer (1946), The Broken Column (1944), Diego in My Thoughts (1943)

*Information and images compiled from the following sites: and