The Chaperon

The chaperon was a type of hood worn throughout Western Europe in the Middle Ages. It was especially fashionable in 15th-century Burgundy. The French verb chaperonner, meaning “to cover with a hood,” was derived from the name of the headgear and later came to mean “to protect.” Under the influence of the verb sense, the French noun chaperon came to mean “escort,” a meaning that was borrowed into English by the early 1700s. Why was Joan of Arc denounced for wearing a chaperon? Discuss
Continue reading “The Chaperon”

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
Continue reading “The Alhambra Decree Is Issued (1492)”

Mothering Sunday

It was the custom in 17th-century England for Christians to pay their respects on the fourth Sunday in Lent to the “Mother Church” where they had been baptized. This day usually included a visit to one’s parents—to “go a-mothering,” as it was called back then. In the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, the fourth Sunday in Lent is known as Laetare Sunday. The Introit of the Mass begins with the word “Rejoice” (laetare in Latin), marking a slight respite in the solemn Lenten season. Priests may wear rose-colored vestments to mass, instead of the usual purple for Lent. Discuss
Continue reading “Mothering Sunday”

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. As a teacher, Haydn had a difficult relationship with what famous student? Discuss
Continue reading “Joseph Haydn (1732)”