The Almond, The Virtues, And Liberty Of Conscience

The philosopher Philo of Alexandria relates the following anecdote in his short treatise On the Life of Moses (II.23.178).  The prophet Moses, we are told, had appointed his brother to the office of high priest.  His decision had been based on his brother’s merits, but there was inevitably some grumbling by people who believed that the appointment was the result of familial favoritism. 

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Charlemagne Instructs On The Moral Requirements Of Leadership

We do not know the precise location of Charlemagne’s birthplace.  He donned the crown at the ripe age of twenty-nine in 771 A.D. upon the death of Carloman II.  From that moment he became embroiled in an almost ceaseless series of military campaigns designed both to expand his frontiers and safeguard them; in this turbulent age, kings needed to fight as well as administrate.  Historians tell us that he undertook around fifty-three campaigns, and personally commanded most of them. 

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Anecdotes From The Court Of Charlemagne

The chronicler known to posterity as Notker the Stammerer (“Notker Balbulus”) was born in what is now Switzerland around A.D. 840.  He seems to have come from a family that had the means to provide him with the best education his era could offer.  We find him in adulthood as a monk at the monastery at St. Gall, where he was able to exercise his considerable musical talents in composing verses and hymns. 

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The Attack On Firebase Mary Ann

Max Hastings’s excellent history, Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, discusses one revealing engagement that took place between American and North Vietnamese forces in late March of 1971.  This action—a ferocious assault on a remote firebase named Mary Ann—merits further reflection, I think, and we will give it its due here.

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The Leadership Principles Of St. Benedict

If we are to understand the mind of early medieval man, we must attempt to place ourselves in his situation and circumstances.  It is difficult for us, having been reared in an age of relative peace and prosperity, to grasp the degree to which Western Europe had succumbed to chaos, warfare, and barbarism after Roman civil authority collapsed in the fourth and fifth centuries. 

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Everything Is Fine, Until It Is Not

In 1917 there was published in Germany a book entitled Deductions from the World War (Folgerungen aus dem Weltkriege).  It was an analysis of lessons learned from the previous four years of intense fighting, and its author was a man named Baron Hugo Von Freytag-Loringhoven.  At the time he was a lieutenant-general, and he was working as the deputy chief of the German Imperial Staff.  An English translation of his book appeared in 1918.      

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Here Be Thy Grave

The Swiss orientalist and explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt crossed the cataracts of the Nile in 1813 and was intending to penetrate into the heart of unknown Nubia.  Near a place called Jebel Lamoule, his Arab guide dismounted from his camel and approached the intrepid European; his intention was to practice on him a time-honored extortion ritual much observed in that region when escorting foreigners.  The ritual was called “preparing the grave for the traveler.”    

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