WINTER SESSION 2019
At the “ Formation Continue” [ UTAQ ] of Laval University, onWednesdays of January 23 to March 27, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, we will be giving :
« MEN AND WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD III» :
- AKHENATEN, husband of NEFERTITI, unique instance of a Pharaoh who in only seventeen years abolished the state religion and the power of the priests and temples. He established with his wife Nefertiti a monotheistic religion and has a new Capital built : Akhetaton [ City of Sun ]. Then, he has been dethroned, all his creations destroyed and the previous Capital [ Thebes ], polytheistic religion and social order reestablished. His son Tutankhamun will become his second successor. In the long history of Egyptian civilization, it is a period that deserves more elucidation because it had a decisive influence on Humankind.
- ATTILA was a great diplomat, a blackmailer, a strategist and a warrior. He mobilized nomadic Asian and European tribes under his rule as Emperor of the Huns. In less than fifteen years his empire extended from the Aral Sea to the Danube. He designed a magnificent destiny for all the peoples allied to the Huns. But whereas he dominated the Roman Empire, why didn’t he take Rome and Constantinople? Why did his amazing work rapidly fall down after his death, considering how deeply it transformed the world?
- THEODORA was the wife of JUSTINIAN Roman Emperor, in the sixth century. Though from very humble origins, she was perhaps the most influential and powerful Empress in the Roman Empire’s history. She was a strong partner in power with Justinian. She was of great influence in many regards for women, for administrative rules and for the Justinian Code, the basis of modern civil law. She played a decisive role against a popular rebellion [ Nika Revolt ] that threatened the imperial structure of the Byzantine Civilization. Her vision was the consolidation of the Byzantine Empire, rather than Justinian’s vision [ a restoration of the old Roman Empire ]. Justinian and Theodora made Constantinople the most splendid City the world had seen for centuries with aqueducts, bridges, many churches and the magnificent “Hagia Sophia”.
- ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE, was one of the wealthiest and most influential women in Western Europe during the twelfth century. First, she was Queen of France (wife of Louis VII) and then Queen of England (wife of Henry II Plantagenet ). Her influence was decisive for major changes in political and cultural dynamics in Europe. She has promoted “courtly love” in chivalry. She participated in the Second Crusade which act upon her as a “revelation” of her political and strategic talents. She had ten children, two with Louis VII and eight with Henry II [ three would become kings ]. After being imprisoned [ at 51 ] during sixteen years for supporting her sons conspiracy against their father, Henry II, she became a widow at 67 and was still able to rule her son’s kingdom, Richard the Lionheart’s, during the four years he spent in crusade and to act as a diplomat for her other son, John Lackland. In her eighties, she retired to a convent where she died at 82.
- MIKHAIL SERGUEIEVITCH GORBATCHEV took charge of a USSR in deep crisis: a collapsing economy, a staggering war in Afghanistan, a decline in international influence and a group of republics increasingly refusing to stay under Moscow’s domination. He tried to save the Union by bold innovations, namely “Glasnost” (political transparency) and “Perestroika” (economic development strategy). He put an end to the “Unique-Party”, organized the first free elections and promoted a constitutional reform. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, for his liberalization reforms and for the end of the “Cold War”. But the collapse of USSR and a ripple effect of secession from most of the Republics led irreducible communists and militaries into a putsch. He was put under house arrest, then freed and restored, but shortly after, power swung over to Boris Yeltsin the new President of independent Russia Republic.
- MARGARET THATCHER, the first woman to become “Prime Minister” of the United Kingdom for 11 years, the first to obtain three consecutive terms in the twentieth century. She has been called the “Iron Lady” because of her radical conservatism and “lack of feeling” in proceeding to massive cuts in public services, for reducing Unions power, for a policy of productivity causing massive unemployment, for her ruthlessness against the miners on strike and the hunger strikers of the IRA, and mostly for her military victory in the Falklands. She initiated the “deregulation” with her ally Ronald Reagan with the damaging effects better understood nowadays. She fortunately supported Gorbachev, favored a stronger NATO and initiated some openings with the European Union.
- FREDERIC II OF HOHENSTAUFEN was Frederic I “Barbarossa” grand-son. He became King of Sicily, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Jerusalem and had been rated as “the first modern European”. He was multilingual and had an insatiable curiosity for science and the arts. He actively pursued a plan to integrate the Western, Byzantine and Muslim civilizations by way of intelligence rather than strength. He developed universities, medical schools, centers of artistic creation and other institutions that could have brought about “The Renaissance” three centuries earlier and that could have unified Europe as soon as in the twelfth century. But the papacy was his implacable enemy and prevailed over him and all his creations with the power of “excommunication”.
- HO CHI MINH (Nguyen Tât Thanh) was the founder and President of the People’s Republic of Vietnam. From the end of the First World War until 1969, his leadership for independence highlighted both the tenacious resistance of the Vietnamese people to their own tyrannical regimes and a long series of invaders and colonizers: the Chinese, the Mongols, the French and the Americans. Westerners, not considering his requests, found themselves at war and had to retreat in a most humiliating way. He was often called “Uncle Ho”, but he changed a hundred times his identity. He was imprisoned, tortured and exiled several times. He lived over thirty years in various regions of the Planet, shaping his world view with a combination of various ideologies and political regimes. That’s why he guided the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in a particular way different from the two Communist giants: the USSR and China.
- MUSTAPHA KEMAL (Ataturk) showed a path seldom followed in history. To save the Turkish people’s future, he did everything to get rid of its empire, the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, he dared using the most radical means to transform the Turks into Europeans, changing not only institutions, but even religion and written language. He forced “his” people, deeply rooted in a traditional peasant culture, to adopt a way of life based on reason and science paramount to him. He is exemplary of the kind of dictator making a radical change in a very short time and without transition. That’s why Turkey is nowadays torn between becoming part of the European Union and developing a stronger cooperation with Central Asia.
- HENRY IV OF NAVARRE has a unique and mythical profile in the history of France. He was called “the king of heart, the passionate king, the free king” because he was open minded, informal and welcoming with his “subjects.” First he was a Protestant, then a Catholic to escape the “Massacre of Saint-Barthélemi” and to save the monarchy against powerful movements in favor of a republican government. His “Edict of Nantes” developed a better tolerance of Catholics for Protestantism. He set up with brilliant minister Sully, measures for economic recovery and promoted the development of “New France” in America. As he has been a protector and a mentor of Samuel De Champlain, some historians wonder whether he was also Champlain’s father. He was assassinated while he was compromised in one of his amorous passions, one that might have provoked a war in Europe.
Copyright : Alice Labrèque & Jean Routier, Québec, 2019.