Michel De Montaigne

He Who Fears Suffering Is Suffering That Which He Fears.

Michel De Montaigne (1533- 1592) was a respected French statesman and one of the most influential philosophers of the Renaissance.

Apart from periods serving in courts and as the mayor of Bordeaux, where he played a powerful role as a moderate in the arguments between humanists, protestants and the Catholic Church, he was also a well travelled unofficial representative of French interests throughout central Europe and Italy. During his lifetime, it was for his achievements in these roles that he was most highly regarded.

History, however, remembers him first and foremost for the introduction of the essay as a form of intellectual writing. Combining personal anecdote, metaphor, and robust intellectual and theological argument into digestible pieces, he dubbed them “attempts” or “essai”.

While this form was at first treated as a somewhat self-involved conceit, it rapidly increased in both popularity and intellectual valuation. Not only was this form of writing accessible but De Montaigne was very good at it – creating compelling arguments and addressing his professed subject: to describe humans (especially himself) with utter frankness. Along with his above quote, he is famous for his statement “What Do I Know?”, a literary flourish that captured his philosophy of human uncertainty and inspired the likes of Rene Descartes, Blaise Pascal, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederich Nietzsche, and even Shakespeare.

Before every student curses his name for invented the dreaded essay, it pays to remember that until De Montaigne they would have been writing the equivalent of theses instead. His contributions to education were more far reaching, encouraging questioning and the scientific method as well as social, individualised learning – a line of thought that has found renewed strength in many modern education systems.

Édouard Manet

You Must Always Remain Master Of The Situation And Do What You Please.

Manet_Self-Portrait_with_Palette_v3.jpg
Édouard Manet (1832- 1883) was a French painter who is famous for being one of the first artists to paint contemporary scenes and, more substantially, was critical in the transition from realism to impressionism throughout the 1800s.

His early works, which were extremely controversial, are widely credited as a landmark moment that heralded the arrival of modern art.

From this starting point he continued to be a major influence on the impressionist movement both through his art and through his role as a mentor and promoter to many other artists. He famously provided the quote above when asked what it took to be be a successful artist.

While his art was a remarkable leap forward, his personal life was a shambles. Having an affair with a childhood friend for over a decade while she was also having an affair with his father, he was also known for sleeping with his models and frequenting brothels. Eventually, this led to his death from complications from untreated syphilis.

He Who Fears Suffering Is Suffering That Which He Fears

The Lorraine Opening is the fifth most popular French opening and 27th Overall, and the last opening that is used in over 5% of games.

When playing France and the manure is heading toward the ventilation device, this is an opening that you should seriously consider. Otherwise, best to avoid giving potential allies a reason to start throwing it.

Moves north can be very aggressive ones for France, and this opening can become a solid attack against either England or Germany if it is allowed to go unchecked. For this reason, opening with it is likely to cause the two to consider working together very strongly, a situation that needs to be avoided for France to have a good game. This rules out the Lorraine Opening in all cases. All apart from one.

When you are sure that both your neighbours are out to get you and intend to open strongly against you, this opening is a commanding defence. While the threat of Italy in Piedmont is still a concern, the rethink this opening may cause in an aggressive alliance looking for a quick kill is powerful benefit.

The downside is that there are probably better options: the Alsace Opening (where A Mar s Par – Bur) and the underused (and so far unnamed) opening of (A Mar – Bur; A Par – Gas; F Bre – Ech) which is inexplicably only the equal 312th most common opening! Both these opening have most of the advantages of the Lorraine but ensure coverage for Marseille and the acquisition of Spain in Fall 1901.

Charlemagne

In Order To Do What Is Right We Must First Know What Is Right.

Charlemagne (742 – 814) was the first European Emperor since the Romans, being crowned on Christmas Day in 800. His empire covered most of modern day Western Europe apart from Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Iberia.

While born to be the King of the Franks, his coronation as Emperor by Pope Leo III was unexpected and Charlemagne had declared afterwards that had he known what was to occur he would not have entered the Church. A devout Roman Catholic, once crowned he felt compelled to assume the title despite misgiving about how his people would perceive this and the risks of being drawn into a war with the Byzantines. In the end, his negotiation skills were sufficient to avoid these concerns and, as a result, he was to become known as “The Father Of Europe”.

His devotion to the Church extended to many more matters, with most of his invasions stemming from perceived threat to the Papacy, most notably from Lombardy and the Moors. This led to both the high and low points of his rule, with the massacre of pagans at Verden a particularly bloody moment while his insistence of latin writings being reproduced by scholars has provided modern times with most of the known historical documents of Roman antiquity.

His legacy already considered great (his name is a Norman derivation from “Charles The Great”), he has undergone a further renaissance with the advent of the European Union. The move to the Euro echoes Charlemagne’s monetary unification while his government also experienced a credit crunch when he was compelled to ban moneylending to appease his constituents. His education and religious reforms also were significant, suggesting that a king cannot rule well without a strong ethical foundation, with many of his known quotes (including the one above) addressing the idea of the “good king”.

One of the truly unifying figures of European history, Charlemagne’s failings were few. His illiteracy and propensity for concubines were both minor matters at this time, and in fact his disdain for jewellery and lavish dress was seen as more controversial by contemporaries. When he died (of natural causes) in 814 he was greatly mourned by almost all the subjects in his empire.

In Order To Do What Is Right We Must Know What Is Right

The Belgian Attack is the fourth most popular German opening and comes in at 26th overall. It’s an openly pro-English and Russian opening and anti-French, which implies one of two things: that a Northern Triple is about to descend and wreak havoc on the board, or that Germany is about to die.

Usually the objective is to push the fleet Holland into position to help England into the Channel or possibly even push the German fleet toward the Mid-Atlantic. A bounce in Burgundy is OK, but a supported move by France is very bad news as the French position now looks very defensible – and where else is France going to attack? Ruhr is even a vulnerability in this case which is ugly.

Then there are the bigger problems. A hostile England bounces Germany in Denmark and it’s curtains; Russia, if given foreknowledge of the guarantee of Sweden, can easily pick an ally on the eastern side of the board and flood North in an alliance that is hard for the West to stop (imagine A War – Sil; A Vie – Boh; A Ven – Tyl given this German opening!). As with all bold, declarative openings it suffers from the weakness of giving other players all the options. While this opening has the advantage that a wise England would jump on board the England/Germany alliance, not all English players are wise.

Where this opening will work is against a weak French player. If Burgundy gets in and France only gets one build (For example, by A Spa – Mar covering the centre and sacrificing Spain) then a rare quick kill of France is possible, with Germany getting the lion’s share of the spoils. In most other circumstances, however, the opening is fraught with dangers and can safely be considered not worth the risk. If you’re looking for the right German opening, then keep looking.

Nero

I Wish I Could Not Write.

Nerō Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (37 – 68) was Roman Emperor from the age of 16 until shortly before his death by suicide. History has viewed him as a tyrannical fool with a penchant for finding new and interesting ways of torturing Christians to death while being unable to hold together the empire.

Accused of burning down most of Rome in order to clear land for his planned palace, he was very unpopular with the nobles and thinkers (religious or otherwise) whose opinions valued as little as their property (including the quote above). He was quite popular in most of the Eastern parts of the Empire, but far less so at home and in the Western Empire where he suffered major losses in Gaul and Hispania – losses that eventually led to him relinquishing the crown.

There’s not a lot to like about Nero as a man, either. His litany of sins include executing his own mother, conspiring to poison his step-father, framing three of his advisors for conspiracy, setting christians on fire as a party trick, stealing other senior Roman officials’ wives as a show of power, and incest. He was very busy in his 31 years, so busy he did not have time to bathe and was described as “malodorous”.

 

Sultan Suleiman I

“Everyone Aims At The Same Meaning, But Many Are The Versions Of The Story.”

Suleiman Bin Selim Khan (1494 – 1566), known as “The Magnificent” and “The Lawgiver” was the longest reigning Ottoman ruler and oversaw the heights of the Turkish empire. Responsible for conquering most of Eastern Europe and North Africa and solidifying the Ottoman holdings in the Middle East, he is famous for both his military achievements and his domestic governance.

Responsible for the codification of Turkish law that remained largely unchanged for 400 years and the creation and institutionalisation of educational and artistic ideals, he re-established Constantinople as a global cultural city and is responsible for much of the most spectacular architecture of Turkey, Syria, and Damascus.

His military conquests, which led him to the gates of Vienna, terrified Christian Europe, but he was in fact quite fair in dealing with Christians and Jews within his empire. As great as his military accomplishments were, it was his ability to govern vast and newly acquired territories that made him not just Suleiman the Conqueror, but Suleiman the Magnificent.