World Heritage Site

Logo of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Logo of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee

UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 states’ parties which are elected by their General Assembly.

The programme catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. The programme was founded with the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972. Since then, 190 states parties have ratified the Convention, making it one of the most adhered to international instruments. Only the Bahamas,Liechtenstein, Nauru, Somalia, South Sudan, Timor-Leste and Tuvalu are not Party to the Convention.

As of 2013, 981 sites are listed: 759 cultural, 193 natural, and 29 mixed properties, in 160 states parties. By sites ranked by country, Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites with 49 sites, followed by China (45), Spain (44), France and Germany (both 38). UNESCO references each World Heritage Site with an identification number; but new inscriptions often include previous sites now listed as part of larger descriptions. As a result, the identification numbers exceed 1,200 even though there are fewer on the list.

While each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located, UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.

Source: Wikipedia.

Feudalism

Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste, c.14th.c.

Roland pledges his fealty to Charlemagne; from a manuscript of a chanson de geste, c.14th.c.

Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. Broadly defined, it was a system for structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.

Although derived from the Latin word feodum or feudum (fief), then in use, the term feudalism and the system it describes were not conceived of as a formal political system by the people living in the medieval period. In its classic definition, by François-Louis Ganshof (1944), feudalism describes a set of reciprocal legal and military obligations among the warrior nobility, revolving around the three key concepts of lordsvassals and fiefs.

There is also a broader definition, as described by Marc Bloch (1939), that includes not only warrior nobility but all three estates of the realm: the nobility, the clerics and the peasantry bonds of manorialism; this is sometimes referred to as a “feudal society”. Since the publication of Elizabeth A. R. Brown‘s “The Tyranny of a Construct” (1974) and Susan Reynolds‘ Fiefs and Vassals (1994), there has been ongoing inconclusive discussion among medieval historians as to whether feudalism is a useful construct for understanding medieval society.

Source: Wikipedia.

 

French Revolution

The French Revolution (FrenchRévolution française) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France from 1789 to 1799 that profoundly affected French and modern history, marking the decline of powerful monarchies and churches and the rise of democracy. It was a highly controversial instance of the Atlantic Revolutions of the era. Historian François Aulard writes:

From the social point of view, the Revolution consisted in the suppression of what was called the feudal system, in the emancipation of the individual, in greater division of landed property, the abolition of the privileges of noble birth, the establishment of equality, the simplification of life… The French Revolution differed from other revolutions in being not merely national, for it aimed at benefiting all humanity.”

Popular resentment of the privileges enjoyed by the clergy, aristocracy and the King’s court at Versailles combined with an economic crisis following the expenses of the Seven Years’ War and the American Revolutionary War and years of bad harvests motivated demands for change, which were couched in terms of Enlightenment ideals and caused the convocation of the Estates-General in May 1789. The first year of the Revolution saw members of the Third Estate proclaiming the Tennis Court Oath in June, the assault on the Bastille in July, the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August, and an epic march on Versailles that forced the royal court back to Paris in October. The next few years were dominated by struggles between various liberal assemblies and right-wing supporters of the monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. A republic was proclaimed in September 1792 and King Louis XVI was executed the next year.

External threats closely shaped the course of the Revolution. The Revolutionary Wars began in 1792 and ultimately featured spectacular French victories that facilitated the conquest of the Italian Peninsula, the Low Countries and most territories west of the Rhine – achievements that had eluded previous French governments for centuries. Internally, popular agitation radicalized the Revolution significantly, culminating in the rise of Maximilien Robespierre and the Jacobins. The dictatorship imposed by the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror, from 1793 until 1794, caused up to 40,000 deaths inside France, abolished slavery in the colonies, and secured the borders of the new republic from its enemies. The Reign of Terror ended with the overthrow and execution of Robespierre and the other leading Jacobins in the Thermidorian Reaction. The Directory assumed control of the French state in 1795 and held power until 1799. In that year, conventionally seen as the conclusion of the Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the Directory in the coup of 18 Brumaire and established the Consulate. The First Empire under Napoleon emerged in 1804 and spread French revolutionary principles all over Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. The First Empire was militarily defeated by an anti-Napoleonic coalition that in 1815 brought about the restoration of the Bourbons, albeit under a constitutional monarchy, and the reversion to France’s traditional frontiers.

The modern era has unfolded in the shadow of the French Revolution. French society itself underwent an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic, and religious privileges were overthrown. Old ideas about tradition and hierarchy were abruptly overthrown under the mantra of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” although opponents fought furiously against this for more than a century. Globally, the Revolution accelerated the rise of republics and democracies, the spread of liberalismnationalismsocialism and secularism, the development of modern political ideologies, and the practice of total war. Some of its central documents, like the Declaration of the Rights of Man, expanded the arena of human rights to include women and slaves. The fallout from the Revolution had permanent consequences for human history: the Latin American independence wars, the Louisiana Purchase by the United States, and the Revolutions of 1848 are just a few of the numerous events that ultimately depended upon the eruption of 1789.

Storming of the Bastille and arrest of the Governor M. de Launay, July 14, 1789.

Storming of the Bastille and arrest of the Governor M. de Launay, July 14, 1789.

Source: Wikipedia.