Jean Moulin by Haven Blackmon

Life of Jean Moulin

Jean Moulin was born June 20, 1899 in the city of Béziers in southern France. His father was a history professor who was actively engaged in political organizations such as the Radical Socialist Party and the League of Rights of Men. Not much is said about Jean’s mother, but his father was very influential in his childhood. In 1917, he began studying for a law degree at the Law Institute of Montpellier, but shortly thereafter entered the Army during World War I in 1918. For a short while he was an engineer in the military, but the war ended not long after he was drafted and his time in the military ended after just one year. 

After leaving the Army, he quickly returned to his studies and graduated with his law degree in 1921. Following his graduation, Jean became a civil servant, and through his hard work eventually earned the title of youngest sub-prefect in France in 1925. He was later promoted to become the youngest prefect in France. Not long thereafter, Jean married Marguerite Cerruti in 1926, but their marriage was short lived and they divorced only two years later. 

As Moulin continued working for the government, he achieved higher titles and took on more administrative responsibilities, and in 1937 became the youngest prefect in France. However, just a few years later WWII began and the Germans invaded France. As the Germans moved into the region in which Moulin served, the French people suffered and died at the hands of Nazis. As this became apparent, German officials blamed these killings on France’s Senegalese soldiers. The Germans tried to force Moulin into signing a document faulting the French soldiers for the murders, but Moulin new it was the fault of the Nazis and refused to sign. Consequently, Jean was captured. Fearing he would be tortured and made to sign the document, he attempted suicide by cutting his throat with glass, but he did not succeed. 

Following this event, he lost his position as prefect and later assumed the responsibility of uniting numerous resistance groups against the Germans. By uniting these resistance groups, they joined and he then became the chairman of the National Council of the Resistance. He did this in collaboration with General Charles de Gaulle, who was the leader of Free France at the time. This occurred in May 1943, and the very next month he was captured and imprisoned by the Gestapo. He was brutally tortured by the Gestapo, but refused to share any information. As he was being transported to Germany by train, Jean Moulin died on July 8, 1943. Whether his death was the result of murder or suicide could not be determined later. After his death, he was revered as a hero by the French resistance. 

Personal Ties

The aspect in which I relate most to Jean Moulin is to his personal convictions and his defense of them. Neither I nor most anyone else can say for certainty whether they would risk their life in such painful ways to protect those who are innocent and defenseless. However, one thing I consider to be most important to my character and my self-worth is my integrity, and the degree to which I strive to carry out actions that align with my convictions. My veganism is a collection of actions I decide to take every day to prevent being the cause of harm to others, and my activism is a reflection of my most fundamental beliefs that all people should be equal under the law. Jean Moulin embodied these convictions in the most fundamental way, and we can all draw inspiration and courage from his actions.

Roman Medicine and its Influence on Modern Medicine

Ancient Rome medicine, with its mix of science and superstition, brought about many advances in the area which are still seen in our times.


Roman medicine was derived from Greek medicine, and influenced by knowledge from conquered civilizations, such as the Etruscans, Egyptians, and the Persians. The knowledge from the conquered people combined with the knowledge developed in Rome, mostly derived from the battlefield, made the Romans have an advanced medical system for their age.

The romans combined their scientific knowledge, greatly limited by today’s standards, with religious beliefs. Romans believed that diseases were a result of displeasing the gods, and that rituals such as sacrifices to the gods would cure them. Aesculapius was particularly important in ancient roman medicine. The Romans adopted the Greek god of healing in 292 BCE, when they stole Aesculapius’ sacred snake.  Despite of their belief in the gods, romans still used the services of doctors to heal sickness.

The doctors in rome were craftsmen, and learned the profession through apprenticeships. Civilian doctors had different levels of education and skills, many being Greeks. On the other hand, the military has experienced medical personnel.


The romans were the first in history to build hospitals, generally for the military. The medics in the military had a more practical approach to medicine than the civilian doctors, as they were observant and methodical, documenting which treatments worked so other doctors could do the same.  An important event for roman medicine was the civil war which happened after the assassination of Julius Caesar. The new emperor, Augustus, formed a professional military medical corps. Giving doctors titles, lands, and retirement benefits. This changes, combined with the large amount of war injuries, led to great medical advancements, in a way that would not be seen until the late 19th century.

The roman legions had the best doctors in Rome. Much of the roman knowledge of anatomy and physiology came from the battlefield, as dissections were not allowed. Surgeons also acquired their experiences in the military.

Public Health

The Ancient Romans made many advances in what nowadays would be considered public health. The Romans believed that the workers should also be in good health, as the soldiers and the rich. Therefore, they could be considered the first to have public health for all social classes.

One of the most important aspects of Roman public health was the use of aqueducts. They had a system of fresh running water and a sewer system, as clean water was considered essential. The water supply to the city of Rome was designed by Julius Frontinus in 97 AD, and it supplied around 1000 million liters of water a day. This helped to prevent the proliferation of diseases that were either transmitted through dirty water, or that relied on standing water . The romans also had public toilets which were flushed by clean water, and a sewer system to make sure all waste was removed from the city.

Bad hygiene was one of the prominent causes of disease transmission in the ancient world. The Romans had great hygiene, as they regularly washed themselves. Roman baths, for example, played a major role in society, as they were part of the citizens daily lives.

Another important factor were the cities themselves. The cities were built in places that were considered healthy, or were modified to become a healthier environment. For example, marshes were draining to avoid malaria carrying mosquitoes. Julius Caesar not only drained the Codetan Swamp, but planted a forest in its place.

Influence in modern medicine

There are currently 6210 hospital in the US. The hospital system started in the ancient Rome military, and it is the prominent form of care in America.

Roman medicine saw the beginning of specializations, as physicians were divided into different specialties. Nowadays, doctors have to specialize in a certain area after medical school. There are more than 120 options to choose from.

Roman surgeons had basic knowledge of the importance of sanitation. They boiled all the surgical instruments prior to the start of the experiment, and used acetic acid to clean the wounds.

Public health is a major part of modern medicine, as it focuses on preventing diseases. Clean Water is one of the most important elements of health. 884 million people still do not have access to clean water. Many of those people need to walk long distances to get water, which can be contaminated with diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. Access to proper disposal of sewage is also of extreme importance to public health.Currently, 2.3 billion people live without access to sanitation. Approximately 1 million people die every year from diseases related to the lack of access to clean water and sanitations.

Medical terminology is based on Latin and Greek. The Romans developed the field of medicine and anatomy based on the Greek knowledge. Since many anatomical parts were elucidated by the Greeks and the Romans, their names are in those languages. Latin was the predominant language used in medicine until the eighteenth century.

The Ancient Romans believed that diet was essential for health, and that moderation of food should be practiced. Nowadays it is known that good nutrition is key to health, as lack of certain elements in a diet can disrupt the normal functioning of the body and lead to diseases.

Works Cited

  1. O’Rahilly. “Etymology”. Basic Human Anatomy. Retrieved from :
  2. “ The Water Crisis.” Retrieved from :
  3. “Medicine in Ancient Rome.” The History of Learning. Retrieved from:
  4. “Ancient Roman Medicine.” UNRV Roman History. Retrieved from:
  5. Brazier, Yvette. “ Ancient Roman Medicine.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from:
  6. Cartwright, Mark. “ Roman Medicine.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from:
  7. “Importance of good nutrition.” Retrieved from:

Italia America: Patronage in Ancient Rome and The Mafia in America



Before we can begin to look into patronage in ancient Rome, it is essential to have an understanding of the origins behind the social hierarchy. According to Roman historian Titus Livy, Romulus himself separated 100 men and made them senators. The descendants of these senators were considered upper class and more specifically known as patricians. Those who were not descendants, also considered the common people of Rome and lower class, were known as plebeians. The distinction between the two groups was dependent mainly on the original ancestry and extremely wealthy land-owning individuals. Within these different classes, a complex and reciprocal relationship known as patronage was founded.

Ancient Rome: Patron-Client Relationships

Patronage consists of a relationship in which a patron, a person of high position and power, uses his influence to assist or take care of another individual, thus making them his ‘client’ and requiring services in return. If a client were unable to repay their ‘debt’, the loss of trust and loyalty would lead to the termination of the relationship.

Some of these services include but are not limited to:
– Unconditional respect and support
– Political support and votes
– Fighting in war for his patron
– Reporting any plots against the patron being conspired by others
– Ransoming family members caught in battle
– Raising money for patron’s daughter’s dowry

Structurally, no matter how powerful or important a patrician, there was always someone above them, such as the emperor. Sometimes, patricians themselves became clients to the emperor, as the emperor would assist in the patrician’s social or political status and the patrician would sign the emperor’s name in their will. The common people of Rome, however, became clients to the patricians instead and supported them regardless of their patron’s interests and opinions. These clients were in need of material goods/security that were then granted by their patrons as long as the client returned the favor, which typically consisted of political votes and support. A patron was free to have as many clients as they were able to, which only added to the patron’s prestige as their number of clients and support increased. However, as listed above, the exchanges would consist of different things and it was expected that the client be fully committed to whatever was asked of him by his patron.

Three Core Characteristics of Patron-Client Relationships

The three core characteristics of patron-client relationships are:
– The inequality in status, wealth, and influence between the two parties
– The element of reciprocity in the exchange of goods and services
– The importance of face-to-face contact between both parties.

Regardless of the nature of the relationship, what the exchanges in services specifically entail, and who the individuals are, these three characteristics are present in every patron-client relationship. Apart from this, a crucial component in these relationships is also a kind of loyalty and honor that resembles that of blood-related family, which is seen in both ancient Rome and the Mafia.

Beginnings: The Mafia In Sicily

Map of Sicily

German scholar Henner Hess described the mafia as, “neither an organization nor a secret society, but a method” where “the Mafioso not only achieves a personal material or prestige gain but also discharges certain functions within the subcultural system by entering the service of others.”

For many years, the island of Sicily seemed to have been struggling with developing some kind of a proper government and creating trust between the people and formal organizations. It was inconsistently ruled by foreign aliens and had an influx of bandit-type fugitives that highly influenced the nature and customs of the region, as the values that were held by these people leaned more towards lawlessness than anything else. Without the promise of a fair government present to protect the people and their property, towns and villages created groups or clans known as ‘families’ that relied on compromise and revenge to achieve protection and justice. At the time, the main relationships present in Sicily were between peasants, bandits, and the Mafiosos. The peasants were responsible for taking care of farming and property owned by wealthier landowners and the bandits made their income by robbing these peasants. Due to the general distrust of government and authority in Sicily, rather than turning to law enforcement, landowners and peasants turned to the Mafiosos for property protection. From this was born a patron-client relationship, where the Mafia granted property protection to the peasants from the bandits in exchange for a fee of a percentage of crops produced. Moreover, the Mafia would sometimes work both sides, allowing the bandits to complete their operations without punishment. In return, the bandits would give them part of the profit they made. As this went on, the Mafia became more powerful and were able to establish themselves as a viable source of protection and enforcement within Sicily through the success of these reciprocal relationships. However, their power ran into trouble around 1925 when Italian dictator Benito Mussolini made it a goal to destroy the Mafia, as it posed a threat to his own power and reputation. As he started cracking down on Mafiosos, Italian immigrants began to flock to the United States in search for opportunity and fleeing vendettas.

Beginnings: The Mafia in America

In January 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, thus banning the export of liquors and the home brewing of beverages with over half a percent of alcohol. The passing of this act in combination with the Italian immigrants coming in from Mussolini’s rule essentially gave birth to the American Mafia. Many of these immigrants were former Sicilian mafiosos or criminals that situated themselves in specific parts of New York City, one of which became known as Little Italy, where they began their new lives of crime. The high demand for alcohol at the time gave opportunity for criminals to smuggle in alcohol from other countries or opening their own secret breweries. In turn, the profits from these illegal activities greatly contributed to the wealth and success of the American Mafia in New York City, expanding the number of active families. As the number of members and wealth grew, the American Mafia engaged under the same concept of patron-client relationships in Rome and almost identical to the patron-client relationships seen in Sicily.

Patronage and the American Mafia

Roman philosopher Seneca stated, “if you wish to make a return for a favor, you must be willing to go into exile, or to put forth your blood, or to undergo poverty, or even to let your very innocence be stained and exposed to shameful slanders.” This level of dedication and loyalty are seen in both ancient Roman times between a patron and his client and hundreds of years later in the American Mafia.

Members doing the dirty work, known as soldiers (who will be discussed later in this post), were completing operations ordered from the boss in exchange for a cut of the profit and the protection/pride that comes from being a made member of the family. This relationship between soldier and boss checked off the three core characteristics mentioned earlier (inequality in status, face-to-face contact, and exchange of goods/services); the boss is of a much higher ranking than the soldier, all ideas or orders for operations are spoken of in person, and the boss provides his members with protection and profit in exchange for the completed operation. The more money being earned and the more successful operations, the more powerful and feared a family became, much like the power and prestige from having multiple clients in ancient Rome.

Outside of the members, the patron-client relationships with the Mafia were even more highlighted. For instance, of their many money-making sources, the American Mafia became very prosperous through their involvement with the workforce. By the 1970s, they controlled all of the labor unions in New York City. An example of this is their relationship with construction companies; all concrete companies would get work allocated by the mobsters and then the family in charge of the company would receive a cut of the profit made from the job. Another example is with regular businesses. Mobsters often engaged in protection racketeering, where they would offer protection to business owners from other mobsters in return for money. If the business owner did not agree to it, the mobsters themselves would retaliate, causing the business owner to need protection regardless of whether they agreed or not, and in turn, would become a client of the family for that protection.

In contrast, failure to follow through with your ‘debt’ in ancient Rome typically resulted in loss of trust and termination of the relationship. You may have been seen as an ingrate for doing so but the consequences were not as violent as in the Mafia. Failure to follow through with your debt or loyalty to the mobster family usually resulted in death. Patronage then and in the Mafia also differ in the kind of activity that is happening in the exchanges. From what I understand, patronage in ancient Rome was less coercive than in the Mafia. Mobsters are consistently involved in patron-client relationships but many of them have an underlying nature of force or extortion. The element of fear is greatly present in mobster relationships and I wonder if the line gets blurred between reciprocity and coercion. In both, there exists exchange but the fear behind coercion leaves a relationship that is so unbalanced, it can function with fear alone, which is something that is not necessarily seen the same way in patron-client relationships in Rome.

Despite the potential differences, there is no doubt that patronage contributes greatly to the success of the Mafia, whether it be through fear alone or not. However, patronage is not the only contributing factor to their power. The structure and order within the Mafia played a significant role as well, also becoming two aspects of the mob that can also be traced to ancient Rome in some ways. To understand this, we have to look back at the internal conflict that helped reorganize things: The Castellammarese War; the power struggle between two crime bosses in the early 1930s between Salvatore Maranzano and Joseph Masseria.

Joseph Masseria

Maranzano was one of the many immigrants driven out by Mussolini’s power and quickly involved himself in the bootlegging business as soon as he arrived to New York. He soon earned the nickname of “Little Caesar” due to his obsession with Julius Caesar, the Roman Empire, and a library at his home with books and statues dedicated to his idol.

Around the same time, Joseph Masseria, another successful mobster, was trying to move up the ladder of power and success, getting himself to a place of superiority above other mobsters. Maranzano refused to submit to Masseria’s supremacy, however, and took a chance when Masseria’s top lieutenant, Lucky Luciano, came to Maranzano with his plan to betray and kill Masseria. In a Brutus-esque manner, Luciano expressed his concerns for the reputation and function of the gang under Masseria’s control and, in April of 1931, orchestrated the murder of his own boss with the help of other men.

Lucky Luciano

After the death of Massiera, although Lucky Luciano was granted some power for himself, Salvatore Maranzano labeled himself as the highest-ranked superior in New York and the “capo di tutti capi”, which translates to: the boss of all bosses. Inspired by his idol Julius Caesar, he planned to have the family structure based off of the military chain of command of a Roman legion. As the top boss, he would hold a power that was unquestionable. Lucky Luciano, once again concerned with the negative effects of power-hungry bosses and a desire to ensure efficient operations, orchestrated yet another murder and ended the power of Little Caesar only 5 months after his hit on Joseph Masseria.

Mafia Life After Luciano: Structure and Order

At the time of Maranzano’s death, there were four other mafia families present in the state of New York. After he was killed, Lucky Luciano hoped to create a layout of some sort in which the families could avoid as much conflict as possible with one another. In hopes to accomplish this, he arranged a private meeting with all five families of New York along with other mafia families from around the country, where they agreed to keep Maranzano’s structure inspired by ancient Roman legions.

Structure: Mafia and Roman Legions

Roman legions were a part of the general Roman army and were the principal force of the Roman Empire. The units went as follows:
– a contubernia (8 men)
– a century (10 contubernium together – 80 men)
– a cohort ( 6 centuries together – 480 men)
– the legion (10 cohorts)

Each legion had an officer who was third in command, named praefectus castrorum (camp prefect), in charge of the daily maintenance and running of the legion. He also looked after food supply, nutrition, equipment supply, etc. Above the camp prefect, stood six military tribunes, of which one was the senior tribune, second in command, and referred to as tribunus laticlavius (senior tribune). Finally, above the senior tribune, was the legatus legionis, the legionary commander in charge of the legion as a whole. Eventually, the senior tribune would look forward to taking his place. The legionary commander was part of the Roman senate off the battlefield.

CC BY-SA 4.0

As for a solider, he was to be of full Roman citizenship and required to take an oath to serve the Emperor and army until death, acknowledging the harsh punishment involved if he were to participate in any kind of disobedience. New soldiers were also required to do dirty work until they were able to secure a better position.

Seeing as the structure of the Mafia was inspired by Roman legions, many similarities can be seen between the two. In the families, each had a group of men known as soldiers, or made men, who were considered the lowest members of the family. Like the Romans, soldiers in the Mafia were required to take an oath for life and were typically responsible for the dirty work that keeps the family powerful. Loyalty was a must in both the Mafia and the legion. Membership exclusivity was also seen in both the legion and the mobsters, as the legion required full Roman citizenship and the mobsters required full Italian descent.
Above the soldiers, stand the caporegime, or more commonly known as capo, who is in charge of leading his crew of soldiers. Much like the praefectus castrorum in the Roman legion, the capo was responsible for looking after the operations and daily activities of his soldiers. Above the capo is the underboss who takes instructions from the boss and makes sure that everything is carried out effectively. The underboss, too, can look forward to taking the position of the boss as he is next in line in the hierarchy incase anything happens to the boss. Finally, the boss is the legatus legionis of the Mafia family, in charge of the family as a whole. Also known as the Don, the boss is a highly respected, undisputed, and even feared leader of the family that oversees every single operation.

Order: The Commission and The Senate

Luciano was also responsible for founding the Commission which shared some similarities with the Roman Senate. Just as Rome transitioned from monarchy to republic, ridding itself of the idea of just one king, Lucky Luciano wanted the same for the Mafia families. No more boss of all bosses, just consensus among the families.

After the fall of the monarchy, the Roman Senate functioned as a governing and advisory council that was responsible for appointing officials, presenting proposals, controlling finances, and handling debates. Members of the Senate were appointed by someone of higher status, the consul, and were expected to serve as senators for life.
Lucky Luciano’s Commission served a similar purpose in some aspects. The Commission became a governing body where new members were voted in, policies and regulations were established, and disputes between families could be settled. It consisted of the five New York mafia bosses, the Chicago boss, and the Buffalo boss. Similar to the appointing of new senators in the Roman Senate, new members into the Mafia were chosen by the bosses. Just as the Roman legion’s legatus legionis held a position in the Roman Senate, the Mafia boss held a position in the Commission. When the bosses could all agree on one individual for induction, that chosen person could become a soldier. The bosses served a similar purpose as the consuls in the induction of new members. Seeing as the only way out of the Mafia was death, members of the Commission were members for life, much like the members of the Senate were as well. Additionally, just as proposals took place in the Roman Senate, proposals of a different kind took place in the Commission. For instance, if a member wanted to kill a law enforcement officer, which was against the Mafia rules, they had to run it by the Commission first and get the notion accepted.

Despite some similarities, the Commission and the Senate have a fair share of differences as well. In the Senate, consuls were selected by the people of Rome, whereas the mob bosses were selected by other very important members of the Commission rather than regular (or more common) members of the families. The Senate was mainly responsible for advising the magistrates while the Commission was not really looking to advise anyone. Because the men in the Commission were already considered of the highest ranking, there was no idea or conflict that needed to be run by anyone above them. Moreover, considering the fact that the Mafia was composed of a number of highly dangerous criminals, any conversation ever had about or within the families was of top secrecy. The meetings held by the Commission were extremely confidential and held in secret, while the Senate meetings were open to the public.


Weingrod, A. (1968). Patrons, Patronage, and Political Parties. Comparative Studies in Society and History,10(4), 377-400.

DeSilva, D. A. (1999). Patronage and Reciprocity: The Context of Grace in the New Testament. Ashland Theological Journal, 32-84.

Schmidt, S. W., Scott, J. C., Landé, C., & Guasti, L. (1977). Friends, Followers, and Factions: A Reader in Political Clientelism. University of California Press.

Eisenstadt, S. N., & Lemarchand, R. (1981). Political Clientelism, Patronage, and Development (Vol. 3). SAGE.

Critchley, D. (2008). The Origin of Organized Crime In America: The New York City Mafia, 1891-1931 (1st ed.). Routledge.

Dickie, J. (2005). Cosa Nosta: The History of the Sicilian Mafia (1st ed.). St. Martin’s Griffin.

Walston, J. (2017). The Mafia and Clientelism: Roads to Rome in Post-War Calabria (1st ed.). Routledge.

F. (2016, May 23). Mafia Org Chart. Retrieved from

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Cartwright, Mark. “Roman Senate.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, 12 Dec. 2016,

“Roman Senate.” United Nations of Roma Victrix (UNRV), 2019,

Sardell, Jason, et al. “Economic Origins of the Mafia and Patronage System in Sicily .” SSRN Electronic Journal, Jan. 2009, doi:0.2139/ssrn.2983507.

chiricorwaneta ra. (2016, Nov 18). The American Mafia: The Definite Guide to The Mob . Retrieved from

Declaration Project by Sheyla E Rodriguez

Purpose of the Project

Public Domain. File: Arms of the French Republic

Throughout this semester, I had the opportunity to travel back in time and have a better understanding of France’s art, religion, politics, human rights and the power of women in society. In general, the overall purpose of this project is to analyze Simone Annie Liline Veil and to reflect on how her ideas influenced the way many people in society look up to her. Also, while analyzing important achievements and contributions of hers, I will be able to connect Simone’s ideals to my personal life as well. 

Who was Simone Annie Liline Veil?

Photo by Marie- Lan Nguyen CC BY 3.0

Simone Annie Liline Veil was born in Nice, France on July 13th, 1927 (1). At a very young age, Simone had to face the inhumanities and cruelty in ‘’concentration camps’’ along with some members of her family (2). During this time, she also had to overcome many obstacles such as the loss of her mother, father, and brother (2).  Fortunately, she was lucky enough to survive, not just to tell her story, but to fight for changes in France and Europe. Years later, she became a lawyer and a politician, where she not only represented her nation and Europe, but she also elevated the power of women in society by serving as Minister of Health, President of the European Parliament and member of the Constitutional Council of France (2). Veil died in France on June 30th, 2017. She was honored with a special ceremony by many politicians, holocaust survivors, and even the president of France. Simone was then reburied in the Pantheon (a place where the bodies of important French figures lie) on July 1, 2018 (2).

Power of Women in Society, Women’s Rights, and Freedom. 

The role that women play in society has transcended within the years. Back in time, not only in France, but here in the United States and other parts of the world as well, women did not have the right to vote, to obtain an education, or even to form part of political affairs. However, nowadays the issue has been perceived different thanks to incredible women like Simone.

Quote by Simone Veil, 1982

Simone is a real example of how far a woman can go when their visions are strong enough to change the world. During her life, Simone served as Minister of Health of France (1974-1979), President of the European Parliament (1979-1993), and member of the Constitutional Council of France(1998) in which she had a huge impact not only in the power of women in society, but also in their rights and freedom (2).

My Body= My Decision created by Sheyla E Rodriguez

Simone worked hard in order to improve the conditions in women’s prisons (2). She fought for the adoptive rights of women and helped elevate the value of French women’s status (1). However, France remembers her by two important contributions: the legalization of contraceptives in France on December 4th, 1974 and the legalization of abortion in France on January 17th, 1975 (1). Fighting for such rights in a political setting were men dominated was not an easy task for Simone. Expressing her ideals about such a controversial topic triggered aggression and insult towards her and her family (1). However, these humiliations never stopped Simone from exposing her ideas. She fought with intelligence and courage for the betterment of women, for what she believed was right. It is important to highlight that Simone believed that abortion should be the last resource, but that women should have the right to decide for their lives. She saw motherhood as a choice rather than just a decision made by someone else. Today, not only in France, but around the world, people thank Simone for her ‘’courageous and determined fight’’ in order to legalize abortion.

Reflection and How I Relate to Simone

I relate some of my life experiences with many of the obstacles that Simone had to face throughout her life. I know what it feels like to be separated from someone you love, I know how it feels like to miss someone special. When my dad decided to come to the United States in seek of a better future, the Cuban government didn’t let my mom, my brother and I come with him. Since my mom was a doctor she had to wait for the government to ‘’liberate’’ her in order to come to the United States. The process took about three years. I can honestly say that these were the worst years of my life. I sympathize with Simone because after all the suffer, she found the strength to fight for her dreams and to bring peace to a ‘’divided Europe’’.

Public Domain: Woman Power Logo

As a women, I could not feel more represented by Simone’s ideas. In a world where women are still struggling for equality, where women make less than a man that holds the same scholar degree as her, it is important to highlight the contributions of a women that builded a platform in the changes that we as women want to see today. Because of Veil’s efforts in normalizing the duality of man, I alongside millions of other young woman, can comfortably fight for our rights without the fear of getting seriously reprimanded. Her efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Veil’s impact is still reflected and talked about today. Though today Veil’s efforts are undergoing an era of attack, legalizing abortions saved the lives of many.

Wrap- Up

Honoring Simon Veil by European Parliament


(1). “Veil, Simone (1927—).”. “Veil, Simone (1927-).” Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia,, 2019,

(2). “Simone Veil.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 11 Apr. 2019,

Thank you for Reading

Sheyla E Rodriguez.

“The General” by Elaine Morales

De Gaulle (1890-1970) was in every sense a contradictory character — Jean Lacouture, an earlier biographer, called his colossal personality “a battlefield” — with tensions between “restraint and hubris, reason and sentiment, classicism and romanticism, calculation and provocation”. He was “a soldier who spent most of his career fighting the army; a conservative who often talked like a revolutionary”. And Gaullism “succeeded in becoming the synthesis of French political traditions reconciling the left to the state and the right to the nation, the left to authority and the right to democracy”. He was able to achieve this unifying transcendence because of the “legitimacy” — his favourite word — he had acquired during the Second World War as leader of the French government in exile.

Lewis Jones (2018)
Charles De Gaulle during World War II

Early Years

Charles Andre Joseph Marie de Gaulle was born on November 22, 1890 in the region of Lille in the Nord Department. His family, specially his uncle and his grandfather inspired him to learn about history and inserted him into the lecture word. He learned compositions and was passionate about poetry. At the age of fifteen, he anticipated the future when wrote an essay with the title “General de Gaulle”, in which he imagined he was the leader of the French army on its victory over Germany in 1930.  Years later, he joined the French army placing his father and his own intellectual interests about history and his country. During his first years of serving the army, he demonstrated strong abilities besides his physical qualities (height: 6’5”), and five years later he was promoted to sergeant. During his studies at the academy he started being an average student, and then he increased his skills, intelligence, knowledge, and personality being on the top of his class. The time of being proved arrived to his live when the World War I stayed. 

World War I

After two months he rejoined the army as commander of the 7thCompanyand two months later he was assigned regimental adjutant. He performed a good job on his position, earning the Croix de Guerreand ascending to Captain. Once again, he received a bullet on his left hand and was out of battle during four months. Once his abilities led him coming back, he rejoined the forces, leading the 10thcompany again. For last time, he received bayonet wound on the left thigh after being stunned by a shell. He survived the effect of this incidents and the consequences of poison gas, but was captured by the Germans. 

During the first days of the war he was wounded while performed as platoon commander in the Battle of Dinant.He received a bullet on his knee and was hospitalized enough time to criticize the methods of the French Militia. There were three aspect that De Gaulle found erroneous about the military tactics: the over-rapid offensive, the inadequacy of French generals, and the slowness of English troops. 


De Gaulle spent almost three years on prison under the German regimen. He got depressed because he was absent on the War. This situation was for him a fatality. His passion for the battle were so strong than got him frustrated about being incarcerated. He never complained about the food, the situation, the lonely, the exile; his only concern was not being part of the French army.  He used this time to read, to learn German, to discuss with other prisoners about military strategies and possibilities of victory. He also wrote his first book “ Discorde chez l’ennemi” which was published on 1924 and explained the division and issues within the German troops. When the war was terminating, he was liberated, and came back to his father’s home with his three brothers who survived the war. 


Charles went to Poland to as staff of the French Military Mission to Polandand earn the decoration of Virturi Militari. Once back in France he studied at the Ecole de Guerreduring two years, in which his grades were good, but never excellent. His professor Moyrand referred to him as an intelligent man, with unique attitudes as leader and as soldier, and as extremely arrogant with excessive amount of self-confidence.  One year later after finishing his studies, Charles published an essay on tactics depending of the circumstances, which constituted for many a response to his professor Moyrand. The same decade, he published other articles and lectures such as “Historical Role of French Fortresses”, “Leadership in Wartime”, and “Prestige”, ending on the formation of his book The Edge of the Sword. He came back to Ecole de Guerre as a commandant, but this time with the position of commander as he had sworn years earlier. Gaulle continued writing, even proposing his tactics to the senator, arguing for his concepts and ideas and earning prestige amount the militaries. 

Tanks and rapid maneuvers rather than trench warfare. 

On his book published on 1934, named Toward a Professional Army, he explained his position against the old trench warfare and the benefits of the use of tanks and rapid maneuvers. He believed so much on himself and was strong about his ideals, he defended his war strategies and his book was a success. Gaulle sold more than 700 copies on France and the thousands of copies on Germany (good numbers for that time and topic). After his book, he earned more respect and prestige across the country, and his tactics were criticized in France and followed in Germany. He was a well-known figure when he published his new book France and her Armyin 1938. 

Word War II

During War II he was the command of the 4thArmoured Division, he wrote books, criticized strategies and was in front of tanks battles. During the German invasion, he was directing the attack at Montcornet and was defeated several times by the enemies.  He rejected order of withdrawal and advance into the field, enjoying one of the few victories of French.  During this period, he was so secure about his tactics, rejecting superiors advises and confronting the Germans face to face. Then, he was given a mission to go to London, many of his collagenous had rejected and he accepted. On his biography he specified the depression and frustration he felt forming part of this mission. This meant his recognition of the government and a decided break from the French Army. During this time, he had several ideological problems with Churchill, demanding the rights of the French Committee (Jones, 2018).

Churchill and De Gaulle (1944)

Free French

He was recognized as the leader of the Free French and confronted as usually problems with his superiors. Gaulle’ wife and daughter had to move constantly while in London, and they were living separated for the general. He was a public figure and counted with admires in France, while the Vichy sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment and the court martial in absentia condemned him to death. After agreements and conversations, he formed the Free French National Council and then the Free French Air Force which cost him almost being killed in a plane sabotage on April 21st, 1943. To the other hand, president Roosevelt refused to accept him and even when their relationships started to improve, De Gaulle was not a trusted person to the American government. He stayed with his ideals and was clear on every meeting, he asked for being recognized as a leader figure of Free French. On June 14 of 1944 Charles went back to France in the wake of invading army. France welcomed him as deserved, and he headed the first allied troops to enter the capital: “Leclerc’s Free French second armored division. Sometime later, he was also the head of the provisional French government. In the elections of 1945, he failed to win enough votes and retired from the public life (Rudolph, 2016). The major cataclysm of France has passes, but Charles De Gaulle was not satisfied with the results, writing the following phrase:

It is not tolerable, it is not possible, that from so much sacrifice and ruin, so much heroism, a greater and better humanity shall not emerge.”

Charles De Gaulle. 

The President of the Fifth Republic

The official felt that France did not need him, or at least that his ideals were so pure for a country still on recovery. He wrote his book Memories of the War. When the Fourth Republic stayed, he planted his disposal for the country. Algeria returned the power to him after winning the war, and he was assigned as president of the Fifth Republic. Instead of following Argelia’s interests, the president stayed by the France’s benefits, creating discomfort and resulting in the white revolution in Algiers. He suffered attempts against his life at this time.

His labor most important during this period were:

  • Trying to convert France in an atomic power rose
  • Healing the relationships with German
  • Making the first attempts of inserting Britain to the European community
  • Tour for 10 Latin American countries.

On the elections, he was reelected on the second ballot for seven years. Between his achievements during this period are:

  • Tour of 6000 miles around the Soviet Union. 
  • He signed the declaration for the closeness between Eastern and Western Europe. 
  • Called to EEUU to withdraw from Vietnam during a speech on Cambodia. 
  • For his peaceful position he made of Paris a neutral point for meetings between EEUU and Vietnam. 
  • He launched the first nuclear powered submarine in 1967.
  • One of the most controversial elements during these years was his visit on 1967 to Canada, where he used the slogan “Vive le Quebec libre” encouraging the French-Canadian separatism. 
  • He continued with his foreign policy by visiting the Soviet Union, Poland and Romania in order to increase their relationship. 

“The cemeteries are full of indispensable men.”

Charles De Gaulle

Rival French Leaders shaking hands only for the show

De Gaulle government was categorized as a “dictatorship”, and years later he admitted on his letters to his son that for ten years he was really a monarch (Jones, 2018). Young students started to fight for their rights and the necessity of taking part on the decisions of the country. This point in the French history is considered the major crisis of Gaulle. He left the country without notification and returned when military security was assured. He stayed with his arrogance and self-confidence, and at this time this characteristic is shown on the phrase he uses to refers to the revolutionary students: “When a child gets angry and oversteps the mark, the best way of calming him is to give him a smack.” (Jones, 2018). He negotiated with the students and workers, but a little later he dissolved the parliament. He won one more time the elections but was unpopular and considered too old for the government. He resigned the presidency on April 28thof 1969. He published his book The Renewal, the first of three book Memoirs of Hope, this was considered the fastest seller in France. When he was almost 80 years old, he died suddenly at his home with the company of his wife on November 9thof 1970.  France and the whole world felt his death. 

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”

Charles De Gaulle

Impacting Generations: Nicolas de Condorcet by Fabian Rodriguez


The purpose of this project is to go back in time and explore the life of one of the most important figures in the fight towards social reforms and gender equality. I will be exploring Condorcet’s early life experiences and how they shaped him to become such a radical thinker for his time, and even today, for his views on women’s rights. By exploring big ideas like gender, race, women’s right and perfection, I will be able to discover how Condorcet’s contributions to society so many years ago has affected my personal and social life today.  I based my research on this figure, since as a man I have been impacted by strong women such as my mother and sister, throughout my entire life. I saw this as an opportunity to appreciate Condorcet’s contribution to society and how he helped my mom and my sister have a voice that can be heard.  

Early life of a revolutionary thinker: Nicolas de Condorcet

Named Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet, but known as Nicolas de Condorcet, Nicolas was born in 1743 in a small town in France called Ribemont (1). His father was killed, in battle, shortly after his birth (2). French philosopher and mathematician of the Enlightenment and advocate of educational reform and women’s rights (3). At only 21 years of age, his work on integral calculus, was praised by the Royal Academy of Science earning him the recognition by many as one of the top Europeans mathematicians of his time (4). In 1777, he was appointed secretary and spokesman of the French Academy of Science (2).  

French Revolution: role of a radical thinker

Nicolas de Condorcet was very supportive of the French Revolution, since he saw this as the perfect time to strive for social reform (3). He helped draft the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the citizen (2). Condorcet was elected into the National Legislative Assembly in 1971, where he advocated to end the privileges of the monarchy, and proposed reforms for state education in France (4). However, he unsuccessfully tried to have girls educated alongside boys in colleges and universities, since he stated that gender has nothing to do with intellectual differences, the lack of educational opportunities is what affects women (4). 


Race vs Ethnicity

Race is still a very delicate topic in today’s society. Nicolas had a huge impact in the abolitionist movement in France through his work “Reflections on Black Slavery” and later by being the president of the Society of the Friends of Blacks (4). I decided to relate how equality of race has affected me as an immigrant of a different ethnicity. It is very hard to live in a place where you are looked down upon and feel like you don’t fit in. Even though, I still go through these uncomfortable situations, I feel like the battle of Nicolas against racism and slavery really made it much simpler. 

Women’s rights

“I hope that everyone who attacks my arguments will do so without using ridicule or declamation, and above all that, that someone will show me a natural difference between men and women on which the exclusion could legitimately be based”

“The rights of men stem exclusively from the fact that they are sentient beings, capable of acquiring moral ideas and of reasoning upon them. Since women have the same qualities, they necessarily also have the same rights. Either no member of the human race has any true rights, or else they all have the same ones; and anyone who votes against the rights of another, whatever his religion, color or sex, automatically forfeits his own.”

Nicolas de Condorcet discussed the fact that the obstacles that women face in society are based on their lack of education and opportunity just because of their sex. Furthermore, he states the equality of not just women compared to men but also racial and religious equality and how by putting someone’s right over others just based on these simple things as gender, race, or religious affiliation you are basically relinquishing your own rights. 

Condorcet’s battle against the oppression of women has really impacted me in a profound way. I was raised in an environment where my mom was a role model for me. She was able to become a doctor and I can’t stop thinking about the fact that she was able to achieve her dream due to the sacrifice of figures like Nicolas de Condorcet. The fact that I have the opportunity to be sitting next to my sister, studying in a university working to achieve a better version of ourselves each day. It is shocking to me to think about how the work of someone more than 300 years ago has allowed my mom and my sister to have a voice and important place in society. 


“It has never yet been supposed, that all the facts of nature, and all the means of acquiring precision in the computation and analysis of those facts, and all the connections of objects with each other, and all the possible combinations of ideas, can be exhausted by the human mind.”

One of Condorcet’s major focus was humankind strive for perfection; and we can see that in his work titled Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, where he listed nine stages that the human race has gone through and states that the following step is going to be perfection. Even though, a perfect human race cannot be truly achieved, I believe that Condorcet’s ideals towards the better of humanity has helped me personally by inspiring me to become a better person every day, and by becoming a more capable member of society I can have a more direct impact in my surroundings. 

Reflection: How Condorcet’s life impacted mine

As I was doing this project, I found it very hard to connect my personal life to the work of another person that lived over 300 years ago. However, after some hours of research and an open mind, I was able to create a bond and a sense of appreciation for the sacrifice and the contributions Nicolas de Condorcet made to society. As I sat here reflecting how Condorcet’s life impacted mine I can honestly say that the first and most important thing that comes to mind is the fact that I get to sit next to my sister in a classroom where she has the same opportunities as me and where her voice matters as much as mine. I will forever be in debt to people that spend their lives in search of a more inclusive and “perfect” world like Nicolas de Condorcet did. 


  1. Beck, D. (n.d.). EMECC Early Modern Forum 1450 – 1850. Retrieved April 04, 2019, from
  2. Smith, P. (2013, March 20). The Marquis de Condorcet: 1. Life and Times. Retrieved from
  3. Acton, H. B. (2019, March 25). Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet. Retrieved from
  4. Landes, J. (2016, January 20). The History of Feminism: Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet. Retrieved from
  5. Nicolas de Condorcet Quotes (Author of Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind). (n.d.). Retrieved April 09, 2019, from
  6. Race Versus Stereotypes, Which One Is The Real Problem? (2014, September 07). Retrieved from
  7. Smith, P. (2013, May 21). Condorcet: 3.1. The Rights of Women (part 1). Retrieved from
  8. Aubin, M. (2019, March 12). Nicolas de Condorcet, a scientist serving the public interest. Retrieved from
  9. The Myth of Perfectionism; How to Stop Being Your Worst Critic. (2017, October 25). Retrieved from
  10. (10)Condorcet. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  11. The First Essay on the Political Rights of Women by Nicolas de Condorcet. (2011, March 24). Retrieved from

Sexuality and Religion: Spanish conquista

Humans have always been bound by religion. It dictates the morality of a person; what is right or wrong. Hence, religion is related to every human activity, and it has been related to sexuality since humans started praying. Some religions are less strict than others, but they always have a said in a person’s sexuality; being sexual intercourse or sexual orientation prohibition. That fact was no exception in Spain during its colonization of the Americas. A visible change in sexuality culture, as well as religious culture, can be seen in the Americas during the Spanish conquista since the Spanish imposed their religious beliefs to the American natives. Native America before Spain looked very different than after its colonization. It had different more antiquated, technologies and many different religions and tribes. Hence, here only a broad aspect of native religion will be discussed. “The Spanish missionaries defined impurity, unchastity, incontinence, lust, and fornication as vices based on Catholic teachings about human sexuality and marriage” [1]. The characterization of natives by a Spanish conqueror. Although it is somehow true, his depiction does not describe the reason for them being like that. Most of the natives’ religions believed that sexuality was closely related to fertility, hence, their need to be sexually active as soon as they could. Even their depictions of sexual acts were very explicit like the Moche pottery in the Andes.


Many differences exist between the native’s religions and Catholicism, the main religion in Spain during the time. The native Americans just as the Spanish people did marry, several texts depict marriages among them. However, they did not believe that a man had to be married to the same woman all his life, as Catholics did, they were only compelled to keep the same wife when they have had children [2]. Although, adultery was more flexible in some tribes compared to the Spanish Catholicism and more punishable in others the same the conscious of fidelity existed in a marriage. The most punishable act of adultery was mainly to the woman and in some tribes if she had committed it with a member of another clan. The sex out of marriage was one of the most unusual sexual behaviors that the Spanish conquerors observed and made reference. Furthermore, most of the native’s beliefs did not see anything wrong with men and woman having sex before marriage, something that the Catholic doctrine disallowed, the natives promoted it. As long as they were old enough, they would engage in sexual intercourse.

Same-Sex Relationships

The lust and the forbidden sex was not the most unusual sexual behavior observed by the Spanish, but same-sex marriage, especially between men. Several texts describe how two same-sex individuals engaged in sexual relationships as well as dressed as a person from the opposite sex [3]. “When the priests at Mission San Antonio caught two men engaging in ‘an unspeakably sinful act,’ and ‘tried to present to them the enormity of their deed,’ wrote Palou, one of the men protested that the other ‘was his wife.’” [1]. Cabeza de Vaca also expresses his disgust with the Catholic sin of same-sex intercourse in his book Chronicles of a Narvaez Expedition.

However, the natives treated homosexuality as usual in their lives and referred to them as an individual with two spirits in one body. Evidence translated by postconquest narratives shows that the Incas were a civilization that did not allow same-sex relationships. However, later evidence suggests the opposite bringing doubts in most of the theories of sexuality before the Spanish conquest especially because of the Spanish’s biased opinion catholic’s morals. For instance, Moche’s pottery depicting same-sex sexual acts.

Incest and polygamy were another behavior observed by the Spanish people. In some tribes, the natives had no problem with marrying their brothers or sisters; they “recognize in their marriages no relationship of affinity” [1]. Furthermore, it is well known that caciques and other wealthy members of the native community had multiple wives, as many as they could maintain, and many children as well.

After the Conquista

Hence, since the Spanish conquistadores main target was to convert all the natives to the Catholic religion most of these thoughts and beliefs were eradicated. For instance, during the colonization they forced the man who had many wives to choose one of them; they usually wanted the newer union because the younger woman would bear more children. However, there was also a lot of mixture between the two cultures. Sometimes women were given as gifts to Spanish conquerors or married just because they were attracted to one another [4]. One of this example is described in Cabeza de Vaca’s journal. The first target was to eliminate the nudity in their culture. Some sexuality aspects of the native Americans found their way to survive during the colonization. Another important goal was to eliminate sex before marriage, hence, the order was made from Toledo.

“Toledo ordered that evangelized natives caught cohabiting outside church-sanctioned wedlock receive 100 lashes of the whip ‘to persuade these Indians to remove themselves from this custom so detrimental and pernicious.'”

Rick Vecchio – Los Angeles Times

And the most important tradition they had to eliminate was same-sex relationships. Those who committed this catholic sin were cruelly punished especially during the Inquisition era around 1569 when homosexuals were burned at the stake in Peru. Even though some of this effort to eradicate and turn natives into Catholics and change their sexual beliefs were successful, some of these traditions still live today. For instance, the two-spirits belief, the same-sex relationship between the natives, was one that did not perish. It was even used in an appealing for same-sex rights in the United States [3]. Also, the thought that sex is only allowed in marriage and that women must remain celibate are slowly being eliminated in our society.

One can help it but to find irony in this subject. Today, in the modern world, many years after the Spanish colonized and turned most of the Americas to religions that mainly come from Catholicism, the papers have become. Today, the Americas, primarily Hispanic America, it is profoundly conservative with the sexuality doctrines. Most people living in these countries do not allow their daughters to have sex before marriage. They forbid same-sex relations as well as heavily punish the woman who commits adultery. On the other hand, Europe, mainly Spain, are impressively open-minded. Although conservative people exist, most of the youth support homosexuality and even same-sex marriage. The majority do not support that relationships have to be monogamous and allow sex before marriage.

[1] Q. D. Newell, “‘The Indians Generally Love their Wives and Children’: Native American Marriage and Sexual Practices in Missions San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San JosÉ,” vol. 91, no. 1, pp. 60–82, 2005 [Online].


[3] A. N. Cabeza de Vaca, Chronicle of the Narvaez Expedition. Stilwell: Neeland Media LLC, 2013 [Online].

[4] A. Lavrin, Sexuality in Colonial Spanish America., 2010, pp. 135–152.

[5] R. Vecchio, “Erotic ceramics reveal dirty little secret; Explicit depiction of sexuality was common in Peru, as was free love until suppressed by the Spanish. Pottery is popular in museums,” Los Angeles Times, p. A11, 07-Mar-2004.



Flamenco 41 by Maryam Mughal


Dance is one of the purest forms of art and expression, not only does it tell a story by the way the performers interact with each other, but it also displays the mixture of cultures that contribute to the music and movements that make each dance unique. Most people when referring to Spanish dance tend to name Flamenco as the dance of Spain however, Spain’s dance culture is influenced by different aspects depending on the regions. These different dances have traveled through Spain, Europe and to the Americas giving birth to different dance styles or modified versions of the Spanish dances.

Dance Tidbits by Freddie Brock


The traditional dances were folk dance that were different and unique to different regions of Spain. These dances led to the more famous and modern dances that now define Spaniard music and dance.

  1. Sardana:
    • This is was a dance that was very popular the Catalan region of Spain and it is considered to be a part of the identity of Catalonia. It is a dance that is played by a ‘cobla’, the live band that plays the music. Men and woman dance it equally as they move in a circle slowly taking small steps back and forth to the rhythm of flute and drum like instruments. It is still very important to Spanish culture and the are about 200 bands that play this style of music in Catalonia.
  2. Muiñeira:
    • This dance is regional to the areas near the stretch of Galicia and this dance demonstrates the derivation from Celtic culture that is more common in the northern part of Spain near the Iberian Peninsula. The use of Bagpipes (gaita) and traditional outfits show the resemblance to Irish culture. It is danced at a moderate fast pace that is common to the dances of Spain in it could be done in circles and rows of dancers.
  3. Sevillanas:
    • The dance of the south originating in the region of Sevilla. It was derived from Seguidillas a type of fast paced folk dance for couples. The lyrics are the most important part of this music and they sing about common life themes. The dance was later influenced by Flamenco and vice versa making them very similar and easy mistaken by those that do not know.
  4. Bolero:
    • The original bolero originated in Spain as a ballroom dance. It was the influence of the Flamenco style dance that follows the name of boleras because of the music style and use of ‘castanuelas’, but it was actually made by combining the folk dance of sevillana with a contradanza. Although there is a dance originated from Cuba with the same name, it does not relate to the Spanish bolero until recent times where the Spanish have incorporated the more modern Cuban Bolero into Spanish Bolero for a different twist on the Dance.
  5. Fandango:
    • It is a very common and popular couples dance that originated in Andalucía. The dance is intended to show a story between a couple, and it is revealed in the movement of taunting that each dancer shows the other. Could be seen as a fight or represent a war between two people. It is very similar to Bolero, and Flamenco because the music, instruments used (castanuelas).
  6. Jota:
    • Jota represented by the sound of the letter ‘J’ is a dance from the northern parts of Spain, Aragon. However, this dance is one of the only ones that is spread throughout Spain being represented differently in each region expressing the different aspects of cultures that each Spanish region have. It is composed of a fast-passed dance and even includes jumps.
  7. Flamenco:
    • Flamenco is the dance that is known to represent Spain. Nonetheless, it was introduced and developed in the south of Spain (Andalucía), and could even be considered insulting to ask someone from the North if they dance Flamenco. It is composed of different dances and rhythms from Arabic and Jewish decent and classical Spanish music. Today it is one of the most popular Spanish dances because of its music, use of guitars and, remixes they have done to the music to make it seem more modern.
  8. Paso Doble:
    • Paso Doble is an interesting form of expressing Spanish culture because it is meant to model the act of bullfighting, a common entertainment and cultural identity of Spain. It is a fast-passed couples dance where the man represents ‘el matador’ and the woman is the swift flowing cape. It was originated as a French military march that is still referred to during festivals. Paso doble is one of the various dances that was later incorporated in Latin American dances.
  9. Zarzuela:
    • This atypical dance is more of a theoretical musical style where the music changes between spoken and sung scenes. It was originated in Madrid in the Zarzuela Theatre. This was another of the dance entertainments that incorporated its self in the New World and the different countries adapted it to their own mixtures of cultures.

Guaguanco Series Art Print by
Arturo Cisneros

Relation to the new world

Most dance-based cultures in Latin America where not fully and solely influenced by Spanish dances because most Hispanic dances are mostly alterations of African dances. However, that minor alteration that changes the African dance is the input of Spanish dance that was brought from Europe.

  1. Religion in colonization dance:
    • Before Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, the indigenous groups had their own ritualistic dances and ceremonies, after the natives, the slaves brought from Africa brought their own experiences and interpretation of religious dancing. During the conversion period Catholics priests decided to allow the slaves and natives to dance and have ceremonies if they modified them to refer to the Catholicism. Slaves found a way around conversion by lying and giving African names to Catholic Saints they would praise their African gods but to the Spaniards view they were praising Spanish saints. This not only birthed a new religion (Santeria) practiced mostly in the Caribbean Islands but also to various new dance forms that had mixtures of Religious Spanish dances and African dances, (Guaguanco).
  2. Same name diferente steps:
    • As the formal dances above mentioned moved to the Americas, they changed not only because of the difference in liberty of the American people but also because of their physical consistency. In dances like the Seguidilla and Fandango, in the Americas they were changed to be about more feet movement called el Zapateo because the regid torso position helped to have a faster foot movement. This dance became very popular and still is in places like Mexico, and Colombia. The dance of Jota stayed pretty similar however, without the castanuellas , the hops and fast paced danced turned into dances like ‘Tiranas of Argentina and ‘Jaranas’ in Mexico. Before doing this research, I believed that most Hispanic dances were a mix African, Native, and Spanish dances, this research showed me what dances truly contributed to what specific dances. It showed me that no dance is truly pure, and it actually is an art form that represents a mixture of cultures and people.


“Spanish Dance and Music: Overview.” Spanish Art, Spanish Art, 2011,

Jessop, Tara. “10 Traditional Spanish Dances You Should Know About.” Culture Trip, Tara Jasop, 22 May 2017,

Wall, Amy Lynn, “Dance as a cultural element in Spain and Spanish America” (1992). Presidential Scholars Theses (1990 – 2006). 151.

American Political Identity as Influenced by Spain

By Juan Ortega

Studying abroad in Spain with Professor John William Bailly

Propaganda promoting American imperialism

What is the United States of America? One may think of words such as “capitalist”, “democratic”, “equal”, etc. to define the idea of the United States. Documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution would likely pop into the thinker’s mind. However, all of these ideologies that frame the concept of America stem from Europe. While many may think these are adaptations of British ideas, they would be incorrect. These came from Spain.

Politically speaking, the United States adopted multiple ideas from Spanish influence. Politics is a wide umbrella of topics that can be broken down into the main three factors that keep a country prospering, functioning, and secure: economics, legislation, and military. Of these topics, the United States of America has grown to become the superpower it is today in part due to Spanish creations. From capitalism to human rights to guerrilla warfare, the United States has adopted multiple Spanish-born ideas to help grow and spread its interests.

Christopher Columbus founding the Americas, starting Spanish colonialism


The founding of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492 started the race for colonies amongst multiple European states. Funded by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, Columbus’s claim of the Americas for Spain provided an immediate increase in raw materials for production and manufacturing of finished goods to be sold around the world. This was the birth of colonialism.

Colonialism was a direct result of the economic ideology of the time: mercantilism. This concept described global wealth as finite. Currency was backed by precious metals, meaning that all the wealth in the world was limited to the amount of precious metal that existed. Therefore, the economy was a zero sum game. It was the goal of all European countries to accumulate as much of the wealth as possible.

In order to accumulate such wealth, countries had to produce finished goods that would be desirable for buyers both inside and outside the country. However, this was a constant balancing act because it was believed that if imports outweighed exports that would mean wealth was leaving the country. It was the constant goal to have exports far surpass imports, meaning a country would need more colonies for even more raw materials.

New York Stock Exchange

It was a race to basically conquer the world, and Spain had the lead. Inspired by the Spanish, the Portuguese began its search for colonies as well. Portugal began to fight for pieces of South America, setting up colonies in what is today Brazil. It also began setting up colonies in Africa along the southwestern and southeastern coasts since merchants would have to traverse around the entire continent to reach Asia, and these ports were prime real estate for resupplying. Fighting between the two countries, both ruled by Catholic monarchs, broke out, forcing the intervention of the Church. Born in Spain himself, Pope Alexander VI produced the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divided the globe in two halves. Spain was given ownership of all land discovered and undiscovered 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands, and Portugal was given claim to the land east of the line. This would not be the first time religion interfered in political matters, but that will be elaborated on later.

Capitalism was inspired by this European search to concentrate wealth. English thinkers Adam Smith, James Steuart, and David Ricardo were the ones that primarily formed the concept of capitalism by arguing against many practices of mercantilism. For example, the governments that did follow mercantilism would practice many protectionist policies in order to avoid over importation, as mentioned earlier. In order to ensure that wealth was not escaping the country heavy tariffs would be placed on foreign products; therefore, people would be forced to buy from sellers within their own countries. The products that were not sold would then be stored away or destroyed. These thinkers argued towards a global economy in which multiple national economies would buy and sell from one another and rely on credit instead of precious metals. Mercantilism would go on to evolve into capitalism, and while the concept was formalized by English thinkers, it came as a result of Spanish expansionism.

Capitalism has since become a centralized theme in American culture. A lack of regulations on big businesses comes from the concept of laissez faire, translating to “hands off”, that limits government intervention in the free market. Even the concept of the free market itself stems from the goal of trying to accumulate as much wealth as possible. However, now wealth is seen is unlimited.

Bartolome de las Casas and Native Americans

Legislation: HUMAN RIGHTS

Part of the discussion revolving around human rights actually stems from the aforementioned involvement of the Catholic Church in Spanish politics. While colonialism helped to boom the Spanish economy, the discovery of Native Americans introduced a very peculiar situation. Since the Natives lived on what was claimed to be Spanish territory would they be subjects to the crown? Were they human? Were they equals?

The treatment of Native Americans was from then on one of brutality, rape, murder, and slavery. Natives were overwhelmed by well-armed and well-organized conquistadors using weapons never before seen by the Natives and completely incomparable to the spears and bows and arrows the Natives used. Furthermore, aside from soldiers being sent to the New World, priests were also sent to begin evangelization.

First, to justify colonialism in the New World to Spaniards that questioned its morality, King Ferdinand, Queen Isabella, and the legal jurists argued that the Spanish had the right to exploration since the world was created by God for man’s use. Furthermore, the Spanish had the right to evangelize, and finding an entire population that had yet to hear of Catholicism meant more followers for Christ. The Spanish also had the right to protect themselves against the Natives; if the Natives should attack them or reject the faith, the Spanish rationalized that armed conflict would then be justified. Therefore, it would be a righteous war. These rights were granted to the Spanish simply on the basis of their humanity as children of God.

To justify the treatment of Native Americans back in Spain, the government argued that the Natives were lacking the truth of God’s Will, and it was the Spanish’s responsibility to God as a Catholic nation to spread the Good News. Missionaries were set up all throughout the Americas, with forced conversions becoming common. Torture and cruelty were the norm to force Native Americans to give up their own gods, rituals, and beliefs for acceptance of monotheism and the Catholic dogma. However, the introduction of Catholicism to the Natives would actually help in their eventual legal protection.

Civil Rights March in 1963

Some members of the Church, such as Dominican friar Bartolome de las Casas, began writing to the king regarding the conditions the Native Americans were being subjected to. His writings became some of Spanish society’s first encounters with the harsh realities of what was happening in the Americas. Another member of the Church, theologian and philosopher Francisco de Vitoria, began to write on the concept of natural law as a reaction to de las Casas’s leters. Natural law states that each human being is born with an innate moral compass, with an understanding of what is right and what is wrong. During the 1500s, when de las Casas and de Vitoria were writing, it was understood that this moral understanding was ordained by God. De Vitoria states that since Native Americans were taught Catholicism, there is an acceptance that they, too, are human beings. Furthermore, by their very nature as humans and their ability to perceive morality and immorality, they are also children of God. Therefore, they are equals to the Spanish. His writings helped to push King Charles II to create the New Laws of the Indies of 1542.

This legislation went on to grant Native Americans Spanish citizenship as well as protections from unequal treatment. The Natives were to be taxed and paid fairly. Most importantly, the law abolished slavery of Native Americans. If a Spaniard in the New World did want to hold a Native as a slave they would have to present their case in Spain, which was far too expense and too long a travel for many to justify holding enslaved Natives. The encomienda system was also abolished. This system stated that when conquistadors conquered an area, the land was to be split amongst them. The Natives that resided on the portion of land given to a conquistador were then under his jurisdiction. While this was introduced partly to help with evangelization, it became a type of quasi-slavery.

This legislation was extremely unpopular in the New World and was not fully enforced due to the fact that colonies had a certain sense of autonomy allowed to them by geographical distance. However, this is widely considered to be the first piece of human rights legislation. The discussions meant to justify Spanish colonialism and those meant to protect Native Americans became some of the first discussions ever regarding the rights guaranteed to a human being simply on the basis of their existence.

These concepts find themselves ingrained in the American Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution, which list a people’s right to recreate a functioning government should their government fail, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc. The ideal of innate human rights has become integral to the American identity, as oppressed groups have used these documents to argue against segregation, inequality, etc. throughout generations. The belief in human rights led to documents like the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the U.S., and later the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to secure legal protection for people of color. While America does have a history of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination, the centrality of human rights in the founding documents has pushed the country constantly forward, always progressing.

Guerrilla warfare being used in the Peninsular War


While the techniques behind guerrilla warfare have been used for centuries, the formalization of the informal warfare was done by Spain. Following Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power in France at the end of the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars broke out across Europe. These conflicts came from Napoleon’s quest to conquer all of Europe. The French army under his guidance was seemingly unstoppable, defeating large, organized army after large, organized army on the battlefield. However, the French’s biggest rivals came from small, disorganized armed militias. The Peninsular War began in 1807, when Napoleon’s Grand Armée invaded the Iberian Peninsula. As the French marched across the peninsula, small Spanish militias would hide in the brush, over hills, and behind buildings along their path. Then, when the time was right, they would rain down bullets on the French and quickly retreat.

These surprise attacks were not the norm of for European warfare at the time that saw two organized armies meeting at a location, lining up, and firing at one another until one army retreated or surrendered. The militiamen that fought using this tactic became known as “guerrilleros”, which roughly translates to irregular fighters. Guerrilla warfare was so effective that it eventually pushed the French out of Spain, and Napoleon referred to the constant losses in Spain as the “Spanish ulcer”.

Guerrilla warfare is largely associated with rebellions and resistance groups that are under armed or underfunded. American interventionist policies following World War II have actually led to a rise in American support of guerrilla warfare. Throughout the Cold War and even today, with conflicts such as the Syrian Civil War, the United States has provided weapons, ammunition, and basic training to rebels. This training largely focuses on guerrilla style tactics since most rebel fighters are not trained professionals. The optics of guerrilla warfare has actually helped to spread American interests in a region and justify direct intervention: a poorly organized group of everyday citizens trying to fight off the big bad enemy. This type of imagery has, on more than one occasion, been used to help garner sympathy from American citizens to boost war morale.


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