Author: Jone Lewis

Vannozza dei Cattanei, Mother of Borgias

Vannozza dei Cattenei was the mother of Lucrezia Borgia, Cesare Borgia and two (or maybe one) other children of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who later became Pope Alexander VI.  Borgia’s mistress, she was also an innkeeper. She lived from July 13, 1442 to November 24, 1518. Variations on her name include Vanozza dei Cattenei, Giovanna de Candia, Countess of Cattenei. Biography Vannozza dei Cattanei, as she was called, was born Giovanna de Candia, daughter of two nobles of the house of Candia. (Vannozza is a diminutive of Giovanna.) We know nothing of her early life, other than that she was born in Mantua. She may have been an innkeeper with several establishments in Rome when she became mistress of Rodrigo Borgia, then a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church (or the inns may have been property obtained with his support). He had many other mistresses before, during and after their relationship, but his with Vannozza was his longest relationship. He honored his children by her above his other illegitimate offspring. Rodrigo Borgia had been appointed a cardinal by Pope Callixtus III in 1456 — his uncle, born Alfonso de Borja, who died in 1458. Rodrigo Borgia did not take Holy Orders and become a priest until 1468 — but that did include a vow of ceibacy. Borgia was not the only cardinal to have mistresses; one rumor at the time had Vanozza...

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Transcendental Wild Oats by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott wrote this biting satire on life in a 19th century Utopian community, based on her own family’s experience at Fruitlands. She portrays the father figure as a dreamer and idealist, and the mother as the practical one who has to do all the work to meet worldly needs like food and shelter.

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An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott wrote this Thanksgiving story in 1881. In this selection you’ll find a vivid description of a New England family, “poor in money, but rich in land and love,” and their Thanksgiving dinner. The story was made into a movie by Sony Pictures, available on DVD, and shown on the Hallmark Channel. Jacqueline Bisset  stars as Isabella Caldwell and Hélène Joy as Mary Bassett.  The setting is a New Hampshire town, the time is after the American Civil War. It tells of a struggling widow and family, left poor by the death of Mr. Bassatt.  The widow’s wealthy mother comes to visit at Thanksgiving at the instigation of Bassett daughter Tilly. Values about money, virtue, reconciliation and the autonomy of children are featured. An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving November, 1881. By Louisa May Alcott. SIXTY YEARS AGO, up among the New Hampshire hills, lived Farmer Bassett, with a houseful of sturdy sons and daughters growing up about him. They were poor in money, but rich in land and love, for the wide acres of wood, corn, and pasture land fed, warmed, and clothed the flock, while mutual patience, affection, and courage made the old farmhouse a very happy home. November had come; the crops were in, and barn, buttery, and bin were overflowing with the harvest that rewarded the summer’s hard work. The big kitchen was a jolly place just now,...

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Three Poems by Alice Freeman Palmer

Alice Freeman Palmer was most noted as an educator, but she also wrote poetry.  Here are three of her published poems: THE BUTTERFLY I hold you at last in my hand, Exquisite child of the air. Can I ever understand How you grew to be so fair? You came to my linden tree To taste its delicious sweet, I sitting here in the shadow and shine Playing around its feet. Now I hold you fast in my hand, You marvelous butterfly, Till you help me to understand The eternal mystery. From that creeping thing in the dust To this shining bliss in the blue! God give me courage to trust I can break my chrysalis too! HALLOWED PLACES I pass my days among the quiet places Made sacred by your feet. The air is cool in the fresh woodland spaces, The meadows very sweet. The sunset fills the wide sky with its splendor, The glad birds greet the night; I stop and listen for a voice strong, tender, I wait those dear eyes’ light. You are the heart of every gleam of glory, Your presence fills the air, About you gathers all the fair year’s story; I read you everywhere. A SPRING JOURNEY We journeyed through broad woodland ways, My Love and I. The maples set the shining fields ablaze. The blue May sky Brought to us its great...

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Why Go to College? Alice Freeman Palmer

An address by Alice Freeman Parker, a president of Wellesley College, on the purpose and advantages of higher education for women. To a largely increasing number of young girls college doors are opening every year. Every year adds to the number of men who feel as a friend of mine, a successful lawyer in a great city, felt when in talking of the future of his four little children he said, “For the two boys it is not so serious, but I lie down at night afraid to die and leave my daughters only a bank account.” Year by year, too, the experiences of life are teaching mothers that happiness does not necessarily come to their daughters when accounts are large and banks are sound, but that on the contrary they take grave risks when they trust everything to accumulated wealth and the chance of a happy marriage. Our American girls themselves are becoming aware that they need the stimulus, the discipline, the knowledge, the interests of the college in addition to the school, if they are to prepare themselves for the most serviceable lives. But there are still parents who say, “There is no need that my daughter should teach; then why should she go to college?” I will not reply that college training is a life insurance for a girl, a pledge that she possesses the disciplined...

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The Case for Birth Control by Margaret Sanger

first published in the Woman Citizen, Vol. 8, February 23, 1924, pages 17-18.  By Margaret Sanger. Everywhere we look, we see poverty and large families going hand in hand. We see hordes of children whose parents cannot feed, clothe, or educate even one half of the number born to them. We see sick, harassed, broken mothers whose health and nerves cannot bear the strain of further child-bearing. We see fathers growing despondent and desperate, because their labor cannot bring the necessary wage to keep their growing families. We see that those parents who are least fit to reproduce the race are having the largest number of children; while people of wealth, leisure, and education are having small families. It is generally conceded by sociologists and scientists that a nation cannot go on indefinitely multiplying without eventually reaching the point when population presses upon means of subsistence. While in this country there is perhaps no need for immediate alarm on this account, there are many other reasons for demanding birth control. At present, for the poor mother, there is only one alternative to the necessity of bearing children year after year, regardless of her health, of the welfare of the children she already has, and of the income of the family. This alternative is abortion, which is so common as to be almost universal, especially where there are rigid laws...

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