" If I had followed my better judgment always, my life would have been a very dull one. "
Edgar Rice Burroughs

Back in the day


George Bizet's Carmen Premieres in Paris

Though it is today one of the most popular operas ever written, Carmen was initially met with such scathing reviews that the opera house had to give away tickets to get people to see it. Shortly after its disastrous premier, its author, Bizet, died of a heart attack and the director of the struggling opera house resigned. Later that year, however, Carmen opened in Vienna to great acclaim. Why did critics initially hate Bizet's story of a soldier's doomed love for a wild Gypsy girl?



The Divine Right of Kings

The divine right of kings is the belief that kings derive their right to rule by the will of God—regardless of the approval of any earthly authority. According to this doctrine, the king's authority is inherited from his ancestors, whom God appointed to rule. Because such a king answers only to God, resistance to him is seen as sinful. James I of England strongly promoted the concept in the early 1600s, and the coronation ceremony for British monarchs still contains what hints of the doctrine?

Born on a day like today


George Mortimer Pullman

Pullman was a successful American industrialist and the inventor of the railroad sleeping car. In 1893, he built a company town for his workers in Illinois, and it was showcased in the World's Fair as a grand social experiment. The next year, the town of Pullman was the scene of a violent workers' strike that nearly halted US rail traffic. When Pullman died in 1897, he had to be buried in a massive steel-and-concrete vault to keep activists from disinterring his body. What happened to his town?

Last updated on Saturday, 3rd March 2012

More sponsors