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What Do You Have in the Basket, Judith? A Rape and a Beheading

A great female artist completes one of her best works... Judith Slaying Holofernes. Apparently, "slaying" means beheading... in full color. The artist's name is... well... let's call her Artie. Artie will wallow in obscurity for centuries because she had the temerity to accuse an influential man of rape and bringing him to trial. The earliest estimate for completion of Artie's depiction of Judith beheading the Assyrian general is 1614... which is two years after the trial concluded... so she began working on it shortly after the trial or perhaps during the trial ... and the torture. One modern author wrote in a satirical style that thumbscrews were "the medieval idea of a lie detector". Artie wasn't lying and she might have been killed had the local Duchess not intervened on her behalf. The Duchess was promised a painting in payment... and that's the way justice worked during the Baroque period in Rome. The actual verdict in the trial is lost to history. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Yes, I know. If the justice system is not Baroque, don't fix it. Moving on. From reading the court transcript, the rapist sounds a lot like Bill Clinton....
"I am telling you that not only have I not raped the said Artemisia, but I have never had sexual relations with her."

And here is Artie in her own defense...

"'I told him that I was feeling ill and I thought I had a fever. He replied: 'I have more of a fever than you do' ... when we were in front of the bedroom door, he pushed me in and locked the door. He then threw me on to the edge of the bed ... I tried to scream..."

You get the idea. She was a famous artist in her time, but years after her death, critics smeared her reputation by calling her a temptress or attributing her work to a man. I'm not sure how one can believe such foolishness but each critic is a product of his time. In the modern day, Artie is held up as model for feminists. That works for me. She survived the rape and proved her worth in the art world. She slayed the barbarian and carried his head away in a basket just like Judith. [6] [7] [8]

Virginia Tobacco is the New Crack... and the New Money *

King James the 1st has been toying with the idea of banning tobacco as a vice, but now he is convinced that tobacco is the greatest substance in the world because now he can tax the hell out of it! It seems that the English, and just about everyone else, will pay any price to get their fix. The King of Spain, fearful that the price might drop out of the market, begins funneling Spanish tobacco exclusively through the port of Seville. He is squeezing off the supply. Scarcity pushes the price sky high. Back in Jamestown, with an uneasy peace with the Indians in place, the new husband of Pocahontas, John Rolfe, is planting acres of tobacco. The Virginia product is inferior, but everyone is paying through the nose for it. If crack had existed at the time, tobacco would be the new crack and the new money. It's as good as gold. Pocahontas is rich! Now the poverty-stricken are gathering up discarded cigar butts, grinding up the tobacco and wrapping the result in small papers. Mark the date on your calendar, folks. Cigarettes are born. [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The first cigarette vending machine is created around this time as well. I only saw a brief mention of it but you dropped a coin in the kitty, opened the box and took your smokes. It seemed to work on the honor system like an office snack rack. Just a warning, now. This tobacco mania is going to touch off something really terrible, and the people won't realize they've done it until it is well and truly done. In a couple of years, during harvest time, a Dutch pirate ship will sail into a Virginia port to sell their ill-gotten goods and a few slaves. The farmers will want to get the harvest in. They need the labor and at 1000% profit on tobacco they won't think twice. They won't think once. They are going to do the unthinkable.

Welcome to New Netherland

The Dutch East India Company has surveyed the region in the eastern part of North America. Henry Hudson has also been that way and a fellow named Adriaen Block who is calling the region "New Netherland". The New Netherland Company is formed to exploit the fur trade and continue with commerce. No thoughts of colonization yet, but that's coming. The New Netherland colonies will include a place called New Amsterdam. In the modern day it will be called New York. [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
One might wonder what the Dutch East India Company was doing so far west. They had been commissioned to seek a Northwest passage to China and the East Indies. Henry Hudson had been sent there for the same reason and that is where the name "Hudson Bay" comes from. The idea was that if one could sail south and through the Straits of Magellan to reach the East Indies, why couldn't you sail north and do the same thing? Well.. it's all blocked off with a giant floating block of ice. That is why and no one has a submarine yet that can travel below the ice... at least nothing well-documented. The first reliable account of a submarine test will be conducted in 1620 by the English. It won't be until 1958 when the USS Nautilus will reach the north pole by going under the ice and 1960 when the USS Seadragon will travel the Northwest Passage under the ice. [14] [15] [16]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1614, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. "The rape of Artemisia: Four hundred, years ago this week Artemisia Genteleschi was born in Rome. Today, she is recognised as a great painter, but for more than three centuries her works have regularly been attributed to other artists, all of them men.", The Independent, Independent News & Media, 4 July 1993. Retrieved on 28 July 2015. “Over several sessions of interrogation, Tassi stuck to his story, repeating many times: 'I am telling you that not only have I not raped the said Artemisia, but I have never had sexual relations with her.'” 
  2. Artemisia Gentileschi - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  3. Agostino Tassi - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. León, Vicki. Uppity Women of Medieval Times. Berkley: Conari Press. ISBN 9781573240390. “Whatever their social class, wherever their home town, they had a chin-up attitude, epitomized by Artemisia Gentileschi. An Italian painter on the rise, her career was brutally interrupted by rape. At the trial, Artemisia as witness underwent months of thumbscrew torture (the medieval idea of a lie detector). She rose above that additional brutality, got a conviction, and went on to say, 'As long as I live, I will have control over my being.' Artie wreaked the very best revenge on her attacker— going on to greatness, in her work and as a person.” 
  5. Judith Slaying Holofernes (Artemisia Gentileschi) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 16 June 2015. “The work shows the scene of Judith beheading Holofernes, which had been common in art since the Renaissance, as part of the group of subjects called the Power of women, which show women triumphing over powerful men.”
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: I'm not sure of the sequence of events but the rapist, Agostino Tassi, had been charged with such crimes as incest and the attempted murder of his wife, so he was no sweetheart.
  7. Elizabeth S. Cohen (April 2000). The Trials of Artemisia Gentileschi: A Rape as History. The Sixteenth Century Journal. 31 (Special Edition: Gender in Early Modern Europe ed.). The Sixteenth Century Journal. pp. 47-75. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2671289. Retrieved 28 July 2015. "After some general considerations on the proper handling of these rich, but complicated documents, I examine the rape from the differing, sometimes contradictory perspectives of several witnesses. This exercise proves the difficulty of deciding what happened and why. It also shows the range and ambiguity of meanings that this rape had for those involved.". 
  8. Benedetti, Laura (December 1999). Reconstructing Artemisia: Twentieth-Century Images of a Woman Artist. Comparative Literature. 51. Duke University Press on behalf of the University of Oregon. pp. 42-61. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1771455. "Artemisia's most famous painting, Judith Slaying Holofernes, which would be interpreted by Roland Barthes more than a half-century later as an example of 'revendication féminine' (a woman's claim -ed.) (xvi) and is considered today a Baroque masterpiece...". 
  9. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “the perpetually cash-short monarch had discovered that tobacco could be taxed. English smokers were relieved, but not happy; the Spaniards kept raising prices. Much as crack cocaine is an inferior, cheaper version of powdered cocaine, Virginia tobacco was of lesser quality than Caribbean tobacco but also not nearly as expensive. Like crack, it was a wild commercial success; within a year of its arrival, Jamestown colonists were paying off debts in London with little bags of the drug.” 
  10. Tobacco Timeline: The Seventeenth Century--The Great Age of the Pipe. archive.tobacco.org (2003). Retrieved on 28 July 2015. “1614: SPAIN: King Philip III establishes Seville as tobacco center of the world. Attempting to prevent a tobacco glut, Philip requires all tobacco grown in the Spanish New World to be shipped to a central location, Seville, Spain. Seville becomes the world center for the production of cigars. European cigarette use begins here, as beggars patch together tobacco from used cigars, and roll them in paper(papeletes). Spanish and Portuguese sailors spread the practice to Russia and the Levant.”
  11. Pocahontas - Profile of Pocahontas. about.com (2015). Retrieved on 27 July 2015. “It is not known whether Pocahontas actually fell in love with Rolfe before they married. Some conjecture that their marriage was one condition of her release from captivity. Pocahontas converted to Christianity and was baptized Rebecca. She then married Rolfe on April 5, 1614.”
  12. New Netherland - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 July 2015. “In four voyages made between 1611 and 1614, the area between present-day Maryland and Massachusetts was explored, surveyed, and charted by Adriaen Block, Hendrick Christiaensen, and Cornelius Jacobsen Mey. The results of these explorations, surveys, and charts made from 1609 through 1614 were consolidated in Block’s map, which used the name New Netherland for the first time.”
  13. A Brief Outline of the History of New Netherland. coins.nd.edu (2008). Retrieved on 28 July 2015. “On October 11, 1614, merchants from the cities of Amsterdam and Hoorn formed The New Netherland Company receiving a three-year monopoly for fur trading in the newly discovered region from the States General of the United Provinces. In 1615 the company erected Fort Orange on Castle Island near Albany and began trading with the Indians for furs. Although merchants came to New Netherland for business purposes, the area was not colonized and at the end of the three-year period the company's monopoly was not renewed. At that point the land was opened to all Dutch traders. Eventually the States General decided to grant a monopoly to a company that would colonize the area. There was a need to have a permanent political presence in their colonies in New Netherland, Brazil and Africa against the possibility of an English, French or Spanish challenge.”
  14. Submarine - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 July 2015. “The first submersible of whose construction there exists reliable information was built in 1620 by Cornelius Drebbel, a Dutchman in the service of James I of England. It was created to the standards of the design outlined by English mathematician William Bourne. It was propelled by means of oars.”
  15. USS Nautilus (SSN-571) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 July 2015.
  16. USS Seadragon (SSN-584) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 July 2015. “On 21 August, she completed the first submarine transit of the Northwest Passage, entered the Beaufort Sea, and headed for the North Pole, which she reached on 25 August. The ship surfaced through the thin ice becoming the third submarine to surface at the pole. Members of the crew laid out a softball diamond with the pitcher's box at the pole where the captain claimed he hit a fly ball at 4:00 pm on Wednesday and it wasn't caught until 4:00 am on Thursday.”

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