Mathilde de Morny
Mathilde de Morny was a French noblewoman and artist. She was known by the nickname "Missy" or her pseudonym as an artist, "Yssim", "Max", "Uncle Max" and "Monsieur le Marquis". Active as a sculptor and painter, she studied under Comte Saint-Cène and the sculptor Édouard-Gustave-Louis Millet de Marcilly, she was the fourth and final child of Charles de Morny, Duke of Morny and Sofia Sergeyevna Trubetskaya. Her father was the half-brother of Napoleon III, whilst her mother may have been the illegitimate daughter of Nicholas I of Russia, her extravagant conduct made her a celebrity of the Belle Époque and despite her 1881 marriage to the known homosexual Jacques Godart, 6th Marquis de Belbeuf – whom she divorced in 1903 – she was open that her sexual preference was for women. Though lesbian love was fashionable, she was still attacked for this due to her masculine dress and attitude. At this time a woman wearing trousers could still scandalise if she had been authorised to do so, as in the case of Rosa Bonheur.
Missy wore a full three-piece suit, wore her hair short, smoked a cigar. Contrary to some claims, no evidence supports the theory that she underwent a hysterectomy or a mastectomy. One of the most well-respected scholars on de Morny, Dr. Kadji Amin, considered the difficulties in labelling Missy as "transgender": "Recent historians have claimed that Max de Morny as a transsexual, based on a single and never-duplicated claim by Simone Wiel, moreover, was not one of de Morny's intimates, it seems unlikely, though not impossible, that someone as notorious and as subject to gossip as de Morny could have had her ovaries and breast tissue surgically removed, as Wiel claims, without anyone else having taken note."As a teenager, Missy adhered to sartorial convention. An 1882 magazine article describes the newlywed marquise wearing "a dress of the palest mauve, mixed tulle and silk," adding that she "is not pretty, but has a most original face, being pale, with a set expression, the darkest eyes possible, quantities of fair hair."
Missy became a lover of several women including Liane de Pougy and Colette. From summer 1906 onwards she and Colette lived together in the'Belle Plage' villa in Le Crotoy, where Colette wrote Les Vrilles de la vigne and La Vagabonde which would be adapted for the screen by Musidora. On 3 January 1907 Missy and Colette put on a pantomime entitled Rêve d'Égypte at the Moulin Rouge, in which Missy caused a scandal by playing an Egyptologist during a lesbian love scene – a kiss between them caused a riot and the production was stopped by the prefect of police Louis Lépine. From on they could no longer live together though the relationship lasted until 1912. Missy inspired the character'La Chevalière' in Colette's novel Le Pur et l'impur, described as "in dark masculine attire, belying any notion of gaiety or bravado... High born, she slummed it like a prince." On 21 June 1910 the couple bought the manor of Rozven at Saint-Coulomb in Brittany – on the same day the first chamber of the'tribunal de grande instance' for the Seine departement pronounced Colette's divorce from Henry Gauthier-Villars.
When they separated a year Colette kept the house. At the end of May 1944 Missy was prevented, she committed suicide on 29 June 1944, aged 81. Fernande Gontier et Claude Francis, Mathilde de Morny. La Scandaleuse Marquise et son temps, Perrin, 2005. Fernande Gontier, Homme ou femme? La confusion des sexes, chapter 8, Perrin, 2006. Colette, Lettres à Missy. Edited and annotated by Samia Bordji and Frédéric Maget, Flammarion, 2009
Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Franz Xaver Winterhalter was a German painter and lithographer, known for his portraits of royalty in the mid-19th century. His name has become associated with fashionable court portraiture. Among his best known works are Empress Eugénie Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting and the portraits he made of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Franz Xaver Winterhalter was born in the small village of Menzenschwand, in Germany's Black Forest in the Electorate of Baden, on 20 April 1805, he was the sixth child of Fidel Winterhalter, a farmer and resin producer in the village, his wife Eva Meyer, a member of a long established Menzenschwand family. His father was a powerful influence in his life. Of the eight brothers and sisters, only four survived infancy. Throughout his life Franz Xaver remained close to his family, in particular to his brother Hermann, a painter. After attending school at a Benedictine monastery in St. Blasien, Winterhalter left Menzenschwand in 1818 at the age of 13 to study drawing and engraving.
He trained as a draughtsman and lithographer in the workshop of Karl Ludwig Schüler in Freiburg im Breisgau. In 1823, at the age of 18, he went to Munich, sponsored by the industrialist Baron von Eichtal. In 1825, he was granted a stipend by Ludwig I, Grand Duke of Baden and began a course of study at the Academy of Arts in Munich with Peter von Cornelius, whose academic methods made him uncomfortable. Winterhalter found a more congenial mentor in the fashionable portraitist Joseph Karl Stieler. During this time, he supported himself working as lithographer. Winterhalter entered court circles when in 1828 he became drawing master to Sophie Margravine of Baden, at Karlsruhe, his opportunity to establish himself beyond southern Germany came in 1832 when he was able to travel to Italy, 1833–1834, with the support of Grand Duke Leopold of Baden. In Rome he composed romantic genre scenes in the manner of Louis Léopold Robert and attached himself to the circle of the director of the French Academy, Horace Vernet.
On his return to Karlsruhe he painted portraits of the Grand Duke Leopold of Baden and his wife, was appointed painter to the grand-ducal court. He left Baden to move to France, where his Italian genre scene Il dolce Farniente attracted notice at the Salon of 1836. Il Decameron a year was praised. In the Salon of 1838 he exhibited a portrait of the Prince of Wagram with his young daughter, his career as a portrait painter was soon secured when in the same year he painted Louise Marie of Orleans, Queen of the Belgians, her son. It was through this painting that Winterhalter came to the notice of Maria Amalia of the Two Sicilies, Queen of the French, mother of the Queen of the Belgians. In Paris, Winterhalter became fashionable, he was appointed court painter of Louis-Philippe, the king of the French, who commissioned him to paint individual portraits of his large family. Winterhalter would execute more than thirty commissions for him; this success earned the painter the reputation of a specialist in dynastic and aristocratic portraiture, skilled in combining likeness with flattery and enlivening official pomp with modern fashion.
However, Winterhalter's reputation in artistic circles suffered. The critics, who had praised his debut in the salon of 1836, dismissed him as a painter who could not be taken seriously; this attitude persisted throughout Winterhalter's career, condemning his work to a category of his own in the hierarchy of painting. Winterhalter himself regarded his first royal commissions as a temporary intermission before returning to subject painting and the field of academic respectability, but he was a victim of his own success, for the rest of his life he worked exclusively as a portrait painter, his success in this field made him rich. Winterhalter became an international celebrity enjoying Royal patronage. Among his many regal sitters was Queen Victoria. Winterhalter first visited England in 1842, returned several times to paint Victoria, Prince Albert and their growing family, painting at least 120 works for them, a large number of which remain in the Royal Collection, on display to the public at Buckingham Palace and other royal residences.
Winterhalter painted a few portraits of the aristocracy in England members of court circles. The fall of Louis-Philippe in 1848 did not affect the painter's reputation. Winterhalter worked in Belgium and England. Persistence saw. Paris remained his home until a couple of years before his death. A halt in portrait commissions in France allowed him to return to subject painting with Florinda, a joyous celebration of female beauty inspired by a Spanish legend. In the same year his marriage proposal was rejected, Winterhalter remained a bachelor committed to his work. After the accession of Napoleon III, his popularity grew. From on, under the Second Empire, Winterhalter became the chief portraitist of the imperial family and court of France; the beautiful French Empress Eugénie became a favorite sitter, she treated him generously. In 1855 Winterhalter painted his masterpiece: The Empress Eugénie Surrounded by her Ladies in Waiting, he set the French Empress in a pastoral setting gathering flowers in a harmonious circle with her ladies in waiting.
The painting was acclaimed, exhibited in the universal exposition in 1855. It remains Winterhalter's most famous work. In 1852, he went to Spain to paint Queen Isabella II with
Napoleon III, the nephew of Napoleon I, was the first elected President of France from 1848 to 1852. When he could not constitutionally be re-elected, he seized power in 1851 and became the Emperor of the French from 1852 to 1870, he founded the Second French Empire and was its only emperor until the defeat of the French army and his capture by Prussia and its allies in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. He worked to modernize the French economy, rebuilt the center of Paris, expanded the overseas empire, engaged in the Crimean War and the war for Italian unification. After his defeat and downfall he went into exile and died in England in 1873. Napoleon III commissioned the grand reconstruction of Paris, carried out by his prefect of the Seine, Baron Haussmann, he launched similar public works projects in Marseille and other French cities. Napoleon III modernized the French banking system expanded and consolidated the French railway system and made the French merchant marine the second largest in the world.
He promoted the building of the Suez Canal and established modern agriculture, which ended famines in France and made France an agricultural exporter. Napoleon III negotiated the 1860 Cobden–Chevalier free trade agreement with Britain and similar agreements with France's other European trading partners. Social reforms included giving French workers the right to organize; the first women students were admitted at the Sorbonne, women's education expanded as did the list of required subjects in public schools. In foreign policy, Napoleon III aimed to reassert French influence around the world, he was a supporter of popular sovereignty and of nationalism. In Europe, he defeated Russia in the Crimean War, his regime assisted Italian unification and in doing so annexed Savoy and the County of Nice to France—at the same time, his forces defended the Papal States against annexation by Italy. Napoleon III doubled the area of the French overseas empire in Asia, the Pacific and Africa, however his army's intervention in Mexico, which aimed to create a Second Mexican Empire under French protection, ended in total failure.
From 1866, Napoleon had to face the mounting power of Prussia as its Chancellor Otto von Bismarck sought German unification under Prussian leadership. In July 1870, Napoleon entered the Franco-Prussian War without allies and with inferior military forces; the French army was defeated and Napoleon III was captured at the Battle of Sedan. The Third Republic was proclaimed in Paris and Napoleon went into exile in England, where he died in 1873. Charles-Louis Napoleon Bonaparte known as Louis Napoleon and Napoleon III, was born in Paris on the night of 20–21 April 1808, his presumed father was Louis Bonaparte, the younger brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made Louis the King of Holland from 1806 until 1810. His mother was Hortense de Beauharnais, the only daughter of Napoleon's wife Joséphine de Beauharnais by her first marriage to Alexandre de Beauharnais; as empress, Joséphine proposed the marriage as a way to produce an heir for the Emperor, who agreed, as Joséphine was by infertile. Louis married Hortense when he was twenty-four and she was nineteen.
They had a difficult relationship, only lived together for brief periods. Their first son died in 1807 and—though separated—they decided to have a third, they resumed their marriage for a brief time in Toulouse in July 1807, Louis was born prematurely, two weeks short of nine months. Louis-Napoleon's enemies, including Victor Hugo, spread the gossip that he was the child of a different man, but most historians agree today that he was the legitimate son of Louis Bonaparte. Charles-Louis was baptized at the Palace of Fontainebleau on 5 November 1810, with Emperor Napoleon serving as his godfather and Empress Marie-Louise as his godmother, his father stayed away. At the age of seven, Louis-Napoleon visited his uncle at the Tuileries Palace in Paris. Napoleon held him up to the window to see the soldiers parading in the courtyard of the Carousel below, he last saw his uncle with the family at the Château de Malmaison, shortly before Napoleon departed for Waterloo. All members of the Bonaparte dynasty were forced into exile after the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo and the Bourbon Restoration of monarchy in France.
Hortense and Louis-Napoleon moved from Aix to Berne to Baden, to a lakeside house at Arenenberg in the Swiss canton of Thurgau. He received some of his education in Germany at the gymnasium school at Bavaria; as a result, for the rest of his life his French had a noticeable German accent. His tutor at home was Philippe Le Bas, an ardent republican and the son of a revolutionary and close friend of Robespierre. Le Bas taught him radical politics; when Louis-Napoleon was fifteen, Hortense moved to Rome. He passed his time learning Italian, exploring the ancient ruins, learning the arts of seduction and romantic affairs, which he used in his life, he became friends with the French Ambassador, François-René Chateaubriand, the father of romanticism in French literature, with whom he remained in contact for many years. He was reunited with his older brother Napoléon Louis, together they became involved with the Carbonari, secret revolutionary societies fighting Austria's domination of northern Italy.
In the spring of 1831, when he was twenty-three, the Austrian and papal governments launched an offensive against the Carbonari, the two brothers, wanted by the police, were forced to flee. During their flight Napoleon-Louis contracted measles and, on 17 March 1831, died i
The Restoration, or Bourbon Restoration, is the name given to the period that began on 29 December 1874 — after a coup d'état by Martínez Campos ended the First Spanish Republic and restored the monarchy under Alfonso XII — and ended on 14 April 1931 with the proclamation of the Second Spanish Republic. After a whole century of political instability and many civil wars, the aim of the Restoration was to create a new political system, which ensured stability by the practice of turnismo; this was the deliberate rotation of the Liberal and Conservative parties in the government, so no sector of the bourgeoisie felt isolated, while all other parties were excluded from the system. This was achieved by electoral fraud. Opposition to the system came from republicans, anarchists and Catalan nationalists, Carlists; the pronunciamiento by Martinez Campos established Alfonso XII as king, marking the end of the First Spanish Republic. After this, the Constitution of 1876 was enforced during the whole restoration.
This constitution established Spain as a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral legislature, consisting of an upper house, a lower house. This constitution gave the King the power to name Senators and to revoke laws if he wanted to, he was given the title of Commander-in-chief of the army; these years were marked by economic prosperity. Spain's economy had fallen behind those of the other European countries, during these years the modernization of the country took place on a large scale. On most fronts production was increased, supported by extreme protectionist measures; the two parties alternated in the government in a controlled process known as el turno pacífico. The caciques, powerful local figures, were used to manipulate election results, as a result resentment of the system built up over time and important nationalist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country, as well as unions, started to form. In 1898, Spain lost its last major overseas colonies in the Spanish–American War; the rapid collapse was perceived as a disaster in Spain, undermining the credibility of both the government and its associated ideologies and leading to a military coup d'état led by Camilo Polavieja.
This was the start of the system's decline, giving energy to all manner of conflicting opposition movements at a local and national level. The failed attempts to conquer Morocco caused great discontent at home and ended in a revolt in Barcelona, known as the Semana Tragica, in which the lower classes of Barcelona, backed by the anarchists and republicans, revolted against what they considered the unjust methods for recruiting soldiers; the government declared a state of war and sent the army to crush the revolt, causing over a hundred deaths and the execution of Francisco Ferrer. The socialist Unión General de Trabajadores and the anarchist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo decided to initiate a general strike across the country, but it failed because the unions could only mobilize urban workers; the problems in Morocco worsened. They achieved surprise and, due to the skill of the Moroccan chieftain, Abd-Al-Krim annihilated the Spanish army, advancing as far as Melilla in the Battle of Annual.
This Spanish defeat was due to improper planning and was blamed on the top military officers, causing great discontent among the military, who felt misunderstood, because they had been directed to advance into the interior without adequate resources to occupy the difficult territory. The military discontent, the fear of anarchist terrorism or a proletarian revolution, the rise of nationalist movements caused great agitation amongst the civilians and the military. On 13 September 1923, Miguel Primo de Rivera, Captain General of Catalonia, orchestrated a coup d'état, after issuing a manifesto blaming the problems of Spain on the parliamentary system. Alfonso XIII named him Prime Minister. Primo de Rivera proceeded to assume absolute powers as a dictator, he created the Unión Patriótica Española, meant to be the sole legal party, abolishing all other parties. During this time, he increased government spending on business and public services, which caused his government to go bankrupt, he faced serious health problems.
Opposition to his regime was so great that Alfonso XIII stopped supporting him and forced him to resign in January 1930. Alfonso XIII, in an attempt to return to the previous system and restore his prestige, called on General Dámaso Berenguer to form a government; this failed utterly, as the King was considered a supporter of the dictatorship, more and more political forces called for the establishment of a republic. Berenguer resigned and the King gave the government to Admiral Juan Bautista Aznar. Aznar called for local elections on 12 April 1931 in order to satisfy the democrats and republicans, to replace the dictatorship's local governments and to re-introduce the restoration. Although the monarchists had not lost all their support, the republican and socialist parties won some significant victories in major cities. Street riots ensued; the army declared that they would not defend the King and on 14 April he fled Spain. The Second Spanish Republic was established under a provisional government led by Niceto Alcalá-Zamora.
Barton, Simon. A History of Spain excerpt and text search Be
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II was the Emperor of Russia from 2 March 1855 until his assassination on 13 March 1881. He was the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Finland. Alexander's most significant reform as Emperor was emancipation of Russia's serfs in 1861, for which he is known as Alexander the Liberator; the tsar was responsible for other reforms, including reorganising the judicial system, setting up elected local judges, abolishing corporal punishment, promoting local self-government through the zemstvo system, imposing universal military service, ending some privileges of the nobility, promoting university education. After an assassination attempt in 1866, Alexander adopted a somewhat more reactionary stance until his death. Alexander pivoted towards foreign policy and sold Alaska to the United States in 1867, fearing the remote colony would fall into British hands if there were another war, he sought peace, moved away from bellicose France when Napoleon III fell in 1871, in 1872 joined with Germany and Austria in the League of the Three Emperors that stabilized the European situation.
Despite his otherwise pacifist foreign policy, he fought a brief war with the Ottoman Empire in 1877–78, pursued further expansion into Siberia and the Caucasus, conquered Turkestan. Although disappointed by the results of the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Alexander abided by that agreement. Among his greatest domestic challenges was an uprising in Poland in 1863, to which he responded by stripping that land of its separate constitution and incorporating it directly into Russia. Alexander was proposing additional parliamentary reforms to counter the rise of nascent revolutionary and anarchistic movements when he was assassinated in 1881. Born in Moscow, Alexander Nikolaevich was the eldest son of Nicholas I of Russia and Charlotte of Prussia, his early life gave little indication of his ultimate potential. In the period of his life as heir apparent, the intellectual atmosphere of Saint Petersburg did not favour any kind of change: freedom of thought and all forms of private initiative were suppressed vigorously by the order of his father.
Personal and official censorship was rife. The education of the Tsesarevich as future emperor took place under the supervision of the liberal romantic poet and gifted translator Vasily Zhukovsky, grasping a smattering of a great many subjects and becoming familiar with the chief modern European languages. Alexander's alleged lack of interest in military affairs resulted from his reaction to the effects of the unsavoury Crimean War of 1853–1856 on his own family and on the whole country. Unusually for the time, the young Alexander was taken on a six-month tour of Russia, visiting 20 provinces in the country, he visited many prominent Western European countries in 1838 and 1839. As Tsesarevich, Alexander became the first Romanov heir to visit Siberia. While touring Russia, he befriended the exiled poet Alexander Herzen & pardoned him, it was through Herzen's influence that the tsarevich abolished serfdom in Russia. In 1839, when his parents sent him on a tour of Europe, he met twenty-year-old Queen Victoria and both were enamored of each other.
Simon Sebag Montefiore speculates. Such a marriage, would not work, as Alexander was not a minor prince of Europe and was in line to inherit a throne himself. Alexander II succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father in 1855, he inherited a large mess, wrought by his father's fear of progress during his reign. Many of the other royal families of Europe had disliked Nicholas I, which extended to distrust of the Romanov dynasty itself. So, there was no one more prepared to bring the country around than Alexander II; the first year of his reign was devoted to the prosecution of the Crimean War and, after the fall of Sevastopol, to negotiations for peace led by his trusted counsellor, Prince Alexander Gorchakov. The country had been humiliated by the war. Bribe-taking and corruption were rampant. Encouraged by public opinion, Alexander began a period of radical reforms, including an attempt not to depend on landed aristocracy controlling the poor, an effort to develop Russia's natural resources, to reform all branches of the administration.
In 1867 he sold Alaska to the United States for $7.2 million after recognising the great difficulty of defending it against the United Kingdom or the former British colony of Canada. After Alexander became emperor in 1855, he maintained a liberal course. Despite this, he was a target for numerous assassination attempts. On 13 March 1881, members of the Narodnaya Volya party killed him with a bomb; the Emperor had earlier in the day signed the Loris-Melikov constitution, which would have created two legislative commissions made up of indirectly elected representatives, had it not been repealed by his reactionary successor Alexander III. The Emancipation Reform of 1861 abolished serfdom on private estates throughout the Russian Empire. Serfs gained the full rights of free citizens, including rights to marry without having to gain con
A Christmas tree is a decorated tree an evergreen conifer such as a spruce, pine or fir, or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas, originating in Northern Europe. The custom was developed in medieval Livonia, in early modern Germany where Protestant Germans brought decorated trees into their homes, it acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany and the Baltic countries during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes. The tree was traditionally decorated with "roses made of colored paper, wafers, sweetmeats". In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which were replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garlands, baubles and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the Angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity. Edible items such as gingerbread and other sweets are popular and are tied to or hung from the tree's branches with ribbons.
In the Western Christian tradition, Christmas trees are variously erected on days such as the first day of Advent or as late as Christmas Eve depending on the country. The Christmas tree is sometimes compared with the "Yule-tree" in discussions of its folkloric origins. Modern Christmas trees originated during the Renaissance of early modern Germany, its 16th-century origins are sometimes associated with Protestant Christian reformer Martin Luther, said to have first added lighted candles to an evergreen tree. The first recorded Christmas tree can be found on the keystone sculpture of a private home in Turckheim, dating 1576. While today the Christmas tree is a recognized symbol for the holidays, it was once a pagan tradition unassociated with Christmas traditions. Modern Christmas trees have been related to the "tree of paradise" of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples and wafers was used as a setting for the play.
Like the Christmas crib, the Paradise tree was placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls. At the end of the Middle Ages, an early predecessor appears referred in the Regiment of the Order of Cister around 1400, in Alcobaça, Portugal; the Regiment of the local high-Sacristans of the Cistercian Order refers to what may be considered one of the oldest references to the Christmas tree: "Note on how to put the Christmas branch, scilicet: On the Christmas eve, you will look for a large Branch of green laurel, you shall reap many red oranges, place them on the branches that come of the laurel as you have seen, in every orange you shall put a candle, hang the Branch by a rope in the pole, which shall be by the candle of the altar-mor."The relevance of ancient pre-Christian customs to the 16th-century German initiation of the Christmas tree custom is disputed. Resistance to the custom was because of its supposed Lutheran origins. Other sources have offered a connection between the symbolism of the first documented Christmas trees in Alsace around 1600 and the trees of pre-Christian traditions.
For example, according to the Encyclopædia Britannica, "The use of evergreen trees and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmas time."During the Roman mid-winter festival of Saturnalia, houses were decorated with wreaths of evergreen plants, along with other antecedent customs now associated with Christmas. The Vikings and Saxons worshiped trees; the story of Saint Boniface cutting down Donar's Oak illustrates the pagan practices in 8th century among the Germans. A folk version of the story adds the detail that an evergreen tree grew in place of the felled oak, telling them about how its triangular shape reminds humanity of the Trinity and how it points to heaven. Georgians have their own traditional Christmas tree called Chichilaki, made from dried up hazelnut or walnut branches that are shaped to form a small coniferous tree.
These pale-colored ornaments differ in height from 20 cm to 3 meters. Chichilakis are most common in the Guria and Samegrelo regions of Georgia near the Black Sea, but they can be found in some stores around the capital of Tbilisi. Georgians believe that Chichilaki resembles the famous beard of St. Basil the Great, because Eastern Orthodox Church commemorates St. Basil on 1 January. In Poland there was an old pagan custom of suspending a branch of fir, spruce or pine called Podłaźniczka from the ceiling. An alternative to this was mistletoe; the branches were decorated with apples, cookies, colored paper, stars made of straw and colored wafers. Some people believed that the tree had magical powers that were linked with harvesting and success in the next year. In the late 18th and early 19th century, these traditions were completely replaced by the German custom of decorati
Vitoria-Gasteiz is the seat of government and the capital city of the Basque Country and of the province of Araba/Álava in northern Spain. It holds the autonomous community's House of Parliament, the headquarters of the Government, the Lehendakari's official residency; the municipality — which comprises not only the city but the agricultural lands of 63 villages around — is the largest in the Basque Country, with a total area of 276.81 km2, it has a population of 242,082 people. The dwellers of Vitoria-Gasteiz are called vitorianos or gasteiztarrak, while traditionally they are dubbed babazorros. Vitoria-Gasteiz is a multicultural city with strengths in the arts, education, architectural conservation, vehicle industry and gastronomy, it is the first Spanish municipality to be awarded the title of European Green Capital and it is ranked as one of the 5 best places to live in Spain. The old town holds some of the best preserved medieval streets and plazas in the region and it is one of few cities to hold two Cathedrals.
The city holds well known festivals such as the Azkena rock festival, FesTVal, Vitoria-Gasteiz jazz festival, the Virgen Blanca Festivities. Vitoria-Gasteiz's vicinity is home to world-renowned wineries such as Ysios and the Marqués de Riscal Hotel. Beethoven dedicated his Opus 91 called the "Battle of Vitoria" or "Wellington's Victory", to one of the most famous events of the Napoleonic Wars: the Battle of Vitoria, in which a Spanish and British army under the command of General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army and nearly captured the puppet king Joseph Bonaparte, it was a pivotal point in the Peninsular War, a precursor to the expulsion of the French from Spain. A memorial statue can be seen today in Virgen Blanca Square; the official name of Vitoria-Gasteiz is a compound name of its traditional names in Spanish and Basque, respectively. By inhabitants, it is still referred to as either Vitoria or Gasteiz, depending on the language spoken. More it may be referred to by Basque speakers as Vitorixe, a Basque form of the Spanish name.
In 581 AD, the Visigoth king Liuvigild founded the city of Victoriacum, trying to emulate the Roman foundations, as a celebration of the victory against the Vascones near what is assumed to be the hill occupied by the primitive village of Gasteiz. This however is not sufficiently proven, some historians and experts believe that Victoriacum was located not on the site of present-day Vitoria-Gasteiz but nearby. Several possible locations have been proposed, the foremost of, the late Roman military camp of Iruña-Veleia. Veleia is located some 11 km north of modern Vitoria, on the banks of the same river. However, modern archeological studies of the site suggest that Veleia was last inhabited c.5th century AD, archeologists are still to find a 6th-century visigothic resettlement in the site. Another theory has suggested that Victoriacum was located at the foot of Mount Gorbea where there is a village called Vitoriano; the town of Armentia, nowadays in the outskirts of Vitoria, has been proposed as a possible location of Victoriacum.
In either case, Victoriacum vanishes from history shortly after its foundation. In 1181, Sancho the Wise, King of Navarre founded the town of Nova Victoria as a defensive outpost on top of a hill at the site of the previous settlement of Gasteiz; the existence of Gastehiz inhabited by vasconic people, can be traced back to the lower Middle Ages. It is assumed that Sancho the Wise gave the new city its name in memory of the old settlement of Victoriacum, which must had long since been abandoned. In 1199, the town was besieged for nine months and captured by the troops of Alfonso VIII of Castile, who annexed the town to the Kingdom of Castile; the town was progressively enlarged and in 1431 it was granted a city charter by King Juan II of Castile. In 1463, it was one of the five founding villas of the Brotherhood of Álava alongside Sajazarra, Miranda de Ebro and Salvatierra/Agurain; the Battle of Vitoria of the Peninsular War occurred near Vitoria-Gasteiz along the river Zadorra on 21 June 1813.
An allied British and Spanish army under General the Marquess of Wellington broke the French army under Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan. The victory assured the eventual end of French control in Spain. There is a monument commemorating this battle in the main square of the city known as the Monument to Independence; when news came to Vienna in late July of that year, Johann Nepomuk Mälzel commissioned Ludwig van Beethoven to compose a symphony, the op. 91 Wellingtons Sieg oder die Schlacht bei Vittoria or Siegessymphonie. Work began on the Institute for Middle Education in 1843, with classes beginning during the 1853–54 academic year, it is now current headquarters of the Basque Parliament and the convent of Santa Clara. The Free University opened in the wake of the revolution of 1868; the University operated from 1869, to just prior to the 1873–1874 term because of the second Carlist War. Chief academ