Freethought Almanac

Lighting a candle in toxic air.
October 21, 2011
October 21: Religion and the Nobel Prizes

Alfred Nobel (1833) It was on this date, October 21, 1833, that Swedish chemist Alfred Bernhard Nobel was born in Stockholm. It is one of the ironies of his life that a man who made his fortune in the invention and manufacture of weapons of war – dynamite and other nitroglycerine derivatives – bequeathed among […]

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October 10, 2011
October 10: Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi (1813) It was on this date, October 10, 1813 – the same year as Richard Wagner – that Italian opera composer Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was born in Roncole, Duchy of Parma, which was then under the occupation of Napoleon's army. This self-described "peasant from Roncole" began his education with local priests before […]

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September 3, 2011
September 3: How Great Was Gregory?

Gregory the Great (Gregory I) Becomes Pope (590) How Great Was He? It was on this date, September 3, 590, that the son of a wealthy patrician named Gordianus, whose name history does not recall, was made Pope in the Roman Catholic Church. He took the name Gregory and is remembered as Pope St. Gregory […]

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August 21, 2011
August 21: What Sainthood Means

Bernard Becomes a Saint (1153): What Sainthood Means It was on this date, August 21, 1153, that Bernard of Clairvaux, canonized a Catholic "saint" in 1170 by Pope Alexander III, died in the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux, in France. Bernard was born in 1090, at Fontaines, near Dijon, France, and at age 25 was entrusted […]

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August 15, 2011
August 15: Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769) It was on this date, August 15, 1769, that Napoleone Buonaparte, later to become the French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte, was born in Ajaccio on the Mediterranean island of Corsica, now part of Italy. He entered a Parisian military academy and rose quickly to become one of the greatest military commanders in […]

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August 11, 2011
August 11: Pope Alexander VI

Alexander VI (1492) It was on this date, August 11, 1492, that Rodrigo Borgia was elected Pope Alexander VI. That he lived lavishly, showered gifts and offices on his relatives, kept mistresses and fathered children while occupying the chair of Peter, and was indifferent to his church duties – all documented in detail by contemporary […]

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August 9, 2011
August 9: The Terrible Sixtus

Sixtus IV (1471) It was on this date, August 9, 1471, that Franciscan Friar-turned-Cardinal Francesco della Rovere was elevated to the Papacy as Sixtus IV. A pious man, Sixtus also loved his family – he had a brother, three sisters, and fourteen nephews and nieces (two of those nephews may have been his own sons!) […]

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August 1, 2011
August 1: Marquis de Lamarck

Marquis de Lamarck (1744) It was on this date, August 1, 1744, that French botanist, zoologist, and natural philosopher Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de Lamarck was born in Picardy. The Marquis de Lamarck studied for a time at a Jesuit college, but abandoned that institution when he became a Deist and, after some […]

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July 31, 2011
July 31: The Age of Chivalry Exposed (1485)

Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur published (1485) An “Age of Chivalry”? It was on this date, July 31, 1485, that the source of the Arthurian legends as we know them today, eight romances known as Le Morte D'Arthur, was published in London.* The work was written by Sir Thomas Malory (c 1405-1471) and was published […]

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July 29, 2011
July 29: Galileo’s Pope

Urban VIII (d. 1644) It was on this date, July 29, 1644, that the pope who will be remembered throughout history as the persecutor of Galileo, Urban VIII, died at Rome. It had been 18 months since his victim had died in Florence, while under a house arrest, which Urban did nothing to mitigate. Born […]

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

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