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Sabbatai Zevi

We generally associate 1492 with Columbus’s voyage to the Americas, but it was a remarkably eventful year in other respect. Even without leaving the confines of Spain, it was the year that the Reconquista was completed and the year that Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews. Similarly, 1648 is known to the West primarily as …

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Osnabrück Linen

Today I learned that Osnabrück, one of the two cities where the Peace of Westphalia was negotiated, is noted for its linen cloth. It is not a fine cloth but a very course weave, known generically in the English-speaking world as “Osnaburg” (and elsewhere under similar names). It is noted for having been commonly used …

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Mediation and Russia-Ukraine

In spite of some recent talk of resuming negotiations, there doesn’t appear to be any serious attempt to mediate peace at present. Zelenskyy declared negotiations impossible after the Russian annexations in September, while Putin refuses to negotiate until the U.S. recognizes Russia’s conquests. This is a classic problem in beginning talks: one or both sides …

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Mediation and Westphalia

The Thirty Years’ War lasted for over a generation, but not for lack of attempts to end it. Several parties volunteered to mediate an end to the fighting soon after Sweden’s invasion in 1630, and continued to do so until the Treaty of Hamburg (1641) set the terms for the Congress of Westphalia. Most of …

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Once More on Nuclear War

Today I read an article called “In the Shadow of the Mushroom Cloud” on Quillette about the threat of nuclear war. The article does a very sensible thing in comparing our current danger to the Cuban Missile Crisis, probably the time our world came the closest to a nuclear exchange. (Every time I read about …

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Peace of Westphalia Day

This is a special day for those of us here at, because it is the 374th anniversary of the signing of the treaties of Munster and Osnabruck that make up the Peace of Westphalia. I celebrated, as I always do, by making a Mazarin torte. It is an excellent opportunity to pick up a …

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