Freddie, Maria, and Kate

February 11, 2004

When I teach the US survey, I bring two or perhaps three sheets of paper with an outline. Today I brought 9 sheets of paper, and covered 8 of them. I really do need more notes to teach Western Civ than I need for US.

My conceit of a "hate triangle" between Frederick II of Prussia, Maria-Theresa of Austria, and Catherine of Russia worked moderately well. It would have worked better if I had been able to get through the partition of Poland. Ah well, perhaps I can include the partition on Monday when we do the American Revolution, for the founders were well aware of what happened to Poland (and of the problems that came with a regularly elected lifetime king) and consciously shaped the US Constitution to avoid becoming another Poland.

What surprised me was that in a class dealing with Frederick II and Catherine the Great, none of the students asked me any questions about sexuality. It is just as well; I am trying to remember the extent to which Frederick batted lefty and all I can say is that unlike James I of England he did not let his love life interfere with his decisions as a monarch. I might write up the myth of Catherine and the horse and use it as a window into Enlightenment era pornographic political slander.

Posted by Red Ted at February 11, 2004 09:31 AM | TrackBack