History Lessons

.For a long time, Moravian has declared itself the sixth-oldest college in the United States. Actually, it may be fifth.

But don’t get your hopes up. There’s not a thing to be done about it.

It seems that an institution in Philadelphia, namely the University of Pennsylvania, has occupied fifth place by virtue of its founding in 1740. But ha! Right on the Penn website, it notes that Mr. Benjamin Franklin gathered a group of like-minded persons to propose a state-supported college in 1749. And it opened its doors in 1751, as an academy.

But the way colleges establish their age often has to do with their initial existence as an academy (Moravian), a divinity school (Harvard), or an institution with an entirely different name (King William’s School in Annapolis, Maryland, became St. John’s College).

Penn is credited with a 1740 founding because “planning began” for it in that year. So Penn outranks Moravian.


On another historical matter, the editor of InCommon went to see La Juive (The Jewess) at the Metropolitan Opera in December. Fromenthal Halévy’s opera begins at the Council of Constance (Konstanz) in Germany with a jolly chorus praising the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund’s victory over Jan Hus and the Hussites. Hmm, thought the editor, who may have been the only person in the audience to know anything about both the Hussites and Judaism. An offshoot of the Hussites, the Unitas Fratrem, became the Moravians.

The Hussites were a small, peaceable peasant sect. Any army with flyswatters could have beaten them.

As for Hus, Sigismund gave him a safe-conduct to attend the Council of Constance (1414-20), one of many such meetings called to reform the Roman Catholic Church in the 13th through the 16th centuries. When he got there, Hus was at once arrested (so much for the safe-conduct), charged with heresy, and sentenced to death—though he had a “fair trial,” with three public opportunities to refute his accusers. He was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415. A great military victory.

January 13, 2004

On the Ball:
Women's basketball team sets NCAA record with 35 successful free-throws in one game.

History Lessons:
Moravian may be the fifth oldest college in the U.S., and other historical matters.

Service and Significance:
Martin Luther King Day speaker and activities.

Datebook:
Campus calendar.

Gaudeamus:
Faculty/staff/student news and achievements.