The Story Of A Man Named #Valentine

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]All over the world, people celebrate Valentines Day. Nonetheless, few people know much about its history.

Nowadays, it has become an excuse to spend money on flowers (roses), chocolate, romantic dinners and even more romantic getaways.

Just another commercial holiday, in other words.

The Story of a Man Named Valentine

Mr. Valentine lived in the third century AD in Terni, Italy. According to the legend, Valentines Day goes back to this Italian Bishop, Saint Valentine. He would secretly marry people. He did this against an existing prohibition. It is said that if you wanted to get married, he was the man to go to. He went so far as to marry slaves or soldiers. Imagine that, slaves and soldiers getting married. What good could come of that?

Worse even, Bishop Valentine married people in the Christian tradition. Thus, he was breaking the prohibition of the Roman emperor. In that time, Christianity was banned as a religion. So Valentine was definitely playing with fire. If the emperor found out, Valentine would be fed to the lions.

As you might expect, Bishop Valentine’s luck ran out. He got caught. No, he wasn’t fed to the lions. The emperor had him beheaded. It’s not too difficult to guess what day of the year Bishop Valentin lost his head.

Yes, on February 14 (did you guess correctly?), in the year 269, by order of the Emperor Claudius II, Bishop Valentin was executed. In this way, he became a martyr of the Christian faith. Legend also has it that while in jail, awaiting execution, Bishop Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and he signed it “From Your Valentine.”

This is a great story, but in all fairness, the exact origins and identity of the man named Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February.”

One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Legends vary on how the martyr’s name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love.

On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine’s Day.

Lupercalia, known as, The Feast of the Wolf, was the festival of the Roman Goddess Lupa (the female Wolf). She was worshiped in the form of the goddess Juno Februata, the Goddess of “Love Fever”.

On this day, flowers were sacrificed and couples apparently connected by “love lottery” for one year. Girls went to the temple, to consult the love oracle.

Young men drew from the lottery an unmarried girls name.

The drawn couples walked along the river Tiber and many of them became lovers.

About 100 years after his death, Valentine was canonized. In the Middle Ages, 496 AD, 200 years later, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 the existing holidays and customs to the Christian faith, and now called it the day of lovers “Valentine’s Day”.

Thus, the old pagan tradition was assimilated into the Christian tradition, under a new name. Same game, just a new name, left everybody happy it seems. The people had a celebration, and Christianity was able to loosen the grip of pagan practices over the people. As Shakespeare’s Juliet would famously say:

“What’s in a name?  A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]Valentine’s Day in England

Since the Middle Ages, royalty, aristocrats, writers and poets have happily adorned their love offerings with Chaucer’s images of mating birds and Cupid with his quiver of arrows. Lovers, whether royal or rustic, exchanged Valentine’s Day love tokens in keeping with their position: elegant poems with musical accompaniment, precious medals, works of art, or simple nosegays of flowers and handmade gifts. Usually, the Valentine gift was a serious declaration of love, and often a formal invitation to marriage. Valentine’s Day could also be a playful occasion. On February 14, 1667, the writer, Samuel Pepys, wrote in his diary:

“This morning come up to my wife’s bedside, I being up dressing myself, little Will Mercer to be her Valentine; and brought her name writ upon blue paper in gold letters, done by himself, very pretty; and we were both well pleased with it. But I am also this year my wife’s Valentine, and it will cost me 5 pounds; but that I must have laid out if we had not been Valentines. So to bed.”

On February 14, 1383, the poet Chaucer performed his poem “The Parliament of Fowls” for King Richard II. The Parliament of Fowls (Birds) has 699 lines and has the form of a dream vision of the narrator. The poem is one of the first references to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day was a special day for lovers.

The plot is about the narrator who dreams that he passes through a beautiful landscape, through the dark temple of Venus to the bright sunlight. Dame Nature sees over a large flock of birds who are gathered to choose their mates. The birds have a parliamentary debate while three male eagles try to seduce a female bird. The debate is full of speeches and insults. At the end, none of the three eagles wins the female eagle. The dream ends welcoming the coming spring.

The Tudor House

“Seynte Valentine of custome yeere by yeere
Men have an usance, in this regioun
To loke and serche Cupides kalendar,
And chose theyr choyse by grete affeccioun,
Such has been move with Cupides nocioun,
Takying theyre choyse as theyre sort doth falle;
But I love oon whiche excelleth alle.”
(Valentine Letter sent from Henry V to Catherine of Valois, 1420)

In 1420, Henry V hired John Lydgate to compose a Valentine greeting to Catherine of Valois. The tradition of love letters, poetry and Saint Valentine’s Day continued in the royal Tudor line. It is perhaps to Henry VIII that we owe the survival of Saint Valentine’s Day, for he made it a national holiday in England by Royal Decree, in 1537.

“And, cosyn, uppon Fryday is Sent Volentynes Day, and every byrdde chesyth hym a make [mate] and yf it lyke yowe to come one Thursday at nyght, and so purvey yowe, that ye may abyde there tyll Monday, I trusty to God that ye schall so speke to myn husband; and I schall prey that we schall bryng the mater to a conclusion.”
(The Paston Letters, no. 782)

In England, Valentine’s Day was a day for the formal negotiation of arranged marriages, as well as courtship. In this correspondence from 1477 we have a letter from Dame Margery Brews proposing that John Paston marry her daughter. In the body of correspondence from which this letter is drawn there is also one from the daughter, Margery, that indicates she was indeed interested in the match.

The practice of sending actual St. Valentine’s Day cards originates in England circa 1400.  What is referred to as the first actual Valentine is a letter written in 1416 by Frenchman Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London.

This first Valentine itself is bittersweet as she died before it could reach her as the Duke was imprisoned in various English castles for nearly 25 years.

The original letter still exists and is held at the British Library in London.

Incidentally the oldest surviving Valentine written in English is also held there.  This was written by Margery Brews of Norfolk to her fiance John Paxston in 1477.

The practice of sending hand-written Valentine’s Day cards does indeed first appear circa 1400 in England.  Another long-standing belief is that King Henry VIII established February 14 as St. Valentines’ Day in a royal decree in 1537.  By 1601 St. Valentine’s Day has become part of England’s “popular consciousness to the extent that…William Shakespeare mentions it in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet:

“Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s [D]ay

All in the morning betime

And I a maid at your window

To be your Valentine.” [2]

By the 17th century it became commonplace for friends and lovers from all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection like hand-made cards, chocolates, and small gifts on St. Valentine’s Day.  Some of these traditions found themselves brought to America with the colonists.  In fact their popularity grew with imported “writers” from England that were actually booklets that had various “be my Valentine” messages that one could copy onto decorative paper and send.  One popular “writer” even had responses.

Late 18th century and early 19th century Valentines were often religious in nature.  It wasn’t until 1847 that the first American mass-produced Valentine made from–what else but–English imported embossed paper and lace was produced.  They were created and sold by Esther Howland of Winchester, MA, who is commonly referred to as “The Mother of the Valentine”.

“The popularity of sending and receiving [Valentine’s] cards [in England] grew alongside the improvement in postal services and methods of printing to the point in the 1830s where postmen needed refreshments to help with the unprecedented number of cards they had to deliver.” [3]  In America the Valentine didn’t truly become a tradition until during the Civil War (1861-1865) “when [V]alentine cards often depicted sweethearts parting, or a tent with flaps that opened to reveal a soldier.” [4]

Vintage Valentine

“By 1900 printed cards began to replace hand-written letters due to improvements in printing technology.  [Indeed] [r]eady-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings were discouraged.”  It was in the Victorian era with advancements in printing and then the introduction of the “penny post” that sending Valentines became even more popular.

The penny postcard Valentines were most popular during 1890-1917.   Sometime in the late 1800s sending Valentine’s cards fell out of fashion only to be revived sometime in the 1920s.  Contrary to what some believe–Hallmark did not create this holiday.  Hallmark’s first Valentine card was not produced until 1913.

Valentine’s Day now accounts for 25% of the cards sent each year according to the Greeting Card Association.   Today 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in a holiday that in 2014 reached $17 billion in spending.


Nowadays, beyond commercialism, Valentine’s Day reminds us of the desire of love and pleasure. St. Valentine did not care about rules, class, or social status and did give love its proper Christian sanction. This he did, no matter if rich or poor, slave or soldier.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

“In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.” – Maya Angelou

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]The Lost Art Of Love Letters

Available Now For PreOrder 

Don’t Wait For Valentine’s Day

When was the last time you got a love letter? When was the last time you wrote a love letter? Now that writing love letters is a lost art, what better gift can you give the one you love than an old-fashioned, authentic, hand written, love letter!

The Lost Art Of Love Letters

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PreOrder for $0.99 cents: The Lost Art Of #Love Letters: A Romantic #Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday #ASMSG

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]When was the last time you got a loveletter? When was the last time you wrote a love letter? Now that writing love letters is a lost art, what better gift can you give the one you love than an old-fashioned, authentic, hand written, love letter!

The purpose of this book is twofold. One, it shares some of the most romantic love letters ever written. They act as a model to help you express your love in a profound and personal way that your partner will treasure for the rest of their life.

But first, what is love?

In the year 2012, that phrase – what is love -, was the most researched phrase on Google. Five writers from diverse backgrounds tried to define what love is. The five people were a physicist, a psychotherapist, a philosopher, a romantic novelist, and a nun.

The answers they gave were eloquent, convincing, and yes, diverse. The nun said that love is a paradox. “Love is free yet binds us.” The romantic novelist said that love is everything. The philosopher said that love is a passionate commitment. The psychotherapist identified six different types of love and said that it is unlikely to experience all six types with only one person. And the physicist? He said that “love is chemistry.”

So, what is love?

In this book, I have tried to show love that is as diverse as the five authors above have defined it. I also try to show love that meets the precise definition that Paul gives in his first letter to the Corinthians, below:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” ~ The First Letter of Paul To The Corinthians 13:4-8

The book promotes the appreciation, and the writing, of love letters.
The book encourages and helps people to write love letters.
What is love?
In 1845, the poet Robert Browning, in his first letter to the poet Elizabeth Barrett, wrote:
“I love your verses” with all my heart… and I love you too.” 
Robert, at that time, had never met, never even seen Elizabeth. It was enough for him to read her poetry to fall in love with her…truly…deeply…passionately.
January 10th, 1845

New Cross, Hatcham, Surrey

I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett, and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write, whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last week when I first read your poems, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me…

The next day Elizabeth wrote back to him:
“I thank you, dear Mr. Browning, from the the bottom of my heart. You meant to give me pleasure by your letter-and even if the object had not been answered, I ought still to thank you. But it is thoroughly answered…
And in the meantime I have learnt to know your voice, not merely from the poetry, but the kindness in it…
I will say that I am your debtor, not only for this cordial letter and all the pleasure which came with it, but in other ways, and those the highest; and I will say that while I live to follow this divine art of poetry, in proportion to my love for it and my devotion to it, I must be a devout admirer and student of your works. This is in my heart to say to you-and I say it.
     And, for the rest, I am proud to remain,
          Your obliged and faithful,
                Elizabeth B. Barrett”
18 months and almost 600 letters later, they were married…
On their honeymoon, one day Elizabeth sneaked up behind Robert, and pressed a document containing over 43 sonnets into his coat pocket and told him they expressed her love for him.
The poems were published in 1850 under the title, Sonnets From The Portuguese.
My favorite is Sonnet 43:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Now, why did Robert publish the intimate, deeply personal, profoundly private, love poems that Elizabeth wrote to him? Didn’t he respect her at all? Robert said:
“I dared not reserve to myself the finest sonnets written in any language since Shakespeare’s.”
1. Sonnet XLIII, found on page 230 of the free book below:
AuthorElizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861).
Initial PublicationIn 1850 the London firm of Chapman and Hall published Sonnets from the Portuguese in Poems.
2. The letters cited can be found on pages 1-4 in the free book below:
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World’s Most #Beautiful #Bookstore #ASMSG

buenos-aires-bookstore-theatre-el-ateneo-grand-splendid-9Tucked away in Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires is a beautiful bookshop called El Ateneo Grand Splendid. It is built within the almost 100-year-old Grand Splendid Theater, which opened in 1919. The theatre was later converted into a cinema and eventually, in 2000, it was converted into the El Ateneo Grand Splendid bookshop, which currently welcomes over one million visitors each year.

The stunning building was originally designed by architects Peró and Torres Armengol, then later converted from a cinema into a bookshop by architect Fernando Manzone, who retained many parts of the theatre, including the stage, the balconies, the incredible architectural details and even the red curtains.

In 2008 El Ateneo Grand Splendid was named the second most beautiful bookshop in the world by The Guardian, and that’s no surprise considering it’s elaborate décor and classic 1920’s theater feel.

Facebook Wikipedia TopShelves


El Ateneo Grand Splendid, una joya entre las librerías del mundo

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Nobody Writes To Me Anymore

So I thought, “I will talk about death.” Seemed to be the passion today. Actually, it’s not about death. It’s inevitable, terrible, but really what I want to talk about is, I’m just fascinated by the legacy people leave when they die. That’s what I want to talk about.

So Art Buchwald left his legacy of humor with a video that appeared soon after he died, saying, “Hi! I’m Art Buchwald, and I just died.”

And Mike, who I met at Galapagos, a trip which I won at TED, is leaving notes on cyberspace where he is chronicling his journey through cancer.

And my father left me a legacy of his handwriting through letters and a notebook. In the last two years of his life, when he was sick, he filled a notebook with his thoughts about me. He wrote about my strengths, weaknesses, and gentle suggestions for improvement, quoting specific incidents, and held a mirror to my life.

After he died, I realized that no one writes to me anymore.

Handwriting is a disappearing art. I’m all for email and thinking while typing, but why give up old habits for new?

Why can’t we have letter writing and email exchange in our lives?

There are times when I want to trade all those years that I was too busy to sit with my dad and chat with him, and trade all those years for one hug. But too late. But that’s when I take out his letters and I read them, and the paper that touched his hand is in mine, and I feel connected to him.

So maybe we all need to leave our children with a value legacy, and not a financial one. A value for things with a personal touch — an autograph book, a soul-searching letter. If a fraction of this powerful TED audience could be inspired to buy a beautiful paper — John, it’ll be a recycled one — and write a beautiful letter to someone they love, we actually may start a revolution where our children may go to penmanship classes.

So what do I plan to leave for my son?

I collect autograph books, and those of you authors in the audience know I hound you for them — and CDs too, Tracy. I plan to publish my own notebook. As I witnessed my father’s body being swallowed by fire, I sat by his funeral pyre and wrote.

I have no idea how I’m going to do it, but I am committed to compiling his thoughts and mine into a book, and leave that published book for my son.

I’d like to end with a few verses of what I wrote at my father’s cremation. And those linguists, please pardon the grammar, because I’ve not looked at it in the last 10 years. I took it out for the first time to come here.

“Picture in a frame, ashes in a bottle, boundless energy confined in the bottle, forcing me to deal with reality, forcing me to deal with being grown up. I hear you and I know that you would want me to be strong, but right now, I am being sucked down, surrounded and suffocated by these raging emotional waters, craving to cleanse my soul, trying to emerge on a firm footing one more time, to keep on fighting and flourishing just as you taught me. Your encouraging whispers in my whirlpool of despair, holding me and heaving me to shores of sanity, to live again and to love again.”

Thank you.

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Love Letters: Juliette & Victor


The following letter was written to Victor Hugo by his mistress Juliette Drouet. The two began their affair in 1833 after the production of Hugo’s play, Lucrezia Borgia, in which Drouet played the lead role of the murderous Princesse Négroni. At the time Hugo, after discovering the betrayal of his wife and childhood friend, Adèle, had fallen into an emotional recession.

Already prone to fits of melancholy, he began to doubt the framework of his spiritual and ontological views.

Drouet, with a penchant for the melodramatic, apparently provided the perfect antidote to Hugo’s ruined conception of romantic love.

He would come to practice many of his half-religious, half-philosophical theories on his mistress, forcing her to adopt a state of abject poverty in what he called “the marriage of escaped birds.”

When Drouet complained that she had nothing to do in her monastic apartment in Les Metz, Hugo encouraged her to write “everything that made her heart beat.” Drouet followed his advice; she wrote over 20,000 notes, most of which were left for Hugo in the hollow of an old chestnut tree. They remained lovers until Drouet’s death in 1883. 

November 1st, 1839.

Good-morning, my dear little beloved, my darling little man. You told me so definitely yesterday that my handwriting was hideous, and my scrawl nothing but a horrible maze in which you lose both patience and love, that I hardly dare write to you to-day, and it would take very little to make me cease our correspondence altogether. We must have an explanation on this subject, for it is cruel of you to force me to make myself ridiculous night and morning, simply because I love you and am the saddest and loneliest of women. If my love must be drowned in my ignorance and stupidity, at least do not force me to make the plunge myself.

 There was a time when you would not have noticed the ugliness of my writing; you would only have read my meaning and been happy and grateful. Now you laugh, which is shabby and wicked of you. This seems to be the fate of all the Quasimodo of this world, moral and physical; they are jeered at: form is everything, spirit nothing. Even if I could constrain my crabbed scrawl to say, “My soul is beautiful,” you would not be less amused. Therefore, my dear little man, pending the moment when I can join in the laugh against myself, I think it would be as well to suspend these daily writings. Besides, the moment has come when I must turn all my time and energies towards making my position secure. Nothing in this world can turn me from my purpose, for it is to me a question of life and death…

I count upon you to help me, my beloved. I am asking you for more than life—for the moral consummation of our marriage of love. Let me go with you wherever my happiness is threatened, let me be the wife of your mind and heart, if I cannot be yours in law. If I express myself badly, do not scoff, but understand that I have a right to put into words what you yourself have felt, and that I insist upon defending myself against all those women who get at you under pretext of serving you. I will have my turn, for I love you and am jealous.


Later that same day:

 You are good, my adored one, and I am a wretch. But I love you while you only permit yourself to be loved; that is what makes you so tranquil and me so bitter. My heart is weighed down by jealousy this evening and nothing less than your adored presence will suffice to calm me. I carry hell and all the furies within my soul. I wish I could be sewn to the lining of your coat tonight. I feel I am about to encounter some great danger that I can only defeat by not leaving your side. If my fears are well-grounded, I shall probably fail in averting the doom that threatens me, for you will not be able to stay with me all the evening. The compliments and flattery you will receive will take you from me. I cannot deny that I am unhappy, and would much rather be with you at Fontainebleau, at the Hôtel de France, than in Box C. of the Théâtre Français, even when Marion de Lorme is being played.

Kiss me, my little man. You were very sweet in your new greatcoat, but you had not told me you had been to your tailor. I shall keep up with you by sending for my dressmaker. I do not mean to surrender to you the palm for smartness and dandyism


From: Juliette Drouet’s Love-letters to Victor Hugo. Edited by Louise Guimbaud. Translated by Lady Theodora Davidson. London: Stanley Paul & Co. (1915).

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ReInterpreting Michelangelo’s David

The Ruined Block of Stone

Look at the statue. Before it was “The David“, it was just a ruined block of stone.

David,  by Michelangelo     (1504 ) Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence ( a GNU Free Documentation License photo de Rico Heil (User:Silmaril), published here)

“At this time some of his friends wrote to him advising him to come back to Florence, because there was some talk of having the great piece of marble which was lying spoilt made into a statue, and Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere had talked of giving it to Leonardo da Vinci, and now was preparing to give it to Andrea Contucci. Michael Angelo had desired to have it many years before; so he returned to Florence, and tried for it.

It was a piece of marble nine braccia in size, out of which a Master Simone da Fiesole had begun to carve a giant, and had managed it so badly that the heads of the works at S. Maria del Fiore, without caring to have it finished, had abandoned it, and it had been lying thus for many years.

Michael Angelo measured it again, and examined it to see if a reasonable figure could be cut out of the rock by accommodating its attitude to the maimed condition in which Master Simone had left it, and resolved to make a request for it from the architects and Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere.

They, considering it a useless thing, granted it to him, thinking that anything would be better than the state it was in. Then Michael Angelo made a model in wax of a young David with a sling in his hand, and began to work in S. Maria del Fiore, setting up a scaffold round the marble, and working at it continually without anybody seeing it until he had brought it to perfection.

Master Simone had so spoilt the marble that in some places there was not enough left for Michael Angelo’s purpose, and certainly it was a miracle restoring thus one that was dead.

When Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere saw it, it pleased him much, but he said to Michael Angelo, who was engaged in retouching it in certain places, that he thought “the nose was too thick”.

Michael Angelo, perceiving that Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere was below the statue, and could not see it truly, to satisfy him went up the scaffold, taking a chisel in his left hand with a little marble dust, and began to work with his chisel, letting a little
dust fall now and then, but not touching the nose.

Then looking down to Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere, who was watching, he said, “Look at it now.”

It pleases me better,” said Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere; “you have given it life.”

So Michael Angelo came down, pitying those who make a show of understanding matters about which they really know nothing. For the statue, Michael Angelo received
four hundred crowns from Piero Soderini Gonfaloniere. It was set up in the year 1504.

Source: Stories of the Italian Artists, Vasari 

Michael Angelo carved the David, according to Condivi, though few believe this, in eighteen months and “extracted the statue so exactly that the old rough surface of the marble [and Simone da Fiesole’s chisel marks] still appear on the top of the head and on the base.”

David, Andrea del Verrocchio, ca. 1466-69, Museo del Bargello, Florenz, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Andrea del Verrocchio‘s bronze statue of David was most likely made between 1473 and 1475. It was commissioned by the Medici family. It is sometimes claimed that Verrocchio modeled the statue after a handsome pupil in his workshop, the young Leonardo da Vinci.

The statue represents the youthful David, future king of the Israelites, triumphantly posed over the head of the slain Goliath. The bronze was initially installed in Palazzo Vecchio in 1476.[1]


The bronze David created by Donatello between 1430 and 1432. It is currently located in the Bargello Palace and Museum. CC BY-SA 2.0

David is the title of two statues of the biblical hero by the Italian early Renaissance sculptor Donatello, an early work in marble of a clothed figure (1408-09), and a far more famous bronze figure that is nude between its helmet and boots, and dates to the 1430s or later. Both are now in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello in Florence.

Sculptor John Edwards suggests an alternative interpretation for Michelangelo’s David. Traditionally, David is thought to look at his adversary, Goliath. Like the “Davids” of Donatello and Verrocchio, who stand on Goliath’s head signaling that the battle is over and the victory won, Michelangelo’s David may also represent the victory over Goliath.

Not only that, but also Michelangelo’s David is looking at the rest of the Philistine army, wondering if they will honor Goliath’s pledge to turn back if he is defeated in single combat.

This could be Michelangelo’s comment on the wretched leadership of Lorenzo de Medici’s son Piero, and his dereliction of civic responsibility.


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President Obama on #Dallas: “We are horrified over these events”

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press regarding the police shootings in Dallas, Tex., from the Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, July 8, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

THE WHITE HOUSE With your understanding, I want to begin with a few words about the situation back in the United States, specifically the situation in Dallas, Texas.

My team has been keeping me updated throughout the morning of the evening in Dallas. I spoke this morning with Mayor Rawlings of Dallas to convey the deepest condolences of the American people. I told him that the federal government will provide whatever assistance Dallas may need as it deals with this tremendous tragedy.

We still don’t know all the facts. What we do know is that there has been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement. Police in Dallas were on duty, doing their jobs, keeping people safe during peaceful protests. These law enforcement officers were targeted, and nearly a dozen officers were shot. Five were killed. Other officers and at least one civilian were wounded — some are in serious condition, and we are praying for their recovery.

As I told Mayor Rawlings, I believe that I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events, and that we stand united with the people and the police department in Dallas. According to police, there are multiple suspects. We will learn more, undoubtedly, about their twisted motivations. But let’s be clear: There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement. The FBI is already in touch with the Dallas police, and anyone involved in these senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.

I will have more to say about this as the facts become more clear. For now, let me just say that even as yesterday I spoke about our need to be concerned, as all Americans, about racial disparities in our criminal justice system, I also said yesterday that our police have an extraordinarily difficult job and the vast majority of them do their job in outstanding fashion. I also indicated the degree to which we need to be supportive of those officers who do their job each and every day, protecting us and protecting our communities.

Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices that they make for us. We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic. And in the days ahead, we’re going to have to consider those realities as well.

In the meantime, today our focus is on the victims and their families. They are heartbroken. The entire city of Dallas is grieving. Police across America, which is a tight-knit family, feels this loss to their core. And we’re grieving with them. I’d ask all Americans to say a prayer for these officers and their families. Keep them in your thoughts. And as a nation, let’s remember to express our profound gratitude to our men and women in blue — not just today, but every day.

Watch the President’s statement here.

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President Obama: “We are better than this.”

Today, President Obama spoke on the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

“I’d just ask folks to step back and think: What if this happened to somebody in your family? How would you feel? To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness, it’s just being American and wanting to live up to our best and highest ideals.”

Good evening, everybody. I know we’ve been on a long flight, but given the extraordinary interest in the shootings that took place in Louisiana and Minnesota, I thought it would be important for me to address all of you directly.

And I want to begin by expressing my condolences for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

As I said in the statement that I posted on Facebook, we have seen tragedies like this too many times. The Justice Department, I know, has opened a civil rights investigation in Baton Rouge. The governor of Minnesota, I understand, is calling for an investigation there, as well. As is my practice, given my institutional role, I can’t comment on the specific facts of these cases, and I have full confidence in the Justice Department’s ability to conduct a thorough and fair inquiry.

But what I can say is that all of us as Americans should be troubled by these shootings, because these are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system. And I just want to give people a few statistics to try to put in context why emotions are so raw around these issues.

According to various studies — not just one, but a wide range of studies that have been carried out over a number of years — African Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over. After being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched. Last year, African Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites. African Americans are arrested at twice the rate of whites. African American defendants are 75 percent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime.

So that if you add it all up, the African American and Hispanic population, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population.

Now, these are facts. And when incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same. And that hurts. And that should trouble all of us. This is not just a black issue. It’s not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue that we should all care about. All fair-minded people should be concerned.

Now, let me just say we have extraordinary appreciation and respect for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. They’ve got a dangerous job. It is a tough job. And as I’ve said before, they have a right to go home to their families, just like anybody else on the job. And there are going to be circumstances in which they’ve got to make split-second decisions. We understand that.

But when we see data that indicates disparities in how African Americans and Latinos may be treated in various jurisdictions around the country, then it’s incumbent on all of us to say, we can do better than this; we are better than this — and to not have it degenerate into the usual political scrum. We should be able to step back, reflect, and ask ourselves, what can we do better so that everybody feels as if they’re equal under the law?

Now, the good news is, is that there are practices we can institute that will make a difference. Last year, we put together a task force that was comprised of civil rights activists and community leaders, but also law enforcement officials — police captains, sheriffs. And they sat around a table and they looked at the data and they looked at best practices, and they came up with specific recommendations and steps that could ensure that the trust between communities and police departments were rebuilt and incidents like this would be less likely to occur.

And there are some jurisdictions out there that have adopted these recommendations. But there are a whole bunch that have not. And if anything good comes out of these tragedies, my hope is, is that communities around the country take a look and say, how can we implement these recommendations, and that the overwhelming majority of police officers who are doing a great job every single day, and are doing their job without regard to race, that they encourage their leadership and organizations that represent them to get behind these recommendations.

Because, ultimately, if you can rebuild trust between communities and the police departments that serve them, that helps us solve crime problems. That will make life easier for police officers. They will have more cooperation. They will be safer. They will be more likely to come home. So it would be good for crime-fighting and it will avert tragedy.

And I’m encouraged by the fact that the majority of leadership in police departments around the country recognize this. But change has been too slow and we have to have a greater sense of urgency about this.

I’m also encouraged, by the way, that we have bipartisan support for criminal justice reform working its way through Congress. It has stalled and lost some momentum over the last couple of months, in part because Congress is having difficulty, generally, moving legislation forward, and we’re in a political season. But there are people of goodwill on the Republican side and the Democratic side who I’ve seen want to try to get something done here. That, too, would help provide greater assurance across the country that those in power, those in authority are taking these issues seriously. So this should be a spur to action to get that done, to get that across the finish line. Because I know there are a lot of people who want to get it done.

Let me just make a couple of final comments. I mentioned in my Facebook statement that I hope we don’t fall into the typical patterns that occur after these kinds of incidents occur, where right away there’s a lot of political rhetoric and it starts dividing people instead of bringing folks together. To be concerned about these issues is not to be against law enforcement. There are times when these incidents occur, and you see protests and you see vigils. And I get letters — well-meaning letters sometimes — from law enforcement saying, how come we’re under attack? How come not as much emphasis is made when police officers are shot?

And so, to all of law enforcement, I want to be very clear: We know you have a tough job. We mourn those in uniform who are protecting us who lose their lives. On a regular basis, I have joined with families in front of Capitol Hill to commemorate the incredible heroism that they’ve displayed. I’ve hugged family members who’ve lost loved ones doing the right thing. I know how much it hurts. On a regular basis, we bring in those who’ve done heroic work in law enforcement, and have survived. Sometimes they’ve been injured. Sometimes they’ve risked their lives in remarkable ways. And we applaud them and appreciate them, because they’re doing a really tough job really well.

There is no contradiction between us supporting law enforcement — making sure they’ve got the equipment they need, making sure that their collective bargaining rights are recognized, making sure that they’re adequately staffed, making sure that they are respected, making sure their families are supported — and also saying that there are problems across our criminal justice system, there are biases — some conscious and unconscious — that have to be rooted out. That’s not an attack on law enforcement. That is reflective of the values that the vast majority of law enforcement bring to the job.

But I repeat: If communities are mistrustful of the police, that makes those law enforcement officers who are doing a great job and are doing the right thing, it makes their lives harder. So when people say “Black Lives Matter,” that doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter; it just means all lives matter, but right now the big concern is the fact that the data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents.

This isn’t a matter of us comparing the value of lives. This is recognizing that there is a particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens. And we should care about that. We can’t dismiss it. We can’t dismiss it.

So let me just end by saying I actually, genuinely, truly believe that the vast majority of American people see this as a problem that we should all care about. And I would just ask those who question the sincerity or the legitimacy of protests and vigils and expressions of outrage, who somehow label those expressions of outrage as “political correctness,” I’d just ask folks to step back and think, what if this happened to somebody in your family? How would you feel?

To be concerned about these issues is not political correctness. It’s just being an American, and wanting to live up to our best and highest ideals. And it’s to recognize the reality that we’ve got some tough history and we haven’t gotten through all of that history yet. And we don’t expect that in my lifetime, maybe not in my children’s lifetime, that all the vestiges of that past will have been cured, will have been solved, but we can do better. People of goodwill can do better.

And doing better involves not just addressing potential bias in the criminal justice system. It’s recognizing that too often we’re asking police to man the barricades in communities that have been forgotten by all of us for way too long, in terms of substandard schools, and inadequate jobs, and a lack of opportunity.

We’ve got to tackle those things. We can do better. And I believe we will do better.

Thanks very much, everybody.

Watch the President’s full remarks here.

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International Student Mobility to 2024

The Future of the World’s Mobile Students to 2024

Important findings from “The future of the world’s mobile students to 2024”

This report from the British Council offers predictions about the next decade of international student mobility based on new data published their report from last year. This report examines data from the 56 countries they deemed most significant for international student mobility, although it is impacted by the lack of OECD data for countries such as China, India, Singapore, etc. These are some of the findings:

 There will be 32 million additional higher education enrolments by 2024, up to 196 million overall.

 3.9 million students will be studying abroad in 2024, up from 3 million in 2011.

 The population of 18-22-year-olds in China will fall from 120 million to 80 million by 2024, the primary contributing factor to an overall global decline in the age group in the same time period.

 The top 10 fastest growing 18-22 populations between 2011 and 2024 in absolute terms will be: Nigeria, India, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Philippines, Iraq, Pakistan, Angola, and Nepal.

 The top sending countries for international students in 2024 will be China, India, Germany, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, France, and Khazakstan, although students from China and India are predicted to make up roughly one-third of the total number.

 The largest increases in countries sending students abroad are likely to take place in India, China, Saudia Arabia, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Brazil, and Turkey.

 The countries that receive the largest number of international students will remain similar to today with the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Korea as the biggest recipients of international students (albeit this is the area most likely to be impacted by missing data from China, India, Singapore, and Malaysia).

The report itself covers the data in more detail, as well as for significant bilateral changes. It also outlines at least one scenario of the impact of a potential slowdown in the BRIC economies that shows how fragile these predictions may be.

The 2012 report mostly underestimated the incredible growth in international mobility that has taken place from 2009 and 2011 in spite of a major economic slowdown impacting much of the globe. The authors have taken the new data into account and their current predictions are more aggressive.

Note: The report reviewed was published by British Council in October 2013.

Here are the highlights:

  • An estimated five million students studied outside of their home countries last year
  • This is more than a tripling of global international student enrolment since 1990
  • Demand from Asia has driven most of this growth
  • The nature of competition is shifting, with enrolment more widely distributed among a larger field of destinations, including a growing number of non-English-speaking countries
  • Market forecasts anticipate greater demand for post-graduate and vocational training programmes going forward

As you read this, five million students are studying outside their home countries, more than double the 2.1 million who did so in 2000 and more than triple the number in 1990. This astounding growth has occurred in the context of an increasingly globalised world in which economies are closely tied to others within their region and beyond. In 2015, money and trade are flowing freely across many borders and from many sources. So, too, are knowledge and skills.

Once accessible only to the world’s elite, higher education is now open to the masses, particularly the burgeoning middle classes now found on every continent. And especially in countries lacking higher education capacity, students are looking for opportunities to study abroad.

There are more than five million students travelling abroad for education when you factor in the huge numbers pursuing language studies: two million students are engaged in language travel today, of whom roughly two-thirds study English.

The governments of the fastest-growing emerging economies are investing heavily in the expansion of their higher education systems; creating scholarships to help their students acquire education abroad – and then bring it back home; and joining in cross-border research partnerships and exchanges that elevate their countries’ status, potential for innovation, and influence in the world.

It is no coincidence that as a result, developing economies are growing in tandem with international student mobility. And as the balance of world economic and political power shifts, so do patterns of mobility.

Asia is the key

Take, for example, the ascendance of China and India into the top ten most powerful economies in the world; South Korea is in the top 15. Now consider their contributions to international student mobility: China, India, and South Korea are the world’s leading sources of international students. One of every six internationally mobile students is now from China, and together China, India, and South Korea account for more than a quarter of all students studying outside their home countries. All told, 53% of all students studying abroad today are from Asia.

Asia is also becoming a compelling destination for international students, particularly those from within the region. China, for one, has drawn increasing numbers of both Indonesian and Korean students in recent years. The number of Indonesian students in China has grown by an average of 10% each year since 2010, and nearly 14,000 Indonesians are currently studying in China. Meanwhile, the number of South Koreans studying in China more than doubled from 2003 to 2012. Overall, China hosted about 330,000 students in 2012 and has a target to reach 500,000 students by 2020.

Japan, pressed to respond to excess capacity in its universities, is also stepping up its recruitment of international students; it has a goal of hosting 300,000 international students by 2020. Japan saw foreign enrolments increase nicely in 2014.

Malaysia is similarly ambitious, with a goal of 250,000 international students and plans to place several more of its universities in world rankings by 2025.

Today, 24 of the world’s top 200 universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2014/15) are Asian – representing almost one-eighth of the total.

The call for diversification

In recent years, a staggering number of international students in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand have come from China and India, a heavy reliance on these two key markets that has raised alarm bells for some institutions and industry experts.

International educators are thus being encouraged to diversify their international enrolments – and they have a ready supply of other sources to consider. African countries are struggling to meet demand for higher education as their youth populations swell and unemployment abounds. Many are investing heavily in building more capacity and quality into their tertiary systems, but such initiatives do not bear results overnight. In the meantime, study abroad is a tempting option for those students who can afford it.

Particularly in fast-growing African economies like Nigeria, outbound student mobility is on the rise; according to UNESCO, over 52,000 Nigerian students studied abroad in 2013. Nigeria is on pace to be one of the world’s most populous countries and it has a swiftly growing tertiary-age student cohort. The impact of this population surge will be huge: The British Council recently projected that of the 23 source markets it studied, Nigeria will contribute the strongest average annual growth in post-graduate student mobility through 2024 (+8.3%).

International educators are also viewing Latin American markets with great interest, thanks again to rising youth populations, lagging domestic capacity, and scholarship programmes. In 2011, 20% of the total population of Latin America and the Caribbean was between the ages of 15 and 24 – that’s 106 million people, and the UN notes that this is “the largest proportion of young people ever in the region’s history.”

As in so many other countries with swelling youth populations, the challenge is to expand educational access and reduce unemployment, with the ultimate goal of empowering this generation to achieve a better quality of life and to drive the economy forward. Until the region’s higher education institutions become more accessible and of higher quality, students will be especially interested in study abroad.

Growing demand for post-graduate education and VET

The recent “massification” of higher education, in which higher education became accessible to more of the population, is driving a new trend: greater numbers of university graduates are now also able to pursue post-graduate studies.

The British Council expects India and China to contribute the greatest number of globally mobile post-graduate students in 2024, but notes that demographic and economic trends will see Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Indonesia posting “substantive increases in outbound post-graduates.”

Something to watch through 2024 will be the extent to which increased capacity and quality at home, particularly in key sending markets, will affect outbound post-graduate mobility. Case in point: the number of Chinese post-graduate students applying to US universities declined for the third consecutive year in 2015, a fact believed to be partly due to China’s massive investment in its own higher education capacity for both graduate education and research over the past decade and more.

Similarly, the sharp rise in demand for “middle skills” taught by vocational education and training (VET) institutions around the world through certificates, diplomas, and other short-term programmes could also affect demand for post-graduate (and undergraduate) programmes. Nearly two-thirds of overall employment growth in the European Union is forecast to be in the “technicians and associate professionals” category, while in the US, nearly one-third of job vacancies in 2018 are expected to require some post-secondary qualification but less than a four-year degree. China, India, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand have all recently increased their budget allocations to vocational training, and demand for VET is also surging in Africa.

Where they will go

Demographic trends, economic growth, government scholarships, and rising incomes are some of the major forces at play in determining where students are coming from when they study abroad. But what about where they are going? The answer to this question involves the interplay of different factors. On the one hand, students’ own circumstances guide their choice of where to study (e.g., their financial means; the level of study they are pursuing; the advice they receive from friends, family, and agents; their perceptions of the image and reputation of an institution or country).

On the other hand, country-level and institutional policies affect the popularity of destinations. Students are often influenced by the relative cost of living and tuition in a country (which may be affected by currency fluctuations) as well as the availability of internships and post-study work and immigration opportunities.

Scholarship programmes play an important part as well. The past decade has seen the development of several massive scholarship and grant programmes, notably Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Scholarship Programme (KASP), Brazil’s Science Without Borders, and, more recently, Mexico’s Proyecta 100,000. Large-scale regional programmes, of which Europe’s Erasmus+ is the most prominent example, also play a major role in driving mobility.

In 2015, the US is still the world’s leading destination, and it is expected to enrol a record number of students again this year. But America’s market share is falling (from about 23% of all internationally mobile students in 2000 to 17% in 2011). This change is partly due to the increasing share of other English-speaking destinations such as the UK, Australia, and Canada, and partly due to the growing trend toward intra-regional mobility.

Market share aside, the OECD reports that in 2011, “almost half of all foreign students were enrolled in one of the top five destinations for tertiary studies abroad: the US, with 17% of all foreign students worldwide, followed by the United Kingdom (13%), Australia (6%), Germany (6%) and France (6%).”

Those statistics reflect 2011 OECD data, yet so much has happened since then. Australia, for example, experienced double-digit growth in international student enrolments in 2014. Canada’s international student population increased 23% from 2011 to 2013. In contrast, following a tightening of work and immigration rules in the UK, British higher education institutions saw overseas enrolments fall in both 2011/12 and 2012/13.

Looking Ahead

At this writing, most students who choose to study abroad choose OECD countries as their destinations. But as linkages and trade intensify between Western economies and Asian ones, and as Asian countries expand and improve their higher education systems, we will likely see mobility patterns become more diverse over the next decade. Top American and British institutions still attract the majority of the world’s most ambitious and/or wealthy students, but Asian countries are climbing steadily up world university rankings.

As competition increases for students, we can expect to see countries and institutions differentiate themselves using a range of strategies, including destination marketing, branding, tuition and/or financial assistance, and (at the country level) work and immigration policies.

International education is no longer a niche area of the economy or the pursuit of a small segment of lucky students: it is measured in millions of study visits – and billions of dollars. The sector has come a long way in a relatively short time, and if stewarded responsibly by governments, associations, institutions, and agents alike, it will go much further.


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Brexit Blunder: David Cameron’s Prophetic “Future Of Europe” Speech (28% of registered voters did not vote)

The United Kingdom on Thursday (23 June, 2016) chose to leave the European Union.

  • Official referendum results : 51.9% for Brexit‬ – 48.1% for Remain;
  • The voter turnout was 72.16%;
  • David Cameron announced that he will step down as prime minister by October.

FLASHBACK: January 23, 2013:

London, England

David Cameron: This morning I want to talk about the future of Europe.

But first, let us remember the past.

Seventy years ago, Europe was being torn apart by its second catastrophic conflict in a generation. A war which saw the streets of European cities strewn with rubble. The skies of London lit by flames night after night. And millions dead across the world in the battle for peace and liberty.

As we remember their sacrifice, so we should also remember how the shift in Europe from war to sustained peace came about. It did not happen like a change in the weather. It happened because of determined work over generations. A commitment to friendship and a resolve never to revisit that dark past – a commitment epitomised by the Elysee treaty signed 50 years ago this week.

After the Berlin Wall came down I visited that city and I will never forget it.

The abandoned checkpoints. The sense of excitement about the future. The knowledge that a great continent was coming together. Healing those wounds of our history is the central story of the European Union.

What Churchill described as the twin marauders of war and tyranny have been almost entirely banished from our continent. Today, hundreds of millions dwell in freedom, from the Baltic to the Adriatic, from the Western Approaches to the Aegean.

And while we must never take this for granted, the first purpose of the European Union – to secure peace – has been achieved and we should pay tribute to all those in the EU, alongside Nato, who made that happen.

But today the main, overriding purpose of the European Union is different: not to win peace, but to secure prosperity.

The challenges come not from within this continent but outside it. From the surging economies in the east and south. Of course a growing world economy benefits us all, but we should be in no doubt that a new global race of nations is under way today.

A race for the wealth and jobs of the future.

The map of global influence is changing before our eyes. And these changes are already being felt by the entrepreneur in the Netherlands, the worker in Germany, the family in Britain.

So I want to speak to you today with urgency and frankness about the European Union and how it must change – both to deliver prosperity and to retain the support of its peoples.

But first, I want to set out the spirit in which I approach these issues.

I know that the United Kingdom is sometimes seen as an argumentative and rather strong-minded member of the family of European nations.

And it’s true that our geography has shaped our psychology.

We have the character of an island nation: independent, forthright, passionate in defence of our sovereignty.

We can no more change this British sensibility than we can drain the English Channel.

And because of this sensibility, we come to the European Union with a frame of mind that is more practical than emotional.

For us, the European Union is a means to an end – prosperity, stability, the anchor of freedom and democracy both within Europe and beyond her shores – not an end in itself.

We insistently ask: how, why, to what end?

But all this doesn’t make us somehow un-European.

The fact is that ours is not just an island story – it is also a continental story.

For all our connections to the rest of the world – of which we are rightly proud – we have always been a European power, and we always will be.

From Caesar’s legions to the Napoleonic wars. From the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the industrial revolution to the defeat of nazism. We have helped to write European history, and Europe has helped write ours.

Over the years, Britain has made her own, unique contribution to Europe. We have provided a haven to those fleeing tyranny and persecution. And in Europe’s darkest hour, we helped keep the flame of liberty alight. Across the continent, in silent cemeteries, lie the hundreds of thousands of British servicemen who gave their lives for Europe’s freedom.

In more recent decades, we have played our part in tearing down the iron curtain and championing the entry into the EU of those countries that lost so many years to Communism. And contained in this history is the crucial point about Britain, our national character, our attitude to Europe.

Britain is characterised not just by its independence but, above all, by its openness.

We have always been a country that reaches out. That turns its face to the world. That leads the charge in the fight for global trade and against protectionism.

This is Britain today, as it’s always been: independent, yes – but open, too.

I never want us to pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world.

I am not a British isolationist.

I don’t just want a better deal for Britain. I want a better deal for Europe too.

So I speak as British prime minister with a positive vision for the future of the European Union. A future in which Britain wants, and should want, to play a committed and active part.

Some might then ask: why raise fundamental questions about the future of Europe when Europe is already in the midst of a deep crisis?

Why raise questions about Britain’s role when support in Britain is already so thin.

There are always voices saying: “Don’t ask the difficult questions.”

But it’s essential for Europe – and for Britain – that we do because there are three major challenges confronting us today.

First, the problems in the eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe.

Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead. And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years. And which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is – yes – felt particularly acutely in Britain.

If we don’t address these challenges, the danger is that Europe will fail and the British people will drift towards the exit.

I do not want that to happen. I want the European Union to be a success. And I want a relationship between Britain and the EU that keeps us in it.

That is why I am here today: to acknowledge the nature of the challenges we face. To set out how I believe the European Union should respond to them. And to explain what I want to achieve for Britain and its place within the European Union.

Let me start with the nature of the challenges we face.

First, the eurozone.

The future shape of Europe is being forged. There are some serious questions that will define the future of the European Union – and the future of every country within it.

The union is changing to help fix the currency – and that has profound implications for all of us, whether we are in the single currency or not.

Britain is not in the single currency, and we’re not going to be. But we all need the eurozone to have the right governance and structures to secure a successful currency for the long term.

And those of us outside the eurozone also need certain safeguards to ensure, for example, that our access to the single market is not in any way compromised.

And it’s right we begin to address these issues now.

Second, while there are some countries within the EU which are doing pretty well. Taken as a whole, Europe’s share of world output is projected to fall by almost a third in the next two decades. This is the competitiveness challenge – and much of our weakness in meeting it is self-inflicted.

Complex rules restricting our labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon. Just as excessive regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.

These problems have been around too long. And the progress in dealing with them, far too slow.

As Chancellor Merkel has said, if Europe today accounts for just over 7% of the world’s population, produces around 25% of global GDP and has to finance 50% of global social spending, then it’s obvious that it will have to work very hard to maintain its prosperity and way of life.

Third, there is a growing frustration that the EU is seen as something that is done to people rather than acting on their behalf. And this is being intensified by the very solutions required to resolve the economic problems.

People are increasingly frustrated that decisions taken further and further away from them mean their living standards are slashed through enforced austerity or their taxes are used to bail out governments on the other side of the continent.

We are starting to see this in the demonstrations on the streets of Athens, Madrid and Rome. We are seeing it in the parliaments of Berlin, Helsinki and the Hague.

And yes, of course, we are seeing this frustration with the EU very dramatically in Britain.

Europe’s leaders have a duty to hear these concerns. Indeed, we have a duty to act on them. And not just to fix the problems in the eurozone.

For just as in any emergency you should plan for the aftermath as well as dealing with the present crisis, so too in the midst of the present challenges we should plan for the future, and what the world will look like when the difficulties in the eurozone have been overcome.

The biggest danger to the European Union comes not from those who advocate change, but from those who denounce new thinking as heresy. In its long history Europe has experience of heretics who turned out to have a point.

And my point is this. More of the same will not secure a long-term future for the eurozone. More of the same will not see the European Union keeping pace with the new powerhouse economies. More of the same will not bring the European Union any closer to its citizens. More of the same will just produce more of the same: less competitiveness, less growth, fewer jobs.

And that will make our countries weaker not stronger.

That is why we need fundamental, far-reaching change.

So let me set out my vision for a new European Union, fit for the 21st century.

It is built on five principles.

The first: competitiveness. At the core of the European Union must be, as it is now, the single market. Britain is at the heart of that single market, and must remain so.

But when the single market remains incomplete in services, energy and digital – the very sectors that are the engines of a modern economy – it is only half the success it could be.

It is nonsense that people shopping online in some parts of Europe are unable to access the best deals because of where they live. I want completing the single market to be our driving mission.

I want us to be at the forefront of transformative trade deals with the US, Japan and India as part of the drive towards global free trade. And I want us to be pushing to exempt Europe’s smallest entrepreneurial companies from more EU directives.

These should be the tasks that get European officials up in the morning – and keep them working late into the night. And so we urgently need to address the sclerotic, ineffective decision-making that is holding us back.

That means creating a leaner, less bureaucratic union, relentlessly focused on helping its member countries to compete.

In a global race, can we really justify the huge number of expensive peripheral European institutions?

Can we justify a commission that gets ever larger?

Can we carry on with an organisation that has a multibillion pound budget but not enough focus on controlling spending and shutting down programmes that haven’t worked?

And I would ask: when the competitiveness of the single market is so important, why is there an environment council, a transport council, an education council but not a single market council?

The second principle should be flexibility.

We need a structure that can accommodate the diversity of its members – north, south, east, west, large, small, old and new. Some of whom are contemplating much closer economic and political integration. And many others, including Britain, who would never embrace that goal.

I accept, of course, that for the single market to function we need a common set of rules and a way of enforcing them. But we also need to be able to respond quickly to the latest developments and trends.

Competitiveness demands flexibility, choice and openness – or Europe will fetch up in a no-man’s land between the rising economies of Asia and market-driven North America.

The EU must be able to act with the speed and flexibility of a network, not the cumbersome rigidity of a bloc.

We must not be weighed down by an insistence on a one size fits all approach which implies that all countries want the same level of integration. The fact is that they don’t and we shouldn’t assert that they do.

Some will claim that this offends a central tenet of the EU’s founding philosophy. I say it merely reflects the reality of the European Union today. 17 members are part of the eurozone. 10 are not.

26 European countries are members of Schengen – including four outside the European Union – Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Two EU countries – Britain and Ireland – have retained their border controls.

Some members, like Britain and France, are ready, willing and able to take action in Libya or Mali. Others are uncomfortable with the use of military force.

Let’s welcome that diversity, instead of trying to snuff it out.

Let’s stop all this talk of two-speed Europe, of fast lanes and slow lanes, of countries missing trains and buses, and consign the whole weary caravan of metaphors to a permanent siding.

Instead, let’s start from this proposition: we are a family of democratic nations, all members of one European Union, whose essential foundation is the single market rather than the single currency. Those of us outside the euro recognise that those in it are likely to need to make some big institutional changes.

By the same token, the members of the eurozone should accept that we, and indeed all member states, will have changes that we need to safeguard our interests and strengthen democratic legitimacy. And we should be able to make these changes too.

Some say this will unravel the principle of the EU – and that you can’t pick and choose on the basis of what your nation needs.

But far from unravelling the EU, this will in fact bind its members more closely because such flexible, willing co-operation is a much stronger glue than compulsion from the centre.

Let me make a further heretical proposition.

The European treaty commits the member states to “lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”.

This has been consistently interpreted as applying not to the peoples but rather to the states and institutions compounded by a European court of justice that has consistently supported greater centralisation.

We understand and respect the right of others to maintain their commitment to this goal. But for Britain – and perhaps for others – it is not the objective.

And we would be much more comfortable if the treaty specifically said so, freeing those who want to go further, faster, to do so, without being held back by the others.

So to those who say we have no vision for Europe, I say we have.

We believe in a flexible union of free member states who share treaties and institutions and pursue together the ideal of co-operation. To represent and promote the values of European civilisation in the world. To advance our shared interests by using our collective power to open markets. And to build a strong economic base across the whole of Europe.

And we believe in our nations working together to protect the security and diversity of our energy supplies. To tackle climate change and global poverty. To work together against terrorism and organised crime. And to continue to welcome new countries into the EU.

This vision of flexibility and co-operation is not the same as those who want to build an ever closer political union – but it is just as valid.

My third principle is that power must be able to flow back to member states, not just away from them. This was promised by European leaders at Laeken a decade ago.

It was put in the treaty. But the promise has never really been fulfilled. We need to implement this principle properly.

So let us use this moment, as the Dutch prime minister has recently suggested, to examine thoroughly what the EU as a whole should do and should stop doing.

In Britain we have already launched our balance of competences review – to give us an informed and objective analysis of where the EU helps and where it hampers.

Let us not be misled by the fallacy that a deep and workable single market requires everything to be harmonised, to hanker after some unattainable and infinitely level playing field.

Countries are different. They make different choices. We cannot harmonise everything. For example, it is neither right nor necessary to claim that the integrity of the single market, or full membership of the European Union requires the working hours of British hospital doctors to be set in Brussels irrespective of the views of British parliamentarians and practitioners.

In the same way we need to examine whether the balance is right in so many areas where the European Union has legislated including on the environment, social affairs and crime.

Nothing should be off the table.

My fourth principle is democratic accountability: we need to have a bigger and more significant role for national parliaments.

There is not, in my view, a single European demos.

It is national parliaments, which are, and will remain, the true source of real democratic legitimacy and accountability in the EU.

It is to the Bundestag that Angela Merkel has to answer. It is through the Greek parliament that Antonis Samaras has to pass his government’s austerity measures.

 It is to the British parliament that I must account on the EU budget negotiations, or on the safeguarding of our place in the single market.

Those are the parliaments which instil proper respect – even fear – into national leaders.

We need to recognise that in the way the EU does business.

My fifth principle is fairness: whatever new arrangements are enacted for the eurozone, they must work fairly for those inside it and out.

That will be of particular importance to Britain. As I have said, we will not join the single currency. But there is no overwhelming economic reason why the single currency and the single market should share the same boundary, any more than the single market and Schengen.

Our participation in the single market, and our ability to help set its rules is the principal reason for our membership of the EU.

So it is a vital interest for us to protect the integrity and fairness of the single market for all its members.

And that is why Britain has been so concerned to promote and defend the single market as the eurozone crisis rewrites the rules on fiscal co-ordination and banking union.

These five principles provide what, I believe, is the right approach for the European Union.

So now let me turn to what this means for Britain.

Today, public disillusionment with the EU is at an all-time high. There are several reasons for this.

People feel that the EU is heading in a direction that they never signed up to. They resent the interference in our national life by what they see as unnecessary rules and regulation. And they wonder what the point of it all is.

Put simply, many ask “why can’t we just have what we voted to join – a common market?”

They are angered by some legal judgements made in Europe that impact on life in Britain. Some of this antipathy about Europe in general really relates of course to the European court of human rights, rather than the EU. And Britain is leading European efforts to address this.

There is, indeed, much more that needs to be done on this front. But people also feel that the EU is now heading for a level of political integration that is far outside Britain’s comfort zone.

They see treaty after treaty changing the balance between member states and the EU. And note they were never given a say.

They’ve had referendums promised – but not delivered. They see what has happened to the euro. And they note that many of our political and business leaders urged Britain to join at the time.

And they haven’t noticed many expressions of contrition.

And they look at the steps the eurozone is taking and wonder what deeper integration for the eurozone will mean for a country which is not going to join the euro.

 The result is that democratic consent for the EU in Britain is now wafer-thin.

Some people say that to point this out is irresponsible, creates uncertainty for business and puts a question mark over Britain’s place in the European Union.

But the question mark is already there and ignoring it won’t make it go away.

In fact, quite the reverse. Those who refuse to contemplate consulting the British people, would in my view make more likely our eventual exit.

Simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they have had little choice is a path to ensuring that when the question is finally put – and at some stage it will have to be – it is much more likely that the British people will reject the EU.

That is why I am in favour of a referendum. I believe in confronting this issue – shaping it, leading the debate. Not simply hoping a difficult situation will go away.

Some argue that the solution is therefore to hold a straight in-out referendum now.

I understand the impatience of wanting to make that choice immediately.

But I don’t believe that to make a decision at this moment is the right way forward, either for Britain or for Europe as a whole.

A vote today between the status quo and leaving would be an entirely false choice.

Now – while the EU is in flux, and when we don’t know what the future holds and what sort of EU will emerge from this crisis – is not the right time to make such a momentous decision about the future of our country.

It is wrong to ask people whether to stay or go before we have had a chance to put the relationship right.

How can we sensibly answer the question “in or out” without being able to answer the most basic question: “What is it exactly that we are choosing to be in or out of?”

The European Union that emerges from the eurozone crisis is going to be a very different body. It will be transformed perhaps beyond recognition by the measures needed to save the eurozone.

We need to allow some time for that to happen – and help to shape the future of the European Union, so that when the choice comes it will be a real one.

A real choice between leaving or being part of a new settlement in which Britain shapes and respects the rules of the single market but is protected by fair safeguards, and free of the spurious regulation which damages Europe’s competitiveness.

A choice between leaving or being part of a new settlement in which Britain is at the forefront of collective action on issues like foreign policy and trade and where we leave the door firmly open to new members.

A new settlement subject to the democratic legitimacy and accountability of national parliaments where member states combine in flexible co-operation, respecting national differences not always trying to eliminate them and in which we have proved that some powers can in fact be returned to member states.

 In other words, a settlement which would be entirely in keeping with the mission for an updated European Union I have described today. More flexible, more adaptable, more open – fit for the challenges of the modern age.

And to those who say a new settlement can’t be negotiated, I would say listen to the views of other parties in other European countries arguing for powers to flow back to European states.

And look too at what we have achieved already. Ending Britain’s obligation to bail out eurozone members. Keeping Britain out of the fiscal compact. Launching a process to return some existing justice and home affairs powers. Securing protections on banking union. And reforming fisheries policy.

So we are starting to shape the reforms we need now. Some will not require treaty change.

But I agree too with what President Barroso and others have said. At some stage in the next few years the EU will need to agree on treaty change to make the changes needed for the long-term future of the euro and to entrench the diverse, competitive, democratically accountable Europe that we seek.

I believe the best way to do this will be in a new treaty so I add my voice to those who are already calling for this.

My strong preference is to enact these changes for the entire EU, not just for Britain.

But if there is no appetite for a new treaty for us all then of course Britain should be ready to address the changes we need in a negotiation with our European partners.

The next Conservative manifesto in 2015 will ask for a mandate from the British people for a Conservative government to negotiate a new settlement with our European partners in the next parliament.

It will be a relationship with the single market at its heart.

And when we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice. To stay in the EU on these new terms, or come out altogether.

It will be an in-out referendum.

Legislation will be drafted before the next election. And if a Conservative government is elected we will introduce the enabling legislation immediately and pass it by the end of that year. And we will complete this negotiation and hold this referendum within the first half of the next parliament.

It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.

I say to the British people: this will be your decision.

And when that choice comes, you will have an important choice to make about our country’s destiny.

I understand the appeal of going it alone, of charting our own course. But it will be a decision we will have to take with cool heads. Proponents of both sides of the argument will need to avoid exaggerating their claims.

Of course Britain could make her own way in the world, outside the EU, if we chose to do so. So could any other member state.

But the question we will have to ask ourselves is this: is that the very best future for our country?

We will have to weigh carefully where our true national interest lies.

Alone, we would be free to take our own decisions, just as we would be freed of our solemn obligation to defend our allies if we left Nato. But we don’t leave Nato because it is in our national interest to stay and benefit from its collective defence guarantee.

We have more power and influence – whether implementing sanctions against Iran or Syria, or promoting democracy in Burma – if we can act together.

If we leave the EU, we cannot of course leave Europe. It will remain for many years our biggest market, and forever our geographical neighbourhood. We are tied by a complex web of legal commitments.

Hundreds of thousands of British people now take for granted their right to work, live or retire in any other EU country.

Even if we pulled out completely, decisions made in the EU would continue to have a profound effect on our country. But we would have lost all our remaining vetoes and our voice in those decisions.

We would need to weigh up very carefully the consequences of no longer being inside the EU and its single market, as a full member.

Continued access to the single market is vital for British businesses and British jobs.

Since 2004, Britain has been the destination for one in five of all inward investments into Europe.

And being part of the single market has been key to that success.

There will be plenty of time to test all the arguments thoroughly, in favour and against the arrangement we negotiate. But let me just deal with one point we hear a lot about.

There are some who suggest we could turn ourselves into Norway or Switzerland – with access to the single market but outside the EU. But would that really be in our best interests?

I admire those countries and they are friends of ours – but they are very different from us. Norway sits on the biggest energy reserves in Europe, and has a sovereign wealth fund of over €500bn. And while Norway is part of the single market – and pays for the principle – it has no say at all in setting its rules. It just has to implement its directives.

The Swiss have to negotiate access to the single market sector by sector, accepting EU rules – over which they have no say – or else not getting full access to the single market, including in key sectors like financial services.

The fact is that if you join an organisation like the European Union, there are rules.

You will not always get what you want. But that does not mean we should leave – not if the benefits of staying and working together are greater.

We would have to think carefully too about the impact on our influence at the top table of international affairs.

There is no doubt that we are more powerful in Washington, in Beijing, in Delhi because we are a powerful player in the European Union.

That matters for British jobs and British security.

It matters to our ability to get things done in the world. It matters to the United States and other friends around the world, which is why many tell us very clearly that they want Britain to remain in the EU.

We should think very carefully before giving that position up.

If we left the European Union, it would be a one-way ticket, not a return.

So we will have time for a proper, reasoned debate.

At the end of that debate you, the British people, will decide.

And I say to our European partners, frustrated as some of them no doubt are by Britain’s attitude: work with us on this.

Consider the extraordinary steps which the eurozone members are taking to keep the euro together, steps which a year ago would have seemed impossible.

It does not seem to me that the steps which would be needed to make Britain – and others – more comfortable in their relationship in the European Union are inherently so outlandish or unreasonable.

And just as I believe that Britain should want to remain in the EU so the EU should want us to stay.

For an EU without Britain, without one of Europe’s strongest powers, a country which in many ways invented the single market, and which brings real heft to Europe’s influence on the world stage, which plays by the rules and which is a force for liberal economic reform would be a very different kind of European Union.

And it is hard to argue that the EU would not be greatly diminished by Britain’s departure.

Let me finish today by saying this.

I have no illusions about the scale of the task ahead.

I know there will be those who say the vision I have outlined will be impossible to achieve. That there is no way our partners will co-operate. That the British people have set themselves on a path to inevitable exit. And that if we aren’t comfortable being in the EU after 40 years, we never will be.

But I refuse to take such a defeatist attitude – either for Britain or for Europe.

Because with courage and conviction I believe we can deliver a more flexible, adaptable and open European Union in which the interests and ambitions of all its members can be met.

With courage and conviction I believe we can achieve a new settlement in which Britain can be comfortable and all our countries can thrive.

And when the referendum comes let me say now that if we can negotiate such an arrangement, I will campaign for it with all my heart and soul.

Because I believe something very deeply. That Britain’s national interest is best served in a flexible, adaptable and open European Union and that such a European Union is best with Britain in it.

Over the coming weeks, months and years, I will not rest until this debate is won. For the future of my country. For the success of the European Union. And for the prosperity of our peoples for generations to come.

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