This Week In History: April 30 – May 6


This week in history: The world loses a Renaissance Man, the United States incorporates the capitol city, and Marx is born. Read more below and dive deeper with The Great Courses Plus.

My 2, 1519 – Leonardo da Vinci Dies

Regarded as a quintessential Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci was a universal genius in painting, sculpture, architecture, drawing, and the sciences of his day. He is often credited as the inventor of the parachute, helicopter, and tank.  His work was so powerful that, unlike many artists, he actually received fame and recognition during his time.

Centuries after his death, interest in his work has not decreased and he is still seen as one of the greatest artists that ever lived.

Learn more about Leonardo Da Vinci in A History of European Art

May 3, 1802 – Washington DC is Incorporated as a City

After an attack in Congress on in Philadelphia, James Madison expressed the need for a federal district, saying that the national capital needed to be separate from the states in order to provide for its own safety and maintenance.

In 1801 the Organic Act placed organized the District of Columbia, placing  Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria under control of congress. Then, on May 3, 1802 the Act took effect and Washington D.C. was officially incorporated.

Learn more about the history of the United States in A History of the United States, 2nd Edition

May 5, 1818 – Karl Marx is Born

Karl Marx was a philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist, and revolutionary socialist.. He is often cited as one of the principal architects of modern sociology and social science. During his time he wrote extensively on economics, human nature, and philosophy. In 1848 he published his most well-known work, The Communist Manifesto. In the Manifesto Marx took an analytical look at the class struggle both historical and then-present as well as what he saw as the problems with capitalism and the capitalist mode of production.

The Communist Manifesto is now regarded as one of the the world’s most influential political manuscripts.

Learn more about Karl Marx in The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas