the elizabeth foundation for the arts

The Harvard Foundation has named Rihanna the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year!

Singer to accept Harvard Foundation’s award next week


The popular singer Rihanna has been named the 2017 Harvard University Humanitarian of the Year, and will come to campus to accept the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award at a ceremony next Tuesday (Feb. 28).

“Rihanna has charitably built a state-of- the-art center for oncology and nuclear medicine to diagnose and treat breast cancer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados,” said S. Allen Counter, the Harvard Foundation’s director.

“She has also created the Clara and Lionel Foundation Scholarship Program [named for her grandmother and grandfather] for students attending college in the U.S. from Caribbean countries, and supports the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project, a multiyear campaign that will provide children with access to education in over 60 developing countries, giving priority to girls and those affected by lack of access to education in the world today.”

An international musical phenomenon, the Barbados-born singer, actress, and songwriter — whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty — has sold more than 200 million records.

The Harvard Foundation recognizes prominent public-spirited leaders each year in honor of the late Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes. Past honorees include physician-statistician Hans Rosling; actor James Earl Jones; Nobel Peace Prize Committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland; U.N. Secretaries General Ban Ki-moon, Kofi Annan, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar; gender rights advocate Malala Yousafzai; anti-child-labor spokesman Kailash Satyarthi; tennis player and activist Arthur Ashe; former Health and Human Services Director Louis W. Sullivan; and farmworker rights advocate Dolores Huerta.

The award will be presented at 4 p.m. at Sanders Theatre on Feb. 28. Admission is free, however, tickets are required and can be picked up at Sanders Theatre beginning at noon the day of the performance. A Harvard ID is required and tickets are limited to two per person. In-person distribution only and the tickets are valid until 3:45 p.m.

Detail of the Lady Elizabeth, The Family of Henry VIII, c.1545, artist unknown, Royal Collection.

“Kat Ashley had ceased to be responsible for Elizabeth’s education in 1542, when the child began sharing some lessons with her brother Edward under the auspices of Dr Richard Coxe. In 1544, Katherine Parr appointed her a tutor of her own, the Greek scholar William Grindal. Grindal had been associated with John Cheke and Roger Ascham in the education of Prince Edward, and Ascham in particular took a great interest in Elizabeth’s academic development, maintaining a regular correspondence with her and Mrs Ashley from 1545, urging his protégée to ever greater efforts. Ascham, a Yorkshireman who was Senior Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, later wrote, ‘I have dealt with many learned ladies, but among them all the brightest star is my illustrious Lady Elizabeth.’ He referred to Kat’s ‘diligent overseeing’ of her charge’s private study, and exhorted the governess ‘to favour somewhat this rare intelligence, for the younger, the more tender, the quicker, the easier to break’. Ascham also gave Grindal advice as to which books to study and how to approach them.

Henry VIII never intended Elizabeth’s education to be a preparation for queenship. His purpose was that she should become an erudite example of her sex and an ornament of the House of Tudor. From Grindal, Elizabeth learned Greek (a recent addition to the traditional curriculum thanks to the influence of Desiderius Erasmus, John Cheke and others) and Latin, which she spoke, read and wrote fluently. This study of the classics in time enabled Elizabeth to gain a sophisticated understanding of history, philosophy and the art of oratory. In addition she studied the Scriptures and the early Fathers of the Church. Battista Castiglione taught her Italian; her earliest surviving letter, sent to Katherine Parr in 1544, is in that language, and she later became especially fluent in it, which gave her an advantage when it came to conversing with foreign diplomats, since Italian was rapidly replacing Latin as the language of diplomacy.

Elizabeth grew up to be an excellent linguist, although her French accent, mimicked by a French ambassador, was marred by overlong ‘A’ sounds, such as ‘Paar Dieu, paar maa foi!’ Blanche Parry, who had served her in her chamber since her birth, is believed to have taught her some Welsh, the language of her Tudor forbears. She even mastered Spanish, but not until she was in her twenties. By the age of thirteen, Elizabeth had presented Katherine Parr with several of her own translations of devotional works: The Mirror of a Sinful Soul (from French to English), Katherine’s own book, Prayers and Meditations (from English into Latin, French and Italian) and The Dialogue of Faith (from Latin into French).

Educated as she was by men who all held firm reformist views on religion, Elizabeth could not have failed to be influenced by them, nor could she have been unaware of Katherine Parr’s own secret convictions, for in 1547 she translated yet another work for her stepmother, the Institution de la Vie Chrestienne by John Calvin, the eminent French Protestant scholar and reformer. Yet already she had learned to keep her own counsel in matters of religion, for while her father lived it was dangerous to hold Protestant views.

As a child, Elizabeth was taught to write in the ‘secretary’ script that had dominated European calligraphy since the time of Charlemange. Castiglione then taught her to write a fine Italic script, which she later improved under Ascham’s tutelage. As a result, she raised the skill of handwriting to an art form, signing her name with magnificent loops and flourishes. She also wrote a rapid, spidery hand when engaged upon private correspondence and notes.

Elizabeth’s education was outstandingly successful and laid the foundations for habits of study that were to last all her life. Although the curriculum she followed was demanding and often strict, she was formidably intelligent and loved learning for its own sake. Her biographer, William Camden, observed later that never a day went past without her reading or writing something for recreation.”

Source: The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir.

On this day in history, 5th of January 1762, death of Elizabeth, the Empress of Russia (29 December 1709 - 5 january 1762), eldest daughter of Peter the Great and his second wife, Catherine I.  

Elizabeth seized the power during a daring coup on the night of 25 November 1741 with the help of the Preobrazhensky Regiment. Arriving at the regimental headquarters wearing a warrior’s metal breastplate over her dress and grasping a silver cross she challenged them: “Whom do you want to serve: me, your natural sovereign, or those who have stolen my inheritance?”. The coup, amazingly, succeeded without bloodshed.Elizabeth had vowed that if she became Empress she would not sign a single death sentence, an extraordinary promise for the time but one which she kept throughout her life.

The wife of the British minister (ambassador) described Elizabeth as “fair, with light brown hair, large sprightly blue eyes, fine teeth and a pretty mouth. She is inclinable to be fat, but is very genteel and dances better than anyone I ever saw. She speaks German, French and Italian, is extremely gay and talks to everyone…”

During her 21 years as Empress Elizabeth led the country into the two major European conflicts of her time: the War of Austrian Succession (1740–48) and the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). She encouraged Mikhail Lomonosov’s establishment of the University of Moscow and Ivan Shuvalov’s foundation of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Saint Petersburg. She also spent exorbitant sums of money on the grandiose baroque projects of her favourite architect, Bartolomeo Rastrelli, particularly in Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo. The Winter Palace and the Smolny Cathedral in Saint Petersburg are among the chief monuments of her reign.

In the late 1750s Elizabeth’s health started to decline. She began to suffer a series of dizzy spells and refused to take the prescribed medicines. She forbade the word “death” in her presence. Knowing she was dying, Elizabeth used her last remaining strength to make her confession, to recite with her confessor the prayer for the dying and to say good-bye to those few people who wished to be with her including Peter (Elizabeth’s nephew and chosen heir, later Peter III) and Catherine (future Catherine the Great) and Counts Alexei (Elizabeth’s long term favorite) and Kirill Razumovsky. Finally on 5 January 1762 the Empress died and was buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Saint Petersburg.

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