Message From the Editors

The University of California, Santa Barbara’s Undergraduate Journal of History is excited to share our Fall 2022 issue. We are delighted to be a space that allows undergraduate students to share their historical research and foster intellectual debate, dialogue, and curiosity. We are grateful to our seven authors, as well as faculty and graduate student peer reviewers, who have made this volume possible. Our team of undergraduate editors welcomes new and returning readers.

In this issue of the Undergraduate Journal of History, our historians have considered various topics that cross temporal and spatial boundaries. Among the seven papers published in this issue, several consider the role of politics and policy across class boundaries. We are incredibly excited to include the UCSB History 2022 Stuart L. Bernath Prize-winning papers in this volume. The Stuart L. Bernath Prize is awarded to the History undergraduate whose research essay is selected by the History Prizes Committee as the best paper produced in a one-quarter course. Madeline Josa and Samuel Ricci were the winners this year, and we thank them for sharing their work with us here. 

We begin with Dane Beatie’s article detailing the territory of Morea and its depiction as a “new Sparta.” Beatie instead debunks this myth and looks into why Morea succeeded as a territory– less due to its reforms and mainly due to the Ottoman Empire. Beatie questions how this idea of a “new Sparta” has overshadowed the real Morea, how the ruling Palaiologoi used their limited resources to secure their minor success and how Ottoman goals temporarily dictated the survival of a vassal Morea, and why this changed.

The following paper, by Parker J. Bovée, traces a distinct transition in Nazi artistic policy, beginning with scathing public critique and condemnation before moving to outright persecution and erasure of artists outside the Nazi idea of Germanic tradition. This article places Nazi artistic policy within their larger ethnogenocide, identifying two internal wars to create an idealized culture: one through eliminating unfit art and artists while the other focused on representing a new era of German achievement.

Our next article, written by Claire Cinnamon, follows Catherine de’ Medici’s path to becoming one of sixteenth-century France’s most important political figures. Her unusual circumstances lent their hand to the highly contested characterization of Catherine de’ Medici both in her own time and today. Despite evidence of her political intelligence and attempts for peace, Catherine was scrutinized due to her Italian ancestry and her reversal of gender norms. Propelled by the systemic dissemination of libel and gossip in her own time and by her rich yet polarizing historiography, Catherine was left with the ill-attributed legacy as the “Serpent Queen.” Cinnamon analyzes the development of Catherine’s reputation from relatively neutral to provocatively evil and explains  how past lies have the potential to become today’s history.

Our fourth article, written by Eliciana Jensen, analyzes the life of Saint Cuthbert and the different relics and miracles performed after death. The analysis also details the nature of his miracles performed before and after death. Jensen further draws connections between the creation of the Durham Cathedral and how it was built around the shrine of Cuthbert. The article reveals the importance of Cuthbert’s relics, and the objects bring a humanizing aspect to Cuthbert’s narrative, while also being beneficial to the monks at the time. The archaeological and historical significance of the pieces provides more stylistic information on the region and the devotion of Cuthbert’s cult following.

Emilia Salcido wrote our next article. Salcido writes about black women’s clothing during the time leading up to and following the Civil War. The author follows clothing as a means of control and hierarchy. This social hierarchy through dress began with the introduction of “plantation cotton,” a rough, cheap fabric to produce. Salcido analyzes the histories of the inner hierarchies that enslaved people faced daily, from the dress of those working in the field versus those in the domestic sphere to the imbalance of frivolous and extravagant clothing worn by the plantation mistress to distance herself from the enslaved women’s dress.

This volume concludes with our two Stuart Bernath Prize Winners. In her article, Madeline Josa follows how women in positions of prominence used fashion as a tool of their political agency to craft a politically-charged public image in the early modern period. Jose examines Isabella d’Este in Italy, Queen Mary I and her sister Queen Elizabeth I of England, and Madame de Maintenon in France. The article also uses other historical analyses of these powerful women to showcase a larger picture of powerful women in the early modern period creating an image for themselves through their clothes. Josa explores the use of fashion as a tool of political agency. 

In our final paper, Samuel Ricci analyzes the culture of captivity in the Mediterranean. Ricci records how Barbary corsairs captured thousands of Christian Europeans throughout the early modern period, exposing these Christians to the North African Muslim world by immersion. The article notes that despite the violent nature of this immersion, the Europeans who returned from their captivity shared a substantial amount of information they had learned about the culture and religion of North Africa alongside their tribulations. The article follows the accounts of various captives and their relation to the development of cultural relations between Muslims and Christians along the Barbary coast over the course of over a hundred years.

-The Editors