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Personality of Winston Churchill


1.    Who was Churchill?


“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

Winston Churchill personality.

Winston Churchill as a multi-dimensional personality


Winston Churchill, a British politician, an army officer, writer and journalist, is one of the most glorified and controversial personalities in modern history. Known mainly for his action as Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II, many people have attributed to him the victory of allied forces against Nazism. He has been a strong believer in democracy and its institutions, and an opponent of totalitarian regimes. As a gifted writer, he was honoured with a Nobel Prize in literature due to his memoirs about World War II. On one hand, as a serviceman, his bravery and his tendency towards taking risks distinguished him from ordinary people. On the other hand, he succeeded in becoming a highly-paid journalist as he earned the public’s love.

His outward appearance had nothing particularly impressive. By observing the elements of his character, we should refer his passionate personality, and his extraordinary ability to handle the speech, that always glorified him. A middle-aged man rather short in height, of medium stature, who became plump because he led a sedentary lifestyle for several years -he drunk too much alcohol and he made a fattening diet; all these bad habits made him put excess weight on. What made him stand out was his white face with that intense look, the mirror of his soul, expressing sometimes dynamism, sometimes anger, sometimes sadness. When he was speaking about an issue he really cared about, he had the intensity of a genius. The wrinkles on his forehead showed his interior tension. He had reddish-brown thinning hair. In the photographs of his time, he was often shown with a cigar in the mouth, as he was a heavy smoker. He appeared lordly and handsome now, usually wearing a dark suit and hat in all his public appearances. He was a lovely man imperceptibly emitting a strong charm. He talked through his nose and had difficulty in pronouncing the letter “s”, which made him speak with a lisp.


Churchill, an extraordinary man of great vitality and mercurial temperament


The people who knew him, described him as an extraordinary man of great vitality and mercurial temperament. He had an excellent sense of humour which helped him copy with difficult situations and life’s challenges. He was a man of honest character and he couldn’t pretend in order to be popular. His behaviour was polite and friendly, but when he got angry, he became very volatile and spoke offensively and disparagingly; all that made others feel for him strong emotions like worship and admiration, hatred and repulsion. Even his opponents, however, admitted his intelligence and his brilliance. Despite his dynamism, he was very sensitive and he often couldn’t hold back his tears of sadness or emotion. He was generous and supportive to friends and family, generously offering his help if necessary. He enjoyed travelling, having a good time and living for the moment; he also liked drinking alcohol and gambling. In his free time, he adored reading books, painting and playing polo.

As a skilled public speaker, he had a natural gift for gripping his audience. In the dark days of the war, his speeches were a tonic for lay people, giving to the world strength and courage. When he spoke at the House of Commons, he combined good reasoning and expressiveness. His word was clear, rhetorical, with a sense of humour, together with intense gestures and a nervous pace up and down the hall. He supported his views on various issues with self-confidence and certainty. He greatly influenced both his associates and superiors with the arguments that he put forward and phrased with persuasiveness.


Churchill, a man of action


He was a workaholic, and he seemed to have boundless energy and time; because of it he got exhausted and often got sick. Even then, he kept on working. Doing his work he was feeling alive; finally he was generally accepted and his ideas soon gained currency. As a man of action, it was hard for him to remain inactive, and even in times he was off the government, he remained busy writing books and articles. According to his secretaries, he had a strict schedule that, when he couldn’t keep to, he got incredibly excited. Under high pressure, he often shouted at them without holding anything against them. He was distinguished by a strong sense of duty and responsibility, and every night, before falling asleep, he would consider if he accomplished an achievement that day.

Even in harsh situations, he kept his optimism and excitement, and he had the ability to transfer it to others. He was considered to be the driving force behind the resistance during World War II, and he had the ability to guide and inspire politicians, generals and people. He had an excellent acute perceptiveness, which made him seem wise. Even his competitors sometimes asked for his advice. His mind constantly created new plans and projects, some feasible, some extreme, looking to find ways to fully materialize them. His imagination and determination impressed. Although he had faith in his views and values, he did not hesitate to change his mind and tactics when he saw that they he did not serve him. Besides, he grew up learning to let his heart guide him to what was wrong and right, and he paid no attention to the public opinion. When he was trying to negotiate, he was smiling and he was easy to get along with, creating to his interlocutor the impression that he agreed, even if he didn’t. He had a really unique and interesting personality that attracted the attention of the people who get in touch with him.


2.    Winston Churchill’s personality profile


“I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.”


Churchill and bipolar disorder


Looking back at Churchill’s life and the way he behaved, it can be concluded that he might suffer from bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder (manic depression) is a mental health condition that provokes extreme mood swings (emotional highs and lows). The mood swings depended mainly on the achievement of his goals concerning his career success and failure, and on the conditions of his country.

During the emotional highs (mania), he might feel euphoric or blissfully happy as for example when the Allies invaded Normandy. This mood was most commonly associated with the highest self-esteem or grandiosity, both for him and for Britain. In his speeches during the Second World War, we can easily see an overemphasis on the possibility of the British to triumph, which, however, excited a lot of people, made him believe in his self-importance, and finally brought positive results. Like many people who suffer from mania, his behaviour tended to lead to dangerous situations, such as the war in South Africa, interpreted as a result of his excessive boldness deriving from his highest self-esteem. Sometimes, he showed irritability, he became aggressive and got angry, on occasion offending those who were around him causing them a lot of discomfort. At times, in fact, they begged him to calm down for the sake of his health. These reactions took place when he was subjected to stress or when he was feeling that the others didn’t understand him. When someone did not agree on his opinion, Churchill could make belittling remarks about him.


Churchill and bipolar disorder symptoms


It is also taken into consideration that he had increased activity and energy since he might work too many hours, at a frantic pace or travel all the time from one side of the planet to the other, without complaining. In cases where others did not move at his own pace, this made him irritable as he realized that they reacted too late to his commands. From time to time, he might have a reduced need for sleep since he worked until the wee hours of the morning, especially when he wrote his books. He made exaggerated and ambitious plans, into which his superiors and associates often had to do all they could to put an end to this frantic activity, such as when he was minister and demanded many and rapid changes. These projects might have been accompanied by economic openness, which led to a crippling social and economic malaise. At individual level, he often spent his money on gambling and on the stock exchange, where he lost enormous amounts of money and he was deep in debt up to his ears. The intense way he spoke to them, this expressive face, the increased vitality in his movements and gestures signified that he was a man who tended to mania-depression.

Among the episodes, alternating periods of hypo-mania were associated with higher levels of energy and wakefulness (function of thought).

During these episodes, he might have become a nuisance to the people who interacted socially with him, but in general he was considered that he did many things and worked towards high levels of activity. It also seems that, during his lifetime, the British might need this kind of man to inspire them confidence and help them go through the wars. There are many cases of people who suffer from bipolar disorder and who, because of the fact that they are gifted, they achieve great success in their career and hold positions of authority thanks to the fact that they have vision and consume all their energy to achieve their goals in life.


Churchill and depression


As far as his depressed mood, it emerged when he experienced rejection and exclusion from high offices, when his country was adversely affected and when, due to health problems, he could not work. It was like someone had clipped his wings. During that period, he got isolated in the privacy of his house, and he did not go out at all. Wrapped up in himself, he recalled all over again the undesirable events that had occurred to him, felt despair and started to believe that he was not a person of value and made pessimistic thoughts over the future. In general, he gave the impression that he was a man of high self-confidence, although very fragile.

It could be said that Churchill continually experienced an internal tension, always present in his actions and the way he spoke and moved. Silence and tranquillity were entirely foreign to him, in the sense that, if he did not work on something, he would not feel good. Perhaps, because of the fact that he could not allay this internal tension, he resorted to substance abuse, namely alcohol and tobacco and overeating; that was a relief for him. The painting, which made him forget, and the writing, which helped him express himself, are considered to be as another way of surviving personal crisis. When he had the chance, he literally escaped from difficult situations, making big travels. It also seems that he might look for anything that could distract him from the sources of his stress or grief.


The emotionally absent parents and their impact on Churchill’s personality shaping


With regard to Churchill’s personality shaping, we should mention his relationship with his emotionally absent parents, who were not there, in order to give him the love and attention he needed, so that he would feel that he was a person who actually deserved to be with someone else, regardless of his accomplishments. Perhaps this was the reason that, in his lifetime, he sought to assume ever-higher offices and to accomplish unforgettable achievements through his work; maybe he was looking for the love and recognition he did not receive from his parents. Moreover, his parents were not available for emotional support; they did not help him come in contact with these feelings and handle them. That’s why he resorted to excessive drinking, smoking and overeating. Fortunately, his nanny seemed to have acted to some extent, in a corrective way, giving him care and affection. However, it was difficult to fill the gap of parenthood.

As an adult, the love and attention he was looking for, he found them in Clementine. They were tender and demonstrative with each other, and she cared for anything that seemed to annoy him. She was his best advisor, and he trusted her judgment. She managed to reduce his impulsive behaviours, after having advised him not to waste their property on the stock market and gambling. Churchill, for his part, extremely happy, showed her his love in every way. She always stood by his side in all his difficulties.

3.    His childhood


“Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.”


The very first years of Churchill’s life


Young Winston Churchill

Young Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was born on 30 November 1874, at Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, England, residence of his grandfather, Duke of Marlborough. His father, Lord Randolph Churchill, was a British aristocrat, a descendant of a military family, his mother, Lady Randolph Churchill, was of American birth and her father was a well-known New York stockbroker. When Churchill was two years old, his grandfather was declared Regent of Ireland and the whole family was transferred to Dublin, since his father assumed the office of the Regent’s secretary.

From the very first years of his life, his beloved nanny, Mrs. Everest took care of Churchill. She played an important role in his upbringing, as his mother, despite the fact that she was proud of the accomplishments his son achieved, she was emotionally unavailable and distant. Mrs. Everest took the time to help him solve his problems offering him tenderness, affection and trust.




Churchill and his beloved nanny


In addition to that, in Dublin, she had another nanny – of whom Churchill was not particularly fond, since she tried to teach him reading and mathematics, preventing him from dedicating time to explore the different routes and sports that a child would like to get involved in. The fact that his mother did not take part in the imparting of this knowledge, but she approved of it, worsened the situation.

It therefore seems that, from a very early age, Churchill’s parents kept badgering him about classes, limiting at the same time the pleasure of their child, such as the game. It is believed that this type of restriction might provoke to the child strong feelings of anger, anxiety and sadness, as well as behavioral difficulties. In particular, setting some limits on kid-friendly physical activities could adversely impact his whole state of health, development and sociability.


Churchill and his favourite games


Which games did he prefer? Mostly war games, like soldier figures toys, and other boy games, like model trains with steam locomotives; he mostly enjoyed playing in the garden of his house and kindergarten. Guns also always impressed him.

His parents believed that he was a naughty child who created problems. For this reason, shortly before he became 8 years old, they decided to send him to the St George’s Boarding School in order to get used to rigor and discipline. From the very first day, this school environment overwhelmed him with anxiety. When he went to the principal’s office to get to know him, he was anxious not to spill the tea to him; he just did not want to leave the principal with a bad impression of him. The idea of being left alone in this unknown place terrified him.


St George’s Boarding School: A living nightmare


Winston Churchill young

Winston Churchill young.

The years Churchill lived in this boarding school had been a living nightmare; countless hours of classes and violent educational methods. He could never forget the fact that the principal beat the children with a stick, that they writhed in pain and that their bodies looked scary as they were bleeding. He couldn’t wait to get out of there. During schooling, this, in turn, resulted in low academic achievements in sports and poor conduct. On the contrary, when he returned home for Christmas holiday, he was more naughty and disobedient than ever, he teased constantly his younger brother, Jack, and he seemed to be afraid of his own mother. The grades on his first report card from the boarding school were the lowest of all the students in his class. Moreover, the stress he experienced often made him sick.

At this stage, it is interesting to note Churchill’s physical and psychological abuse during the years he lived and studied in this school. Children do not usually express their problems verbally, but through their behaviour, during their game and in the production of psychosomatic symptoms. Children who experience abuse may show behaviour problems, such as increased violence, or inappropriate and violent behaviour towards other children or infants, such as in the case of Churchill’s violent behaviour towards his brother; this happens perhaps because they expect something bad to happen to them; for instance, Churchill was afraid of his mother because he expected that she would beat him too. In addition, their academic and athletic achievements are often lower and they show reluctant to return or remain in the abusive environment.


The letters to his mother


Winston Churchill's mother

Winston Churchill’s mother

He just kept on sending letters to his mother, desperately begging her for visiting him at St George’s School, but she never did it for him; she only sent Mrs. Everest on a sports day; and Churchill was happy with her visit. Furthermore, she often neglected to answer his letters; and the child was always complaining about her indifference. As far as his father was concerned, he listened to the principal’s wife talking about his political action, creating the rumour that he was a very important person.

During his further studies, his academic performance was improved, but his behaviour as his mood did not escalate, expressing to his mother the intense feeling of loneliness that was with him. In the half days of the week, he was late for class and he repeatedly got into trouble; and he was always up to some mischief. On one occasion, he caught hold of his principal’s straw hat and ripped it to pieces! However, everyone perceived this child’s intelligence and special abilities.




The collapse of his health


In the fall that followed his two year sojourn at St George’s School, his health collapsed completely. The family doctor who examined him suggested that he should have been transferred to a seaside resort, an educational institution in Brighton, where his son attended too; in this way, the child could be under his constant care and supervision, which pleased Churchill.


The new school


At his new school, the child felt much happier, but he started paying much more money on albums and stamps. In the years that followed, he often spent too much money and asked his parents to send him much more. The school climate was much friendlier and more benevolent, and the staff treated him with more geniality than at the previous school; so he focused on his academic performance that did not take long to improve, especially in English, French, Classical History and Literature. His behavior, however, remained bad.


 Churchill’s father: a great political figure of England


Winston Churchill's father

Winston Churchill’s father

When Churchill was ten years old, his father left London. At that time, they lived in India as his father would expect to be declared Secretary of State in the British colony of India if the Conservative party he belonged to won the elections. There he remained for four months. Churchill heard about his father’s news from others. A train driver spoke highly of his father, and he stated that one day he would take the post of the Prime minister. In the papers, he started to read with enthusiasm articles about him; in the meantime his father managed to become secretary of State in India. In summer, Churchill was on holidays with his brother, while his parents went on a vacation somewhere else; the ten-year-old boy begged them to meet him. In that summer, his health problems flared up again; he had rashes on the legs, abdominal pain and high fever. In autumn, despite the fact that Lord Randolph held a speech at Brighton, he did not spend any time visiting his son, who sent him a letter complaining about it.

At the age of eleven, Churchill got pneumonia with fever, which was almost fatal. At that time, his father had been to Brighton twice in order to see him, bringing him fruit and games. His recovery was slow, lasted five whole months, and it coincided with the general elections in Britain, where his father would stand again as a candidate of the Conservative Party; the whole situation fascinated him.

It seems that Churchill’s father was a great political figure of England, which would provoke the boy’s admiration, his consequent identification with him and his passionate desire to become like him. However, this father was always absent from the child’s life since he was greatly absorbed by his political duties. Unfortunately, even when he abstained from his duties, he preferred to spend his time only with his wife, away from their sons.


The child neglect and the health problems


It could be said that Churchill’s parents neglected him. Although they were interested in covering his material needs, such as his medical care and his studies at expensive schools, they did not respond to his emotional needs, such as his need for parental presence, communication and support. The frequent manifestations of health problems – the physicalization of his grief, a kind of reaction to this neglect – and his constant requests for love were maybe a desperate attempt to get the attention of his parents.

Moreover, the fact that he was a sickly child helped him a lot, such as for example when he left from this terrible school and moved to another that he really liked.


Churchill and his father’s success in politics


As a son of a great politician, he felt really proud of his father’s success; though his failure was too much painful for him. When Churchill was twelve years old, Lord Randolph took the post of the Finance Minister, provoking the anger and exciting the jealousy of the public against him because of his rapid recognition. As a result of some dispute with the Government, he resigned from the post and Churchill was greeted with disapproval. In an incident, where he played a game of charades, the other kids made fun of a representation of his father. Then, he started to cry and he almost came to blows with them. His father, getting the news, rewarded his son’s loyalty with a gold pound sterling coin.


Churchill gets into Harrow School


Winston Churchill in Harrow

Winston Churchill into Harrow School

At the age of thirteen, Churchill took an entrance exam for one of the best and most expensive schools in England, the Harrow School. He passed the final examination; though the whole procedure made him nervous. In particular, the time he waited for his test results as well as the fact that he faced difficulty in the exams of Latin and Ancient Greek made him extremely nervous. So, he got sick again. Despite his sickness and fatigue, he was content to attend this excellent school with good amenities, near London. Moreover, he hoped that his mother would visit him more often. However, a month after the exams, when he returned home for Easter holidays, his mother was not there for him one more time.


4.    The Harrow School


“No boy or girl should ever be disheartened by lack or success in their youth, but should diligently and faithfully continue to persevere and make up for lost time.”


Winston Churchill at Harrow

Winston Churchill at Harrow

Upon his arrival in the Harrow School, Churchill was thrilled, especially when he got aware of the fact that he achieved the highest score in arithmetic on the entrance exams. At the beginning of his studies, he participated in the cadet school team, with whom he took part in a battle simulation with another school. His mother’s visits did not make him content, as he was always reprimanded for his irresponsibility as a student. The school principal also complained about Churchill’s carelessness, his failure to act with prudence in order to show off his assets as a student. This matter, however, did not prevent him from winning twice the prize in English history; he also excelled in subjects like Roman history, Ancient Greek and Latin.


Churchill keeps on getting sick a lot


With regard to his health status, he kept on getting sick a lot. On Christmas holidays, he returned home, with a swollen neck and liver problems. In order to recover, he visited the Isle of Wight with Mrs. Everest, since his mother had gone on a vacation to another place. In March, he got sick again and in May he had a bicycle accident that caused him the concussion. Both times, Mrs. Everest visited him in Harrow to take care of him.


Winston’s unfulfilled desire for university studies


One year after his attendance at that school, Lord Randolph visited him and asked the director that his son should attend the Military Section of the College that was addressed to all students who considered a military career path. No one took into consideration Winston’s desire for university studies.


Winston: Popularity in School


In his peers’ circles, he stood out because he had an attractive personality that impressed with his brightness and bravery, the amazing ability to express himself to others well, and his undeniable historical knowledge. He even managed to dominate older people.  He also distinguished himself in arts since he took part in a singing group and afterwards he was into painting, drawing mostly landscapes. At the age of 15, he started smoking, which brought the sharp condemnation from his parents. His mother promised to buy him a gun and a pony if he stopped smoking. At the age of 16, he was affected by influenza, which made him compose a poem, published in a magazine.


Churchill and Art


At this stage it seems that Churchill had the inclination to express himself through various forms of art: singing, painting, poetry. Maybe this was his way of dealing with situations that caused him stress and anxiety when he could not manage it psychologically, such as that kind of illness he had been through. Through art he might seek to capture the attention of the public and to gain the recognition he deserved from his family, especially since some of his works were published.


The holidays with his brother Jack


Winston Churchill's family

Winston Churchill with his mother and his brother.

During the holidays, he liked spending time with his brother Jack chasing and killing rabbits and mice. They had even built a makeshift hut from mud, wood and straw which was used as a fort so that they could play “war”. Two little cousins of his participated in this game; these kids pretended to be either their allies or their enemies. For instance, they cooperated with them throwing apples at the enemy in defence of the fort. At times, the mother insisted on her son going on a vacation for a while in France in order to learn to speak the language fluently. As a teenager, Winston reacted strongly against their parents, complaining that they treated him “like a machine part or as an object of control”. Finally, it was decided that he would visit Versailles, where he could stay for a month at the house of his teacher of Modern languages in the Harrow School.


The Relationship with the Money


At that time, Churchill was characterized as a person who used to spend money wastefully; as a consequence, his money often ran out, and he was obliged to ask her mother for extra money. Then, his mother would blame him that he wrote to her only for this reason. Afterwards, he would remind her that she was his sponsor and that there was no one else to address to.

For Churchill, asking their parents for money was a desperate gesture of a desperate man begging for their love, as his parents were emotionally absent and they did not express their affection and consideration in any other way.


The Success at the Military Academy


A few days before his 17th birthday, Churchill learned from his mother that Mrs. Everest would no longer be working there as the children had grown up and they did not need her anymore. This decision made him very unhappy, but, at least, he thought that they could visit her since his nanny started working for his maternal grandmother, Duchess Fanny. In the summer when Churchill was seventeen years old, besides the fact that he won the Public School Fencing Championship, he took his first entrance exams for the military academy, in which he failed. At the age of eighteen, he succeeded at third attempt. For him, this success was an opportunity to get out of the blackest and stressful period of his childhood and adolescence, since he always felt that he had poor academic performance in all the subjects (including sports).

5.    The period of military training


“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”


The accident


Winston Churchill served with the Royal Scots Fusiliers battalion

                 Winston Churchill served with the 6th Royal Scots Fusiliers battalion

In January 1893, just before the beginning of his military training, Churchill had an accident while he was playing with his brother; he slipped from the top of a tree and his thigh fell was fractured. He was transferred to London, where doctors recommended a two-month rest for his recovery. He spent the second month at his maternal grandmother’s, a kind woman who enjoyed spending time with him.


Churchill and his father’s “cruel” behaviour


Winston Churchill soldier

Winston Churchill soldier

In August of that year, while he left for his summer vacation, he was informed by his teacher, John Little, that he had finally succeeded in his examinations for the Military Academy. Then, he sent to his father a letter full of joy and pride, but the answer he received was unexpected. In fact, Lord Randolph was diagnosed with syphilis which caused the degeneration of his nervous system and destroyed his ability to make rational decisions. Churchill knew nothing about his disease. In his answer, his father grossly underestimated his son’s success because of the fact that he did not join the infantry. Churchill was harshly criticized for misconduct and irresponsibility in his school life and he was warned that if he kept on behaving like that, his father would not support him financially anymore, and he would let him wallow in misery and failure. Churchill felt devastated reading these cruel words.



Churchill’s talent in riding


Winston showed increased motivation for the attendance at a combative training course; he was really interested and excited about it. In his first exams at the academy, he scored high, with 1,198 out of 1,500 points. During that time, he referred to his first love, Polly Hacket whom he met in London where he started to date her. The relations with his father slightly improved; so he rewarded Winston when he was informed that Winston had been put in charge of the Horse Riding Club. Until the end of his studies, his biggest talent and passion lay in riding; though, when he expressed to his father the wish to join the cavalry, his father demonstrated a lack of ability or willingness to keep a horse due to its high care cost. Throughout this period, Winston’s health problems like influenza, toothaches and headaches were continued.


The letter in Westminster Gazette


In October 1894, for the first time, Churchill argued publicly for a controversial subject; in particular, he participated in the protests for the shutdown operations of a theatre, where peers hung out. He published a letter expressing his views in Westminster Gazette and a few days later he led the group of protesters and gave a public speech on the subject.


The poor health of his family


Meanwhile, the health condition of Lord Randolph deteriorated, as he showed delirium symptoms, difficulties in speech and terrible pains. He passed away in January 1895, just before the age of forty-six. Churchill, since he never found out about his father’s illness, thought that his early death was provoked by the poor health of his family, of which he was afraid that he had inherited; this fear grew deeper step by step since his health was always fragile and all the brothers of his father died young, even in their infancy.

6.    Churchill, the army officer


“Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”


Churchill on active duty as a second lieutenant


Churchill in the cavalry


In February 1895, Churchill joined the cavalry and became second lieutenant in Aldershot. Duchess Lilly bore the cost of keeping his horse. He had to supervise a group of about 30 horsemen, responsible for the proper care of their horses. In the morning, he gave riding lessons and in the evening he drilled the new recruits; he also dedicated his time to his entertainment, mainly to card games. He soon started to bet on horses.


Mrs. Everest’s health in danger


In July, Churchill was informed that Mrs. Everest’s health was in danger and he immediately began to visit her in London. He was touched by her concern for him, since, despite the fact that she experienced a complete physical breakdown, what was really worrying her was that Winston could get cold with the wet coat he was wearing at that time. Churchill hired a nurse and brought a doctor to see her in order to take care of her; later on, he left for Aldershot in order to attend the morning parade and immediately afterwards he came back. He stayed by her side until her last breath at dawn. The sight of his dead nanny shocked him, and, as he said to his mother, he thought he would never have had such a good friend again.


Churchill in Cuba


Young Winston Churchill's Cuban adventure

                                     Young Winston Churchill’s Cuban adventure

In November 1895, Churchill arrived in Cuba, to join the Spanish troops so that they could undertake a wide range of military operations and missions; their main goal in their attacks against the natives was to suppress their revolutionary activities. Prior to his departure, he agreed with an English newspaper on writing reports on the disturbing events in the region. In the next few days, he suffered from bloody rebel attacks, where he saw many soldiers die. He personally thought that this revolt was absolutely justified since the country was subject to enormous economic exploitation and oppression by the Spanish while its production was destroyed and the political corruption reigned. However, the terrorist methods adopted by the rebels could not lead to the liberation of their nation. His views were published in his article in the paper Saturday Review, at which the famous Liberal politician Joseph Chamberlain was excited in particular with regard to the writer’s global approach and mental acuity.


Churchill in India


Winston Churchill in India

Winston Churchill in India with the 4th Hussars 1899. (HU 98777) Officers involved in the Inter-Regimental Polo Tournament at Meerut, 1899. Winston Churchill is standing second from right. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

In September 1896, Churchill left with his battalion for Bangalore, India, where he stayed for more than six months. There he stayed with two other friends in a spacious house with a large garden full of roses and butterflies. He thought that India was a boring country when he suddenly met Pamela Plowden; the flirt with this beautiful girl started from an elephant ride and ended up in a friendship that lasted to an old age. Throughout his stay in India, he read books. In particular he was impressed with Plato’s “Republic” and Winwood Reade’s “Martyrdom of Man”. He often asked his mother to send him books of different kinds, since he wanted to get an education; and this new habit awakened a strong echo of his desire for university studies. He had, in fact, admitted to his brother that he got quite jealous of him because he started studying for the university entrance exam.

In February 1897, in India, he had been serving two years in the army when he took the post of “Brigade Major“; in England, it usually took fifteen years of service in order to hold this rank.


The first political speech in Bath


In all that time, he just kept thinking of how he could get involved in the political life of England. Most of his activities were focused on the building of a strong respectable profile that could support the career of a politician. In June of the same year he gave his first political speech in Bath, England, in collaboration with the Conservative Party Tory Democracy in which his father participated actively. In this speech, he rushed to applaud the new decision of the Government in order to compensate the workers in the case of injury at work. He strongly supported the party’s effort to make workers shareholders of the firm since the idea was intended to ensure that they would endure much more work so as to receive share of the profits. Furthermore, he criticized the view that many expressed; England had to start limiting its colonialism in the various parts of the Earth. He also pointed out that the duty of the English was to honour this legacy given by their ancestors and to keep the vision of the British Empire alive. The crowd cheered enthusiastically, and the comments of the papers on his speech at this time were positive.


Back to India


In less than a month, Churchill returned to India as he was informed that a revolution of Pathans’ tribe had erupted at the border. The head of repressive forces of the English General Sir Bindon Blood suggested to him to attend the battlefront in the beginning as a correspondent and next up to take part in the conflicts, since at that time the posts of riders were occupied.


The first battle in India


Winston Churchill in India

                                                    Winston Churchill in India

The young officer newly arrived at the border of India also worked as a correspondent and sent to the Daily Telegraph letters referring to the fact where civilization came across Islam. Trying to be in the right place in order to cover the events, he ran galloping into the friendly enemy troops deeply impressed with his courage.

Afterwards, he took the position of an officer at one of the brigades that would take part in the battle. The day after the delegation of these tasks to him, he experienced the first battle at the border of India, where he preceded with a body of 1,300 horsemen. After a few hours of shooting, when the situation became too dangerous for his pony, he continued to fight on foot, until they were requested to retreat when they were attacked by the Afridi tribe. He was forced to shoot several times in self-defence and some died from his shots. On the whole, that day he fought between 7:30 in the morning and 8:30 in the evening, without a stop. The fact that he showed courage helped him become a regular army officer after a few days and participate in another 15 battles within a month and to get decorated. For him, these battles meant a way to fight his own personal fears; it was his own personal war in order to open the way for his future political career.


The letter to his brother


While he was still at the border, he sent a letter to his brother asking him to express his own opinion about the speech in Bath, but only if it was positive, as he could not stand being subject to criticism. Moreover, he informed him of the novel that had begun to write since long time, where his beliefs were expressed through the main character of the story. During his stay at the border and till the end of 1897, he wrote The Story of The Malakand Field Force, which narrated the conflicts of these days, both from his own perspective and other persons’ who took part in this war. His mother did not have any difficulty in getting in touch with a publisher to help him with his books, since the experts were very impressed by his talent; at an earlier time, they were really touched by his letters to the Daily Telegraph.


His service in Sudan


The legal action against his mother


Winston Churchill's mother

Winston Churchill’s mother.

In India, Churchill was told that his mother, after the death of Lord Randolph, started spending the family fortune, which caused him financial insecurity. Of course, he had already started to make money from his published work about the operations of the Makaland Field Force, and his articles; he had faith in his talent as a writer, and he realized that the ideas he expressed in his books attracted growing attention. However, preoccupied with his finances, he decided to take legal action against her mother in order to safeguard his own share of the family fortune, in case she married another man, even though he could not stop himself from feeling some remorse for this action.

It can be concluded from the above-mentioned that he did not have any confidence in his mother. Trust is an emotional process. The development of this emotional brain state begins at a very young age; according to Erik Erikson, it begins to emerge dynamically as the infant is eighteen months old, i.e. when the child reaches the stage of confidence/mistrust building. At this stage, when the environment and the parents offer the infant’s life abundant support and love, the feelings of confidence and security develop towards others, feelings that man maintains as long as he lives. In case parents neglect the infant’s needs, the feelings of fear and mistrust towards others may develop. To be precise, an overall feeling of mistrust in the relationship of Churchill with his mother developed because of the fact that this parent neglected the emotional needs of her child; in this way, the childhood emotional neglect on behalf of his mother led to the development of this feeling of mistrust, a kind of trauma response that affected his whole adult life.


Practical reasoning


In a letter he sent to his mother at the same time, he referred to his way of thinking; namely, he said that he was not interested in following closely the proper moral principles. Moreover, he didn’t care if his actions were consistent with his beliefs. His main concern was the impression that others made of him, the concern others showed about him and the opinion others began to express of him. He also admitted that he rarely observed himself expressing spontaneous emotions, except for when he cried on the battlefield. He engaged in practical reasoning; he acted in light of reasons which could then explain his actions but he did not follow his heart.

Churchill might not give priority to his feelings but he had the ability to “speak to their heart” and to grab the audience’s attention in his speeches. In July 1897, in a public speech in Bradford, the audience cheered and burst into applause; and when the speech came to an end, as excited as they were, they begged him to keep on. Churchill really enjoyed the adoration of his people.


Churchill in Herbert Kitchener’s Army


At the end of the same month, he left England for Sudan, having managed to ensure for himself, after a great effort, a job as a lancer in Herbert Kitchener’s Army. During a fight, the Lancers were ordered to attack rival troops galloping, and as the enemy proved to be well armed and determined not to lay down its arms, serious injuries and deaths occurred in the English cavalry.

Churchill, as he stated, did not feel any anxiety during the attack. He simply killed anyone touching him while he was galloping towards them. In the next few days, however, when he was informed of how many officers and friends had got injured and died or when he faced the Dervishes left behind on the battlefield bleeding, he realized the awfulness of the war and got anxious. In “The River War”, book dedicated to the war in Sudan, Churchill described these horrible scenes and sharply criticized Kitchener’s actions, such as the kill of Dervishes after having been captured, and the desecration or destruction of sacred sites in the area. The sincerity with which he expressed his views created enemies throughout his career.


Churchill and the skin grafting


Shortly before he left Sudan, he was informed that an officer from his battalion had been heavily injured and he was in need of skin grafting. Churchill willingly offered a piece of skin from his chest for the transplantation despite the intensity of the pain he would feel from the removal surgery.


Cooperation with the Conservative party


Winston Churchill in 1898

     Winston Churchill in 1898

In February 1898, Churchill accepted a proposal of Robert Ascroft, member of the Parliament in

in order to cooperate in the next general election, as another member of the Conservative party ceased to serve on health grounds. After two months, Churchill returned to England and took part in the electoral campaign by holding speeches that excited the patriotic feeling to the utmost. In the subsequent elections, he and his partner did not succeed, but Churchill did not seem unhappy with the result, since he saw little difference from their candidates and their opponents.

In September, at the dawn of the first Anglo-Boer War (in Transvaal, South), he opened up co-operation with the paper Morning Post as a correspondent with a high salary. In mid-October, he travelled to Cape Town to experience the war for the third time.



His Adventures in South Africa


Winston Churchill in Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902

                                     Winston Churchill in Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902

When Churchill arrived in Durban, South Africa, he was informed that the Boers had occupied Ladysmith; there, they held British officers and soldiers as hostages. He had no other choice than to wait for the arrival of the British Army in order to take back the region.

A few days later, his friend, Captain Aylmer Haldane, was ordered to travel by train so as to visit the nearby areas and investigate the matter. Haldane suggested that he should follow him in this mission in order to help Churchill collect material for his articles. The train was full of ammunition and packed with 150 men.


The derailment of the train


When they reached their destination, they found out that the Boers ‘ soldiers had been spotted the previous night in the area, so they travelled back home by train. On their way back, they were ambushed with heavy gunfire; the train derailed because of the stones that had been put in the tracks.

Churchill got off the train, and as he was exposed to the enemy fire, he tried, with the help of volunteers, to remove the broken tracks and obstacles, and place again the train cars on the railroad. In subsequent reports on the particular issue, the soldiers exalted Churchill’s outstanding courage and the fact that he kept his nerve and did his best so as to deal with this difficult situation. One hour after that, the train went on its way again. Later on, Churchill, together with his driver, carried on their shoulders the men injured by bullets; they were packed into the train cars. Later on, he started on foot for the spot of derailment, so as to come to the aid of Haldane who had stayed behind. Although, he never arrived since on the way there two armed men of the Boers chased him and captured him.


His captivity in Pretoria


Winston Churchill escape from a prisoner of war during camp the 2nd Boer war 1899-1902.

Winston Churchill serving in the British Army. Winston Churchill escape from a prisoner of war during camp the 2nd Boer war 1899-1902. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/Pictures Inc./The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Churchill was taken into the building of States Model School in Pretoria, into which other war prisoners were also kept. After a few days in captivity, he managed to escape by climbing over the toilet wall down the outer side of the building. For a short time, he wandered a completely unknown country to him at the risk of his life; the Boers’ authorities sought him frantically while his photograph was circulating all over the area. In the end, he found shelter in a mine that belonged to the British. The miners kept him for a while and later on they took him into a train car, hidden in some bunches of wool. When the train passed the borders and ended in a region that belonged to Portugal, Churchill got off the train and headed towards the British Consulate.

Two days later, he returned to Durban, where he was surrounded by a sea of excited people who greeted his arrival. His escape was considered to be a tremendous success in a period when Great Britain was losing ground in the war; that made him and his articles in Morning Post extremely popular all over the country.






Churchill, the correspondent


In January 1900, Churchill became officer of the British Cavalry in South Africa; at the same time, he had the privilege to work as a correspondent. The war was going on and, on 4th June, the British defeated their enemies outside Pretoria. The next day, British troops entered the city and saw the last Boers leave in a train full of military equipment. Then, Churchill released the prisoners (officers) ceremoniously from the place where he had been kept too.

7.    Τhe Career in politics


“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”


His come back in England


Winston Churchill in Oldham

                                                Winston Churchill in Oldham

In July 1900, Churchill came back to Southampton, England, and on the 25th of the same month he visited Oldham, where he joined the Conservative Party and put up his candidature in the forthcoming general elections. In an atmosphere of celebration, when he arrived, he received a warm welcome by 10,000 people with flags. His mother was not there as she was going to marry an army officer who was 20 years younger than her.


Churchill, the fine orator


Churchill soon became a fine orator who captured the attention of his audience; the politicians of his party sought to have him as their guest. He suffered from a functional speech disorder, a lisp in which his [s] tended to be substituted by [sh]; he managed to improve his speech problem but he never could get rid of it. He often kept notes for his speeches and the tone of his voice was rather edgy. He used to generate characteristic gestures; he put his hands on his hips while he was smiling. Sometimes, his hands lifted up in the air in intense moments of excitement. He tended to lean forward when he paced or even when he sat down; this is why a journalist had likened him to a panther ready to strike. However, despite his exuberant personality and his ambitious character, he seemed to demonstrate self-control.


The confrontational political climate


In October, Churchill scored an election victory. Though, the political climate in his party did not take long to become more confrontational. In the first speech he gave in the House of Commons, his statement that if he himself was a Boer, he would like to be on the battlefield, exalting in this way the Boers’ bravery and patriotism, prompted generally negative reactions from the Conservatives while the Irish nationalists cheered. The next conflict in which Churchill took part was the party’s proposal to increase defence spending, to which he objected, arguing that, perhaps, the Navy needed financial support – but in no case the army which could maintain order within the United Kingdom and in the colonies. He believed that England should maintain its moral and benign attitude towards other countries, and take care of their prosperity, rather than destroy them with its own army. He also claimed that it was appropriate to adapt cost-cutting measures, policy that his father would strongly defend.


The influence of «Poverty: A Study of town Life»


In December 1901, at the urging of a Liberal party member, he read a book that reinforced his vision for the policy that he would pursue; the book «Poverty: A Study of town Life» was written by Seebohm Rowntree and describes the difficulties the poor faced in America. He concentrated on the fact that these people, despite the fact that they were citizens of the British Empire, would enjoy much better living conditions if they belonged to a primitive tribe. He was critical of Great Britain’s tendency to face expansive wars, while its people were starving.


Churchill comes closer to the Liberals


Churchill gradually walked away from the fundamental policy line of action of the Conservatives, and came closer to the Liberals. The next and final conflict between him and the Conservatives involved the imposition of duties on products imported from countries outside the British Empire, which the party suggested. Churchill supported the operation of a free market, with no additional taxes on foreign products, which would lead to a decrease in the price of food for the people and a significant increase in the popularity of British exports. The Liberals took exactly the same stance as Churchill. In March, Manchester’s Liberals suggested that he should join them in the next elections. Then, in May, as it was expected, Churchill left ostentatiously the Conservatives’ benches in the House of Commons, and sat on the opposition benches, on the same bench that his father once sat.


The impact of parents on the development of Churchill’s personality


So far, it seems that Churchill identified with his father with regard to the shaping of his own political path. The psychosocial theory of development focuses on the impact of parents on the development of a man’s personality. In this case, the major emphasis was on the father’s political career. Despite the fact that his father was always absent from his life, Churchill identified with this father. Given that he was informed of his father’s successes in politics only by papers and third parties, he idealized his father in the political field.

8.    Churchill, the Liberal


“You have enemies? Good. That means you ‘ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”


Strong reactions against Churchill


Winston Churchill in 1905

         Winston Churchill in 1905

As an official member of the opposition, Churchill became particularly argumentative towards the government in his speeches in the Parliament. On August 2nd, he ironically “congratulated” Balfour, who had succeeded in carrying out his mandate as Prime Minister despite the political errors of his government. In March 1905, he was highly critical of the Minister for the Presidency of the Government for the War; he severely criticized the unnecessary costs the Minister had made for the luxury image, and the meaningless, additional tasks of his officers. Even King Edward VII reacted negatively considering these words inadmissible for a former Hussar lieutenant. Other warnings came from the Liberals saying that the belittling remarks he made about Balfour reduced the validity of his arguments upon the issues raised by him. In October, Churchill had his first dinner with the King who intended to attack him verbally for his constant assaults on Balfour. Churchill was more receptive to this criticism; finally, they were able to have a more friendly conversation. A few days later, his health collapsed again and that forced him to stop his political action and went to stay at his aunt’s house in Dorset. Edward VII, in particular, deeply cared about his situation.




The meeting with the “woman of his life”


Winston Churchill and Clementine

                     Winston Churchill and Clementine

In the summer of 1904, this passionate and controversial leader met Clementine Hozier in a ball dance where he had taken his mother. Beautiful Clementine, daughter of a friend of Lady Randolph, was 19 years old. When Churchill met her, he was stunned by her beauty and, of course, he did not ask her to dance. Being aware of the rumours around his name, she avoided him discreetly and cautiously; they did not meet again for four years.


Churchill in the Liberal Government


In December 1905, Balfour gave up his position as Prime Minister and the King delegated the Liberals to form a government. Churchill demanded and took up office as Undersecretary of State at the Colonial Office, while Lord Elgin would be appointed as Minister.


The top political biography in English


In January 1906, the biography that Churchill wrote about his father and described as one of the top political biographies in English was released.


Churchill and his great work for South Africa


After taking up his duties, his first concern was the creation of an independent government in Transvaal, South Africa and the withdrawal of British power from the region. The Council of Ministers approved of his proposal in terms of the ensuring equal rights for both the British of the region and for the Boers, who had lost the war in previous years. Within the next few months, were declared two self-governing states on equal terms: The Transvaal Democracy and the Orange Free State. For the approval of his proposals, he had put forward the argument that it is much better for an nation to be self-governed in a wrong way than to be governed by another country correctly, as this other country is not in a position to know the problems that affect it. The Prime Minister congratulated Churchill on the great work he had done for South Africa.


Churchill, his long travel and the death of his servant


In September 1907, starting from France, Churchill made a long travel, and he visited British colonies: Cyprus, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt. He recorded the needs of the regions, and he sought for the realization of priority projects. While he was in Sudan, his servant, Scrivings, got choleric diarrhea and died within two days. His death shocked Churchill, and his loss hurt him deeply, since he got used to the care services, the emotional support and companionship of this kind man. His funeral was held in Sudan, and Churchill was decided to erect a monument at his grave in order to commemorate his name. He promised to take the servant’s wife and children under his wings. After he returned from his five-month travel adventure, Churchill was determined to make changes at the social level.


Churchill’s love life


Winston Churchill - Pamela Plowden

                                              Pamela Plowden  –  Winston Churchill

In March 1908, he saw Clementine again at a party in London. This time, he sat next to her and showed her his interest. He suggested sending her a copy of his father’s biography, but he never did. It seems that Churchill started to get more interested in his love life, maybe because of the fact that his little brother got engaged. In the letter in which Jack informed him of the happy event, he was saying that Winston had dedicated his life to his career neglecting his love life. In the past, he had once fallen in love with Plowden, but this love affair continued only via correspondence for some time.

9.    Churchill’s social action


“Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.”


The sudden meeting with Clementine



Winston Churchill (1874-1965) with fiancée Clementine Hozier (1885-1977) shortly before their marriage in 1908

When he returned from the colonies, Churchill was intent on a social change; he resolved to imitate the German economic and social model for health, work and leisure time. In April 1908, at the age of 33, he became President of Board of Trade, a position in the Government Presidency from where he could make the changes he dreamed of. A few days later, he met Clementine at his mother’s house; in his correspondence to her, he asked her to meet him so that they could get to know each other better.


Interested in the social welfare of the citizens


In July, Churchill suggested some changes to the Draft Bill for the reductions in miners’ working hours. He was intended to promote the social welfare of his people; he dreamed of a society where people had the time to devote to themselves and to their family. Another proposal of his was the constitution of a tribunal which should be called in whenever there were settling disputes between workers and employers. Sometimes, by participating himself in this “action”, he was good at reconciling both sides of the political spectrum, and he proposed comprise solutions for these issues.


In December, he was opposed to the request of Conservatives for the manufacturing of eight battleships, as Churchill believed that four ships were enough and that the remaining funds should be spent on social change. In particular, he made a proposal to take steps to set up an insurance scheme for unemployed financed by the state. And besides, in February 1909, Churchill first spoke of the development of Air Force of the country. Moreover, in March, he introduced a Bill by proposing the establishment of a committee that would take legal action against those employers who took advantage of their staff either by offering them lower wages or working under adverse conditions.


Churchill’s wedding


Winston Churchill's wedding

                                                    Winston Churchill’s wedding

In addition to his stable and prudent approach to the political action, he aimed to conquer Clementine’s heart. In a letter that he sent her in August 1908, he spoke of his brother’s recent marriage, and he invited her to visit him to Blenheim. His awkwardness with women and his need for independence, as he said, led him to loneliness. However, he impatiently waited to find out who this mysterious girl really was. During the third day of her visit to Blenheim, he proposed to her and she said yes. Their wedding was held in September; the king made him a cane with a golden head as a present that he carried with him all his life.


The difficult delivery


For a while, Churchill was less engaged in politics, when, in July of the next year, his wife gave birth to a girl, Diana, after a difficult delivery that exhausted her. He found her a quiet place near Brighton to get rest and to recover from the delivery process, while he stayed in London with his newborn daughter taking care of her with the help of a nanny, who did not like his involvement in the baby care. Clementine, in all her life, suffered from fatigue and tiredness when she experienced stress, and Churchill was always very supportive to her, and he advised her to take a rest and relax.


10.Churchill as Minister of the Interior


 “The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country.”


Churchill and prison reform


Winston Churchill in 1910- Army Manoeuvres

     Winston Churchill in 1910- Army ManeuverWinston Churchill in 1910- Army Manoeuvres

In February 1910, Churchill took on the position of Minister of the Interior. Among his duties was supervising the police and the prisons. Soon, he began submitting plans for prison reform. Having been held captive himself in the past, he felt close to the prisoners and was planning to turn their sentence into a less harrowing and more educational experience by adding libraries and entertainment to the prisons. Aiming at the decongestion of prisons, he abolished the automatic imprisonment of offenders who did not pay their fines. The whole process was, in his opinion, a waste of state money and a traumatic experience for offenders. His next objective was to reduce the number of inmates aged 16-21, as he believed that their reformation should aim at their smooth integration into society by acting in a disciplined and educational way rather than in a punitive one. It seems that Churchill believed in the inherent kindness in people’s hearts and their ability to evolve into something nobler.

His involvement in prison reform gave him pleasure, but there was a part of his job that he experienced as a real ordeal, and this was the examination of cases where convicts appealed to him for the suspension of their sentence. He felt horrible when he examined all the facts of a case and could find nothing that could assist in their acquittal. However, he often intervened when he considered that the imposed punishment was too harsh and, as a result, he was attacked in Parliament by members of the Conservatives for those actions, which they considered as arbitrary. He raged against the fact that a poor man could be imprisoned for an offense, when, an aristocrat, for the same offense, would not even be put on trial.

During his time as Minister of the Interior, his associates often blamed him for supporting ideas that seemed initially impossible to implement, but, after careful consideration, he always managed to find ways to implement them in the end.


Churchill’s relationship with his wife


On May 28, 1911, Clementine bore his son, who was named after Churchill’s father, Randolph. She seemed to have particularly appealed to her husband’s circles, as, when the King found out that she was unlikely to attend his coronation due to her pregnancy, he offered to accommodate her in his Abbey, so that she could feel more comfortable. Moreover, Churchill’s Liberal friend and associate, Lloyd George, used to praise her to her husband, pointing out that she was a “salvation” for him.

In his letters to Clementine, he would express how much he missed her and how depressed he felt when she was not at home with him. He wished to spend time with his family, since, as soon as he finishes with his duties in July, he joined them at their seaside resort where they spent their holidays, having bought toys for his two-year-old daughter.


Depression and cyclothymia symptoms


At that time, in his letters he also referred to the mood swings he experienced. The wife of a cousin of his had visited a doctor who helped her cope with her depression, and Churchill was thinking of contacting him himself in case his “black dog” returned, although at that point he did not bother him and his life seemed to be full of colours.

Given that depression is often referred to as “the black dog”, it seems that Churchill indeed developed some depression symptoms, while the mood swings he refers to are suggestive of cyclothymia.

11. Churchill as an Admiral


“Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon.”


Churchill’s reforms on the English Navy


A portrait Winston Churchill in the official dress of First Lord of the Admiralty taken in 1914 at the beginning of World War

A portrait Winston Churchill in the official dress of First Lord of the Admiralty taken in 1914 at the beginning of World War I. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

In the summer of 1911, during a dispute between France and Germany over the naval bases in Morocco, England was called upon to support France. Suddenly, Europe found itself on the brink of a war. Prime Minister Asquith considered Churchill to be the right person for the post of Admiral during that critical period.

Churchill held a new perspective on the country’s war system, the Air Force. The risk of a potential war seemed to have been momentarily prevented, but Churchill was still concerned about Germany’s growing naval forces and even more about the fact that they were not controlled by a democratic regime but rather a military Oligarchy. In February, when he passed this information on to the Council of Ministers, he stressed the immediate need of strengthening the English navy by increasing the number of battleships, submarines and men. After a few months, he started visiting the British naval bases and inspecting the sailors’ training, the use of equipment and the shipyards. He had a close relationship with the sailors; for their own well-being, he proposed a raise in their salaries and the provision of their entertainment and accommodation on the coast, provoking reactions from Council members, who accused him of wastefulness.





Churchill’s training as a pilot


In 1913, during a visit to an airfield in Eastchurch, he expressed his desire to learn to fly an airplane for the first time and asked the pilots to train him. He soon became an enthusiastic trainee and spent many weekends training. According to his instructors, he flew even ten times a day. His mistakes did not demotivate him, but rather made him eager to fly again in order to correct them. His family and friends criticized him for being involved in that activity due to the risks involved. In fact, after the death of two of his instructors in flight and therefore, after Clementine’s repeated requests, he decided not to fly again for her sake, shortly before getting his pilot’s license.

12. Churchill in World War I


“These are not dark days: these are great days — the greatest days our country has ever lived.


Churchill before the war


Winston Churchill in 1914

                                          Winston Churchill in 1914

In July 1914, Europe was on the brink of a war that had begun between Austria and Serbia, but was expected to affect more powerful countries. On July 25, Churchill had dinner with Alfred Ballin, an affiliate of the German Emperor. According to Ballin, they were expecting a chain of events that would lead to a conflict between England and Germany, which Churchill wished to avoid, aware of the fact that a war between two such militarily powerful countries would be disastrous, not only for the loser but also for the defeated. However, as he assured, England could not remain idle in the event of Germany attacking France. That night, he left Ballin, begging him in tears to do his best to prevent Germany from getting involved.



England gets involved in the war


The events unfolded exactly as predicted by Ballin. The German army had to go past Belgium to attack France. The United Kingdom stated that it would prevent German navy from crossing the North Sea English passage in its effort to attack France by sea.

In the British Council of Ministers there was controversy over the country’s involvement in the war, which led some ministers to resign. Those who remained discussed how the UK’s involvement in the war would benefit the country, which particularly pleased Churchill. For him, now, action on the part of England had become a matter of protecting world peace, securing the country’s honor and supporting its allies that supplied it with food.

On August 2, the German troops invaded Belgium, and England gave them a notice to retreat within 24 hours. When the deadline went unanswered, Churchill ordered an attack on Germany. According to Lloyd George, Churchill rushed into the Prime Minister’s office that night, joyful and radiant, speaking quickly and confidently about the messages of watchfulness he would send across the front.


Churchill in the first year of the war


Churchill, in the first year of the war, played a leading role in defining the strategy that England should follow. Taking into consideration that his country had to take initiatives on the battlefield, or else he would simply have to wait passively for the enemy’s next step, he proposed a series of campaigns, such as the seizure of a Dutch island, to be used as a naval and air base. He ordered the navy to block food shipments to and from German ports and created a battalion to leverage the hundreds of volunteers who offered to help in the war. The English submarines reached the Russian sea and British soldiers arrived in France to fortify defence against the Germans. Churchill was constantly generating ideas and taking initiatives, most of which proved to be successful.

In August, the English Navy’s first victory was announced, which was attributed to the action that Churchill had inspired them to take. Following the Prime Minister’s speech at Guildhall, the public was asking Churchill to continue and he made them cheer, instilling courage and hope in their hearts. After the first month of conflicts, when the English army had started losing their initial strength, and pessimism prevailed in the country, Churchill gave a speech before the Council of Ministers, where he managed to boost the members’ morale with his boldness and energy. He did the same in his various anonymous publications in newspapers, with a view to encouraging people.


Churchill in Antwerp


In October, when he received a notice in London that the Belgian forces were preparing to abandon Antwerp, one of the bulwarks of the struggle, Churchill immediately rushed to the area, where, while discussing with the Belgian Prime Minister, he managed to convince him to continue the resistance for ten more days and promised to send him reinforcements. His visit to the battlefield also contributed to the psychological boost of the Belgian army that was disheartened at the time. Eventually, Antwerp fell after six days, but this extension of resistance allowed British troops to barricade themselves in Flanders without any problems.

While in Antwerp, Churchill asked Asquith to resign from the post of Admiral and lead the forces in the battlefront instead. He felt that the intensity of the battlefield would suit him more than the office and was thirsty for blood and glory. However, Asquith’s response was negative. Churchill now seemed to enjoy the battles and, according to Asquith’s wife, he spoke of that glorious war with excitement, since all the war events, but also he himself that participated in them, would go down in history.


Churchill’s new ideas and explosive character


At some point, the situation of the battles in the trenches greatly deteriorated for the British army. At that time, Churchill was the first to support the idea of ​​creating bulletproof tanks that would be able to cross the trenches and destroy the barbed-wire barriers that enemies had created. He thus received the Prime Minister’s authorization as well as funding of £70,000 for the tanks. He had always been receptive to new ideas but also bold enough to realize them.

During the War Council’s meetings, of which he was a member, whenever his proposals were not accepted, his reaction was often explosive and he spoke in an angry and rude way. In fact, Asquith once invited him to talk in private about this tendency of his.

Churchill on the sidelines


Following Fisher’s resignation, who was one of the most important Admirals of the English Navy, Prime Minister Asquith, in order to avoid negative reactions on the opposition’s part, decided to form a coalition with the Conservatives and allow them to join the War Council. The Conservatives accepted it; however, they set Churchill’s removal from Admiralty as a condition, thus taking revenge for the attacks and the underestimation they had suffered for years. Churchill, having lost after nearly five years of service the office he was most proud of, begged to retain his position, as if the future of the whole country was judged by that decision. However, the condition was non-negotiable.

Asquith offered him the position of Minister of Finance (Chancellor) in the Duchy of Lancaster, which was a derogatory, meaningless position, allowing him to remain at the War Council at the same time. However, he also lost his influence within the Council. That deposition made him feel that his life had come to an end. Clementine thought he was going to die of distress.


Churchill’s new hobby and subsequent resignation


In his effort to find peace, he would spend his weekends on a farm in the countryside, where he bought an easel and dedicated himself to painting. There he was able to find warmth near his family, to which a new-born daughter had been added. Painting constituted a way for him to forget about his worries and calm down. He mainly painted landscapes, as he did in his teens.

After his withdrawal, he became the scapegoat for many of England’s failures during the war, particularly for the unsuccessful outcome of the Gallipoli campaign, failures for which he was not even responsible himself. Wretched by the wave of unfortunate events, he decided to leave the country and submitted his resignation to the Prime Minister, as he hated being idle, even though the salary he earned was quite good. In November, he left the country to serve as Hussars’ Major in France.


Churchill on the battlefield


Upon arrival in France, Churchill received a proposal for the post of Brigadier General, which he accepted. For the following six months, he served in trench battles in a place full of mud, graves, corpses and bullets. However, he felt pleased and relieved of the burden of his previous responsibilities. The shots and bombs did not seem to frighten him; the sound of them did not make his heart beat any faster. He made use of his resourcefulness to tackle problems in the battlefield.

Clementine, who never stopped believing in his abilities, kept reminding him that he deserved much more and was concerned about his safety. She took care of him from a distance by sending him warm sleeping bags and supplies, such as alcohol, cigarettes, food and clothes.


Churchill as commander of a battalion


The original proposal referred to the position of Brigadier General, but Asquith prevented its realization, fearing that such an event would trigger protests in Parliament. He was only willing to give Churchill a battalion instead of a brigade, which meant that only 1,000 men would be under his command, instead of 5,000. Churchill accepted that turn of events and in January 1916 took command of a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the majority of whom consisted of volunteers, with no prior experience in battle, yet brave and intelligent. Within a few days, he managed to boost his soldiers’ morale and quickly gained their trust. He examined in detail every activity that took place within his battalion. He had a rather lenient attitude towards them, reducing the punishments imposed and catered for their entertainment, with sport events and concerts.

All this time he had been devoted to his work on the front, but he could not help but feel that his deposition was unfair and was deeply hurt by his country’s ingratitude for what he had offered. He was waiting for the right time to regain his role in English politics. In France, he had to deal with two frustrations: his superiors reprimanded him for being extremely lenient with his battalion and he thus lost an opportunity to be promoted to a Brigadier. Believing that there would be no progress for him in the army, he decided to return to England and reclaim his seat in Parliament.


Churchill as Minister of Munitions


In November 1916, Prime Minister Asquith resigned and the King ordered the formation of a new government, led by Lloyd George, who decided to have Churchill as his close associate. When asked what made him reunite with Churchill, he replied that he needed a cheerful, supportive person who would give him courage, rather than scaremongering, like the rest of his associates did. In July 1917, he handed him over the Ministry of Munitions, at his own request.

Churchill vigorously began his career at the Ministry, managing to reconcile with a group of workers in munitions factories who had been on strike and were exiled, in reprisal. At their meeting, the strike leader was expecting to meet an arrogant and abrupt politician, but Churchill surprised him with his friendly and pleasant attitude, inviting him to negotiate over a cup of tea. Not only did the strike come to an end, but those factories turned into some of the most productive of the country, after the addition of a bonus for their workers.


Supporting women’s rights


In November of the same year, he met with representatives of working women, as the increasing needs of the war called for their entry in the labour market, and who demanded an increase in their wages. Churchill, who had recently voted in favour of giving women the right to vote, responded with understanding and supported their request to retain their jobs after the war.

What made him a staunch supporter of women’s rights though? It was possibly the love and unlimited appreciation for the woman that was by his side, Clementine. In a letter to his wife, he told her that he wished for her to live happier, finding interests that would fulfil her and a satisfying job, benefiting from the changes that were taking place in favour of the country’s female population.


Churchill’s contribution to the end of the war


During that time, he took advantage of every available opportunity to provide the necessary war equipment for both British and American soldiers who, in the meantime, had entered the war. He spent endless hours working at the Ministry and in 1918, one of the most critical moments of the war, he ended up staying and sleeping in his office permanently to save time and complete his work.

He believed that the use of tanks would make a decisive contribution to the events’ outcome, as they would replace many British soldiers that were killed in trenches. With the help of those sweeping vehicles and the Allies, German troops began to retreat and Germany requested a ceasefire in November. Churchill was then invited to join the committee that would negotiate its terms.

13. Churchill in the Interwar period


“The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult.”


Churchill as Minister of the Government Presidency for War


In January 1919, Churchill assumed the position of Minister of the Government Presidency for War and Aviation. Two months earlier, Clementine had given birth to another daughter. Churchill wanted to spend time with them, but his commitments did not allow him to stay for more than ten days.

The first problem he faced after taking office was the uprising of British soldiers who, being exhausted after nearly five years of war, were requesting immediate demobilisation. According to Churchill’s plan, the process would unfold gradually, giving priority to those who had served at least four years, those over 40 and the injured soldiers. It was one of his smartest and fairest plans. However, he believed that a million soldiers had to remain on duty to guard the areas of Rhine that had been seized after the war. Lloyd George considered this number excessive in times of peace, especially since Germany had withdrawn its own troops, but a trip to France and a few hours of argumentation on the part of Churchill were enough to persuade the Prime Minister of the urgent need to retain those soldiers in order to be able to protect what they had gained in their fair fight.


Churchill’s attitude towards revolutions in Russia, Ireland and Iraq


Another issue that was of particular interest for him was the attitude that Britain should have towards the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. As early as 1917, English troops had been dispatched to the area to reinforce the anti-Bolshevik forces. Under Lloyd George’s guidance, Churchill stated that the Russians themselves were responsible for rescuing their homeland, while the English aid would be limited to sending munitions and volunteers. Although British troops had been dispatched before Churchill took office, because of his public disapproval of Bolshevik tyranny, which he perceived as a risk for Democracy all over Europe, he was widely believed to have led the operations against Bolsheviks. However, he kept pressuring the Parliament to send aid to the Russians and, as a consequence, the Prime Minister accused him of being so obsessed with Russian affairs that he had neglected his duty of cutting military spending that he had asked him to do.

During the same period, he was also forced to use bombings and armed attacks to suppress revolutions in two areas: in Ireland, due to the criminal activities of the Sinn Fein nationalist organization, and in Iraq, due to local uprisings. Those operations were carried out against his will, as he himself rejected the use of violence for peace enforcement. Having realised that he was not satisfied with his responsibilities at the War Office, he accepted the proposal to move to the Colonial Office.


Churchill at the Colonial Office


Before being officially transferred to the Colonial Office in January 1921, Churchill had set out to change the way Middle East was governed in order to reduce government expenditure and the consequential burden on British taxpayers. In March, he travelled to Iraq with his wife to discuss with its leaders any reforms that would be helpful. Before Iraq, though, he made a stop in Paris, where a young painter, Charles Morin, who was actually Churchill himself, made his first exhibition.

After Iraq, he went to Jerusalem, where he supported the establishment in Palestine of an independent state for the Jews, who until then lived scattered around the world. His appertaining speech in Parliament was triumphant, but one Conservative commented that with the favour he was showing to the Jews he would have to be confronted with the rest of the world who hated this people.


Churchill’s family losses


The death of Winston Churchill's daughter

The death of Winston Churchill’s daughter

In May 1921, Churchill’s mother, aged 67, broke her ankle in an accident, which required partial leg amputation due to gangrene. A few days later she died of sudden bleeding. Churchill, who immediately rushed to her side when informed of her condition, saw his unconscious mother shortly before she died. She was buried next to Lord Randolph. As he said to a friendly person, he could feel the loss of his mother, but he did not grieve because she had lived her life to the fullest and had not let her difficulties befall her. After all, she had been married for the third time at the age of 64 to a man many years younger than her.

Winston Churchill's daughter - Mary Lady Soames

                                    Winston Churchill’s daughter – Mary Lady Soames

The loss, however, that shocked both himself and Clementine was the death of his youngest daughter at the age of two and a half of meningitis. He was mourning for this happy little creature who left before she could even live. His grief made him retire to a friend’s castle in Scotland, where he painted and immersed himself in his thoughts for many days.


Diplomacy with Ireland and Turkey


During Churchill’s time at the Colonial Office, a burning issue was raised: the continuous uprisings and murders of Sinn Fein in Ireland in an effort to claim the country’s independence. Clementine advised her husband to try to achieve a smooth resolution of the problem and a fairer treatment of the Irish. He seemed to have taken her opinion into account as he proposed a truce between Britain and Sinn Fein and stated that he was willing to grant Ireland its autonomy. In November 1921, Churchill and three other Ministers negotiated with Irish delegates the terms of the Irish Treaty. The delegates showed their respect for his willingness to find solutions even to the most complex problems. The Treaty was signed in December.

In September 1922, during the Greek-Turkish War, the Turks regained their territory reaching Chanak, in Hellespont, an area conquered by the British after World War I. Churchill before the Council of Ministers argued that Britain should retain its territory, a view the Prime Minister agreed with. As a result, British troops were transferred to Chanak and the British officer of the area warned the Turks that they would start a conflict if they did not retreat immediately. The Turkish army retreated, without a single shot being fired. Although that harsh diplomacy had worked successfully, it triggered turmoil in England, as the Conservatives were criticizing the government for its despotic attitude towards Turkey. That crisis resulted in the disintegration of the coalition government and Lloyd George’s resignation. Churchill suddenly found himself in limbo and charged with recklessness.


Churchill’s short interval from politics and comeback


Winston Churchill- Westminster Abbey by election in 1924

                              Winston Churchill- Westminster Abbey by election in 1924

Following the disintegration of the government, elections were held again in which the Liberal Party was overthrown and Churchill, for the first time in decades, was out of Parliament. After this failure, he left for France with his family for a few months. Fortunately, they had resolved their economic problems by then, having inherited two towers in Ireland from a relative of Churchill’s which they leased for a significant amount of money. When he returned to London, he began writing “The World Crisis“, a book about World War I. This work seemed to focus on Churchill himself and his efforts to defend himself and was characterized by critics of the time as sincere and spirited.

In the following elections, in September 1924, he ran as a candidate with the Conservative party. In his speech he claimed that there was no unbridgeable gap between the Conservatives and the Liberals, but the real threat lay with the Labour Party that supported Soviet Russia. The election results made him regain his seat in the Parliament. To his surprise, Prime Minister Baldwin recommended that he could also take part in the Government as Minister of Finance, a position that his father had taken on previously and which, of course, he gladly accepted.


Churchill as Minister of Finance


Churchill in 1924 - War Industry in Britain during the First World War

                         Churchill in 1924 – War Industry in Britain during the First World War

In December 1924, at the age of 50, Churchill took on the post of Minister of Finance. His main focus was on reforms he deemed necessary at a social level, in particular with the aim of strengthening state insurance, by introducing pensions for widows and orphans, by reducing the retirement age from 70 to 65 years, and by creating opportunities for cheap housing. He also sought to reduce the income tax levied on sellers, entrepreneurs and low-income citizens, in an effort to boost entrepreneurship and industrial development. Moreover, he managed to reduce the real estate tax to 1/3, aiming to relieve local industries and farmers from the excessive amounts they paid. To make up for it, he imposed taxes on luxury items, such as expensive cars and trucks, but also on oil. The budgets he presented in those years were described by his associates as brilliant, but, according to his opponents, he was simply playing with the state money. His fourteen-year-old son, Randolph, appeared to be supportive of his father, as he used to attend his presentations in the House of Commons as a spectator.


Churchill’s support for workers’ rights and change in attitude


Churchill played a key role in the dispute between mine owners, who were planning to dismiss some of their workers, and the latter, who were threatening with strikes. During that crisis, he played the role of the peacemaker as he persuaded the owners not to make redundancies. He also secured a state subsidy for mines so as not to reduce wages. However, a few months later, the dispute was rekindled when mine owners reintroduced the issue of wage cuts and the workers went on strike. The Prime Minister, trusting in Churchill’s abilities, asked him to direct their negotiations. However, after various prolonged unsuccessful efforts and as other Ministers were backlashing against his involvement, he decided to let workers and employers resolve their issues on their own.

Both Churchill’s supporters and his old Conservative opponents could observe a dramatic change in him. Although he opposed to the proposals he did not approve, he was willing to find alternative solutions and did not treat those who disagreed with him with hostility or irony. By keeping his appeal and radiance intact, he had become more patient, polite and approachable. He could always attract people with his argumentation and eloquence, but his popularity had now begun to take off, increasing his power in Parliament all the more.


Churchill out of government


In the elections of May 1929, the Conservatives found themselves out of government, which was taken over by the Labour Party. Churchill lost the post of Minister but was re-elected as a member of the Parliament.

No longer in charge of any ministry, he took the opportunity to complete and publish his autobiography, “My Early Life,” which referred to his years in school and the army, instilling the wisdom he gained from his experiences in his work. The fact that he had been isolated from political life distressed him, but the widespread popularity of his book and the engagement of his daughter Diana gave him a little joy. Another blow that year was the stock market crash in 1929, during which he lost much of his money, which he tried to regain through a series of lectures he held in various US cities. The income of his lectures far exceeded the British Prime Minister’s annual income.


Churchill against India’s independence


Since 1929, the issue of India’s independence, which had been an English colony until then, had come to the fore. The majority of the Members of the Parliament argued in favour of the independence of the area, but Churchill was of an opposite opinion. He believed that only partial autonomy should be given to the administration of the provinces, while the main control should remain in Great Britain. In addition, he considered it imperative to suppress passive resistance movements that had spread throughout India. Churchill, as an avid fan of Democracy, disapproved of popular revolutions, worried that the anarchy that would follow, as in the case of Russia, would overthrow democratic institutions worldwide. Moreover, he argued in Parliament that India’s autonomy had the ultimate goal of completely displacing the British from the country. He expressed doubts that many other Members had previously considered, but had not outwardly expressed, therefore they endorsed his speech, though they were not convinced to vote against Indian independence in the end.

In December 1931, while in Massachusetts for a lecture, he was hit by a car and was seriously injured in his head and leg. It took him a while to recover, which caused him depressive feelings that were intensified by an acute pain in his hands caused by some kind of neuritis. In September of the following year, he suffered by paratyphoid fever and after a few days he developed a haemorrhage due to paratyphoid ulcer, which made him stay in bed for a while. Even in bed, however, he could not stop working. He spent his time writing the book “Marlborough: His Life and Times“, which revolved around his ancestor John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.

14. Churchill’s efforts to waken the Parliament


“A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”


Churchill’s insistence on improving UK’s defence system


During the decade preceding World War II, Churchill, while οut of government, sought to prompt the Parliament to increase spending in order to reinforce the country’s defence system, especially since he was able to see that Germany, having violated the Treaty of Versailles, had reorganised its army and military equipment. He realised that the war was not far off. However, the Government, following a pacifist policy and underestimating the emerging risk, had not made such moves.

In his speech in the Parliament in November 1934, he stressed the imperative need to improve their national defence system, without necessarily declaring war. He focused on the fact that Germany had developed its own weapon manufacturing industry, as well as its air force. He estimated that in the event of a bombing in London, the casualties would exceed 40,000 and thus the only way they could defend their country was to develop forces equal to those of the opponent. Besides the already known facts, that is, that the potential of the German aviation had reached the British one in power and number, Germany also seemed to have developed additional war innovations, which were not yet disclosed. When he finished his speech, the crowd burst into cheers and the Government promised that the British aviation would not be left to weaken as compared with the German one. It seemed that Churchill had finally managed to mobilise the Parliament. What he did not know when he made his speech was that in fact the German forces had already outreached the British by 50%.

In July 1935, Churchill joined the Air Defence Research Sub-Committee, where he was informed about the invention of the radar.


Churchill’s removal from Government and loss of influence


In November of that year, in the general elections that were held, the Conservative Party won. Churchill was re-elected, but his expectations that Prime Minister Baldwin would assign him a ministry were never met. He was left out of the Government, just as he had foreseen, irritating the Ministers with his foresight.

His proposals to Parliament for forming an alliance with France and Russia and then with smaller European countries so as to outface the common enemy came to naught. On the contrary, the English Government was trying to establish friendly relations with Germany and Italy, showing tolerance even when the German troops began to invade European states. Churchill was able to understand that the democratic nature of Britain was incompatible with the phenomenon of Nazism. The Government’s passive policy and his inability to influence its decisions seemed to emotionally overwhelm him, since, at the time, he had retired to his home where he would write and draw, without even going out to his garden.

 15. Churchill during World War II


“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”


Churchill on the eve of the war


In November 1938, Churchill was a mere member of Parliament, with no particular responsibilities. However, during a speech Hitler himself launched an attack on him, for urging those Germans opposed to the Nazi regime to express their disagreement. Churchill replied that he was impressed by the fact that the leader of the German nation was dealing with insignificant members of the British Parliament and that in doing so he was increasing their influence. Indeed, it was believed at the time that Churchill was the only British to inspire fear to Hitler, who by no means wanted to see the former become Prime Minister.

In the meantime, Churchill struggled to exert as much influence as he could, often acting as a Minister. On the day Albania was invaded by Italy, he was in a state of despair, examining the region geographically and trying to find information on the position of the English fleet in the Mediterranean at that moment. With so much activity on his part, it seemed as if he himself was responsible for the developments. A storm of phone calls to Prime Minister Chamberlain followed in an effort to persuade him to invite Parliament to a meeting the following day, which was Easter Sunday, and send the English fleet to Corfu in Greece to prevent the expansion of the Italians. Eventually, the meeting was held after five days, with Churchill reprimanding the government for its lack of mobilisation. After the meeting, he requested a seat in the Council of Ministers. Although the Prime Minister trusted in Churchill’s abilities, he believed that, if he were given a position of power, his recklessness and impatience would create many problems that he would be unable to solve. With Churchill in government, a war would be inevitable.


People in favour of Churchill’s return


At the same time, newspaper articles and opinion polls showed that the people were in favour of Churchill’s return to government. His patriotism moved them since, as he had stated, he preferred to die fighting the Germans rather than surrender his country to them.

In September 1939, after Germany’s refusal to withdraw its troops from the Polish territory it had invaded a few days earlier, Britain officially entered the war.


Churchill as Admiral for the second time


After Chamberlain briefed the public about the beginning of the war on a radio broadcast, he convened a Parliament meeting where Churchill was asked to be one of the first to speak because of the great influence he exerted on people. In his speech, he emphasized that the war did not aim at conquering territories but at protecting people from the scourge of Nazism and defending human rights. The Prime Minister then offered him the post of First Admiral, which he had adored in the past, and included him in the members of the War Council.

For as long as Churchill served as an Admiral, he was constantly trying to find reasons for action, often assigning tasks to his subordinates that had to be performed on the same day, as he hated idleness. The Prime Minister put him in charge of determining the number of troops needed on land and the required ammunition. Churchill also led the transfer of British troops to France. He carried out his job with zeal and mourned the loss of his sailors, as if they were his own family. Since September, he had been pressuring the government to give the order to block Germany’s supply of iron ore, seizing Narvik in Norway, through which the ships carrying the material were passing. However, the government delayed the decision so much that the Germans were the ones that seized Narvik and the surrounding areas in the end, leading to the failure of another clever plan of his. For him, a peaceful approach towards Germany was out of the question, since, when Minister Halifax made a similar proposal, Churchill accused him of treason. Halifax complained that his statement was unfair and Churchill apologized for his overreaction that had been triggered by his fear.


Churchill’s worth is recognised


During his speeches in the House of Commons, he was capable of boosting the Members’ morale, inspiring confidence in their own strengths. This was also the key to the success of the radio broadcasts he made during the war: a combination of a realistic outlook and confidence. He gave hope to the countries occupied by the Nazi troops by arguing that their liberation, though delayed, was sure to come and by praising the heroism of the areas that were resisting. He was warning that the war was expected to spread throughout Europe and called the smaller states to work together to fight the common enemy. His speeches were transmitted, apart from England, to all the invaded countries, boosting the nations’ morale.

In May 1940, he resigned after a strong outcry from Members of Parliament about the passive policy of Chamberlain. People saw in Churchill’s face the powerful and courageous successor they needed in times of war. The same night, the King invited him to the palace and asked him to become the new Prime Minister.


Churchill as Prime Minister


Winston Churchill as Prime Minister 1940-1945

                                     Winston Churchill as Prime Minister 1940-1945

When Churchill took over as Prime Minister, his greatest ambition had been fulfilled. He felt he had been preparing for this position all his life. In his first speech as Prime Minister in the House of Commons, he said: «I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat».

He went on saying:

 «You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.

But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, ‘Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength’» (Gilbert,1991)

This speech is deemed to be one of the most representative of Churchill’s and the most epic in the history of England.

A few days later, there was a serious risk of French troops retreating in Paris in the face of the German invasion. Churchill, when informed on the event, immediately travelled to France, where he agreed to send additional reinforcements from Britain, preventing, at least temporarily, the occupation of the French capital, thus giving hope to the British.

Some members of the Government kept pressuring Churchill to make peace with the enemies. In a speech in the Government Presidency in late May, he explained that, if he started negotiations with Hitler, he realised that his associates would overthrow him because that would mean enslavement of their country. Only with the glorious death of all of them would the British Empire collapse. The Ministers were cheering, enthralled. Churchill believed they were willing to sacrifice their lives in order not to surrender. Most importantly, he also made others believe so and therefore he gave strength to the British to help them withstand the imminent onslaught.


Churchill’s new burdens


In those hard days, Churchill, burdened by the responsibilities he had assumed, he had become more irritable, and Clementine complained that he behaved rudely and abruptly, which some of his associates had also observed.

Meanwhile, the German air force had begun bombing residential areas of England; first Welsh cities and then London. In early September, a massive bomb attack in London left 300 people dead. When Churchill visited an area of ​​London that had been hit and saw the disasters and relatives mourn the victims, he broke down and cried.


Churchill during the period of constant bombardment


In October 1940, the number of dead by the German bombings in London amounted to 10,000. Churchill had thought of bombing German cities since the beginning of the war with a view to removing part of the Nazi forces from the front, but he considered it an act of cowardice attacking a civilian population. However, when, at the end of the month, Italian forces bombed Athens, he ordered the bombing of Naples and Berlin.

In mid-November, he had planned to spend the weekend in a provincial area. While he was in the car, he was informed about a forthcoming bomb attack that night in London. He was in such need of being close to his compatriots at the time of the attack that he immediately made his way back to his office in Downing Street. When he arrived, he asked his female employees to run to a shelter while he stayed to watch the attack from the Aviation Ministry. After a few hours, he was informed that another area had been planned to be bombed instead.

During that period of constant bombardment, Churchill said he had lost his cheerfulness and woke up with a sense of fear every day. It was only on Christmas holidays that he managed to unwind and enjoy the warm and festive mood of his family at his country house in Chequers, where they all had a nice time singing and dancing. In general, during the war, he suffered from mood swings, depending on the outcome of events. In January 1941, the British forces, in cooperation with the Australian ones, successfully attacked the Italian troops. The following days, Churchill was in a good mood and shone all over. In June, after a failed British operation against the Nazi army in Egypt, Churchill retired to his home for a few days, keeping to himself. When one of his associates suggested that the British forces retreat from Egypt due to adverse circumstances, he reacted furiously.


The US supports Britain


In January 1941, with the British forces seriously affected and the war at a critical point, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated that he would support Britain by providing it with munitions and food. The President sent a representative to London to discuss with Churchill the supplies the country needed. The representative promised to help the British throughout the course of their struggle, right to the end, moving Churchill to tears. He also praised him for his impressive ability to direct the efforts of his people and influence them, irrespective of social class or group.


Churchill during the expansion of the war


In June 1941, the German army invaded Russia. Churchill’s associates argued that Russia would not maintain its resistance for more than a few weeks. However, Churchill believed that it would manage to do so for at least two years and expressed his willingness to help Russia. Indeed, following his directions, the British forces carried out bombings on the Nazi army and attacked northern France by sea with a view to removing part of the German forces from the Russian front. In mid-June, an alliance was signed between Britain and Russia.

In December, Churchill was informed about Japan’s imminent invasion in the Far East. A few days later, the Axis Powers declared war on the United States, which gave Churchill hope that he would now formally have a strong ally. He travelled to Washington, where he was hosted by Roosevelt for a few weeks, during which they daily discussed the next moves they should make together. They planned a military operation on the coast of North Africa and they both agreed on the particular attention that should be paid on the European and Atlantic regions as well as the victory over Germany. During his stay in Washington, he suffered a mild stroke: while he was lying down, he suddenly felt hot and could not breathe, along with a heart and left hand pain. His doctor never revealed the diagnosis to Churchill himself, so as not to make him feel insecure; the only thing he told him was that he had a blood circulation problem and he had to avoid excessive fatigue for a while. Before returning, he spent a few days on Miami Beach to rest.


Churchill’s partnership with Stalin


Churchill and Stalin

                                                         Churchill and Stalin

In August 1942, Churchill visited Russia to encourage Stalin and determine the moves that Britain should make to support his country, as Stalin was angry at the lack of assistance from England and the US up to that point. Churchill tried to explain the complexity of the matter, as the fronts were too many and their forces were limited. He managed to impress Stalin by describing the operations they had planned for North Africa. When he accused the English of being afraid of fighting the Germans, Churchill repelled the insult by keeping his temper. He tried to calm tensions, assuring Stalin that he sought to establish a good partnership with him that would secure them the victory. The rest of the discussions continued in a friendlier atmosphere.

Churchill’s energy seemed to be inexhaustible and his courage inconceivable, since at the age of 67 and already bearing the burden of the Prime Minister’s responsibility on his shoulders, he made two long trips through skies full of enemies and bombs.


On the way to victory


In November 1942, the British-American army completed a series of successful landings in North Africa, in which Churchill’s son, Randolph, was also present. In January, Churchill went to Morocco to discuss with Roosevelt the strategy they needed to follow. They agreed to prioritize the liberation of the Mediterranean regions. He then travelled to Cairo, where he dined with his son, with whom they had a quarrel that night. During his stay in Cairo, he was informed of the victory of the Russian army against the Germans in Stalingrad. When he returned to London, he was welcomed at the station by 13 of his Ministers and Clementine, who begged him to get on the train to kiss him, away from the photographers’ cameras.

Upon his return, he was diagnosed with pneumonia, which made him stay in bed with fever. He hated it when he got sick and was looking forward to recovering. While burning with fever, he wrote a seven-page letter to the King. He felt that it was good for him to work even while ill. The nurse who took of him said that he was eating and drinking excessively and was not exercising at all.

After the British army’s victory in North Africa, a bombing in Sicily followed in June. After a few days, Mussolini resigned, therefore Churchill initiated new negotiations with the new Italian, non-dictatorial government. He insisted that their next move should be to free Rhodes, a proposal that was rejected by Roosevelt. His enthusiasm for the idea had reached such a point that it irritated his associates, as he did not take into account the dangers inherent in such a project and the arguments of the others. He was angry with Roosevelt, who could not understand him, and he felt that working with him was limiting him. His anger intensified when the Germans invaded some islands near Rhodes. At that point, his wife had to intervene to remind him of the importance of having allies.


Churchill’s exhaustion


Winston Churchill's son Randolph

  Churchill’s son Randolph Churchill.

In December 1943, while Churchill was in Tunisia to attend meetings with generals, he again fell ill with pneumonia. His doctor reprimanded him for keeping accepting visits and dictating telegrams to his secretary even in hospital bed. Over the following three days, he suffered two more heart attacks. Clementine then travelled to Tunisia to be by his side, as did his son Randolph and his daughter Sarah. He was frustrated by the fact that a few days were not enough for him to recover. After two weeks, he attended a council for the upcoming landing in Anzio, Italy. A few days before the New Year, he flew to Morocco, using an oxygen mask during his flight due to his condition, in order to organize the landing in Normandy, which had long been under preparation.

In February 1944, Churchill discussed with Polish leaders Stalin’s request for areas of Poland to be annexed to the Soviet Union in exchange for certain areas of Germany. Stalin, however, was not at all willing to commit that he would not impose a communist regime on his new areas. Churchill was highly concerned about Russia’s dominant tendencies and realised that although he did not have many years to live, any decision of his would affect post-war Europe.

In March, during a radio broadcast, he referred to the bomb missiles invented by the enemy, but assured that Britain would deal with that issue. He sounded old and exhausted. At another meeting with his associates, he seemed to have lost his energy, had trouble concentrating and was constantly talking about his fatigue, giving rise to concerns about whether he was able to continue. However, in a speech in late April on India’s independence, he appeared to have recovered his energy to some extent. Churchill was 69 years old at the time and had served as Prime Minister for four years, with all the responsibilities and pressure that that position entailed. His main concern at that time was the forthcoming operation in Normandy.


Churchill during the Normandy operation


The Normandy landing, the most complex and critical battle of the war, according to Churchill, began on June 6, 1944. After the initial successes, he decided to visit the battlefield to monitor the situation closely. He was transported by destroyer ship to French waters, where he boarded the British Admiral Vian’s barge. He was joyful and the sailors could hear him sing cheerfully. Then, he passed by a point where ships launched bomb attacks on the German army and asked the Admiral to launch one with their own as well. He was excited about the idea of ​​being on board at the time of the attack.

Two days later, upon his return to London, German aircraft began bombing the city. On the night of the attack, his secretary found him outside their offices watching the spectacle, defying the danger. At the beginning of July, the number of deaths caused by bombs amounted to 2,752. Churchill was ill-tempered and drank a lot of alcohol at the time.

In early September, British forces continued their victorious course reaching Brussels. The Russian army was quite successful in the Balkans. In October, Churchill travelled to Moscow, where he discussed with Stalin their interests in the Balkan countries, as well as Germany’s future after the war. It was agreed that after Germany’s defeat, their next target should be Japan, with the aim of ending the war. Churchill also tried in vain to resolve the border problem between Russia and Poland. At the end of his visit, he seemed to have established a rather good relationship with Stalin.

16. Churchill’s action towards the end of the war


“In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times.”


Churchill’s role as a diplomat




** FILE ** A photo from July 23, 1945 showing the handshake between Winston Churchill, left, Harry S. Truman and Josef Stalin, right infront of Churchill’s residence in Potsdam, Germany. Ninety years after he was executed, Czar Nicholas II is leading a tight race to be named the greatest Russian in history. His closest competitors? Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet state that killed the last czar and his entire family. The contest, sponsored by state-owned Rossiya television, is a Russian version of the 2002 BBC show “Great Britons,” which was won by Winston Churchill. A U.S. version in 2005 declared Ronald Reagan, the former president who had died the year before, to be the “Greatest American.” (AP Photo/Files)

Churchill was concerned that the countries liberated by the Germans were in danger of establishing communist regimes. He was particularly concerned about the situation in Greece, where, after the Germans’ retreat, Communist uprisings against the government had broken out, resulting in police killings and unlawful occupation of buildings. Churchill, supporting the Greek Government, ordered the suppression of the revolution, even by force and bloodshed, if necessary. On Christmas Eve of 1944, he decided to leave for Athens, despite Clementine’s upset over his being absent during Christmas time. When he arrived, he summoned representatives of the Communists and other parties with a view to achieving reconciliation and the formation of a multi-party government. However, in the middle of the meeting he left, as he felt that the discussion was focused on purely Greek matters that did not concern him. He hesitantly left the country, having not yet succeeded in bringing about peace.

In February 1945, he travelled to Yalta, Russia, where he met Stalin and Roosevelt. While there, the three of them planned the ultimate attacks on Germany, as well as the sanctions to be imposed on it after the end of the war. Churchill argued that excessive demands would not help, as had been the case after the previous war. He hoped that they would seize a better future, learning from the mistakes of the past. They also talked about the establishment of a World Organization that would have the power to intervene in the disputes between the countries and contribute to their settlement. As to how they would deal with war criminals, Churchill insisted that they be tried and not executed, as Stalin suggested. In fact, at a previous conference, he had left the room furious after hearing that proposal. As for Poland’s matter, Churchill was in favour of the conduct of free elections by the Polish, in order to choose their preferred government and leaders. After the end of the conference, tired of the long discussions that lasted almost a week, he wanted to leave immediately.


Victory over Germany 


Following the meeting in Yalta, Churchill was informed of Stalin’s failure to comply with the terms agreed, since the latter allowed solely representatives of Russian Communism to participate in the new Polish Government. Besides that, thousands of prominent Poles, such as priests, teachers and military men, were arrested or sent to labour camps in Russia. Churchill thus sent a letter to Stalin protesting against the breach of their agreement and requesting that the English Republic be represented in the Polish Government, reminding him of the support it had offered Russia during its effort to expand its territory.

In the spring of 1945, after the US army entered Nuremberg and British-American forces started ruling throughout Italy, Mussolini was killed by his compatriots, and Hitler committed suicide. German representatives declared their country’s surrender. On May 8, in a radio broadcast, Churchill announced the end of the war, as well as the negotiations on Germany’s surrender. However, he pointed out that they still had a long way to go, as Japan continued to fight. He ended his speech with the phrase “Advance, Britannia!” He then gave a speech at the House of Commons, praising the Members of Parliament who, despite the mistakes made, amidst the adverse conditions of the war, managed to abide by democratic processes to the full. During his speech at the Ministry of Health, the public kept arguing that Churchill was to praise for that victory. His associates also attributed the victory to him, stressing that without his guidance and encouragement that this end might never have been reached. The world was pouring into the streets, celebrating the end of one of the fiercest wars of mankind.


Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” Speech


In July 1945, general elections were held in Great Britain. Although Churchill’s popularity remained high, the Labour Party prevailed, leaving him once more out of government. However, he remained in Parliament as the opposition leader. The result shocked him, because of the warm support he received from the public, both during his governance and during his pre-election speeches. The day after the results’ announcement, he felt the defeat pain even more severe and found it difficult to accept the situation. Nonetheless, he showed an understanding of the British people, aware of the fact that they had suffered greatly in recent years. After a month, when the war officially ended upon Japan’s surrender, Churchill was even more afflicted, as he wished more than anything that he be the one to make peace, for which he had striven all those years.

In September, searching for a way out of his troubles, he travelled with his daughter Sarah to Italy and Southern France. He also asked Clementine to accompany them, but she was busy preparing their new home in Hyde Park Gate, London. He missed her incredibly during the journey and sent her messages of love and remembrance of her beautiful songs. He returned to London at the end of the month.


Churchill’s relationship with his wife and his lifestyle


Winston Churchill and Clementine together

Back home, Clementine was quite melancholic and often irritable with her husband. He acted fussy and sparked fights, that yet did not last long, as they were both eager to reconcile.

In January, he travelled with her to Miami. During their stay, he found out that Randolph had divorced with his wife, which particularly upset Churchill, who felt close to his bride. In those days, he was quite discontent with the change in his lifestyle, from being fully active to being idle. Fortunately, his painting hobby occupied his mind and gave him pleasure.


The “Iron Curtain” Speech


Churchill with World Leaders for the Operation Habbakuk

                             Winston Churchill – World Leaders for the Operation Habbakuk

In March, Churchill travelled to Missouri, USA, where he gave a speech that was broadcast nationwide. He had been informed that Russia was refusing to withdraw its troops from Persia. In his speech, he expressed his view that an “iron curtain” would descend in the middle of Europe in the near future. Behind it would be the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that would be subject to Russia’s control, with the exception of Greece, the only country due to determine its own fate through elections under British supervision. He stressed the need for a European nations’ union, in which all European countries would be able to participate. The speech was widely criticized by both the Labour Party and Stalin, who accused Churchill of scaremongering, in his effort to disrupt Russia’s cooperation with its allies. However, a few days later, Russia withdrew its troops from Persia, a development that the New York Times attributed to Churchill’s speech. It seemed that, even outside the Government, he was still able to influence international politics.

17. Churchill after the war


“If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.”


Churchill’s new occupations and the deterioration of this health


In March 1946, Churchill began writing his memoirs of World War II, an extensive six-volume work called “The Gathering Storm.” The books made impressive sales worldwide. However, he often made adjustments to the chapters after receiving criticism from those involved in the story. He described each of his books as an adventure that at the beginning of the writing thrilled him, but then ended up dominating him. In addition to writing, he spent time engaging in his new hobby, the hippodrome, having bought a horse named Colonist II to join it.

While out of government, he continued giving speeches in various countries as he was still highly appreciated. In September of that year, at the University of Zurich he talked again about the formation of a union of European states, in line with the US model, for which reconciliation between France and Germany was a prerequisite. To achieve the proper functioning of this union, it would be essential to maintain friendly relations with America and, ideally, with the Soviet Union.

In August 1949, Churchill suffered a mild stroke, which began with numbness and cramps and then with difficulty in writing. Trying to keep the event secret, he withdrew to his home for a few days, in order to hide his walking problems, and for almost a month and a half he did not make any further public speeches. Despite his rapid recovery and the persistence of its ability as a savvy speaker, his old age had worn him out. According to his neurologist, some of his brain cells that were connected to shoulder nerves had deadened and, as a result, his shoulders were constantly clenched. He also suffered from hearing problems. However, his irrepressible desire to live for the moment and his remarkable ability to fully concentrate on anything he did never left him.


Churchill as Prime Minister for the second time


In the elections of October 1951, the Conservative Party won. Churchill, at the age of 77, became Prime Minister for the second time and was self-appointed Minister of Defence. Upon the taking up of the post, he was fully aware of the burden that that responsibility entailed, especially at his age, so he intended to stay for only a year until he restored the country’s relations with the US and removed part of the woes that the country had suffered due to the war and the previous Socialist Government.

He then proceeded to privatise the iron and steel industry and cut the Ministers’ salaries because of the desperate financial situation he encountered. He travelled to the US, where he had a series of meetings with the new President Truman and made two speeches. Those meetings exhausted him and he thus had to stay another two days to recover, before heading back. He was also particularly concerned with the defence system of Britain and its colonies, as he did not want his country to appear vulnerable to the Russians.


Churchill is losing his strength


It seemed that he was gradually losing his energy and strength. During a series of overnight Parliament meetings, Churchill was struggling to concentrate and the Socialists of the opposition were mocking him for his old age and hearing problems. At the meetings of the Ministers, though always present, he found it difficult to write his speeches and read the extensive texts submitted. In June, he found out about the discontent that existed within his own government after some members asked him to resign. However, he still had the strength to effectively support his Government’s decisions.

In June 1953, he suffered another stroke that caused partial paralysis on his right side. His doctor feared he would not live for more than a few days. At that point, Churchill was seriously thinking of resigning. However, it seemed that his desire to continue prevailed in the end.


Churchill’s resignation


Two months after the second stroke, Churchill had almost recovered, except for some instability in walking and easy fatigue. He was trying to complete his memoirs, with the assistance of his secretaries. They started writing halfway through the day, having first consumed plenty of champagne and tobacco and he was able to continue writing until the early hours, without losing any of his shrewdness. His mood, though initially depressed, had begun to improve.

In October, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. After a few days, he spoke again in the Parliament and felt he had regained his energy. In the ensuing period, he made two more trips to the United States, where he agreed with President Eisenhower on a specific way of approaching Russia in order to avoid the consequences of the Cold War, and on collaboration with a view to deploying atomic energy for peaceful purposes.

However, as he used to say, he felt like an airplane running out of fuel. As time passed by, he found it more and more difficult to read nothing but newspapers and it took him endless hours to complete his proposals to Parliament. He preferred to spend his time playing cards, rather than attend public events. His family environment and the opposition increasingly pressured him into resigning. However, what was most impressive was not the clamours of the Labour Party in the Parliament demanding his withdrawal, but his apathy towards them, whereas before he was always willing to fight them off. Nevertheless, his wisdom and radiance still emerged through his words and decisions.

After many consecutive postponements, in April 1955 he resigned. Upon suggestion of the Queen who praised him for his insight during the Cold War in recent years, he accepted the proposal to remain a Member of Parliament. Therefore, he resigned from the post of Prime Minister, knowing that he had done the best he could.

18. The last years of a “national hero”


“I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”


New phase of life


Following Churchill’s resignation, general elections were announced. He gave a few speeches in his constituency, but preferred to abstain from the Conservative party’s campaign. The overwhelming majority of the seats they occupied were attributed to the fact that people were satisfied by the former Churchill Government. After the elections, he appeared to be calmer and more polite, and even more lenient with the mistakes of his two new secretaries. He now had the time to proceed undisturbed with the writing of his book on the history of English-speaking people. Two months after his resignation, he hired a personal secretary, Montague Browne, who stayed by his side and helped him devotedly until the end of his life. Freed from the duties of the Prime Minister, his health had deteriorated and he suffered from excessive fatigue. Having lost his role, he felt that he had lost his power. His attitude also appeared to have changed, as he preferred to listen rather than speak, which seemed kind of sad for such a feisty man.

In the new phase of his life that had just begun, Churchill often went on trips to the sunny French Riviera, either with Clementine or with friends. He enjoyed spending his day in bed writing and taking breaks only for meals. Although he was not a member of the Government anymore, the new Prime Minister, Eden, seemed to take his opinion into account. When, in April 1956, the Russian leaders went to Britain for a meeting with Eden, he invited Churchill and Clementine to dinner, where he claimed that Churchill was the one that had won the war. In addition, in June of that year, Eden sent him information on secret telegrams concerning the impending invasion of Egypt and, a few days later, they met privately to discuss the matter in detail.


Churchill’s loss of a daughter and withdrawal from writing


Churchill's and Clementine with children

In the ensuing years, he suffered from intense emotional distress, as his friends died the one after another. He was also worried about his wife’s health, as well as his three children. Randolph was isolated from his father’s surroundings due to his aggressive behaviour. Sarah, just like her father, was addicted to alcohol. Diana suffered from depression and, in October 1963, committed suicide. Her father stoically faced her loss, mourning silently.

In June 1957, after having completed the fourth volume of his work, he decided to withdraw from writing. By the age of 86, he had travelled to various parts of the world, but he had no strength to pursue his favourite painting hobby anymore. He still had a little energy to read literature, though. Until his old age, he was surrounded by his friends and family. He had a special relationship with his grandson, who sometimes followed him in his travels.


Churchill’s death and burial


Churchill’s death and burial

           Churchill’s death and burial

In January 1965, Churchill died of a fatal stroke. In his last years, he had suffered four more strokes. His death caused national mourning and his funeral was attended by 6,000 people, including kings and heads of state. His burial took place in Bladon, where his parents and brother lay, near Blenheim Palace, where he was born.

Sir Winston Churchill - St. Paul's Cathedral Funeral

                                     Sir Winston Churchill – St. Paul’s Cathedral Funeral

After his death, the Queen in a speech to Parliament called him a “national hero”. His action, though often criticized and challenged, was undoubtedly infused with his patriotism and his firm belief in t

he values of Democracy. Thanks to his vision and impressive ability to foresee events but also with his compassion and self-sacrifice, he managed to save his country from many woes. The whole British nation owed him their freedom.


Below you can find the whole collection of Winston Churchill’s mottos and quotes in text form but also here.


If you want to see the greatest collection of Winston Churchill’s Mottos and Quotes in pictures click here.


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Winston Churchill Mottos and Quotes:


1. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. (Winston Churchill said)

2. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill said)

3. I may be drunk, miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly. (Winston Churchill said)

4. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. (Winston Churchill said)

5. The price of greatness is responsibility. (Winston Churchill said)

6. If you ‘re going through hell, keep going. (Winston Churchill said)

7. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
8. (Winston Churchill said)

9. Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential. (Winston Churchill said)

10. You have enemies? Good. That means you ‘ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. (Winston Churchill said)

11. Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. (Winston Churchill said)

12. A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. (Winston Churchill said)

13. A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. (Winston Churchill said)

14. A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen. (Winston Churchill said)

15. A prisoner of war is a man who tries to kill you and fails, and then asks you not to kill him. (Winston Churchill said)

16. A state of society where men may not speak their minds cannot long endure. (Winston Churchill said)

17. All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope. (Winston Churchill said)

18. Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement. (Winston Churchill said)

19. An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. (Winston Churchill said)

20. Baldwin thought Europe was a bore, and Chamberlain thought it was only a greater Birmingham. (Winston Churchill said)

21. Battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter. (Winston Churchill said)

22. Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat. (Winston Churchill said)

23. Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all. (Winston Churchill said)

24. Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities… because it is the quality which guarantees all others. (Winston Churchill said)

25. Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. (Winston Churchill said)

26. Difficulties mastered are opportunities won. (Winston Churchill said)

27. Do not let spacious plans for a new world divert your energies from saving what is left of the old. (Winston Churchill said)

28. Eating words has never given me indigestion. (Winston Churchill said)

29. Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. (Winston Churchill said)

30. Everyone has his day and some days last longer than others. (Winston Churchill said)

31. For good or for ill, air mastery is today the supreme expression of military power and fleets and armies, however vital and important, must accept a subordinate rank. (Winston Churchill said)

32. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. (Winston Churchill said)

33. Great and good are seldom the same man. (Winston Churchill said)

34. He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. (Winston Churchill said)

35. Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have. (Winston Churchill said)

36. History is written by the victors. (Winston Churchill said)

37. History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. (Winston Churchill said)

38. I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is a much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place. (Winston Churchill said)

39. I always seem to get inspiration and renewed vitality by contact with this great novel land of yours which sticks up out of the Atlantic. (Winston Churchill said)

40. I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else. (Winston Churchill said)

41. I am certainly not one of those who need to be prodded. In fact, if anything, I am the prod. (Winston Churchill said)

42. I am easily satisfied with the very best. (Winston Churchill said)

43. I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. (Winston Churchill said)

44. I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. (Winston Churchill said)

45. I cannot pretend to be impartial about the colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones, and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns. (Winston Churchill said)

46. I have never developed indigestion from eating my words. (Winston Churchill said)

47. I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. (Winston Churchill said)

48. I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me. (Winston Churchill said)

49. I like a man who grins when he fights. (Winston Churchill said)

50. I never worry about action, but only inaction. (Winston Churchill said)

51. I was only the servant of my country and had I, at any moment, failed to express her unflinching resolve to fight and conquer, I should at once have been rightly cast aside. (Winston Churchill said)

52. If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons. (Winston Churchill said)

53. If it weren’t for painting, I wouldn’t live; I couldn’t bear the extra strain of things. (Winston Churchill said)

54. If the Almighty were to rebuild the world and asked me for advice, I would have English Channels round every country. And the atmosphere would be such that anything which attempted to fly would be set on fire. (Winston Churchill said)

55. If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another. (Winston Churchill said)

56. If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future. (Winston Churchill said)

57. If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce. (Winston Churchill said)

58. If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law. (Winston Churchill said)

59. I’m just preparing my impromptu remarks. (Winston Churchill said)

60. In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet. (Winston Churchill said)

61. In those days he was wiser than he is now; he used to frequently take my advice. (Winston Churchill said)

62. In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might. (Winston Churchill said)

63. In war, you can only be killed once, but in politics, many times. (Winston Churchill said)

64. In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies (Winston Churchill said)

65. India is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the Equator. (Winston Churchill said)

66. It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried. (Winston Churchill said)

67. It is a fine game to play – the game of politics – and it is well worth waiting for a good hand before really plunging. (Winston Churchill said)

68. It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right. (Winston Churchill said)

69. It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. (Winston Churchill said)

70. It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. (Winston Churchill said)

71. It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see. (Winston Churchill said)

72. It is more agreeable to have the power to give than to receive. (Winston Churchill said)

73. It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary. (Winston Churchill said)

74. It was the nation and the race dwelling all round the globe that had the lion’s heart. I had the luck to be called upon to give the roar. (Winston Churchill said)

75. Kites rise highest against the wind – not with it. (Winston Churchill said)

76. Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning. (Winston Churchill said)

77. Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on. (Winston Churchill said)

78. Meeting Franklin Roosevelt was like opening your first bottle of champagne; knowing him was like drinking it. (Winston Churchill said)

79. Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. (Winston Churchill said)

80. Mr. Attlee is a very modest man. Indeed he has a lot to be modest about. (Winston Churchill said)

81. My most brilliant achievement was my ability to be able to persuade my wife to marry me. (Winston Churchill said)

82. My rule of life prescribed as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and in the intervals between them. (Winston Churchill said)

83. My wife and I tried two or three times in the last 40 years to have breakfast together, but it was so disagreeable we had to stop. (Winston Churchill said)

84. Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. (Winston Churchill said)

85. Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room. (Winston Churchill said)

86. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. (Winston Churchill said)
87. Never, never, never give up. (Winston Churchill said)

88. ‘No comment’ is a splendid expression. I am using it again and again. (Winston Churchill said)

89. No crime is so great as daring to excel. (Winston Churchill said)

90. Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result. (Winston Churchill said)

91. Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. (Winston Churchill said)

92. One does not leave a convivial party before closing time. (Winston Churchill said)

93. One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never! (Winston Churchill said)

94. Perhaps it is better to be irresponsible and right, than to be responsible and wrong. (Winston Churchill said)

95. Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. (Winston Churchill said)

96. Play the game for more than you can afford to lose… only then will you learn the game. (Winston Churchill said)

97. Politics is almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times. (Winston Churchill said)

98. Politics is not a game. It is an earnest business. (Winston Churchill said)

99. Politics is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen. (Winston Churchill said)

100. Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. (Winston Churchill said)

101. Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all. (Winston Churchill said)

102. Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. (Winston Churchill said)

103. Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong. (Winston Churchill said)

104. Some people regard private enterprise as a predatory tiger to be shot. Others look on it as a cow they can milk. Not enough people see it as a healthy horse, pulling a sturdy wagon. (Winston Churchill said)

105. Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft. (Winston Churchill said)
106. Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer. (Winston Churchill said)

107. The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. (Winston Churchill said)

108. The British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst. (Winston Churchill said)

109. The empires of the future are the empires of the mind. (Winston Churchill said)

110. The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see. (Winston Churchill said)

111. The first quality that is needed is audacity. (Winston Churchill said)

112. The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. (Winston Churchill said)

113. The power of an air force is terrific when there is nothing to oppose it. (Winston Churchill said)

114. The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. (Winston Churchill said)

115. There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true. (Winston Churchill said)

116. There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you. (Winston Churchill said)

117. There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion. (Winston Churchill said)

118. This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure. (Winston Churchill said)

119. This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read. (Winston Churchill said)

120. Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war. (Winston Churchill said)

121. To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. (Winston Churchill said)

122. Too often the strong, silent man is silent only because he does not know what to say, and is reputed strong only because he has remained silent. (Winston Churchill said)

123. True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information. (Winston Churchill said)

124. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. (Winston Churchill said)

125. You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else. (Winston Churchill said)

126. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong – these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history. (Winston Churchill said)

127. War is a game that is played with a smile. If you can’t smile, grin. If you can’t grin, keep out of the way till you can. (Winston Churchill said)

128. We are all worms. But I believe that I am a glow-worm. (Winston Churchill said)

129. We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out. (Winston Churchill said)

130. We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty. (Winston Churchill said)

131. We do not covet anything from any nation except their respect. (Winston Churchill said)

132. We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English. (Winston Churchill said)

133. We occasionally stumble over the truth but most of us pick ourselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. (Winston Churchill said)

134. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender. (Winston Churchill said)

135. We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. (Winston Churchill said)

136. We shall show mercy, but we shall not ask for it. (Winston Churchill said)

137. We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us. (Winston Churchill said)

138. What kind of people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget? (Winston Churchill said)

139. When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home. (Winston Churchill said)

140. When the war of the giants is over the wars of the pygmies will begin. (Winston Churchill said)

141. When we look back on all the perils through which we have passed and at the mighty foes that we have laid low and all the dark and deadly designs that we have frustrated, why should we fear for our future? We have come safely through the worst. (Winston Churchill said)

142. Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse. (Winston Churchill said)

143. A shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the Allied victory. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. (Winston Churchill said)

144. All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes. (Winston Churchill said)

145. Always remember, a cat looks down on man, a dog looks up to man, but a pig will look man right in the eye and see his equal. (Winston Churchill said)

146. An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile — hoping it will eat him last. (Winston Churchill said)

147. Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat. (Winston Churchill said)

148. Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill said)

149. Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it, all others depend. (Winston Churchill said)

150. Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others. (Winston Churchill said)

151. Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen (Winston Churchill said)

152. Danger — if you meet it promptly and without flinching — you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never! (Winston Churchill said)

153. Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. (Winston Churchill said)

154. Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. (Winston Churchill said)

155. For myself I am an optimist it does not seem to be much use being anything else. (Winston Churchill said)

156. From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. (Winston Churchill said)

157. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job. (Winston Churchill said)

158. Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose. (Winston Churchill said)

159. He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. (Winston Churchill said)

160. He is a modest little man who has a good deal to be modest about. (Winston Churchill said)

161. Here is the answer which I will give to President Roosevelt. Give us the tools, and we will finish the job. (Winston Churchill said)

162. I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colors. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns. (Winston Churchill said)

163. I do not hold that we should rearm in order to fight. I hold that we should rearm in order to parley. (Winston Churchill said)

164. I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities he excites among his opponents. (Winston Churchill said)

165. I was not the lion, but it fell to me to give the lion’s roar. (Winston Churchill said)

166. If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find we have lost the future. (Winston Churchill said)

167. If we win, nobody will care. If we lose, there will be nobody to care. (Winston Churchill said)

168. If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it. (Winston Churchill said)

169. If you’re going through hell, keep going. (Winston Churchill said)

170. In war you can be killed only once. In politics, many times. (Winston Churchill said)

171. In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Goodwill. (Winston Churchill said)

172. It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. (Winston Churchill said)

173. It is better to be frightened now than killed hereafter (Winston Churchill said)

174. It’s no use saying, We are doing our best. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary. (Winston Churchill said)

175. Logic is a poor guide compared with custom. (Winston Churchill said)

176. Moral of the Work. In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill. (Winston Churchill said)

177. Never, never, never, never give up. (Winston Churchill said)

178. No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism. (Winston Churchill said)

179. No two on earth in all things can agree. All have some daring singularity. (Winston Churchill said)

180. Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization. (Winston Churchill said)

181. Nothing is more costly, nothing is more sterile, than vengeance. (Winston Churchill said)

182. Nothing is so exhilarating in life as to be shot at with no result. (Winston Churchill said)

183. Opening amenities are often opening inanities. (Winston Churchill said)

184. Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge. (Winston Churchill said)

185. Personally, I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught. (Winston Churchill said)

186. Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times. (Winston Churchill said)

187. Responsibility is the price of greatness. (Winston Churchill said)

188. Say what you have to say and first time you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending; sit down. (Winston Churchill said)

189. Short words are the best and old words when short are best of all. (Winston Churchill said)

190. Socialism is like a dream. Sooner or later you wake up to reality. (Winston Churchill said)

191. Socialists think profits are a vice; I consider losses the real vice. (Winston Churchill said)

192. Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party. (Winston Churchill said)

193. Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill said)

194. Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill said)

195. Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill said)

196. Sure I am of this, that you have only to endure to conquer. You have only to persevere to save yourselves. (Winston Churchill said)

197. The empires of the futures are the empires of the mind. (Winston Churchill said)

198. The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see. (Winston Churchill said)

199. The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes. (Winston Churchill said)

200. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent vice of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries. (Winston Churchill said)

201. The nation will find it very hard to look up to the leaders who are keeping their ears to the ground. (Winston Churchill said)

202. The nose of the bulldog has been slanted backwards so that he can breathe without letting go. (Winston Churchill said)

203. The price of greatness is responsibility. (Winston Churchill said)

204. The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult. (Winston Churchill said)

205. The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. (Winston Churchill said)

206. There is in the act of preparing, the moment you start caring. (Winston Churchill said)

207. There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies. (Winston Churchill said)

208. There is only one duty, only one safe course, and that is to try to be right. (Winston Churchill said)

209. These are not dark days: these are great days — the greatest days our country has ever lived. (Winston Churchill said)

210. This is no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure. (Winston Churchill said)

211. This is the sort of pedantry up with which I will not put. (Winston Churchill said)

212. To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war. (Winston Churchill said)

213. Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival. (Winston Churchill said)

214. We are happier in many ways when we are old than when we were young. The young sow wild oats. The old grow sage. (Winston Churchill said)

215. We are stripped bare by the curse of plenty. (Winston Churchill said)

216. We have a lot of anxieties, and one cancels out another very often. (Winston Churchill said)

217. When I look back on all the worries I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which never happened. (Winston Churchill said)

218. When the eagles are silent the parrots begin to jabber. (Winston Churchill said)

219. Without a measureless and perpetual uncertainty, the drama of human life would be destroyed. (Winston Churchill said)

Winston Churchill rare and unique Mottos:

220. Any intelligent community will much rather govern itself ill, than be well governed by some other community. (Winston Churchill said)

221. Wherever the reformer casts his eye, he is confronted with a mass of largely preventable and even curable suffering. (Winston Churchill said)

222. The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country. (Winston Churchill said)

223. If any two great and highly scientific nations go to war with one another, they will become heartily sick of it before they come to the end of it. (Winston Churchill said)

224. There is no evil worse than submitting to wrong and violence for fear of war. (Winston Churchill said)

225. There is safety in numbers. (Winston Churchill said)

226. Nations which went down fighting rose again, but those who surrendered tamely were finished. (Winston Churchill said)

227. Never maltreat the enemy by halves. (Winston Churchill said)

228. Business before pleasure. (Winston Churchill said)

229. The finest way to die is in the excitement of fighting the enemy. (Winston Churchill said)

230. The only worse thing than Allies is not having Allies. (Winston Churchill said)

231. The difficulty is not in winning the war, it is in persuading people to let you win – persuading fools. (Winston Churchill said)

231. Anything can be done once or for a short time, but custom, repetition, prolongation is always to be avoided when possible in war.  (Winston Churchill said)

232. What is public opinion? The right to be crushed!  (Winston Churchill said)

233. If you want your horse to pull your wagon, you have to give him some hay.  (Winston Churchill said)

234. The eagle should permit the small birds to sing and care not where of they sang. (Winston Churchill said)

235. If a man is coming across the sea to kill you, you do everything in your power to make sure he dies before finishing the journey. This may be difficult, it may be painful, but at least it is simple.  (Winston Churchill said)

236. In my country, the people can do as they like, although it often happens that they don’t like what they have done.  (Winston Churchill said)

237. No boy or girl should ever be disheartened by lack of success in their youth, but should diligently and faithfully continue to persevere and make up for lost time.  (Winston Churchill said)

238. Life slips away, but one fights with what strengths remain for the things one cares about.  (Winston Churchill said)

239. Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyran. The last phase is that just as you are about to reconcile to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.  (Winston Churchill said)

240. We are for the ladder. Let all try their best to climb. They are for the queu. Let each wait his place until his turn comes.  (Winston Churchill said)

241. Peace is our aim, and strength is the only way of getting it.  (Winston Churchill said)

242. Man is spirit.  (Winston Churchill said)

243. The worst thing about it (retiring) is that when you let all these responsibilities drop, you feel your power falls with the thing it held.  (Winston Churchill said)

244. It is difficult to overtake slander, but the truth is very powerful too.  (Winston Churchill said)

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Personality of Mahatma Gandhi.


“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”


Who was Gandhi?


Reverse Chronology of Gandhi Impact and LifeMahatma Gandhi, a politician, leader and revolutionary from India, was one of the greatest thinkers and a universal symbol of peace in the 20th century. He was the main personage, initially to claim the rights of the South African Indians, following the struggle for India’s independence from Great Britain and the end of colonialism in the country. He was the proponent of the method of passive resistance, i.e. the nonviolent revolution against authorities and injustice. What made him so special was the use of exclusively peaceful methods to achieve his aims at a time when humanity was overwhelmed by violence and wars worldwide.

Gandhi’s appearance surely did not reveal his dynamic character. He was delicate, with a tight but thin body, because of the modest diet and frequent fasts. His guise was very simple: loincloth, shawl and a pair of sandals. He had thin, tight legs and long hands. His chocolate-colored skin looked crystal clear, as his whole appearance did. He had wide head with prominent ears and a small, lively face, with big nose, mustache and two good-looking, expressive eyes. His lips gave a sense of strength and self-control and often showed a toothless smile. His eyes were pointed out of a pair of round, metal glasses. He had a quiet musical voice. He grew sweetness and goodness to others. Although his appearance was not impressive at all his words and works made him stand out.

“Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi” was the official name of Gandhi. Later in his life, he acquired the nickname Mahatma, which in Sanskrit means “great soul”. And he was a great soul, indeed, as love was the basis for all his relations as well as for its political action. He faced all people with confidence and affection, even his opponents, expecting to have a corresponding response. He was characterized by an unwavering belief in the goodness of human. He influenced others not through theories, but through his passion, his action and the establishment of direct relations, based on sincerity.He was gifted enough to make the people who surrounded him happy and to broaden the spiritual horizons to those who talked with him.

Gandhi was the definition of spiritual control over matter. He was also passionate about his beliefs, values ​​and social ideals. Having managed to fully control human passions, such as gluttony, lust and ambition, he had a great deal of energy in his social action. Also, with his ascetic life and with his ventures, he tried to coordinate his thoughts with his words and behavior and himself to be the beginning of the change he wanted to see in the world.

Was he a political or saint?Gandhi has been involved with politics for a long time, but people loved him and respected him as a saint. They came from all regions of India to ask for his blessing and guidance. Many people considered him to be a personage analogous to Christ or Muhammad. Gandhi was a simple man, with a fiery personality and a huge social and humanitarian work.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”


Gandhi’s personality

The Personality of Mahatma Gandhi Looking at Gandhi’s life and attitude, it could be said that he belonged to the personality type of “Giver”, the person who considers “giving” as the core of his existence, according to Briggs Myers’ classification of the different types of personality.

Gandhi seems to have been more focused on other people than on himself, since in his actions he sought to help, look after and defend others, relatives, friends and an entire nation.They described him as a warm person who expressed love and friendliness.

He was generous, since his material goods and money were used for the Indian community and the poor peasants. He was characterized by extroversion, as he liked to be surrounded by people. He communicated with immediacy and honesty and he had high levels of activity. It seems, however, that his constant contact with others and his spiritual and material offerings to them was draining him, resulting in introversion, tranquility in silence and endoscopy. He was distinguished for his ability to connect with other people, to speak in their hearts, regardless of their social class or character.He could move in comfort and gain appreciation from both civilians and peasants.

Gandhi seems to have trusted his instinct, as he used to act more intuitively than logically. He followed the way of love and not the usual practices of most politicians.He was good at analyzing and settling complicated issues. This was one of the reasons why not only the politicians in the country but also the ordinary people were asking for his advice.He had talent in diplomacy, since he could negotiate, while claiming the achievement of his aims. He avoided conflicts and solved problems peacefully. He made decisions based on his personal values ​​and he was faithful to his moral principles. His life was characterized by discipline and self-control.All these made him a “Giver”.

 “I have also seen children successfully surmounting the effects of an evil inheritance. That is due to purity being an inherent attribute of the soul.”


From birth to adulthood


Gandhi’s family came from the Vaisya caste, the third of the four castes of the Indian social pyramid, traditionally engaged in trade, agriculture and crafts. In the Hindi language, “Gandhi” means “greengrocer” as previously his family members were working as greengrocers. However, Gandhi’s grandfather, Uttamchand, had been the prime minister of the principality of Porbandar, a small state in western India, and then followed his son, Karamchand, who was Gandhi’s father.

Gandhi's MotherGandhi’s father may not have been highly educated, but he was reputed to abstain from all sorts of corruption and bias as well as his sincerity, bravery and generosity. He could be described not only as an irritable person but also as a prone one to fleshly pleasures, which is shown by his four marriages, with the latter being held after his forties. Gandhi was born in Porbandar on October 2nd, 1869 and he was the fourth and final child of his family.

It is possible that this fact influenced his evolution and made him realize very early that he must struggle very hard to draw others attention and to succeed his aims. It is well known that younger children feel weak towards their older siblings, who are stronger and fully-grown, so they try to distinguish in other ways, such as developing special social skills and fluent speech.

Mohanya, as he was called by his relatives, grew up in a wealthy family and he had mainly Religion and Mythology books as well as an accordion. He liked playing with balloons and spinners and he participated in sports, such as tennis and cricket. His nanny, Rambha, significantly involved in his upbringing, but the love for his mother, Putlibai, was unrivaled. He admired her for her “holiness” and her “deep religiousness”, as she always prayed before the meal, she visited the temple regularly, she practiced great fasts and she was devoted.


Gandhi as a student

Gandhi studentGandhi was a moderate student, but consistent enough with school timetable and he was never prone to copy from the others. He did not have many friends as he avoided the other children for fear of making fun of him. As he grew up, he made some friends by playing on the street or on the beach. He was an obedient student, but out of school he was a rebel, as he started smoking at his twelve by stealing money from his family. Once, being fed up with his obligation to obey his parents, he tried committing a suicide by smoking poisonous cannabis seeds with a friend of him. What prevented them was the fear that they will delay and suffer for long until they die.

Since his early age, therefore, Gandhi needed to go against the bans imposed on him. The only bans he accepted were his own.

In fact, even though his family was strictly vegetarian, he had often been served in meat, with the encouragement of a friend, as he believed that eating meat makes people tall, muscular and courageous. Gandhi, who was weak and afraid of darkness and ghosts, was terribly envious of his strapping and brave peers and his older brother.


Gandhi’s marriage

Gandhi and Kasturbhai marriageAt the age of thirteen, while he was still a student, Mahatma married the daughter of a merchant, Kasturbai. The Indian custom of child marriage, however, put children sharply into the adult world, and this was a situation that they were not mature enough to manage. Gandhi was jealous of his wife and he often became authoritarian and restrictive with her, as he did not allow her to go out to play with her friends, causing them to fight and sometimes not to talk to each other for many days. He loved her passionately and he was often thinking of her, even at the lesson time.

He lusted after his wife, but he felt guilty, especially when he was against his duties. There was an incident,when he was sixteen that marked him for life: Every evening he was massaging and treating his father, who suffered from fistulas. One evening, his uncle offered to take care of the father and Mahatma decided to visit his wife’s bedroom. That night, the father died in his uncle’s hands and Mahatma could never overcome the fact that he could not be next to him because ofy his fleshly desire. Besides, at the same time, Kasturbai was pregnant. The baby died three days after its birth, and Gandhi considered as a cause their sexual encounter that evening, a fact that aggravated his self-belief.

How could he enjoy love for the rest of his life when he was so early associated with death and consequent guilt?


Gandhi’s aspect about religion in his childhood

As for his aspect about religion, he did not often visit temples and felt that Hinduism imposed bans that did not fit into his revolutionary nature. He did not particularly believe in God, since his inquiries about the creation of the world were unanswered. But he was interested in religion, as a cognitive field, and he liked listening to his father’s conversations with people of other religions, such as Muslims and Jainists.

In addition, a Jainism monk urged Mohandas’s mother to allow him to go to England in order to study Law. Although Gandhi’s deepest desire was to become a doctor, he was willing to attend the three-year law school in England in order to become a prime minister. His mother and uncle were worried that if he studied in England, he would forget the principles of Hinduism. To change his mother’s mind, on the advice of the monk, he gave a triple pledge before leaving: not to touch wine, women and meat. Thus, Gandhi left India to study, with the financial support of his brother.

 “To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.”


Gandhi’s student life


Before he was eighteen, Gandhi began his law studies in London, at Inner Temple, which was considered the most aristocratic among the four institutes of law in England. His studies lasted for two years and eight months. His self-reports at that time include information about his lifestyle: his diet, his outfit, his shyness and his religious practices. He tried to get used to the English way of life, but he did not renounce his Hindu origin. He was well-groomed, sophisticated and fashionable. His English friends often urged him to eat meat, but he insisted strictly on the principles of vegetarianism because of the pledge. Luckily he found some vegetarian restaurants in London where he used to take his lunch. Gradually he abolished eggs, spices and sweets and grew in a modest diet. As for his studies, he learned French, Latin, Physics, Common and Roman Law and he was successful in his exams without any special difficulties. He left England immediately after graduating, since he never felt intimate in this country, nor liked the way of life, nor was close to the people there. He probably realized how much Indian soul and behavior he had. The observance of his triple pledge was a small rehearsal for the devotion and the courage he would show later in his life.


Gita and Gandhi

Gandhi and GitaDuring the second year of his studies, Gandhi read for the first time the Bhagavad Gita or simply Gita, which means “God’s song” and is a holy book of Hinduism. Its value is analogous to that of the New Testament for Christianity. This book dates between the 5th and the 2nd century BC and it is a dialogue between Krishna, the central hero of Gita, and Arjuna. Krishna is the incarnation of God into man and a symbol of the world’s self. In this book, he appears to live as a common mortal person while using his superhuman powers to save his fellowmen from dangers and disasters. When he grew up, he killed his uncle, who ruled as a tyrant, and became famous. During the last years of his life he lived alone in a forest, where a hunter accidentally killed him with his arrows. While dying, Krishna smiled and forgave the hunter, who had understood his mistake and mourned.

At one point in the book, Arjuna describes the suffering he experiences on a battlefield with his cousins. It is so unbearable for him to murder his family, that he prefers to himself to be killed by their weapons without even fighting. Krishna interferes and stops it by saying that it is futile to mourn, since the soul is eternal and immortal and not offended by human weapons. The death of the living and the rebirth of the dead is certain. He recalls Arjuna’s duty to fight. According to Gandhi’s explanation, this point does not refer to actual violence nor applauds the violence but allegates the internal conflicts taking place in the human soul, which is symbolized as a battlefield. Arjuna is the man who is fighting against evil.

Gita was for Mahatma his gospel, his spiritual guide. He was seeking at it every time he was in trouble to find guidance and consolation. He was one of the people who are trying to accomplish their aims.Gita also supports action to achieve aims and includes teachings on how to avoid sins.It implies that someone has to pay the same attention to pleasure and pain in order not to commit sins and to act selflessly.The man who can control his own mind and overcome fleshly desires, such as sexual pleasure and wealth, and only spiritual pleasures suffice for him, can conquer the bliss. In this way, he can be unaffected by the sufferings of the body, such as poverty and hunger. The curbing of physical desires and the complete disconnection from them was Gandhi’s primary aim and that caused countless problems. The reward provided by Gita for those who follow these principles is to be united with the divine and to cease successive reincarnations. Gandhi was often saying he hoped not to be reborn.

It seems that Gandhi found in Gita the spiritual but practical guidance he was looking for. Through the adventures of the mythical figures of Krishna and Arjuna, he may have probed his own personal myth, the heroes with whom he was identified, at an age when his personality was trying to be formed and his identity to be established. Perhaps this need for guidance is related to the fact that his father was no longer alive to advise and support him.

 “Man is supposed to be the maker of his destiny. It is only partly true. He can make his destiny, only in so far as he is allowed by the Great Power.”


Gandhi’s return to India


When Gandhi returned to India, he learned that his mother had died as long as he was away, but his relatives had chosen not to reveal it because of his special love for her. His son, Harilal, who was born just before he left, was now four years old. He spent time on his wife and child, but he was unable to support them financially because, despite the expectations of his older brother, he was not successful as a lawyer, as he was unable to speak fluently in a court. One more failure with the British Political Representative made him totally disappointed and want to leave again India. So, after two very difficult years, he decided to go to South Africa to represent a company of some Muslims from Porbandar, as a lawyer. Kasturbai stayed in India with their two sons: the second one was then one year old. In South Africa, Gandhi began to turn into a completely different person, as if he had been reborn.

 “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”


Gandhi’s first year in South Africa


Mahatma arrived in Durban, South Africa, in May 1893, to defend a Muslim entrepreneur in a court.To attend this trial, he needed to go to Pretoria, Transvaal. During the night, while traveling by train, in the first class, a white man and two police officers told him he had to move to the third class, causing his reaction as his ticket was for the first one. In the end, they pulled him off the train along with his luggage. During the next day,after talking with other Indians, he found that they had experienced similar incidents, but no one complained about racial discrimination against them. For them, it was an established situation, as people of Indian origin in the English colonies of South Africa were considered as “coolies” (blue-collar workers), although some of them could practice prominent professions, such as lawyers and traders. Over the next few days he encountered similar problems in finding a room in a hotel to stay overnight. He understood, however, that not all whites were biased towards him. At the inn he stayed one night, customers were allowed to dine in the same area and on the train an English passenger was positive to sit on the same wagon, despite the objections of the police.


Gandhi’s first public speech

Gandhi public speechAfter a few days, Gandhi held his first public speech, inviting all Indians of Pretoria to meet in order to discuss their situation and the changes that could be made to improve it. He even started teaching English to some of them. In the following period, he made sure that he knew all the Indians in the area, and in agreement with the authorities at the railway stations, he ensured that the Indians who had a decent outfit would be able to travel to the first or second class. In addition, through the other lawyers, he came in contact with many Christians, with whom he developed friendships, discussed about religious matters and read books of their religion.

As for the his profession, he was significantly improved, as he had learned important information on the keeping of business accounts and had been informed about important legal issues. In the cases he undertook, he always preferred out-of-court settlements in order to avoid trials and maintain his mental calm.

While preparing to return to India, he was informed about a government proposal to remove the right from the Indians to elect parliament members. Gandhi urged his compatriots to protest against this proposal, but he needed to stay in South Africa, as they would not have made it without him.

 “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”


Gandhi’s fight for rights


The beginning of the fight

In August 1894, Gandhi decided to stay for a while in South Africa to help Indians fight for their rights. There were two most serious problems they had to deal with. The Indians who originally came to the country as blue-collar workers, for a pre-determined period of time, and then wished to stay as free workers were obliged to pay very high taxes. In addition, in 1894, voting rights were granted to a few eminent and affluent Indians by Queen Victoria of England, that were then removed by the Parliament of Natal. Other difficulties were found in the fact that the Indians had to have their passport on them if they wanted to move on the road after 9pm, otherwise they were arrested because they were not allowed to own land in some areas, to deal with trade or the cultivation of land even to buy gold or to walk in paths.

To deal with these issues, Gandhi had been organizing conferences, drafting thousands of signatures for three years, publishing articles in newspapers and brochures, and getting links to the English, African and Indian people. His tactic was to appeal to the rationale and the ethics of his opponents.His main aim was the equivalence for Indian citizens of Great Britain and its colonies.

After a six-month period, during which Gandhi had gone to India, where he wrote a booklet on India’s difficulties in South Africa and sent it to the newspapers and prominent personalities in India, he returned to South Africa along with his wife, their two sons, one nephew, and two ships carrying about eight hundred Indians. The ships were initially quarantined, as the locals considered that Gandhi wanted to fill the area with his compatriots, but 23 days later they were allowed to disembark.

While Gandhi had left the ship and was walking to a friendly home, two children recognized him and called his name. Soon, a crowd of furious whites had gathered around him. They isolated him from his fellows,they threw stones and punched him. Eventually, the police chief’s wife, who saw the incident, protected Gandhi by going in front of him and a boy called the police to accompany him to his friend’s home. Mahatma categorically refused to denounce the men who attacked him, as he believed it was a mistake of the government of Natal that filled their hearts with hate and fear for him. On the contrary, he forgave them and devoted himself to his serious work. In 1897, the government of Natal acknowledged equal voting rights for all British citizens, including the Indians.

Gandhi’s stunning ability to maintain his self-control even in adverse situations is obvious at this point. He could have left his anger about those who mocked him and his desire for vengeance to overwhelm him. Instead, he chose to understand these people, the government of their country made them afraid, and eventually to forgive them. With forgiveness, one is released from thoughts and emotions that burden his or her mental and physical health and divert his attention from what is really important in his life. Thus, Gandhi managed to maintain his balance through forgiveness and continue to pay attention and direct his energy towards his noble aims.


Gandhi’s great change: the beginning

During his stay in South Africa, Gandhi had a fairly high income, from his work as a lawyer, and a wealthy life.

Gandhi and KasturbaiHe used to involve the housework, which bothered his wife. He was trying to impose his own strict and often dysfunctional rules, not only on himself but also on his children, on their behavior.Their house had no running water, and each room had a night pot that was moved and cleaned every day by Gandhi and Kasturbai, as he was unable to hire a servant. Sometimes there was a sharp quarrel between each other when Kasturbai refused to clean the pot of a guest. Gandhi insisted that his wife had to do this job and when she broke into tears, he was particularly critical of her, telling her that he would not tolerate such silly behaviors in his house. The quarrel ended with Gandhi pushing her out of the house and her shouting that she had no where else to go and no one else to support her there.

There was a second great quarrel between the couple in 1901, when Gandhi’s family would return to India and many Indians in the area offered them jewellery, gold, silver and diamonds as gifts. Mahatma, urged by his longing to get rid of the burden of private property, and because in his sermons he encouraged people not to pay attention to material goods, he decided to offer these precious gifts as a sponsorship to the Indian community. So he removed all these treasures from his home, even a gold necklace he had given to his wife.

Gandhi wanted to pursue a simple life without luxuries. He was strictly committed to vegetarian diet and preferred natural methods of treatment for diseases. He often followed long fastings and restricted his diet to nuts and fruits. When he stayed in Johannesburg, he walked the way from and to his office that was 5 miles.

In the trials he undertook, he insisted that the client should reveal to him the whole truth, and if he realized that some incidents were being hidden, he could leave the case. He believed that a good lawyer is the one who helps the court to discover the truth and to confer justice, not the one lying to the benefit of his client.

In 1903, Gandhi, reading a book by John Ruskin, ‘Unto this last”, decided to radically change his life, based on the ideas of this book. He bought a farm in Phoenix, that was vast and included various kinds of fruitful trees, a well and his poor house. There were the offices of Indian Opinion, a magazine that Gandhi had contributed in its start. However, for few years his family and he moved from Phoenix to Johannesburg, where he often needed to attend as a lawyer. Close relatives, friends, partners and political associates, stayed with him in his two residences, except for his family, whose expenses were borne by himself.

Gandhi was constantly trying to practice self-control. For this reason, he had made a decision to curb his appetite for food, with the ultimate aim of releasing him from the intense human passions, such as anger, vanity and sexual desire. He believed that the body should only be provided with the necessary for its survival, and that fleshly wishes should be subject to mind control so that man can be developed spiritually and engage in superior aims. He argued that, someone, in order to be able to offer unselfish service, had to devote totally himself to his aim and to remove of his interests even his family, so as not to be disoriented. As part of this effort for self-control, he also took the decision to abstain from sexual intercourse, which was also reported to Kasturbai, who did not protest at all.


Gandhi’s first imprisonment

In September 1906, the Indian Community headed by Gandhi convened a meeting of about 3,000 people at the Imperial Theater, Johannesburg. The attitude that they would hold against a new law that compelled all Indians to give their fingerprints, declare their stay in South Africa and bring with them the certificate of their declaration was discussed. Offenders of this law would be fined, imprisoned and would be deprived of their right to reside in the country. At Gandhi’s instigation, all those who were present pledged not to obey this deceptive law, even if they needed to pay the price.

Gandhi initially disapproved of the term “passive resistance”, because he was not passive. In order to characterize this resistance movement at the Imperial Theater, he preferred the term “Satyagraha”, meaning true – power or love -power, emphasizing the peaceful nature of their movement, the absence of violence and hostility towards the opponent, and an attitude of sincerity, patience and compassion for the latter.

A few days after the meeting, the government of Transvaal exempts women of Asian origin from the law. Then, Gandhi traveled to London to hold meetings with political figures to negotiate the law. Among them was Lord Elgin, Secretary of the Colonial State, whom he interviewed. On his way back, he was informed that Elgin would not approve the application of the law against the Asians, but since Transvaal would cease to be an English colony, since January 1st1907, his government could implement voluntarily the law. So it was implemented in July 1907.

When that law came into force, some Asians rushed to get a residence permit, but most refused, so they were brought to court. Among them was Gandhi, who was given two months’ imprisonment. He even managed to use his time in prison, mainly by reading books. However, his imprisonment was interrupted in less than 20 days as the government made him a proposal: if the Indians declared their stay on a voluntary basis, there would be a revocation of the law.

Gandhi accepted the proposal, thinking that the statement would not be humiliating, since it would be voluntary and not coercive. He tried to persuade the rest of the Indians that accepting this proposal would be the most favorable choice for them. Although he received numerous negative reactions from his compatriots, he was the first to make this statement.

On the day he would make his statement, a group of Indians who had been dissatisfied with his political attitude followed him to the office of statements and attacked him. ΟGandhi endured the assault and, once again, did not prosecute his opponents. When he recovered, he managed to complete his statement. His movement was imitated by other Indians. In the end, however, the government violated its promise and did not withdraw the law. Consequently, the Indians, in the checks carried out, did not have a residence certificate with them in the country, they were considered to be illegal immigrants and were deported.

It was imperative that the Indians claim the right to live and enter freely in Transvaal. To achieve their aim, they decided, under the Gandhi’s guidance, to protest: they entered in Transvaal without certificates in order to be arrested. Among them was the older son of Gandhi, Harilal. These people were arrested and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment.

Gandhi was also arrested and taken to Volksrust Prison, where he had more than 75 Indians held back and was glad to cook for them. He spent time with other manual tasks such as scraping, digging, cleaning the premises. He could simply pay the fine but he considered it a cowardliness. In addition, he observed that he was enjoying some privileges as a prisoner, such as his discharge from worries and responsibilities and the extra time available for pray. He also enjoyed the feeling that he suffered for the sake of his homeland and his religion.

At this point, it could be observed that Gandhi’s self-sacrifice and his self-serving to a superior, noble aim, beyond his own limits, reaches the limits of moral masochism. He does not hesitate to be deprived of his temporary personal satisfaction in order to defend the rights of the South African Indians. Moreover he seems to be pleased with the fact that he is imprisoned to serve a higher social good as well as his values.


The period of consecutive imprisonments

During the following period, many of the Gandhi supporters were either punished by consecutive imprisonment or were deported and returned to India, losing their property in South Africa. Some of them may be imprisoned five times, the one after another. In addition, a new federal union opposing to the equality of Indian rights, headed by Botha and Smuts, was created in the country.

Gandhi had a five-month trip to England in order to gain the favor of important political figures as well as the public opinion. He soon succeeded in engaging the people and politicians of England to the Indian problem in South Africa. In this trip, coming in contact with Indians of various political beliefs, he began to reflect on the issue of political independence of India.

When he returned to South Africa, he decided that it was necessary to offer accommodation to the people and their families who resisted. The farm in Phoenix was a long way from the outbreak of the race at Transvaal, so his friend and partner, Herman Kallenbach, bought a huge plot of land in a city near Johannesburg for this aim. Gandhi named it Tolstoy Farm, in honor of the friendship and exchange of ideas he had with Leon Tolstoy.

The farm contained over 1,000 fruit trees, springs, wells and a house around which other smaller ones were built. There, Gandhi and Kallenbach settled with their families. They were making their own food and their own wooden furniture. Gandhi learned to make bread, jam and coffee from caramel wheat. There were no chairs and beds. They were all sleeping together on the ground with their blankets.

The situation seemed to be settled when, in October 1912, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the President of the Servants of Indian Society in India, visited South Africa. After a meeting with Botha and Smuts, head of the country’s government, he informed Gandhi that the ban on immigration and the taxes paid by former blue-collar workers would cease to apply. However, this decision was withdrawn. In addition, according to a new law, only Christian marriages were recognized as legal in the country, excluding all other religions.

A new wave of resistance burst out, and for the first time, many women also participated. Along with mass arrests of Indians entering and leaving Natal, Indian miners declared a strike. As they were housed in the buildings of the companies they were working for, their companies stopped supplying water and electricity to them. Upon Gandhi’s command, the workers gathered around the house of some of their friends who took care of them. But their food needs were great, as there were a huge number of people, and Gandhi suggested moving across the Transvaal-Natal border to be taken to prison where they would have at least food and shelter. Arriving near the border, trains were carrying them back to Natal, where they were tried and imprisoned.

Meanwhile, a wave of Indian revolution had spread throughout the country. The striking workers were brought back to the mines, where their bosses tried to force them to work. The strikes have multiplied and in the attempts of the army to suppress them, some workers injured or killed. The English government intervened to resolve the situation.

Gandhi has decided to make another course with his compatriots, but it coincided with a strike by European rail workers. As a sign of respect for the opponent’s weakness, the course was suspended. Gandhi’s aim was to assert the rights of the Indians, not to harm his opponent or exploit his weakness. This move of humanity seemed to have touched the African government and brought support messages from England and the whole of South Africa.

Smuts called Gandhi into negotiation. Gandhi once again demonstrated his ability to forgive and reconcile. Finally, they came to an agreement. Hindu weddings were declared legitimate. The taxes demanded by the former blue – collar workers who remained in Natal were abolished. The work of Indians under slavery would be stopped few years later. The ban on the free movement of Indians from one side of the country to another remained. Both sides, in order to reach an agreement, made some compromises. Gandhi’s real victory, however, was not only the withdrawal of laws, but also that he managed to speak in the heart of his opponents and activate his noble, peaceful aspects.

 “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”


Gandhi’s action in India


Gandhi, the supporter of the poor

When World War I began, Gandhi, although he disliked violence, offered to set up a group of stretcher bearer in the British army, believing that as an Indian, a resident of a region that Great Britain protected,owed to that country.

Gandhi the supporter of poor peopleHe returned to India in January 1915. There he wrote his first book, “Indian Home Rule”, which contained talks with Indians, anarchists and terrorists in London on the independence of India. He argues that not hostility but a fair attitude towards the English can make India an independent state. The real conqueror, according to Gandhi, was not England, but modern civilization with the advance of industry and machinery, which people worshiped as gods, forgetting their culture and their moral side. Despite his intense patriotism, which was mainly due to his religiosity, he was open to accepting influences from other cultures, such as the English one. What fit in Gandhi was the freedom that Great Britain provided to its citizens to direct their energy and devotion wherever their conscience pointed out.


Gandhi’s house in India

Gandhi’s house in India was a hermitage in a village beside the Sabarmati River.There was no private space for himself and his family, since all the people of India were now considered as his family. His room looked like a cell: small, with railing in the window and a small courtyard where he slept and worked, despite the weather conditions. Many of his students built their houses around his own.He wore poor clothes, often just a loincloth, to get closer to the Indian peasants.

In addition, according to Gandhi, the independence of the country had to begin by improving the situation of peasants, living in villages in poverty and ignorance. To achieve this, politicians had to come close to the simple people, speaking local dialects and without their expensive clothes.

In February 1916, Gandhi held a public speech at Hindu University Central College before politicians and officers in the country, where he openly accused the English and Indian governments of their riches and palaces coming from exploiting the pain of the peasants.He argued that university education should be carried out not in English, but in their mother tongue, in order to preserve their cultural identity. He emphasized on the responsibility of each Indian for the material and moral decline of the country: its dirty and ruined temples, their abusive attitudes, the anarchist groups that caused the government’s suspicion. The speech, of course, caused negative reactions from the public, but Gandhi’s reputation as a supporter of the poor began to spread.


Gandhi’s untouchables

“Untouchables”, the peasants who worked as blue – collar workers and lived in degraded conditions, were so named because they were not allowed to touch any person who belonged to Indian caste as it was considered that their touch could infect the “pure” Indians. For this reason, they were forbidden to enter Indian houses, temples and shops.

Gandhi disapproved of the social prejudices against them. He believed that the Indians had to show humanity to each other before calling for the humanity of England.

Also he had worked with the untouchables in South Africa in his mobilizations. Once, an untouchable family asked Gandhi to settle in his hermitage. Not only he accepted them, but he also adopted their daughter, a fact that his wealthy supporters disliked, and as a result they withdrew their money. Fortunately, however, there were other wealthy Indians who rushed to offer. Kasturbai also complained that she would let an untouchable woman involve in her household, but Gandhi conveyed her with the irresistible arguments. Gandhi began to live as untouchable and cleaned with her and his students the toilets of the hermitage. Since all of them lived as untouchables, they did not need to fear being infected by their contact.Gandhi called them “Harijans” or “Children of God”. This love for the untouchables cost him the loss of many fanatical Indians and the obstacles they brought to his struggles. However, many Indians of senior social classes were willing to have lunch with him and stay at his house, although he lived as an untouchable.


The support of Champaran growers by Gandhi

In 1917, Gandhi undertook to defend Champaran’s employed growers against the British landowners of the region. In particular, the farmers had agreed to cultivate 15% of their land and to pay it to the landowners. When, however, Germany released the synthetic lute, the crops were useless and the landowners demanded compensation from the growers in order to exempt them from the 15%. Some farmers refused to pay and others, who initially paid, asked for their money back. Landowners began to abuse and intimidate the farmers.

Gandhi arrived at Champaran and began investigating the matter. Asking for evidence from the British Landlord Association and the British Commissioner of the region, they tried to expel him by intimidating him. Instead of just leaving the area, he continued his investigations. He received a written mandate from the police to leave the region and signed that he would not obey. The next day he was brought to trial. Soon the area was overwhelmed by villagers who rushed to support him. He was asked to pay a guarantee to be released and he refused. A group of lawyers arrived in support of him and declared willing to be imprisoned. Gandhi showed that the English could not rule him within his own country, thus helping the other Indians to get rid of the fear of British sovereignty. He was released and after a few months the landlords accepted to negotiate with the growers and eventually to pay them a compensation.

Once again, it became evident that Gandhi did not hesitate to deprive himself of his delights, even his own freedom, for the service of a superior aim and for the benefit of an injured group. Shortly after the incidents at Champaran, the impoverished Ahmedabad mill workers demanded higher wages and fewer hours of work, but mill owners refused their requests. At the Gandhi’s instigation, the workers went on strike, with no effect. As the workers were ready to bend and start working again, Gandhi announced that if they stopped the strike, he would go on a hunger strike. For three days Gandhi stayed fasting and on the third day the owners, who enjoyed great sympathy for him, accepted to negotiate with the workers. His act of self-sacrifice may caused shame to the owners for their own selfishness.

 “If co-operation is a duty, I hold that non-co-operation also under certain conditions is equally a duty.”


Gandhi against English domination


Gandhi’s Satyagraha and Hartal

During the World War I, many Indians were recruited by the side of England. However, in India, important Indian and Muslim leaders were imprisoned. There was a hope that after the end of the war these actions would be revoked. However, in February 1909, the Government proposed a bill for the continuation of these enforcement measures.

Gandhi was weak at that time because of a dysentery that he had suffered. Despite his difficulties, he began visiting several cities in India to organize a massive Satyagraha national movement as resistance to the bill aimed at the violent imposition of English domination in India. A month later, the law passed and Gandhi suggested the Indians react with a move known as “hartal”, which meant cessation of any economic activity, with workers of all levels and businesses abstaining from their work, and that day to dedicate to fasting and pray. This act was the first move by Gandhi against the British in India, since, until a while ago, he believed in the smooth settlement.

Hartal was applied in many regions of India, resulting in the country’s economy freezing and the Indians believing in their forces again. In Mumbai, the success of the move was great, but in Delhi there were violent incidents and shootings. A few days later, Gandhi publicly denied this kind of behavior, stating that they are totally opposed to the idea of ​​peaceful Satyagraha.For atonement, he submitted himself to 72 hours of fasting and asked his followers to fast for 24 hours.

In April, the government of Punjab, one of the states of India, condemned two party leaders, a Muslim and an Indian, to exile, resulting in the infuriation of the people who raided the streets violently and killing prominent members of English society. A few days later, in Amritsar, the city of Punjab, courses and meetings were banned by proclamation. However, this proclamation appears to have not been communicated to all regions of the city. So the next day, a great meeting was held in a closed area, a kind of unused land surrounded by buildings. When the authorities were informed about the meeting, shooters arrived in the area and opened fire against unarmed attendants who, due to the enclosed space, could not escape. Approximately 379 people were killed and 1137 injured.

An even more humiliating command followed. The English director of a school had been brutally assaulted by the mob, and the order to crawl was given to those who passed through the area of the incident. Of course, all these inhuman measures did not leave Gandhi indifferent.


Gandhi’s first political party

Gandhi did not have the ambition to engage in politics in his life. The mobilizations in South Africa and India were motivated by moral and humanitarian reasons. He wanted a warm contact with the simple people, not the coldness of a political party. However, in 1920, in order to claim the autonomous governance of India, he led a political party representing that idea. The Indians trusted him as a leader but also as a human being because he was absolutely frank towards them, he did not hesitate to admit and publicly criticize his mistakes.

During that period, the general Muslim of India dissatisfaction against England came to be added to the humiliating sanctions imposed on Turkey, the leading country of Muslims, from England and its allies after the World War I, creating the Khilafat Movement. The common feeling of disappointment with English policy brought together the Muslim and the Indian party, helping to create a relationship of mutual support.

Gandhi, in support of the Khilafat Movement, proposed a move that he described as “Non-co-operation”, i.e. the Indians were asked to exclude from their trade the English exports, especially textiles, and more generally whatever was English, such as schools, courts, jobs and offices, demonstrating an attitude of self-control.


The first “Diarchy” between England and India, February 1921

In February 1921, England proposed the system of government by the United Kingdom to go to the “Diarchy”, that is, the co-existence of England and India. The Indians would have supervised sub-sectors such as agriculture and health, and England would retain the administration of finance and the police, and the right to bypass the decisions of Indian politicians. Although this plan was not particularly conducive to the Indians, Gandhi, trusting the British and believing that they have good intentions and aspirations to further improve the situation, had asked Congress to accept the proposal.

It seems that Gandhi blindly trusted other people, even his opponents. Perhaps, since he was characterized by sincerity and kindness, he believed that these characteristics were inherent in others too.

However, the changes to India’s expected autonomy did not occur.In September 1920, a congressional meeting was held with Gandhi head, where the “Non-co-operation” movement was brought to the fore and discussed the issues of upgrading the state of the untouchables and restoring textiles matter to the country.

Gandhi, coming from the middle class, gained many middle-class Indians who were hoping for their country’s independence. Even the most skeptical were drawn by the courage and selflessness that characterized him.People identified with him and valued him as he was speaking in their hearts and was giving them strength.

Thus, they willingly implemented the “Non-Co-operation”. Gandhi denied some medals he had received from England for his action in South Africa, a number of Indians withdrew titles and offices, and students dropped out of their studies in British foundations. Educated Indians moved to the provinces to engage in peer education. Peasants stopped paying their taxes and buying products that made a profit to the government.

On the Muslim allies’ side, there was a wave of uprisings when, in September 1921, Muslim party leader Mohamed Ali was arrested and imprisoned. At the same time, the new King of England was crowned, who, when he visited India, was confronted with the hostility of the people. The government has arrested politicians and their supporters. Within a few months, 20,000 Indians were in prison for acts against the government.


Gandhi in jail, March 1922

In March 1922, Gandhi was arrested and taken to prison. In the court he made a speech that stirred the attendees, even the judge, who with heavy heart gave him the minimum sentence of six years imprisonment. He accepted the sentence once again without protest, as he had predicted that “Non-co-operation” would imprison him and considered it as another incident that would stir up the Indians to claim their freedom.


 “I claim to be a simple individual liable to error like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough in me to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”


Gandhi’s family


Gandhi was always sweet and lenient with all who surrounded him except his wife and sons. And himself, of course.He was strict with them and demanded discipline. His relations with Kasturbai were initially strained, but over time they calmed down. Kasturbai had her own personality and did not hesitate to follow some habits that Gandhi considered unacceptable, such as drinking tea or coffee. The fact that she was his wife did not make her claim privileges and she should be willing to perform her jobs in the hesychast.

It seems that he showed care and understanding to his followers that he did not have for his children. Despite his bad relationship with them, he enjoyed playing and spending time with the others’ children. He even claimed that the son of a friend, who followed the “Satyagraha”, was more affectionate than his biological sons.

Harilal Gandhi the son of Mahatma Gandhi

Harilal Gandhi

He did not care of his older son, Harilal, to get married and at the age of 18 he had discouraged him. His son Manilal had a relationship with a married woman in South Africa, and when Gandhi learned it, he talked about the situation publicly and forbade the son to marry until he was 35. Also, his sons were hurt that did not give them the opportunity to acquire university education, and he had sent two cousins ​​to England in order to study. For one of them, Maganlal, Gandhi had stated that he was his spiritual heir, since he was faithful to his spiritual suggestions and embraced the virtue of temperance that Gandhi preached.

Manilal Gandhi

Manilal Gandhi

As for Manilal, at one point, he lent his brother money without informing his father, and when the latter learned it by accident, he felt that his son had deceived him and sent him out of the hesychast. He then sent him to South Africa to manage the Indian Opinion. He writes that in his life he spent little time with his father and did not express tenderness to him, as he did later with his followers. After the death of his son’s wife, Gandhi had denied the possibility of remarrying. Manilal then swam in alcohol and women and became a Muslim, trying, perhaps, to disturb him.

Gandhi imposed on the inhabitants of the hesychast some unobtrusive rules of conduct that had to do with personal hygiene, timidity with time and manual work. As much as he stood with the behavior of his followers, so much was his tolerance with their way of thinking. He did not demand to follow his own ideology. Having accepted his own imperfections, he could embrace the defects of the others.

It seems that Gandhi was another person with his family, tougher and indifferent, and another one with his followers and associates, more affectionate and interpersonal. Especially he seems not to treat his sons as individuals with the right to evolve autonomously. Perhaps he was considering them as extensions of himself, who were obliged to live according to his suggestions and to assimilate his values. He had a cruel approach to their human, fleshly aspects, such as the lust of Manilal, perhaps because he had renounced his own physical needs. He showed preference to his nephew simply because he was simulating the pattern of temperance and virtue he had so idealized, in other words he looked like Gandhi. Why, however, could he have this attitude towards his own children, while with the others’ children he was a loving and cheerful person?One possible explanation is that because he was married at an early age (13 years), marriage and childbirth were not his own choices. Perhaps felt the family as a burden on his shoulders or an obstacle to his duty to serve the common good with dedication.

 “Just as a man would not cherish living in a body other than his own, so do nations not like to live under other nations, however noble and great the latter may be.”


Gandhi’s action after release


The release

In January 1924, after 22 months of imprisonment, Gandhi suffered from acute appendicitis and was transferred to hospital for surgery, which was successful. Because of this fact and the delay that led to the recovery of an abscess in the intervention area, the Government made the decision to release him in February of the same year.

He was informed from his partners about the situation the country that had suffered during his absence. The cooperation between Indians and Muslims has been weakened and the “Non-co-operation” movement has been dismantled.At a congressional meeting he understood that most of his followers no longer supported his peaceful methods and he publicly cried. Considering the unity of Indians and Muslims indispensable to India’s independence, in September 1924, he announced that he would fast for 21 days in order to raise their awareness towards their twinning. During his fasting, he stayed at Mohamed Ali’s home, giving the example to the Indians by confiding himself with a Muslim in his great undertaking. However, his attempt failed, since the conflict between the people remained.

Having been disappointed by his inability to bridge the gap between Indians and Muslims and bring close to him the educated Indians, who in the meantime had been divided into individual parties, he decided to leave Congress. He stated that he was not pleased at all for the fact that his members relied on him to settle all the issues presented.However, after the pressure he accepted, he remained as a head for one more year.

During this time, he traveled throughout India. In all the regions he was visiting, he was waiting for a crowd of people, who were eager to see him and bowed in front of him, trying to touch his feet. Many of them were coming from remote areas, exclusively for him. The people had deified him so much that a whole doctrine devoted to his worship had been set up. Many people considered him to be reincarnation of the God.

In the trips he was making, he raised money to invest in the looms, handmade textiles and textiles industries in the country, which would make it self-sufficient in fabric production without the need for machines used by modern industries. Women, even young girls, often donated their jewels, which was particularly gratifying to him. He persuaded the female audience, saying that heavy and too expensive jewels not only did not give them beauty, but they may have been uncomfortable and harmful to health because of the dirt they often brought. He encouraged the inhabitants of the provinces and the villages to deal with woven fabric every day and to raise awareness among them to buy them in order to help improve their economy and hence the autonomy of the country. Even Gandhi sold these fabrics. He was efficient in collecting money, but used it to empower the poor, not himself.


A time of “political silence”

Exhausted he was by his intense activism, at the end of the year, he pledged to observe a year of “political silence”, during which he would not depart from his hesychast and would not go out of Ahmedabad. During this time, on Mondays he remained in absolute silence in order to be able to rest his body and spirit. On the other days of the week he avoided the crowds, but he spoke, wrote, had home visits and contacted many people inside and outside India.

His correspondence often contained conversations with men who wanted his advice on matters of their sexual life. He argued that frequent sexual intercourse exhausted the Indians and resulted in overcrowding of the country. He was in favor of controlling births, but through self-control and not by other means of contraception. He believed that by abstaining from sexual intercourse, man keeps valuable energy, which he can invest in other activities. He totally despised the institution of child marriage, because it also contributed to overcrowding.


Return to politics

When the time of political silence ended, Gandhi began rejoining meetings and participating in the annual congressional meeting. During the following months, he traveled through many cities and villages to get in touch with the world, resulting in his physical and intellectual collapse. His doctor recommended him two months of rest. Years later, another doctor told him that he had suffered a mild stroke. Although his heart seemed healthy, his blood pressure rose when he had to make some important decision.


The British Commission

In October 1927, England’s new Regent, Lord Irwin, invited Gandhi to a meeting. Other Indian politicians took part in it and informed them of the establishment of a British commission to investigate the situation in India and to propose political reforms. Gandhi was disappointed at the meeting. The committee was concerned with the problems of the Indians, but none of them was one of them. The “Non-Co-operation” movement has spread again throughout India. The Indians would refuse to assist the committee in conducting its investigations. So when the committee arrived in India, it confronted black flags, slogans and complete isolation from the world.

In February 1928, a new Satyagraha movement was organized in the Bardoli area, where villagers refused to pay their taxes as a protest for a 22% increment in those imposed by the British government. Gandhi guided the movement remotely, but a confidant was placed in the lead. The villagers were deprived of their possessions for months and were imprisoned, but they did not bend. In the end, the move proved to be successful, since it was decided to lift the government’s tax increment.

However, the question of the country’s independence remained. Congress called for an immediate war. After negotiations with Gandhi, it was agreed to give the English government one year period to bring the country in independence from the British Empire. A few months later, following a terrorist attack on the New Delhi Legislative Council, the committee left India. But the year that was given as a period was reaching its end, and Irwin still could not assure whether Great Britain would allow India to secede from its empire. A new peaceful protest movement began which, among other things, included the abstention of members of Congress from their responsibilities and the refusal to pay taxes from the people.


Peaceful protest, March 1930

At this stage, Gandhi’s protest began by trying to break the monopoly of salt. Great Britain retained the monopoly of salt in India, while prohibiting law-abiding citizens from free exporting salt from the sea. But as the sale prices of salt were too high, the poor people found it hard to buy it, even though it was needed much more than the upper class, due to its hard manual labor in the tropical heat of India.

In March 1930, Gandhi, at the age of 61, started with an accompaniment of 78 people from his hesychast, a pedestrian route heading south of Ahmedabad. The course lasted 24 days and took a total of 200 miles, passing through many villages where people left their jobs to accompany Gandhi to the next village. When Gandhi arrived at sea at the end of the journey, his followers were thousands.

Gandhi came in the sea and gathered salt that the water brought, breaking the law banning the gathering of salt by the Indians. Soon, the residents from the surrounding areas came at the shore, holding utensils to gather salt. The police arrived at the shore and started beating the attendees and capturing them. They did not resist their arrest, but refused to give the salt they had gathered, and as a result that the police officers hit them with fury.

The wave of protest has spread to areas throughout India. In many seaside locations, people were heading to the shore to gather salt and many of them were violently punished or arrested by the state. In Calcutta, revolutionary texts were read publicly and the mayor was imprisoned. In various regions, there was a boycott of imported fabrics and clothes and a hindrance to the purchase of alcoholic products. Women and girls in the upper classes publicly removed their headscarves in protest. In other places, the peasants abstained from paying their rent and taxes, rebels were attacking the British Guard and stealing weapons from arsenals. Except, however, for these incidents, there was no other violence on the part of the rebels. A month later, on May 5th, Gandhi was arrested once again and taken to prison.


Gandhi-Irwin negotiations

Gandhi’s imprisonment was a serious problem for the English government, as it was a movement that had revolutionized the people and caused a massive popular uprising that was difficult to control. Under these circumstances, Regent Irwin released on January 26th Gandhi and other members of the Congress.

As a sign of gratitude for this move, Gandhi asked Irwin for a meeting. There followed a series of meetings, ending with the Delhi Agreement, which provided the end of the peaceful protest, the imprisonment by the English government and the law banning the extraction of salt from the seas. However, the issue of India’s independence, which was also a Gandhi’s question, had not yet been settled and was expected to be discussed at a next conference with the Congress, to be held in London.


The conference in London

Gandhi stayed in London from mid September to early December. During this time, he was staying at the house of a friend who had previously host, 5 miles from the city center, to save money.

When he was in Buckingham Palace to spend the night with the King and Queen of England, he impressed the others by his guise: loincloth, sandals, scarf and a pendant watch. He also visited the former Prime Minister of England on his farm, where the servants gathered together to meet him, a fact that they made for the first time in a guest. He also received invitations from other celebrities who wished to meet him, such as Charlie Chaplin, George Bernard Shaw and Maria Montessori, which he accepted. Professor Lindsay, in the house of whom Gandhi stayed when he visited Oxford, likened him to a saint who treated everyone with respect, regardless of their social class.Professor Thomson, who also met Gandhi in Oxford, expressed the aspect that he possessed a “demon” similar to that of Socrates, which remains unshaken by the arguments of others, as well as by the dangers.

In addition to his other activities in London, Gandhi also participated in the conference meetings for which he had gone there, but they seemed boring to him and far from his own way of thinking. The members of the conference were an extremely heterogeneous group, where everyone supported the interests of the group he represented and did not seem to be moving towards a common aim. Great Britain’s representatives had clearly stated their intention to maintain their country’s leadership in India. Also, the division among the Indians, the Muslims and the “Untouchables” remained unbridgeable. Gandhi left London disappointed, as there had been no substantial improvement in the situation.


Gandhi’s return to India

When Gandhi returned to India, he was welcomed by an enthusiastic human sea. It did not matter if he had not achieved anything great. It was enough for them that he had returned safe and sound and that he had preserved his honor and his faith in the freedom of India.  Gandhi was now the symbol of India’s freedom.

However, there were some unpleasant surprises for him. The Government of Irwin and the Labor Party, with whom Gandhi had achieved a certain degree of freedom, was succeeded by the Conservative Party. This party was much more indolent in imposing English domination in the country. Some members of the Indian Congress had been arrested and a denial of tax charge had been penalized by seizures of buildings and bank accounts.

As he was informed of the situation, Gandhi stated that it was probably his Christmas gift from the Regent. At this point, it seems that Gandhi is turning to humor in difficult situations. Humor is a way to deal with situations that cause stress and incidents that are difficult for someone to manage psychologically. Through this, the individual can express what causes him anxiety or say a bitter truth in a pleasant, comforting and socially acceptable way.

Gandhi requested a meeting from the Regent to discuss these incidents, but the latter denied any negotiation. Instead, a few days later, he led him to jail. There the governor tried to equip him with furniture and other utensils as he considered him to be an honored person. But Gandhi asked to remove all of these items from his cell because, in his opinion, they were an expense that the people of India were carrying and he did not want to burden them.

During his imprisonment, he found once again an opportunity for creation: he completed a book that had begun in the previous sentence he had executed in Yeravda Prison, with the title “From Yeravda Mandir”. In this book, he expresses his aspects about God. For Gandhi, God is identified with truth, life and love. He states, in fact, that his actions are not based on both logic and instinct, as God guides. According to Gandhi, God dwells in the hearts of men and the union with Him is accomplished by the abandonment of selfishness and devotion to mankind.

It seems, therefore, that the prison bars are not enough to limit Gandhi’s inexhaustible energy. On the one hand, he uses writing as a way of expressing his creativity and, on the other hand, in order to externalize his troubles, in this case the matter and the service of God. It could also be distinguished that he is a person with excellent mental resilience, since even in the most difficult and restrictive conditions, such as his imprisonment, he manages to adapt, draw something positive from them and deal with things that please him.


Gandhi’s almost fatal fasting

In September 1932, while Gandhi was in prison, he read in a newspaper that Britain proposed the election of representatives separately for the Indians and for the untouchables. Gandhi was totally opposed to this suggestion, as he claimed to favor the widening of the gap that had already existed between the Indians and the untouchables while his aim was to bridle it.For this reason, Gandhi announced he would fast to death.

At this point, one could observe the way in which Gandhi expresses his aggression. He does not extort his anger in the form of protest or violent insurrection, as other rebels of his time would do. He also does not address it to those who caused it, in this case the Government of England, perhaps because he knows that such an act would be futile. Instead, he turns his aggression and anger against himself. It hurts his body, tortures it with the exhausting fasting that he follows. In this way, he tries to express his anger and opposition and to achieve his ultimate aim, here being the twinning between the Indians and the untouchables. He does not even hesitate to flirt with death in order to achieve this aim.

The English government was not prepared to negotiate the matter, since it aimed to strengthen the untouchables that Gandhi so actively supported. He therefore considered that his opposition was clearly due to a misunderstanding on his part. However, when the fast began, the negotiations soon began too, as the death of such an adorable person would cause tremendous shame to the government.

The final plan proposed was that the Indians and the untouchables participating in the Parliament would be elected jointly by the Indians and the untouchables, but a certain number of seats would be reserved for the untouchables. For these aspects, the untouchables would indicate for candidates those who considered them more valuable and then the Indians and the untouchables together would vote among them. Gandhi accepted the proposal and followed the negotiations on the number of positions that would be allocated to the untouchables. As soon as the project was completed, it was sent to the English government to be checked and approved. Both the Indian and the English governments had been alerted, so that Gandhi’s fast not to become fatal. Within a few hours, the British government was prevented from examining the plan and announcing its approval. Gandhi broke his fast in front of friends, politicians, journalists and his wife.

Gandhi’s most important achievement through this move was not the modification of the plan, but the fact that, being willing to sacrifice himself, he managed to bridge the gap between the Indians and the untouchables. During the days of fasting, the untouchables were allowed to enter many Indian temples, while on the streets the Indians and the untouchables were eating together and communicating with each other; streets and public services that were banned for the untouchables suddenly became accessible. An entire social reform was achieved, which would have been impossible with a simple political agreement.


The Gandhi’s non-political action

Gandhi’s main aim has always been the social reconstruction. Dealing with politics did not please him. Thus, until 1939, he dealt exclusively with actions related to the welfare and education of the lower social class. He was visiting Indian provinces to help peasants improve their quality of life. He advised them on simple and healthy eating, such as eating green leafy vegetables, cow’s milk and paddy rice. He argued that the villages should be self-sufficient and cover their basic food and textile needs and what surplus land should be used for the cultivation of exportable products, such as tobacco and opium. They should also have their own places for entertainment and education as well as their own water supply system. Still, the peasants should learn to react by non-co-operation, such as strikes and non-payment of their rent, to measures of the state that offend them.

As for his religious beliefs, he accepted and incorporated into his lifestyle characteristics from different religions. He considered all religions as equal, but they all had some vulnerabilities. Typical is the fact that on the wall of his house there was a painting of Jesus Christ.

Although he was receptive to influences out of Hinduism, he did not easily abandon the Hindu customs. For example, when his son, Devadas, fell in love with a girl from another caste, Gandhi initially did not allow them to marry, as Hinduism denounced marriages among people from different castes. Only when, after five years of separation, the young couple insisted on getting married, Gandhi approved their marriage with joy.

Gandhi also had the courage to revise his views when he thought it would bring him closer to the truth. Returning to the example among different castes, he initially disapproved them, and later warmly welcomed them. The same happened with marriages among people of different religions. Over the years, his attitude that men should be single in order to be able to perform their social work unhindered has also moderated.

He did not hesitate to publicly admit his moments of weakness. For example, at the age of 67 he wrote in a magazine,which he edited, that a few months ago he had felt in his sleep the need of a woman, despite the abduction pledge of sexual intercourse that he had taken years ago. This feeling scared him, but he managed to rein in it. He wanted the world to know every side and learn through his experiences.


“I believe that a man is the strongest soldier for daring to die unarmed.”


Gandhi’s aspect for the World War II

In the mid-1930s, as Gandhi observed the unfavorable conditions prevailing in countries such as Germany, China and Czechoslovakia, he realized that World War II was not far. Even then, he did not lose his faith in the power of peaceful attitude. This Gandhi’s pacifism arose, on the one hand, from his disappointment with his country’s relationship with Britain, which was to be an opponent of Axis forces, and, on the other hand,from his mental development and peaceful relationship with himself.

He was particularly aware of the suffering of the Jews of Germany and the people of Czechoslovakia, whose country had been betrayed to Hitler. He suggested that the Czechoslovak refuse to fight, since their defeat by the German army was certain, and to adopt a non-violent attitude. He argued that the sovereign tendencies of the Germans and the Italians had nothing to offer to the moral evolution of humanity. He expressed his sympathy for the Jews, who felt them as the untouchables of the Christian world. And for them, he suggested that a Satyagraha attitude should be maintained, as it could even evolve into heroic self-sacrifice, against Hitler’s mood. He believed that defending the rights of a people should be done with his own blood and not with the blood of his opponents.

In December 1938, a representative of the Japanese Parliament visited India in search of the alliance between the two countries. He argued that Asia should only be governed by Asians. Gandhi said he would not give his consent to the alliance if it meant war against the Europeans.


At the beginning of the World War II

Since the beginning of the war, Gandhi had declared his moral support to Great Britain for its defense against the Axis forces, but he was not prepared to join them or to defend India with an army. On the other hand, Congress was willing to join forces with the army if the United Kingdom in return met India’s independence claim. Although he was opposed to this aspect, Gandhi supported it in negotiations with Britain, but he said that it could not promise their independence. As a result, Congress denied assistance to England.

Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, could not even think of his country separating from its colonies.However, having been pressured by both the Government of the United Kingdom and the United States, he decided to send his representative to New Delhi to hold meetings with representatives of the Indian Congress, in March 1942. Finally, Churchill’s proposal in the negotiations was rejected by the Indians, as he gave India political and administrative independence, but stipulated that much of the Indian Parliament would come from the princes of India, to whom England was influential, thus maintaining a degree of control over the country’s political affairs. The same proclamation stipulated that any province that did not wish to co-operate with the Indian state that was to be established could be separated from it, a move that would lead to the fragmentation of the country, which Gandhi wanted to avoid.


Gandhi’s imprisonment in the time of war

During the World War II and while the Japanese army approached India, England was unable to protect its colony against a possible invasion.  In the mainland of India there was turmoil as the Indians were immobilized and unable to protect themselves and their country.

Under these circumstances, the Indian Congress had decided that the end of British sovereignty in the country was imperative. If full independence was given to India, Allied forces would be able to use areas of the country as the bases of their troops. If they did not accept their request, they would hold a peaceful protest with Gandhi guiding them.

A few days later, Gandhi and other members of Congress were taken to prison. This triggered a violent popular revolt throughout India, with disasters of buildings and railroads, as well as attacks on the police, which had lost control of the situation.

While in prison, Gandhi started a correspondence with Regent Linlithgow. Gandhi made it clear that Congress’s decisions until then were friendly to the Allied forces, so the English Government led the people to the Revolution with the imprisonments. The Regent, though, accused Gandhi of the violence. As a sign of protest and apparently affected by the unfair accusations, Gandhi decided to start a 21-day fast. He managed to complete this test even though he suffered from nausea with problems with his heartbeats and with the liver and although he got close to death.

The fact that Gandhi was imprisoned at a time when India needed him so much, and his inability to suppress the violence of the people, was a huge psychological burden. This burden was exacerbated by the death of his beloved friend and counselor, Mahadev Desai, in prison. Moreover, Gandhi’s wife died while he was in prison, who had been infected with chronic bronchitis. Gandhi said he could not imagine his life without her, but he was excited as she died on his feet. A few weeks after her death, Gandhi suffered malaria with alarmingly high fever. After a few days, he and his partners were released.


Gandhi’s negotiations with the Muslim party

Mahatma Gandhi and prime minister Thakin Nu

Gandhi has always believed that friendship among Indians and Muslims was a basic prerequisite for India’s independence. Thus, in September 1944, negotiations began between him and the leader of the Muslim party, Mohamed Ali Jinnah. Jinnah claimed the formation of two nations, one Indian and one Muslim. Gandhi proposed, after India’s independence was proclaimed, that elections would be held in the areas inhabited by many Muslims and the residents would decide whether they preferred to remain united with the rest of India or to form a separate Muslim state. Jinnah insisted on this decision to be taken prior to India’s declaration of independence, and only Muslim residents of these provinces to vote in those elections.

This was impossible, according to Gandhi, since it was impossible for the Muslims to decide for the fate of all the inhabitants of their regions. In this way, Jinnah, who was not in a hurry to get the autonomy he wanted, hied to put pressure on Gandhi, who saw a unique opportunity in that time for India to become independent.


“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”


Independence of India


The consent of England for independence

In March 1945, Lord Wavell took over the duties of the Reign of England. After a few months, he released the remaining members of the Indian Congress.  Negotiations have then begun to form a new India governance plan.

Wavell proposed the establishment of an Executive Council, which would make decisions on important issues, such as the country’s economy and security. All members of the Council would be Indians, Hindus and Muslims, while only the Regent and the Chief of Staff would be English. Jinnah hindered the Council’s recommendation because it was a condition that all Muslims who participated in it should be chosen by him. What he was asking was impossible, as many prominent Muslims who could become members did not belong to his party.

Meanwhile, World War II ended and Churchill as a Prime Minister of England succeeded Clement R. Attlee. The new Labor government officialized the establishment of an autonomous government in India in September 1945.

Jinnah made it clear that he would work together to set up the new government if Gandhi accepted some provinces to seperate from India and to join the state of Pakistan. Of course, Gandhi, whose dream was the twinning between Indians and Muslims, would avoid at all costs this partition.


The proposal for a temporary government

In February 1946, a Mission composed of British politicians arrived in New Delhi to discuss with India’s party leaders the terms of independence of India. Gandhi participated throughout the meetings.

After a period of ineffective efforts, the Mission called the Congress and the Muslim party to send their representatives for negotiations. As the situation had reached a dead end, Gandhi asked the British Mission to propose a solution. This proposal was ready in May 1946 and, according to Gandhi, there were very favorable terms. However, the Muslims held a suspicious attitude, not to undermine their rights and their position from this proposal.  Eventually, after a few days, they agreed to Wavell’s proposal to set up a provisional government.  What was left was the consent from Congress, which a week later was not given. Thus, considering that the two sides could not agree, Wavell decided to choose the members of the Temporary Government.


Vote on the Temporary Government

In July of the same year, a vote of the Congress Committee was held to decide whether they would be reconciled with the creation of a temporary government. Before the proceedings began, Gandhi made a speech, admitting that the particular proposal of England should be accepted, according to his mind, but his instincts brought some doubts, and so he infected with these doubts the other associates too. However, he would never follow his instincts, if this was not supported by logical arguments. He therefore urged the members of the Commission to trust the English, despite the negative experiences of the past, since the Indians were responsible for allowing England to exploit them while conflicts were taking place. The majority of members voted in favor of the agreement with the English proposal, but there was also a considerable number of those who voted against, bringing to light the doubts they still had about their former conquerors.


Course for restoring peace

Wavell once again asked Congress and Jinnah to nominate people to form a government. Jawaharlal Nehru, a Gandhi’s student and friend, who succeeded him as the head of the congress, gathered the people they needed, but Jinnah refused to cooperate. Instead, a few days later, his party announced an “Instant Action Day”, where battles and violent blows took place between Muslims and Hindus in Calcutta, which lasted 4 days and resulted in thousands of deaths and even more injuries. On September 2nd, Nehru was declared a Prime Minister of India, and Jinnah declared a public mourning on that day. After pressure from the Regent, Jinnah eventually nominated five people for the Government. However, the division between Muslims and Hindus within the Government was evident and created further hate and violence among the citizens.

Gandhi constantly preached against the violence between the two religions. Congressional members and local leaders visited him to have his guidance. In October, he was informed about Muslim attacks on Hindus in the Noakhali area: Hindus deaths, female kidnappings, fire in houses and temples. Gandhi has decided to go to the area and undertake the situation, despite the dangers he had suffered and his weakness. He felt that his life would not make sense if he did not succeed in restoring peace.

When the news from Noakhali arrived in Bihar’s neighboring area, where there were a majority of Hindus, they launched attacks on Muslims of the region in a frantic situation, ending in massacres. There were officially about 5,000 deaths, mostly Muslims, unofficially twice as many.

Under these conditions and at the age of 77, Gandhi went to Noakhali to undertake an attempt, which, according to him, was the most difficult of his life. He was even ready to die on his attempt to eradicate violence. So a journey started, where he walked barefoot from village to village, staying in each for a few days, talking to the residents and praying with them. Many times, sharp objects, glasses and mudslides were on his way, but he insisted on walking barefoot, as it was a journey of repentance for the sins not only of the inhabitants but also of him, who had not yet been able to reconcile them. He tried to show the peasants, especially those who were suspicious, spending time with them, that he had good intentions.

Considering the situation, the best solution would be to find two people, a Muslim and a Hindus, from each village and appoint them peacekeepers and they should be willing to even sacrifice their lives in order to fulfill their duty.

During the four-month period spent in Noakhali, he visited a total of 49 villages. The Muslims were entering his group prayers and many hosted him in their houses. However, he received negative criticism from Calcutta’s politicians and Muslim priests. Sometimes, on the footsteps that he walked, he encountered banners with threatening messages for himself, prompting him to give up his efforts. However, the crowd gathered in his meetings grew more and more, reaching as many as 5,000 people.

The situation has gradually begun to be smooth out. Muslims voluntarily returned spoils stolen from Hindu houses. The incidents of violence had fallen dramatically, and now the Hindus who had left the region could return without risking attacks. Gandhi, having restored peace, felt it was time to leave Noakhali.


The partition of India

Jinnah exerted pressure to divide India and build Pakistan. The proposal of the Mission was to divide India into three federal units. This proposal was approved by a majority of Congress members. Nehru was aware of the fact that this move would mean the future establishment of the independent state of Pakistan, but he gave his assent to a desperate attempt to escape the civil war. Gandhi never approved this partition.

Congress was not willing to allow large geographical areas, where most of the people were Hindus, to be annexed wholeheartedly to the state of Pakistan. Therefore, the proposal of the new Referee Mountbatten to Jinnah included the following: some provinces to separate from India and to be annexed to Pakistan. Two of these provinces, however, Punjab and Bengal should be divided, too. A section of them will be annexed to Pakistan and the rest will remain in the territory of India. Jinnah, after a long argument, agreed.

After a few days, Gandhi and Jinnah in a public statement condemned aggression between the two peoples. During that time, Gandhi called everyday prayer meetings open to the public asking for quorums to be read from the Koran, attempting in this way to cultivate tolerance for the Muslim religion in Hindus.

Eventually, Pakistan was seceded from India. On August 17th, 1947, India was proclaimed an independent state. However, Gandhi could not participate in the celebrations, since he considered its partition as a tragedy. He felt that all the attempts of the previous decades had been lost. The people now considered Gandhi as a divine being, something like Christ or Muhammad. They worshiped his name and sought his blessing, but rejected his sermons.


 “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”


Gandhi’s healing work


Gandhi, when he was a teenager, used to treat his sick father with love and commitment. When he grew up, his desire was to become a doctor, but his family’s tradition of engaging in politics made him turn to legal studies. It is not, therefore, surprising that during the last two years of his life he decided to deal with natural methods of healing. He founded a center in a village where he and other partners offered peasants advice on health problems, such as pray, sunbathing, fruit juice and large amounts of water, as well as mud and massage treatments.

Gandhi was characterized by great compassion for those who suffered, and was pleased to relieve others from their pain and heal them as if it was his natural tendency. This was a role he had taken from an early age in his family and he was happy to keep it in his whole life, both in the family, by taking care of his own family members every time they were sick, and in the context of social offering, providing knowledge and health services to the peasants.

 “Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.”


Gandhi after the partition of India


After Pakistan was separated from the rest of India, disputes between Hindus and Muslims started again, which often resulted in bloody incidents. The followers of the religion that was a minority in each region were attacked by the followers of the other religion.

Gandhi decided to visit Calcutta in August 1947, one of the areas where upheavals were frequent. The violence disappeared from the places he visited, the people glorified and the two peoples reconciled each other to his prayer meetings.

One night, a multitude of Muslims gathered around the house that was hosting him.They were furious, because an Indian had stabbed a Muslim. They entered the house violently and struck Gandhi and his friends. The police arrived and suppressed the situation, but Gandhi started fasting.

After a few days, Gandhi was informed that no incident had taken place in the city over the last 24 hours, while the leaders of the assailants and intimidation groups promised they were reluctant to put an end to this brutality. People from all religions and social classes pledged ominous. Gandhi demanded a written promise, which was given to him, resulting in the end of his fasting, which lasted 73 hours.

He then visited Delhi, where millions of Hindus refugees from Pakistan were arriving, often displaced the Muslims from their houses and occupied them. Gandhi denied these actions and urged Muslims to stay in their houses. He had a meeting with Hindus militias who had been accused of violence and urged them to use their power to pacify the situation and not to worsen it. Finally, he went to refugee camps, where he advised them to keep their discipline as well as their cleanliness and tried to gather blankets and clothing for them.

With these actions, Gandhi was able to restore peace to a significant extent. He awakened people’s consciousness, spoke in their hearts and was able to cultivate respect for any difference, raising their hopes for a better world.

Gandhi’s last fasting

During his childhood, Gandhi often listened to his father’s conversations with friends about different religions and disagreements. Since then he desired to see the faithful people of all different religions coexist harmoniously. This desire seems to inspire his perpetual attempt to reconcile the Hindus with the Muslims, which remained until the end of his life.

After the situation in India had been normalized to a certain extent, Gandhi wanted to go to Pakistan to deal with the fate of the Hindu minorities. But the fact that the outbursts and discrimination against Muslims in India had not been completely eradicated, prevented him from doing so. He felt helpless and decided to fast until death, until absolute peace come in Delhi.

From the very first day of his fast, in the house of Congressional President Dr Rajendra Prasad, meetings of representatives from all religious communities and the army started taking place in order to find a solution for the establishment of real peace.

On the sixth day of his fasting, a conference was held, attended by the majority of Congressmen, Prasad, Nehru, representatives of the Indian Army, the police chief, the ambassador of Pakistan, as well as individuals of all religions. They pledged to protect the Muslims’ life, property and religion and to eradicate outbreaks of violence. Gandhi, having learned of new incidents in the Allahabad region, stressed that the government should also be interested in the situation out of the region of Delhi. He expressed his sorrow to crying publicly, a fact that made his audience to cry too. After assurances and requests from all attendees, he decided to end his fasting.


“The good man is the friend of all living things.”


Gandhi’s end


Mahatma Gandhi lying in state- his deathOn January 30th, 1948, Gandhi, at the age of 78, was shot three times with a small pistol by his fellow countryman, while walking toward the afternoon prayer meeting by supporting his two grandchildren, Abha and Manu. As the bullets penetrated his body, he fell to the earth murmuring “Hey Rama” (Oh, God). It was fatal!

The offender was a 35-year-old Hindus named Nathuram Godse. He was dissatisfied with the decision taken after Gandhi’s fasting to remove the Muslim mosques from the Indian refugees, who had found shelter there by displacing the Muslims from their places of worship. He belonged to a group of Indians who planned to kill Gandhi. A few days ago, another member of his team had made an unsuccessful attempt of murder with a grenade at the time of a prayer meeting.

Gandhi’s death rocked all over India. The death procession followed 1.5 million people and even more were attending. Thousands of soldiers, sailors and policemen parade before the ceremony. His body was deposited on the raised ceiling of a bulky vehicle of the army, so that it was visible to the public, carried by 200 Indian soldiers pulling ropes in a two-mile course. Gandhi’s son, Ramdas, lit his dead fire, while the attendants were torn apart.

The murder of Gandhi, a simple, peaceful man who loved and respected even his enemies, caused unprecedented pain and shock to the Indian nation.A moment after the fatal shots, Nehru choked his cry announcing on the radio the death of the father of the Indian nation, the man who led India to freedom. He described his death as a light that died out of their lives.Others described his death to a second crucifixion.Millions of people worldwide mourned for him. They may not have been aware of his work but appreciated him as a good person.


Quotes and Mottos of Mahatma Gandhi

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Mahatma Gandhi’s Quotes and Mottos Collection.

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Get inspired from Mahatma Gandhi most important quotes and mottos:

• Where there is love there is life.
• The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
• First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
• Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
• Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
• You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
• The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
• An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
• Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
• When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.
• It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
• Nobody can hurt me without my permission.
• A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.
• Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
• You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
• In a gentle way, you can shake the world.
• Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.
• Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.
• Action expresses priorities.
• The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
• A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.
• There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.
• Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
• Poverty is the worst form of violence.
• I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.
• A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
• Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up.
• It may be possible to gild pure gold, but who can make his mother more beautiful?
• The real ornament of woman is her character, her purity.
• No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.
• The essence of all religions is one. Only their approaches are different.
• Morality is the basis of things and truth is the substance of all morality.
• Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
• Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.
• Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.
• If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.
• There is more to life than increasing its speed.
• My life is my message.
• Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.
• All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take.
• The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.
• An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.
• If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.
• You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.
• A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.
• Non-violence requires a double faith, faith in God and also faith in man.
• To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.
• Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.
• We may stumble and fall but shall rise again; it should be enough if we did not run away from the battle.
• Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.
• Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
• Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians – you are not like him.
• Self-respect knows no considerations.
• It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity.
• There is a higher court than courts of justice and that is the court of conscience. It supercedes all other courts.
• Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.
• Non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.
• The good man is the friend of all living things.
• Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.
• Peace is its own reward.
• Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.
• A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act.
• Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession.
• A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.
• I think it is the height of ignorance to believe that the sexual act is an independent function necessary like sleeping or eating. Seeing, therefore, that I did not desire more children, I began to strive after self-control. There was endless difficulty in the task.
• When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible.
• Intolerance betrays want of faith in one’s cause.
• It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.
• I am prepared to die, but there is no cause for which I am prepared to kill.
• God, as Truth, has been for me a treasure beyond price. May He be so to every one of us.
• I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.
• I claim that human mind or human society is not divided into watertight compartments called social, political and religious. All act and react upon one another.
• I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and Non-violence are as old as the hills. All I have done is to try experiments in both on as vast a scale as I could.
• Nearly everything you do is of no importance, but it is important that you do it.
• The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.
• The human voice can never reach the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience.
• Non-violence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another.
• In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.
• I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.
• Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French.
• Non-violence is the article of faith.
• It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings.
• Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice. It is within everyone.
• The main purpose of life is to live rightly, think rightly, act rightly. The soul must languish when we give all our thought to the body.
• Partition is bad. But whatever is past is past. We have only to look to the future.
• Ours is one continued struggle against degradation sought to be inflicted upon us by the European, who desire to degrade us to the level of the raw Kaffir, whose occupation is hunting and whose sole ambition is to collect a certain number of cattle to buy a wife with, and then pass his life in indolence and nakedness.
• Prayer is a confession of one’s own unworthiness and weakness.
• There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.
• God sometimes does try to the uttermost those whom he wishes to bless.
• A policy is a temporary creed liable to be changed, but while it holds good it has got to be pursued with apostolic zeal.
• Each one has to find his peace from within. And peace to be real must be unaffected by outside circumstances.
• I did once seriously think of embracing the Christian faith. The gentle figure of Christ, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retaliate when abused or struck, but to turn the other cheek – I thought it was a beautiful example of the perfect man.
• Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into.
• Before the throne of the Almighty, man will be judged not by his acts but by his intentions. For God alone reads our hearts.
• Let us all be brave enough to die the death of a martyr, but let no one lust for martyrdom.
• Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, but it is most important that you do it.
• My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God. Non-violence is the means of realising Him.
• The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within.
• I am in the world feeling my way to light ‘amid the encircling gloom.’
• Where love is, there God is also.
• Morality which depends upon the helplessness of a man or woman has not much to recommend it. Morality is rooted in the purity of our hearts.
• Non-violence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being.
• Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.
• Healthy discontent is the prelude to progress.
• We do not need to proselytise either by our speech or by our writing. We can only do so really with our lives. Let our lives be open books for all to study.
• We win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party.
• It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.
• Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.
• Violent means will give violent freedom. That would be a menace to the world and to India herself.
• I believe that a man is the strongest soldier for daring to die unarmed.
• Religion is more than life. Remember that his own religion is the truest to every man even if it stands low in the scales of philosophical comparison.
• Are creeds such simple things like the clothes which a man can change at will and put on at will? Creeds are such for which people live for ages and ages.
• An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so.
• I will far rather see the race of man extinct than that we should become less than beasts by making the noblest of God’s creation, woman, the object of our lust.
• But for my faith in God, I should have been a raving maniac.
• Capital as such is not evil; it is its wrong use that is evil. Capital in some form or other will always be needed.
• I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.
• Violent men have not been known in history to die to a man. They die up to a point.
• As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.
• What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?
• Fear has its use but cowardice has none.
• Man’s nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been known to yield to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature.
• The law of sacrifice is uniform throughout the world. To be effective it demands the sacrifice of the bravest and the most spotless.
• To deprive a man of his natural liberty and to deny to him the ordinary amenities of life is worse then starving the body; it is starvation of the soul, the dweller in the body.
• An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.
• Let not the 12 million Negroes be ashamed of the fact that they are the grandchildren of slaves. There is dishonor in being slave-owners.
• Each one prays to God according to his own light.
• It is any day better to stand erect with a broken and bandaged head then to crawl on one’s belly, in order to be able to save one’s head.
• I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.
• Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.
• Infinite striving to be the best is man’s duty; it is its own reward. Everything else is in God’s hands.
• There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.
• I took the vow of celibacy in 1906. I had not shared my thoughts with my wife until then, but only consulted her at the time of making the vow. She had no objection.
• Man falls from the pursuit of the ideal of plan living and high thinking the moment he wants to multiply his daily wants. Man’s happiness really lies in contentment.
• Sense perceptions can be and often are false and deceptive, however real they may appear to us. Where there is realization outside the senses, it is infallible. It is proved not by extraneous evidence but in the transformed conduct and character of those who have felt the real presence of God within.
• I believe in the fundamental truth of all great religions of the world.
• Non-violence, which is the quality of the heart, cannot come by an appeal to the brain.
• It is my own firm belief that the strength of the soul grows in proportion as you subdue the flesh.
• Freedom is never dear at any price. It is the breath of life. What would a man not pay for living?
• Man can never be a woman’s equal in the spirit of selfless service with which nature has endowed her.
• Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being.
• The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart.
• I am a humble but very earnest seeker after truth.
• A principle is the expression of perfection, and as imperfect beings like us cannot practise perfection, we devise every moment limits of its compromise in practice.
• A vow is a purely religious act which cannot be taken in a fit of passion. It can be taken only with a mind purified and composed and with God as witness.
• I wear the national dress because it is the most natural and the most becoming for an Indian.
• For me every ruler is alien that defies public opinion.
• Spiritual relationship is far more precious than physical. Physical relationship divorced from spiritual is body without soul.
• I do all the evil I can before I learn to shun it? Is it not enough to know the evil to shun it? If not, we should be sincere enough to admit that we love evil too well to give it up.
• Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.
• To give pleasure to a single heart by a single act is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.
• Morality is contraband in war.
• Commonsense is the realised sense of proportion.
• God cannot be realized through the intellect. Intellect can lead one to a certain extent and no further. It is a matter of faith and experience derived from that faith.
• Let everyone try and find that as a result of daily prayer he adds something new to his life, something with which nothing can be compared.
• Only he can take great resolves who has indomitable faith in God and has fear of God.
• Moral authority is never retained by any attempt to hold on to it. It comes without seeking and is retained without effort.
• That service is the noblest which is rendered for its own sake.
• Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.
• God is, even though the whole world deny him. Truth stands, even if there be no public support. It is self-sustained.
• We should meet abuse by forbearance. Human nature is so constituted that if we take absolutely no notice of anger or abuse, the person indulging in it will soon weary of it and stop.
• There is an orderliness in the universe, there is an unalterable law governing everything and every being that exists or lives. It is no blind law; for no blind law can govern the conduct of living beings.
• The pursuit of truth does not permit violence on one’s opponent.
• Religion is a matter of the heart. No physical inconvenience can warrant abandonment of one’s own religion.
• Measures must always in a progressive society be held superior to men, who are after all imperfect instruments, working for their fulfilment.
• Purity of personal life is the one indispensable condition for building up a sound education.
• I know, to banish anger altogether from one’s breast is a difficult task. It cannot be achieved through pure personal effort. It can be done only by God’s grace.
• What is true of the individual will be tomorrow true of the whole nation if individuals will but refuse to lose heart and hope.
• Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame.
• Increase of material comforts, it may be generally laid down, does not in any way whatsoever conduce to moral growth.
• I have also seen children successfully surmounting the effects of an evil inheritance. That is due to purity being an inherent attribute of the soul.
• All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.
• Faith… must be enforced by reason… when faith becomes blind it dies.
• Just as a man would not cherish living in a body other than his own, so do nations not like to live under other nations, however noble and great the latter may be.
• We may have our private opinions but why should they be a bar to the meeting of hearts?
• A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.
• A weak man is just by accident. A strong but non-violent man is unjust by accident.
• Fear of death makes us devoid both of valour and religion. For want of valour is want of religious faith.
• One’s own religion is after all a matter between oneself and one’s Maker and no one else’s.
• I would heartily welcome the union of East and West provided it is not based on brute force.
• If a man reaches the heart of his own religion, he has reached the heart of the others, too. There is only one God, and there are many paths to him.
• Though we may know Him by a thousand names, He is one and the same to us all.
• If co-operation is a duty, I hold that non-co-operation also under certain conditions is equally a duty.
• Unwearied ceaseless effort is the price that must be paid for turning faith into a rich infallible experience.
• Rights that do not flow from duty well performed are not worth having.
• Man is supposed to be the maker of his destiny. It is only partly true. He can make his destiny, only in so far as he is allowed by the Great Power.
• I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough in me to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.
• Man lives freely only by his readiness to die, if need be, at the hands of his brother, never by killing him.
• Every formula of every religion has in this age of reason, to submit to the acid test of reason and universal assent.
• I reject any religious doctrine that does not appeal to reason and is in conflict with morality.

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Personality of Leonardo da Vinci				    	    	    	    	    	    	    	    	    	    	5/5							(5)

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Personality of Leonardo da Vinci


“All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.”  


What made this personality a real legend?

As in the life of this inventor prevail some facts and events that schematize this personality, we realize that here we are with the character of a real genius.  Early on his life, he had revealed and portrayed his diversity and eagerness in sketching and designing, striving for observation and experimentation that accompanied him throughout his entire life.  He never stopped questioning and posing questions of matters we take for granted.  “Why is the sky blue?”, for instance…  His diving into the world of knowledge was a quest that was his way of living and being.  Even though he did not get a classical education, he would always retrieve the answer to his queries through experimentation.  What could have once been a point of discomfort now became his way of seeing things that through action and experiments and observation do we derive the desired results.  He often showed off his knowledge gained from experience that was superior to the knowledge gained from reading. In general, he was a very lively person with many talents, very pleasant and appealing.  Besides his handsome looks, his outgoing and generous personality brought him many friends and followers.  He was a cheerful performer with his lyre and musical instruments but also with his singing and spontaneous verse constructing talent, which made him a pleasant company.  He engaged in discussions and raised peculiar issues and topics in order to find answers to his queries and absorb new information from his encounters. He managed to concentrate and keep all his power in line with his knowledge quest and in every form of being, either drawing or having a conversation.  He was a source of information, especially while he was growing older with experience on his background.  He was a good companion and teacher to his last patron, the king of France.  What would result in peaceful elderly years… Leonardo da Vinci photo.He was homosexual and diverse, and did not attempt to hide it.  Although he was accused of sodomy and the political and social situation did not put up with homosexuality, he still preserved the freedom of being himself. He wore pink outfits shorter than what it was accustomed and he cared for his appearance.  He spent money on clothes for both himself and Salai, his companion. As he was clever, he cared for animals, he was vegetarian and he wore clothes that were not made out of animal skin. This was a personal sensitivity that embarked in his being exclusively, since it was not a trend of the time like it is nowadays. He evolved in an era where the arts were not a claustrophobic process of an isolated creator, but rather a get-together of many researchers of many fields working side by side and collaborating into creating projects, and even living together.  From the time he was a student till the times he moved from city to city and from royal court to royal court, till when he was accompanied by his crew, he was always surrounded by creative people.  This encouraged the exchange of ideas and the brainstorming on issues to further emphasize the yearning for perfection. Perfectionist! He was a real perfectionist, indeed… He was skilled in so many disciplines; however, his output has been surprisingly small as he failed to complete his paintings and he was easily bored.  He was the archetypal Renaissance polymath, a creative genius whose inventiveness flourished across a bewildering range of disciplines… His work offered brilliant insights into many fields such as human and animal anatomy, natural history or engineering… Many analysts have striven to give an insight to this great mind, even Freud, and have all spoiled us with intriguing theories.  He was restless, before completing one thought he would forcefully enter the next one and his sketches are crafted about different and diverse issues one next to the other.  He enjoyed composing rather than executing his ideas, preferred the conception phase.  This is probably why he never published any of his investigations which where all in depth and a valuable donation to humanity. Anyway, for whatever reason, Leonardo was notoriously tardy about finishing things. Once a work was almost ready or finished, he lost interest in it… Thus, although he left a voluminous fragmentary archive of sketches, drawings and writings, his artistic reputation rests on a very small number of paintings and artwork.

Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.


Leonardo da Vinci’s genealogy

Leonardo was fortunate enough to be born out of wedlock. This occurrence enabled him to deal with his diverse interests and not with his family’s notarial tradition, which reaches five generations back. It all finds its roots from Sir Michele da Vinci, a prominent title due to the importance and honesty of his profession.The same course was followed by his son and grandson, with the exception of the next generation in Antonio, Leonardo’s grandfather, who simply pleased to enjoy his title and the profits earned by his family, without putting much effort in developing his career. Research into Leonardo’s genealogy traces his family’s roots to Spain and Morocco as Antonio da Vinci, Leonardo’s grandfather, regularly did business in Spain and Morocco and his contacts with the Arab culture and Islam, his tales about documents written in exotic-looking writing, pigments, spices and fantastic landscapes, all likely influenced Leonardo.  Piero, his son and father of Leonardo, an authentic Da Vinci, restored the family’s reputation and excelled in the courtyards of the Medici as a notary. On a trip to Vinci, Piero met with Caterina di Meo Lippi, an orphan girl from the region, who, nine months later, gave birth to a boy, Leonardo. At the time of his birth, Antonio, who was playing backgammon at the time, was summoned to draw up the notarial act of the birth of Leonardo on April 15th, a Saturday of 1452. His baptism was attended by honorary members of society, he was baptized by ten godfathers and his father attended.  The baptistry still exists in that same church nowadays. It is worth mentioning that Piero did not play an active role in raising Leonardo. However, although Leonardo was illegitimate, he was accepted into his father’s household and reared there.

It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.


Leonardo da Vinci’s Childhood

Leonardo was raised happily in two houses. He lived with his mother, Caterina di Meo Lippi, along with her husband, whom Piero himself made arrangements for the marriage. He lived also in the Da Vinci yard, with his father where the two families maintained relationships, and shared the growing up of the young Leonardo.He had a very good relationship with his grandfather Antonio and his grandmother. Likewise, Francesco, his uncle, fifteen years older than Leonardo, cared for him as if he was a child of his own.

Leonardo da Vinci’s early years in life

Leonardo da Vinci birth placeLeonardo was born at a time when children out of wedlock were not a dishonor. Many great artists of the time were born out of marriage, such as Philipo Lippi, Vocakio, Leon Batista Alberti and others. This made Leonardo feel like being part of his family but also at the same time alienated like a stranger to the society as a whole. This creates isolation as well as a freedom; this fact, in the case of Leonardo, was a trigger for his curiosity that leads to his journey of research and success.

Childhood memories

“It is probably my fate to write about the hawk, since among the first memories of my early years is the impression that while I sat in my crib, a hawk approached, opened my mouth with its tail and struck me with it several times at the inside of my lips. ” This testimony of Leonardo has been approached by many scholars, and among them Freud, where he identifies this experience as the precursor of his homosexuality. Also the famous psychoanalyst notes that for the artist, his asphyxiated desires found expression in the intense creativity but he ended up leaving many projects incomplete. Leonardo himself had pointed out that “mental passion evades sensuality.”  Others simply argue that this remembrance reflects his life-long interest in flying and birds.

The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.


Leonardo da Vinci’s life in Florence

Leonardo da Vinci left a legacy bigger than life and Florence was the place where it all started, in within its very walls! After the death of his step mother Albeira, the first partner of Piero, to be followed by another three marriages, his father brought him to Florence.  Since the expected child died at birth along with his wife, Piero felt alone and brought him to Florence, to live with him in his big house.Thus, in his early years, the great creator lived with his father, who attentively cared for his son and his education, however, never arriving at legally recognizing him as his son. Thus, the artistically busy Florence had been Leonardo’s place of inspiration for all the years of his teenage and young age.A scenic city that lived a cultural and economic development in a vibrant environment for artistic apprenticeship and exploration.It was the time of Brunelleschi, the inventor of perspective, and Alberti, who in his writings “On Painting” recognizes painters as creators equal to any other humanist quests.

Learning never exhausts the mind.


Education of Leonardo da Vinci

Da Vinci received no formal education beyond basic reading, writing and math, but his father appreciated his artistic talent and apprenticed him, at around age 14, to the noted sculptor and painter Andrea del Verrocchio of Florence.  The Portrait of Andrea del Verrocchio Piero noticed that his son would not stop painting, experimenting in sculpture and revealing his vivid imagination at every step of the way. The notary was clearly not one of his interests. So he took care of his education accordingly, first by finding him a teacher, then, by enrolling him in a technical high school, and, later on, by apprenticing him in the studio of the then-known Verrocchio. He did not get a classical education, nor did he learn any Latin that undermined the status of his education as a researcher throughout his life. Nevertheless, he was given enough skill to cope with his own curiosity and observation to offer the world his multifaceted discoveries. He always felt that experience and revelation is the true way towards the conquest of knowledge. From his technical high school years, he learned some basic mathematics and geometry, which later helped him in his explorations in mechanics, and his series of inventions. As left-handed Leonardo, he wrote from right to left and formed the letters horizontally mirrored. His writings are read through a mirror. This is why his notes are coded-like and rumors do apply that he wrote them this way to keep his pioneering creations as a secret. However, it is only rumors…

“Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge.”



The School of Verrocchio

Verrocchio’s studio was at the center of the intellectual currents of Florence, assuring the young Leonardo of an education in the humanities. Verrocchio was a famous and multi-talented artist and engineer and his studio was one of the most audacious in Florence.His teacher was left speechless with Leonardo’s talent in painting and drawing and he immediately welcomed him at his studio. There, besides assimilating many tools for his art, Leonardo felt welcomed by his classmates. He had a demanding teaching program that included a study of various painting surfaces, principles of engineering, design techniques and three-dimensional fabric imaging.He showed great ability to manage three-dimensional patterns on a two-dimensional surface, and he managed to develop his knowledge of engineering by witnessing the production of great sculptures that the studio undertook over that time. His ability and inventiveness have also devised his own techniques, the well-known “sfumato” technique, which as a style will enchant the whole world with the most mysterious smile of the art history. The roots of the word come from the Italian ‘fumo’ which means smoke, and signifies the concept of color diffusion and the vagueness of the outline. Da Vinci himself described the “sfumato” technique as “without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke or beyond the picture plane.”

Knowledge of the past and of the places of the earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.


Working with Verrocchio

At the age of 20, Leonardo qualified as a master in the Guild of Saint Luke, the guild of artists and doctors of medicine, but even after his father set him up in his own studio, his attachment to Verrocchio was such that he continued to collaborate with him. He participated in the completion of paintings as well as in other works. One of them, the Baptism of Christ, marked the story of both of them, student and teacher. The Baptism of Christ was mainly done by Verrochio using tempera on wood. The painting depicts St. John the Baptist during the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ as according to the Gospels of Luke, Mark and Matthew. Two angels on the left side of the painting complete the four figures in the artwork. The scene illustrated by the painting includes God’s extended arms painted with golden rays and dove with its wings widely spread, a halo with cruciform is painted on top of Jesus’ head and another halo on top of St. John the Baptist. The two angels are holding Jesus’ clothes. The angel on the left side is the part done by Leonardo da Vinci. He used oil, which was at that time a new medium in painting. Leonardo painted the left angel on the painting and he executed it in such a manner that his angel was far better that the figures painted by Verrocchio. This was the reason why Verrocchio would never touch colours again, being so ashamed that a boy understood their use better than he did.

“If the poet says that he can inflame men with love.. the painter has the power to do the same…in that he can place in front of the lover the true likeness of one who is beloved, often making him kiss and speak to it”


Leonardo da Vinci’s work

We are witnesses of some works made by the student Leonardo and some of his first drawings, such as the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and his two Madonnas, the Virgin Mary with the carnation and the Virgin Mary with the divine infant with flowers. Also, the portrait of Jenevra de Benci, that serves as a prologue to the Mona Lisa, a painting where he introduces the three-quarter posture, an innovation in the Italian painting to that day. The painting shows an incipient genius and was revolutionary in the history of painting.

“If the painter wishes to see beauties that charm him it lies in his power to create them, and if he wishes to see monstrosities that are frightful, buffoonish, or ridiculous, or pitiable he can be lord and god thereof; if he wants to produce inhabited regions or deserts or dark and shady retreats from the heat, or warm places in cold weather, he can do so.”


Leonardo da Vinci inventing art techniques

As already mentioned above, Leonardo da Vinci invented a technique that helped softened the colors by using a dark glaze around the edge of objects. This technique is known as sfumato, this is taken from the Italian word for smoke, ‘fumo’. This produces an effect that makes the outer edges of the objects of people in the painting appear to be slightly obscured by a haze or smoke. Moreover, Leonardo invented Chiarusco Technique; he shaped his objects in two dimensions by capturing the light and shadow of three dimensions. This use of light and shadow was called chiaroscuro. That was an innovation in a day when most paintings were flattened views of the subject.

“Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.”


Leonardo da Vinci’s Sexuality

It’s generally believed amongst majority of academics that Leonardo was probably gay or at least bi-sexual. Anyway, when he was twenty-four years old, Leonardo was arrested, along with several young companions, on the charge of sodomy.  No witnesses appeared against them and eventually the charges were dropped. It must be said that often anonymous charges like this were brought against people just for a nuisance. Even though the complaints did not pass through, they were enough to discriminate him socially and isolate him, as he wrote in his notebooks. Leonardo, in general, was dressed in colorful tunics and vests, and did not hide his homosexuality. However, the era was not favorable, as far as diversity was concerned, neither by the church nor by political leadership and laws.The poetry announcing homosexuality in the era of Leonardo has led the accused even to death. Even the Divine Comedy, known since then, sent the Sodomites to the seventh circle of Hell. However, in Florence, homosexual relations were very well-received. Verrocchio never married, neither did Botticelli, who was also accused for sodomy, Donatello and Michael Angelo were also homosexuals.The poems of the time and the folklore songs praised homosexual love, and in the German slang Florentine meant homosexual. Several things indicate that Leonardo was also probably gay. He never married or showed any interest in women; indeed, he wrote in his notebooks that male-female intercourse disgusted him. His anatomical drawings naturally include the sexual organs of both genders, but those of the male exhibit much more extensive attention.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”


His own studio

In 1477, at the age of 24, Leonardo opened his own studio leaving the nest of the studio of Verrocchio. This decision was a clear commercial failure, since, in his studio’s five years of operation, he took three orders that left all incomplete. One of them, The Adoration of the Magi, was an early painting made by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was given the commission by the Augustinian monks of San Donato a Scopeto, in Florence, but he departed for Milan the following year, leaving the painting unfinished and he was in debt to the monastery. However, these were the times where these works were created leaving their mark in art and in history. Moreover, it was a time when he initiated the elaborate and realistic depiction of bodies in difficult poses which he was constantly studying in his notebooks. At this point, we should also point out that da Vinci experimented with perspective to create unforgettable impressions of people and places.

“The most praiseworthy form of painting is the one that most resembles what it imitates”


An untamed genius

Leonardo abandoned his painting works and left them incomplete for several reasons. First of all, his perfectionism found deficiencies and, sometimes, he was too bored to try to improve his designs. By studying his work and his thoughts, we also realize that he enters many difficult painterly puzzles, the shadow and the light source, bearing in mind his reflections as well as the theory that the figures had an influence on each other in their lights and colors. Imagine a composition that contained thirty figures such as the Adoration of the Magi. The execution of the project evoked a dull repetition and monotony which made the overpowering Leonardo get bored. Finally, this tireless genius preferred conceiving his works rather than executing them. Even if he completed his orders, he never delivered them. This was the case in ‘Mona Lisa’ art project. He drove his work in all his subsequent moves and, then, it was difficult to feel separated from his art piece or art pieces. He believed that there were always new things to discover on a painting, and he did not hesitate to intervene on them even after years since the last stroke.

A need for Change

Until his thirties, Leonardo had managed to build his reputation as a genius, no matter if he had no works to display to prove it. Facing a financial failure as regards his studio and having a permanent inner mood that he was alone and detached from friends and family, he felt it was time to make a move. So, he set off for Milan, a city that was the perfect environment for Leonardo, as Duke Ludovico invited men of letters and artists in his yard and wasted a lot of money for cultural events and fiestas. With lavish but enlightened patronage of artists and scholars, Ludovico made the court of Milan the most splendid not only in Italy but in Europe. Let us not forget that, unlike Florence, this new place was not so populated by artists, thus extinguishing the competition.So his choice was a fruitful opportunity, as it turned out in practice.

Job application to Ludovico

In a long and brilliant letter to the Duke, Leonardo invited him to accept him in his court for work. Being fully aware that Duke Ludovico was looking to employ artists and military engineers, Leonardo drafted an application letter that put his seemingly endless engineering talents front and center, by way of a 10-point list of his abilities; interestingly, his artistic genius is merely hinted at towards the very end. So, in this letter, Leonardo set out his knowledge of engineering and his ability of military designing, although all he had designed up to that day in his drawings touched the boundaries of imagination and were not applicable. He hoped to spur the Duke’s attention as he had gained his power over Milan by force and political instability would best describe the situation. “Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things..” Indeed, in the many notebooks of Leonardo, we find many-armed constructions of war and non-war machines, even machines that the enemy may not detect ships. He was really a decent candidate for an artistic and research opportunity. The effort paid off, and he was eventually employed. A decade later, it was Sforza who commissioned him to paint The Last Supper.

“There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.”


Leonardo at the court of Ludovico

He finally managed to be admitted at the court of Ludovico Sforza in Milan, but not as a mechanic or an architect, but as a creator of massive theatrical scenes for various artistic festivities. He had shown a keen interest in this activity when still a young student at the studio in Verrocchio. Indeed, it was an occupation that explored many of Leonardo’s skills, his construction genius, his prodigious mind to bring forth clever scenes and strange sets, and of course keep his keen interest alive in the joyful multi skilled alternations that the occupation required. He managed to channel his imagination and his inventiveness in many ways. First of all, he created sets and scenery as well as designs and mechanisms for flying machines made in many variations. He preferred to invent prominent constructions that would fly over the scene in front of the eyes of the audience. These studies were to become the forerunner for deeper scientific searches later on. Da Vinci seemed truly excited by the possibility of people soaring through the skies like birds. One of da Vinci’s most famous inventions, the flying machine (also known as the “ornithopter”) ideally displays his powers of observation and imagination, as well as his enthusiasm for the potential of flight and the design for this invention is clearly inspired by the flight of winged animals, which da Vinci hoped to replicate. Academics believe that he had set the bases for the development of aviation as the notion of a human-powered mechanical flight device, an idea that he was the first to conceive, a device patterned after birds or bats, recurred again and again over the next four centuries. His work has also highlighted his skill in music which we also encounter in his research notebooks. There is quite a bit of truth in the stories that Leonardo was a skilled poet, singer and practiced musician. He introduced his own musical instruments, by which he flattered the court of Milan and, in combination with his talent in speech and singing, he managed to captivate the people’s attention with his improvisations that he was often invited to share with the people at the court. There is no sound basis for the belief that Leonardo invented the violin though he certainly drew up plans for many new musical instruments including various flutes and the viola organist, a complicated keyboard instrument with strings which were sounded by the means of a wheel, horsehair strap and a bow which was never built. Leonardo tried to improve musical instruments by creating mechanisms that could enhance the tonal quality of the instruments. We should point out that his talents made him a good comedian as interpretations and hasty narratives were a widespread form of entertainment. So, he was highly valued due to his position and occupation, like all the producers, and in the meantime he would conquer all with his gracious and pleasant character. He soon made new friends, from the company of enthusiasts in the court who shared common goals and quests and made research a participatory and entertaining work.

“A beautiful body perishes, but a work of art dies not.”


Leonardo’s particularities

rare portrait of Leonardo da VinciLeonard was a person of “exceptional beauty and indescribable grace,” wrote Vazari, a historian of the time and the first Leonardo biographer.He was friendly and generous, and everyone liked his company. Contrary to the foggy landscape of Florence, he found a fertile environment for encounters and meetings.He was dressed in colored clothes shorter than usual and he was not afraid to emphasize his distinctiveness.He was interested in spiritual gain rather than in material wealth, and he did not hesitate to disapprove of those who focused on material goods. “Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they look upon the murder of man.” Sensitive to the animals, he was a vegetarian and he preferred to wear linens rather than clothes made by animals. One of his colleagues wrote after a trip to India that people there were not used to consume animals as several people in Florence, referring to Leonardo.In his labels, he mentions the difference of the animals from the plants, where, in contrast with the second, the animals could feel the pain of being killed for their skin or flesh. It is noted that his sensitivity reached such an extent that, at the bazaar, he freed the birds from their cages by paying the price to the person owning them.

Leonardo da Vinci and Salai, the little devil

One of Leonardo’s favored, who, despite all his defects, had been co-operating with him throughout his life was Salai or the little Devil, as he was called by Leonardo. He was his assistant, companion, student, and, at some point, his lover. He won the lifelong affection of his then nearly 40-year-old teacher as Leonardo found him irresistible. Vasari described the boy as “a graceful and beautiful youth, with fine curly hair in which Leonardo  greatly delighted.” His name was Giacomo Caprotti but Leonardo changed Giacomo’s name to Salai, meaning little devil. It was a name that would stick with him for life. He came close to his teacher at the age of 10 and studied with Leonardo, who was then 38 years old. Even though Leonardo seldom writes personal notes in his notebooks, he wrote that, at a dinner where he had asked him to accompany him, he “ate for two and made damage for four.” He was accused of stealing and a series of small deceits, but Leonardo was having fun with his passions and continued to keep him in his company. Salai has often posed for Leonardo’s studies.  He also often sketched drawings with an older man and a younger man.Sketch page 135.Throughout his life, Leonardo was dazzled with Salai with his rich curls which he liked to portray.Even in the last years of his life we find a vain portrait that he portrayed outof his memory. Leonardo and Salai stayed together for nearly 30 years and  Da Vinci even remembered him in his will for his “good and kind services.”

 The Vitruvian Man 


What is the Vitruvian Man?

During his stay in Milan, Leonardo made great studies; one of the great achievements for which today he is world-renowned was the study of the Vitruvian Man.  Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, born around 80 BC, served with the military duties of Julius Caesar.One of his precious teachings in history was the treatise on body proportions, a thorough description of the fact that the architecture of buildings must follow the proportions of the human body. Da Vinci Vitruve Man - Luc ViatourMany have tried to paint and design this work, such as Jacomo Andrea, and Francesco di Tzortzo, but none touched Leonardo’s excellence and perfectionism. The Vitruvian Man of Leonardo, not only did he expose the writer’s promptings, but also proceeded to further observations of his own. He specified that “If you open your legs so much as to decrease your height 1/14 and spread and raise your arms till your middle fingers touch the level of the top of your head you must know that the center of the outspread limbs will be in the navel and the space between the legs will be an equilateral triangle. The length of a man’s outspread arms is equal to his height.” Leonardo drew the Vitruvian Man in 1492. Rendered in pen, ink, and metal point on paper, the piece depicts an idealized nude male standing within a square and a circle. Ingeniously, Leonardo chose to depict the man with four legs and four arms, allowing him to strike 16 poses simultaneously. Leonardo also made some corrections to the proposed descriptive design, such as that the tread does not fit six times at the height of the man’s height but seven. The sketch is said to be a self-portrait of the same, who was then 38 years old, and as he depicted in his writings:

“Every painter draws himself.”



The Unfinished Sculpture of Leonardo

Designed to reach seven meters in height and weighing seventy-five tons, The Equestrian Statue is a work like many of Leonardo that would never be finished. It was a towering equestrian monument that he planned to cast in bronze and it was one of the projects he proposed to take on when he first asked Ludovico for work in the early 1480s. So, at the court, in order to show the glory of Ludovico, he conceived the design of a brass rider and his horse. In order to find the posture of the rider and the animal and perfecting the monument’s glorious posture, he had to study the anatomy of the horse, an animal that he admired. He also studied other similar statues and was enchanted by the sense of movement that they would display.  By that date, these monuments had not exceeded three and a half meters in height. He also managed to complete the horse’s mold, which would be made in a single piece that was a pioneer experiment for the time.  Until then, the molds were crafted into pieces and were dissembled afterwards. He spent a lot of time studying over the anatomy of the sculpture, and the right compositions and mixtures of materials to achieve the best result. However the fate of the statue was not so promising after all. Finally, the unmade Horse was the work, more than any other, that epitomized Leonardo’s reputation as an artist who never finished anything.

The … misfortune of the monument

Leonardo did manage to complete a clay version of his statue but, due to the tensions of the time and the attacks by French troops in 1494, the metal that was going to be used in order to mold the statue was used in order to construct three cannons. In addition, the French archers used the great monument for target practice, destroying it completely. Legend has it that Leonardo mourned the loss of his horse up until his death. Anyway, we are unable to put the blame on the sculptor this time; however, he was not able to finish his work. Luckily for the modern world though, da Vinci left behind many detailed notes and images of his horse in his famous notebooks.

“He who wishes to be rich in a day will be hanged in a year.”


Working for Ludovico

The Equestrian Statue would realize his dream of creating the world’s largest equine monument as he was commissioned to do so by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico, who provided him with a salary and accommodation. In time, he would give him a vineyard just outside Milan, where it would be the place where he would test his flying machines in the future.  That place was a property that he would keep until the end of his life. “Leonardo da Vinci, a mechanic and a painter,” was the title he managed to accomplish as this accomplishment was what he had been seeking for a long time. His salary could cover the cost of two assistants and four students who followed him and helped him accomplish his work. As such, with his reputation, his esteem and his strong connection to the court, he would enter the world of creation and he would enchant his encounters with his brilliant thinking.

Leonardo da Vinci as a scientist

Leonardo da Vinci was a renowned scientist, often ahead of his time with the scientific discoveries he made and the theories he formulated. As it is well known, this genius drew sketches and plans with perseverance and dedication on diverse issues. Based on research and experimentation, which he endorsed with theory and strengthened his results, he applied what he would note in his sketch book: Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the sailor who gets into a ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast. Practice must always be founded on sound theory. Although he never learned Latin, the spread of book printing written in the Italian language helped the theorization of his studies. He had in his possession over forty books of a variety of subjects and it is known that he borrowed a lot. We do not underestimate, in his evolution and his outgoing personality, the fact that the creator did not stop bombing his acquaintances with questions and outlining patterns of thought that must worry us, sharpening the imagination of the people around him… Thus, with this mixture of thesis and eagerness, Leonardo shaped his way into discoveries and revelations.

Research fields


“The artist infuses his work with scientific data…”

With his studies of biology and civil engineering, astronomy and human anatomy, the Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci is the polymath we think of when describing a Renaissance man. The unmet curiosity of Leonardo improved his knowledge of the two dimensional representation of figures and machines, anatomy and geometry. He engaged in research by building of muscles and bones comparing the body of humans and that of the animals. He conceived and drew flying machines that were not intended for flight but were used to replicate machines that would be used in his theatrical performances were a puzzle that mattered to him. The possibility of a human flying drove him into the questioning of such machines, which was based on the observation of birds on flight and their anatomy. He notes. “Study the anatomy of a bird’s wings along with the muscles of the chest moving them. Do the same for man, so that you can see that it is possible to keep himself in the air with the movement of wings.” And he tried post-testing their construction by wearing a life jacket over water. He has worked in physics and mathematics and engineering to construct machines of various types such as needle making machines, hair milling machines, paper mills, watermills, water-powered engines to exploit perpetual water movement and much more. Leonardo, in a fruitful discussion with mathematics and geometry, he produced a series of studies on the area of shapes and the squaring of the circle. He had a skull that had been sliced so that it would be possible to observe it from the inside and had often sketched, trying to understand the functioning of the human body. He also studied the human analogy starting from the Vitruvius Man. As we study his efforts in science, we ask ourselves: How could a painter excel in such fields of knowledge? Perhaps because such learning improved both his art and the artist’s standing more generally. All this research in various fields was to him first and foremost a means to gaining knowledge of the visible world, such as he would need for his art.

“All knowledge which ends in words will die as quickly as it came to life, with the exception of the written word: which is its mechanical part.”


What was Da Vinci’s Scientific Method?

Da Vinci is often described as being a true Renaissance polymath, a person who wishes to understand all branches of knowledge. As such, Da Vinci he considered viewed scientific research as a complement to his researches in art and languages as well as to the study of theology. Thus, Da Vinci’s scientific method consisted of a mix of observation of the world around him and the physical experimentation. Da Vinci’s scientific endeavors were so ahead of his time that he has anticipated many devices that we consider to be ‘modern’.

Luca Pacioli

Leonardo would cover some of his weaknesses in mathematics by his friend and colleague Luca Pacioli, a pedagogue and monk later on despite the fact that he never lived in a monastery. He wrote a manual in mathematics but written in the Italian language rather than in Latin as it was accustomed, in such a way he communicated widely his knowledge. Pacioli was invited by Ludovico to go to Milan to teach mathematics at Ludovico Sforza’s court. This invitation may have been made at the prompting of Leonardo da Vinci. Their genuine interest joined them in their puzzles and games such as making a coin drifting up and down in a glass but also mental games such as math games. At Milan, Pacioli and Leonardo quickly became close friends. Mathematics and art were topics which they discussed at length, both gaining greatly from the other. At this time Pacioli began work on the second of his two famous works, Divina proportione and the figures for the text were drawn by Leonardo. Leonardo learned about the theorems of Euclid, the Euclidean geometry, beside him and to manipulate the square roots. Probably from this encounter he also learned the golden ratio that we often find in Leonardo’s applications.

“Common Sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses.”


Leonardo da Vinci considered as the Father of Sign Language

Leonardo, in his never-ending study of the human body, claimed that, in order to study human gestures and expressions, he must bear in mind the communication of deaf people who try to imply and express their thoughts. All these intense movements were an inspirational input to his research on human expression of feelings and intentions.

The Virgin of the Rocks

Leonardo Da Vinci Vergine delle Rocce in Louvre- The virgin of the rocksWith this study of the two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks, one in the Louvre and the other in the National Gallery in London, the artist managed to express his insight in geology and botany besides demonstrating the deep study of expression – posture, shade and light. The original picture was undertaken by Leonardo not long after entering the service of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan. The first version is painted by him and the second only with his contribution. After all, co-operation in art was something usual. The only difference in the two compositions is the angel’s hand, which is something the painter added afterwards, interposed between the hand of the Virgin Mary which is protectively extended over the head of the Divine Infant. The London version seems more correct as The Virgin of the Rocks in the National Gallery contains some details generally overlooked by the artist in the Louvre version, including the haloes of the figures, the child Saint John’s cross of reeds. This order, due to a price discrepancy, due to the costs being disproportionate to the agreed price, was never delivered. The piece of art was probably sold to another customer ending up in the Louvre. The second work of painting was never delivered as well. We are enchanted up to now by the angel figure in one of his drafts on the painting, showing his hermaphrodite stance.

The Portrait of a Musician

This work is unclear in many parts of its history. We do not know for sure who is portrayed, whether it was an order or if it was delivered. And as it will not surprise us if it was unfinished and we do not know why this was the case. The portrait of a musician da VinciIt is not even sure ιf Leonardo himself did it. First of all, if indeed Leonardo was the painter, Portrait Of A Musician would be the only portrait he did of a man. Moreover, another issue that puzzled the academics was the fact that the shadows were very intense, and Leonardo preferred the soft shadows in his portraits. At the same time, the gaze is turned to the same direction as the body which he preferred not to use. Academics assume that the person posing for the portrait was the musician Atalante Miglioroti, who accompanied him a few years ago on his journey to Milan and taught him how to play the lyre. Since he did not work or keep lists of his works, it is difficult to know with certainty which works belong to him with confidence. Anyway, what makes this piece of artwork a possible Leonardo da Vinci? The answer probably lies in the common characteristics which exist in each of his portraiture works, such as:

  • The backgrounds are left in shadow;
  • The figures are shown at half-length or slightly more;
  • The subjects are carefully positioned at a three-quarter turn so as to improve viewer identification of the sitter;
  • The artist understood perfectly the bone structure beneath the flesh and
  • The pose was enforced with the details of the exquisitely curling hair and the elegant fingers.

All these elements were very common to Leonardo’s work. This work was left unfinished, though at quite an advanced stage, something typical of Leonardo… However, the face and hair appear well worked and the remaining elements were left in the state of an advanced draft.

“Nature never breaks her own laws.”


The Lady with An Ermine

The Lady with an Ermine da VinciSparkles us even today for the magical photographing of the moment, a pre-decided and pre-directed portrait, which portrays the concept of surprise by the unexpectedly appearing Ludovico. The subject of the portrait is identified as the mistress of Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, and mother of his illegitimate child and Leonardo was in the service of the Duke. Although he was in love with her, he was married to Beatrice d’Este. Nevertheless, he arranged her marriage to a count and she was absorbed by her reading and literary arts. After seven years Leonardo’s stay in Milan, this was his first order, and he executed it in a masterful way. In this work it is obvious how the secondary light that comes from the ermine illuminates the face of the portrayed person. Lady with an Ermine has been heavily over painted. The entire background was darkened, her dress below the ermine was retouched and a transparent veil being worn by the woman was repainted to match the color of her hair. The result of this last retouching has been to give the appearance that her hair reaches down and underneath her chin. Yet another change was the addition of dark shadows between the fingers of her right hand. There is no doubt that the Lady with an Ermine is a captivating image of exquisite elegance and reveals the artistic genius of Leonardo da Vinci’s incomparable creative mind.


La Belle Feroniniere of Leonardo da Vinci

La belle ferronnière Leonardo da Vinci in Louvre The second order that Leonard received from Ludovico is the portrait of Lucrezia Crivelli, who, like Cecilia Gallerani, was his illustrious mistress and also gave birth to his son. Its excessively bright jaw and the dull way the hair is painted, makes some researchers doubt whether Leonardo contributed in the painting or whether it was due to the interference of others, like an apprentice. Another possible answer is that this was a joint project carried out by several artists at the School of Leonardo, and based on a design by him. So, academics are not sure whether this may, or may not be, Leonardo’s work. The fact is that the pose is stiff, which would be unusual for Leonardo, and the woman’s features are thicker and heavier than those normally found in his portraits.

La Bella Principessa of Leonardo da Vinci

This painting was discovered by Peter Silverman at an art auction of nineteenth century art, assumed to be drawn by a German artist who imitated the Italian Renaissance. And it was rescued by the great art-history adventurer. Is this a Leonardo da Vinci? Another work we are not sure whether this may, or may not be, Leonardo’s work. It is a portrait in coloured chalks and ink, on vellum, of a young lady in fashionable costume and hairstyle of a Milanese of the 1490s. The attribution to Leonardo da Vinci has been disputed. There are elements that strengthen the contradicting views. On the one hand, the origin of the style of hairdressing and clothing, presumes the influences from Florence for the first and Milan for the second, the areas where the artist lived. It is also known that the sketch was part of a set that contributed to a book piece. The story goes a long way with the assumption that Leonardo’s fingerprint was found who was using his fingers to practice the technique that dictated the sfumato. Infrared rays also showed the artist’s left-handed touch. However, the shadows depicting this princess are too strict to be crafted by Leonardo.

The Trend of Leonardo da Vinci

Pacolli reports that Leonardo edited the portfolio of “About Painting and Human Movement”, which he practiced until the last years of his life, and, as he did with his paintings, this is another work he never published or completed. These manuscripts reveal that the science of art turned into an art of science and a delightful insight into his research. He explored the light and his reflections on the molding of the models. The gradation of tones, in order to create shadows, was genius and he studied the perspective in order to create real masterpieces.

“Beyond a doubt truth bears the same relation to falsehood as light to darkness”.



The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci

In 1495, Leonardo da Vinci began what would become one of history’s most influential works of art – The Last Supper. The Last Supper was completed in 1498, when, upon the order of the Duke, Leonardo delivered the work finished on the north wall of Monastery in the heart of Milan, the Santa Maria de la Gracie. Testimonies of the time say that Leonardo “came here in the early hours and climbed to the scaffolding and then stayed there with the brush in hand from sunrise to sunset forgetting to eat or drink, drawing non-stop.” Other times, he appeared in the middle of the day, and “he climbed on the scaffolding, he grabbed a brush, put a brush stroke on one or two of the figures and then left suddenly.” He explained in his letter to the Duke who was worried about a potential delay of the painting’s delivery, that one should proceed slowly, to stop and postpone things so that thoughts ripen. And he notes that “the clever people achieve more while they work less.”Leonardo da Vinci Last Supper The Last Supper is Leonardo’s visual interpretation of an event chronicled in all four of the Gospels (books in the Christian New Testament). It depicts the next few seconds in this story after Christ dropped the bomb shell that one disciple would betray him before sunrise, showing how all twelve disciples have reacted to the news with different degrees of horror, anger and shock. Leonardo masterfully depicts a drama where all the actors converge in their theatricality with their own movements and expressions. He manages to capture the movement of the soul – moti dell ‘ anima, by reflecting on the intentions they have in mind. The Twelve Disciples, the Apostles of Christ, are divided into groups of three, orchestrating an interesting rhythm in his subject. Judas is shaded more sharply, testifying his guilt, and feminine-like Saint John is said to symbolize Mary Magdalene. In spite of the intensity of the scene, Christ stands patient and serene in the middle of the composition and conveys the viewer’s gaze. The project is a genius composition that excels in the laws of perspective and the rules of physics. The painting was made using experimental pigments directly on the dry plaster wall and unlike frescoes, where the pigments are mixed with the wet plaster, it has not stood the test of time well. Even before it was finished there were problems with the paint flaking from the wall and Leonardo had to repair it.  However, just twenty years after the project’s delivery, the paint began to shake, and Leonardo’s experimental design and testing of materials failed. Today we can only see fragments of the wall painting by the addition of restoration of the missing pieces with a lighter color than that of the original.

The Death of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother

In 1497, three years after her husband’s death and the death of her son by the arrow of a crossbow, Katerina moved to Milan to live with Leonardo. Three months later she died of malaria, before attempting to shake the waters of the artist’s life. Leonardo, in his notes, had a detailed list of the expenses for her funeral and interment, a decent ceremony with many candles and four priests; however he spent less compared to the amount he spent for a sari for Salai, as we will see later on his balance sheets.

Time for change… again…

Due to the professional difficulties that Leonardo was facing in the courtyard of the Duke who refused to compensate him for his work and due to the fact that his horse statue was transformed into a firing target for the French troops, Leonardo was deeply dissatisfied.  The political upheaval wanted Louis XIII of France to be the conqueror of Milan and the Duke to leave the city. Leonardo had smooth relationships with the French conquerors and he had opened some discussions about cooperation. Indeed, Louis XII, in the glance of the Last Supper, expressed the desire to move the work to France, but the engineer responded that it was technically impossible. So Leonardo decided to return home, in Florence, where it would be around 1500 and would become one of his most productive seasons.

Leonardo da Vinci…Travel to Florence

Ludovico SforzaSo, after the fall of Ludovico Sforza, his patron in Milan, Leonardo returned to Florence, the city of his youth. Florence had undergone some political and social changes as Leonardo was pursuing his art career in Milan. The brief acquisition of power by Girolamo Savonarola, head of a religious struggle, downplayed a Puritan rule in the city where homosexuals and sodomy was punished with stoning or death in the fire. Eventually, the public condemned him to hanging by liberating the spirits of the city, which due to all this was covered by a veil of reduced self-confidence and vitality. In this spirit of change, Leonardo returned to his birth town to embody the message of diversity and artistic estrus. Within a year Leonardo was back in Florence, where he was commissioned to paint a huge mural, the Battle of Anghiari, in the Palazzo della Signoria. He worked on that painting for the next three years, while he was also making maps for the Florentine government and was beginning the Mona Lisa as well as a painting of Leda and the Swan. He tried to reestablish himself as a painter, but was reported to be preoccupied with geometry and ‘very impatient with the brush’. It is worth mentioning that in 1506 the French occupiers of Milan requested that Leonardo return to Milan, and for the next two years he traveled repeatedly between Milan and Florence.

 A Stop at Mantua while he was going back to Florence

On his trip he stopped at Mantua where Isabella d’Este asked him to paint her portrait. This famous drawing is a sketch for the portrait that was never painted. However, later on, she asked Leonardo to make another portrait of the chalk drawing. After a total rejection of all other artists, Leonardo was believed that he was the most appropriate person to make her portrait. It would have the side stance that was widespread for the depiction of rulers, a posture that uninterested Leonardo. He used to set his models in place of three quarters a position that allowed them to express their feelings and their minds, their psychologies. So despite the years of perseverance of the Duchess, the prosperous artist had conquered a position in society which allowed him to politely reject the noble orders if the subject did not interest him, like the Isabella portrait that would never even begin to initiate. Anyway, it is one of Leonardo’s finest head-and-shoulders portraits, here with the head in profile. It is also the only known drawing that is highlighted with several colored pigments. Though unfinished, this sketch is remarkable for its proportions, and for the foreshortening of the bust; it is also striking for the ambiguous choice of pose. The perfectly linear profile, eyes gazing beyond our field of vision, contrasts with the turn of the body.

Da Vinci’s life around 50

In Florence, Leonardo has his own status and fame and so did his family. He was wealthy and he could support the followers and his students. He could choose his work, and deal with things that interest him like the flight of birds, resulting in lurking in the fields and studying. He did not hide his diversity, and he was used to take care of his clothes with lacy and velvet mantles in pink colors for himself and for Salai. As much as he spent on his appearance, he was looking forward to spending for his spiritual growth, hence his books reached 116 volumes, focusing on perspective, Euclidean geometry, medicine and architecture.

Madonna of the Yarnwinder or The Virgin Mary with the Spindle

Leonardo da Vinci Madonna of the Yarnwinder Buccleuch versionThis version of the Virgin with Jesus was for Leonardo to shape his masterpiece like an inspiration to Rafael and all the painters all over Europe. In this picture, the Infant Jesus holds a spinning wheel in the form of a cross, which symbolizes his acceptance of his destiny. Madonna, according to the plot of the picture, cannot yet accept the destiny of her divine son for the heart, and therefore the hand of the Virgin Mary is raised in a protective gesture. Both figures are painted with wit, and their hands to impart the emotion and historiography of the story. A close look shows this work was based around the geometric figures of triangles and ellipses. However, we are not sure if this piece of work was made by Leonardo; researchers believe that Leonardo da Vinci only started the painter and that it was finished the pupils of his studio since the production in his studio was loud and the copies made in the studio he opened in Florence numbered forty. However, a beam study showed that the work was painted on the wood directly without a blueprint that only Leonardo could decide on, and some corrections were made to the drawing testifying that it was not a copy but an original painting drawn by the artist himself.

“The spirit desires to remain with its body, because, without the organic instruments of that body, it can neither act, nor feel anything.”


The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne

From this study, we have an incomplete homonymous work that is now in the Louvre, and a magical sketch drawing in London, that is kept and presented in low light to limit the wear and tear of time. Both works are examples of Leonardo’s ability to dramatically and mechanically direct his figures, the use of the sfumato technique and the perspective of the distance of the objects, his delicate shadowing and his knowledge of geology. The Virgin and Child with Saint AnneThe famous painting “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne” offers a glimpse into the subconscious of Leonardo da Vinci. The painting depicts the Virgin Mary guarding baby Jesus and peacefully sitting on the lap of her mother, St. Anne. Christ is petting a small lamb, which is the symbol of his suffering and sacrifice for the benefit of mankind and the Holly Infant embraces and will not let anyone part him from it. The positions of biblical figures in historical paintings are never random; they are always allusions to the lives of the figures and of various Christian metaphors. The painting, as expected, was never delivered, and it was left in Leonardo’s possession who kept on adding things and improving it for years. Freud in his study of Leonardo will examine the fact that Christ has two mothers, as Leonardo had two mothers Katerina and his step mother. He also hypothesized that there was a reminiscence of da Vinci’s own “two mothers.” Moreover, in his psychoanalytic examination of “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne,” titled “Leonardo da Vinci and A Memory of His Childhood,” Freud revealed hypothetical details of da Vinci’s childhood and repressed sexual desire. He discovered that if the painting is turned sideways, the shaped made by one of the Virgin Mary’s garments depicts a bird, most likely a vulture. Freud claimed that the symbol of the vulture is da Vinci’s representation of his repressed homosexual desire from his childhood, which was triggered by his faint memory of him sucking his mother’s nipple as an infant.  Freud supported his theory with the fact that the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs depicted the term “mother” with the symbol of a vulture.

Leda and the Swan of Leonardo da Vinci

Leda and the Swan of Leonardo da Vinci.Leonardo was very absorbed with the theme of Leda. Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, Leda and the Swan, is a depiction of the Greek myth concerning Leda, a daughter of the King of Aetolia, and Zeus, the king of the gods. It shows the moment when Zeus, saw Leda and he was so smitten by her beauty that he changed into a swan and coupled with her. Leda gave birth to two eggs, and each egg hatched twin babies. In the image, Leda looks down tenderly upon her babies, while the curves of her body stand in counterpoint to the sinuous lines of the swan, its head resting upon her shoulder. The flowers that Leda holds in her hand are a symbol of purity. It’s a lost work by Leonardo, the only one depicting an erotic content; although by examining the painting more carefully, we realize that the issue for the artist was the reproduction and fertility. The representation and the copy of the painting are preserved by Frantsesco Melsi, a student of Leonardo who had defined him as his modern heir. The multiple copies ​​found in his studio and other records of the time are attributed to him being able to create the work himself. The story says that Madame de Maintenon, the mournful and hidden Second Lady of the Ludwig XII, destroyed the painting because it was scandalously erotic. This assertion is not imputed.

The Savior of the World of Leonardo da Vinci

salvador mundi of Leonardo da Vinci On the 15th of November 2017, Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting, ‘Salvator Mundi’, (The Savior of the World) smashed artwork auction records when it was sold for US$ 450.3 million.  With careful investigations and cleaning from deep varnish wipers, they revealed elements that attribute the work as a true achievement of Leonardo, along with the testimonies of the time that the artist had made such a work. However, art historians agree that it was painted around 1500, but disagree on whether or not it was painted by Da Vinci. The painting depicts Christ in Renaissance dress, making the sign of the cross with his right hand, while holding a transparent, non-refracting crystal orb in his left, signaling his role as ‘Savior of the World’ and representing the ‘celestial sphere’ of the heavens. The foggy heavens of Jesus, along with the use of the chromatic perspective, give us the impression that Jesus’ hands tend to us. It is a reflection of the scholars that how comes and Leonardo did not, after his profound study in the optics, portray the transformation and diffusion of the image through a crystal or a prism. Rather, he assumed that this would bury the viewer’s eye and preferred to capture it without the reflection.

On Cesare’s services

After twenty years since he had presented himself as a war engineer before Ludovico, it was meant for him to finally take this position for an eight-month period next to the tyrant Cesare Borgia. Between 1502 and 1503, Leonardo served as his chief military architect and engineer. In the service of the unscrupulous conqueror that wiped out villages and ordered the execution of potential rivals publicly, Leonardo would have carried out numerous inquiries that would reveal the avid enthusiasm and inventiveness. Borgia needed an engineer who could ford rivers with bridges, build siege engines to subdue recalcitrant towns, and fortify them once they’d been captured. Leonardo leapt at the opportunity but his work for the rapacious Cesare Borgia did not last long. The incessant massacres of Borgia persuaded Leonardo to resign his commission and return to Florence. Freud, in his analysis on the character of Leonardo, points out that the artist was attracted by strong and leading figures that were a substitute for his dynamic father, who ruled Leonardo with his absence.

Plumbing works

During the time he spent in Florence, he was invited to investigate and perform projects on the irrigation and the diversion of Arno River as well as the drying of Piombino swamps. Both projects were not carried out, but they testify Leonardo’s insight and his sketches touched the borders of imagination of the time, all of which have now been tested; there were also experiments in flying machines, diving suits and more. He also envisioned the realization of a floating passage from Florence to the Mediterranean. His studies on plumbing are based on the collaboration of engineer with nature. As he remarks: “The river that one is going to divert and change its course he must embrace it and not to handle it with harshly or with violence.” By studying the modern systems of water supply in Milan, he aimed to improve the system in Florence, but since the public funds had been drained at the time, he did not manage to realize some of his exuberant plans.

Michelangelo, two geniuses in the same city

In the absence of Leonardo in Milan, Michelangelo, a young painter evolved into an artistic genius and would later on leave his mark in history too. He was more arrogant and peculiar than Leonardo and did not share Leonardo’s beauty, neither was he appreciated by his surroundings. He came in rivalry with many colleagues and artists of his time, even with Leonardo himself. Michelangelo and Leonardo felt “an intense dislike for each other,” says their biographer Vasari. When Leonardo invited him to comment on the findings of a conversation about a passage of Dante, he thought he was mocking him and he was trying to entrap him and he immediately reproached him and offensively accused him for the unsuccessful completion of his giant horse. “…explain it yourself, horse-modeller that you are, who, unable to cast a statue in bronze, were forced to give up the attempt in shame”. Then, he turned his back on them and left. Leonardo remained silent and blushed at these words. Both were homosexuals, but unlike Leonardo, Michelangelo did not show his sexual orientation and love preferences and he was possibly self-inflicted on celibacy. He was an ascetic painter with his only companion melancholy, as he noted later. Leonardo often referred to Michelangelo’s sculptural representations as “sacks of walnuts” because of the elaborate muscly representation of his design. Although Leonardo was not accustomed to criticize other painters, he openly underestimated Michelangelo’s work. “You do not have to make all the muscles of a body distinct … as you will create a sack of walnuts instead of a human form.” The two men, Leonardo, a charming, handsome fifty year-old at the peak of his career, and the youngest Michelangelo, a temperamental artist in his mid-twenties who was desperate to make a name for himself, would stay under the same roof for the completion of two historic giant frescoes that they both would never complete.

The Colossal Fresco

The Battle of Anghiari was an assignment that would mark the magnificence of his painting skill and research for the Sala del Gran Consiglio, the recently rebuilt Great Council Hall of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, during the first years of the city’s republican government.. It is known to us only through some drawings he crafted while studying it. It would take one third of a wall that was 53 meters, a gigantic work that would be a reminiscence of Florence’s glorious victory in the fight with Milan. The battle scene that Leonardo planned was a layout of horses with twisted grimaces and fierce riders that stepped on losing fighters. He wrote: “There must be no point that does not reveal torture and that it is not drenched with blood.” The furious sketches he created, depicted the odor and the terror of war, pointing to his deepening in anatomy where the expressions of the mouth effect the positioning of the nose and the eyebrows. The difficulties he faced during the process stood in vain for the termination of his involvement with the work. Since then, the painter would not accept any other public order…

“Our life is made by the death of others.”


The death of his father

His father’s death took place when he was trying to perform the painting of The Battle of Anghiari. Piero da Vinci Leonardo da Vincis fatherPiero never recognized him as his legitimate son, although he helped him achieve at least three orders but with tight contracts and the condition to complete the paintings, which Leonardo often did not. This surely created tensions between them. Piero married four times and, with his two youngest brides, younger than Leonardo, he had nine sons and two daughters. He had many of these legitimate children when he was over seventy years old. Later on, Leonardo would have inheritance issues with his step brothers and sisters about an estate just outside Vinci, which would remain in Leonardo’s possession but after his death it would pass on to their children. Βy not legitimizing him as his son, Piero was like as he was renouncing him. He might have done this because he considered him successful, although he did not have the financial power to support the team that followed him.However it was an occurrence that was surely not pleasing to Leonardo.


Return to Milan

In 1506, two years after his father’s death, he returned to Milan where he remained for the next seven years, enjoying the patronage of Charles d’Amboise, the French Governor of Milan, and King Louis XII. He initially sought to do the work of a mechanic and a researcher along with that of a painter as he had been recruited by Ludovico.  We should not forget that in Milan he was extremely dear and acceptable to his circles. Ludovico himself would have liked to release him from his contract of The Battle of Anghiari by his Florentine contenders who insisted that the artist should return to the city. Leonardo, for the second time, left a great work in the middle while leaving for Milan, as he did, twenty-four years ago, with The Proclamation of the Magi. However, this was a period in which Leonardo delved heavily into scientific activities, which included anatomical, mathematics, mechanical, and botanical studies and the creation of his famous flying machine. Moreover, notable commissions during this period included work on a bridge building, and a project to create a waterway to link Milan with Lake Como. He also devised efficient military weapons, such as an early example of the machine gun, and his famous large crossbow.

Review of Florence

For him, Florence was an image of bohemian life, a life full of artists, a place where he did not seek to become only a painter but also an inventor and to test all of his many talents. At the same time, being away in Milan, he avoided competitors like Michelangelo, his half-brothers who were young enough to be his children as well as the ‘ghost’ of his father. However, his researches, during his stay in Florence, were very creative: he dissected the body of a dead man, tried one of his flying machines and his diving inventions, and his notebooks were full of geology studies, notes referring to the perspective, the anatomy and the architecture.

Leonardo and Francesco Melzi

Francesco Melzi Around 1507, Leonardo, 55, adopted Francesco Melzi, a fourteen-year-old boy who was thought as he was his son. Drawn to the arts, though, he never became a great painter since he had a more timid nature, certainly less naughty than Salai. Meltsi will become his student, his heir and secretary. Together with Salai, they would stay by his side until the end of his life, and it would be him the person who inherited the artistic and scientific works, manuscripts, and collections of Leonardo. The mature Leonardo now had the need of an heir, a son, to be an apprentice for him and follow him.

“Our body is dependant on Heaven and Heaven on spirit”


Anatomy Again

Leonardo performed an autopsy in at least 30 bodies throughout his entire life, and he wrote thousands of words on the anatomy of the human body as well as on that of the animals. He made his first experiments on an elderly man who claimed to be over a hundred years old as well as on a two-month-old baby and he compared both results. He pointed out: “The network of veins behaves in man as in oranges, in which the skin hardens and the flesh decreases as time passes.” He filled his sketchbooks with bones and muscles in different positions drawn from different angles and drew a manual that would be very helpful in science if it had been published. He studied various topics such as the spine’s curvature, the heart that looked like a fruit whose roots resemble our venous system, the aortic valve and the fetus. And even though in his time the dissection was considered a heresy act, Leonardo claimed that it was a way of appreciating the miraculous creation of God. He did not hesitate to symbolize the human body with his mechanical studies and admired the way the human body could work. He wrote: “Besides human ingenuity being able to lead to various inventions, it will never devise anything that is more beautiful, more simple and more complete to what Nature has created, where nothing is missing and nothing is in excess.” In his anatomical studies, he was preoccupied by the muscles that are responsible for the human smile and expression, and taught that the numbers of the muscles that move the lips are more to man compared to any other animal. This study, as well as the essence of his knowledge, contributed greatly to the unique smile of Mona Lisa. He is the only artist in history to have dissected the human and horse face to see if the muscles that move the face are the same or not.

Other areas of research

During the period that he was in Milan for the second time, we may find in his textbooks a vivid curiosity about a variety of topics. He reviewed opinions, deepened others, defended older thoughts, and the result was a series of vigorous notes on engineering, on waterways and whirlpools, on fossils, on astrology, and on why the sky is blue. He did not hesitate to compare the human body with the earth and its functions and he claimed that emotions as the sound and the light transmitted through waves.

In the Medici House

He undertook some anatomic studies with the surgeon Marcantonio della Torre, who had been left in the middle due toa swine fever the doctor received. This was unpleasant for him since his studies had been under way and possibly he would help him to publish the findings of his researches. Waiting for the epidemic to pass through, he settled in the provincial estate of Medici, where he spent his sixtieth birthday together with his son Medici, who had been counting over twenty-one years, and Salai was thirty-two years old. In this quiet resort, he would have attempted some dissections on animals as he continued his studies on geology with the possibility of publishing them, something he never did.

A stop in Rome

In 1512, the French began to lose control of Milan, and Leonardo decided to avoid this political turmoil finding shelter in Rome, under the protection of his new patron, Giuliano, a lover of art and science, who had set up, in Rome, a circle of scholars and artists where Leonardo would become a member of. He would have a permanent salary that would free Leonardo from order hunting, and he would stay in the rooms that he provided for him. It was a delightful period in the artist’s life where he could share his knowledge with other scholars and he could explore the rare botany findings of the area and study the prismatic surfaces. His interest in them was profound as they could also serve as war machines.


St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist was painted by Leonardo da Vinci during 1513 to 1516. This is an oil painting on walnut wood. This piece of work is one of the paintings that he would keep under his possession until the end of his life, fixing it and adding touches until his death. The pointing gesture of St. John toward the heavens suggests the importance of salvation through baptism that John the Baptist represents. Leonardo Da Vinci Saint John the BaptistThis posture marked Leonardo and it is the posture by which Raphael painted him, suggesting Plato pointing his finger to the sky. This work, as elsewhere, indicates Leonardo’s explicit eroticism as he gave a delight of the flesh and a feminine man figure, recognized as hermaphroditism, even on the holy figures. Many people are critical of this work since this was a character living in a desert and surviving on a diet of locusts and honey. In Leonardo’s painting St. John the Baptist seems almost to be a hermaphrodite. He has a womanish arm bent across his breast, his finger raised towards heaven, and that same enigmatic smile so admired on the face of Mona Lisa. The finger pointed towards heaven could denote the coming of Christ or it could be the sign of esoteric significance.

“Painting is concerned with all the 10 attributes of sight; which are: Darkness, Light, Solidity and Colour, Form and Position, Distance and Propinquity, Motion and Rest.”


Leonardo da Vinci’s portraits

Leonardo’s most famous portrait is the Turin Portrait. Skeptic and exhausted in spiritual manipulation with a grimace on the lips and rather melancholic as in all of the portraits that depict the artist. They indicate that he is some years older but rather this was the reality. Leonardo seemed elder than what he really was, embracing an image of wisdom with his long beard and long hair.



Mona Lisa

Leonardo da Vinci Mona LisaHe started painting Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, in 1503 when he was still in the service of Cesare Borgia, and he would take it with him on all his journeys until his last residence in France where he would add strokes by completing his masterpiece. Mona Lisa is a painting that Leonardo Da Vinci spent many years developing and improving as he could not feel entirely satisfied with his work, but saw enough qualities to motivate him to persevere over a long period. Vasari in a bold description of the work notes that “it really seemed not to be of colors but of flesh. At the bottom of the neck, if you look at it very closely, you could see the beat of her pulse. ” An avid portrait, which Leonardo rendered the complexity of human emotion and the gentle beauty of the most mysterious smile in the history of Art. This painting is painted as oil on wood. It is a remarkable instance of Leonardo’s sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling. The Mona Lisa‘s enigmatic expression, which seems both alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal fame.


The order

Probably Piero recommended Leonardo for this order, as he had close relations with the Giocondo family. Francesco del Giocondo, a silk merchant who supplied the Medici court, was wealthy enough but not an aristocrat, so he had no absurd demands for the portrait. Being in love with his wife, he asked Leonardo to make her portrait and Leonardo accepted. He took up the offer despite the fact that he had to take over many orders at the time, like the one of Isabella d’Este. He accepted this job because he would be free to do what he wanted with the painting, and it was also hard to deny depicting her cute smile. This was another order that would never reach its original destination.

“There are four Powers: memory and intellect, desire and covetousness. The two first are mental and the others sensual. The three senses: sight, hearing and smell cannot well be prevented; touch and taste not at all.”


The Table paint of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo imputed all of his mastery and his condensed knowledge in this painting from his studies of light and anatomy and the result justified him. Even the preparation is made out of lead that leaves the color and light more comfortable on the surface. He has applied the rules of optics and perspective, and her hands seem to be really close to the observer and even if the outlines are still blurred with the supreme application of his Sfumato technique, while the background lengthens in the background. He has succeeded in lighting his model, and applies his principle of making a portrait in dull light when the weather is rainy or when the light falls in the evening. His insight to the rules of seeing is spectacular as the pupils of the eyes are uneven, an observation that certainly could not escape from Leonardo. Stylish techniques are also noted in the imitation of the creases of the girl’s dress. We should not forget that the portrait was meant to be delivered to a silk dealer first and that he was a distinguished Verrocchio pupil who has, since then shown, his skills in the folds of fabrics. Moreover, the discrete veil that the girl wears on the head and covers her hair what gentle fluctuations it makes with the background, untainted. The scenery enfolds the figure and looks like it is drawn to it, a union with the nature and landscape that only Leonardo could accomplish after his far-reaching studies. It is a landscape that holds in the depths of science and fantasy. The earth seems to be spinning along with Lisa’s trunk and seems to have a light posture. The Mona Lisa is famed for two things: her enigmatic smile and her steady gaze, widely believed to follow her viewers around the room. Indeed, this world-renowned painting inspired the name of a scientific phenomenon: the Mona Lisa effect, or the impression that the eyes of the person in an image follow the viewer as they move in front of the picture, does not actually work for Leonardo’s portrait. As regards the Mona Lisa smile, no matter how long you look at it, it looks very intense and deeply dim, which when we stop looking at it, it is deeply engraved in our memory. Extremely thin lashes of Mona Lisa’s mouth are lightly pushed downwards, but if we notice this smile with our peripheral vision it is illuminating the whole face, forming this detached smile. A fusion of in-depth knowledge and persistence in study for years contributes to this work that its brush strokes are so thin that they are hardly visible. A project that has at some points more than thirty layers of paint is now admired in the museum of the Louvre.

Leonardo da Vinci in France – The Final Journey

Leonardo Da Vinci.In autumn of 1516, Leonardo started his final trip to France, invited by the French King, who would be his most consistent patron and would admire him much too. The French King invited Leonardo to the royal summer home, Château du Clos Lucé, near Amboise. More generally, in a review of his life, he constantly escaped to find a patron and he had not always been lucky to do so, nor did the King of the Medici have supported him in Florence, and sent him to Milan with a lyre for a diplomatic gift, nor did he succeed in Milan get some orders until very late.His reputation and his inscriptions helped him to accomplish this goal and managed to spend the last years of his life with comfort and a safety and vigorous insistence on his work to the end. In his 60s, da Vinci travelled across the mountains from northern Italy to central France, carrying with him sketchbooks and unfinished artwork. The young French king had hired the Renaissance master as “The King’s First Painter, Engineer and Architect.” Leonardo lived in the rehabilitated Medieval fortress from 1516 until his death in 1519. From 1515 on a trip to Bologna he had met the then twenty-one-year-old King of France, Francis I, who had invited him to France. Although he returned to Rome for the closing of some cases, he did not take a while into taking that step when he was sixty-four years old. His companions that came to France, was less a follower. Salai stayed in Milan, but Leonardo had another new servant, Batista de Vilanis, much younger than Salai. Together with him, he took all three of his works found in his possession at his death, “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne”, “Saint John the Baptist” and “Mona Lisa”.

Francis I

Francis was generous and devoted, charismatic and gentle, educated and a scholar. Leonardo was a good companion, and so was Francis to Leonardo. He loved the arts and science and aspired to bring the Renaissance art to France and somehow he managed to do so. He was extroverted to people and liked the theatrical performances staged for him. Leonardo was the best candidate for his court, as he was a perfect student to Leonardo. Like an ideal patron, he gave him a salary and a whole castle to stay, he did not insist on finishing his paintings, he needed engineering and architecture knowledge, which satisfies Leonardo, as well as organizing theatrical performances. Above all, for Francis, Leonardo was a source of inexhaustible scholarly knowledge  and Leonardo could teach him a lot of things. They spent hours together that prevented unfortunately Leonardo from advancing his studies, but they talked about astronomy, mechanics, architecture, poetry and music. Francis put Château du Clos Lucé, a beautiful castle five hundred meters from the royal palace at Leonardo’s disposal as this castle was very spacious to accommodate majestically all of Leonardo’s team.

Antonio de Beattis

The visit of Priest de Beattis is beneficial to the next generations because it provides us with information that we draw from his diary for the elder Leonardo. In particular, he underlines that he is “the most prominent painter of the time.” Leonardo, though he had not completed his Florentine orders, had managed to form this image of his personality as an artist and painter. He tells us that he looks older than he is and that he had suffered a stroke and his right hand was paralyzed. Luckily, left-handed Leonardo would not suffer from it and he would still be creative. He also presents the information that Leonardo was proudly displaying the three masterpieces he had in his possession, as well as some of his notes in anatomy.


Romorantin Palace The French King François I commissioned a great work to Leonardo: to design the city of Romorantin from scratch. He called on Leonardo to design and build an entire new city in Romorantin and make this rather small city into the new capital of a blossoming French kingdom. In 1517, on a visit to the city, they designed the palace and their exceptional architectural ideas and Leonardo began to work. He designed a three-store palace with spacious rooms large enough to welcome the whole court and host large theater performances. His obsession with the water found a passage and enriched his imagination so that he could design watering systems as well as the diversion of the river flowing to Romorantin, lakes, fountains and more. Leonardo’s design of the city is based on a dynamic concept of managing flows of water, air, energy, and human cognition. He designed an ideal city that was centuries ahead of its time. This plan was something nature did not allow Leonardo to fulfill, due to his death, and the king would build his new castle in Château de Cloux. The only thing we could point out for this idea of Leonardo is that Leonardo might have changed the shape of modern cities as he wanted a comfortable and spacious city, with well-ordered streets and architecture and recommended “high, strong walls” and places taking full advantage of the interior and exterior spaces.

The last note

The last page that Leonardo left us is filled with geometry and mathematics experiments. He attempts to change the area of ​​an orthogonal triangle by changing its sides. He presents some variations and next to his thought she closes his note by saying that he is stopping to write because “the soup is cold.” This is an indication to Leonardo’s personality, as he would trouble himself with great puzzles and complex topics, however he would note things that happen parallel to his life that give us a notion of how clever witty and humorous he was.

“I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.”


The end of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo died in Amboise on 2 May 1519, only nine days before he drafted his will. He was quite sick and knew he would die and wanted to protect his followers and his property. Medici was also responsible for the execution of Leonardo’s will, as he was his main heir as his son in law. He left half of the vineyard in Milan to Salai, since they were alienated for some time and the other half to his young servant and companion Batista de Vilanis, as well as some other possessions and his furniture. His step brothers got from him the estate at Vinci, as it had been agreed earlier. Clos Luce Leonardo da Vinci place of death“As a well-spent day brings a pleasant sleep, so a well-spent life brings a pleasant death” he had said thirty years earlier, and as he was so full of life and adventures, Leonardo left at the age of seventy-seven. He died in the hands of the King and his patron, a scene that has become the theme of many painters. Francis I received his final breaths. Giorgio Vasari, who was not present, says that Leonardo “smiled” towards Christianity and the Holly virtuous road at the end of his life, and that he confessed a few hours before he died. This is the information that Vasari pointed out, aiming to present a more pious Leonardo.  However, the genius considered scientific knowledge superior to religious belief. Leonardo was buried in the royal palace, but the current location of his relic remains a mystery.

Quotes and Mottos of Leonardo da Vinci

See the collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s quotes and mottos by clicking on this link: Leonardo da Vinci Quotes Collection This was an analysis of Leonardo da Vinci’s personality and life. If you want to find out which personality you belong to or what kind of Motto suits you, click on the link below: Motto Personality Test by Motto Cosmos

Get inspired from Leonardo da Vinci most important quotes and mottos:

  • Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.
  • It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.
  • The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.
  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
  • Learning never exhausts the mind.
  • Water is the driving force of all nature.
  • Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?
  • Art is never finished, only abandoned.
  • Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity.
  • Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.
  • The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.
  • Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.
  • All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.
  • Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.
  • Who sows virtue reaps honor.
  • Every action needs to be prompted by a motive.
  • The natural desire of good men is knowledge.
  • There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.
  • In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.
  • Just as courage is the danger of life, so is fear its safeguard.
  • Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge.
  • Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.
  • Medicine is the restoration of discordant elements; sickness is the discord of the elements infused into the living body.
  • A beautiful body perishes, but a work of art dies not.
  • The length of a man’s outspread arms is equal to his height.
  • Science is the captain, and practice the soldiers.
  • Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.
  • You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself.
  • The smallest feline is a masterpiece.
  • He who wishes to be rich in a day will be hanged in a year.
  • All knowledge which ends in words will die as quickly as it came to life, with the exception of the written word: which is its mechanical part.
  • Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!
  • The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.
  • The human bird shall take his first flight, filling the world with amazement, all writings with his fame, and bringing eternal glory to the nest whence he sprang.
  • Knowledge of the past and of the places of the earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.
  • He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.
  • You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand.
  • Intellectual passion drives out sensuality.
  • Time abides long enough for those who make use of it.
  • Each man is always in the middle of the surface of the earth and under the zenith of his own hemisphere, and over the centre of the earth.
  • It is better to imitate ancient than modern work.
  • The poet ranks far below the painter in the representation of visible things, and far below the musician in that of invisible things.
  • Just as courage imperils life, fear protects it.
  • Experience does not err. Only your judgments err by expecting from her what is not in her power.
  • Common Sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses.
  • Nature never breaks her own laws.
  • Our life is made by the death of others.
  • The function of muscle is to pull and not to push, except in the case of the genitals and the tongue.
  • Experience never errs; it is only your judgments that err by promising themselves effects such as are not caused by your experiments.
  • The truth of things is the chief nutriment of superior intellects.
  • There is no object so large but that at a great distance from the eye it does not appear smaller than a smaller object near.
  • Beyond a doubt truth bears the same relation to falsehood as light to darkness.
  • Our body is dependant on Heaven and Heaven on the Spirit.
  • As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.
  • Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are most active.
  • Necessity is the mistress and guide of nature. Necessity is the theme and inventiveness of nature, her curb and her eternal law.
  • While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.
  • I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.
  • I have wasted my hours.
  • Many are they who have a taste and love for drawing, but no talent; and this will be discernible in boys who are not diligent and never finish their drawings with shading.
  • As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.
  • The spirit desires to remain with its body, because, without the organic instruments of that body, it can neither act, nor feel anything.
  • How many emperors and how many princes have lived and died and no record of them remains, and they only sought to gain dominions and riches in order that their fame might be ever-lasting.
  • Just as food eaten without appetite is a tedious nourishment, so does study without zeal damage the memory by not assimilating what it absorbs.
  • The Medici created and destroyed me.
  • Man and animals are in reality vehicles and conduits of food, tombs of animals, hostels of Death, coverings that consume, deriving life by the death of others.
  • Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.
  • There are four Powers: memory and intellect, desire and covetousness. The two first are mental and the others sensual. The three senses: sight, hearing and smell cannot well be prevented; touch and taste not at all.
  • The divisions of Perspective are 3, as used in drawing; of these, the first includes the diminution in size of opaque objects; the second treats of the diminution and loss of outline in such opaque objects; the third, of the diminution and loss of color at long distances.
  • People talk to people who perceive nothing, who have open eyes and see nothing; they shall talk to them and receive no answer; they shall adore those who have ears and hear nothing; they shall burn lamps for those who do not see.
  • For, verily, great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you little know it, you will be able to love it only little or not at all.
  • The mind of the painter must resemble a mirror, which always takes the colour of the object it reflects and is completely occupied by the images of as many objects as are in front of it.
  • Life well spent is long.
  • In order to arrive at knowledge of the motions of birds in the air, it is first necessary to acquire knowledge of the winds, which we will prove by the motions of water in itself, and this knowledge will be a step enabling us to arrive at the knowledge of beings that fly between the air and the wind.
  • It seems that it had been destined before that I should occupy myself so thoroughly with the vulture, for it comes to my mind as a very early memory, when I was still in the cradle, a vulture came down to me, he opened my mouth with his tail and struck me a few times with his tail against my lips.
  • I have always felt it is my destiny to build a machine that would allow man to fly.
  • The painter who is familiar with the nature of the sinews, muscles, and tendons, will know very well, in giving movement to a limb, how many and which sinews cause it; and which muscle, by swelling, causes the contraction of that sinew; and which sinews, expanded into the thinnest cartilage, surround and support the said muscle.
  • The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is the means by which bodies display their form. The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for shadow.
  • Weight, force and casual impulse, together with resistance, are the four external powers in which all the visible actions of mortals have their being and their end.
  • Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.
  • The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.
  • I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.
  • Painting is concerned with all the 10 attributes of sight; which are: Darkness, Light, Solidity and Colour, Form and Position, Distance and Propinquity, Motion and Rest.
  • Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.
  • I have found that, in the composition of the human body as compared with the bodies of animals, the organs of sense are duller and coarser. Thus, it is composed of less ingenious instruments, and of spaces less capacious for receiving the faculties of sense.
  • To such an extent does nature delight and abound in variety that among her trees there is not one plant to be found which is exactly like another; and not only among the plants, but among the boughs, the leaves and the fruits, you will not find one which is exactly similar to another.
  • I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
  • He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.
  • Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.
  • It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
  • For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.


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Personality of Nelson Mandela


“I was not born with a hunger to be free. I was born free. Free in every way that I could know. Free to run in the fields near my mother’s hut, free to swim in the clear stream that ran through my village, free to roast mealies [corn] under the stars … It was only when I learnt that my boyhood freedom was an illusion … that I began to hunger for it.”


Nelson Mandela is seen as one of history’s most inspirational figures. He dedicated his life to speaking out for justice and changing inequalities of all kinds. He fought against the apartheid regime of South Africa and endured 27 years in prison. Mandela was South Africa’s first black president and is held up as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen.
He was a charismatic leader, a hero to his people, a man who gave up his freedom to fight for the freedom of others. Even after his death he remains a symbol of democracy, equality and peace. He was loved and admired throughout the world, and he never lost faith in his dreams and aspirations for his country despite all his hardships. He changed the course of history and even today inspires and empowers millions of people around the world. So, what was it that made this man stand out? What was it that made him give up on his personal life and stay true to his cause?


“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed. “

A brief look into Mandela’s personality traits.

At first glance, Nelson Mandela had all the personality traits of an effective leader. He was a visionary who fought for his beliefs. His fight against the racist system gave strength, inspired and motivated his people. Mary Benson, friend, confidante and biographer of Nelson Mandela, described him as “a born mass leader who could not help magnetizing people.” Mandela had excellent communication skills. Although his public speeches were very formal, he always enchanted his audience. He used to speak slowly, carefully selecting his every word. His commitment, charisma and humour were prominent in every speech. He had the ability to empower his audiences, fill them up with confidence and encouraged them to follow in his steps and fight dangerous battles. He articulated his vision for “a better future” and gained millions of followers.

To his followers, Nelson Mandela was a role model who motivated them into exceptional accomplishments. They shared common beliefs, emotions and practices. He was like a father to them. He had the power to unite people towards a common goal: resistance against racial segregation.

According to psychology, followers place more emphasis on the image of the leader than on any other characteristic. Mandela’s official biographer, Anthony Sampson, described Mandela as “master of imagery and performance”. Mandela always took extra care of his appearance in public and in press photographs. His correct manners and his modulated public speech helped him cultivate the image of the “African gentleman”. Because of that, Tom Lodge characterized Mandela as “one of the first media politicians […] embodying a glamour and a style that projected visually a brave new African world of modernity and freedom”. It seems that Mandela did not only cultivate an image, but he created a myth as well, both of which helped him achieve his goals. It leaves us wondering, was this a gift or skill? Well, it seems it was both.

Despite all that, his intelligence and his unique way of thinking were what turned Mandela into a successful leader. He faced reality with courage, no matter how hard it was and had the unique ability to adapt quickly and easily to everything new. In addition, he was an honest, dutiful, respectful and righteous man. He was known for his ability to find common ground with people of different mindsets.

Nelson Mandela strongly expressed his intellectual and revolutionary ideas. He pursued his beliefs to the very end of his life, and he shared his vision with the world. He was undoubtedly a man of genius, devotion, and determination. Considering knowledge as the greatest good, he never stopped learning. Even during his time in jail, he kept his mind busy searching for new ideas.

Mandela was an ambitious person with big dreams for his country. That ambition was his driving force and what made him take the lead and achieve success. This is what great leaders do. They do not only envisage a better future but also believe in its possible reality and take part in its creation. Till the end of his life, Mandela worked hard, with determination towards his lifetime goal to win freedom and equal human and democratic rights for his people. But he wasn’t just a great leader. He was a great human being whose mental toughness helped him endure great difficulties. He never gave up and always found a way to overcome even the most tremendous obstacles. Mandela was a living example of hope and bravery and inspires people to believe in what they are really capable of, if only they would truly believe it!

“By ancestry, I was born to rule”

The early life of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela, in full Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, was born, into a royal family of the Xhosa-speaking Thembu tribe in the village of Mvezo, in Eastern Cape, South Africa, on 18 July 1918. He had a poor but otherwise happy childhood.

His father Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa was headman of the Mvezo people and part of the Madiba clan – a subdivision of the Thembu tribe. He was in charge of his people and took every decision on his own, but always under the supervision of the British government authority. His every decision was carefully considered and made with the best interests of his people according to what was fair and reasonable. Even the name of his son “Rolihlahla” was thoughtfully considered. It is literally translated as “pulling the branch of a tree” or more colloquially “the troublemaker”. Was this a coincidence or could Mandela’s name have influenced his destiny? One thing is for sure, that no one could have predicted this boy’s future and that his name would match his actions later on.


“My mother was my first friend in the proper sense of the word.”


Nelson Mandela’s family

Nelson Mandela fatherMandela’s father served as a counsellor to tribal chiefs for several years. His strict attitude and discipline earned him the respect of the others. Mandela himself highly respected and admired his father as well. As a boy, he would take white ash and rub it into his hair in imitation of him. Not only that, but he also observed his every move, the way he talked in front of an audience, his facial expressions and his body movements. Despite the fact that he was illiterate, he was considered to be a great orator. Mandela looked up to his father and wished to be like him in the future. Who could have guessed that he would eventually surpass him!

Apart from the fatherly figure, the family environment can also shape a child’s personality. Mandela grew up in a big family. His father had four wives (Great Wife, Right Hand Wife and Mandela’s mother – Noqaphi Nosekeni, Left Hand Wife, Wife of the Iqadi) and a total of thirteen children – four boys and nine girls. Mandela was the youngest of his father’s sons and his mother’s first child. He grew up with love, respect and lots of care, elements crucial in a child’s upbringing and in the formation of one’s personality.


“Children are the most vulnerable citizens in any society and the greatest of our treasures.”


The difficulties of his childhood

A few years later, in 1926, when Mandela was still a little boy, his father was involved in a dispute that deprived him of his chieftainship. At the time Mandela was told that his father lost his job for standing up to the magistrate’s unreasonable demands. Nelson Mandela child diffiultiesApart from losing his job and his title, Mandela’s father also lost a big part of his fortune, since he was deprived of most of his herd and land, as well as his income.

As a result, they had to move to Qunu, a nearby village, and live there a humble life. There was great poverty in Qunu but despite the straitened circumstances Mandela had some very happy childhood memories there. One of the most serious problems was the lack of food. Mandela recalled only eating corn, sorghum, beans, and pumpkins whilst tea, coffee, and sugar were considered luxury. Education was also considered a privilege.


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”


Mandela’s school years

Even though both his parents were illiterate, his father was dreaming of a better future for his son, and thus at the age of seven he decided to send Mandela to school. Because of their Christian beliefs, Mandela’s mother thought it would be better for him to attend a Christian school nearby.

Going to school was something very special and unique for a child back then. On the first day of school, Mandela’s father gave him his first pair of pants and some advice on good behaviour and let him go to school alone. There, one of the first things his teacher did, was to give each of the students an English name, in accordance with the custom of giving all schoolchildren “Christian” names. She told him that his new name from then onwards would be Nelson. Primary lesson at school was the English language, whilst British ideas and British culture played a major role in the school’s educational system.

From a young age Mandela’s personality stand out. All of his teachers were very proud of him. He was a diligent student, he always followed his teacher’s instructions, he had an excellent behaviour, and he was always one of the best students in the class. He tried his best to earn a better life for himself and his family.

“Apart from life, a strong constitution, and an abiding connection to the Thembu royal house, the only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlahla.”


 The death of his father

Two years after his first day at school, when Mandela was nine years old, his life turned upside down once again. One night, he went home to find his father lying in the hut, feeling weak and having severe pain in his chest. Mandela presumed he had a lung disease, although it was never diagnosed. His father remained in the hut for several days only getting worse. He was neither moving nor talking. Mandela had a bad feeling and thus he never left his father’s side. One day, he hugged his mother and promised her that he would take his father’s place and that he would protect her no matter what. A few days later, after fulfilling his last wish to smoke his pipe, Mandela’s father passed away.

After the death of his father, Mandela’s life drastically changed. Undoubtedly, the sudden death of a parent is certainly among the most difficult situations an adult – as well as a child – may ever face. Children however are sometimes dealing better with death than adults. They understand that death is permanent and final and that it cannot be reversed, but they lack the necessary life experience to realize that death is inevitable for all living things, themselves included. So, when that time comes, the process of grieving after a loss varies from child to child.

Mandela felt deep sorrow from losing his father. He did not only lose a parent, but also a person who he trusted and admired more than anyone on this world, his mentor and his role model in life. Even so, he tried to conceal his sorrow in order to protect his mother and siblings. He showed incredible inner strength and courage for such a young boy. Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that the death of his father didn’t leave a scar on his soul.

On the contrary. This tragic event of his life changed him and made him realize that he had to follow his father’s advice and finish off the work he started, choosing to take a road against submission and injustice.

“Friendship and support from friends is something which is a source of tremendous inspiration always and to everyone.”


 Mandela’s new life

Soon after his father’s death Mandela’s life changed drastically. His mother was unable to provide for him on her own and took the decision to send Mandela away from the Qunu village. Her decision shocked Mandela deeply, but he knew that it was for his own good. She wanted to give him a chance to live a better future. It wasn’t an easy decision. Soon after the loss of her husband she had to let go of her son as well. Mandela on the other side had never lived outside the village and away from his tribe. He felt that he was abandoning everything he loved, his home, his friends and family. But he had no other choice.

Nelson Mandela's motherHis mother took him to the “Great Place” palace at Mqhekezweni, the royal residence of Chief Jongintaba Dalindyebo, the regent of the Thembu people, who offered to become Mandela’s guardian. Seeing the wealth and the beauty of his new home, he realised that a new life was starting for him. As the days were passing by, he was missing his mother and his life in Qunu, but he was having a great time in the Great Place.

There, at his new school he studied English, Xhosa, history, and geography and he was a very good and hardworking student. He was also getting along with the regent’s children, Justice and Nomafu, very well. All three of them were treated the same and felt like siblings. Moreover, Mandela looked up to Justice, and the two boys quickly became best friends. Justice had become quite a hero in Mandela’s eyes.

“Democracy and human rights are inseparable.”


The tribal meetings and consultations

What contributed greatly to Mandela’s later notions of leadership were the tribal meetings that were regularly called at the Great Place. They were discussing national matters such as the droughts, new laws and policies. He was observing the language used by the speakers, all their moves, expressions and arguments. Soon he distinguished among many different techniques that people used to persuade their audience with. He also realized that despite the hierarchy everyone was welcomed to attend the meetings, speak and express opinion on the matters freely.

The regent would speak last, and he would sum up the discussion so far. He wouldn’t force his decisions on people who disagreed. On the contrary, in case of disagreement, they held another meeting some other time. Later in his life, Mandela followed the same principles he first saw demonstrated by the regent at the Great Place and this is maybe what distinguished him as a leader.

“Without education, your children can never really meet the challenges they will face. So, it’s very important to give children education and explain that they should play a role for their country.”

Mandela’s secondary education in Clarkebury

Growing up, Mandela’s destiny was to become councillor to the Thembu royal house and not a worker at the gold mines like most at the time. To do so, he had to acquire the necessary education. Thus, in 1933, he set off to Clarkebury Boarding Institute in Engcobo, a Western-style institution and the largest school for black Africans in Thembuland, where he began his secondary education.

Nelson Mandela at UniversityIn Clarkebury everyone was treated the same: “I had to make my way on the basis of my ability, not my heritage” he said. Apart from studying, Mandela often participated in sports and games and socialized with other students. He also became best friends with a girl for the first time in his life – a girl named Mathona, who he despised at first.

Through lots of hard work and determination he completed his Junior Certificate in only two years instead of the usual three. And that because he never forgot his original goal, to gather various experiences, learn new things and become more mature and wiser like a king’s councillor should be.


“I have always believed that sport is a right, not a privilege.”

Healdtown College

Two years later, in 1937, when Mandela was nineteen years old, he was sent to Healdtown, a Wesleyan College in Fort Beaufort, the usual college for Thembu royalty. Justice was already a student there. Ιn Healdtown there were studying more than a thousand students of both sexes from all over the country. There, Mandela made new friends from other tribes for the first time and found new hobbies: long-distance running and boxing. He was also appointed a prefect and had many responsibilities and chores throughout the day.


“Thinking is one of the most important weapons in dealing with problems.”


Fort Hare University

In 1939, when Mandela was twenty-one years old, he got accepted in the University College of Fort Hare. Fort Hare was an elite Institution with only one hundred fifty students and Mandela felt really lucky and proud to be there, whilst Justice had remained at Healdtown for he wasn’t a very diligent student.

Nelson Mandela University lifeIn his first year, he studied English, anthropology, politics, native administration, and Roman Dutch law. He also attended interpreting courses which he loved the most and dreamt of becoming an interpreter in the magistrate’s office or a clerk in the Native Affairs Department. In his free time, he kept active and did lots of sports. He liked playing soccer and cross-country running the most. He also joined the drama club and took ballroom dancing lessons. Moreover, he became a member of the Students Christian Association and taught the Bible on Sundays in neighbouring villages.

Fort Hare University was a dream come true for Mandela. Being able to get a bachelor’s degree at the time was a major opportunity. He thought that he would be able to help his mother and sisters live a better life in Qunu. He wanted to provide them with the life they had lost when his father died.

“There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and the necessary skill.”


Mandela’s first conflict with authority

In 1940 Mandela got suspended from the university. During his second year he got involved in the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) boycott against the bad quality of food. Unless the authorities accepted their demands, they wouldn’t give up on their goal.

Mandela was called in to see the principal, who asked him to reconsider his actions or else he would be expelled from Fort Hare. Mandela faced a huge dilemma that day. “I found it difficult to swallow the idea that I would sacrifice what I regarded as my obligation to the students for my own selfish interests” he said. As much as he wanted to see his dream come true, at the end of the year Mandela left Fort Hare without taking a degree. Just like his father, he was determined to stand by his principles at any cost and refused to bend to authority. It is obvious that this was a strong ­– perhaps inherited – and recurring trait of his personality as we will see later on.


“You are responsible for your own future, and with hard work you can accomplish anything and make your dreams come true.”


A fresh start in Johannesburg

Mandela had no other choice than to return to Mqhekezweni and live once again in the Great Place with the regent’s family and Justice, who had long returned back home. However, the regent’s decision to arrange marriages for both of them shortly after his return, shocked them both. If he chose to disobey the regent, Mandela knew he could no longer remain under his roof and guidance. Justice was of the same mind, and so they decided that running away together was their only option. Inevitably, the two young men set off to Johannesburg.Nelson Mandela youth

The fact that Mandela defied the regent’s wishes had a pinch of irony in it. “It was the regent himself who was indirectly to blame for this, for it was the education he had afforded me that had caused me to reject such traditional customs. […] I was a romantic, and I was not prepared to have anyone, even the regent, select a bride for me” Mandela said. A year later in 1941 and a few months before his death, the regent visited Mandela in Johannesburg and forgave him for his actions.

Johannesburg in those days was rapidly growing and life there wasn’t easy, mostly because of the racism and the poverty. The demand for labour was high as more and more Africans from the countryside were seeking work there. In the meantime, Mandela’s dream had changed, and he envisioned himself as an attorney. At first, he worked as a security guard for Crown Mines but later he got a job as a clerk in a law office. At the same time, he decided to complete his bachelor through the University of South Africa (UNISA), that offered credits and degrees by correspondence. He got his degree at the end of 1942. Later on, he also enrolled at the University of the Witwatersrand, or else “Wits”, for a Bachelor of Laws degree. He was the only African student in the law faculty. He met new people and made new friends who had fresh ideas and revolutionary political beliefs, loved politic and wanted to make a difference even if they had to sacrifice themselves for the cause of the oppressed.

“Mass action is a peaceful form of channeling the anger of the people.”


Mandela’s first steps into politics

Nelson Mandela in politicsDuring his time at Wits, Nelson Mandela became increasingly aware of the racial inequality and injustice faced by non-white people. In 1943, he decided to join the African National Congress ANC and actively take part in the struggle against apartheid. At first, Mandela was simply attending its meetings but later he joined ANC in a bus boycott and protested against the bus ticket’s rising price with great success, what got him more involved. In 1944, along with other party members they formed the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). Its primary purpose was to give direction to the ANC in its quest for political freedom. Thanks to his commitment to the cause Mandela rose rapidly through the ranks of the ANC.


“To be in love is an experience that every man must go through”


Mandela’s first marriage

In 1946, Mandela met and quickly fell in love with Evelyn Mase. They got married within a few months of their first date. Soon after their marriage, they got a son Madiba “Thembi” Thembekile and a year later a daughter Makaziwe, who died aged just nine months. This was a huge loss for Mandela and the worst time of his life.

It is often said that there is no greater loss than the loss of a child. It feels completely unnatural for a child to die before his or her parents and there is nothing one can say or do to lessen the pain of the parents at the time. A piece of themselves is lost forever and only time can heal the pain.

After the death of his daughter, Mandela tried to keep his mind constantly busy. He worked long hours. He departed early every morning, only to return home late at night, and he had no time for his family and no personal life at all. His career and his political action seemed to be more important.


“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.”


The start of a long fight

The general election of May 1948 in South Africa brought the National Party to power. The government immediately began enforcing strict and more systematic policies of racial segregation and developed a political and social system known as “apartheid”. Mandela and ANC wanted to encourage serious action against apartheid and a non-violent resistance through boycotts, strikes and demonstrations.

A few years later, in 1952 Mandela and his friend Oliver Tambo opened a law office in Johannesburg called “Mandela and Tambo”. It was one of South Africa’s first black-owned and operated law firms aiming to defend Africans’ rights in court. “For Africans, we were the firm of first choice and last resort. To reach our offices each morning, we had to move through a crowd of people in the hallways, on the stairs, and in our small waiting room,” Mandela said. After all, offering help to those in need was the reason Mandela became a lawyer.

In the meantime, Mandela organized and took part in major campaigns against the apartheid, gave significant speeches and got a couple of times arrested. He soon drew the government’s attention. They considered Mandela to be a threat and had to take actions against him. They forbid him to travel outside of Johannesburg as well as attend any meetings or talk to more than one person at a time. He couldn’t even attend his son’s birthday party for that reason! A nine-month prison sentence was suspended because of a fair-minded and reasonable judge who accepted that the ANC was committed to peaceful and non-violent action.

In 1956, Mandela and 155 more people were arrested and accused of high treason and of an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government. They were kept in prison for two weeks but soon freed on bail. The trial itself lasted for five years till 1961. Due to insufficient evidence they were found not guilty.

“The beauty of a woman lies as much in her face as in her body.”


Mandela’s divorce and second marriage

In 1950, Mandela and Evelyn had their second son, Makgatho. However, Mandela’s hard working schedule and his devotion to politics increasingly took him away from home. In 1954 the birth of Mandela’s second daughter, named Makaziwe, in honour of their first baby girl, failed to save their marriage. In 1956 when Mandela got out of prison, Evelyn had already moved out. They took divorce the next year.

In 1957 Mandela met a woman sixteen years younger than him, Winnie Madikizela, a medical social worker at the Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg. They got married in 1958, but four months later the ANC got banned and Mandela got once again imprisoned. In the same year and while pregnant, Winnie took part in several protests and got arrested. Soon after her release she gave birth to their daughter Zenani, on February 4, 1959. A year later they had their second daughter, Zindziswa (Zindzi).


“Men must follow the dictates of their conscience irrespective of the consequences which might overtake them for it.”


State of Emergency

On April 6, 1959, PAC (Pan Africans Congress) a new organization was founded. All they wished for was a “Government of the Africans, by the Africans and for the Africans”, and thus they organized many campaigns and protests. However, on 21 March 1960, in Sharpeville, what started as a peaceful march took a sudden turn; 69 of the protestants were killed and many more were injured when the police suddenly opened fire against them. This resulted in many strikes all around the country and subsequently the government declared a State of Emergency. Both the ANC and the PAC were banned and declared illegal organizations. Mandela along with many other party members were arrested under the State of Emergency and taken to prison, where they were all mistreated.

The Emergency was lifted five months later, and Mandela was let go. The event however destroyed his carrier as a lawyer and ANC. Yet, he couldn’t stay idle. He took part in secret meetings of the ANC and went underground organizing strikes. Mandela realised that the non-violent tactics and the peaceful protests of ANC so far had failed them. His actions during those years earned him the nickname “The Black Pimpernel” and another warrant for his arrest, but he chose to fight than surrender; “I have chosen this course which is more difficult, and which entails more risk and hardship than sitting in gaol. I have had to separate myself from my dear wife and children, from my mother and sisters to live as an outlaw in my own land. I have had to close my business, to abandon my profession, and live in poverty, as many of my people are doing […] For my own part I have made my choice. I will not leave South Africa, nor will I surrender. Only through hardship, sacrifice and militant action can freedom be won. The struggle is my life. I will continue fighting for freedom until the end of my days,” he wrote in a letter he released to the press at the time, whilst he also held secret meetings with reporters and gave his first TV interview.

Mandela knew what he wanted from the very start. He would not hesitate, not even for a single moment, to give his own life for the freedom of his country. His determination and resilience were remarkable and inspiring. It was hard for him to imagine how one could go against, shoot and kill innocent, unarmed people that all they wanted was a chance for a better life.

“If the criticism is valid, it must be made.”


A lonely fighter

Nelson Mandela a lonely fighterThe days when Mandela was an innocent child playing in the fields of his village were long gone. In 1961, Mandela wasn’t just a country boy anymore. He was an underground fugitive and one of the most wanted men in South Africa. What made him stand out and separated him from the other leaders was that he wasn’t in the spotlight. Mandela hid from the world and was acting from the shadows mostly during night hours. He refused to play by the government’s rules and played with fire instead. But he couldn’t care less.

Despite his open and friendly personality Mandela loved solitude. Being alone enabled him to move undisturbed, carefully calculate his next moves and think his plans throughout without unnecessary interferences. On the other hand, he was unable to keep a healthy relationship with his family once again. He was away from his wife and children and rarely saw them in fear he would get caught. Yet Winnie was a person with great understanding and patience.


“Let us keep our arms locked together so that we form a solid phalanx against racism.”


The beginning of the armed struggle

Up until this point ANC was against using or advocating violence during their protests, but in the wake of the Sharpeville massacre ANC decided that it could no longer remain an organization of passive resistance and that they should change their tactics. Thus, they formed an armed wing named uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK for short) to fight against apartheid.

Mandela was a man with an enquiring mind and a desire to learn and make a difference. He read many books about war strategy and fights of the past as well as African history and was ready to start a real revolution. At the time he sought shelter at Liliesleaf farm in Rivonia, in northern Johannesburg under the alias of David Motsamayi posing as a caretaker. The farm was also used as hideout for many other anti-apartheid activists.

On 16 December 1961, on the annual national holiday “Day of the Vow” MK launched its armed struggle. They committed several acts of sabotage that continued throughout the year. They carried out numerous bombings mainly against government structures such as military installations, power plants, and transport links in various cities such as in Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Durban and during night hours, when civilians were not present to ensure minimum casualties.

“Mass action is a peaceful form of channeling the anger of the people.”


Mandela’s African journey and arrest

In 1962, Mandela decided to leave South Africa in secret and seek political and economic support, military training, as well as boost MK’s reputation in other countries. He pursued his cause throughout Africa and travelled among others to Ethiopia, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Senegal. Later on, he travelled to London as well. Upon his return to South Africa on 5 August 1962, Mandela was however arrested and accused of inciting workers’ strikes and leaving the country illegally. On November 7, he was sentenced to five years in prison.


“I realized that they could take it all except my mind and heart. And I just made a decision not to give them away.”


Rivonia trial and imprisonment

A year later in 1963, while Mandela was serving his five-year sentence in Johannesburg’s Fort prison, the police arrested several MK leaders in a raid on Liliesleaf Farm that served as their hideout and discovered many incriminating documents as well some of which mentioned Mandela. All of them including Mandela were prosecuted in the Rivonia Trial –named after the suburb where the farm was located – and charged of sabotage and conspiracy. The alleged offences were punishable by death but those who were convicted, were sentenced to life imprisonment instead.

Mandela was already gaining popularity and had become a symbol of justice. The trial itself gained international attention and is considered to be one of the most important events in the history of South Africa. Mandela gave a historic three-hour speech from the dock, in which he explained and justified their actions. “Your Worship, I hate racial discrimination most intensely and in all its manifestations. I have fought it all my life, I fight it now, and I will do so until the end of my days. I detest most intensely the set up that surrounds me here. It makes me feel that I am a black man in a white man’s court. This should not be” he said.

Mandela later made it clear that he was ready to sacrifice his life for the sake of his country; “I have fought against white domination. I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in harmony and equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve but if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Mandela was taken from the courthouse directly to Pretoria Local Prison.

“After one has been in prison, it is the small things that one appreciates: being able to take a walk whenever one wants, going into a shop and buying a newspaper, speaking or choosing to remain silent. The simple act of being able to control one’s person.”


The life of a prisoner

A life behind bars isn’t easy and no one knows what it’s like unless they go through it themselves. Prisoners are confined in a certain environment where they have to adapt quickly if they want to survive. They have no freedom and no identity and as a result prison affects every aspect of one’s life. It not only has an impact on one’s mental well-being but over time also shift’s one’s personality, leading the prisoner toward becoming a different person, especially after long-term imprisonment.

Nelson Mandela prisoner Number 46664Prisoners are made to wear the same cloths as everybody else, eat the same food every day and follow the exact same schedule. Friendships in prison are a matter of controversy as well. Being very close with someone isn’t advisable. All contacts are strictly monitored and can turn out dangerous as well.

Life after prison isn’t by any means easer. Getting out of jail isn’t the end of it for most people. Starting a new life after prison from absolute scratch seems hard, and the reintegration of prisoners into society is a struggle. The deprivation of liberty and the lack of privacy scar them for life.

Mandela wasn’t like the rest of the prisoners. Even in jail he tried to make a difference. He was scared for sure but knew very well how to hide his emotions and over time he got tougher. He chose to be put in isolation than wear short trousers and eat stiff and cold food, where he could eat and wear whatever he wanted. Mandela spent a couple of weeks there completely alone, but soon he realized that nothing is more important than human companionship, and he gave in.


“The suffering of the people of any single country affects all of us no matter where we find ourselves.”


The Robben Island prison

After a while Mandela and the other convicted leaders were transferred from Pretoria to the Prison on Robben Island. Mandela was 46 years old at the time and would remain in the Robben Island prison for 18 years until his next transfer.Nelson Mandela cell at Robin Island prison

There were no black guards and no white prisoners in Robben Island prison. The guards used threats and intimidation to enforce the regulations but soon Mandela realized that they had to be friendly with them in order to earn their favour. Hostility wasn’t serving anyone.

What saddened Mandela the most was that the rules regarding correspondence were very strict. Mandela, as a D Group prisoner, was allowed only one visitor, and to write and receive only one letter every six months with word restriction. All letters were censored by the guards. But that wasn’t the worse; “In prison, the only thing worse than bad news about one’s family is no news at all. It is always harder to cope with the disasters and tragedies one imagines than with the reality, however grim or disagreeable. A letter with ill tidings was always preferable to no letter at all,” Mandela said.

Racism and repression were the same inside and out of prison. The discrimination in diet was also clear, Coloureds and Indians received better food than Africans. Furthermore, Africans were given to wear short trousers once again. But Mandela didn’t give up the fight so easily. He tried his best every day to keep his dignity intact. He kept a positive attitude, never letting himself fall in despair. Mandela believed in humanity and looked forward to a better future.

On a more positive note, prisoners were allowed to study and thus at nights Mandela worked on his Bachelor of Laws degree which he was obtaining from the University of London through correspondence. Prisoners were allowed books but no newspapers by any means making the latter “more valuable to political prisoners than gold or diamonds”. The possession of a newspaper was punishable.

As the years were passing by, prison conditions improved, and the prisoners were treated better. African prisoners were given to wear trousers, they were allowed to play games at the weekends and attend religious services. From 1967 onwards, when Mandela became an A Class prisoner, he was allowed more visits and letters.


“The advantage of prison life is that you can sit and think and see yourself and your work from a distance”


The daily prison schedule in Robben Island

Prisoners followed a daily schedule and every single day was exactly the same; time was passing by slowly. Just a few days in prison seemed like a decade. The Rivonia Trial prisoners were spending their days hammering rocks into gravel until they were sent to work in a lime quarry in 1965. The schedule was as follows:

05:30 – Wake-up

06:45 – Cleaning and tiding up the cells

07:00 – Breakfast

07:45 – Inspection

08:00 – Work

12:00 – Lunchbreak

12:45 – Resume work

16:00 – Inspection

16:10 – Shower

16:30 – Supper

17:15 – Free time

20:00 – Sleep


“The wounds that cannot be seen are more painful than those that can be treated by a doctor.”


Coping with family separation and loss

Mandela missed his family the most. Winnie wasn’t able to visit him regularly, for she was being imprisoned a couple of times for political activity herself. Mandela was constantly worried about her and the thought of her being in prison too was agonizing. The few letters they send to each other weren’t enough to fill the emptiness in his heart and words couldn’t express what he felt.

Nelson Mandela at PrisonIn 1968, Mandela’s mother accompanied by his son Makgatho, his daughter Makaziwe, and his sister Mabel visited him in Robben Island. He hadn’t seen his children in years due to strict prison regulations that didn’t allow children between the ages of two and sixteen to visit a prisoner. He was deeply shocked to see how time had changed them, especially his mother who looked old and worn. His fear that this would be the last time he saw her came true as she died of a heart attack a few weeks later. His request to attend her funeral was turned down. Mandela felt great sorrow along with some guilt; “A mother’s death causes a man to look back on and evaluate his own life. Her difficulties, her poverty, made me question once again whether I had taken the right path,” he said.

A year later in 1969, Mandela experienced another insufferable loss. His first and oldest son, Thembi, had been killed in a motorcar accident at 25. He left a wife and two small children behind. The news struck Mandela hard. He was forbidden from attending his funeral as well and sat powerless grieving for days in his cell.

In 1975, Zindzi turned fifteen. Having her documents modified by her mother, she was able to visit her father a year sooner than allowed. She only knew him through photographs, but it turned out to be a very touching moment for both of them.


“To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”


Thoughts of escape

In 1969, the Bureau of State Security, South Africa’s secret intelligence agency was plotting Mandela’s death. The plan was to shoot him dead during an escape attempt. They sent a young guard to persuade Mandela to escape. His plan seemed far-fetched and unreliable and Mandela was wise enough not to trust him. Why would a guard risk his life to free a prisoner after all?

But this wasn’t the only scheme against him. Mandela was many times tempted to escape, but he never went through with the plans at the end, either because he realized it was an ambush or he thought of the consequences. He would have to live with the fear of being traced and caught again, and he knew they would never stop looking for him.


“There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires”

The autobiography of Nelson Mandela

In 1974, on Mandela’s 57th birthday, his comrades suggested he should secretly write and publish a book with his memoirs and thoughts as a reminder to people of what they had fought so far and give them courage and strength to keep fighting. Mandela decided to go through with the idea and started writing the same night. He was sleeping during the day and writing at night making the guards suspicious.

It turned out to be a five-hundred-page manuscript of which they also made a copy for safety. One was kept in the cells and the other was buried in the courtyard’s garden. The buried manuscript was discovered when a wall was built at the site. Mandela was accused of abusing his study privileges in order to write the illegal manuscript and his study privileges were being suspended for four years.

However, his efforts did not go in vain as they managed to smuggle the copy in London in 1976. Mandela resumed the book after his release in 1990. The manuscript constitutes the core of his autobiography under the title “Long Walk to Freedom” published in 1994.

“When we read, we are able to travel to many places, meet many people and understand the world”


The last years in Robben Island

At last, in 1977, after many strikes and demands by the prisoners, the authorities put an end to manual labour, and let prisoners spend their days in their sections. Mandela spend his free time gardening and playing tennis in the courtyard. He also began to exercise again and read books. He was reading books mostly about South Africa or by South African writers, all the unbanned novels of Nadine Gordimer, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck and War and Peace by Tolstoy. The authorities also allowed prisoners to watch selected films and documentaries once a week such as “The Mark of Zorro”, “The Ten Commandments”, “The King and I” and “Cleopatra”. Finally, in 1980, A-Group prisoners were allowed to buy one English-language and one Afrikaans newspaper a day.


“To overthrow oppression has been sanctioned by humanity and is the highest aspiration of every free man”


Mandela’s transfer to Pollsmoor prison

Without any previous notice, on 31 March 1982 Mandela and his comrades were transferred to Pollsmoor Prison, in Tokai, Cape Town.  Authorities wanted to isolate them and lessen their influence on younger activists. Change was always hard for Mandela. Having lived for 18 whole years on Robben Island, he got used to it. The unknown and the lack of stability frightened him.

The Pollsmoor prison was according to Mandela “a world of concrete” but not only were the facilities and food much better but also the new prison allowed contact visits between inmates and their family members. After all these years Mandela was finally able to hug and kiss his wife. “It had been twenty-one years since I had even touched my wife’s hand,” he said.

Outside of prison the political climate was tense, and violence was escalating across the country. On January 31, 1985 the state president Pieter Willem Botha offered Mandela his freedom under the condition that he “unconditionally rejected violence as a political instrument,” expecting that Mandela would betray his people and abandon his fight. On 10 February 1985 Mandela’s daughter Zinzi read a statement on his behalf at a rally in Soweto: “I cannot and will not give any undertaking at a time when I and you, the people, are not free. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.” With those words Mandela rejected yet another offer of conditional release. In the past he was offered his freedom as long as he accepted to confine himself to Transkei.

For the second time in history the South African government declared a nationwide State of Emergency on 12 June 1986. Thousands of people were arrested. A month later USA approved the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, a law which imposed sanctions against South Africa and requested the end of apartheid.

In the same year Mandela was diagnosed with an enlarged prostate gland and underwent surgery. After his recovery he was taken to a new cell in a completely different wing away from his comrades. It was perhaps an attempt to isolate him and make him give in.

“In my country we go to prison first and then become President.”


Victor Verster Prison and release

In 1987, suffering from a bad cough and a general weakness, Mandela was taken to the hospital in Cape Town, where they found water in his lungs. He was operated and diagnosed with tuberculosis, probably due to the dampness of his cell. Thus, after many complaints, in December 1988, Mandela was moved to his “last home before becoming a free man”, to Victor Verster Prison near Paarl in order to recover. Mandela was 70 years old at the time, and he spent there the last 14 months of his 25 years of captivity. He was not given a cell but a large warder’s house in the grounds of the prison instead, with a big garden, a swimming pool as well as a personal chef. Mandela said that he had the illusion of freedom. He could do whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, as if he were a free man. Among other activities, Mandela spent his time to complete his LLB degree.

It’s strange how things sometimes turn out. On 18 January 1989, president Botha suffered a mild stroke. He resigned and was replaced by Frederik Willem de Klerk. De Klerk had a few meetings with Mandela to discuss the situation. He agreed with Mandela to unban the ANC and all other banned political organizations­ (including the armed wing of the ANC), lift the country’s State of Emergency, release all political prisoners, and allow the exiles to return. His friends were the first to be released but Mandela knew his own freedom wasn’t far away.

Finally, the most awaited day had come! On 11 February 1990, after 27 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela was unconditionally released and walked out of the Victor Verster prison as a free man, holding Winnie’s hand in front of a large crowd, photographers and reporters. Mandela wasn’t prepared for such a scene, nonetheless he felt great excitement; “I felt — even at the age of seventy-one — that my life was beginning anew. My ten thousand days of imprisonment were over,” he said.

Right after his release Mandela was driven to Cape Town’s City Hall and gave a speech from the balcony. The crowd was huge and cheering. Mandela expressed his hopes for reconciliation but declared that the ANC’s armed struggle wasn’t over. They were close to their goal but there were still many things to negotiate with the government. Two days later Mandela gave a second speech to a crowd of 120,000 people at Johannesburg’s Soccer City.


“Life is like a big wheel: the one who’s at the top, tomorrow is at the bottom.”


Path to presidency and the end of apartheid

During the following years Mandela travelled to Africa, Europe and America in order to gather political support, meet world leaders – such as François Mitterrand, Brian Mulroney, Margaret Thatcher and George Bush – and draw attention to his cause. In the meantime, on 5 July 1991, at the ANC’s national conference in Durban Mandela was elected ANC President, replacing Oliver Tambo.Nelson Mandela African President

On 10 December 1993, Mandela was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with de Klerk at the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo, Norway. “A man does not become a freedom fighter in the hope of winning awards, but when I was notified that I had won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Mr. de Klerk, I was deeply moved. […] To make peace with an enemy one must work with that enemy, and that enemy becomes one’s partner” Mandela said.

After four long years of negotiations, April 27, 1994 was set as the date when South Africa’s first national, non-racial, democratic, one-person-one-vote election would take place. According to the polls, ANC held a clear advantage over its rivals, but Mandela never took victory for granted. He knew very well that his major opponent had more experience in these matters.  ANC’s campaign slogan was “A Better Life for All”, but Mandela never lied during his campaign: “Life will not change dramatically, except that you will have increased yourself-esteem and become a citizen in your own land. […] if you want better things, you must work hard. We cannot do it all for you; you must do it yourselves.” And so, April 27th or else “Freedom Day” became an annual celebration that commemorates the day in 1994 when the country’s apartheid system of racial segregation came to an end as a result of years of struggle and sacrifice. The black majority ­was able to go to the polls and elect their own leader. That day, at Inanda, Durban, Mandela voted for the first time in his life too and he voted for himself for president. The ANC won these first historic elections with a vast majority (62.6%) and was qualified for 252 of 400 seats in the national assembly.

“Poverty is man-made and can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings”


Mandela’s presidential years

Nelson Mandela PresidentA few days after South Africa’s first national democratic elections, on May 10, 1994, Mandela’s inauguration took place at the Union Buildings in Pretoria replacing F.W. de Klerk. The event was witnessed by over one hundred thousand people on site, and millions of others around the world. At the age of 75 Mandela became South Africa’s first black president. “We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender, and other discrimination. Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another,” Mandela declared in his inaugural address.

Mandela tried to stay true to his word. After all, this wasn’t just a promise to his voters but to himself as well. It was time to tread a new path and he had to lead the way. Through the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), ANC tried to deal with the country’s severe social and economic problems and focused on people’s most immediate needs. RDP’s general goal was to boost the collapsing economy and alleviate poverty. They dealt with issues of major importance such as proper housing and land reform, nutrition, access to clean water, electrification, transportation, telecommunication, healthcare and children vaccination, unemployment and public works. Also, one of the primary tasks of Mandela’s presidency was national reconciliation. He wanted to reassure South Africa’s white minority that they were protected and represented.Nelson Mandela a Leader-President

In February 1996 the new South African government took things a step further establishing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Its purpose was to investigate crimes and uncover the truth about human rights violations that were committed during the period of apartheid (from 1960 to 1994) by both the apartheid state and the ANC. The hearings lasted for about two years dealing with cases of tortures, bombings, abductions and assassinations. Information were gathered from victims, witnesses and offenders, and the Commission issued a final report. No individuals were prosecuted for crimes of the past. According to Mandela the commission did an excellent work and helped the country “move away from the past to concentrate on the present and the future.”

With age being a strong factor, in December 1997 at the party’s conference, Mandela stepped down as ANC President, and in March 1999, after just one term as President, he closed the book on his presidency with a farewell speech to the Parliament. By the 1999 election, ANC had achieved many of its goals; millions of people were connected to the electricity grid and to telephone lines, hundreds of houses were constructed, and even more households got access to clean drinking water, millions of children were brought into the education system, and a significant number of hospitals were constructed.

“I am not nervous of love for love is very inspiring”


Mandela’s 2nd divorce and 3rd marriage

In the midst of political turbulence and social change, Mandela had little time for his personal life and thus his marriage with Winnie suffered. Winnie had distanced herself from him and rumour has it she had an affair. Mandela utterly disappointed in her described that time as “the loneliest period of his life.” He announced their separation in 1992, and they divorced four years later.

After so many years without affection, Mandela didn’t want to spend the rest of his life in loneliness. And so, when Mandela met Graça Machel – a woman 27 years younger than him and widow of former president of Mozambique, Samora Machel – he envisioned a future with her. The couple decided to get married in 1998, on Nelson Mandela’s 80th birthday. “Late in life, I am blooming like a flower because of the love and support she has given me,” Mandela told reporters.


“I have retired, but if there’s anything that would kill me it is to wake up in the morning not knowing what to do.”

Mandela’s retirement

Despite his retirement, Mandela didn’t give up completely on his people. For several years after his retirement from active politics, he got engaged in several philanthropic activities. He continued his contribution to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) which he set up in 1995, aiming to help hungry, abused and homeless children. In 1999 he established the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF), a non-profit organization focused on continuing Mandela’s legacy for equality, justice and peace. Last but not least, the Mandela Rhodes Foundation offers scholarships to African students who dream of using knowledge to change the world.

In July 2001, aged 83, Mandela was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent a seven-week radiotherapy course as treatment. The cancer wasn’t of a high grade and didn’t require chemotherapy or surgery. However, as Mandela grew older and his health declined with age, he wished to stay away from public life as well and enjoy a quiet life with his large family (he had 17 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren). Yet the requests for public appearances and interviews were too many.  “I do not intend to hide away totally from the public, but hence forth I want to be in the position of calling you to ask whether I would be welcome, rather than being called upon to do things and participate in events. The appeal therefore is: don’t call me, I’ll call you,” he said politely.

But life is full of unexpected turns and his happiness was shadowed by the pain of losing another son. On 6 January 2005, his eldest son Makgatho died of AIDS. AIDS epidemic posed a serious threat to Africa and the infection rate grew rapidly. At a time when taboos still surrounded AIDS, Mandela socked the world by announcing the cause of his son’s death. “Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it, because the only way to make it appear like a normal illness like tuberculosis, like cancer, is always to come out and say somebody has died because of HIV/AIDS, and people will stop regarding it as something extraordinary,” Mandela said at his son’s funeral. Following the tragic event Mandela became an active AIDS campaigner. He also started a charity for HIV awareness and prevention, called 46664, named after the prison number assigned to him in Robben Island prison.


“Even if you have a terminal disease, you don’t have to sit down and mope. Enjoy life and challenge the illness that you have.”


Nelson Mandela’s death

Nelson Mandela's deathDuring his last years of life Mandela battled with health issues that led to numerous hospitalizations. In February 2011, at the age of 92, Mandela was hospitalized with a respiratory infection and was released in a stable condition. A year later in 2012 he was re-admitted shortly for a lung infection. In the following years his lung infection took a turn for the worse and in June 2013, he was admitted to the hospital in serious condition once again. Although his condition remained unstable, he was discharged. Unfortunately, the illness advanced and on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95, Mandela passed away at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg.Nelson Mandela's wifes

President Jacob Zuma announced Mandela’s death on television, “Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father,” he said, and the South African government declared a 10-day national mourning as a mark of respect. From 11 to 13 December Mandela’s body laid in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria and two days later on 15 December 2013 a state funeral was held in Qunu. More than 80 representatives of foreign states travelled to South Africa to pay their respects. Nelson Mandela’s death had shaken South Africa to the core and the whole nation mourned for him, for they felt they had lost their hero.


“It becomes important, the older you get, to return to places where you have wonderful recollections.”


What made Mandela a successful leader

Nelson Mandela LeaderMandela succeeded because of his strong will. Throughout his life he proved that only sky is the limit. Nothing is impossible as long as we never give up. He never gave up on justice, his beliefs, his hope for equal rights and his desire for freedom. He wasn’t vindictive and despite the horrors he had to face he didn’t believe in the eye for an eye justice. It’s good to always remember his words: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Only few will understand in depth his complex personality. He found the inner strength to fight his own battles. He came to this world to make a difference and hold his head up high. Mandela made history, he left his mark and touched people’s lives. He lived a unique life and took hard decisions. He was prepared to sacrifice his life for the freedom of his country, a sacrifice that very few would make.

Mandela was a remarkable man, and he never stopped trying for the best, because, like he said: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” The road to freedom was a difficult one, and Mandela opened the door to a better future, but a joint effort is required to keep it on the right track, and according to Mandela’s favourite quote “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


Quotes of Nelson Mandela

Get inspired from Nelson Mandela’s most important Quotes:

Nelson Mandela Quotes Collection  (Phrases)

See the best collection of Nelson Mandela’s Quotes by clicking on this link:

Nelson Mandela Quotes     (Pictures)

This was an analysis of Nelson Mandela’s personality and life. If you want to find out which personality you belong to or what kind of Motto suits you, click on the link below:

Motto Personality Test by Motto Cosmos

Tributes, honours and awards

Mandela received more than 250 awards, honours, honorary degrees from universities and other recognitions. Some of the most important ones are listed below:

1988 – Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought

1991 – Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize

1993 – Nobel Peace Prize

1993 – Philadelphia Liberty Medal

1994 – Anne Frank Medal

1994 – Olympic Gold Order

1994 – The Hunger Project’s 8th annual Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger

1996 – Freedom of the City of London

2001 – International Gandhi Peace Prize

2002 – Presidential Medal of Freedom

2006 – Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award

2009 – The United Nations General Assembly declared 18 July to be “Nelson Mandela International Day” or else “Mandela Day”


Nelson Mandela Books

Nelson Mandela has written numerous books, mostly autobiographical ones that provide great insight into his life and help us understand better the horror of apartheid and the struggle for freedom. Others include speeches, letters and quotes of him and address readers of all ages. Some of them are:

1970 – Nelson Mandela: I Am Prepared to Die

1973 – No Easy Walk to Freedom

1978 – The Struggle is My Life

1980 – In His Own Words

1990 – Nelson Mandela Speeches, 1990: Intensify the Struggle to Abolish Apartheid

1991 – How Far We Slaves Have Come! South Africa and Cuba in Today’s World

1993 – Nelson Mandela Speaks: Forging a Democratic, Non-racial South Africa

1994 – Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela

1996 – Mandela: An Illustrated Autobiography

1998 – The Essential Nelson Mandela

2000 – Words of Wisdom: Selected Quotes

2001 – Nelson Mandela

2002 – Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales

2005 – Prisoner in the Garden: Photos, Letters, and Notes

2009 – Selected Speeches and Writings of Nelson Mandela: The End of Apartheid in South Africa

2010 – Conversations with Myself

2010 – Quotes of Nelson Mandela

2011 – Nelson Mandela by Himself: The Authorised Book of Quotations

2012 – Le Temps est venu

2012 – Notes to the Future: The Authorized Book of Selected Quotations

2013 – Long Walk to Freedom: Illustrated children’s edition

2013 – Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom: The Book of the Film

2013 – Meine Waffe ist das Wort: Mit einem Vorwort von Desmond Tutu

2013 – Un ideale per cui sono pronto a morire – Il discorso più bello di Nelson Mandela

2017 – Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years (released posthumously and completed by Mandla Langa.)

2018 – The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela


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Personality of Frida Kahlo				    	    	    	    	    	    	    	    	    	    	5/5							(10)

Personality of Frida Kahlo 5/5 (10)

Personality of Frida Kahlo

“The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration. Since my subjects have always been my sensations, my states of mind and the profound reactions that life has been producing in me, I have frequently objectified all this in figures of myself, which were the most sincere and real thing that I could do in order to express what I felt inside and outside of myself.”

More than half a century has passed from her death, and yet Frida Kahlo’s distinctive and iconic image still feels so fresh today. The flowered hair, her intense gaze under that striking unibrow and all that colourful dresses made her stand out to the world. Yet, she wasn’t just an image, Frida Kahlo was a renowned Mexican painter of the 20th century and a worldwide symbol of feminism and vigour.

She was always attracting attention. Either in the streets of New Work, in Paris, or in happenings in Mexico, people just stood and stared at her. The combination of the long colourful dresses, the traditional jewellery and the braided hair with the flowers and the ribbons, created a unique aesthetic style with no comparison. Her appearance, closely bound up with her artworks, shaped her identity, and all those different colours and shapes reflected her unique personality. Regional Mexican garments, such as the Tehuana dresses, became her signature outfit.


“I paint my own reality. The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint whatever passes through my head without any other consideration.”

Frida Kahlo’s paintings

Common theme in Frida’s paintings was herself, always painted in vibrant colours. With shocking intimacy, lots of phantasy and humour she depicts her own body broken, bleeding or in pain. She painted her own reality and made art out of her physical and emotional pain. Her works might be overly dramatic but nonetheless authentic and make people stare them with awe. Every little detail is important too, for it may hide her deepest and most secret feelings. Her eyes in her self-portraits draw people in and gaze into their very soul. Pablo Picasso, who admired her deeply, once said: “Neither Derain, nor I, nor you are capable of painting a head like those of Frida Kahlo.”

Her inspiration was her own life. Frida recreated snapshots of her life, where her physical and psychological pain is evident. Her life and her work were shaped not only by her turbulent relationship with Diego Riviera — their marriage, the infidelities, their divorce, their remarriage, — but also by her chronic physical pain, the multiple surgeries, the miscarriages, and the amputation. Her works narrate a personal journey through pain and hardship, masked under a thick layer of colourful oil paint.


“I don’t give a shit what the world thinks. I was born a bitch, I was born a painter, I was born fucked. But I was happy in my way. You did not understand what I am. I am love. I am pleasure, I am essence, I am an idiot, I am an alcoholic, I am tenacious. I am; simply I am … You are a shit.”


Frida Kahlo’s personality.

Looking deeper into Frida Kahlo’s life and work, one could say that Frida might have actually suffered from borderline personality disorder (BPD). Overall, people with BPD have a fragmented, chaotic sense of self, meaning they lack stability or self-cohesion. Their emotional relationships are unstable, they experience tremendous fear of abandonment, and they try to avoid being abandoned by any means often using manipulating techniques. This could perhaps explain why Frida felt hopeless and empty throughout her life.

During her whole life, Frida was trying to feel cohesive and complete. She was constantly seeking love, approval and attention from the people around her in order to feel alive. All that derived from her childhood years. Her illness at the age of six and her withered leg made her feel fragile, weak and inferior to other children. Yet, it was her fragility that brought her father closer to her. He always helped her and looked after her. Frida was the third child of her father’s second marriage and thus she feared that he would neglect her. Thus, she tried to make him love her more than his other children and bound him to her. This was a reoccurring theme in her life. Her mother on the other hand, wasn’t as caring as her father, what left an empty space in her heart.

Inevitably, she was trying to get from her husband the love she never got from her mother. Diego was an older man, with whom she felt secure, because he protected her just like her father did. Yet, Diego meant much more to Frida. He was not only her partner but her mentor as well. His influence helped her shape her art and her persona. She had idealized him. They were strongly attached to each other. One needed the other to feel complete as a person. Each time that this special bond broke, it had serious effect on their lives, especially Frida’s. She felt abandoned, lonely and heartbroken. Her life had no meaning. It comes as no surprise that she forgave his many infidelities and remarried him. They shared an emotional attachment that made Frida need Diego in order to live and keep her art alive. Diego felt no different.

Frida’s fragmented self and feelings of abandonment are obvious in all of her paintings. Despite all the people who cared about her, she always felt lonely and unwanted. Her constant need of love and approval was evident in all the letters she wrote to Diego, her friends and lovers. She took rejection hard and often struggled with depression for long periods of time. In spite of all the anxiety and periods of depression, Frida used to say that she loved life, and there were times when everything seemed pretty. In her final years, all the heavy medication she took, due to her serious health condition, made her paranoid from times to times. Frida was afraid of death and thus she took great care of her health. Her serious health problems made her have regular medical check-ups and go under multiple surgeries.

As said before, Frida was an attention-seeker. Her appearance alone –the colourful dresses, the jewellery and the flowers – never went unnoticed. She had managed to create an extraordinary persona that cached everyone’s eye. However, Frida didn’t hesitate to deploy her own pain and suffering to get what she wanted – admiration and attention. And that surely is reflected in her paintings too. By painting herself as a martyr, who has suffered extreme pain, she managed to provoke feelings not only of admiration but also of pity and sympathy. She presented her problems in an overdramatic way, making others see her as a tragic victim, either of Diego’s infidelity or her physical pain’s. She rightfully won the title of “The Grande Dama of Suffering” for she used her illness and suffering in her favor. “We like being ill to protect ourselves,” she wrote in her diary, because she felt that when sick, she was loved and taken care of the most.

Nothing could fill the empty space inside Frida’s soul. The only thing that partially soothed her pain was her relationship with Diego. But every fight made it worse. Over time her desperation grew bigger and led her to alcohol and excessive use of painkillers. During the last year of her life she made numerous suicide attempts. People with BPD often behave like that. Frida loved kids, but she couldn’t have children of her own and that was killing her. Painting was the solution to her every problem. Getting through hardship by making art became an integral part of her life. It gave her strength and a reason to live. Receiving admiration for her works was her only comfort in life.

“The most important part of the body is the brain. Of my face, I like the eyebrows and eyes. Aside from that, I like nothing. My head is too small.”


Frida Kahlo’s childhood

Frida Kahlo was born on July 6, 1907 in Coyoacán, a small city in the suburbs of Mexico. She was born with a mixed heritage. Her father, Guillermo Kahlo, was German of Hungarian-Jewish descent, whilst her mother, Matilde Calderón, was of Spanish and Indian heritage and a devout Catholic.parents of frida kahlo Her full name was Magdalena Carmen Frieda Kahlo y Calderón, but she dropped the ‘e’ from her German name because of the rise of Nazism in Germany at the time, and became known as Frida, using a more Hispanic name. It’s obvious that Frida wanted to create a myth around her name. Thus, she also claimed to be born on 1910, the same year with the outbreak of the Mexican revolution.

Yet, Frida wasn’t born lucky. All the hardship started at her early childhood. When she was only six years old, Frida was diagnosed with polio. The disease, caused great damage to her right leg, leaving it shorter and weaker than the left. She tried very hard to cope with her disfigurement. She usually hid it under long skirts or crossed one leg over the other while seated, as often seen in photographs. Children used to make fun of her in school, calling her “Pata de Palo”, meaning peg-leg, a nickname which she later adopted herself and jokingly used to sign her letters to her friends. Frida closed herself off from other people and created a world of phantasy in her mind. She invented an imaginary friend who later might have inspired her double portrait The Two Fridas (1939).

“My toys were those of a boy: skates, bicycles.”

However, Frida didn’t give up and tried to overcome her impairment. She got into several sports, such as football, boxing and swimming. She liked climbing on trees and ride her bike along the lakes of Chapultepec Park, activities unusual for little girls in Mexico at the time. She was different in every aspect and people admired her for that. On the other hand, the singularity of her behaviour scared the other children away.

“I am in agreement with everything my father taught me and nothing my mother taught me.”


Her relationship with her family

Even within her family Frida felt alone and isolated. Her loneliness is evident both in the family pictures and her paintings later on. As a tomboy, she was very different from her sisters — even from her sister Cristina, no matter how close in age they were. mother of frida kahloHer mother, Matilde, wasn’t an affectionate person. She was cold and distant towards her and seemed to love God more.

The lack of affection from her mother might be the root cause of Frida’s emotional hunger throughout her life. father of frida kahloShe needed the love and attention that was deprived as a child. A mother-child bond is one of the most important bonds in the first years of a child’s life and has a huge emotional impact on the child when its missing.

Unlike with her mother, Frida had a very close relationship with her father. Guillermo loved Frida very much and it was very obvious that she was his favourite child. Frida is the most intelligent of my daughters, she is the most like me,” he said. He was very attentive towards Frida and devoted himself to her recovery, since she was special for him. Guillermo also wanted to spark Frida’s imagination in a wide variety of ways. He was a photographer, and he liked taking Frida with him at his studio or at the photo shooting locations. He was a good painter too, and that’s how Frida first came in contact with painting. He was Frida’s role model, and he made her childhood happy. She admired him for never giving up on his work, despite his health problem (he long suffered from epileptic seizures), and it seems that she took his example later in her life as well.


“I was a child who went about in a world of colors… My friends, my companions, became women slowly; I became old in instants”.


The teenage years of Frida Kahlo

In 1922, Frida’s father believing in her intelligence and having great hopes for her, decided to enrol Frida to Escuela Nacional Prepatoria, a preparatory school in Mexico City. Her mother was most likely opposed to this idea, thinking it would be very dangerous for a girl to be alone in an unprotected environment. In addition, it was very rare for girls of the time to get a higher education. In fact, there were only 35 girls out of the two hundred students in that school.

Her distinctive clothing and her unusual hairstyle drew her classmate’s attention, however this time positively. Her friends thought she was fascinating. They said she carried “a little world” in her bag, books, notebooks, drawings even dried flowers and butterflies. Frida wasn’t a diligent student. Thanks to her intelligence however she got high scores without much of an effort. She could read a text once and remember it forever. She didn’t like attending boring lectures, instead she preferred to sit outside and read books with her friends.  Frida was unconventional for her time; her friends were too, and so they formed a group named Los Cachuchas. It consisted of seven boys and two girls. They liked creating chaos at school with the outrageous pranks they pulled. Once, they brought a donkey in the halls and the classrooms emptied and, on another occasion, they set off firecrackers during a boring lecture that they wanted to get cancelled. Frida Kahlo was gaining somewhat of a name amongst her peers.

I very much love things, life, people.”


Frida Kahlo’s teenage crush with Diego Rivera

In Prepatoria Frida saw Diego Rivera for the first time, a well-known painter of the time, who was there to paint a mural in one of the school’s amphitheatres. He was then 36 years old and Frida barely 15. Frida was immediately and completely smitten by Diego. She idolized him, and dreamt of them being together. Indeed, her dream came true many years later. Diego was working long hours at the amphitheatre, always accompanied by beautiful models, who posed for him, and who most probably were his lovers too. One of those beautiful women was Diego’s wife, Lupe Marín. She and Frida would become good friends in the future. Frida was always just sitting there and watching Diego paint with awe. She was jealous of his lovers, and she made fun of him now and then trying to embarrass him in front of them, by calling one with the name of the other. One day Frida told her friends: My ambition is to have a child by Diego Rivera. And I’m going to tell him so someday.” Frida wasn’t blessed to have children with Diego, but they did get married nonetheless.

“I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”


Frida Kahlo’s terrible bus accident

Undoubtedly, the nearly fatal accident Frida had when she was 18 years old, shocked everyone who knew her. On September 17, 1925, Frida was riding a bus home from school together with her first boyfriend and fellow Cachucha, Alejandro Gomez Arias, when an old electric trolley car crashed into the bus. Frida Kahlo legThose who were present in the accident were talking about a girl covered in blood and glitter. This girl was Frida, and she would survive to become one of the greatest artists of all time.

In that life-threatening accident, Frida got heavily injured. She was taken to the hospital nearly in pieces. Her spinal column, collarbone, pelvis and ribs were all broken in more than one places. Her shoulder was dislocated. Her right leg was fractured in 11 places, whilst her right foot was crushed as well. An iron handrail was penetrating her body from one side to the other. The pain was excruciating.

Due to the multiple fractures and injuries Frida was bedridden in the hospital for three months. The shock was so big for her parents that none of them visited her at the hospital. Her mother kept to herself for several months, whilst her father fell seriously ill. Her sister Matilde and a few friends were the only ones who went to visit Frida. When she got out of the hospital, the atmosphere in her house was very heavy. She spent many months recovering at home, suffering from severe pain from head to toe. She felt lonely and was overly afraid of death.


“My painting carries with it the message of pain.”


The start of a painting career

From 1925 onwards, Frida’s life became a constant battle against ill-health and corrosion. For many months she was laid up in bed, wearing plaster corsets, that prevented her from moving. Therefore, Frida began to paint. At first painting was something to help pass time, but later on it became an integral part of her life. Through painting Frida managed to reinvent herself and she began a brave attempt to rise like some phoenix from the ashes. She had found a way to express her feelings and the pain she was going through. Her first works were mostly self-portraits that revealed her physical suffering and her feelings of loneliness and helplessness. She bared her soul to the world and used her phantasy to describe her inner struggles not in words but in colours. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

“I love you more than my own skin.”


Frida Kahlo’s relationship with Diego Rivera

By 1928 Frida was able to move and walk again. The same year, Frida was officially introduced to Diego Rivera, who she met again after all these years. Diego was then 41 years old and one of the most famous artists in Mexico. His murals decorated the walls of the country’s most important buildings. Frida Kahlo and Diego RiveraOne day, Frida went to find Diego at the site where he was working. She found him atop a scaffolding working on another one of his murals. She called him loudly and asked him to get down and give her his honest opinion on the works she’d brought with her. “Look, I have not come to flirt or anything even if you are a woman-chaser. I have come to show you my painting. If you are interested in it, tell me so, if not, likewise, so that I will go to work at something else to help my parents,” she said. Diego got down from the scaffolding and took a look at Frida’s paintings, “Look,” he said, “in the first place, I am very interested in your painting, above all in this portrait of you, which is the most original. The other three seem to me to be influenced by what you have seen. Go home, paint a painting, and next Sunday I will come and see it and tell you what I think. You have talent.”

Just a few days after his first visit at her house, Diego kissed Frida for the first time and the two became inseparable. They had a huge age difference between them. Diego was 20 years older than Frida but this didn’t seem to bother her. Frida’s family eventually accepted their relationship as well. Her father used to warn Diego; “She is a devil,” he often said. But Diego loved Frida’s unconventional thought and sharp mind. He was struck by her fresh spirt and sexuality. It looked like they never got bored of each other. From the way they spoke to each other, it was clear that they also shared the same sense of humour and sarcasm, “You have a dog face,” he was saying teasingly, “And you have the face of a frog!” she was answering him back. It’s a wonder that a young and beautiful girl like Frida fell in love with someone so much older, overweight and physically unattractive, like Diego. Diego’s appearance might not have been his strong point, but he had a strong social status, a great talent and charm that attracted the ladies. He was Frida’s world, her everything; her teenage crush, her mentor, her source of inspiration, her great love. He was a strong man and Frida was feeling safe in his arms. She could lean on him and evolve her talent.


“Diego was everything; my child, my lover, my universe.”


Frida’s marriage with Diego

Frida and Diego got married on August 21, 1929, in a simple ceremony that only Frida’s father and few other friends attended. Frida’s parents said it was like the marriage between an elephant and a dove. During the first few months of their marriage Frida wasn’t painting much. She devoted herself to taking care of her husband. Frida Kahlo and Diego RiveraYet, in 1929 in her self-portrait “Time flies” her serious and rather sad face reveals that there might have been troubles in their marriage already. Frida suffered a miscarriage that left her devastated. She tried not to think about it much, therefore she kept her mind busy by taking care after her house and Diego, by painting, or by accompanying her husband at work. Despite the pain and disappointment of not being able to have a baby, Frida had another problem to deal with – Diego’s affairs with other women. Although her feelings were hurt, she was always trying to laugh Diego’s affairs off. As a couple they had a stormy relationship with many violent fights, yet they loved each other deeply. Frida was going through tremendous mood swings. There were times when she was upset, furious, and felt hatred towards Diego, and others when she felt utterly in love with him and swore to love and take care of him forever.

One thing is for sure, one could not live without the other. “Little Frida” was like a mother to Diego who loved him unconditionally and forgave his mistakes. He too loved her very much and believed in her and her talent. That’s also why he tried to make her independent by helping her develop and evolve her work as an artist. On the other hand, Frida felt emotionally complete only when she was by Diego’s side. Despite the pain he was causing her, he was the only one who could fill her empty soul. She found meaning in life, only when he was in it. Even her art was highly influenced by him. Her existence was meaningless without him. She was his most loyal ally and supporter, and she never asked more than he could give. This was the only way the two could be together. A friend of theirs one said: “She treated him like a god. He treated her like a sweet thing.”

Diego did not only help Frida shape her art, but also helped her create a persona. In fact, Frida only embraced the so- called Mexicanism during her lifetime, just to please Diego. That’s why she started wearing the traditional Tahuana dresses. But all the while, all these colourful dresses, the jewellery, the ribbons and the flowers became an integral part of her image and personality. They served as inspiration for her art and at the same time as a mask to hide her pain and despair.


“I find that Americans completely lack sensibility and good taste. They are boring, and they all have faces like unbaked rolls.”


Frida’s and Diego’s life in America

The political scene in Mexico was tense. Diego, as an artist inspired by the political landscape of the time, was considered to be a controversial figure. The Communists called him “government agent” whilst the government an “agent of the revolution”. Diego decided that it was time to leave the country. Frida of course supported his decision and followed him to San Francisco on November, 10, 1930. On their way there, Frida gave Diego a self-portrait with a strange city in the background as a gift. “Its background was an unfamiliar city skyline. When we arrived in San Francisco, I was almost frightened to realize that her imagined city was the very one we were now seeing for the first time,” Diego said.

Frida knew very well that for Diego art came first. He was working long hours, and he was away from home all day long. At first, the days in San Francisco were very boring to Frida. She used to follow Diego at work, and she rarely painted for herself. After Diego’s art exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Frida’s life became more interesting. She got new friends, such as Dr. Eloesser and Tina Modotti with whom she explored Manhattan and went out to luxurious restaurants and the movies. Although she regularly mocked the American lifestyle, she got used to the new way of living. She was no longer the shy and lonely woman she used to be when they first came to America. Wherever she’d go, she was always the centre of attention, thanks to her Mexican outfit and Diego was always bringing out the best of her extraordinary character when they were together in public. In 1932, in Detroit, Frida and Diego lived a life in luxury, and quickly became a part of the city’s high society, amongst other artists and billionaires of the time. One of them was Henry Ford who gave them a car in exchange for a portrait of his daughter.


“I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.”


Frida Kahlo’s obsession with motherhood

In the summer of 1932, Frida got pregnant again for the second time. She decided to keep the baby despite her ill-health but unfortunately the pregnancy was lost. She spent thirteen days in the hospital, full of pain and grieve. For many days she was crying nonstop out of despair and fear that she would never be able to have a baby. Frida’s feelings are reflected in her painting Henry Ford Hospital (The Flying Bed) (1932), where she depicted herself lying in the hospital bed, suffering and bleeding. At first, she started with just a few drawings and a portrait, and later on, she asked her doctor to bring her some medical books so that she could draw in detail the lost fetus. Frida’s artistic outburst that followed this tragic event of her life is best described by Diego’s own words: “Immediately thereafter, she began work on a series of masterpieces with had no precedent in the history of art—paintings which exalted the feminine qualities of endurance to truth, reality, cruelty, and suffering. Never before had a woman put such agonized poetry on canvas as Frida did at this time in Detroit.”

As seen in her paintings My Birth (1932), My Nurse and I (1937), Me and My Doll (1937), the agony of not being able to have a baby followed her through her life. According to Diego they had three more failed attempts to have children. There could be many reasons why Frida so desperately desired to have kids. Perhaps all that she wanted was to give Diego a child or just strengthen their relationship. Another guess, is that she sought some form of fulfilment in motherhood. Her obsession with motherhood was evident not only in her paintings but also in Caza Azul, her home in Mexico. There, Frida kept fertility books, a human fetus preserved in a jar of formaldehyde — a gift from Dr. Eloesser — and a huge collection of dolls. Frida clearly had lots of love to give. She was very affectionate with her sister’s children, and also had many pets; cats, dogs, pigeons, parrots, an eagle, a few monkeys and a deer.


“Pain, pleasure, and death are no more than a process for existence.”


The death of Frida Kahlo’s mother

Just a few months after her miscarriage in 1932, her mother died in Mexico. This was a very difficult period in Frida’s life. In just a short period of time, Frida not only lost an unborn child but also her mother. The two of them never had an affectionate relationship in the past but despite their fights they came pretty close later on when both grew older. Frida used to call her “mi Jefe” (my chief). At the news of her loss, Frida fell apart. She would miss her mother dearly for the rest of her life.


“Painting completed my life.”


The meaning of painting in Frida Kahlo’s life

Kahlo channelled her grief into art. Despite the fact that she started painting more and only got better by time, painting wasn’t her favourite activity at the time. Instead, she preferred getting dressed in her traditional dresses and go out to visit friends, to shop or go to the movies. She wasn’t devoted enough. She considered painting as part of her persona, and nothing was more important to her than just being who she was –the remarkable Frida Kahlo. Diego believed in her talent, but his efforts to make her take art seriously went in vain. However, her negative attitude towards her work would change over time.


“I am that clumsy human, always loving, loving, loving. And loving. And never leaving.”


A greatly troubled marriage

Frida’s and Diego’s marriage suffered under great strain and continued to deteriorate. Diego was working around the clock. Frida, most of the time was staying home alone, feeling sad and lonely. She was crying a lot, what seemed to make Diego angry.

In 1933, Diego got a job to paint a mural at the newly built Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. He liked his life in America. He was enjoying the fame he got from this country and didn’t want to go back to his old life. But Frida was homesick and desperate to return to Mexico. This of course brought forth many arguments between them. Frida depicts her lonely life in America and her need to go back home in her painting My Dress Hangs There (1933). The fights were very intense sometimes and Frida’s eyes were always red from crying. After a while Diego got fired from the project because he incorporated politically controversial messages into his work that insulted the Rockefeller family, and they took action to shut it down. His mural was immediately coved up. That incident seemed to have greatly upset Diego and caused further troubles in their marriage. Soon after, they decided to return to Mexico but Diego never felt right about this decision and blamed Frida for persisting. His behaviour gave Frida a hard time and made her feel guilty and miserable.


“I suffered from two grave accidents in my life. One in which a streetcar knocked me down. The other accident is Diego.”


The life of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Mexico

When Frida and Diego returned to Mexico in 1933, they moved into their new house at the corner of Palmas and Altavista in San Angel, a house especially designed to suit their unique and unconventional lifestyle. In fact, it consisted of two separate buildings joined by an elevated bridge.Frida - Diego Frida’s was painted pink, Diego’s blue. Both were surrounded by a natural cactus fence inspired by the Mexican tradition that caught everyone’s eye. The colourful walls, the paintings, the huge garden with the rare plants which Frida was gardening herself, as well as the bizarre pets, such as monkeys and parrots made the house look as if it came from another planet. Their house acted as a creative nest for some of the most famous and talented artists of the time. Painters, writers, photographers, musicians, actors, even politicians, and other renown and wealthy people visited the famous couple’s home, and they all had a story to tell.

Despite how colourful their house might have been, their life had its dark side. Frida’s dream for a fresh start in their marriage crashed the moment they arrived in Mexico. Diego was dealing with great psychological pressure due to his failed mural at the Rockefeller Center and his reluctant return to Mexico. He couldn’t find meaning in his art anymore and painted less. He had lost many pounds and suffered from psychosomatic disorders. Perhaps he was going through a middle age crisis. All these affected Frida as well, who was yet again felling lonely and helpless. Her health was going from bad to worse. During 1934 she was admitted three times to the hospital, once to get an abortion and the rest due the worsening pain in her leg.


“I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling.”


Diego’s affair with Frida’s sister

The situation only got worse when Frida discovered Diego’s affair with her younger sister Cristina. The attraction between those two began much sooner in 1929, when Christina posed naked in the role of Eve for one of Diego’s murals. Christina had perhaps always been jealous and competitive of Frida, nevertheless she was undoubtably another victim of Diego’s charm. Frida was dealing with a double betrayal, not only from her husband, but from her sister as well. It hurt her feelings irreparably. She was overwhelmed with anger, disappointment, resentment. Her world fell apart. Now she was truly alone. She vented her anger by cutting her hair short, and she stopped wearing the Tehuana dresses that Diego liked.

Frida could take it no more. She left Diego and moved in a modern apartment in the center of Mexico City. She tried to fool everyone into thinking that she was happy. But those who truly knew her, could see the pain in her eyes. Her painting A Few Small Nips (1935) portrays her hurt soul, the despair and melancholy she was feeling. She lies naked, bleeding and suffering, whilst Diego stands beside the bed staring at her with a knife in his hand.

“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.”

Despite being separated, they met regularly. They couldn’t stay away from each other for long. Diego knew that he could never be faithful to a woman, but he truly regretted hurting her. If he had to choose between Frida and Christina, he would choose Frida without any hesitation.

By the end of 1935, Frida using her humour as a weapon, got over it pretty quickly and forgave Diego for what he did. Sure, a mistake can be forgiven, but not forgotten as seen in her paintings Memory (1937) and Remembrance of an Open Wound (1938). Frida however appears different this time. The wound is still there, but she stands free and powerful, ready to go her own way. It is a fact that this event made Frida stronger. Instead of being a just beautiful presence by Diego’s side, she decided to get independent. Of course, she never stopped shining bright next to him, but soon she realized that what got the other’s attention was her own light and energy.


“Of the opposite sex, I have the moustache and, in general, the face.”


Frida’s alcohol problem and bisexual affairs

Apparently, the next few years were happy ones, as Frida moved back in with Diego. To spent her time, she used to take long walks, visit her sisters, even go on some brief excursions in the countryside. However, during those years Frida started drinking heavily. Sometimes she carried a little flask of cognac in her purse or hid it in her coat. Now and then, she’d put liquor in a perfume’s bottle and while pretending to wear her perfume, she’d take a quick sip or two under her blouse without anyone noticing. It was widely known that Frida could drink any man under the table.” Her alcohol problem is evident through Dr. Eloesser’s letters. He advised her to cut down alcohol and she answered that she had stopped drinking “cocktailitos and only drunk a bear daily. But her addiction in alcohol and drugs would only become worse.

Moreover, it wasn’t just Diego who was unfaithful. Frida herself had quite a few affairs, with not just men but with women as well. The free-spirited and unconventional lifestyle at the time, helped her embrace her homosexual side. The love affairs between women were then a common thing and considered as innocent pleasures. Neither Frida, nor Diego who encouraged her and seemed to enjoy his wife’s homosexual affairs, were ashamed of her homosexuality and it didn’t by any means make her less appealing in his eyes. In What I saw in the Water (1938) and Two Nudes in a Forest (1939), Frida presents her ambivalent sexuality to the world. Some say that Diego encouraged Frida’s homosexual affairs because he couldn’t or wouldn’t please her sexually himself whilst others because he wanted to be free to have his own. What’s for sure is that he didn’t have the same reaction to Frida’s heterosexual affairs. Then, he became jealous and possessive. Frida kept those affairs in secret and warned her lovers that Diego was even capable of murder. Her strong sexuality is expressed through her paintings Flower of Life (1943) and Sun and Life (1947), where the sexual energy is almost palpable.


“I leave you my portrait so that you will have my presence all the days and nights that I am away from you.”


Frida Kahlo’s affair with Leon Trotsky

On November 21, 1936, after nine whole years in exile, the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and his wife Natalia arrived in the harbour of Torreón in Mexico. At the behest of Diego, the Mexican government granted Trotsky political asylum under the condition that he wouldn’t interfere in the country’s internal affairs. Frida was among those who welcomed them, while Diego awaited them home. Frida and Diego would share their home with Trotsky and his wife for the next two years. Diego took care of the house’s safety, while Frida was their advisor and accompanied the couple almost everywhere, since none of them spoke a word of Spanish.

Trotsky was very friendly towards Diego and Frida, despite his cold and distant character. The four of them spent a lot of time together; they often had lunch together, made picknicks and went on small trips near the Mexico City. It was only a matter of time before Trotsky fell for Frida. At first, he wrote her love letters, which he slipped into books that didn’t hesitate to give her even in front of their partners. In just a few weeks the flirt turned into a love affair and the couple met in secret in Christina’s home.

But eventually Frida grew tired of him and ended the affair in just a few months. Trotsky through another letter explained Frida how important she was to him and begged her not to break up with him, but Frida had made up her mind. “I’m very tired of the old man,” she wrote in a letter to her friend Ella Wolfe. Frida was flattered by his attention and impressed by his status in the political world, but she wasn’t in love with him. A few months later, on November 7, 1937 — a significant date because it was not only Trotsky’s birthday but also the anniversary of the October Revolution — Frida painted a self-portrait as a birthday gift for Trotsky. She turned him down but gave herself back to him in the form of a portrait to tease him. In the dedication she wrote: “For Leon Trotsky with all love I dedicate this painting on the 7th of November 1937. Frida Kahlo in San Angel, Mexico.”


“I am my own muse, the subject I know best.”


Frida Kahlo’s career

Since her relationship with Trotsky ended, and he and his wife moved out, Frida’s relationship with Diego came back to normal. They lived together but put a great emphasis on personal autonomy and freedom. In the meantime, Frida started taking her art more seriously. She improved her technique by working every day with great concentration. The years 1937-1938 were her most productive years so far.

List of Frida Kahlo’s paintings created in 1937

List of Frida Kahlo’s paintings created in 1938

Frida spent many hours working alone in her studio even though she could easily get distracted. Frida deserved all the admiration and encouragement she received, however she never believed in herself and in the value of her work. She was very modest and hesitated to let others see her work. She neither tried to exhibit her work, nor sell them or get good reviews. She wanted to be remembered for who she was as a person, rather than as an artist. In the summer of 1938, she made her own money by selling four of her paintings for 200 dollars each to the American actor Edward G. Robinson. This came as a surprise to Frida and immediately realized what this meant for her, “This way I am going to be able to be free, I’ll be able to travel and do what I want without asking Diego for money,” she said.


“I don’t know how to write love letters.”


Frida Kahlo’s life in New York

In December of that same year Frida travelled to New York City alone for her first solo art exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery. The exhibition was crowned with complete success, despite the bad economy. Twenty-five of her paintings were exhibited and half of them were sold. The exhibition received great reviews. There, she met the famous French surrealist poet and critic André Breton, who got so fascinated by Frida’s paintings that characterized her art as “a ribbon around a bomb”. Frida wanted to use her maiden name and not Diego’s, so that people won’t presume that she wanted to get advantage of her husband’s name, but, in the end, she had to use Diego’s name in a parenthesis beside hers as well. Diego was incredibly supportive in all this, and he cleared the way for her success by sending many letters of recommendation to prominent figures of the artistic world of the time.

Frida loved being in the center of attention and completely independent for the first time. Frida Kahlo freeShe was free, away from Diego, determined to live her life in Manhattan to the fullest. She had many friends there and always had a great time wherever she’d go. Everyone got captivated by her bright personality whereas her unique appearance and outfits drew great attention as always. She liked life in New York and was fascinated by the varied street life of Chinatown, Little Italy, Broadway and Harlem. Only her poor health was holding her back. Due to the pain in her right leg she couldn’t walk long distances, while the pain in her spine worsened.

While in New York, Frida continued her secret love affair with the photographer Nickolas Muray. Frida’s love letters reveal that it must have been a passionate relationship. However, no one and nothing could compare to the powerful connection she had with Diego. He was always in her thoughts. In the meantime, André Breton was organizing a second exhibition for her in Paris. She had second thoughts about going, but Diego who knew her best and wanted the best for her, convinced her to go.


“They thought I was a Surrealist, but I wasn’t. I never painted dreams. I painted my own reality.”


Frida Kahlo’s life in Paris

So, after New York, Frida’s next stop was Paris. The exhibition of her works opened on 10 March 1939 in the Pierre Colle Gallery. Once again, the critics embraced the originality of her art with fantastic reviews. One of her paintings, the colourful self-portrait The Frame, was purchased by The Louvre. Her art inspired the Surrealists’ fascination and was warmly received by many artists, such as Kandinsky and Picasso, who gave her a unique pair of golden hand-shaped earrings as a gift.

Despite her success, Frida despised Paris. She couldn’t find absolutely no glory in the so-called city of light. She found the bohemian lifestyle of the artistic and intellectual Parisian elite pretentious and superficial. The atmosphere in Breton’s home was suffocating. In addition, she had to be hospitalised once due to a kidney infection. The pain was once again unbearable. Nevertheless, she got a glimpse of Paris’ surrealistic world, explored all the artist’s haunts with her newly made friends and played games such as jeux de la vérité (Truth or Consequences). The haute couture welcomed her with open arms and many French designers got inspired from her Mexican style. In addition, the French Vogue magazine featured a photograph of Frida Kahlo on its cover. Frida’s carefully constructed iconic image never failed to amaze and astonish.


“Really, I do not know whether my paintings are surrealist or not, but I do know that they are the frankest expression of myself.”


Frida Kahlo and Surrealism

Frida was ignoring the fact that she was a Surrealist up until the moment that André Breton labelled her as such. However, she never intended to be part of the movement. Her work might look surrealistic at first sight, but there’s a big difference among her and the other artists of the movement. Her art is not just an outburst of pure imagination, she did not just paint dreams, but rather her own reality, her own life, her own pain. Frida and surrealismAll of her works derive from her own experiences and the way she perceived them. However, her art is often classified as surrealistic, due to the intimacy in her paintings, the vibrant colours and the randomness (especially in What the Water Gave me). From 1944 up until her death, Frida kept a personal diary, what is perhaps her most surreal work. There, she drew shapes and motives without any particular meaning, as if they were made under the influence of drugs. Undeniably this label gained her critical acclaim in her work, especially at a time when women artists were underestimated. Frida took advantage of her new label and took part in the International Exhibition of Surrealism, which was held in Mexico. She exhibited two of her paintings The Two Fridas (1939) and The Wounded Table (1940).


“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”


Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s divorce

When Frida returned to Mexico, in the summer of 1939, Diego requested a divorce from her. Frida moved back to La Casa Azul in Coyoacán, leaving Diego in San Angel. By the end of the year their divorce was official. The reasons still remain unknown. Frida was away for a long time and her absence might have strongly affected Diego. Some say that Diego learned about her affairs with Muray or Trotsky, others say that the problem was sexual, or that Frida could no longer put up with Diego’s infidelity. According to the couple they just went through a difficult phase in their relationship, but nothing would change what they felt or thought for each other. Indeed, just like it happened before, and despite the divorce, the couple continued to be seen together in public.

Yet, the same year Frida fell in depression and her health deteriorated once again. The severe pain in her spine and a fungus infection on her right hand, often prevented her from working. The doctors were persisting on another surgery. Her mental health went from bad to worse as well. She didn’t want to meet up with Diego or her friends, and she barely even left the house. She was feeling so desperate that she was drinking a whole bottle of brandy by herself each day. Moreover, she cut her hair short once again.

“I put on the canvas whatever comes into my mind.”

However, depression helped Frida create some of her best paintings at that time. Unlike in the past, she now made more efforts to sell her works. She wanted to be completely independent of Diego and not take his money. Once again, her works depict the abandonment, loneliness and despair she was feeling during her divorce with Diego, and her fear of death. These are the following:

In the meantime, she learned the news of Trotsky’s assassination. She got terribly distraught about it. Her health got even worse. Not only that, but she was also picked up by the Mexican police, as she knew the murderer, and was interrogated for two days. Being already emotional unstable, Frida had a mental breakdown. She cried for days. Diego, who was in San Francisco at the time, got really worried and asked Dr. Eloesser to convince her to go there too. It was a good diversion and her mood lifted right away. She said that seeing Diego made her feel better in no time.


“Diego is not anybody’s husband and never will be, but he is a great comrade


Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s second marriage

Shortly after their reconciliation, Diego proposed to Frida wanting to remarry her. He claimed that she needed him. Truth be told, he needed her as much as she needed him. Frida eventually agreed to remarry Diego but only under two conditions. The first one was to be financial independent. She wanted to make her own money by selling her paintings. The second one was that they would have no sexual relations whatsoever at least not until he proved his loyalty to her.

And so, on December 8, 1940, Frida and Diego got married for the second time. It was a joyful moment for them both. After going through a difficult time of upheaval and depression, Frida realized that she needed Diego to feel complete and secure. Even if they had no sexual relations as promised, he was her anchor in this lonely world. By his side she felt strong and confident. Moreover, Frida had set her own terms this time and was feeling better than ever. They had a loving and affectionate relationship once again.


“I tease and laugh at death, so it won’t get the better of me.”


The death of Frida Kahlo’s father

Frida’s happiness though didn’t last for long. On April 14, 1941, her beloved father, Guillermo Kahlo died in Casa Azul. Frida was utterly and absolutely devastated. She was closer to him than anybody, as he was the first one who believed in her and supported her first steps in the world of art. Her sadness was so deep that her health deteriorated once again and would decline even more over the coming years. Some years after his death, Frida painted her father’s portrait and wrote a dedication that showed how much she loved him and admired him: “I painted my father, Wilhelm Kahlo of Hungarian-German origin, artist-photographer by profession, in character generous, intelligent and fine, valiant because he suffered for sixty years with epilepsy, but he never stopped working and he fought against Hitler, with adoration. His daughter Frida Kahlo.”


“Really, I do not know whether my paintings are surrealist or not, but I do know that they are the frankest expression of myself.”


Frida Kahlo’s career in Mexico

During the 40s, Frida’s career took off. Her work was gaining recognition in Mexico and was included in the country’s greatest exhibitions. Not only that, but she also got many awards, distinctions and grants and took part in cultural events and big projects. She began to paint large-scale portraits such as The Broken Column (1944) and Tree of Hope, Keep Firm (1946). Still, despite her increasing popularity, it was difficult to make a living on her own.

In September 1940, Frida began teaching art at the Ministry of Public Education School of Painting and Sculpture in Mexico City, better known as La Esmeralda. Her students adored her. She was a living legend for them. She didn’t have to teach them specific painting techniques. All she had to do was inspire and motivate them. But a few months later her health prevented her from teaching at La Esmeralda. However, she continued giving lessons at four of her favourite students, Los Fridos, who regularly visited her in Casa Azul. After all, what place could inspire them more than Frida’s own house? Another great moment for Frida was the opening of the pulqueria “La Rosita”. With Frida’s help and under Diego’s supervision her students had the chance to paint a decorative mural on one of the walls. That night, the event was attended by many people and caught the attention of the Mexican high society.


“I am happy to be alive, as long as I can paint.”


Frida Kahlo’s final years

Frida’s final years were full of struggle and pain. Her health went from bad to worse and the pain in her spine forced her to go under many surgeries. She had to wear medical corsets, and she was unable to sit or lay down in them. She couldn’t handle pain well, nor did she like being bedridden for months. Yet, she had no other choice. She considered those corsets to be some kind of punishment. Her only joy was painting, for she could yet again express her pain through art. The Wounded Deer (1946) is a painting of that time that reflects her declining health. In 1950, she was hospitalized once again. For the many months that followed in the hospital painting was the only thing Frida had in mind. She painted for almost five hours each day. “When I leave the hospital two months from now”, she said, “there are three things I want to do: paint, paint, paint.” Despite everything, Frida kept her hope alive and a positive attitude to the whole situation. Her friends were always around to cheer her up, and Diego never left her side.

Frida Kahlo hurtThough when she went back home to Casa Azul, she lost her every hope of getting better. Her days were monotonous; because of the pain she mostly staid inside. She could only walk small distances whilst even her wheelchair was uncomfortable. Painkillers were her only salvation. She was feeling desperate and depressed and often had suicidal thoughts. Diego, as usual, was away from home for many hours but Frida didn’t care much anymore. Even though she tried to hide her sorrow in front of others, it was getting more difficult day-by-day. Because of her illness she came closer to her sister Christina, who stayed by her side till the end of her life. They had both long forgotten what divided them in the past. The maids and her nurse loved her dearly and took special care of her as if she was a little child. During that period of time, Frida was painting like no tomorrow. Maybe that’s why her last paintings seem so chaotic. Perhaps she could sense the ending was near.

“To paint is the most terrific thing that there is, but to do it well is very difficult.”

In the meantime, recognition and appreciation for her work continued to grow. In the spring of 1953, Frida had a solo exhibition in Mexico in the Galería Arte Contemporaneo. It was her first solo exhibition in her birthplace and a very special moment of her life. Knowing about her poor health no one expected her to show up. Yet Frida surprised them all on the opening day when she arrived by ambulance, had her bed moved to the centre of gallery and was carried in on a stretcher to the bed. It was an unforgettable night dedicated to Frida. She was the centre of attention and was receiving everyone’s congratulations. It seemed as a final goodbye from all those who admired her.


“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?”


The last year of Frida Kahlo’s life

The last year of Frida’s life was a living nightmare. In August 1953, her right leg had to be amputated below the knee due to gangrene. It felt like a small death to Frida. Frida Kahlo life last yearBy losing her leg, she also lost the will to live. She lost her sense of ‘’self’’ and her self-respect. She almost hated herself. She also hated seeing the pity in other people’s eyes, so she didn’t allow visitors. Soon she got a prosthetic leg and her mood lifted for a while. Once again, she tried to deal with it with humour and bought a pair of red leather boots to hide it, but it didn’t really help her feel much better.

Her disability affected her behavior as well. Up until her final moments she loved brushing her hair and wear lipstick, but she couldn’t do much other than that without the help of others. As a result, she always had a bad temper, she was bossy and quarrelsome. When she wasn’t sleeping or under painkillers her behaviour was unpredictable, often hysteric and violent. She got addicted to painkillers and all kinds of opioid medications. She couldn’t do without them. Often, she had to take painkilling injections. When she got desperate, she took excessively high doses or mixed the drugs. Moreover, she was an alcohol addict. She was drinking two litters of cognac per day.

“I paint flowers so they will not die.”

Frida tried many times to kill herself. At first Diego was always by her side but later on he drifted apart as he could no longer see her suffering like that. “If I was brave, I would kill her. I cannot stand to see her suffer so,” he said. His behaviour made Frida feel even more desperate and alone. In some poems she wrote that he was the only reason she was still alive. For almost a year she didn’t paint anything at all. However, in the spring of 1954, she found the strength to get out of her bed and go to her studio. She knew that she didn’t have much time to live and perhaps she wanted to leave some more works behind. Still Life, Frida and Stalin and Marxism will give health to the sick were her last works. All three have a political meaning.

On July 2, 1954, Frida contracted bronchial pneumonia. Against her doctors’ advice she got out of her bed and took part in a Communist demonstration. This was her last public appearance. It was undoubtedly very brave of her. Diego was by her side, pushing her wheelchair in the streets of Mexico and many famous artists were following them.


“I hope the exit is joyful–and I hope never to come back. Frida”


Frida Kahlo’s death

On July 13, 1954, at 6 a.m., while it was still dark outside, Frida’s nurse thought that Frida called her and went to her room to see if she needed anything. She thought that Frida was sleeping and as always, she went to pull up her covers, but then she realized that Frida wasn’t breathing any more. Her hands were cold. Frida had passed away.Frida Kahlo's death

The news shocked Diego. He couldn’t accept that his “little Frida” – as he called her – wasn’t part of this world anymore. Like he said, his love for Frida was the most beautiful thing that happened in his entire life. The cause of death was officially reported as pulmonary embolism. Yet, it is very likely, but never confirmed, that Frida couldn’t live like that anymore and committed suicide. Some days prior to her death she drew a black angel in her diary up in the sky – it was undoubtedly the angel of death.

When her death was officially confirmed, they dressed her in her favourite Tehuana dress, tehuana of frida kahlobraided her hair and adorned her with her favourite jewels. Her friends came throughout the day to say their last goodbye. Her funeral was held in the Palace of Fine Arts, and hundreds of people paid their last respects to their beloved artist. In accordance with her wishes Frida was later cremated.

Frida died at the age of 47 having much more to give to the world. However, she left behind a remarkable legacy of works and a legendary persona. Her house, La Casa Azul, in Coyoacán opened as a museum in 1958, for those who want to get to know her a little better. Among her belongings the visitors have the chance to admire Frida’s last painting, a still life of cut watermelons as a tribute to life, painted eight days before her death. She added the inscription “Viva la Vida” (Long Live Life) by which the painting would become best known. Despite all the difficulties she went through, Frida was a fighter. She loved and lived life to the fullest till the end.







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