August 31st, 2011


Delicious LiveJournal Links for 8-31-2011

  • Ten years on, Osama bin Laden’s caliphatist dream is not one step closer to being realised, and his nihilist vision of Islam never gained support from anything more than a miniscule fringe of his intended audience. Muslims were simply not interested, and by the time he was killed in his hideout in Pakistan, the Arab world was too busy pursuing positive goals, like fundamental freedoms and democracy, to notice. In that, there is a lesson in humility for the international community.
  • The great Irish novelist Flann O’Brien’s debut, At Swim-Two-Birds, should have sealed his reputation as the equal of Joyce and Beckett. At long last, in the year of his centenary, the world is catching up.

On the antiquity of Presidents

As I continue my reading of Tudor history in Ireland, it suddenly occurred to me that the designation of various Englishmen as 'Presidents' of Munster and Connacht during the reign of Elizabeth I must be one of the earliest examples of the use of the word 'President' in English to refer to a senior government official.

Looking at the Oxbridge colleges, the following were founded before the reign of Elizabeth I and have a President as Head of House: Queens', Cambridge (1448), Magdalen, Oxford (1458), Corpus Christi, Oxford (1517), St John's, Oxford (1555), Trinity, Oxford (also 1555). I don't know if there were other Oxbridge college heads who changed their titles over the centuries (and maybe some of those five were originally called something else).

Are there any other early examples of the word President being used to refer to a senior official, especially a senior government official? Probably the OED would tell me.