Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/282

There was a problem when proofreading this page.
ALANUS
ALASKA
246

ure. Instead of rebuilding the four piers, which carried the Norman (square) tower—a weak point in cathedral construction from that day to this—Alan advanced the supports, to the extent of one bay, into each arm of the cross; and by so doing he not only distributed the weight upon eight piers instead of four, but obtained a magnificent central octagonal hall, which he roofed with a dome surmounted by a lofty lantern. The result was not only very beautiful, but in every sense original. It is almost certain that Alan never traveled beyond the limits of his convent, and that he was not acquainted, except perhaps from hearsay, with the domed Churches of the East, whose principles of construction, moreover, differ essentially from those employed by Alan. His work remains to this day unique among the cathedrals of Europe. He subsequently rebuilt the bays of the choir, which had been ruined by the fall of the great tower, and these are admittedly amongst the most beautiful examples of Decorated, or Second Pointed, English Gothic. In 1341 Alan was elected prior of his convent, and in 1344 to the bishopric of Ely, rendered vacant by the death of Simon de Montacute. When he thus became bishop-elect the works connected with the fabric of the cathedral had been conducted to a successful termination, leaving for his successor only the decorations and fittings. His election, however, was set aside by the Pope in favor of Thomas L'Isle, a Dominican friar, who was at Avignon with the Pope at the time. A similar honor was destined for Alan in 1361, but the choice of the convent was again overruled, and Simon Langham, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal, was consecrated Bishop of Ely in his stead. The possessions of the convent were said to have increased under his wise and capable administration.

Dugdale, Monasticon (ed. 1817), I, 468; Thomas Walsingham, Hist. Anglicana in R. S., II, 104; Wharton, Anglia Sacra, I, 684; Cotton. MSS., Tit. A. I.

Alanus de Rupe (sometimes de la Roche), b. about 1428; d. at Zwolle in Holland, 8 September, 1475. Some writers claim him as a native of Germany, others of Belgium; but his disciple, Cornellus Sneek, O.P., assures us that he was born in Brittany. Early in life he entered the Dominican Order, and while pursuing his studies at Saint Jacques, Paris, he distinguished himself in philosophy and theology. From 1459 to 1475 he taught almost uninterruptedly at Paris, Lille, Douay, Ghent, and Rostock in Germany, where, in 1473, he was made Master of Sacred Theology. During his sixteen years of teaching he became a most renowned preacher. He was indefatigable in what he regarded as his special mission, the preaching and re-establishment of the Rosary, which he did with success throughout northern France, Flanders, and the Netherlands. His vision of the restoration of the devotion of the Rosary is assigned to the year 1460. Alanus published nothing during his lifetime, but immediately after his death the brethren of his province were commanded to collect his writings for publication. These were edited at different times and have occasioned much controversy among scholars. His relations of the visions and sermons of St. Dominic, supposed to have been revealed to Alanus, are not to be regarded as historical. His works are published by Graesse in "Trésor des livres rates et précieux."

Choquet, Sancti Relig. O. P. (Douay, 1618); Quétif and Echard, SS. Ord. Præd., I. 849 sqq.; Année Dominicaine (Lyons), 8 Septembre; La vie du B. Alain de la Roche in Le Rosaire (May, June, July, 1869); Schmitz, Das Rosenkranzgebet im 15. und Anfange des 16. Jahrhunderts (Freiburg, 1903), containing a Danish poetical version, by Master Michel, of materials left by Alan.

Alarcón, Hernando de. See Coronado, Vasquez.

Alarcón y Mendoza. See Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza, Juan de.

Alaska. I. History.—The first definite knowledge of Alaska was acquired in 1741 through the expedition under Vitus Bering, a Dane in the Russian service, who, in that year, sailed from Okhoysk as far as 58° 30′ N. lat.

A couple of years later, Siberian fur hunters began to coast along the mainland of the American continent and the Aleutian Islands in search of the valuable sea-otter. In 1762 Andreian Tolstykh, after a sojourn of three years in these regions, returned to Russia, and on his representation of the commercial importance of Alaska Catherine II sent an expedition to foster trade and colonization. Rival companies began to dispute the territory, but in 1780, two traders, Grigor Shilikof and Ivan Golikof, relying on home influence, chiefly that of Rezanof, Chamberlain to the Emperor, formed the Russian-American Fur company, the history of which is the history of Muscovite domination of Alaska from 1780 until the sale of the territory to the united States in 1867. In 1786, Gerassim Pribilof, an employee of the company, discovered the seal rookeries in the Bering Sea. This discovery occasioned the reopening of trade with China, from which Holland and England, by their greater facilities, had driven Russia. The fur of the seal was especially prized by the Chinese, who had found the secret of plucking and dyeing the skins, and a lucrative trade was the result. Alexander Baranof, who, in 1790, became general manager of the company, was for more than a quarter of a century the presiding genius of a commerce which extended to California and the Sandwich islands as well as to China. Kodiak island was the first head-quarters of the Russians in Alaska, but they afterwards established their capital at Sitka, on Baranof Island, where a new centre of Russian activity was established. Shipbuilding and various other industries were started. Rude agricultural instruments were made for the Mexican and Californian trade; and bells were cast for the Spanish mission churches, which are said to be still in use. The policy of inland exploration which was pursued by the successors of Baranof turned the energies of the fur company into other channels, and necessarily reduced its dividends. The charter granted in 1799 had been renewed in 1821, and 1844. When it expired in 1864, a renewal was not granted, nor was it sought. Negotiations had begun with the United States, which ended in the purchase of Alaska in 1867, for $7,200,000. The official transfer was made in October of that year, General Rousseau acting for the United States and Prince Maksutof for Russia. The Russians were given two years to close up their business in the territory. Meanwhile American activity was rife; squatters and miners flocked into the country, and great commercial companies were organized to exploit the new field. These companies have made fortunes in fisheries and fur-hunting, while in recent years mining of the various metals has been promising similar returns.

II. Area and Accessibility.—According to the census of 1900, Alaska embraces, inclusive of the islands, 590,804 square miles. These figures repre-