Lecture: Defining France 2 (Nation, History, Language)
January 17, 2013
Eugene Weber (author of reading)
• pragmatic, practical historian, working very closely with the documents in a
• "Peasants into Frenchmen"
◦ different religions were joined by an absolute belief in the end of time
• lots of sweeping studies
David Bell (author of reading)
• still alive
• "Lawyers and Citizens: the Making of a Political Elite in Old Regime France"
◦ account of middling figures (the judiciary lawyer class)
• "The Cult of the Nation in France"
• lots of details and archival sources
Concepts of "Nation" and myths of origin
• who were the French?
• sense of nation?
◦ in terms of birth or ethnic group
◦ français de nation, alludes to concepts of a larger community
• "nation" and political discourse (Bell)
• "nation" and "taxation" (Revel)
◦ monarchy wants to know its territory for tax purposes
• communications and public sphere
French Revolution and "nation" (Bell)
• F.R. crowns process of "Nation"
◦ fatherland or homeland
◦ supplants the relationship people have to the Church and their local
• national education
◦ pre-revolution: Church and Jesuits take care of education
◦ post-revolution: committee on Education and Church no longer controls
• political debates
◦ talking about a constitution, a declaration (of rights of man and citizen)
Myth-making and "nation"
• myths have root in truth
• myth of origins
◦ Aeneas for Rome
◦ Brutus of Troy for Britain
• claim to "original" status ◦ i.e. the Gauls in Europe
▪ people think France needs to get back to its Gaulish roots
▪ Audigier writes that the Gauls were the origins of the Vandals, the
Nation (Latin natio)
• 12th-13thC: birth, extraction, rank, family, lineage, race, group
• university of Paris has "quatre nations" (Anglais, Picards, Normands, Français
• Antoine Furetière (1690): nation is a group of people inhabiting an enclosed
patch of land under certain limits and a common rule
• Académie Française: inhabitants of same state, living according to same laws,
employ and appropriate the same language
Gauls and Franks
• Celts (Gauls/Britons) vs. German (Franks/Angles)
◦ Celts already established in France, then the Romans come in, blending
to make the omano-Gallic tradition
• Celts predate Romans; omano-Gallic
• Franks spread 5thC CE
• Merovingians and Carolingians = Franks (two different dynasties)
• Notion of two "races"
◦ the conqueror (Franks)
◦ the conquered (Gauls, blended tradition)
▪ oppressed, subjected to the yoke (joug)
• reign of Clovis (one of the first Frankish kings ruling over Gaul)
Gauls and Franks: Revolut