Harold, William and 1066

It is not possible to fully realize the significance of the Normans in the history of the world. Most of the world no doubt knows about the Battle of Hastings and the conquer of the Saxons. The mere use of the name Normans troubles the English less, I think, than if they were called Frenchmen. Yet one must remember that in England at least until the latter half of the Hundred Years War (1336 -1453) it was French that was spoken and not English.

While it is true that the Angles, Jutes and Saxons created England it was the Normans who laid the foundations of what was to become the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The fact that a descendant of William the Conqueror is the current Queen Elizabeth II speaks volumes. However less well grasped in this country is the fact that the Italian, and Sicilian Norman dynasties survived at least until the Italian Unification. In addition the Normans were instrumental in the Crusades in the Holy Land and the formation of the Principalities of Edessa, Antioch and the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The title of the King of Jerusalem is currently held by Louis-Alphonse, who as King of France will be called Louis XX.

These Gens Normannorum the Norman people have and continue to have a certain cultural identity which has become a hallmark of their Normanness. Although it has became the fashion in the world to identify a people with their country, the Normans have fierté raciale away of doing things which is entirely Norman in character.

In 10th century France the similarity between Norman and Viking was so close as to be indistinguishable. The Viking habitual blending and merging with the local population, in customs, language and religion, began to move them from their Vikingness and replace it with this Normanness.

The region of France which we now call Normandy is not a creation of the Normans. It comprises the ancient church province of Rouen. The area was originally populated by Gallo-Romans, Germanic tribes and Franks. About 480 this area came under the domain of Clovis (from whom the name Louis derives), and remained under French control at least nominally until 911. It was in this year that Rollo, a leader of Scandinavian settlers along the Seine River demanded that his occupation be recognized by Charles III. The occupation was agreed to most likely in light of the acceptance by the Scandinavians of the Catholic Faith and as a defense against further viking encroachment. Rollo also agreed to give military aid to the French king. The fiefdom of Normandy was created for the Viking leader now also known as Robert of Normandy.

By 623 Rollo had acquired control of all the Scandinavian settlers in the Rouen province. He turned Rouen into a prosperous city which traded with Scandinavia, and with those places in northern England control such as York(1). The descendants of Rollo and his followers adopted the local Gallo-Romantic language and intermarried with the area’s previous inhabitants and became the Normans – a Norman French-speaking mixture of Scandinavians, Hiberno-Norse, Orcadians, Anglo-Danish, and indigenous Franks and Gauls.

William, Duke of Normandy.

Rollo died in 931. From his wife Poppa he had William called Longsword, who married Sprota, from whom issued Richard I. Longsword died in 996. and was succeeded by Richard I called The Fearless. Richard married Gunnor, by whom issued, Richard II, called the good. Richard II married Judith of Rennes. Their issue was Richard also called "the Good" who died in 1029, passing the Duchy to his brother Robert I. A third son was born who became a monk. Robert I was called the Magnificent. Robert had an illegitimate affair with Harleve (or Harlette, guess what name derives from that) the daughter of a tanner. From this liason, William, soon to be called the Conqueror was born. In his youth he was called Duke of Normandy but most often William the Bastard. (le Batard)

Upon accession to Duke at age 8 William through his guardians began a series of allegiances and wars in order to stabilize his control over Normandy. The borders of Normandy pushed back those of Brittany. At age 15 William was knighted. One story concerns the city of Alençon. During the 10th century, Alençon was a buffer state between Normandy and the Maine regions. In 1047, William laid siege to the town. The citizens sought to insult William by hanging animal skins from the walls in reference to his ancestry as the illegitimate son of Duke Robert and a tanner's daughter. On capturing the town, William had the citizens' hands cut off in revenge. By the time William turned 19 he was successfully dealing with threats of rebellion and invasion. With the assistance of Henry I, King of France, William finally secured control of Normandy by defeating rebel Norman barons at Caen in the Battle of Val-ès-Dunes in 1047, obtaining the Truce of God, which was backed by the Roman Catholic Church.

William married Matilda of Flanders in 1053 at Eu in the Cathedral of Notre Dame. This marriage was strictly against the wishes of the Church due to a question of consanguinity, as Matilda and William were distant cousins. Their marriage is said to have been made out of love and not for political reasons. He was 24 and he was 22. Matilda faithfully presented William with 4 sons and 6 daughters. In repentance for going against the church they donated 2 churches, St Stephens from him and Sainte Trinité.

Williams domain was invaded twice by Henry I, because Henry felt William had become too powerful. Both invasions were repulsed weakening the prestige and power of the French King. Later in 1062 William invaded and took control of Maine to the north of Normandy.

A matter of Succession

Edward King of England, remembered as The Confessor died in January 1066. In accordance with Saxon custom and Edwards will, the Witenagemot had Harold Godwinson crowned King. The English throne was still contested by William who had a claim through his distant aunt Emma. William claimed Edward had promised the throne to William while Edward was in exile in Normandy during the Danish occupation of England. It was William who knighted Harold after he rescued him from the Count of Ponthieu. Together they defeated Conan II Count of Brittany. On this occasion William had Harold swear allegiance to him over the bones of a saint. At the conclusion of the dubbing Harold was shown the bones. This particular incident was instrumental in getting the Popes permission to invade England, and the excommunication of Harold. This spectacular feat of propaganda placed Harold under edict and excommunicated anyone, soldiers included, who aided him.

Prior to leaving France William gathered together his own knights, and their retainers, those of his ally from Maine, Flanders, Brettanie and numbers of "Freelances'. These Freelances were knights who owed fealty to no Lord, and sold there serves at battle to battle. They gathered at Caen on the coast of Normandy. Some knights came from as far away as Italy moved by the promise of lands and titles. William had assembled a fleet of about 700 ships(2). While there, William had constructed, wooden castles, which could be taken down and rebuilt elsewhere. William then waited for the winds to shift.

In September 1066, William set sail for Saxon England was delayed for a time but finally landed in England at Bulverhythe, unopposed. He was two miles from Senlac hill upon which the battle was to be fought. Meanwhile Harold who had moved to the north to repulse a danish threat from another Harold, Hardraga. On 25 September 1066 the Saxon Thegns destroyed the Danish army at Stamford Bridge near the Danish city of York. Turning south Harold hurriedly marched his army to meet the threat of William at Hastings. After a short rest he arrived at Hastings on 12 October 1066.

Hastings and the end of Saxon England

The start of the Norman Conquest of England was the battle of Hastings in Sussex. The story may be quickly told, but first something about the opposing armies, the Norman army numbered upwards of 8500. it was composed of about 2000 cavalry, knights with lances, 4500 heavy infantry, somewhat armored carrying spears and battle axes, and 2000 light infantry consisting of archers, crossbowmen and slingers. The usual Norman method of fighting at this stage was to use the light infantry to weaken the opposition with arrows followed by and advance by the heavy infantry. When gaps were opened in the opposing lines they would attack with the mounted knights, on large Norman horses, charging knee to knee to carry home an attack, crushing the enemy as much by the use of lances as with the weight of the horse. Armored knights were the tanks of the middle ages.

Significant to the Normans they incorporated a weapon that had been unseen in warfare, but which had such an impact that cavalry thereafter used it. This weapon was the stirrup. Until it was invented by the Normans the army might ride on horses to a battle (such as the Saxons here at Hastings) but they fought on foot. The stirrup provided the knight a platform on which to stand, control the horse, (his hands would be busy with his lozenge shaped shield and his lance) and thrust with his lance. The knight was covered from head to knee with chain mail. Chain mail was made from thousands of links of loops entwined together. It was mostly impervious to sword and arrow. It allowed the knight freedom of movement and it weighed about 50 lbs. Upon his head he wore a conical helmet, with a piece of steel covering his nose called a nasal. This was the real power of the Normans.

On the other side the Saxon Fyrd, as the army was called, consisted of thegns, who were basically dressed the same as their Norman counterparts, the biggest noticeable difference would appear to be the lack of mounted knights and the use of a more Viking shield, being round. The favored tactic of this Saxon Fyrd was the "shield wall", an almost impenetrable wall formed by interlocking the shields of the front ranks together. It was the most effective defense against the Norman archers.

The 14th of October was a Saturday. The Normans arrived on the sight of the battle and formed below the Senlec hill and the Saxon position. Both armies were approximately the same size. The Norman army deployed in the typical Norman fashion. The Franco-Flemmish formed on the right, the Normans in the center, and the Breton's to the left. The archers and crossbowmen stood in front of the army.

An apocryphal story described the beginning of the battle. It seems William had a minstrel, a knight named Ivo Taillefer. At the onset of the battle Ivo requested and received permission to strike the first blow. Ivo rode towards the Saxon line, singing the Song of Roland. It is said he attacked straight into the Saxons killing two or three before being killed himself.(3)

Selac Hill was chosen by the Saxons after a race of sorts. Both sides realized the importance of the high ground. The Saxons won the high ground and had all around visibility. The Saxon shield wall could extend all around the the Saxon defenses where improved by having interior lines, where a flagging side could be reinforced quickly with out having to expose themselves to the Normans before assuming their place.

The attack began in earnest. The Normans attacked as soon as they formed for battle, hurling arrows upon the Saxon ferd, most however had little effect because of the shield wall. Thinking that the Saxons had been weaken William attack with his infantry. Many of the Norman infantry were killed in the charge up the hill, as the fyrd threw javelins, stones and anything they could find. Thus weakened, the Normans reached the sheild wall and close, hand-to-hand combat occured. The "dead had bearly a place to fall" wrote a conicler of the engagement.

William was then told that the shield wall stood. He decided to attack with his cavalry. The horses surprised at the sight of the shields simply refused to crash into them. The Norman cavalry, who were trained to fight knee to knee were compelled to attack one at a time and throw their javelins at the Saxon defenders. After about an hour the Bretons were obliged to break and fell away. The Norman and Flemish troops fearing they would have their flank turned also broke of action and fled down the hill.

Seeing the Normans retreat the Saxons broke their shield wall and pursued, among them were the brothers of Harold. In was during this attack that William's horse was killed and he fell. Fearing the death of their leader many Normans panicked and were prepared to fly. It a scene which is reminiscent of the Maid at the Tourelles, William mounted another horse and raising his helmet to show his face. by this act he rallied his men to renew the fight.(4)

Rallying the Normans began a counter attack upon the fyrd, driving them headlong back to the top of the hill. Many of the Saxon number lay dead now in the field before them. Many of the dead were the more highly disciplined Saxon huscarls, and the shield wall began to falter. William realized this and devised a new strategy. He commanded the archers to fire over the shields into the rear of the opposite side of defenses, because the direct shooting onto the shield wall produced no effect. Arrows fell into the clusters of the Saxon's who were huddled behind the shield wall. It is said that this was the moment that Harold was shot in the eye and was killed. This particular bit of information has been believed for almost a thousand years, because it was thus shown on the Bayeux Tapestry(5)

The Normans pressed home their advantage, the fighting which was hand to hand in the brutal medieval way, could only end with the destruction of Harold's army. The fyrd now fled the battlefield, the Huscarls loyal to Harold surrounded his body and were killed to the last man. William had the bodies cleared from the field, and pitched his tent and had a celebratory dinner.



(1)York or Jorvik. The Vikings captured the city in 866, renaming it Jórvík, the capital of a wider kingdom of the same name covering much of Northern England. Around the year 1000, the city became known as York.
(2)By comaparison the fleet that assaulted Normandy on 6 June 1944 numbered 6939 ships of all types.
(3)An early account of this feat is found in the (in The Carmen de Hastingae Proelio) says that an English champion came from the ranks, and Taillefer quickly slew him, taking his head as a trophy to William.
(4)Their are many historians who believe that Williams men purposely feigned retreat in order to get the Saxons to break ranks. The feigned retreat was a favorite tactic used by the Normans in the wars to expand Normandy. It worked well there.
(5)Was Harold hit in the eye, by an arrow? The only evidence we have about Harold's death comes from the Bayeux Tapestry, however, we will probably never know how he died, what we do know is his illegitemate wife Ealdgyth Swanneschals looked for his body among the dead at Senlac hill and identified him by "marks" known only to her, (lovebites).

To hear the pre-Norman Saxon tongue here...

To hear the Norman tongue recite a line from the Song of Roland, go here...

Life in Viking Jorvik, may be found here...

For the Dudo of St. Quentin's Gesta Normannorum go here...

Mt. Aetna erupts again

During the early 70's I was posted to the Marine Detachment at Sigonella, Sicily from Marine Barracks Naples. It was with out a doubt my best and most favorite tour of duty. From the barrack room (an apartment really) my view (left) through the picture window was a striking vista of Mount Aetna*, which was in fact more than 20 miles away.** It was always expelling fumes. On evenings while on patrol I could look through the starlight scope and the cauldron would be glowing (in a greenish haze, due to the intensification of the ambient light). Today I ran across this in Yahoo news....

...ROME – Italy's Mount Etna has come back to life with a brief eruption that sent lava down its slopes and a cloud of ash into the sky, forcing the overnight closure of a nearby airport.

The volcanology institute in Catania, eastern Sicily, said Thursday that a two-hour eruption overnight sent a little stream of lava down the eastern slope of the mountain. Nobody was injured.

The volcano also spewed out ash, which rained down and forced Catania's Fontanarossa airport to shut down overnight, canceling or diverting a few domestic flights.

Officials said the airport reopened early Thursday.

Etna is Europe's most active volcano. Its last major eruption was in 1992...

Here is another article I wrote about Sicily. I like the google maps which allow one basically travel down the streets of Catania.


*Although Mount Etna (or Aetna) is the highest active volcano in Europe, its renown comes from its role in Greek legends and in ancient works by writers such as Hesiod, Pindar and Aeschylus. According to Greco-Roman mythology, the giants -- the enemies of the gods -- were buried beneath Mount Etna. In their efforts to break free, the Giants caused frequent earthquakes around the mountain.

** I tryed to walk there once. I got as far as Motta, St Anastasia...

...where a bottle of wine, a sandwhich, the local beauty(ies), and the Norman Dongione delayed me. C'est la vie...

In 1992 US Marine CH53E and US Navy RH53E placed concrete blocks on the volcano to stem the tide of a lava flow.
Nature, Journal of Science, (22 February 2007)


St. Marguerite Bourgeoys

Is it possible that my ancestor who was born the following year in Epiney (now Piney), Champagne and arrived in Montreal about the same time knew each other? I do not know, but it feels good to postulate that these two arrived in Montreal at the same time. Piney and Troyes are no farther apart than 15 km.

1620-1700 foundress of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame.

«...tout ce que j'ai toujours le plus désiré (...) c'est que le grand précepte de l'amour de Dieu et du prochain comme soi-même soit gravé dans tous les coeurs. »

MARGUERITE BOURGEOY was born in Troyes, in the province of Champagne (France), on Good Friday, April 17, 1620. She was baptized on the same day in the church of Saint-Jean, a church that was located near her home. Marguerite was the sixth child in a family of twelve. Her parents were Abraham Bourgeoys and Guillemette Gamier, and she was privileged to grow up in a milieu that was middle class and thoroughly Christian.

Marguerite was nineteen years of age when she lost her mother. In the following year, 1640, in the course of a procession held on October 7 in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, she had an unforgettable experience. Her eyes rested on a statue of the Blessed Virgin, and at that moment she felt inspired to withdraw from the world and to consecrate herself to the service of God. With that unchanging fidelity to what she believed to be God's will for her, a fidelity that characterized her life thenceforth, she set about to discern her specific vocation.

She registered, at once, as a member of the extern Congregation of Troyes, an association of young girls devoted to the charitable work of teaching children in the poor districts of the town. While engaged in this apostolate she learned about the foundation of Ville Marie (Montreal) in Canada. The year was 1642, and at that time she sensed a first call to missionary life. This call was rendered concrete in 1652 when she met Monsieur de Maisonneuve, founder and governor of the settlement begun in New France, who was in search of someone who would volunteer her services for the gratuitous instruction of the French and Indian children. Our Lady confirmed the call addressed to her: "Go, I will not forsake you", she said. Thus assured, Marguerite left Troyes in February, 1653, in a spirit of complete detachment. She arrived in Montreal on the following 16th of November, and without delay she set to work to promote the best interests of the colony. She is rightly considered co-foundress of Montreal, with the nurse, Jeanne Mance, and the master designer, Monsieur de Maisonneuve.

In order to encourage the colonists in their faith expression, she arranged for the restoration of the Cross on Mount Royal after it has been destroyed by hostile Indians, and she undertook the construction of a chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame de Bon Secours.(left) Convinced of the importance of the family in the building of this new country, and perceiving the significance of the role to be exercised by women, she devoted herself to the task of preparing those whose vocation it would be to preside in a home. In 1658, in a stable which had been given to her by the governor for her use, she opened the first school in Montreal. She also organized an extern Congregation, patterned after the one which she had known in Troyes but adapted to the actual needs. In this way, she could respond to the needs of the women and young girls on whom much depended as far as the instruction of children was concerned. In 1659, she began receiving girls who were recommended by "les cures" in France, or endowed by the King, to come to establish homes in Montreal, and she became a real mother to them. Thus were initiated a school system and a network of social services which gradually extended through the whole country, and which led people to refer to Marguerite as "Mother of the Colony".

On three occasions, Marguerite Bourgeoys made a trip to France to obtain help. As of 1658, the group of teachers who associated themselves with her in her life of prayer, of heroic poverty, and of untiring devotedness to the service of others, presented the image of a religious institute. The group was inspired by the "vie voyagere" of Our Lady, and desired to remain uncloistered, the concept of an uncloistered community being an innovation at that time. Such a foundation occasioned much suffering and the one who took the initiative was not spared. But the work progressed. The Congregation de Notre-Dame received its civil charter from Louis XIV in 1671, and canonical approbation by decree of the Bishop of Quebec in 1676. The Constitutions of the Community were approved in 1698.

The foundation having been assured, Sister Bourgeoys could leave the work to others. She died in Montreal on January 12, 1700, acknowledged for her holiness of life. Her last generous act was to offer herself as a sacrifice of prayer for the return to health of a young Sister. Forty memberg of the Congregation de Notre-Dame were there to continue her work.

The educative and apostolic efforts of Marguerite Bourgeoys continue through the commitment of the members of the community that she founded. More than 2,600 Sisters of the Congregation de Notre-Dame work in fields of action according to the needs of time and place - from school to college or university, in the promotion of family, parish and diocesan endeavours. They are on mission in Canada, in the United States, in Japan, in Latin America, in Cameroon, and most recently they have established a house in France.

On November 12, 1950 Pope Pius XII beatified Marguerite Bourgeoys. Canonizing her this October 31, 1982, Pope John Paul II gives the Canadian Church its first woman saint.

MARGUERITE BOURGEOY naît à Troyes en Champagne (France), le Vendredi Saint, 17 avril 1620. Elle est baptisée le jour même, en l'église Saint-Jean, voisine de la demeure familiale. Sixième des douze enfants d'Abraham Bourgeoys et de Guillemette Garnier, elle grandit dans un milieu chrétien et de bonne bourgeoisie.

Elle a dix-neuf ans quand elle perd sa mère. L'année suivante, le dimanche, 7 octobre 1640, au cours d'une procession en l'honneur de Notre-Dame du Rosaire, à la vue d'une statue de la Vierge, elle est saisie d'une grâce qui la transforme et la presse de se retirer du monde pour se consacrer au service de Dieu. Avec cette fidélité sans retour au dessein de Dieu sur elle, qui devait désormais la caractériser, elle se met dès lors à la recherche de sa vocation propre.

Son premier geste est de s'inscrire à la Congrégation externe de Troyes, association de jeunes filles pieuses et charitables vouées à l'enseignement aux enfants des quartiers pauvres de la ville. C'est là qu'elle apprendra, en 1642, la fondation de Ville-Marie (Montréal) en Canada, et qu'elle percevra un premier appel à la vie missionnaire. Cet appel se précisera en 1652, lors d'une rencontre avec le Sieur de Maisonneuve, fondateur et gouverneur de ce poste avancé de la Nouvelle-France, en quête d'une institutrice laïque pour instruire gratuitement les enfants français et indiens. La Vierge elle-même lui apparaît et confirme sa vocation: " Va, je ne t'abandonnerai pas ", lui dit-elle.

Ainsi rassurée, Marguerite quitte Troyes en février 1653, dans le dénuement le plus complet. Elle aborde à Montréal le 16 novembre suivant. Sans tarder, elle se met à l'œuvre et devient l'âme de la colonie qui, peu à peu, reprend vie. On la considère à juste titre comme co-fondatrice de Montréal, avec Jeanne Mance l'infirmière et Maisonneuve le maître d'oeuvre.

Pour stimuler la piété des colons, elle fait relever la Croix du Mont-Royal abattue par des Indiens ennemis; elle entreprend la construction d'une chapelle dédiée à Notre-Dame de Bon Secours. Convaincue de l'importance des familles dans l'édification de ce pays nouveau, elle perçoit le rôle prépondérant des femmes et met tout en oeuvre pour les former. En 1658, dans une étable que lui cède le gouverneur, elle ouvre la première école à Montréal. Puis elle fonde une Congrégation externe inspirée de celle de Troyes mais adaptée aux nécessités nouvelles, afin de répondre aux besoins des femmes et des jeunes filles dont l'ignorance religieuse et profane risquerait de compromettre la bonne éducation des enfants et l'avenir de la colonie. A partir de 1659, elle accueille les filles recrutées par les curés de France ou dotées par le Roi pour venir se marier à Montréal, se comportant à leur égard comme une véritable mère. Ainsi nait un système scolaire et se tisse un réseau d'oeuvres sociales qui, peu à peu, s'étendront à tout le pays, ce qui lui vaudra le titre de " Mère de la Colonie " et de co-fondatrice de l'Eglise du Canada.

Trois fois, elle repasse en France pour y chercher de l'aide. Depuis 1658, le groupe des institutrices qui l'a suivie dans sa vie de prière, d'héroïque pauvreté et d'inlassable dévouement au service du prochain revêt l'aspect d'un véritable institut religieux. Il s'inspire de la " vie voyagère " de Marie et se veut, par conséquent, non cloîtré: une innovation pour l'époque. Les souffrances inhérentes à une telle fondation ne seront pas épargnées à celle qui en a pris l'initiative. Mais l'œuvre progresse: la Congrégation de Notre-Dame reçoit sa charte civile de Louis XIV en 1671, puis canonique par mandement de l'évêque de Québec en 1676, et enfin l'approbation de ses Constitutions religieuses en 1698.

L'étape de la fondation ainsi franchie, Soeur Bourgeoys peut partir: quarante soeurs sont là pour continuer son oeuvre. Elle meurt à Montréal, le 12 janvier 1700, en grande réputation de sainteté après avoir offert sa vie pour la guérison d'une jeune soeur.

L'action éducative et apostolique de Marguerite Bourgeoys se perpétue grâce à l'engagement de ses filles. Plus de 2.600 soeurs de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame oeuvrent dans les champs d'activité les plus divers: de l'école au Collège ou à l'Université, de la promotion sociale à la pastorale familiale, paroissiale ou diocésaine. On les retrouve au Canada, aux Etats-Unis, au Japon, en Amérique Latine, au Cameroun, et tout récemment en France.

Marguerite Bourgeoys a été béatifiée par Pie XII le 12 novembre 1950. S. S. Jean-Paul II la canonise le 31 octobre 1982 et donne ainsi à l'Église du Canada sa première sainte.

Cher Ste. Marguerite priez pour nous.

More from another site, here...



Homeless veterans laid to rest in NY

From Jacobins and Girondins,


The War of the Circumflex Accent

"La langue français est une femme. Et cette femme est si belle, si fière, si modeste, si hardi, se touchante, si voluptueuse, si chaste, si noble, si familière, si folle, si sage, qu'on l'amie de toute son âme, et qu'on n'est jamais tenté de lui être infidèle." * Anatole France

When I was in the Gulf War, I was unaware that a greater war was brewing in France with pretty much the same outcome for the victors, and the anguish for the defeated.

On 6 December 1990 an event occurred of such earth shaking proportions that could have had a profound impact on the French speaking world. As I write this, I reflect on the next ship berthed to ours a French Frigate and how they were being faced by two enemies, the Iraqis who were lobbing bombs at us and those at home who would change the French language by changing certain aspects. These aspects, irregularities actually, if changed would simplify the language and make it easier to teach. They were, 1. use of the hyphen. 2. plurals of compound words. 3. the circumflex accent. 4. past participle agreement of pronominal verbs. 5. various "anomalies". This was all published in the Le Journal Officiel. It was originally proposed by the Conseil Supérieur de la Langue Français but when it was published the Académie Français, (the keepers of everything holy in the French language)who agreed, the country went into an uproar!

And what! Remove the 'g' from oignon, the curcumflex 'î' from maître! That would be like spelling Boys as Boyz. This linguistic war was carried on for weeks making headlines in le Figaro and le Monde, alongside of the war news.

Two groups laid siege to the Académie Français, justifying the reason to keep the language just the same as it was. They spoke of the aesthetic effect that these changes would make, as well as the sensual effect of the language. An opera singer chimed in the that the French Language was music, (one does not change a note in a symphony or a word in an opera) and the circumflex was an integral part of the music of French.

In the end the Académie Français did not make any changes. As I have written change does not come the the French language easily. If a word can be said in French it will be said in French, very few foreign words enter the spoken language in France.

The last change to the French language came in 1835, that is not a typo, eighteen thirty five, and what was that change? It was the change of the oi diphthong to the ai, as in français. Can it be any wonder that the Catechism of the Catholic Church was written into French first and then Latin, and then translated into the other languages? It is a living language that rarely changes (as opposed to Latin which is a dead language that never changes.)

In this day of fast food and sound bites, the French still take time to chew their food and speak properly. And a Big Mac is a Royale.

Dieu le Roy!

*"The French language is a woman. And this woman is so beautiful, so proud, so modest, so bold, touching itself, so voluptuous, so chaste, so noble, so familiar, so crazy, so wise, that one loves her with all one's soul, and that one never is tempted to be unfaithful."

The same could be said of my wife Suzanne.

Notes: L'Académie française, or the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte (the Académie considers itself to have been suspended, not suppressed, during the revolution).

I used many sources for this blurb, (find that in your Le Petit Larousse!) but especially a book I bought my daughter about 6 months before her studies in France, French or Foe, by Polly Platt, Culture Crossings, London 1994, Le Journal officiel, Paris

A tolerant Louis XVI

As we approach the anniversary of the Marytrdom of Louis XVI I will be reposting some of my old entries about Louis.

Far from a tyrannical rule, King Louis XVI's reign was one of tolerance, and a desire to help his people. Undermined by calumnious detractors, (many of whom were family members,) who were concerned for their own position, property and wealth the he still strove for the betterment of his subjects. He was a just man, a forerunner of womens rights and of justice. He abolished certain taxes. He made injustices right. If he could have continued in the course of his benevolent reign the world might well have been different.

This is of course mostly forgotten by historians. Only the words of one of a tyrant of the revolution, nay the prophet of the Antichrist “It is with regret that I pronounce the fatal truth: Louis ought to perish rather than a hundred thousand virtuous citizens; Louis must die that the country may live" are remembered. Why is that?

Louis XVI decided to relieve his people of the "Right of Joyous Advent", a tax at every change of reign.

Louis XVI created the corps of the firemen.
Louis XVI permitted women the attainment of Masters in any profession.

Louis XVI authorized the installation of a water pump to supply Paris with water to fight fires in Paris.
Louis XVI created a Mount-of-Piety to Paris to discourage usury and to come to the aid of the poor people.

Louis XVI allowed the crews of its warships the percentage (a third) of the prize money value of the captured warships that was reserved for him during war time.
Louis XVI decided to help the abbot of the Epée in his work for the education of the "deaf-mutes without fortune" he taught a sign language of his own invention. The King gave him a pension of 6000 livres of his own budget, against the archdiocese opinion that suspected this man of Jansenism. (heresy, quietism)
Louis XVI endowed the school of Valentin Hauÿ for the blind.

Louis XVI gave fishing rights the English fishermen and obtained the reciprocity for the French fishermen.
Louis XVI gave the right to married women and to minors access their inheritance and pensions without asking the authorization of their husband or guardian.
Louis XVI coined the phrase "Social Justice".

Louis XVI ordered military hospitals to treat the wounded enemies "as subjects of the King", 90 years before the first Geneva convention.
Louis XVI decided to abolish the serfdom in the royal domain and the right that allowed the lords to make serfs follow or leave their domains.
Louis XVI ordered the abolition of torture.
Louis XVI did paid infirmary expenses to insure the prisons were "clear and well-ventilated" .
Louis XVI eliminated Maison du Roi tax (a third).

Louis XVI financed all the installations of the hôtel-dieu for that every sick individual have his own clean bed. (Not done for Louis-Charles, LouisXVII)
Louis XVI was founded a hospital for the children with contagious diseases, today called the Hospital of the Sick Children.

Louis XVI created the Museum des Sciences et Techniques, the future Center of National Arts and Trades.

Louis XVI was founded the School of the Mines.
Louis XVI financed on its own the brothers Montgolfier (pioneers of aviation)
Louis XVI financed equally the experiences of Jouffroy of Abbans for the use of steam for sailing ships.

Louis XVI exempted the Jews of the body toll and of humiliation. He had synagogues constructed in Nancy and Lunéville, and permit to the Jews to have access to all the masteries in the Parliament of Nancy.
Louis XVI granted seven million to the victims of the cold in the winter.
Louis XVI granted retirement pensions to all those that exercised a maritime profession.

Louis XVI asked for a annual balance of the commerce budget.

Louis XVI created the property rights (copyrights) of authors and music composers.

Louis XVI granted the right of citizenship to the protestants.

Louis XVI ended the right to the hold prisoners in preventive custody before their indictment, and before their trial. He decided to grant them a compensation as well as a right of announcement if their innocence was shown at the time of their trial. (not afforded to his person or his family)

Louis XVI granted the first right of women to vote within the framework of the election of the representatives of the Assembly of the General States.


Louis XVI created the School of music and of dance of the Opera of Paris, and the Museum of the Louvre.

Today Robespierre's other words are forgotten, "The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant."

Vive Le Roi!
Richard Sieur de Brantigny

Inspiré de l'ouvrage "Louis XVI a la parole" par Paul et Pierrette Girault de Coursac, Edition l'O.E.I.L.

Commémorer la mort du Roi Louis XVI

Prospectives Royalistes de l'Ouest vous invite...

Nous nous retrouverons, comme tous les ans, le dimanche 23 janvier 2011 afin de commémorer la mort du Roi Louis XVI. Le rendez-vous est au pied de la stèle, place Foch à 12h15. Un déjeuner sur réservation suivra à la Taverne du Château.

Programme du dimanche 23 janvier 2011 :
12h15 : dépôt de gerbe au pied de la statue Louis XVI
13h : Déjeuner à La Taverne du Château, 1, place de la Duchesse Anne 44000 Nantes
...15h : Conférence d’Augustin Debacker sur le Royalisme aujourd’hui

La Taverne du Château nous propose un menu à 22 €.
Salade des Lande aux Copeaux de Foie Gras
Emincé de Bœuf Sauce Taverne Frites
Truffaut Nantais au Chocolat et Crème Anglaise
Café. Boissons comprises : Forfait 25 cl par personne, Bière, Vins.

Je vous demande de me communiquer votre participation à cette journée en appelant le 06 81 35 53 69 avant le 13 janvier. Vous pouvez laisser un message avec votre nom et les activités auxquelles vous serez présent.

Dans cette attente, recevez mes amitiés royalistes

Dieu Sauve Le Roy!

Biblical reference

1 Peter 2: 17

...Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king...