The French again

Posted by Tory Historian Monday, June 30, 2008 , ,

In Paris Tory Historian was told by two separate and very different people, both of whom are Parisians, that Sarkozy’s most popular move was his marriage to Carla Bruni. Oddly enough, our own media seems to think otherwise.

Indeed, Peter Allen of the Daily Telegraph has found an article with a delightfully historic parallel: “Carla Bruni is ‘modern day Marie Antoinette’”. Well, not quite, one has to say, if one remembers the scandalous and scurrilous stories that circulated about that silly and unhappy queen.

It seems that Nicolas Domenach, author of the article “Enough is enough” in the magazine Marianne is not one of the French First Lady’s fans.

After referring to the wives of past presidents, Jacques Chirac and Francois Mitterand, Mr Domenach said of the Sarkozys: "They are always pawing each other in public, which might be normal for newly-weds, but he is the president and she is the first lady - and they are not exactly young! The endless photos of Carla cosying up to Nicolas have become nothing more than a
vulgar charade.

"Quite frankly it's overkill and we can't take any more. She is not so much a perfume but a very strong air freshener that we use to cover up unpleasant smells in public places."
Political writing has become very mild and superficial since the eighteenth century. If nothing worse than that had been written about Marie Antoinette the French Revolution may have taken a completely different turn. In fact, it may not have even happened.

Mr Allen seems very interested in historical matters. His other article is about King Arthur. It seems that “a conference and exhibition to be held at Rennes university in northern France next month” will tell us all that the legendary king who may or not have existed was actually a Celt and fought bitterly against the Anglo-Saxons. As such he is not to be considered a British hero, an image created by historians, poets and artists “for political purposes” but someone closer to the French.

Well, not really the French, but the Bretons, who, as it happens, dislike the rest of France, in particular, those of its population who have descended from the Germanic tribe of the Franks (not to mention the Normans who descended from the Vikings). Sadly, Mr Allen does not mention this aspect of the story, concentrating on British perfidy in elevating a mythical (or not) Welsh chieftain to the status of a British hero.

The Arthurian legends have never held much interest for Tory Historian. As ever, the best analysis can be found in that most excellent publication “1066 And All That”. Who can better the authors’ analysis of the situation in two memorable but separate paragraphs?
The brutal Saxon invaders drove the Britons westward into Wales and compelled them to become Welsh; it is now considered doubtful whether this was a Good Thing. Memorable among the Saxon warriors were Hengist and his wife (?or horse), Horsa. Hengist made himself King in the South. Thus Hengist was the first English King and his wife (or horse), Horsa, the first English Queen (or horse). The country was now almost entirely inhabited by Saxons and was therefore renamed England, and thus (naturally) soon became C. of E. This was a Good Thing, because previously the Saxons had worshipped some dreadful gods of their own called Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
A couple of pages on we read the following:
King Alfred was the first Good King, with the exception of Good King Wenceslas, who, though he looked 4th, really came first (it is not known, however, what King Wenceslas was King of). Alfred ought never to be confused with King Arthur, equally memorable but probably non-existent and therefore perhaps less important historically (unless he did exist).
Let’s see the academics of Rennes bettering that account.


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