Week 1

Week 1: Wednesday, October 5, 2016
Introduction

An introduction to our year of study.
What is unique about France?
How does France and the French story differ from other European nations?
How much does geography and the physical space determine the nature of France?

REQUIRED READING:

Here is an excellent general history of France that will be very useful for our entire year.

Alistair Horne,

La Belle France,

Vintage paperbacks,

ISBN 1400034876

Reviews

"Fascinating. . . . Engaging. . . . Filled with 'hot-blooded' kings, royal mistressesÉand tales of cruelty, treachery and even, occasionally, heart-warming loyalty."

–San Francisco Chronicle

"[Horne] is a virtuoso of the character sketch and the illuminating vignette. . . . La Belle France, with its refreshingly subjective style, possesses more treasures than a whole wall full of textbooks."

–The Wall Street Journal

"A breathtaking tour of French history, from its earliest kings through the Mitterrand government. . . . There are few countries with a more fascinating history than France."

–The Seattle Times

"A useful and charming introduction to a nation that has oh-so-definitely helped make the modern world what it is. . . . Horne does a service in helping the reader navigate the complexities of French history."

–Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPHY

A tour of France through the photography of Nat Collins, Chairman of the Board of the Institute, and of Nathan Bergeron, a Canadian photographer who lived in France in 2008.

2

Week 2: Wednesday, October 12, 2016
The Celts in France

Before the Romans crossed the Alps into Transalpine Gaul, the first people to settle into the wide Seine river basin were the Celts. We studied the Celts last year in History of England. But this year we are interested in the Celts as the first people to discover and capitalize on the strategic uniqueness of the Paris region and its important islands that enabled one to cross the Seine.

REQUIRED READING:

Alistair Horne,

La Belle France,

Vintage paperbacks,

ISBN 1400034876

Reviews

"Fascinating. . . . Engaging. . . . Filled with 'hot-blooded' kings, royal mistressesÉand tales of cruelty, treachery and even, occasionally, heart-warming loyalty."

–San Francisco Chronicle

"[Horne] is a virtuoso of the character sketch and the illuminating vignette. . . . La Belle France, with its refreshingly subjective style, possesses more treasures than a whole wall full of textbooks."

–The Wall Street Journal

"A breathtaking tour of French history, from its earliest kings through the Mitterrand government. . . . There are few countries with a more fascinating history than France."

–The Seattle Times

"A useful and charming introduction to a nation that has oh-so-definitely helped make the modern world what it is. . . . Horne does a service in helping the reader navigate the complexities of French history."

–Los Angeles Times

RECOMMENDED READING:

Kevin Duffy,

Who Were the Celts?,

Heritage Books Inc. (May 1, 2009),

ISBN 0788405055

PART TWO, DVD. "The Celts: A Journey Back in Time"

We have an excellent DVD video produced by a cultural film company called Kultur, with excellent interviews with scholars and recreations of events and battles.

3

Week 3: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The Romans in France

France as a Roman Colony.
How "Romanized" was France?
The limits of the Roman conquest.
And how the limits influenced all of later French history.
Remnants of Roman France.
You may own a copy of Julius Caesar's book on the Roman conquest of Gaul since we read it in our first year of Making of the Western Mind. If you end up with two copies, bring one in to class and am sure there will be someone who will be happy to purchase your extra copy.

REQUIRED READING

Julius Caesar,

The Conquest of Gaul,

Penguin,

ISBN 0140444335

PICTURES

When we turn to our pictures tonight we will visit the area around Notre Dame which will include the new archaeological museum that is under the area in front of the cathedral. This area is called the parvis, which is the term for the open space in front of and around cathedrals and churches. It is probably a corruption of the word for paradise. This area now hosts the new ...Crypte archeological of parvis of Notre-Dame.

4

Week 4: Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Romans Becoming Frenchmen

One of the most fascinating stories in all of European history is the story of how Roman Spain, Roman France, and Roman England slowly began to be transformed into something new, something that had never existed before, producing in each case a new national identity, rooted in early Celtic traditions, and enlarged by Roman contributions but also something beyond the Celtic and Roman flavor – something totally new. Between 300 and 500 AD a whole new cultural entity began to emerge in Europe. In the case of France this process was most fascinating in the southwest region around Bordeaux known as Aquataine from the healthy waters of the area. Here the Roman institutions, the cities, the libraries, the villas, were impressive and because of their strength and endurance, they survived the era of invasions and lived on into the new age. The figure who most perfectly speaks for this transition from Roman Gaul to the new France is Decimus Magnus Ausonius (310-395). Ausonius was a doctor's son born at Bordeaux in 310 AD. After an excellent Classical education in grammar and rhetoric he established a school of rhetoric (public speaking, an educational program that included politics and other subject matter). Among his many students were important figures in the Christian church such as Paulinus, Bishop of Nola as well as Roman officials. In 364, Ausonius was called to Rome by Emperor Valentinian to be the tutor to his son Gratian. When Gratian was murdered in 383, Ausonius went home to his villa outside Bordeaux. He had lived at the highest levels of Roman government, now his return to his villa outside of Bordeaux allowed him to be in touch with all aspects of the great international Roman empire. During his remaining years in Bordeaux he produced a fascinating collection of poetry that tells us about the world and the values of the late empire as the center failed to hold and the signs of collapse became more and more evident. We will provide you with copies of some of Ausonius' poetry.

RECOMMENDED READING

Ausonius,

Volume I,

Hugh G. Evelyn-White (translator),

Harvard University Press (January 1, 1919),

ISBN 0674991079

PHOTOGRAPHY

One of the great treats this quarter will be a visit to the Chateau Ausone.   Ausonius's Chateau still stands and now is the location of one of the greatest vineyards in all of the Bordeaux region.  The vineyard is built right into the Roman ruins and the bottles are aged in caves that have been used for two thousand years.   I am hoping we can buy a bottle of wine from Chateau Ausone to share on our night when we discuss Ausonius.  Such a bottle is available in our area as I write this at a cost of about $500 (yes, you read right).  Chateau Ausone wine is one of the most highly valued wines in the world.  So this project may not come to fruition, but we will try.  Whether we get to have a taste of the wine or not, we will all get to visit the Chateau thanks to the incredible generosity of the Varthier family who now own the vineyard.  They have provided us with spectacular photographs for our night on Ausonius.

You can visit the Chateau on line: Chateau Ausone

5

Week 5: Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Saint Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours was one of the best known saints of the fourth century. His lifespan from 316 to 397 put him right in the middle of the most important century of Christianity after the first. Martin was named after Mars, god of war, which Sulpicius Severus interpreted as carrying the meaning of "the brave, the courageous". His father was a senior officer (tribune) in the Imperial Horse Guard, a unit of the Roman army, and was later stationed at Ticinum, Cisalpine Gaul (now Pavia, Italy), where Martin grew up. At the age of ten, he went to the church against the wishes of his parents and became a catechumen or candidate for baptism. At this time, Christianity had been made a legal religion (in 313), but it was by no means the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. As a member of a high level Roman family who chose Christianity on his own, his life resembles that of Augustine. When Martin was fifteen, as the son of a veteran officer, he was required to join a cavalry unit himself and thus, around 334, was stationed at Ambianensium civitas or Samarobriva in Gaul (now Amiens, France). While Martin was still a soldier at Amiens, he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life. He was at the gates of the city of Amiens with his soldiers when he met a scantily dressed beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night he dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clad me." (Sulpicius, ch 2). In another story, when Martin woke his cloak was restored, and the miraculous cloak was preserved among the relic collection of the Merovingian kings of the Franks. The dream confirmed Martin in his piety and he was baptized at the age of 18. Martin's decision to come to France (Tours) to help the church began one of the most important careers in the whole history of Christianity. Martin lays the foundations for the whole French Christian church.

RECOMMENDED READING

The life of Martin is known to us through the work of Sulpitius Severus.

Sulpitius Sulpitius Severus,

The Works of Sulpitius Severus,

Alexander Roberts (translator),

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 4, 2012),

ISBN 1479254789

"Alexander Roberts, Sulpitius Severus on the Life of S. Martin
from NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS: Second Series, Volume XI Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian"

PHOTOGRAPHY

Tours became the cradle of Christianity in France and Saint Martin of Tours became its most famous citizen. This evening we will visit Tours thanks to the photography of Nat Collins who just visited Tours in order to bring these beautiful images to our class.

6

Week 6: Wednesday, November 9, 2016
The Franks

From Wikipedia: The Franks or Frankish people (Latin: Franci or gens Francorum) were a West Germanic tribal confederation first attested in the third century as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a kingdom on Roman-held soil that was acknowledged by the Romans after 357. In the climate of the collapse of imperial authority in the West, the Frankish tribes were united under the Merovingians and conquered all of Gaul in the 6th century. The Salian political elite would be one of the most active forces in spreading Christianity over western Europe. The Merovingian dynasty, descended from the Salians, founded one of the Germanic monarchies which replaced the Western Roman Empire from the fifth century. The Frankish state consolidated its hold over large parts of western Europe by the end of the eighth century, developing into the Carolingian Empire which dominated most of Western Europe. This empire would gradually evolve into France and the Holy Roman Empire.

The story of this new dynasty and its evolution is told by an eyewitness: Gregory of Tours. Tours remained one of the most important centers of French culture in the fifth and sixth centuries and Gregory continued the work of his famous predecessor Saint Martin. Gregory was Bishop of Tours from 573 until his death in 594. His book History of the Franks is our most important document for the story of the Franks.

REQUIRED READING

Gregory of Tours,

A History of the Franks,

Lewis Thorpe (translator),

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140442952

7

Week 7: Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The Battle of Poitiers

On October 10, 732, the Battle of Poitiers was fought in an area between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, near the village of Moussais-la-Bataille about 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Poitiers. The location of the battle was close to the border between the Frankish realm and then-independent Aquitaine. The battle pitted Frankish forces under Charles Martel against an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Governor-General of al-Andalus (Seville and Cordoba). The Franks were victorious, ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi was killed, and Charles subsequently extended his authority in the south. Ninth-century chroniclers, who interpreted the outcome of the battle as divine judgment in his favour, gave Charles the nickname Martellus ("The Hammer"). The Battle of Poitiers was one of the great turning points of history. It stopped what had seemed an unstoppable Islamic drive north into the heart of Europe. First had come the lightening invasion across the Mediterranean, then the conquest of all Spain in 711, and then the move further north over the Pyrenees into southern France. The battle not only marked the end of the northern spread of Islam in Europe, it also marked the ascent of a new dynasty in France: the Carolingians.

 

NO CLASS NEXT WEEK FOR THANKSGIVING

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Nat Collins, Chairman of the Board of the Institute traveled to the scene of the Battle of Poitiers in southern France and we will enjoy his photographs this evening.

8

Week 8: Wednesday, November 30, 2016
The Normans in France

Normans

The Normans were :Norsemen" from the north–  from Scandinavia. They exploded out of the north in the 8th and 9th centuries and flooded into almost all European countries. France was one of the most important targets.  But their conquests went beyond the coasts of England and France and stretched all the way to the Mediterranean. The Norman conquest of southern Italy spanned most of the 11th and 12th centuries, involving many battles and independent conquerors. Only later were these territories in southern Italy united as the Kingdom of Sicily, which included the island of Sicily, the southern third of the Italian Peninsula (except Benevento, which was briefly held twice), the archipelago of Malta and parts of North Africa. Immigrant Norman brigands acclimatised themselves to the Mezzogiorno as mercenaries in the service of Lombard and Byzantine factions, communicating news swiftly back home about opportunities in the Mediterranean. These groups gathered in several places, establishing fiefdoms and states of their own, uniting and elevating their status to de facto independence within fifty years of their arrival. Unlike the Norman conquest of England (1066), which took a few years after one decisive battle, the conquest of southern Italy was the product of decades and a number of battles, few decisive. Many territories were conquered independently, and only later were unified into a single state. Compared to the conquest of England it was unplanned and disorganised, but equally complete. (From Wikipedia)

RECOMMENDED READING:

John Julius Norwich has written an elegant intelligent book on the Normans in Italy.  Many of you enjoyed his book on Byzantium in Fall Quarter.

John Julius Norwich,

The Normans in the South, 1016–1130 (The Normans in Sicily),

Faber and Faber (November 9, 2011),

ISBN 0571259642

About the Author: John Julius Norwich was born in 1929. He joined the British Foreign Service after studying French and Russian at Oxford, and left the service in 1964 to become a writer. He has also worked extensively in radio and television, hosting the popular BBC radio panel game My Word! for several years, and writing and presenting historical documentaries. His many books include an acclaimed Byzantium trilogy.

From Amazon, Most Helpful Customer Reviews 6 of 6 people found the following review helpful a lush narrative history about a uniquely dynamic people By Robert J. Crawford on March 10, 2013 Format: Paperback

"This is an excellent popular history of the Normans - the Viking people that occupied NW France, got feudal recognition and were absorbed into the local culture, and then expanded outward with exceptional dynamism. Theirs was an absolutely remarkable rise, from pillagers to nobility and finally, statesmen and relatively enlightened sovereigns. While their takeover of Britain (the last time the island was invaded, let alone conquered) is well known, their career in the South has received relatively little attention. This wonderfully readable book remedies that in a series of stories that are at once scholarly and fun. When the Normans arrived in southern Italy, they were little more than a mercenary force, indeed thieves. They may have been able to boast they were born of French feudal lords, but they were essentially adventurers with nothing. Their brutality was as remarked upon as their thirst for status and glory. At the time of their arrival in 1016, Italy was uneasily divided between the germanic Lombards, Greeks with ties to Byzantium, and the papacy. Sicily was occupied at the time by various sultans, a culturally rich if unstable mix with Greeks and Latins as well. The Normans, and in particular the family of the Hautevilles, came onto the scene and clawed their way to the top. Robert, dubbed the Guiscard, became a major figure, eventually gaining the title of Duke of Apulia from the Pope, who annointed sovereigns all over western christendom. With his brother Roger, with whom he occasionally warred, he brought order to the South and opened an invasion of Sicily. Though constantly at war with unruly lords sworn to him under feudal obligation, Robert was merciful and tolerant once in power, to the surprise of his critics."

9

Week 9: Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Vezelay

The building of France into one of the most important nations of Europe took place under the leadership of the Capetian kings whose dynastic roots could be traced back to the Carolingians. This new dynasty, like others in Europe, led the French nation out of the chaos of the eighth century toward a new national unity organized around the new feudal monarchies. The nature of these new feudal states was visible by around 1100. In this moment these confident young feudal states adopted an artistic style that both remembered their Roman roots in its name, "Romanesque," and proclaimed a new Christian culture and artistic style. This new world of the Romanesque that flourished in the eleventh and twelfth centuries received its most perfect embodiment at Vezelay in Burgundy. On this evening we will discuss the new feudal state of France and then visit Vezelay.

Vézelay: Vézelay's hilltop location has made it an obvious site for a town since ancient times. According to legend, not long before the end of the first millennium a monk named Baudillon brought relics (bones) of Mary Magdalene to Vézelay from Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. In 1058, the Pope confirmed the genuineness of the relics, leading to an influx of pilgrims that has continued to this day. Vézelay Abbey was also a major starting point for pilgrims on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important of all medieval pilgrimage centres. This was crucially important in attracting pilgrims and the wealth they brought to the town. Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade at Vézelay in 1146. In 1189, the Frankish and English factions of the Third Crusade met at Vézelay before officially departing for the Holy Land.

10

Week 10: Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Troyes and Champagne Country

TROYES AND THE COUNTY OF CHAMPAGNE

Troyes is a small city, the préfecture (capital) of the northeastern Aube département in France and is located on the Seine river. It is around 150 km (93 mi) south-east of Paris. Troyes has been in existence since the Roman era, as Augustobona Tricassium, which stood at the hub of numerous highways, primarily the Via Agrippa which led north to Reims and south to Langres and eventually to Milan;[1] other Roman routes from Troyes led to Poitiers, Autun and Orléans.[2] It was the civitas of the Tricasses,[3] who had been separated by Augustus from the Senones. Of the Gallo-Roman city of the early Empire, some scattered remains have been found, but no public monuments, other than traces of an aqueduct. By the Late Empire the settlement was reduced in extent, and referred to as Tricassium or Tricassae, the origin of French Troyes ("three").  In the twelfth century, the strategic location of the town led to its development of huge trade fairs with visitors from all regions of Europe meeting with merchants from south of the Alps representing the great city-states of Italy. Troyes was at the center of an exploding new trade web in which valuable merchandise traveled from Asia to Turkey and then west in Italian ships to Venice, Pisa, Genoa and other Italian ports.  Then the merchandise was carried on land over the Alps to France, then north and then finally to Troyes where the Italians would meet their northern European buyers.  For about 100 years, the great Champagne trade fairs turned the small city of Troyes into one of the great active centers of northern Europe.

Presiding over this great cultural scene was the glamourous brilliant Marie, Countess of Champagne.  Marie is now seen as one of the most important patrons of the new Courtly Love.  She moved among some of the most brilliant and powerful people of her age. Her mother was Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Her father was Louis VII, King of France.  her close friend was the greatest writer of Courtly Love literature, Chretien de Troyes.  We will read some of Marie's own poetry and discuss this fascinating culture.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOK

Chrétien de Troyes,

Arthurian Romances,

William W. Kibler (Translator), Carleton W. Carroll (Translator),

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140445218

camping-de-troyes-eastern-france-alsace-lorraine-champagne-large

All

Week 1: Wed., Oct. 5, 2016
Introduction

An introduction to our year of study.
What is unique about France?
How does France and the French story differ from other European nations?
How much does geography and the physical space determine the nature of France?

REQUIRED READING:

Here is an excellent general history of France that will be very useful for our entire year.

Alistair Horne,

La Belle France,

Vintage paperbacks,

ISBN 1400034876

Reviews

"Fascinating. . . . Engaging. . . . Filled with 'hot-blooded' kings, royal mistressesÉand tales of cruelty, treachery and even, occasionally, heart-warming loyalty."

–San Francisco Chronicle

"[Horne] is a virtuoso of the character sketch and the illuminating vignette. . . . La Belle France, with its refreshingly subjective style, possesses more treasures than a whole wall full of textbooks."

–The Wall Street Journal

"A breathtaking tour of French history, from its earliest kings through the Mitterrand government. . . . There are few countries with a more fascinating history than France."

–The Seattle Times

"A useful and charming introduction to a nation that has oh-so-definitely helped make the modern world what it is. . . . Horne does a service in helping the reader navigate the complexities of French history."

–Los Angeles Times

PHOTOGRAPHY

A tour of France through the photography of Nat Collins, Chairman of the Board of the Institute, and of Nathan Bergeron, a Canadian photographer who lived in France in 2008.

Week 2: Wed., Oct. 12, 2016
The Celts in France

Before the Romans crossed the Alps into Transalpine Gaul, the first people to settle into the wide Seine river basin were the Celts. We studied the Celts last year in History of England. But this year we are interested in the Celts as the first people to discover and capitalize on the strategic uniqueness of the Paris region and its important islands that enabled one to cross the Seine.

REQUIRED READING:

Alistair Horne,

La Belle France,

Vintage paperbacks,

ISBN 1400034876

Reviews

"Fascinating. . . . Engaging. . . . Filled with 'hot-blooded' kings, royal mistressesÉand tales of cruelty, treachery and even, occasionally, heart-warming loyalty."

–San Francisco Chronicle

"[Horne] is a virtuoso of the character sketch and the illuminating vignette. . . . La Belle France, with its refreshingly subjective style, possesses more treasures than a whole wall full of textbooks."

–The Wall Street Journal

"A breathtaking tour of French history, from its earliest kings through the Mitterrand government. . . . There are few countries with a more fascinating history than France."

–The Seattle Times

"A useful and charming introduction to a nation that has oh-so-definitely helped make the modern world what it is. . . . Horne does a service in helping the reader navigate the complexities of French history."

–Los Angeles Times

RECOMMENDED READING:

Kevin Duffy,

Who Were the Celts?,

Heritage Books Inc. (May 1, 2009),

ISBN 0788405055

PART TWO, DVD. "The Celts: A Journey Back in Time"

We have an excellent DVD video produced by a cultural film company called Kultur, with excellent interviews with scholars and recreations of events and battles.

Week 3: Wed., Oct. 19, 2016
The Romans in France

France as a Roman Colony.
How "Romanized" was France?
The limits of the Roman conquest.
And how the limits influenced all of later French history.
Remnants of Roman France.
You may own a copy of Julius Caesar's book on the Roman conquest of Gaul since we read it in our first year of Making of the Western Mind. If you end up with two copies, bring one in to class and am sure there will be someone who will be happy to purchase your extra copy.

REQUIRED READING

Julius Caesar,

The Conquest of Gaul,

Penguin,

ISBN 0140444335

PICTURES

When we turn to our pictures tonight we will visit the area around Notre Dame which will include the new archaeological museum that is under the area in front of the cathedral. This area is called the parvis, which is the term for the open space in front of and around cathedrals and churches. It is probably a corruption of the word for paradise. This area now hosts the new ...Crypte archeological of parvis of Notre-Dame.

Week 4: Wed., Oct. 26, 2016
Romans Becoming Frenchmen

One of the most fascinating stories in all of European history is the story of how Roman Spain, Roman France, and Roman England slowly began to be transformed into something new, something that had never existed before, producing in each case a new national identity, rooted in early Celtic traditions, and enlarged by Roman contributions but also something beyond the Celtic and Roman flavor – something totally new. Between 300 and 500 AD a whole new cultural entity began to emerge in Europe. In the case of France this process was most fascinating in the southwest region around Bordeaux known as Aquataine from the healthy waters of the area. Here the Roman institutions, the cities, the libraries, the villas, were impressive and because of their strength and endurance, they survived the era of invasions and lived on into the new age. The figure who most perfectly speaks for this transition from Roman Gaul to the new France is Decimus Magnus Ausonius (310-395). Ausonius was a doctor's son born at Bordeaux in 310 AD. After an excellent Classical education in grammar and rhetoric he established a school of rhetoric (public speaking, an educational program that included politics and other subject matter). Among his many students were important figures in the Christian church such as Paulinus, Bishop of Nola as well as Roman officials. In 364, Ausonius was called to Rome by Emperor Valentinian to be the tutor to his son Gratian. When Gratian was murdered in 383, Ausonius went home to his villa outside Bordeaux. He had lived at the highest levels of Roman government, now his return to his villa outside of Bordeaux allowed him to be in touch with all aspects of the great international Roman empire. During his remaining years in Bordeaux he produced a fascinating collection of poetry that tells us about the world and the values of the late empire as the center failed to hold and the signs of collapse became more and more evident. We will provide you with copies of some of Ausonius' poetry.

RECOMMENDED READING

Ausonius,

Volume I,

Hugh G. Evelyn-White (translator),

Harvard University Press (January 1, 1919),

ISBN 0674991079

PHOTOGRAPHY

One of the great treats this quarter will be a visit to the Chateau Ausone.   Ausonius's Chateau still stands and now is the location of one of the greatest vineyards in all of the Bordeaux region.  The vineyard is built right into the Roman ruins and the bottles are aged in caves that have been used for two thousand years.   I am hoping we can buy a bottle of wine from Chateau Ausone to share on our night when we discuss Ausonius.  Such a bottle is available in our area as I write this at a cost of about $500 (yes, you read right).  Chateau Ausone wine is one of the most highly valued wines in the world.  So this project may not come to fruition, but we will try.  Whether we get to have a taste of the wine or not, we will all get to visit the Chateau thanks to the incredible generosity of the Varthier family who now own the vineyard.  They have provided us with spectacular photographs for our night on Ausonius.

You can visit the Chateau on line: Chateau Ausone

Week 5: Wed., Nov. 2, 2016
Saint Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours was one of the best known saints of the fourth century. His lifespan from 316 to 397 put him right in the middle of the most important century of Christianity after the first. Martin was named after Mars, god of war, which Sulpicius Severus interpreted as carrying the meaning of "the brave, the courageous". His father was a senior officer (tribune) in the Imperial Horse Guard, a unit of the Roman army, and was later stationed at Ticinum, Cisalpine Gaul (now Pavia, Italy), where Martin grew up. At the age of ten, he went to the church against the wishes of his parents and became a catechumen or candidate for baptism. At this time, Christianity had been made a legal religion (in 313), but it was by no means the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. As a member of a high level Roman family who chose Christianity on his own, his life resembles that of Augustine. When Martin was fifteen, as the son of a veteran officer, he was required to join a cavalry unit himself and thus, around 334, was stationed at Ambianensium civitas or Samarobriva in Gaul (now Amiens, France). While Martin was still a soldier at Amiens, he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life. He was at the gates of the city of Amiens with his soldiers when he met a scantily dressed beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. That night he dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clad me." (Sulpicius, ch 2). In another story, when Martin woke his cloak was restored, and the miraculous cloak was preserved among the relic collection of the Merovingian kings of the Franks. The dream confirmed Martin in his piety and he was baptized at the age of 18. Martin's decision to come to France (Tours) to help the church began one of the most important careers in the whole history of Christianity. Martin lays the foundations for the whole French Christian church.

RECOMMENDED READING

The life of Martin is known to us through the work of Sulpitius Severus.

Sulpitius Sulpitius Severus,

The Works of Sulpitius Severus,

Alexander Roberts (translator),

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 4, 2012),

ISBN 1479254789

"Alexander Roberts, Sulpitius Severus on the Life of S. Martin
from NICENE AND POST-NICENE FATHERS: Second Series, Volume XI Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian"

PHOTOGRAPHY

Tours became the cradle of Christianity in France and Saint Martin of Tours became its most famous citizen. This evening we will visit Tours thanks to the photography of Nat Collins who just visited Tours in order to bring these beautiful images to our class.

Week 6: Wed., Nov. 9, 2016
The Franks

From Wikipedia: The Franks or Frankish people (Latin: Franci or gens Francorum) were a West Germanic tribal confederation first attested in the third century as living north and east of the Lower Rhine River. From the third to fifth centuries some Franks raided Roman territory while other Franks joined the Roman troops in Gaul. Only the Salian Franks formed a kingdom on Roman-held soil that was acknowledged by the Romans after 357. In the climate of the collapse of imperial authority in the West, the Frankish tribes were united under the Merovingians and conquered all of Gaul in the 6th century. The Salian political elite would be one of the most active forces in spreading Christianity over western Europe. The Merovingian dynasty, descended from the Salians, founded one of the Germanic monarchies which replaced the Western Roman Empire from the fifth century. The Frankish state consolidated its hold over large parts of western Europe by the end of the eighth century, developing into the Carolingian Empire which dominated most of Western Europe. This empire would gradually evolve into France and the Holy Roman Empire.

The story of this new dynasty and its evolution is told by an eyewitness: Gregory of Tours. Tours remained one of the most important centers of French culture in the fifth and sixth centuries and Gregory continued the work of his famous predecessor Saint Martin. Gregory was Bishop of Tours from 573 until his death in 594. His book History of the Franks is our most important document for the story of the Franks.

REQUIRED READING

Gregory of Tours,

A History of the Franks,

Lewis Thorpe (translator),

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140442952

Week 7: Wed., Nov. 16, 2016
The Battle of Poitiers

On October 10, 732, the Battle of Poitiers was fought in an area between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, near the village of Moussais-la-Bataille about 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Poitiers. The location of the battle was close to the border between the Frankish realm and then-independent Aquitaine. The battle pitted Frankish forces under Charles Martel against an army of the Umayyad Caliphate led by ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, Governor-General of al-Andalus (Seville and Cordoba). The Franks were victorious, ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi was killed, and Charles subsequently extended his authority in the south. Ninth-century chroniclers, who interpreted the outcome of the battle as divine judgment in his favour, gave Charles the nickname Martellus ("The Hammer"). The Battle of Poitiers was one of the great turning points of history. It stopped what had seemed an unstoppable Islamic drive north into the heart of Europe. First had come the lightening invasion across the Mediterranean, then the conquest of all Spain in 711, and then the move further north over the Pyrenees into southern France. The battle not only marked the end of the northern spread of Islam in Europe, it also marked the ascent of a new dynasty in France: the Carolingians.

 

NO CLASS NEXT WEEK FOR THANKSGIVING

 

PHOTOGRAPHY

Nat Collins, Chairman of the Board of the Institute traveled to the scene of the Battle of Poitiers in southern France and we will enjoy his photographs this evening.

Week 8: Wed., Nov. 30, 2016
The Normans in France

Normans

The Normans were :Norsemen" from the north–  from Scandinavia. They exploded out of the north in the 8th and 9th centuries and flooded into almost all European countries. France was one of the most important targets.  But their conquests went beyond the coasts of England and France and stretched all the way to the Mediterranean. The Norman conquest of southern Italy spanned most of the 11th and 12th centuries, involving many battles and independent conquerors. Only later were these territories in southern Italy united as the Kingdom of Sicily, which included the island of Sicily, the southern third of the Italian Peninsula (except Benevento, which was briefly held twice), the archipelago of Malta and parts of North Africa. Immigrant Norman brigands acclimatised themselves to the Mezzogiorno as mercenaries in the service of Lombard and Byzantine factions, communicating news swiftly back home about opportunities in the Mediterranean. These groups gathered in several places, establishing fiefdoms and states of their own, uniting and elevating their status to de facto independence within fifty years of their arrival. Unlike the Norman conquest of England (1066), which took a few years after one decisive battle, the conquest of southern Italy was the product of decades and a number of battles, few decisive. Many territories were conquered independently, and only later were unified into a single state. Compared to the conquest of England it was unplanned and disorganised, but equally complete. (From Wikipedia)

RECOMMENDED READING:

John Julius Norwich has written an elegant intelligent book on the Normans in Italy.  Many of you enjoyed his book on Byzantium in Fall Quarter.

John Julius Norwich,

The Normans in the South, 1016–1130 (The Normans in Sicily),

Faber and Faber (November 9, 2011),

ISBN 0571259642

About the Author: John Julius Norwich was born in 1929. He joined the British Foreign Service after studying French and Russian at Oxford, and left the service in 1964 to become a writer. He has also worked extensively in radio and television, hosting the popular BBC radio panel game My Word! for several years, and writing and presenting historical documentaries. His many books include an acclaimed Byzantium trilogy.

From Amazon, Most Helpful Customer Reviews 6 of 6 people found the following review helpful a lush narrative history about a uniquely dynamic people By Robert J. Crawford on March 10, 2013 Format: Paperback

"This is an excellent popular history of the Normans - the Viking people that occupied NW France, got feudal recognition and were absorbed into the local culture, and then expanded outward with exceptional dynamism. Theirs was an absolutely remarkable rise, from pillagers to nobility and finally, statesmen and relatively enlightened sovereigns. While their takeover of Britain (the last time the island was invaded, let alone conquered) is well known, their career in the South has received relatively little attention. This wonderfully readable book remedies that in a series of stories that are at once scholarly and fun. When the Normans arrived in southern Italy, they were little more than a mercenary force, indeed thieves. They may have been able to boast they were born of French feudal lords, but they were essentially adventurers with nothing. Their brutality was as remarked upon as their thirst for status and glory. At the time of their arrival in 1016, Italy was uneasily divided between the germanic Lombards, Greeks with ties to Byzantium, and the papacy. Sicily was occupied at the time by various sultans, a culturally rich if unstable mix with Greeks and Latins as well. The Normans, and in particular the family of the Hautevilles, came onto the scene and clawed their way to the top. Robert, dubbed the Guiscard, became a major figure, eventually gaining the title of Duke of Apulia from the Pope, who annointed sovereigns all over western christendom. With his brother Roger, with whom he occasionally warred, he brought order to the South and opened an invasion of Sicily. Though constantly at war with unruly lords sworn to him under feudal obligation, Robert was merciful and tolerant once in power, to the surprise of his critics."

Week 9: Wed., Dec. 7, 2016
Vezelay

The building of France into one of the most important nations of Europe took place under the leadership of the Capetian kings whose dynastic roots could be traced back to the Carolingians. This new dynasty, like others in Europe, led the French nation out of the chaos of the eighth century toward a new national unity organized around the new feudal monarchies. The nature of these new feudal states was visible by around 1100. In this moment these confident young feudal states adopted an artistic style that both remembered their Roman roots in its name, "Romanesque," and proclaimed a new Christian culture and artistic style. This new world of the Romanesque that flourished in the eleventh and twelfth centuries received its most perfect embodiment at Vezelay in Burgundy. On this evening we will discuss the new feudal state of France and then visit Vezelay.

Vézelay: Vézelay's hilltop location has made it an obvious site for a town since ancient times. According to legend, not long before the end of the first millennium a monk named Baudillon brought relics (bones) of Mary Magdalene to Vézelay from Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. In 1058, the Pope confirmed the genuineness of the relics, leading to an influx of pilgrims that has continued to this day. Vézelay Abbey was also a major starting point for pilgrims on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important of all medieval pilgrimage centres. This was crucially important in attracting pilgrims and the wealth they brought to the town. Bernard of Clairvaux preached the Second Crusade at Vézelay in 1146. In 1189, the Frankish and English factions of the Third Crusade met at Vézelay before officially departing for the Holy Land.

Week 10: Wed., Dec. 14, 2016
Troyes and Champagne Country

TROYES AND THE COUNTY OF CHAMPAGNE

Troyes is a small city, the préfecture (capital) of the northeastern Aube département in France and is located on the Seine river. It is around 150 km (93 mi) south-east of Paris. Troyes has been in existence since the Roman era, as Augustobona Tricassium, which stood at the hub of numerous highways, primarily the Via Agrippa which led north to Reims and south to Langres and eventually to Milan;[1] other Roman routes from Troyes led to Poitiers, Autun and Orléans.[2] It was the civitas of the Tricasses,[3] who had been separated by Augustus from the Senones. Of the Gallo-Roman city of the early Empire, some scattered remains have been found, but no public monuments, other than traces of an aqueduct. By the Late Empire the settlement was reduced in extent, and referred to as Tricassium or Tricassae, the origin of French Troyes ("three").  In the twelfth century, the strategic location of the town led to its development of huge trade fairs with visitors from all regions of Europe meeting with merchants from south of the Alps representing the great city-states of Italy. Troyes was at the center of an exploding new trade web in which valuable merchandise traveled from Asia to Turkey and then west in Italian ships to Venice, Pisa, Genoa and other Italian ports.  Then the merchandise was carried on land over the Alps to France, then north and then finally to Troyes where the Italians would meet their northern European buyers.  For about 100 years, the great Champagne trade fairs turned the small city of Troyes into one of the great active centers of northern Europe.

Presiding over this great cultural scene was the glamourous brilliant Marie, Countess of Champagne.  Marie is now seen as one of the most important patrons of the new Courtly Love.  She moved among some of the most brilliant and powerful people of her age. Her mother was Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Her father was Louis VII, King of France.  her close friend was the greatest writer of Courtly Love literature, Chretien de Troyes.  We will read some of Marie's own poetry and discuss this fascinating culture.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BOOK

Chrétien de Troyes,

Arthurian Romances,

William W. Kibler (Translator), Carleton W. Carroll (Translator),

Penguin Classics,

ISBN 0140445218

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