What’s the French version of an Irish wake? Next year, I hope to go to the 14 juillet party at the de la Rochefoucaulds to find out. From the Irish Times, a Bastille Day report on Pierre-Louis, the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, whose ancestors lost their heads in the Revolution — in particular, a bishop, his namesake, who was martyred at the Carmelite church in Paris:
There are fewer and fewer practising Catholics in France, the duke admits. “If you go into a church, you see people like me.
Chivalry was the basis of the old nobility, and the Catholic faith is the basis of chivalry. Throughout Europe there are families like ours. I especially admire the Habsburgs. They’re the most fervent, almost mystics.”
The duke is “not at ease” in street demonstrations, but he nonetheless marched twice last winter, against the law that legalised same-sex marriage. The demonstrators were “happy and sympathiques, but I was horrified by the behaviour of the police”.
The socialist education minister Vincent Peillon holds a doctorate in philosophy, and published a book, The French revolution is not over, in 2008. Peillon is a bugbear of religious conservatives, who accuse him of wanting to abolish gender differences and impose his “atheist ideology”.
The duke sees the present government as modern-day Jacobins. “Peillon says ‘we’ when he talks about the revolution. He believes that as long as the Catholic Church exists ‘we’ will not have won entirely,” he explains.
God bless the Duke. More:
Unlike the British aristocracy, French nobles have largely shunned commerce – and marriage outside their milieu. “The Anglo-Saxon expression, ‘to make money’ – I find it horrible, horrible. And I am not alone.”
He particularly objects to fortunes amassed in finance, because it produces nothing real – probably the only sentiment he shares with president François Hollande.
I can’t figure out what I think about these last two paragraphs. As a middle-class Anglo-Saxon vulgarian and republican, I don’t agree with the idea that making money is trashy — that’s typical aristocratic snobbery — but I am somewhat sympathetic with the second, even though implicated thoroughly in it. Anyway, if the choice is between the Duc and M. Peillon, I’m with Citizen Pierre-Louis.