Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday, September 2, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: reverence, Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8, Mark 7:1-8.14-15.21-23, Martyrs of September 1792 French Revolution, Arles France

Sunday, September 2, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: 
reverence, Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8, Mark 7:1-8.14-15.21-23, Martyrs of September 1792 French Revolution\, Arles France

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Today's Word:  reverence   rev·er·ence  [rev-er-uhns]

Origin:  1250–1300; Middle English  < Latin reverentia  respect, fear, awe. See revere1 , -ence

noun, verb, rev·er·enced, rev·er·enc·ing.
1. a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe; veneration.
2. the outward manifestation of this feeling: to pay reverence.
3. a gesture indicative of deep respect; an obeisance, bow, or curtsy.
4. the state of being revered.
5. ( initial capital letter ) a title used in addressing or mentioning a member of the clergy (usually preceded by your  or his ). 
verb (used with object)
6. to regard or treat with reverence; venerate: One should reverence God and His laws.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8

1 'And now, Israel, listen to the laws and customs which I am teaching you today, so that, by observing them, you may survive to enter and take possession of the country which Yahweh, God of your ancestors, is giving you.
2 You must add nothing to what I command you, and take nothing from it, but keep the commandments of Yahweh your God just as I lay them down for you.
6 Keep them, put them into practice, and other peoples will admire your wisdom and prudence. Once they know what all these laws are, they will exclaim, "No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation!"
7 And indeed, what great nation has its gods as near as Yahweh our God is to us whenever we call to him?
8 And what great nation has laws and customs as upright as the entirety of this Law which I am laying down for you today?


Today's Gospel Reading - Mark 7:1-8.14-15.21-23

What is pure and what is impure
Jesus fulfils peoples’ desires: to live in peace with God
Mark 7:1-8.14-15.21-23

The Gospel of the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time describes the religious customs of Jesus’ time, speaks of the Pharisees who taught the people these practices and customs and of Jesus’ teaching concerning this matter. Many of these practices and customs had lost their meaning and made peoples’ lives difficult. The Pharisees saw sin in everything and threatened with punishment in hell! For instance, to eat without washing one’s hands was considered a sin. But these practices and customs continued to be passed down and taught from fear or from superstition. Do you know of any present religious practice that has lost its meaning but which is still being taught? In our reading of the text we shall try to look at Jesus’ attitude concerning what he says about the Pharisees and what he teaches concerning the religious practices taught by the Pharisees.

The text of this Sunday’s liturgy presents some verses and leaves out other verses to shorten the text and make it more understandable. For the sake of completeness, we use the whole text and offer comments also on the verses omitted from the liturgy. The parts omitted in the liturgy are in italics.

A division of the text to help with the reading:

Mark 7:1-2: The attack of the Pharisees and the freedom of the disciples
Mark 7:3-4: Mark’s explanation of the Tradition of the Elders
Mark 7:5: The Scribes and Pharisees criticise the behaviour of the disciples of Jesus
Mark 7:6-8: Jesus’ strong reply concerning the incoherence of the Pharisees
Mark 7:9-13: A concrete example of how the Pharisees empty God’s commandment of any meaning
Mark 7:14-16: Jesus’ explanation to the people: a new way to God
Mark 7:17-23: Jesus’ explanation to his disciples

The Gospel: Mark 7,1-8.14-15.21-23

1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round him, 2 and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. 3 For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, keep the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; 4 and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them to keep, concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. 5 So the Pharisees and scribes asked him, 'Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?' 6 He answered, 'How rightly Isaiah prophesied about you hypocrites in the passage of scripture: This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. 7 Their reverence of me is worthless; the lessons they teach are nothing but human commandments. 8 You put aside the commandment of God to observe human traditions.'

9 And he said to them, 'How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God in order to preserve your own tradition! 10 For Moses said: Honour your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. 11 But you say, "If a man says to his father or mother: Anything I have that I might have used to help you is Korban (that is, dedicated to God)," 12 then he is forbidden from that moment to do anything for his father or mother. 13 In this way you make God's word ineffective for the sake of your tradition which you have handed down. And you do many other things like this.' 14 He called the people to him again and said, 'Listen to me, all of you, and understand. 15 Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean; it is the things that come out of someone that make that person unclean. 16 Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!' 17 When he had gone into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. 18 He said to them, 'Even you -- don't you understand? Can't you see that nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean, 19 because it goes not into the heart but into the stomach and passes into the sewer?' (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.) 20 And he went on, 'It is what comes out of someone that makes that person unclean. 21 For it is from within, from the heart, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, 22 adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23 All these evil things come from within and make a person unclean.'

A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

Some questions to help us in our personal reflection:

a) What pleased or touched you most in this text? Why?
b) According to the text, what were the practices that the Pharisees taught the people? In what does Jesus criticise the Pharisees?
c) In this text, what is the new way that Jesus shows the people to reach God?
d) In the name of the “tradition of the elders” they do not observe the Commandment of God. Does this happen today? Where? When?
e) The Pharisees were practising Jews, but their faith was divorced from the lives of the people. Jesus criticises them for this. Would Jesus criticise us today? Why?

a) The context of then and of today:
i) In this lectio let us take a close look at Jesus’ attitude concerning the question of purity. Mark had already mentioned this matter. In Mk 1:23-28, Jesus drives an impure devil away. In Mk 1:40-45, he heals a leper. In Mk 5:25-34, he heals a woman considered impure. On many other occasions, Jesus touches those physically sick without fear of becoming impure. Here, in chapter 7, Jesus helps people and his disciples to deepen the idea of purity and the laws on purity.

ii) For centuries, for the Jews not to contract impurity, contact with pagans and eating with them was forbidden. In the 70’s, when Mark was writing his Gospel, some converted Jews said: “Now that we are Christians we must leave behind old practices that keep us apart from converted pagans!” But other converted Jews thought they had to continue to observe the laws concerning purity. Jesus’ attitude, as described in today’s Gospel, helps to overcome this problem.

b) A commentary on the text:
Mark 7:1-2: The control of the Pharisees and the freedom of the disciples
The Pharisees and some Scribes who were in Jerusalem, watch Jesus’ disciples eating bread with impure hands. There are three points worth noting: (i) The Scribes are from Jerusalem, the capital! This means that they had come to observe and control Jesus’ steps. (ii) The disciples do not wash their hands before eating! This means that their living with Jesus gives them the courage to transgress the norms imposed by tradition and that they had a feeling for life. (iii) The practice of washing hands, which to this day is an important hygienic matter, had acquired a religious meaning that served to control and discriminate against persons.
Mark 7:3-4: Mark’s explanation concerning the tradition of the elders 

“The tradition of the elders” passed on the norms to be observed by people so as to achieve the purity required by law. The observance of purity was considered a very serious matter. They thought that an impure person could not receive the blessing promised by God to Abraham. The norms concerning purity were taught in such a way that when people observed them, they could follow the road to God, source of peace. However, rather than being a source of peace, these norms were chains, a form of slavery. It was practically impossible for the poor to observe these norms and laws. Thus, the poor were despised and considered ignorant and cursed people who did not know the law (Jn 7:49).

Mark 7:5: The Scribes and Pharisees criticise the behaviour of Jesus’ disciples
The Scribes and Pharisees ask Jesus: Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands? They pretend to be interested in knowing the reason for the behaviour of the disciples. In fact, they are criticising Jesus for allowing his disciples to transgress the norms concerning purity. The scribes and doctors of the law were the guardians of doctrine. They dedicated their lives to the study of the Law of God and taught people how to observe completely the Law of God, especially the norms concerning purity. The Pharisees were a kind of fraternity, whose main preoccupation was to observe all the laws concerning purity. The word Pharisee means set apart. They endeavoured so that, by the perfect observance of the laws concerning purity, people would become pure, set apart and holy as the Laws of the Tradition required! Because of the exemplary witness of their lives in following the laws of the times, they wielded great authority in the villages of Galilee.

Mark 7:6-8: Jesus’ strong reply concerning the Pharisees’ lack of coherence
Jesus replies quoting Isaiah: This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. Their reverence of me is worthless; the lessons they teach are nothing but human commandments. You put aside the commandment of God to observe human traditions (Is 29:13). Because, by insisting on the norms concerning purity, the Pharisees had emptied the commandments of the law of God of all coherence. Jesus immediately gives a concrete example of how they render the commandment of God insignificant.

Mark 7:9-13: A concrete example of how the Pharisees render the commandment of God incoherent
The “tradition of the elders” taught: a son who dedicates his possessions to the Temple, may not use these possessions to help his parents in need. Thus, in the name of tradition, they rendered incoherent the fourth commandment to love father and mother. There still are such people today. They seem to be observant, but only externally. Internally, their heart is far from God! As one of our hymns says: “His name is Jesus Christ and he is hungry, he lives by the side of the road. And when people see him, they move on to get to church quickly!” In Jesus’ days, people, in their wisdom, did not agree with all that they were taught. They hoped that one day the Messiah would come to show them some other way to be pure. This hope comes to pass in Jesus.

Mark 7:14-16: Jesus explains to the people: a new way to reach God
Jesus says to the crowd: “Nothing that goes into someone from outside can make that person unclean!” (Mk 7:15). Jesus reverses things: that which is impure does not come from the outside to the inside, as the doctors of the law taught, but from the inside to the outside. Thus, no one need ask any more whether this food or this drink is pure or not. Jesus places the question of purity and impurity on a higher level, on the level of ethical behaviour. He shows a way to God and, thus, fulfils the deepest desire of the crowd. Jesus ends his explanation with an expression that he likes to use: Anyone who has ears for listening should listen! Or: “That’s it! You have heard me! Now try to understand!” In other words, use your heads and common sense and look at things through your experience of life.

Mark 7:17-23: Jesus’ explanation to his disciples
The disciples did not understand what Jesus meant. When they went home they asked him for an explanation. Jesus was astounded. He thought that they had understood. In his explanation he goes deep into the question concerning purity. He declares all food pure! No food that goes into a human being from the outside can make him impure, because it does not enter the heart but only the stomach and then goes into the sewer. That which makes a person impure, says Jesus, is what comes from the inside, from the heart, and that poisons human relationships. Then he mentions: “fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly”. Thus, in many ways, by means of word, action or living together, Jesus helped people to be pure. By means of the word, he healed lepers (Mk 1:40-44), drove out impure spirits (Mk 1:26.39; 3:15.22 etc) and overcame death, source of all impurity. By means of action, the woman excluded and considered impure is healed (Mk 5:25-34). By means of living with Jesus, the disciples have the courage to imitate Jesus who, without any fear of contamination, ate with people who were considered impure (Mk 2:15-17).

Further information: The laws concerning purity and impurity in Jesus’ days
The people then were greatly concerned with purity. The norms concerning purity pointed to the necessary conditions for coming into the presence of God and for feeling right before him. One could not go before God in any old way. Because God is Holy! The Law said: “Be holy, for I, Yahweh your God, am holy!” (Lv 19:2). Anyone who was not pure could not appear before God to receive the blessing promised to Abraham.

For us to understand the seriousness of these laws concerning purity, we may remember what used to happen in our Church fifty years ago. Before the Second Vatican Council, to go to communion in the morning, people had to fast from midnight. Anyone who went to communion without fasting committed a mortal sin called sacrilege. We thought that a little food or drink made us impure to receive the consecrated host.

In Jesus’ times too there were many matters and activities that made a person impure and therefore not possible to come before God: touching a leper, eating with a publican, eating without washing one’s hands, touching blood or a dead body and many other things. All these things made a person impure, and any contact with that person contaminated others. That is why “impure” people had to be avoided. People lived apart, always threatened by so many impure things that threatened their lives. All were afraid of everyone and everything.

Now, with the coming of Jesus, suddenly everything changes! By believing in Jesus, it was possible to achieve purity and feel good before God without having to observe all the laws and norms of the “tradition of the elders”. It was a real and personal liberation! The Good News proclaimed by Jesus released people from a defensive attitude and restored to them the taste for life, the joy of being children of God, without fear of being happy.

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day: Martyrs of September 1792, French Revolution

Feast Day:  September 2
Patron Saint: n/a

A group of 190 martyrs who were massacred on September 2 and 3, 1792 during the French Revolution. The most prominent martyrs of this group were John Mary du Lau, the archbishop of Arles; Francis de la Rochefoucauld, bishop of Beauvais; Louis de la Rochefoucauld, bishop of Saintes; Benedictine Augustine Chevreux, last su­perior general of the Maurists; Charles de la Calmette, the count of Valfons; Julian Massey: Louis de la Touche; and Carmes. One hundred twenty were martyred at the Carmelite Church on the rue de Rennes in Paris. They were all beatified in 1926.


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Today's Snippet :  September Massacres 

The September Massacres were a wave of mob violence which overtook Paris in late summer 1792, during the French Revolution. By the time it had subsided, half the prison population of Paris had been executed: some 1,200 trapped prisoners, including many women and young boys. Sporadic violence, in particular against the Roman Catholic Church, would continue throughout France for nearly a decade to come.
The political situation in Paris on the eve of the September Massacres was dire. No individual or organized body could truly claim exclusive sovereignty. The monarchy and short-lived Constitution of 1791 had been overthrown with the bloody journée of 10 August 1792, in which the Tuileries Palace was stormed by the mob and the royal family fled for their lives. The Legislative Assembly remained impotent after a large number of its deputies fled, and its successor, the National Convention, had not yet met. To further complicate the political landscape, the insurrectionary Paris commune established on 9 August 1792 incorporated some of the most radical revolutionary elements, including the sans-culottes, and briefly contended for the role of de facto government of France. Lacking a sovereign power, the Parisians let fear, hatred, and prejudice became the seeds of the September Massacres.

The night before the assault on the Tuileries on 10 August 1792, an insurrection planned by the Jacobins overthrew the current Paris Commune headed by Pétion and proclaimed a new revolutionary Commune headed by transitional authorities. While insurrectionists stormed the Tuileries Palace, King Louis XVI fled with the royal family, and his authority as King was suspended by the Legislative Assembly; a de facto executive was named, but the actual power of decision-making rested with the revolutionary Commune, whose strength resided in the mobilized sans-culottes, the vast majority of Paris' fairly poor population. Supported by a new armed force (the 48 sections of Paris were fully equipped with munitions from the plundered arsenals in the days before the Assault of the Tuileries, substituting for the 60 National Guard battalions) the Commune and its sans-culottes took control of the city and dominated the Legislative Assembly and its decisions. For some weeks the Commune functioned as the actual government of France.

The Commune took major steps towards democratizing  the Revolution: the adoption of universal suffrage, the arming of the civilian population, absolute abolition of all remnants of noble privileges, the selling of the properties of the émigrés. These events meant a change of direction from the political and constitutional perspective of the Girondists to a more social approach given by the Commune, as Cambon declared on 27 August:
To reject with more efficacy the defenders of despotism, we have to address the fortunes of the poor, we have to associate the Revolution with this multitude that possess nothing, we have to convert the people to the cause.
Besides these measures, the Commune engaged in a policy of political repression of all suspected counter-revolutionary activities. Beginning on 11 August, every Paris section named its committee of vigilance. Mostly these decentralized committees, rather than the Commune, brought about the repression of August and September 1792. From 15 to 25 August, around 500 detentions were registered. Half the detentions were made against non-jure priests, but even jure priests were caught in the wave. In Paris, all residual monasteries were closed and the rest of the religious orders were dissolved by the law of 15 August.

Invasion by the Duke of Brunswick

On 2 September, news reached Paris that the Duke of Brunswick, Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand's Prussian army had invaded France (19 August), and with the invasion the fortress of Verdun had quickly fallen, and that the Prussians were advancing quickly toward the capital. On 25 July, Brunswick had issued the"Brunswick Manifesto" from Coblenz his avowed aim was
"to put an end to the anarchy in the interior of France, to check the attacks upon the throne and the altar, to reestablish the legal power, to restore to the king the security and the liberty of which he is now deprived and to place him in a position to exercise once more the legitimate authority which belongs to him."
Additionally, the Manifesto threatened the French population with instant punishment should it resist the Imperial and Prussian armies, or the reinstatement of the monarchy. Such information fueled this first wave of mob hysteria of the Revolution. By the end of August, rumours circulated that many in Paris – such as non-juring priests – who secretly opposed the Revolution, would support the First Coalition of foreign powers allied against it. Furthermore, Paris lacked extensive food stocks.

War of the First Coalition

The War of the First Coalition (1792–1797) was the first major effort of multiple European monarchies to contain Revolutionary France. France declared war on the Habsburg monarchy of Austria on 20 April 1792, and the Kingdom of Prussia joined the Austrian side a few weeks later.

These powers initiated a series of invasions of France by land and sea, with Prussia and Austria attacking from the Austrian Netherlands and the Rhine, and Great Britain supporting revolts in provincial France and laying siege to Toulon. France suffered reverses (Battle of Neerwinden, 18 March 1793) and internal strife (Revolt in the Vendée), and responded with extreme measures: the Committee of Public Safety formed (6 April 1793) and the levée en masse drafted all potential soldiers aged 18 to 25 (August 1793). The new French armies counter-attacked, repelled the invaders, and moved beyond France. French arms established the Batavian Republic as a satellite state (May 1795) and gained the Prussian Rhineland by the first Treaty of Basel. With the Treaty of Campo Formio, the Holy Roman Empire ceded the Austrian Netherlands to France and Northern Italy was turned into several French "Sister Republics". Spain made a separate peace accord with France (second Treaty of Basel) and the French Directory carried out plans to conquer more of Germany and northern Italy (1795).

North of the Alps, Archduke Charles of Austria redressed the situation in 1796, but Napoleon carried all before him against Sardinia and Austria in northern Italy (1796–1797) near the Po Valley, culminating in the peace of Leoben and the Treaty of Campo Formio (October 1797). The First Coalition collapsed, leaving only Britain in the field fighting against France.

Revolutionary violence in France

As early as 1791, the other monarchies of Europe watched with alarm the developments in France, and considered whether they should intervene, either in support of Louis XVI or to take advantage of the chaos in France. The key figure was Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, brother to the French Queen Marie Antoinette, who had initially looked on the Revolution with equanimity, but became more and more disturbed as the Revolution became more radical, although he still hoped to avoid war. On 27 August, Leopold and King Frederick William II of Prussia, in consultation with emigrant French nobles, issued the Declaration of Pilnitz, which declared the interest of the monarchs of Europe in the well-being of Louis and his family, and threatened vague but severe consequences if anything should befall them. Although Leopold saw the Pillnitz Declaration as a way of taking action that would enable him to avoid actually doing anything about France, at least for the moment, it was seen in France as a serious threat and was denounced by the revolutionary leaders.

In addition to the ideological differences between France and the monarchical powers of Europe, there were continuing disputes over the status of Imperial estates in Alsace, and the French were becoming concerned about the agitation of emigré nobles abroad, especially in the Austrian Netherlands and the minor states of Germany. In the end, France declared war on Austria first, with the Assembly voting for war on 20 April 1792, after the presentation of a long list of grievances by foreign minister Dumouriez.

Early setbacks for France

Dumouriez prepared an immediate invasion of the Austrian Netherlands, where he expected the local population to rise against Austrian rule. However, the revolution had thoroughly disorganized the army, and the forces raised were insufficient for the invasion. The soldiers fled at the first sign of battle, deserting en masse and in one case, murdering Théobald Dillon their general.

While the revolutionary government frantically raised fresh troops and reorganized its armies, an allied army under Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick assembled at Koblenz on the Rhine. In July the invasion commenced with Brunswick's army, which was composed mostly of Prussian veterans. Brunswick was able to take the fortresses of Longwy and Verdun. The Duke then issued a deceleration on 25 July, which had been written by the brothers of Louis XVI, that declared his [Brunswick's] intent to restore the King to his full powers and to treat any person or town who opposed them as rebels to be condemned to death by martial-law. This motivated the revolutionary army and government to oppose them by any means necessary, and led almost immediately to the overthrow of the King by a crowd which stormed the Tuileries Palace.

September Massacres

When news that Brunswick had captured Verdun reached the Convention, they ordered the tocsin rung and alarm guns fired, which, without a doubt, added to the sense of panic. An army of 60,000 was to be enlisted at the Champ de Mars, the British ambassador reported:
A party at the instigation of some one or other declared they would not quit Paris, as long as the prisons were filled with Traitors (for they called those so, that were confined in the different Prisons and Churches), who might in the absence of such a number of Citizens rise and not only effect the release of His Majesty, but make an entire counterrevolution.
The first instance of massacre occurred when 24 non-juring priests were being transported to the prison of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, which had become a national prison of the revolutionary government. They were attacked by a mob that quickly killed them all as they were trying to escape into the prison, then mutilated the bodies, "with circumstances of barbarity too shocking to describe" according to the British diplomatic dispatch. Of 284 prisoners, 135 were killed, 27 were transferred, 86 were set free, and 36 had uncertain fates. In the afternoon of 2 September 150 priests in the convent of Carmelites were massacred, mostly by sans-culottes. On 3 and 4 September, groups broke into other Paris prisons, where they murdered the prisoners, who, some feared, were counter-revolutionaries who would aid the invading Prussians. From 2 to 7 September, summary trials took place in all Paris prisons. Almost 1,400 prisoners were condemned and executed, in truth half the detained persons from the previous days. Among the victims were more than 200 priests, almost 100 Swiss guards and many political prisoners and aristocrats.

Religious personalities also figured prominently among the victims: the massacres occurred during a time of great and rising resentment against the Roman Catholic Church, which eventually led to the temporary dechristianisation of France. Over a 48-hour period beginning on 2 September 1792, as the Legislative Assembly (successor to the National Constituent Assembly) dissolved into chaos, angry mobs massacred 3 bishops, including the Archbishop of Arles, and more than 200 priests.

Restif de la Bretonne saw the bodies piled high in front of the Châtelet and witnessed atrocities that he recorded in Les Nuits de Paris (1793).

Campaigns of 1793 in the French Revolutionary Wars

The French Revolutionary Wars continued from 1792, with new powers entering the First Coalition after the execution of King Louis XVI. Spain and Portugal entered the coalition in January 1793, and on 1 February France declared war on Great Britain and the Netherlands.

At the opening of the year, Dumouriez chose to ignore orders from the government in Paris to defend Belgium and instead began an invasion of the Netherlands, hoping to overthrow the stadtholder and establish a popular republic backed by France. In the event, he took Breda in Brabant and prepared to cross into Holland and capture Dordrecht. However, the armies remaining in Belgium suffered a number of defeats, with the Austrians winning battles at Aix-la-Chapelle and Liège and raising Miranda's siege of Maastricht. Dumouriez was forced by his superiors to return to Belgium and take command in the Flanders Campaign.

After a defeat at Neerwinden, Dumouriez had to retreat from Belgium. He then made an agreement with the Austrians to hand over to them several border fortresses in return for a truce where he could march on Paris and restore the monarchy under the Constitution of 1791. However, he was unable to secure the loyalty of his troops, and he defected to the Austrian lines rather than face arrest by the Jacobins.

At the same time, the increasing power of radicals in Paris incited revolt in the provinces, with the people of Lyon and Marseille rebelling and the Vendée raising an army to attack the central government and open communications with Britain. Spanish armies crossed the Pyrenees, Sardinian armies the Alps, and Austrian armies occupied Valenciennes and forced the northern armies back on Paris. Britain ordered a naval blockade of France on 31 May.

The revolutionary government prepared a full mobilization of the nation (see Levée en masse), showing no mercy to internal or external enemies. According to Mignet's History of the French Revolution, "The republic had very soon fourteen armies, and twelve hundred thousand soldiers. France, while it became a camp and a workshop for the republicans, became at the same time a prison for those who did not accept the republic." They proceeded to suppress Caen, Lyon, and Marseille, although the counter-revolutionary forces turned Toulon over to Britain and Spain on 29 August, resulting in the capture of much of the French navy, and Toulon was not retaken by Dugommier (with the assistance of the young Napoleon Bonaparte) until 19 December.

In September, Houchard defeated the Duke of York at Hondschoote, forcing him to abandon the siege of Dunkirk. In October Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, taking over the northern armies, won the Battle of Wattignies and returned to the offensive, but did not make major gains before the winter.

In the Pyrenees, the French armies ended the year on a defensive posture near the border, while on the Alpine frontier, a French invasion of Piedmont failed.

Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés

The Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, just beyond the outskirts of early medieval Paris, was the burial place of Merovingian kings of Neustria. At that time, the Left Bank of Paris was prone to flooding from the Seine, so much of the land could not be built upon and the Abbey stood in the middle of fields, or prés in French, thereby explaining its appellation.

The Abbey was founded in the 6th century by the son of Clovis I, Childebert I (ruled 511–558). Under royal patronage the Abbey became one of the richest in France; it housed an important scriptorium in the eleventh century and remained a center of intellectual life in the French Catholic church until it was disbanded during the French Revolution. An explosion of saltpetre in storage levelled the Abbey and its cloisters, the statues in the portal were removed (illustration) and some destroyed, and in a fire in 1794 the library vanished in smoke. The abbey church remains as the Église de Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris.

In 542, while making war in Spain, Childebert raised his siege of Zaragoza when he heard that the inhabitants had placed themselves under the protection of the martyr Saint Vincent. In gratitude the bishop of Zaragoza presented him with the saint's stole. When Childebert returned to Paris, he caused a church to be erected to house the relic, dedicated to the Holy Cross and Saint Vincent, placed where he could see it across the fields from the royal palace on the Île de la Cité.

In 558, St. Vincent's church was completed and dedicated by Germain, Bishop of Paris on 23 December; on the very same day, Childebert died. Close by the church a monastery was erected. Its abbots had both spiritual and temporal jurisdiction over the suburbs of Saint-Germain (lasting till about the year 1670). The church was frequently plundered and set on fire by the Normans in the ninth century. It was rebuilt in 1014 and rededicated in 1163 by Pope Alexander III to Saint Germain of Paris, the canonized Bishop of Paris and Childeric's chief counsellor. The great wall of Paris subsequently built during the reign of Philip II of France did not encompass the abbey, leaving the residents to fend for themselves. This also had the effect of splitting the Abbey's holdings into two. A new refectory was built for the monastery by Peter of Montereau in around 1239 - he was later the architect of the Sainte-Chapelle.

The abbey church's west end tower was pierced by a portal, completed in the twelfth century, which collapsed in 1604 and was replaced in 1606 by the present classicising portal, by Marcel Le Roy. Its choir, with its apsidal east end, provides an early example of flying buttresses.

It gave its name to the quarter of Saint-Germain-des-Prés that developed around the abbey. This area is also part of the Latin Quarter, because the Abbey donated some of its lands along the Seine—the Pré aux Clercs ("fields of the scholars") for the erection of buildings to house the University of Paris, where Latin was the lingua franca among students who arrived from all over Europe and shared no other language.

Until the late 17th century, the Abbey owned most of the land in the Left Bank west of the current Boulevard Saint-Michel and had administrative autonomy in it, most clearly for the part outside the walls of Paris.
Louis-César de Bourbon, son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, was an abbot here.

In the 17th century the district of Saint-Germain was among the most desirable on the Left Bank. Marguerite de Valois pressured the abbot to donate abbey land to her, too. She built a palace on it, and set a fashionable tone for the area that lasted until the Saint-Honoré district north of the Champs-Élysées eclipsed it in the early eighteenth century. Her palace was located at the current numbers 2-10 rue de Seine. The gardens of the estate extended west to the current rue Bellechasse.  The tomb of philosopher René Descartes is located in one of the church's side chapels.

Grand Châtelet

The Grand Châtelet was a stronghold in Ancien Régime Paris, on the right bank of the Seine, on the site of what is now the Place du Châtelet; it contained a court and police headquarters and a number of prisons.

The original building on the site may have been a wooden tower constructed by Charles the Bald in 870 to defend the then new Grand-Pont bridge (now replaced by the Pont au Change), but it is known that Louis VI built a stronger structure in stone, a châtelet ('small castle'), in 1130; it was called the Grand Châtelet in contrast to the Petit Châtelet built around the same time at the end of the Petit Pont, on the south bank of the Seine. It lost its defensive purpose in 1190 when Philip Augustus built a rampart around the perimeter of the city; from then on it served as the headquarters of the prévôt de Paris, the official "charged with protection of royal rights, oversight of royal administration, and execution of royal justice" in late medieval Paris. The court of the Châtelet was always subordinate to the Parlement de Paris, but it had extensive criminal and civil jurisdiction, and treason cases were frequently tried there. For centuries, the magistrates of the Châtelet clashed with those of the Hôtel de Ville over jurisdiction.

The Châtelet was rebuilt by Charles V, but by 1460 it had fallen into such disrepair that the sittings of the court were held at the Louvre, not returning until 1506; in 1657 the court was once again forced to move temporarily, this time to the convent of the Grands Augustins on the Rue Dauphine. In 1684 the structure was almost completely rebuilt by Louis XIV, taking on the form that it had until it was demolished after the Revolution. "The roadway which passed under the Chatelet (in effect the continuation of the Rue Saint-Denis) set apart the municipal prison on the eastern side of the structure from the various magisterial chambers to the west." Under the western side lay the city morgue; the prisons on the eastern side increased in number from nine to twenty over the years, ranging from dormitories where prisoners lived "à la pistole," that is with beds, to those called "au secret," ranging from a huge hall with straw mats to subterranean dungeons.
Like all edifices in the Old Regime connected with the administration of justice, the Chatelet enjoyed a very sinister reputation, even worse than the storied Bastille. Relatively few Parisians of common stock were ever able to claim the dubious distinction that a relative or friend languished in the dungeons of the Bastille; many more could make the claim for the dank chambers of the Châtelet, inherently far more fearsome than the dry and relatively comfortable prison a mile to the east.
Among the famous prisoners who spent time in the Châtelet were Clément Marot, who composed his Enfer there; the famous highwayman Cartouche; the poisoner Antoine-François Desrues (1744-1777); and the marquis de Favras. The area around the Châtelet was physically unpleasant as well, due to the smell of drying blood from nearby slaughterhouses and "the effluent of the great sewers that oozed into the Seine between the Pont Notre-Dame and the Pont-au-Change." In 1790, with the abolition of the office of prévôt de Paris, the Châtelet lost its function, and as part of the general refurbishment of the area it was demolished between 1802 and 1810 and the Place du Châtelet created at the north end of the bridge.

Further reading

  • Dickens, Charles, A Tale of Two Cities, Holt Rinehart and Winston, Austin, 1859.
  • Hibbert, Christopher, The Days of the French Revolution, William Morrow, New York, 1980.
  • Schama, Simon, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1992.
  • Hannay, David (1911). "French Revolutionary Wars". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Holland, Arthur William (1911). "French Revolution, The". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.


Today's Geo Snippet : Arles, France

Arles, France
Arles (French pronunciation: [aʁl]; Occitan: Arle [ˈaʀle] in both classical and Mistralian norms; Arelate in ancient Latin) is a city and commune in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence.

A large part of the Camargue is located on the territory of the commune, making it the largest commune in Metropolitan France in terms of territory (though Maripasoula, French Guiana is much larger). The city has a long history, and was of considerable importance in the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis. The Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1981. The Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles in 1888–1889 and produced over 300 paintings and drawings during his time there. An international photography festival has been held in the city since 1970.


The Rhône river forks into two branches just upstream of Arles, forming the Camargue delta. Because the Camargue is for a large part administratively part of Arles, the commune as a whole is the largest commune in Metropolitan France in terms of territory, although its population is only slightly more than 50,000. Its area is 758.93 km2 (293.02 sq mi), which is more than seven times the area of Paris.


Ancient era

Ancient ruins of Arles
The Ligurians were in this area from about 800 BC. Later Celtic influences have been discovered. The city became an important Phoenician trading port, before being taken by the Romans. The Romans took the town in 123 BC and expanded it into an important city, with a canal link to the Mediterranean Sea being constructed in 104 BC. However, it struggled to escape the shadow of Massalia (Marseilles) further along the coast. Its chance came when it sided with Julius Caesar against Pompey, providing military support. Massalia backed Pompey; when Caesar emerged victorious, Massalia was stripped of its possessions, which were transferred to Arelate as a reward. The town was formally established as a colony for veterans of the Roman legion Legio VI Ferrata, which had its base there. Its full title as a colony was Colonia Iulia Paterna Arelatensium Sextanorum, "the ancestral Julian colony of Arles of the soldiers of the Sixth."

Arelate was a city of considerable importance in the province of Gallia Narbonensis. It covered an area of some 99 acres (400,000 m²) and possessed a number of monuments, including an amphitheatre, triumphal arch, Roman circus, theatre, and a full circuit of walls. Ancient Arles was closer to the sea than it is now and served as a major port. It also had (and still has) the southernmost bridge on the Rhone. Very unusually, the Roman bridge was not fixed but consisted of a pontoon-style bridge of boats, with towers and drawbridges at each end. The boats were secured in place by anchors and were tethered to twin towers built just upstream of the bridge. This unusual design was a way of coping with the river's frequent violent floods, which would have made short work of a conventional bridge. Nothing now remains of the Roman bridge, which has been replaced by a more modern bridge near the same spot. The city reached a peak of influence during the 4th and 5th centuries, when Roman Emperors frequently used it as their headquarters during military campaigns. In 395 it became the seat of the Praetorian Prefecture of the Gauls, governing the western part of the Western Empire: Gaul proper plus Hispania (Spain) and Armorica (Brittany). It became a favorite city of Emperor Constantine I, who built baths there, substantial remains of which are still standing. His son, Constantine II, was born in Arles. Usurper Constantine III declared himself emperor in the West (407–411) and made Arles his capital in 408.

Arles became renowned as a cultural and religious centre during the late Roman Empire. It was the birthplace of the sceptical philosopher Favorinus. It was also a key location for Roman Christianity and an important base for the Christianization of Gaul. The city's bishopric was held by a series of outstanding clerics, beginning with Saint Trophimus around 225 and continuing with Saint Honoré, then Saint Hilary in the first half of the 5th century. The political tension between the Catholic bishops of Arles and the Visigothic kings is epitomized in the career of the Frankish St Caesarius, bishop of Arles 503–542, who was suspected by the Arian Visigoth Alaric II of conspiring with the Burgundians to turn over the Arelate to Burgundy, and was exiled for a year to Bordeaux in Aquitaine, and again in 512 when Arles held out against Theodoric the Great, Caesarius was imprisoned and sent to Ravenna to explain his actions before the Ostrogothic king. The friction between the Arian Christianity of the Visigoths and the Catholicism of the bishops sent out from Rome established deep roots for religious heterodoxy, even heresy, in Occitan culture. At Treves in 385, Priscillian achieved the distinction of becoming the first Christian burned alive for heresy (Manichaean in his case, see also Cathars, Camisards). Despite this tension and the city's decline in the face of barbarian invasions, Arles remained a great religious centre and host of church councils (see Council of Arles), the rival of Vienne, for hundreds of years.

Roman aqueduct and mill

Barbegal aqueduct
The Barbegal aqueduct and mill is a Roman watermill complex located on the territory of the commune of Fontvieille, a few kilometres from Arles. The complex has been referred to as "the greatest known concentration of mechanical power in the ancient world". The remains of the mill streams and buildings which housed the overshot water wheels are still visible at the site, and it is by far the best preserved of ancient mills. There are two aqueducts which join just north of the mill complex, and a sluice which enabled the operators to control the water supply to the complex. The mill consisted of 16 waterwheels in two separate rows built into a steep hillside. There are substantial masonry remains of the water channels and foundations of the individual mills, together with a staircase rising up the hill upon which the mills are built. The mills apparently operated from the end of the 1st century until about the end of the 3rd century. The capacity of the mills has been estimated at 4.5 tons of flour per day, sufficient to supply enough bread for the 6,000 of 30-40,000 inhabitants of Arelate at that time. Another similar mill complex existed also on the Janiculum in Rome. Examination of the mill leat still just visible on one side of the hill shows a substantial accretion of lime in the channel, tending to confirm its long working life.

It is thought that the wheels were overshot water wheels with the outflow from the top driving the next one down and so on, to the base of the hill. Vertical water mills were well known to the Romans, being described by Vitruvius in his De Architectura of 25 BC, and mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia of 77 AD. There are also later references to floating water mills from Byzantium and to sawmills on the river Moselle by the poet Ausonius. The use of multiple stacked sequences of reverse overshot water-wheels was widespread in Roman mines.

Middle Ages

Arles was badly affected by the invasion of Provence by the Muslim Saracens and the Franks, who took control of the region in the 8th century. In 855 it was made the capital of a Frankish Kingdom of Arles, which included Burgundy and part of Provence, but was frequently terrorised by Saracen and Viking raiders. In 888, Rudolph, Count of Auxerre (now in north-western Burgundy), founded the kingdom of Transjuran Burgundy (literally, beyond the Jura mountains), which included western Switzerland as far as the river Reuss, Valais, Geneva, Chablais and Bugey.

In 933, Hugh of Arles ("Hugues de Provence") gave his kingdom up to Rudolph II, who merged the two kingdoms into a new Kingdom of Arles. In 1032, King Rudolph III died, and the Kingdom was inherited by Emperor Conrad II the Salic. Though his successors counted themselves kings of Arles, few went to be crowned in the cathedral. Most of the territory of the Kingdom was progressively incorporated into France. During these troubled times, the amphitheatre was converted into a fortress, with watchtowers built at each of the four quadrants and a minuscule walled town being constructed within. The population was by now only a fraction of what it had been in Roman times, with much of old Arles lying in ruins.

The town regained political and economic prominence in the 12th century, with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa traveling there in 1178 for his coronation. In the 12th century, it became a free city governed by an elected podestat (chief magistrate; literally "power"), who appointed the consuls and other magistrates. It retained this status until the French Revolution of 1789.

Arles joined the countship of Provence in 1239 but suffered its prominence being eclipsed once more by Marseilles. In 1378, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV ceded the remnants of the Kingdom of Arles to the Dauphin of France (later King Charles VI of France) and the Kingdom ceased to exist even on paper.

Modern era

Cafe Terrace at Night by Van Gogh 1888
Arles remained economically important for many years as a major port on the Rhône. The arrival of the railway in the 19th century eventually killed off much of the river trade, leading to the town becoming something of a backwater. This made it an attractive destination for the painter Vincent van Gogh, who arrived there on 21 February 1888. He was fascinated by the Provençal landscapes, producing over 300 paintings and drawings during his time in Arles. Many of his most famous paintings were completed there, including The Night Cafe, the Yellow Room, Starry Night Over the Rhone, and L'Arlésienne. Paul Gauguin visited van Gogh in Arles. However, van Gogh's mental health deteriorated and he became alarmingly eccentric, culminating in the infamous ear-severing incident in December 1888 which resulted in two stays in the Old Hospital of Arles. The concerned Arlesians circulated a petition the following February demanding that van Gogh be confined. In May 1889 he took the hint and left Arles for the Saint-Paul asylum at nearby Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.


In September–October 2007 divers led by Luc Long from the French Department of Subaquatic Archaeological Research, headed by Michel L'Hour, discovered a life-sized marble bust of an apparently important Roman person in the Rhone River near Arles, together with smaller statues of Marsyas in Hellenistic style and of the god Neptune from the third century AD. The larger bust was tentatively dated to 46 BC. Since the bust displayed several characteristics of an ageing person with wrinkles, deep naso-labial creases and hollows in his face, and since the archaeologists believed that Julius Caesar had founded the colony Colonia Iulia Paterna Arelate Sextanorum in 46 BC, the scientists came to the preliminary conclusion that the bust depicted a life-portrait of the Roman dictator: France's Minister of Culture Christine Albanel reported on May 13, 2008, that the bust would be the oldest representation of Caesar known today.[7] The story was picked up by all larger media outlets.[8][9] The realism of the portrait was said to place it in the tradition of late Republican portrait and genre sculptures. The archaeologists further claimed that a bust of Julius Caesar might have been thrown away or discreetly disposed of, because Caesar's portraits could have been viewed as politically dangerous possessions after the dictator's assassination.

Historians and archaeologists not affiliated with the French administration, among them the renowned archaeologist and expert on Caesar and Augustus Paul Zanker, were quick to question whether the bust is a portrait of Caesar.[10][11][12] Many noted the lack of resemblances to Caesar's likenesses issued on coins during the last years of the dictator's life, and to the Tusculum bust of Caesar,[13] which depicts Julius Caesar in his lifetime, either as a so-called zeitgesicht or as a direct portrait. After a further stylistic assessment Zanker dated the Arles-bust to the Augustan period. Elkins argued for the third century AD as the terminus post quem for the deposition of the statues, refuting the claim that the bust was thrown away due to feared repercussions from Caesar's assassination in 44 BC.[14] The main argument by the French archaeologists that Caesar had founded the colony in 46 BC proved to be incorrect, as the colony was founded by Caesar's former quaestor Tiberius Claudius Nero on the dictator's orders in his absence.[15] Mary Beard has accused the persons involved in the find to have willfully invented their claims for publicity reasons. The French ministry of culture has not yet responded to the criticism and negative reviews.

World Heritage Sites

Arles has important remains of Roman times, which have been listed as World Heritage Sites since 1981. They include:
  • The Roman theatre
  • The arena or amphitheatre
  • The Alyscamps (Roman necropolis)
  • The Thermes of Constantine
  • The cryptoporticus
  • Arles Obelisk
  • Barbegal aqueduct and mill
Cloister of Saint Trophimus.

The Church of St. Trophime (Saint Trophimus), formerly a cathedral, is a major work of Romanesque architecture, and the representation of the Last Judgment on its portal is considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture, as are the columns in the adjacent cloister. The town also has an outstanding museum of ancient history, the Musée de l'Arles et de la Provence antiques, with one of the best collections of Roman sarcophagi to be found anywhere outside Rome itself. Another museum is the Museon Arlaten. The courtyard of the Old Arles hospital, now named "Espace Van Gogh," is a center for Vincent van Gogh's works, several of which are masterpieces.[5] The garden, framed on all four sides by buildings of the complex, is approached through arcades on the first floor. A circulation gallery is located on the first and second floors.[6]

Notable people

  • The Provençal poet Frédéric Mistral (1830–1914) was born near Arles.
  • Jeanne Calment (1875–1997), the oldest human being whose age is documented, was born, lived and died, at the age of 122 years and 164 days, in Arles
  • Anne-Marie David, singer (Eurovision winner in 1973)
  • Christian Lacroix, fashion designer, was born in Arles. He is well known in the gay community.
  • Lucien Clergue, photographer
  • Djibril Cissé, footballer for Queens Park Rangers F.C and France
  • Genesius of Arles, a notary martyred under Maximianus in 303 or 308.
  • Blessed Jean Marie du Lau, last Archbishop of Arles, killed by the revolutionary mob in Paris on September, 2 1792
  • Juan Bautista, matador
  • Mehdi Savalli, matador
  • The medieval writer Antoine de la Sale was probably born in Arles around 1386
  • Home of the Gipsy Kings, a music group from Arles
  • Gael Givet footballer for Blackburn Rovers
  • Lloyd Palun, footballer
  • Vincent van Gogh, lived here from February 1888 until July 1890 the year of his death, from a gunshot wound.
  • Fanny Valette, actress.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Archdiocese of Aix". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.
  1. ^ Wace, Dictionary)
  2. ^ Kevin Greene, "Technological Innovation and Economic Progress in the Ancient World: M.I. Finley Re-Considered", The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 53, No. 1. (Feb., 2000), pp. 29-59 (39)
  3. ^ Ville d'Histoire et de Patrimoine
  4. ^ La meunerie de Barbegal
  5. ^ Fisher, R, ed (2011). Fodor's France 2011. Toronto and New York: Fodor's Travel, division of Random House. p. 563 ISBN 978-1-4000-0473-7.
  6. ^ "Espace Van Gogh". Visiter, Places of Interest. Arles Office de Tourisme. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  7. ^ Original communique (May 13, 2008); second communique (May 20, 2008); report (May 20, 2008)
  8. ^ E.g. "Divers find marble bust of Caesar that may date to 46 B.C.", CNN-Online et al.
  9. ^ Video (QuickTime) on the archaeological find (France 3)
  10. ^ Paul Zanker, "Der Echte war energischer, distanzierter, ironischer", Sueddeutsche Zeitung, May 25, 2008, on-line
  11. ^ Mary Beard, "The face of Julius Caesar? Come off it!", TLS, May 14, 2008, on-line
  12. ^ Nathan T. Elkins, 'Oldest Bust' of Julius Caesar found in France?, May 14, 2008, on-line
  13. ^ Cp. this image at the AERIA library
  14. ^ A different approach was presented by Mary Beard in that members of a military Caesarian colony would not have discarded portraits of Caesar, whom they worshipped as god, although statues were in fact destroyed by the Anti-Caesarians in the city of Rome after Caesar's assassination (Appian, BC III.1.9).
  15. ^ Konrat Ziegler & Walther Sontheimer (eds.), "Arelate", in Der Kleine Pauly: Lexikon der Antike, Vol. 1, col. 525, Munich 1979; in 46 BC Caesar himself was campaigning in Africa, before later returning to Rome