Category Archives: Save the dates!

Learn what happened in France today, all fun and smart!

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19 September 2014

I have to admit that yesterday; my article Save the Dates went a bit gory on the death penalty and the guillotine in France. I thought it was important to have a bit of history in contrast of being too generic article. Talking about “history”, let’s talk about our History, France and England relationship. Yes, we’ve always been in a love/hate relationship with England. A long history of battles, wars, reconciliations, cheats, alliances and so on… This 19th of September is the anniversary of at least 2 famous battles between those countries… And France is not well placed here…

There we go:

19 September 1356 – Defeat of Poitiers

Bataille de Poitiers The French army was crushed by the English archers at the first real battle of the Hundred Years War (i.e. from 1356 to 1453). The King of France, Jean II Le Bon and his son, Philip le Hardi were taken prisoners. The Black Prince whose real name is Edward of Woodstock (Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, and finally Prince of Aquitaine) led them to Bordeaux and imprisoned them in London.

19 September 1417 – Capitulation of Caen

 

19 September 1417 - Capitulation of CaenAfter a month of siege, the castle of Caen surrendered to the troops of Henry the V, making it his headquarters. After the victory over the Armagnacs at Agincourt (1415), Normandy is now English. Henry V forced Charles VI Le Fou to sign the Treaty of Troyes dated 21 May 1420, making him the new king of France and England. Can you imagine, France could have been part of the UK! :0

The 19th of September is obviously not a great date for my Frenchies…. 😦

However, Caen was occupied by the English until 1450 retaken by Charles VII of France. We lost a few battles but we won Normandy back 😉

19 September 1783 – The Montgolfier brothers bluff the Court of Versailles

 220px-Montgolfiere_1783In front of a Court held by Louis XVI, Joseph-Michel et Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier managed to fly a 400 cubic meters balloon having on board a rooster, a duck and a sheep. The idea of a hot air balloon came to Joseph in November 1782.

Later, in December 1783, in recognition of their achievement, their father Pierre was elevated to the nobility and the hereditary appellation of “De Montgolfier” by King Louis XVI of France.

For the little story, the Montgolfier Company still exists today. In fact, Etienne’s son-in-law, Barthélémy Barou de la Lombardière de Canson (you can’t do longer than that!) succeeded him as the head of the company (he married Jacques-Etienne’s daughter Alexandrine de Montgolfier).

The company became “Montgolfier et Canson” in 1801, then “Canson-Montgolfier” in 1807. Nowadays, Canson SAS (everybody in France knows the brand, we use Canson for our drawing class at school) is a successful company producing fine art papers and sold in 120 countries.

I’ll probably write later about the incredible story and tragic end of Suzanne de Canson, heir of Montgolfier and Canson.

18 September 1981

The abolition of the death penalty in France

Robert Badinter2The French Parliament adopted with 369 votes against 113 Robert Badinter Law abolishing the death penalty whilst according to a survey, 62% of French wanted to maintain it. This is how democracy works 🙂

So believe it or not but France was at the time, with Turkey the only western European countries to apply the death penalty. The guillotine (created by Dr. Antoine Louis and engineer Tobias Schmidt) is discarded upon enactment of the law.The Minister of Justice ordered the removal of the two guillotines existing in France, one in Fresnes (Parisian suburb located in Val de Marne) and the other in Vernon (department of Eure in the Haute Normandie region). The government offered them to museum but none of them accepted the bloody gifts (tell me about it!), they ended their careers in a secret disused military fort.

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Implemented in 1791 the guillotine has replaced a variety of capital punishments (tellement scary!!!)  in France (Under the “Ancien Régime”), depending on the crime and the status of the condemned person, such as:

  • Hanging was the common punishment;
  • shooting of the right hand for thieves
  • decapitation by sword (reserved for nobles);
  • burning for relapsed heretics and incendiary (the patient was often discreetly previously strangled by a noose);
  • Hot oil: for counterfeiters…

The last executed would be Hamida Djandoubi on 10 September 1977 was the last person to be executed in France being convicted for torture and murder in Marseille (South East of France – Bouches-du-Rhône/ Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), 10 would sitting in death row will escape the death penalty thinks to this law.

Between 1984 and 1995, 27 legislative drafts had been proposed to the Parliament to restore the death penalty but none has been successful.

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Save the dates ! 17th September

What happened today in France?

The Treaty of Bergerac

Protestants and Catholics signed the Treaty of Bergerac to end the sixth War of Religion (don’t know why but in today’s context I still feel that nothing has changed, a religious War is starting internationally). This was triggered by the Catholic League, which managed to convince the king to cancel the Edict of Beaulieu ( = which was signed in Beaulieu-lès-Loches by Henry III of France, ending the fifth war of religion the 6th of May 157) recognising the Protestant worship and granting numerous safeguards for them to practice their religion.

Defeated at the Battles of the Charité-sur-Loire and Issoire, the Protestants have no other choice but to sign a treaty significantly reducing the benefits they earned by the Edict of Beaulieu.

Later in October, the treaty will be confirmed by the Edict of Poitiers.

Let’s end with something a bit more cheerful 🙂

First Mc Do in France

Under the curious gaze of the Alsatian, the first McDonalds opened the 17th September 1979 in Strasbourg. Why Strasbourg and not Paris? Don’t know really? Anyway, it worked so well ever since that Mc Do (as we call it in France) founded in 1955 in the United States, has more than one thousand restaurants in France.

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