on the recommendation of just about everybody that i know online (thanks, almost everybody!), i am reading graham robb’s The Discovery of France.
this, below, is by far the funniest story so far! and there are a LOT of funny stories like this in the book…and i’m only about a quarter of the way through! great stuff. hbd chick is amused! =P [pgs. 27-28 – link added by me]:
“An expedition into tribal France could begin almost anywhere and at almost any time. A hilltop in the Aveyron, for instance, where the limestone plateaux of the Causses turn into a crumpled map of rocks and gorges. The year is 1884. The priest of Montclar has found an exciting diversion from the monotony of life in a small town. His telescope is trained on a battlefield in the valley below. An army of men, women and children, wielding cudgels and lugging baskets of stones, is advancing on the village of Roqueceziere. But scouts have been posted. Another army has already emerged from the village and is preparing to defend its territory.
“On the bare rock that towers above the village, turning its back to the battle, is a colossal cast-iron statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue has been funded by public subscription — something of a miracle in this impoverished region — and has recently been placed on the rock to commemorate a successful mission.
“Incensed to see the sacred effigy pointing its bottom at their village, the invaders have come to turn it around. The battle rages for hours. Several people are seriously injured. At last, the Roquecezierain lines are breached and the statue is worked around to face the other village. To prevent a full-scale war, the Church authorities find a compromise. The Virgin is rotated ninety degree, supposedly so that each village can see half of her face. However, she now looks east-north-east, towards Saint-Crepin, which contributed more than half the cost of the statue, and still had her back turned to the little clutch of houses at her foot.”
heh! =P i think this must be the statue here:
it should be noted that roquecezière (indicated by red dot) is down in midi-pyrénées in a region having, for france, pretty high cousin marriage rates historically…
…and it’s also fairly far away from the “core” of core europe (green circle here).
previously: the auvergnat pashtuns
(note: comments do not require an email. roquecezière.)
[…] Source: HBD Chick […]
That’s a very interesting book! I wonder how the descendants of those who chopped Cassini’s geometer into pieces behave today. I can’t recall in what context but David Landes in his ‘Wealth and Poverty of Nations’ says that it was even well into the 1950s that the interiors of France was extremely underdeveloped by northwest European standards or something like that.
I got bogged down halfway thru this book. A lot of fascinating information but I couldn’t take the showy, grandstanding writing, which your excerpt gives a decent taste of.
“well into the 1950s that the interiors of France was extremely underdeveloped by northwest European standards”: on a school holiday trip to Germany in 1960 we crossed parts of France and Belgium by bus. We were astonished to see horse-drawn ploughs.
[…] the battle of roquecezière […]