A genesis of the French ‘nation’

On a French blog, whose post is titled ‘Let us not leave the nation in the hands of the far-right’, I asked the following, simple question:

Hi. When was the French Nation born, and how?

I wasn’t expecting a quick response, but it did come. Are you ready? Here it is:

@ littlehorn
Around the 5th century, after the Francs had arrived in the Gallo-romans’ country.

If you want an unusual point of view relating to the present period and its politics, you can read this text from 1611 (a sort of Globetrotters’ Guide of the times with a historic reminder at the beginning on the origin of France).
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5652249c.image.f17

I imagine that up to the revolution, the word Kingdom was more used than that of Nation. Nevertheless, reading ancient works, the French from that time did use expressions like ¨of Franc’s Nation¨ or “countrymen”.

For instance,
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k104944z

My response:

That is very interesting. So, we were born by massively migrating to the geographic area of France, and settling there?

Personally, I don’t think arriving somewhere can constitute a nation, and the question is merely pushed back one level: where are the Francs from?

Is it that any collective action indicates the existence of the collective, or would it not be rather the sign, for instance, of circumstances striking a group on a particular area, as a disaster or a ferocious oppression? I know that hardships often cause people to come together and unite, but does that mean they are naturally united in blocks of 60 million individuals? I don’t think so.

At some point, one must come to the fact that all this is a matter of geographical position, and that it is therefore quite mundane and unimportant, compared to the great fervor of some. Which does not mean that one can just give up his values, but that one should understand that these values exist purely as long as they are acted upon, and this anyone can do. Once again, the geographical position does not seem to have anything to do with all the speeches and the preconceived ideas one hears these days!

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5 Responses to A genesis of the French ‘nation’

  1. Gabriel says:

    You seem to read what you want to read more than what’s actually written…

    • littlehorn says:

      Can you point what the actual message of the above comment is, then?

      Dans ce cas, peux-tu me dire quel est le véritable message du commentaire?

      • littlehorn says:

        Readers may be interested to know that Gabriel replied the following to my own comment:

        « we are born by migrating massively to the geographic area of France, and settling there? »

        Not really, the French derive mostly from Gallo-Romans who were there before the arrival of the Francs. It is for that reason we speak a latin language rather than a germanic one, or our National Assembly looks like an ancient temple🙂 Then Francs have arrived and formed the first Kingdom dynasties, on the ruins of the Roman Empire. As indicated in the 1611 text, these Francs were from Franconie, in the German Lowlands.

        « At some point, one must come to the conclusion that all this is a matter of geographical position »

        In my view, it is mostly a matter of people and culture. The Gaulois, the Romans and the Francs have quickly formed a single people with a common culture whereas others have proven unassimilatable: the Huns, the Vandales, the Sarrasins, etc. But one does find the French culture outside the national territory with the “diaspora”: the Quebecois in Canadam the Cajuns in Louisiana, the Huguenots in South Africa, etc.

      • blogoosphere says:

        “our National Assembly”: “La Chammbre… députes?” had to say an english man, driving by a taximan, between the Seine and this ancient temple, with a so pleasant british accent! “Trève de plaisanterie”: Francs, Franconie (= Franken), near Nürnberg…

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