A Hopeful Message from the Past

At the moment I am reading “The Identity of France” by Fernand Braudel. This is a wonderful book about all that makes France French, if that makes any sense.  Braudel brings together not only history, but also geography, geology, economics,etc. to bring understanding to this incredibly diverse country. I hope to write more about this book in the future but I am compelled to report on one passage that I read today.

Braudel quotes from Jean Buvat, Journal de la Régence, 1865

According to a report of 1721,

in the whole of Provence [ravaged by plague which had spread from Marseille] there were only ten villages that the sickness had not yet reached; but . . . their inhabitants were languishing from hunger and other hardships, being unable to obtain the provisions they needed from anywhere, since all the routes were guarded [by soldiers] to prevent anyone entering or leaving on pain of death. handling MR. HYDE: que... Katz, Ira Best Price: $17.20 Buy New $12.98 (as of 04:58 EDT - Details)

And yet the galloping advance of what was to be the last outbreak of plague on French soil saw it spread, that same summer, from Provence into Dauphiné and Languedoc. The entire French army was on virtually permanent alert to combat this implacable and stealthy enemy. The only defence against it was to establish road-blocks and cordon off the disease. As a result, the normal life of towns, villages and entire regions were threatened. The same summer of 1721 found the Dauphiné complaining bitterly: the cordon sanitaire had cut off its communications with the outside world, literally bringing ruin.A few months later, when the maréchal duc de Berwick received orders from Court to establish a cordon cutting off upper from lower Languedoc, there was a similar panic: the estates of Languedoc intervened, brandishing the spectre of ‘inevitable’ famine for both regions, and managed to have the order revoked.

I found this passage so appropriate for today in lockdown, our own cordon sanitaire that is bringing economic disaster. The hopeful message is perhaps that we can get this order revoked sooner rather than later as the estates of Languedoc succeeded in 1721.

We might also take note that there is nothing new under the sun.

The Identity of France... Fernand Braudel Best Price: $3.25 Buy New $21.72 (as of 11:27 EDT - Details)

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