The Dutch historian, Pieter Geyl, said once that, “in the purely political arena” the only figure to have held on to his rank in history during the Napoleonic era, apart from Napoleon himself of course, was Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord and he intended to include a chapter on the prince in his famous work Napoleon For and Against (Harmondsworth, 1949).(1)
Talleyrand was, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable figures in the history of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, and certainly one of the most controversial. He was one of a rare breed capable of occupying a wide range of positions in politics and society, both in his public and private life. To a certain extent, he was representative of his era, whether taking on the mantel of the Ancien Régime, as an aristocrat working for the Revolution, or as lord of the Château de Valençay during the Restoration. However, it is the most important of these roles, Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Directoire, the Consulate, the Empire and the Restoration, for which he is of course remembered.
To learn more about his life, works and ideas I invite you to read the following biography (one of my favourite books too) which I am sure you will all enjoy: Talleyrand by Duff Cooper
“It is a crime to poison the small and the humble,
to exasperate passions of reaction and intolerance,
while taking shelter behind the odious antisemitism…”
A day like today in February 07 1898 the Émile Zola was brought to trial for libel for publishing J’Accuse in the L’Aurore a literary, liberal, and socialist newspaper published in Paris, France J’accuse is in my opinion one of the most important historical essays ever written because it brought to public opinion an honest and objective critic against the ruling elite’s injustices.
In his letter, Zola addressed President of FranceFélix Faure, and accused the government of antisemitism and the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a French Army General Staff officer sentenced to penal servitude for life for espionage. Further, “Zola pointed out judicial errors and lack of serious evidence. The letter was printed on the front page of the newspaper, and caused a stir in France and abroad. Zola was prosecuted and found guilty of libel on 23 February 1898. To avoid imprisonment, he fled to England, returning home in June 1899.”
Zola’s intention was that he be prosecuted for libel so that the new evidence in support of Dreyfus would be made public (“Correspondence Between Emile Zola and Imprisoned Alfred Dreyfus”. Shapell Manuscript Foundation.) The case divided France deeply between the reactionary army and church and the more liberal commercial society and its ramifications continued for many years. On the 100th anniversary of Zola’s article, France’s Roman Catholic daily paper, La Croix, apologized for its antisemitic editorials during the Dreyfus Affair. As Zola was a leading French thinker, his letter formed a major turning-point in the affair.
Zola’s powerful letter included a direct conversation to the President of France to whom he address as a honorable and rightful man,
And it is to you, Mr. President, that I will proclaim it, this truth, with all the force of the revulsion of an honest man. For your honor, I am convinced that you are unaware of it. And with whom will I thus denounce the criminal foundation of these guilty truths, if not with you, the first magistrate of the country?
And by doing this, he requested the President to be truthful to Justice.
Lets have this letter as a memory of which is our truthful right and obligation as citizens of our States. Let us remember that We MUST always Accuse the wrongdoers and Demand justice to prevail.
One of the most controversial discussions in the last few weeks has been the one around guns, its regulation and controls, its production, on the rights to use guns, on private gun ownership and the arguments of those in favor/against the Right to keep and bear arms in the United States of America. The right to keep and bear arms in that country has a historical significance rooted in a long standing common law, prior even to the existence of their Constitution. In England, a similar legal wording can be found in the Bill of Rights 1689 which states “Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defense”.
The historical significance of this argument is long standing and varies from country to country (specially those with a common law system). The principle behind this topic is the relation of the private ownership (historically contextualized of course) of the “means of force” versus the monopoly of the use of force by government. Today I have two recommendations on this topic for those of you looking for essays and books to read:
My interest in Agrarian Labor Regimes was first awaken in my research on Opium trade in India. Since then, more readings have made me realize the complex structures behind the history of agrarian labor in a global context.
If you are also interested in the topic, the *Weatherhead Initiative on Global History (WIGH)* at Harvard University is planning a conference for *April 2013* that is focusing on changing labor regimes within global agriculture.
As posted by Blog de la AMHE by Manuel Bautista, they are interested in exploring the diversity of labor regimes, the paths along which they changed, and—most especially—the connections between these changes in different parts of the world. We are interested in work that explores the connected histories of propertied farming, sharecropping, wage labor, slavery, *cultures obligatoires*, and other such forms of labor, and how they have been connected to the spatial and social spread of capitalism.We are seeking proposals from historians, political scientists, economists, sociologists, and anthropologists at all stages of their academic career, including graduate students. We encourage proposals from those in relevant career paths or institutions outside the university. We are particularly interested in forging a global discussion of these topics, and therefore welcome especially contributions from outside North America and Europe.
The conference will try to balance broad comparative papers and revealing case studies. The Weatherhead Initiative on Global History is a newly created center that responds to the growing interest at Harvard in the encompassing study of global history. The Initiative is committed to the systematic scrutiny of developments that have unfolded across national, regional, and continental boundaries as well as to analysis of the interconnections—cultural, economic, ecological and demographic—among world societies. For further information about WIGH as well as the conference, please consult our website at http://wigh.wcfia.harvard.edu.
Proposals should include an abstract of no more than two pages and a brief curriculum vita. Please email your submissions to Jessica Barnard ( jbarnard @ wcfia.harvard.edu ) before *November 30, 2012*. Travel expenses as well as accommodation will be covered.