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Lazy, arrogant cowards: how English saw French in 12th century

Monday, January 18th, 2010

A twelfth-century poem newly translated into English casts fresh light on the origin of today’s Francophobic stereotypes. Although it is meant to be an ‘entente cordiale’, the relationship between the English and the French has been anything but neighbourly.

When the two nations have not been clashing on the battlefield or the sporting pitch they have been trading insults from ‘frogs’ to ‘rosbifs’.Now the translation of the poem has shown just how deep-rooted in history the rivalry and name-calling really is.

Written between 1180 and 1194, a century after the Norman Conquest united England and Normandy against a common enemy in France, the 396-line poem was part of a propaganda war between London and Paris.Poet Andrew de Coutances, an Anglo-Norman cleric, describes the French as godless, arrogant and lazy dogs. Even more stingingly, he accuses French people of being cowardly, and calls them heretics and rapists.

It has taken David Crouch, a professor of medieval history at Hull University, months to complete the translation of what is one of the earliest examples of anti-French diatribe. The poem was written at a time when Philip II of France was launching repeated attacks on Normandy, taking advantage of in-fighting within the English royal family. Prof Crouch says that the poem is of great interest to historians because of its “racial rhetoric”, which was deployed by Anglo-Norman intellectuals in support of their kings’ bitter political and military struggle.

While rivalry between the English and their Gallic neighbours now only tends to surface at sporting occasions and European summits, the poem recalls battles between the two countries and describes the vices of the French in detail.

In one passage, it claims that “eating is their religion” and warns that dining with them is not a pleasant experience.

“A man who dines with the French/ should grab whatever he may/ as either he will end up with the nuts/ or will just carry off the shallots,” the poet writes.

“When they’re abroad they’re even more greedy/And shamefully gorge themselves at every table/Whenever they get near one.

“And whenever hosts have them in their homes/they realise the French are such men/So greedy and so avaricious/That he ought to drive them off with kicks.”

“Intellectuals were deployed to compose diatribes against the enemy,” said Prof Crouch.

“This poem was poisonously undermining the French and their national legend while promoting the legend of King Arthur.”

The poet refutes criticisms of King Arthur and celebrates a legendary victory over Frollo, the French ruler who is portrayed as lazy and incompetent.

“Lying flat out without stirring himself/Frollo got the French to equip him/For that is the way of the French/ Getting their shoes on while lying down,” he writes.

Having described at length the cowardly nature of the French, he even claims, wrongly, that Paris derived its name from the word ‘partir’, which means to flee.

He calls the French “serfs” and “peasants” in an attempt to suggest that they are a race without nobility, adding: “People remind them often enough about this source of shame, but they may as well have not bothered; for they take neither offence or account, as they know no shame.”

Using phrases reminiscent of the insults used by the French knights in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, de Coutances says the French “live more vilely than a dog” and calls them “rascals” and “mockers”.

Martin Luther King at home

Monday, January 18th, 2010
The Kings at Home  Born in Atlanta, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his new wife Coretta moved to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 after King accepted a position as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

Read more:,29307,1952031_2021391,00.html#ixzz0d06nGa9w

Man of Letters  Twenty months after he arrived in Montgomery, a local seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat on a city bus to a white passenger.
Head of the Table  News of the Montgomery bus boycott spread across the U.S. and abroad. Donations supporting the boycotters poured in and Dr. King's words were heard by millions.
Conversation  King explained in an interview that this photograph was taken as he tried to explain to his daughter Yolanda why she could not go to Funtown, a whites-only amusement park in Atlanta.
a very emotional picture :
King said in an interview that this photograph was taken as he tried to explain to his daughter Yolanda why she could not go to Funtown, a whites-only amusement park in Atlanta. King claims to have been tongue-tied when speaking to her. “One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky.”

Read more:,29307,1952031_2021405,00.html#ixzz0d07AdX6G

Family Time  King and Coretta sit at their dining room table with their daughters Yolanda and Bernice. They also had two sons, Martin Luther King III and Dexter.
Moment  In 1964, shortly after King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he invited photographer Flip Schulke to take pictures of himself and his family at home.
The Horror  On April 25, 1960 Atlanta Ku Klux Klansmen burned crosses in front of several black homes in the city. The King residence was one of the houses that was targeted.

Read more:,29307,1952031_2021418,00.html#ixzz0d07rQQxn

Australia apologises to the “Forgotten Australians”

Saturday, November 28th, 2009


On estime qu’ils furent près de 500.000. On les appelle les «Forgotten Australians», les «Australiens oubliés». Ce sont ces centaines de milliers d’enfants victimes de violences dans des orphelinats ou des foyers d’accueil publics australiens entre 1930 et 1970.

L’Australie avait déjà présenté ses excuses l’an passé aux milliers d’enfants aborigènes retirés de force à leurs familles à des fins d’assimilation.

Le Premier ministre Kevin Rudd a étendu lundi la reconnaissance de ces abus à l’ensemble de cette génération volée. En 2004, un rapport du Sénat avait recommandé cette démarche de repentance envers ces enfants victimes d’abus en tous genres, sexuels notamment. Environ 7.000 d’entre eux étaient des Britanniques déplacés en Australie dans le cadre d’un programme mis en place entre 1920 et 1967 par les autorités de Londres. Celles-ci avaient envoyé près de 130.000 enfants pauvres, âgés de 3 à 14 ans, vers l’Australie, le Canada, la Nouvelle-Zélande, l’Afrique du Sud et ce qui était alors le Zimbabwe, avec la promesse que leur vie y serait meilleure. Nombre de ces enfants avaient été envoyés à l’étranger par des agences spécialisées qui souhaitaient peupler les anciennes colonies avec des gens de «bonne souche britannique blanche», selon l’association. La plupart ont fini dans des institutions publiques ou des établissements agricoles.

Excuses de la Nation

L’Australie est «désolée pour cette tragédie, cette tragédie absolue, des enfances perdues», a-t-il lancé devant un millier de «Forgotten Australians» survivants réunis au Parlement, déclenchant un tonnerre d’applaudissements.

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British History Timeline

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

a brief history of unknown soldiers

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

A couple walk by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Each year on Nov. 11, the U.S. celebrates Veterans Day in honor of those who have fought — and those who have died — for the country. Wreath-laying ceremonies take place at cemeteries across the land, including at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Though the commemoration officially began in Arlington as Armistice Day, with the burial of an anonymous World War I soldier at the Tomb of the Unknowns in 1921, the occasion didn’t become a federal holiday in the U.S. until 1938. (In 1954 its name was changed to Veterans Day.) Accounts differ on when the tradition began in Britain and France, but most experts surmise that the first burial of unidentified soldiers at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris took place in 1920, a year before the practice took root in the U.S.

Read more:,8599,1937558,00.html#ixzz0WrA6V0SH

More mixed couples tying the knot

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

A by-product of the end of the Troubles in Northern Ireland has been a rise in the number of mixed marriages between Catholics and Protestants.

It is estimated that about one in 10 of all marriages in Northern Ireland are now mixed.

This followed a sharp decrease during the Troubles, when the fear of violence and intimidation and the resulting polarisation of communities, prevented many cross-community relationships.

In the last 10 years, when social life has returned to a certain normality, more and more young people are meeting who probably wouldn’t have met before.

In the past, mixed marriages had been easier for couples who could afford to buy a new home and so to live in a more integrated, “safer” area.

Research has shown that in Northern Ireland 95% of all social housing estates are lived in mainly by people of one religion.

more information here

Columbus Day

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. On Oct. 12, 517 years later, banks are closed and there’s no mail. And despite being a federal holiday, for most in the U.S. it’s another day at the office.

brief history Columbus Day christopher columbus

Observed on the second Monday in October, the holiday celebrates the achievements of Christopher Columbus, a man who lived almost three centuries before the U.S. Federal Government even existed, much less created a holiday in his honor. But for such a loosely observed federal holiday, Columbus Day generates no small amount of controversy: the day, like the man himself, is reviled by critics who feel Columbus’ arrival in the New World opened the doors to hundreds of years of exploitation and genocide. Is it really worth it?

Many Italian Americans in particular think so. Columbus Day has its roots in cultural pride, a celebration of the Italian explorer’s “discovery” of the Americas when he landed on a Caribbean island in what’s now the Bahamas on Oct. 12, 1492.

Franklin Roosevelt created the first federal observance of Columbus Day in 1937; Richard Nixon established the modern holiday by presidential proclamation in 1972.

New York City continues to show Columbus Day pride — the city holds the largest parade for it in the country. But these public shows of support draw frequent protests from Native Americans, who make the point that Columbus discovered nothing — indigenous populations were living in the Americas long before European explorers made their first tentative trips across the Atlantic. And once here, Columbus wasn’t exactly kind to his new neighbors. Indeed, on his very first day in the New World, Columbus took six natives as slaves. He’d go on to press thousands more into forced labor, killing dissenters. Even his own colonists didn’t like him — complaints led him to be called back by his Spanish royal sponsors in 1500.

While there have been some efforts to get its federal-holiday status revoked, many seem content to simply ignore the holiday entirely. The two exceptions are retailers, for whom Columbus Day is the first big sales opportunity after August’s back-to-school rush, and those who have repurposed the holiday into something less problematic (South Dakotans, for example, celebrate Native Americans Day instead). But relax, weary workers. Thanksgiving’s little more than a month away, and that, at least, is a federal holiday most of us can agree is worthy of a day off.

September 11th

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Douze couvertures de quotidiens américains le 12 septembre 2001 (DR)

Je voulais vous faire partager une réflexion interessante sur les une des journaux et sur la répétition des images à la une de certains médias.

Suivez le lien ici

Rosie the Riveter

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

As I mentionned Rosie the Riveter in class today, here are a few pictures of this cultural icon.

She represented the American women who worked in war factories during World War II many of whom worked in the factories and manufacturing plants  that produced munitions and materiel. These women sometimes took entirely new jobs and sometimes took the places of the male workers who were in the military. The character is now considered a feminist icon in the US, and a herald of women’s economic power to come.

Real “Rosies” at work :

File:Rosie the Riveter (Vultee) DS.jpg  File:WomanFactory1940s.jpg

F W de Klerk praises Nelson Mandela

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

F W de Klerk, the last president of South Africa during apartheid, hailed Nelson Mandela as one of the greatest figures of the last century in a 90th birthday tribute on Thursday to his successor.

De Klerk, who stood down after Mandela won the first multi-racial elections 14 years ago, said his co-winner of the 1993 Nobel peace price was a born leader with the “humility and the grace of a true natural aristocrat.”

“He is the most famous South African who has ever lived and is universally regarded as one of the greatest figures of the 20th century,” said De Klerk in a statement.

The former National party leader acknowledged his working relationship with Mandela went through some rough patches both in negotiations leading up to the end of whites-only rule in 1994 and in a two-year stint as deputy president.

“He was a hard, sometimes remorseless, negotiating partner and our relationship was often severely strained,” he said.

“Nevertheless, whenever the situation demanded it …we were able to overcome our differences and take concerted action to defuse the crises as they arose.

“After his inauguration, Nelson Mandela used his personal charm to promote reconciliation and to mould our widely diverse communities into an emerging multicultural nation. This, I believe, will be seen as his greatest legacy.”

Mandela, who turns 90 on Friday, served one term as South African president before standing down and being succeded by the current head of state Thabo Mbeki in 1999.

Taken from Cape Times