French Civilization: From Its Origins to the Close of the Middle Ages

French Civilization: From Its Origins to the Close of the Middle Ages

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French Civilization: From Its Origins to the Close of the Middle Ages

French Civilization: From Its Origins to the Close of the Middle Ages

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Excerpt

A NATION is the result of two factors: the land and the people. The conquest of the soil by a new race, or the migration of a population to a new habitat, marks the beginning of a new nation. Thus France was not France until the era of folk-wanderings was closed, and until the different elements within her borders had begun to amalgamate. Thus Australia is a new nation, although as purely British in stock and speech as Great Britain herself. A common habitat is a bond of union no less potent than blood relationship; and it is bound to bring about blood relationship, unless the original differences of race and religion be absolutely insurmountable. The first gleam of patriotism that we descry in the Middle Ages was territorial rather than racial. It was "douce France," her soil and her skies, that the companions of Charlemagne, in the epic, or the Crusaders, were sighing for. The land slowly moulds the people; the people, with patient toil, alter the face of the land. Clearing forests, draining marshes, tilling the fields, building roads and rearing cities, they humanize the landscape after their own image. Thus, after countless generations, there results the perfected product, the Nation, land and people, body and soul, bound together by innumerable and subtle ties.

France is a country of Western Europe, situated just half-way between the North Pole and the Equator. It is roughly hexagonal in shape. Of this hexagon, three sides are formed by the sea--the North Sea and the Channel, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean. Two are formed by mountains--the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Jura. The sixth, from Lauterburg on the Rhine to Dunkirk, is a purely artificial line, which has fluctuated for centuries with the . . .

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