French Civilization in the Nineteenth Century: A Historical Introduction

French Civilization in the Nineteenth Century: A Historical Introduction

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French Civilization in the Nineteenth Century: A Historical Introduction

French Civilization in the Nineteenth Century: A Historical Introduction

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The theory of environment -- France: situation -- Size --Historica connection with the Mediterranean world--Geographical affinities with Northern Europe--Mountainous regions and basins--Extreme variety of aspects and climates: the main regions--Natural unity: the rôle of the depression of Poitou -- But unity chiefly a historical achievement--Resources: fertility overrated; harbours, rivers, and mineral wealth mediocre--But many-sided, well-balanced--The human factor predominant.

THAT the habitat has a profound influence on the individual and especially on the race was a favourite conception fifty years ago with such historians as Taine and Buckle. Renan went so far as to make geographical conditions responsible for the religious beliefs of a people: "The desert," he said, "is monotheistic."Over a century before, Montesquieu made the "theory of climates" one of his guiding principles in the interpretation of history, and we are told that this notion can be traced, through Jean Bodin, as far back as Hippocrates himself. The present tendency is to shift the emphasis onto the concept of race. The growth of Anglo-Saxon communities preserving their essential traits under the most various skies, the coexistence of widely different races in the same country, seem to show that physical environment is only one of the factors in the formation of a people, and probably not the most determinative. On the other hand, it may be said that colonial migrations are comparatively recent, and that the wanderers have kept in touch with . . .

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