Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 14 July 2014

The fall of the Bastille

In case you had forgotten it was 225 years ago today that the Parisian mob stormed the Bastille, an event that was rapidly followed by the destruction of the fortress.

There is a good illustrated account of the Bastille, with a number of plans as well as photographs of surviving fragments here, and links to related material. 

The article chronicles the whole history of the structure and the myths that surrounded it before 1789, in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Bastille, and since then in popular perception. Given that it contained seven minor criminals in July 1789 it was hardly the symbol of tyranny its detractors claimed it to be. Rather its sinister reputation was created by the whinging pinko-liberals of the so called Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. 

Now let us be clear - no good comes of destroying fine medieval buildings such as King Charles V's great fortress. You start destroying one thing and suddenly an appetite for destruction is created. Let's face it - no good came of the events of July 14th 1789 for France or the French, or for Europe. True conservatism and true conservation go hand in hand.

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