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THE GIFT OF FRANCE

Marc-Alain DESCAMPS

What is the contribution of France to the soul of Europe ? You think first : his logic, clear, rationalist propencity ... Since the philosopher René Descartes, you believe that all french people are cartesians, with classifications and the five rules of method. But Descartes had fear of French people and wrote all his books in Netherlands.
Neverless, this conducts in 18th century to the philosophy of Lights with d'Alembert and the Encyclopedia which prepared the Declaration of Rights of man and the french revolution. The danger is the desire to impose the Right of man, with the idea of Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood, to all Europe, even if they did not ask for.
But this is only our left hemisphere, our rationalist and masculine side.
And, for me, our real gift is in our right hemisphere, our feminine and sentimental face : the invention of Love. And by this we are better european, because France is in the middle between North and South, so it has the office of a bridge. Our gift to Europe is the invention of Love by the Ladies of Occitany, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It began in South of France, in the towns close Mediterranean sea. Why ? Perhaps for three reasons : 1. The traces of Roman empire, which allow more freedom than the feudal North, specialy for women. 2. The great influence of arabic civilisation, then the most advanced in the world, with its literary cult of women and its topic of loving the Distant Princess. 3. More importantly, Occitany was the Land of Cathars. As they had a higher idea of love, the Cathars contributed to the liberation of women, and success it with famous cathars women like Mary of Montpellier or Esclarmonde de Pereilha.
So, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when the Lords were at war, the Ladies were inventing Courts of Love in their castels, where they discussed about love, singing it with troubadors and trouveres. Contrary to the rough manners that they 'd been accustomed to, the Ladies sought courtship and wished that their hearts be conquered before their bodies. To obtain the Fair one's graces, the suitor had to pass a serie of trials.
And one of the first of them was Alienor of Aquitain, first european Lady, because she was Queen of France in 1137 and after Queen of great-Britain in 1154 with Henry II and was the mother of Richard Heart of Lion .
Immediatly, this invention of Pure Love (Fin' Amor) greatly influenced all the countries of Europe : Spain and Portugal at first, Italy with its Dolce Stil nuovo , and German love (Die Minne ) which was sung by all the Minnesänger .
And even this is the beginning of the european Transpersonal. Because South of France remains always in human love, and to reach divine love, it needs to cross all France till farthest north. In this regions of Flanders (North of France, Belgium, Netherlands and close Germany) many women, living alone, the Beguines elevated secular love to divine and mystical heights. They have written precious books on love, like Margaret Porette in France, Beatrice of Nazareth in Germany or Hadewijch of Anvers in Belgium. This last has also given a wonderful collection of poems, beautifully entitled Love is all. So true ! and wath nice program.
As we discovered recently, their analysis of love would later be reemployed verbatim by Master Eckhart and all his followers of the Rhenish school. Master Eckhart, another european, who conquered the title of Master in Paris and worked after in Strasbourg, Germany and Bohemia. So he has given to Europe the first expression of transpersonal and perhaps the finest.
Thus, comes an important contribution to the soul of Europe, that we have yet to build all together here and now, according to this words of Hadewijch : " He who wanders out of the paths of love, is more lamentable than a cadaver".


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