Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Ruling Class

Hello World. I tried to write a post last night, but my scatterbrained self couldn't put fingers to keyboard. I apologize for not being a prolific blogger over the past few weeks, but it's been all coffee and rain and library and no fun. I've promised unwritten updates on the Balkans and have been a poor email correspondent, so, sorry. Replies are coming soon.

But not until this weekend as I've been busy churning out an 11 page paper on the Russo-Japanese War and now have to begin another 10-pager on the EU's role in Kosovo and another worthless paper for my French language class (on the history of Roland Garros) before I can begin studying for my exam hell week at the end of May. But I should not complain for these are temporal troubles and will be gone all too soon as my time here draws down to what will be the end of Paris.

A brief update and story: This past weekend, I went to Bourgogne (Burgundy). We stayed in Dijon and, yes, I bought a jar of mustard and ate and drank very well. The highlight of the trip was a visit to le château de Villemolin that has been within the family of the Marquis De Certaines for the past 500 years. The De Certaines are hosting a Tufts student this semester at their apartment in the seizième and had the whole group down to their immense château for a tour and hors d'œuvres. On the tour the Marquis traced their family's history, showed off a desk that had belonged to Napoléon himself, and, interestingly, told the story of how he is both a Son of the American Revolution and member of the Order of the Cincinatti, the pseudo-American aristocracy formed by leading American and French officers from the War of Indepedence. He's more of an American than I am.

Upon returning to Paris and informing my host family that I had been to another family's château, they got quite curious and, as it turns out, know the other family. In fact, the Comte De Pemille is a distant cousin to the Marquis De Certaines. Marie-Joelle pulled out a large register full of inbred aristocrats and traced the connection between the families and it was all so funny and passé that I felt woefully inadequate to not have a château to the Helms name nor a lineage of dukes or counts. In the register, each child is listed with his year of birth so the aristocrats can continue to not pollute their bloodlines with the 3rd Estate. I'm mostly kidding here, but it is quite interesting to see their history and tradition in action as they hold onto a culture that is dying away.

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