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Who invented Vercingétorix?

Julian Jackson: French national identity, 27 June 2002

Rethinking France: Les Lieux de mémoire. Volume I: The State 
by Pierre Nora, translated by Mary Trouille.
Chicago, 475 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 226 59132 8
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... Who broke the Vase of Soissons? Once, every French school child would have known the answer to that question, as they would have known that their ancestors were Gauls with blue eyes and blond hair (they knew this even if they were learning their lessons in Africa or the West Indies); that Charlemagne had a flowing white beard and cared about education (but he may have been most popular because his coronation date, 800, was so easy to remember); that Philip Augustus was a good king because he beat the Germans; that Catherine de Médicis was a bad woman because she killed so many Protestants; that Henri IV wanted every peasant to have a chicken in the pot on Sundays ...

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