The Christian Roots of Europe: A Living Past for a Living Future



Europe’s Christian identity has been a fundamental component of its history and culture, shaping not only the religious sphere but also politics, morals and way of life. This article sets out to examine the multiple layers of Christian identity in Europe, highlighting its historical roots, influences over time, and how it faces the challenges of an increasingly pluralistic and secular society.

By Way of Prologue…

Two immense interconnected problems haunt us with alarming urgency. The birth rate of this Europe of ours, which is slowly aging and dying without replacement, without a sufficient replacement rate; and the key to immigration, which responds to the fact that there is no one to take on certain jobs in our society.

Much more depends on how both are dealt with than we think. There is an almost threatening perspective of survival of a certain culture, the European one. Of a whole wealth contributed to the human family that is in danger of being truncated, of no longer growing, of no longer being able to give itself to humanity. History has already shown us similar falls. Some major, others minor. But falls of civilizational models for analogous reasons. In other ways, certainly, but analogous. But even more, it is a threat more than only to Europe, because it intends a global domination that destroys also other cultures, nations and peoples in their true being, to make them stateless without soul, nor roots. Slaves, just like the Europeans, of the power of money that pursues a dehumanized global social model.

Crossing through the middle of the construction of the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, but it would fit the image for any European city, with workers of many different nationalities but hardly Spaniards working, and with the news that there is a lack of waiters and restaurant cooks by the thousands throughout Spain, but also with the caregivers of the elderly that any morning are seen pushing wheelchairs of the elderly in the sun in our streets, it is evident that migrants come to do the work that the nationals do not want to do.

And why don’t they want to do it? One line of answers has to do with working conditions: low pay, much effort. Employers—and individuals—are unable to offer better conditions: some because they cannot, others because it is not convenient for them. This expels nationals and makes immigrants also victims, precariousness fodder, almost slavery; and hand in hand with it, fodder of delinquency and generators of insecurity.

Another line of analysis is linked to a very Western zeitgeist that has to do with comfort, consumerism, hedonism, inflated horizons and university goals, lofty aspirations and the loss of the value of effort, sacrifice, the value of work, humility, realism, or the elimination of everything that is not enjoyable in the fast time of the here and now, even at the cost of giving the power of your life to the machines of AI. There is here a mixture between seeing life as leisure and intuiting a certain renunciation of hope in progress, which says that no matter how much you do, you will not be able to improve. Between the crude conformism and the illusory aspiration based on a simplistic egalitarianism that clashes with the reality of the world, vital inaction, the enemy of realism, is achieved. The digital and virtual world of immediacy, satisfaction and quick self-happiness, of meta-vertical fantasies of perfect lives of luxury and leisure, of Instagramers of brands and lies, of needs created as ways to fill much deeper deficiencies, also contributes to this.

And politics is incapable of dealing with it, entangled in its own social engineering, in its own ideological biases, in its servitude to international agendas, in its particular plans to hold power and benefits, in its privileges of separate strata, in its petty quarrels, in its lack of greatness and aspiration, in its clientelism of interest. And so much so, that one cannot help but think that maybe the supporters of the conspiracy are right. It seems that what is happening is happening on purpose. That they deliberately lead us here to that “you will have nothing, you will owe everything to the state and the corporations, you will not be who you were, and you will only serve the money power as a producer-consumer, without roots or identity or aspirations… and we will make you believe that this way you are happy.” A paranoid and dehumanizing mix between communism and liberalism that leads to terrible dystopias.

But there is hope. There is always hope. Not only because of the resistance to the imposition of this demonic model of man and society that is happening here and now in so many places in our world and in so many different ways. From concrete political movements to cultural battles, to alternative lives that generate different communities, or those dedicated to beauty, true knowledge and the spirit. But also because—and this is what the resistance has to support in its strategies, actions and planning—the human being is not a machine that can be programmed just like that, not until biotechnological transhumanism is imposed.

There are innate cues that will sooner or later—and that later is the dangerous one—make it explode. There are primary human instincts—physical and spiritual—radically incompatible with that dictatorial anti-human dystopia. And that will ensure that evil will never triumph definitively. What is frightening is that until these primordial human forces are set in motion, perhaps the human being suffering too much, allows himself to be dominated too much, is manipulated excessively, is dehumanized as a way for the power of money to achieve its omnipotent domination. The process of technological and economic development in the West has accelerated these dynamics, something that other peoples have not yet experienced because of their level of development—yet. But memory, the achievements of history, tell us that these forces are also real in Europeans. It is a question of setting them in motion, awakening them, activating them.

And that happens by resisting this zeitgeist that dominates us, and by continuing to row in the opposite direction in our own personal and communal selves. They can win, but it will not always be like that. Man will awaken again.

How to rearm him?

Where can we find the personal and social energy to take up again the paths of life and not continue walking along paths of cultural, vital and human suicide?

There is no need to look for these energies far away from us.

In our own European cultural history, in what configured European culture as such, there is an immense vein of energy that from the modernity born with the French Revolution in origin, to the current rampant aggressive and anti-Christian secularization—granddaughter of each other—has been progressively abandoned, like one who moves away from himself and from what nourishes and feeds him, to the point of being estranged from himself and exhausted. Europe has been leaving behind that vital force of its very own, inexhaustible by its very definition to be capable of giving life, which has been Christianity as a unifier of what has been received and a generator of identity and life, to the point of almost ceasing to be, to the point of almost becoming deformed in its own face by the distancing of Europe’s own Christian roots.

And I say almost, although perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that if not deformed, then caricatured. Some factions are still recognizable, some identifying elements of the European Christian identity, manage to continue to appear and be present; the roots are strong and they are not reached by the ice and frost that seems to dominate the surface; and it is precisely this strength and this true rootedness in the European soil after almost two millennia, after having been shaped by Christianity, that can be returned to them, that are capable, like an old oak apparently dry, that allow the best of one’s own identity to sprout.

Europe’s Christian Roots: A Deep Cultural Heritage

Europe, the cradle of ancient civilizations, has been shaped over the centuries by diverse influences. None, however, has left as deep an imprint as Christianity. Europe’s Christian roots go back to Antiquity, when this religion took root and became the cultural foundation of the region.

Christianity arrived in Europe in the first centuries of our era, spreading from the Middle East to the West. The central figure of Jesus Christ and His teachings resonated among European populations, and the Christian faith became a unifying element amidst the continent’s cultural diversity.

Over time, Christianity merged with previous Greco-Latin social and political structures as well as those that came to Europe with the barbarian invasions, shaping the Middle Ages and defining the concept of Christendom. The Catholic Church played a crucial role in everyday life, influencing morals, education and politics. Monasteries and cathedrals stood as centers of learning and faith, preserving the cultural and literary heritage of classical antiquity.

The Crusades, which took place between the 11th and 13th centuries, were a testament to the power of the Christian faith in European life. Although driven by diverse motives, the Crusades reflected Europe’s fervent commitment to the defense of Christianity and the expansion of its principles.

The Renaissance, a period of cultural renewal in the 14th-17th centuries, was also steeped in the Christian heritage. Although marked by a revival of interest in classical antiquity, many of the great Renaissance artists and thinkers found inspiration in biblical narratives and Christian theology. The Baroque reached a cultural and artistic dimension never equaled in any other geographic area linked to culture.

The 19th and 20th centuries, children of the liberal revolutions, brought about a series of social and cultural changes of such magnitude that they began to deform the Christian face of Europe until the rampant secularization of modern times; but in spite of this, Christian roots continued to be an essential part of European identity. Christian ethics have influenced the formulation of laws, moral norms and fundamental values that have endured over the centuries and are still a central part of who we Europeans are, and indeed who we can be.


Historical Roots

The adoption of Christianity as the official religion in the Roman Empire marked the beginning of Europe’s Christian identity. From the teachings of the Church Fathers to the consolidation of medieval Christianity, the historical roots laid the foundations for the understanding of the faith on the continent.

Greek Philosophy and the Construction of Christian Identity in Europe

The connection between Greek philosophy and Christian identity in Europe has been a complex journey that has evolved over the centuries. This link began in Antiquity, merging the teachings of philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle with emerging Jewish and Christian traditions. The Church Fathers, such as Augustine of Hippo, integrated philosophical concepts into Christian theology, marking a crucial convergence. The Greek and Latin Fathers built their early theological thought from the understanding that Greek philosophy was the most adequate tool to shape the use of reason in the understanding of theological science. The conviction that the reason of the human being is an immense attribute meant to unite the message of the human dignity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the same anthropological gifts in one of the first contributions to the European being: the intrinsic value of the human being created in the image and likeness of God, Who gave him the tools, while perfecting himself with the revelation, to reach a good life. Hence the immense contribution that Stoicism, already in the Roman imperial phase, made to the creation of Christian morality.

During the Middle Ages, the Aristotelian Renaissance influenced scholastic theology, led by figures such as St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas, both Dominicans. Aquinas sought to reconcile reason and faith, highlighting the compatibility between Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology in his monumental work “Summa Theologica”, and the value of philosophy as an instrument of dialogue in his “Summa contra gentiles”.

The Renaissance consolidated the interconnection, with Christian humanists embracing the fusion of classical scholarship and Christian faith, with the paradoxical example of Erasmus of Rotterdam. The emphasis on classical education and ethical values of Greek antiquity marked this phase in a movement that led to the development of an entire Christian philosophy and ethics during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries of which the School of Salamanca, addressing the problems and issues of its historical context, was the humanistic apex.

The Enlightenment introduced challenges, but the influence of Greek philosophy persisted. Greek values, such as freedom, were mixed with the Christian heritage, generating secularized conceptions of morality and politics, incomprehensible without the aforementioned contribution of human dignity of Gospel root.

In conclusion, the relationship between Greek philosophy and Christian identity has been dynamic and enriching. From Antiquity to the Modern Age, this connection forged the intellectual and cultural tradition of Europe, demonstrating the capacity of ideas to shape and seek the true face of the identity of a civilization such as the European one.

Enduring Influence of Roman Law on Europe’s Christian Identity

The connection between Roman Law and Christian identity in Europe has been a journey through the centuries, marked by a profound and lasting influence. From the earliest days of Christianity, when both realities coexisted in the context of the Roman Empire, to the present day, the heritage of the Roman legal system has shaped the institutions, morals and social structure of Christian Europe.

In the first centuries of the Christian era, the Roman legal framework provided the necessary structure for the propagation and organization of Christianity. The notion of Roman citizenship merged with Christian teachings, creating a unique synthesis that influenced equality and social responsibility. Legal and political structures, from the very understanding of the family to the structures of municipalities and dioceses, involved a fruitful interrelationship that shaped the face of Europe.

The Church, during this period, adopted administrative structures of the Roman system, reflecting imperial divisions. The legal and moral authority of the Pope, based on the imperial tradition, took root in the Christian conscience.

The preservation of Roman law in ecclesiastical institutions and the creation of legal codes, such as the Code of Justinian, contributed to the continuity of the Roman legal tradition. These codes served as the basis for civil and canonical legislation, reflecting the synthesis of secular and Christian moral laws.

The recovery of classical knowledge revitalized the influence of Roman law in the Middle Ages. Medieval scholars applied Roman legal teachings in legal education and practice, further consolidating the links between the two disciplines.

The connection between Roman law and Christian identity was reflected in the formulation of fundamental legal concepts. The idea of natural rights and the conception of law as a reflection of divine reason resonated with Christian principles.

As Europe moved into the Modern Age, the influence of Roman law persisted in the legal and political structure of Christian nations. Law as an instrument for the pursuit of the common good and social justice and the protection of individual as well as community rights remained central, rooted in the fusion of Roman tradition and Christian ethics.

In short, the connection between Roman law and Europe’s Christian identity has been a complex and enduring phenomenon. The Roman legal heritage has permeated institutions, morals and the very conception of law in Christian Europe, shaping its collective identity in a way that transcends time and continues to influence the understanding of justice and morality in contemporary European society.

The Influence of the Barbarian Invasions

The barbarian invasions that shook Europe during the last years of the Roman Empire and the early Middle Ages not only left a trail of destruction and political change, but also played a crucial role in the formation of the continent’s common Christian identity. These invasions, carried out by Germanic, Slavic, Norse and other tribes, had a profound impact on the cultural and religious configuration of Europe.

In the decline of the Roman Empire, various barbarian tribes broke through the frontiers, bringing with them their own religious beliefs and practices. As they settled in the conquered lands, they came into contact with the Roman population, which was already marked by the identity of Christianity. This cultural and religious encounter was a complex process that contributed to the creation of a shared Christian identity.

Despite initial tensions between the barbarian communities and the Roman Christians, an integration of these cultures gradually took place. The Church, with its hierarchical structure and its role as a social unifier, played a crucial role in this process. The barbarian leaders, by adopting Christianity, saw in it a tool to consolidate their authority and legitimize their rule in the eyes of the Romanized population.

The barbarian invasions also led to the emergence of new Christian kingdoms in Europe. The Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Lombards, Franks, Angles and other groups adopted Christianity, and this act of conversion became a unifying factor in their territories. The figure of the Christian king, invested with a divine mandate, helped to consolidate the identity of these kingdoms and to forge a stronger connection between Christian faith and secular authority.

One of the most significant events was the conversion of the Franks under the reign of Clovis I in the 5th century. In Spain, the figure of Reccared in the kingdom of Toledo was another. This conversion to Christianity, and in particular to Catholicism, not only united the Hispanic Franks and Visigoths under a common religious identity, but also established ties with the Church in Rome. This link with the Papal See strengthened the connection between the Christian regions of Western Europe.

As the Middle Ages progressed, the common Christian identity was further consolidated. The Muslim invasions in the Iberian Peninsula were a reaction that strengthened, in the process of the seven centuries of reconquest, that European Christian identity, shaping a way of being in the cultural and social world totally impregnated with the Christian fact. The Crusades, launched to defend Christianity and recover the Holy Land, were an example of the union of European kingdoms under the banner of Christianity. The Church played an important role in the organization and promotion of these expeditions, contributing to the creation of a European Christian identity that transcended political boundaries.

In conclusion, the barbarian invasions, although initially chaotic and destructive, were a fundamental catalyst in the construction of Europe’s common Christian identity. Through cultural interaction, conversions and the establishment of Christian kingdoms, these invasions contributed to the formation of a shared narrative that endures to this day, shaping the history, culture and identity of Europe.

The Role of the Middle Ages in the Construction of Europe’s Christian Identity

The Middle Ages, also known as the medieval period, played an essential role in the formation and consolidation of Christian identity in Europe. This period, which spanned from approximately the 5th to the 15th century, witnessed a complex interplay between Christian faith, ecclesiastical institutions and socio-economic transformations, contributing significantly to the construction of Europe’s collective identity.

From the collapse of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance, the Catholic Church emerged as a central force in European life during the Middle Ages. Medieval Christianity not only influenced the spiritual sphere, but also shaped politics, culture and education. The Church provided an organizational structure in a world undergoing dramatic changes, thus consolidating the Christian faith as an integral component of European identity. The bishops as social heads and the pope as head of Christendom came to fill the vacuum produced by the power crisis generated by the fall of the Roman Empire, giving in turn accompaniment and light to a new world where cross and sword were in full union.

One of the most prominent aspects of the Middle Ages was the feudal system, which structured society around relationships of vassalage and mutual obligations. The Church played a crucial role in legitimizing this social structure, linking feudal hierarchies with Christian principles of care, hierarchy and the pursuit of the common good. Religious authority supported the idea that monarchs and feudal lords ruled with a divine mandate to care for their subjects, contributing to social cohesion under the banner of Christianity. And this in spite of all the deficiencies that can be argued, because the same human condition, fruit of its anthropological twisted shaft—Kant dixit—that in believers bears the name of original sin, obviously carries. But in spite of such deficiencies, the social orientation models, fruit of Christianity, are the ones that build identity. We are not only who we are, but who we would like to be, as an engine that orients us and pushes us towards a personal and cultural development that marks our identity.

Gothic architecture, with its majestic cathedrals and abbeys, also stands as a tangible testimony to the influence of the Christian faith on medieval European identity and as an image of that desire to ascend, metaphysically, spiritually and ideally, man and society. These monuments were not only places of worship, but also symbols of the greatness of God and the central role of the Church in the life of the community, as well as signs of where society wanted to go—always upwards. Gothic architecture not only elevated the buildings, but also the spirituality of medieval Christianity.

The rise of monastic orders, such as the Benedictines and Cistercians, highlighted the importance of monastic life in the construction of European Christian identity. These monasteries became centers of learning, preservation of classical knowledge and religious practice. Monks and nuns played an essential role in education and in the transmission of the faith, thus contributing to the spiritual cohesion of Europe. Monks guarded the idea of Europe and shaped it with their lives.

The Crusades, military expeditions undertaken in the name of Christianity to reclaim the Holy Land, also left an indelible mark on European identity. Although motivated by a variety of factors, the Crusades reflected Europe’s fervent commitment to the defense of Christianity and the expansion of its principles in a context of interaction with the Islamic and Eastern world.

As the Middle Ages progressed, intellectual movements emerged that fused classical philosophy with Christian theology. Scholasticism, represented by figures such as St. Thomas Aquinas, sought to harmonize reason and faith, thus contributing to a deeper and more articulate understanding of Christian identity. The theological and philosophical debates of this period left a lasting mark on the European worldview.

In conclusion, the Middle Ages played a crucial role in the construction of Europe’s Christian identity. Through the Church, monastic institutions, monumental architecture and intellectual movements, this period left a lasting legacy that influenced the way Europeans understood their faith and their place in the world. The Middle Ages were not a time of darkness, but a time of ferment and development that helped forge the Christian identity that remains an integral part of Europe’s heritage.

The Renaissance and its Contribution to the Construction of European Christian Identity

The Renaissance, a period of cultural and artistic renewal that flourished in Europe from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century, left a profound mark on the construction of the continent’s Christian identity. Although often associated with a revival of interest in classical Greco-Latin culture, the Renaissance also played a crucial role in the evolution and affirmation of Christian identity.

During this period, humanist currents rediscovered and revalued the works of classical antiquity, including the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. However, this revival of classical thought did not come at the expense of Christian identity; rather, it merged in a unique way with the Christian tradition, giving rise to a distinctive cultural synthesis.

Renaissance humanists advocated an education that incorporated both Christian principles and the ethical and aesthetic values of antiquity. This holistic approach allowed for a deeper appreciation of the Christian faith by placing it in a broader context of knowledge. Figures such as Erasmus of Rotterdam, Luis Vives or Francisco de Vitoria, promoted the idea that classical scholarship and Christian faith were not incompatible, but, on the contrary, complemented each other.

Renaissance architecture also reflected the interconnection between Christian identity and classical ideals. Churches and cathedrals, while often incorporating classical architectural elements, retained their function as places of Christian worship. The grandeur and elegance of these structures not only highlighted the glory of God, but also symbolized the spiritual rebirth of Christianity.

Renaissance art, characterized by a more realistic and humanized representation of the human figure, also influenced the visual expression of Christian identity. Religious paintings and sculptures captured devotion and spirituality with renewed intensity, providing the faithful with a more intimate connection to their faith.

In addition, the Renaissance brought about a revival of biblical and theological studies. Figures such as Thomas Aquinas, despite belonging to an earlier era, experienced renewed interest and study. The fusion of Aristotelian philosophy with Christian theology, known as scholasticism, found an intellectual renaissance during this period, allowing for a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the faith.

In short, the Renaissance contributed significantly to the construction of European Christian identity by integrating classical values with the Christian tradition. This cultural synthesis not only enriched knowledge and artistic expression, but also provided a solid basis for understanding the faith in a broader context. The Renaissance did not mark a separation between the classical and the Christian, but instead fostered a harmonious coexistence that influenced European identity for centuries.

The Construction of European Christian Identity in the Baroque: An Artistic and Spiritual Splendor

The Baroque period, which spanned roughly from the seventeenth century to the mid-eighteenth century, was a time of cultural and spiritual transformation in Europe. This period not only witnessed political and social changes, but also played a fundamental role in the construction and consolidation of Christian identity on the continent.

The Baroque emerged at a time of tensions and conflicts, such as the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation. These movements had a profound impact on European religiosity and contributed to the shaping of Christian identity during this period. The Catholic Church, in particular, sought to revitalize its spiritual influence in response to the challenges posed by the Reformation. The threat of Islam through the Turkish danger was of course also the driving force, in Carl Schmitt’s inspiration, of an enemy against which to reaffirm and strengthen the common identity, as Lepanto or Vienna showed.

Baroque architecture, with its opulence and theatricality, became a crucial means of expressing Christian identity. Baroque churches, with their ornate detailing, use of the play of light and shadow, and the monumentality of their designs, sought to inspire a sense of awe and devotion. St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, is an outstanding example of this Baroque architecture that sought to elevate the soul to the divine, but all of Europe, from Lisbon to Prague, from Seville to Vienna, shows it.

Baroque painting and sculpture also played an essential role in the construction of Christian identity. Masterpieces by artists such as Caravaggio, Zurbarán, Rubens and Velázquez depicted biblical scenes and portraits of saints with an emotional intensity and realism that sought to directly involve viewers in the religious narrative. Baroque sculpture, with its dramatic and dynamic imagery, provided a palpable representation of Christian spirituality.

Baroque music, especially sacred music, played a central role in expressing Christian identity. Composers such as Bach, Handel and Monteverdi created masterpieces that celebrated the faith and were performed in liturgical settings. Opera, although often secular in theme, also incorporated religious and moral elements, contributing to the cultural richness of Christian identity.

Baroque literature addressed religious themes with philosophical and spiritual depth. The works of mystics such as St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross explored the intimate relationship with the divine; the dramas of a Calderón de la Barca or a Lope de Vega brought that identity to the common people, while theological treatises provided—Friar Luis de Granada, a true bestseller of his time—an intellectual basis for understanding the faith. Baroque poetry, often rich in symbolism and biblical allusions, also contributed to the construction of Christian identity.

The Baroque was deeply marked in a Catholic key by the Counter-Reformation, an effort by the Catholic Church to revitalize and reaffirm its doctrine in response to the criticisms of the Protestant Reformation. Baroque popes, such as Innocent X and Alexander VII, played an important role in promoting the Catholic faith and building a unified Christian identity.

The Nineteenth Century and the Transformation of Christian Identity in Europe: Challenges, Renewal and Spiritual Evolution

The 19th century was a time of profound changes in Europe, both socially and culturally, changes that were the children of the civilizational debacle that was the French Revolution. These changes had a significant impact on the Christian identity of the continent, generating challenges, but also giving rise to new forms of spiritual expression and renewal.

The 19th century witnessed a series of social changes that challenged the historical position of the Church in European society. The rise of nationalist movements, accelerated industrialization, and the ideals of the Enlightenment influenced the perception of religious authority. Secularization gained ground, leading to a decline in the direct influence of the Church in the public sphere.

Despite the challenges, the 19th century was also a time of reform movements within the Church. In the Catholic Church, the Catholic Restoration movement sought to revitalize and strengthen the Church’s position in the face of social change. This impulse of spiritual renewal spread through various religious orders and lay movements, marking an effort to adapt to the demands of the time, especially in the field of education, with the birth of a multitude of religious congregations, mostly female, which came to address the new situations that the nascent liberal states were unable to meet.

Spiritual renewal in the 19th century was expressed in movements such as the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church and the revival of Catholicism in several European countries. These movements sought to revive religious devotion, deepen theological understanding and restore liturgical elements considered essential to Christian identity, as well as theology and scholarship.

In parallel, religious awakening movements developed, such as the Second Great Awakening in America and its echoes in Europe. These movements emphasized the personal experience of faith, conversion and active participation in the religious community. New denominations and Christian communities emerged that advocated a spirituality more centered on individual experience.

The 19th century was also a time of missionary expansion, with a renewed emphasis on evangelization at the time of African and Asian colonialism in non-Christian regions of the world. This cultural and religious encounter raised questions about the diversity of beliefs and traditions, contributing to a deeper reflection on Christian identity in a global context.

The 19th century also witnessed the emergence of theological and philosophical developments that influenced the understanding of faith. Philosophers such as Søren Kierkegaard explored the relationship between faith and reason, while theologians such as Friedrich Schleiermacher argued for a more focused interpretation of religious experience. Even from critical paths with a bourgeois model that was being imposed and that also affected the common believers, such as Leon Bloy, with his verbal scourge and religious depth, or Dostoevsky with his existential novels of deep spirituality.

Slavery, industrialization and social inequalities posed ethical challenges that Christian identity had to confront. Social justice movements inspired by Christian principles emerged to address these issues, making connections between faith and social action. And at the same time to confront the materialist movements of the three revolutions, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, which were giving birth to a new world increasingly removed from the faith and Christian principles that had shaped Europe for more than a millennium and a half.

In short, the nineteenth century was a period of complexity and change for Christian identity in Europe. Although it faced significant challenges because of secularization and social change, it was also a time of spiritual renewal, reform and theological reflection that laid the foundation for the diversity and evolution of Christian identity in the twentieth century and beyond.

The Twentieth Century to the Second World War: Challenges and Resilience in Europe’s Christian Identity

The 20th century witnessed a series of events that profoundly impacted Europe’s Christian identity. From geopolitical tensions to social and cultural changes, this period posed significant challenges, but also evidenced the resilience and persistence of the Christian faith in the midst of adversity.

It began with global conflicts and political tensions that had a direct impact on Europe’s Christian identity. The First World War truly marked the beginning of the century and left European society marked by devastation and loss, yet open to such technological change, as Ernst Jünger saw so well, that it would mark the following century.

The totalitarian regimes that emerged in the 1930s presented additional challenges to religious practice, as several European countries under absolute state regimes, such as Soviet communism or Nazism in Germany, sought to control and manipulate religious expression. Religious persecution affected Christian communities, evidencing the struggle of faith in the face of totalitarian ideologies that sought to suppress any allegiance other than to the state.

Despite the political challenges, the 20th century also witnessed significant efforts in favor of interreligious dialogue and ecumenism. Movements such as the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) in the Catholic Church and the Edinburgh Conference (1910) in Protestantism sought to promote unity and understanding among the various branches of Christianity, as well as with other religions.

The 20th century witnessed important theological developments that influenced Christian identity. Figures such as Chenu, Congar, Schillebeeckx, Karl Barth or Dietrich Bonhoeffer responded to the challenges of the time, reflecting on the relationship between Christian faith and social responsibility in a context marked by war and injustice.

During World War II, the Church played a key role in the resistance against totalitarian regimes. In some cases, such as the resistance of the Catholic Church in Poland, it became a beacon of hope and resistance against oppression. After the war, the Church also participated in reconstruction efforts, seeking to restore not only physical structures, but also communities and faith, and as a reminder, especially under the countries of communist terror, of authentic European Christian identity.

The second half of the 20th century was marked by the crisis of modernity, where the Christian faith faced challenges related to secularization, loss of institutional authority and growing cultural diversity. However, spiritual renewal movements also emerged that sought to revitalize religious practice in a changing context.

Despite the difficulties, the 20th century saw the development of numerous charitable and social organizations based on Christian principles. From local charities to international organizations, the Church and individual Christians played an active role in addressing social and humanitarian problems, demonstrating a continuing commitment to the Christian principles of love and justice, which best represent the face of European identity.

In summary, the 20th century up to World War II was a complex and challenging period for Europe’s Christian identity. Despite conflicts and tensions, the resilience of the Christian faith was manifested in interreligious dialogue, ecumenical efforts, the Church’s active role in resistance and reconstruction, and the continuing ethical and social influence of Christianity in European society.

The Second Half of the Twentieth Century: Transformations and Continuities in Europe’s Christian Identity

The second half of the 20th century was a period of radical changes that continued to influence Christian identity in Europe. From the impact of the Cold War to the emergence of social and cultural movements, the Christian faith faced new challenges and adapted to a constantly changing world.

The Cold War divided Europe into opposing ideological blocs, and religion was often caught in the middle of this conflict. In Eastern Europe, communism imposed significant restrictions on religious practice, especially in countries such as the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe controlled by the communist bloc.

The second half of the 20th century witnessed counterculture movements and significant social changes that affected the perception of religion in society. The Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, the rise of individualism and the emergence of new ethical paradigms posed challenges to traditional structures, including Christian identity.

In the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, held between 1962 and 1965, marked a crucial moment of renewal. The council sought to adapt the Church to contemporary challenges by promoting openness to interreligious and ecumenical dialogue. These efforts influenced the understanding of Christian identity in a context of growing religious pluralism.

The second half of the 20th century also witnessed the emergence of charismatic movements within Christianity, especially in the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations. These movements, characterized by intense spiritual experiences and an emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, sought to revitalize the faith and attract a new generation of believers.

A special emphasis on Social Justice and Human Rights characterized this period, which saw a rise in the Catholic Church especially, but also the Reformed Churches, in social justice and human rights. Religious leaders from John XXIII to John Paul II advocated for the defense of human rights and solidarity with the oppressed, contributing to the construction of a Christian identity committed to justice and human dignity.

Technological advances, changes in family structure and ethical debates on issues such as abortion, contraception and sexuality posed significant ethical challenges to Christian identity in the second half of the 20th century. The Church was forced to address these issues from an ethical and theological perspective, influencing the understanding of faith in the modern context. Although perhaps not always knowing how to respond fully.

Despite efforts at renewal, the second half of the 20th century also witnessed a decline in religious practice in some regions of Europe. Secularism and the influence of secular culture contributed to a decline in affiliation with religious institutions and a change in the dynamics of Christian identity. Consumer, technological, secular, secularist, materialistic models—both liberal and communist—have been gaining the upper hand in the neglect of Europe’s true Christian identity.

In short, the second half of the 20th century was a complex and dynamic period for Europe’s Christian identity. The Church faced significant challenges, but also responded to them through efforts of renewal, dialogue and adaptation to changing social and cultural dynamics. Christian identity, although affected by the transformations of the times, proved to be resilient and able to try to adapt to the challenges of a changing world.

Christian Identity in the Construction of the European Union: Between Religious Diversity and Shared Values

The European Union (EU) has been a project that has sought unity and cooperation among nations with rich cultural, historical and religious diversity. In this context, Christian identity has played a complex role as the EU has evolved in an environment characterized by religious plurality and commitment to shared values.

European history is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition. The influence of Christianity has been evident in the formation of institutions, laws and values that have shaped European civilization. From the Holy Roman Empire to the contribution of Christian thinkers to philosophy and ethics, Christian identity has left an indelible mark on the building of Europe.

The fathers of the European Union, Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi and Paul-Henri Spaak, were clear about this, even beyond their own personal convictions. Europe would not be Europe without the recognition and care of its Christian identity.

Christian ethics have contributed to the formulation of fundamental principles underpinning the EU. Human dignity, social justice and solidarity; Christian values rooted in biblical teaching, have been adopted as guiding principles in building a united and peaceful Europe.

Certainly, as the EU has grown and expanded, religious diversity has become more evident. Interfaith dialogue has become an essential component in promoting mutual understanding between different faith communities. Despite its Christian roots, the EU recognizes and respects religious plurality as an integral part of its contemporary identity. But one certainly cannot engage in dialogue by renouncing who one is.

Throughout the negotiations for the formation of the EU, there has been an attempt, perhaps excessively so, to balance Christian roots with a secular approach to decision-making. The European institutions have adopted a secular approach, ensuring separation between religion and government to guarantee equality and religious freedom for all citizens, in a move beyond pendulum swinging, almost renouncing them.

Christian movements, such as the Taizé Community, have played an active role in promoting European unity and building bridges between communities. Their commitment to Christian values of reconciliation and fraternity has resonated with the vision of a united and peaceful Europe. But, and here is one of the main lessons that we should not lose, without renouncing our own identity.

In the 21st century, the EU is facing challenges related to religious diversity, the rise of secularism and the growing pressure of political movements that seek to highlight national identities or marginal and minority identities. Reflection on Christian identity in this context involves finding a balance that celebrates the Christian heritage while committing to an inclusive and respectful approach towards all faiths and non-beliefs, but without giving up what has made Europe who it is.

In conclusion, Christian identity has left a profound mark on the construction of the European Union, influencing its fundamental ethical values and contributing to the vision of a united Europe. However, the EU has also evolved to embrace religious diversity and ensure that its principles reflect respect and equality for all citizens, regardless of their beliefs. Christian history and identity remain significant elements in the evolving cultural and ethical fabric of the European Union.

Vicente Niño Orti, OP is a Dominican friar. He studied the Law and Theology and is the Area Director of the Saint Dominic Educational Foundation.

Featured: St. Helena and the True Cross, by Giovanni Battista Cima da Conegliano; painted ca. 1495.

The End of the Christian Caucasus?

The fact is little known outside a few specialists: a large part of the territory of today’s Azerbaijan corresponds to the borders of an ancient Christianized kingdom (probably as early as the 2nd century) known as Caucasian Albania (or Alwania). It disappeared in the 8th century, partly as a result of the Muslim conquest, and partly under pressure from its large Armenian neighbor.

The coveted Karabakh (known as Artsakh) is one of the regions of this small kingdom attested by Greco-Latin and Armenian historiographical sources.

The discovery of an Albanian lectionary in 1975 at the Sinai monastery suggests the early Christianization of Albania, with links to Jerusalem, where Albanian communities financed the construction of several churches. The discovery was not widely publicized, but is well recounted by Bernard Outtier.

While this vanished Christianity is of no interest to the Christian or Catholic world, the Turks are particularly well-informed about the history of the Albanians of the Caucasus (the Baku school of history), and they are today exploiting this knowledge admirably to support their claim to Nagorno-Karabakh and assert their legitimacy over this territory, which they regard as a “proto-Azerbaijan.”

In February 2022, AZERTAC (Azerbaijan’s State Information Agency) posted an article by Mr. Rahman Mustafayev, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Holy See: ” Les racines chrétiennes du Caucase. L’histoire de l’Église d’Azerbaïdjan [“The Christian Roots of the Caucasus. The history of the Church of Azerbaijan”]. In it, the author begins by tracing the main lines of the history of this small kingdom, which was Christianized very early on, a Church that, if not apostolic, was at least closely linked to the chain of the first disciples. And what he traces is consistent not only with what academic research has elaborated, but also with extant traditions, often oral.

The problem lies in the Azeri account of recent history: “At the beginning of the 19th century, following the Russo-Persian and Russo-Turkish wars, won by the Russian Empire, the process of settlement of Armenians from the Ottoman and Persian Empires began on the territory of the Karabakh, Erivan and Nakhchivan Khanates of the Russian Empire.”

All these territories were Armenian long before the Muslim occupation. It is not a question of “appropriating” Muslim territories, but of reappropriating the land from which they have been dispossessed, and this of course involves major human problems on both sides.

Assuming that the Armenians had to familiarize themselves with an Albanian architectural heritage and that they restored and renovated the monuments by introducing elements of Armenian architecture “that are not characteristic of Albanian architecture,” why is this scandalous? The two architectures, while not twins, are very similar. To claim that the Armenian epigraphy on medieval Albanian monuments constitutes the beginning of a process of “Armenization” is quite absurd, because the “Albanian” community has practically disappeared today. What remains is a “Udi” church, and a few speakers of the Udi language, which researchers admit is the heir to the Albanian language. In April 1836, the Tsarist government had abolished the Autocephalous Church of Albania, which was then subordinate to the Armenian Gregorian Church, according to the ambassador, in order to strengthen the position of the Armenian population and clergy in the Muslim territories of Transcaucasia. This may well be the case, and it was undoubtedly a pity for the little Albanian church. But it was also a political act. Since 2003, this small Albanian church has once again become autocephalous.

The extravagance of Azerbaijan’s accusations is astounding. If we are to believe their allegations, at the beginning of the 20th century, the Armenian Gregorian Church—with the authorization of the Russian Holy Synod—destroyed all traces of the archives of the Albanian Church, as well as the library of the Patriarchs of Albania in Gandjasar, which contained the most precious historical documents, as well as the originals of Albanian literature. The destruction (or concealment) of archives would thus have enabled Armenian historians and archaeologists to deny the autocephalous nature of the Albanian Church, the Albanian ownership of the Christian temples (?), monasteries and churches located on the territory of today’s Karabagh region, and to claim that they are the cultural heritage of the Armenian people and the property of the Armenian Church.

Today’s Albanian heritage obviously belongs to the Church of Armenia, not to the Muslim Azeris. To believe that the Azeri state has set up the great dome of secularism to give all churches their place in the country is to be naive or totally ignorant.

It is true that in the 8th century, Chalcedonian Albania was pressured by its large and prestigious neighbor to submit to Armenia’s anti-Chalcedonian choice. And after the conquest of the Caucasus by the armies of Islam, while Georgia emerged as a regional power and Armenia survived as a Christian power, Albania disappeared, at least politically. This is a matter for historical research. It is delicate because Albanian history is known mainly through Armenian historiography, and since history shows that spiritual and theological divisions were reflected in relations between states and kingdoms, religious theological conflicts were unfavorable to the small Albanian kingdom.

When the ambassador to the Holy See rejoices at “the liberation of Karabakh after 30 years of occupation,” and asserts that a new stage is beginning, so that “the Christian churches are returning to their masters, to the Albanian-Sudinian Christian community of Azerbaijan,” he is mocking us. The Albanian-Azerbaijani community is a mere pittance located in three cities in Azerbaijan (not even Baku). Are they naive enough to believe that their heritage will be restored to them under a Muslim regime? We are not. We have been searching the web in vain for images of the Albanian community so highly praised by the Azeris.

The tourist guides tell us: the Artsakh Ministry of Culture has restored the conventual buildings of the Gandjasar monastery, a major center for the copying of illuminated manuscripts in the Middle Ages, and has set up a Matenadaran (Yerevan’s BNF, albeit on a more modest scale) with the same functions: to exhibit the manuscripts created on Artsakh soil, some 100 of which are housed in the Matenadaran.

Vatican News has relayed Pope Francis’ call to protect the spiritual and architectural heritage of Nagorno-Karabakh. Here is what it says, written by Delphine Allaire:

“Nagorno-Karabakh’s millennia-old spiritual heritage makes it the cradle of Armenia. This pivotal region contains hundreds of churches, monasteries and tombstones dating from the 11th to the 19th century. Being mountainous, it was not evangelized at the same time as Armenia. However, Christianity in Nagorno-Karabakh is mainly because of the action of King Vatchagan the Pious who came to the throne in 484. He spread the cult of saintly relics, and the region owes him the construction of Karabakh’s oldest religious monument, the mausoleum of Grigoris, grandson of Saint Gregory the Illuminator and Catholicos of Albania in the Caucasus. Today, this monument is the Amaras monastery in eastern Artsakh. The history of Armenia and Caucasian Albania has been linked since the Christianization of the two countries in the early 4th century.”

This calls for a few comments.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an ancient region of Caucasian Albania, and thus the cradle of the Christian Albanians. But of these Albanians, only a tiny community remains: the Udi, whose language is that of the ancient Albanians, but whose writing has been lost. Thus, there is nothing wrong about this, and it is no falsification to claim it as the historical cradle of medieval Armenia, once the Albanian kingdom had disappeared.

At the beginning of January 2022, journalist Anastasia Lavrina (in the pay of the Azerbaijani government) carried out a curious investigation in Karabakh into “how the Christian churches of Karabakh were destroyed by Armenian separatists,” which was published on the website of the Journal musulmans en France a few days later. An impressive video shows the alleged exactions of the Armenians, as well as the testimony of an Orthodox priest from Baku on the freedom of worship enjoyed by the churches and the repair of this fabulous ancient heritage of which they are so proud. The images only show a priest commenting on all this in front of a small pile of old stones.

The same Journal des musulmans de France plagiarized Ambassador Mustafayev’s text to proclaim the liberation of Nagorno-Karabakh: “A new stage… in the history of Christian churches in Azerbaijan—a stage of restoration after destruction and historical falsifications, a stage of healing wounds, of rebirth to life in the name of peace and cooperation between all religions of Azerbaijan.”

Who can believe that Azerbaijan will finance the restoration of Armenian heritage once it has emptied the country of all Armenians? We know the devastating rage of Islam. Mosques will cover the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, erasing Christian memory and the religious roots of humanity, just as Turkey did in two bloody genocides.

But there is a lesson to be learned from all this propaganda, and it is an important one: Muslims have admitted the existence of a very old Albanian Christianity, old enough to confirm a very old, apostolic first evangelization, which Eastern tradition has maintained to the last.

Over and above this ancient history and the existence of a third Christianity in the Caucasus (totally ignored by the Caucasologists of our French media), most articles specializing in Caucasus affairs never cease to evoke “ethnic” or “racial” hatreds, and never mention “religious hatreds.” This ignores the Armenian genocide, which has been documented, even if not recognized by the nation historically responsible for it.

Almost all the articles available do not go beyond 1993, the supposed start of hostilities between Azeris and Armenians.

This silence is irresponsible, not to say guilty.

The question of Nagorno-Karabakh is an old one, whose seeds of death were sown by the British when they awarded Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan in 1919. Stalin merely ratified their decision.

At the end of 1918, Great Britain moved into the Caucasus. Through diplomacy, it made up for the few material resources it had in this “turbulent” region, as the experts put it. The cunning, deceitfulness, cynicism and well-understood self-interest of this England of the dying empire are well known. Her own, of course. The pretext invoked by the most imperialist circles in London to justify this presence in the Caucasus is that it was one of the roads into India. In reality, it is because of Baku’s oil. During British rule in 1919, Azerbaijan still had access to the oil that crossed Georgia to the port of Batumi (promised to Georgia, but occupied by the British). As for Armenia, it had been promised vast territories in Anatolia. But without the means to conquer or hold on to them. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of refugees were crammed into a tiny territory. Of what was then called “Turkish Armenia,” only one vilayet remained, that of Sivas, and only a handful of Armenians.

For Turkey, the Batumi treaties were nothing more than legal façades providing a pretext for invading the Caucasus. At the beginning of August 1918, Nuri Pacha demanded the annexation of Karabakh to Azerbaijan. The Armenian Republic refused. Once. Then a second time. The Turks then sent a Turkish-Azeri detachment against the capital, Shushi, which the Turks entered on October 8. The villages went into sedition, and the following month, taking advantage of their withdrawal, the Armenians regained control of the region.

In October 1918, Enver Pasha sent precise instructions to the Army of the Caucasus for the regions between the Transcaucasian republics and the line of retreat of the Turkish forces. Before withdrawing, the army was to arm the Kurdish and Turkish populations, leaving behind officers capable of organizing the region politically and militarily. The main objective was to prevent the repatriation of Armenians.

The commander-in-chief of British forces in the Caucasus, General William Montgomerie Thomson, was on the best of terms with the Azerbaijani government, which enabled Great Britain to obtain very large quantities of oil. On January 15, 1919, he authorized the appointment of an Azeri governor for the provinces of Karabakh (165,000 Armenians vs. 59,000 Azeris) and Zanguezur (101,000 Armenians vs. 120,000 Azeris).

In February 2019, the Azerbaijani administration entered Karabakh under British protection, while the Armenians held their fourth assembly in Shushi, which still refused to submit. Talks continued at the fifth assembly, held at the end of April with the participation of the Azeri governor and General Digby Shuttleworth, Thomson’s successor.

Armenian refusal persisted, and relations soured. On June 2, the Azeris attacked.

In August 1919, the Armenians accepted Azeri authority. Did they have any other choice?

On January 8, 1920, the Armenians signed an agreement with Major General George Forestier-Walker, commander of British forces in Batumi, for the establishment of an Armenian civil administration in Kars. When it arrived, escorted by the British, the Muslims refused to submit and, at the end of a large congress, proclaimed the provisional national government of the south-west Caucasus. General Thomson arrived in Kars and de facto recognized this government, while the Armenian administration turned back. With the Turks and Kurds making it impossible to repatriate Armenians to the west, the Armenians decided in January to attack Nakhichevan.

Thomson offered to help the Armenians take control of Kars and Nakhichevan, if they agreed to cede Karabakh and Zanguezur to the Azeris. Following an agreement in principle, Thomson occupied Kars on April 13 and dissolved the South-West Caucasus government. The British withdrew from Nakhichevan, leaving the administration to the Armenians. In July, the Muslims of Nakhichevan attacked the Armenians and forced them to evacuate the district.

When Colonel Alfred Rawlinson visited the Kars region in July, he found that, apart from the towns, the rest of the territory was held by the Kurds, from the Aras valley to Oltu and Ardahan.

What about the French? They knew, of course.

On December 10, 1918, Lieutenant-Colonel Pierre-Auguste Chardigny, commander of the French detachment in the Caucasus, sent a six-page letter to the Minister of War, in which he outlined the situation in the Caucasus and the proposed organization of the country.

He pointed out that “recent attempts at Russian colonization have produced a complete mixture of races and an incredible dispersion of populations,” and asked whether the organization of the Caucasus into four independent republics, “following the collapse of Russian power and the threat of Turkish invasion, is likely to provide the populations with the peace and prosperity to which they aspire?”

This is no rhetorical question. Here is the answer in extenso.

What is this organization?

1. It is none other than the realization of our enemies’ plan, which can be summed up as follows:

a) Constitution of a large Muslim state in the Caucasus, uniting under Turkish protectorate the highlanders of the North Caucasus and the Tatars of Azerbaijan. This concept, of purely pan-Islamic origin, would have brought the Crescent to the edge of the Caspian Sea in the event of victory for the allied powers. The Republic of Armenia, born of necessity and reduced to infinite proportions, would have been short-lived, the disappearance of what remained of the Armenian people being the direct and fatal consequence of the Turkish plan.

b) Creation of an independent Georgia, under the protectorate of Germany, which would itself be responsible for exploiting the natural wealth of the most favored region in the Caucasus.

2. That none of the four new republics had sufficient resources to create an independent life for themselves, ensuring the country’s future development. Two of them, that of Azerbaijan and that of the Montagnards, do not even have an educated class large enough to ensure the direction of affairs, the mass of the people having so far remained in a state of profound ignorance.

In a note, the lieutenant-colonel pointed out that while in Georgia all Russian civil servants had been replaced by Georgians, in Azerbaijan, given the absolute lack of educated Muslims, Russian civil servants had been retained.

…Georgians and Tatars (Azerbaijanis), supported by German and Turkish bayonets, incorporated parts of the Armenian regions into their respective territories.

Lieutenant-Colonel Chardigny concluded with a novel and intelligent proposal: that the Swiss model should be copied in the Caucasus and the region organized into “cantons.”

And he concluded, with a certain realism, that to save order in this country, a foreign master was needed, who could only be the Allies, acting in the name of Russia, until calm had been restored.

He concluded this intelligent letter with the fate of Russian Armenia (Caucasian Armenia) and that of Turkish Armenia, “a devastated and deserted country whose reconstitution would be a long-term task.”

The constitution of a large Muslim state in the Caucasus, uniting under Turkish protectorate the highlanders of the North Caucasus and the Tatars of Azerbaijan, is still on the agenda.

This is President Erdogan’s project.

The “fourth republic” of the North Caucasus did not last, but there is still Azerbaijan, a Turkish protectorate (or satellite) that takes the Crescent all the way to the Caspian.

The great Muslim state of the Caucasus, in a Turkish-speaking zone stretching from the Bosphorus to Central Asia: that is Turkey’s geopolitical vision.

Erdogan is moving forward, barely masked, with the same determination of his great predecessors, the gravediggers of the Christian Caucasus who did most of the work, with the duplicitous complicity of the Entente powers.

Today, France’s absurd support for Ukraine and the press’ aversion to Putin have foolishly deprived it of Russian gas. Today, it is turning to Azerbaijan (Baku) to obtain, in an unnatural alliance, what it could have continued to negotiate if it had chosen realism and common sense: to leave Zelenski to his destructive madness and demented plans; to turn away from a war decided and willed by NATO; to develop ties with Christian Russia prepared by three centuries of political, cultural and linguistic history.

Today, the gravediggers of the Christian Caucasus are still there, slyly preparing the ruin of the small Armenian state, an unfortunate landlocked state which today lies on the route of tomorrow’s oil pipelines.
And by the same token, irresponsibly organizing a future Muslim Caucasus.

Marion Duvauchel is a historian of religions and holds a PhD in philosophy. She has published widely, and has taught in various places, including France, Morocco, Qatar, and Cambodia. She is the founder of the Pteah Barang, in Cambodia.

Featured: Albanian Church in Kish, Shaki Rayon, Azerbaijan.

Lenin and the New Man

The most influential and politically decisive character in the 20th century and still in the 21st century is not Karl Marx (1818-1883), but his devoted admirer Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (10. IV. 1870-21. I. 1924), who was from a well-to-do family and better known as “Lenin,” or “he who belongs to the Lena River.” He adopted this nickname in 1901, after his three-year exile (1897-1900) near that Siberian river, with his wife Nadezhda (Nadia) Krupskaya (1869-1939), who was from an impoverished noble family. It was Lenin, a fanatical millenarian of the communist utopia, die wahre Demokratie, authentic democracy, who made Marx famous by consolidating socialism as the world’s dominant world religion in its various versions. Even the Protestant and Catholic churches have made it their own through the myths of social justice, egalitarianism, etc. “Not having succeeded in getting men to practice what it teaches, the present Church has resolved to teach what men practice” (Nicolás Gómez Dávila).


The testimonies about Lenin’s sincere admiration and respect for Karl Marx, imported into Russia, where he was better known than in the rest of Europe, by revolutionaries of various tendencies, are innumerable. According to one of his biographers, Lenin considered Marx’s writings “sacred scriptures;” like a “religious dogma,” which “should not be questioned but believed.” Lenin had “an unshakable faith, a religious faith in the Marxist gospel,” said the skeptic Bertrand Russell.

However, he was not ideologically Marxist except in the belief that he had discovered the laws of history. Marx, Schumpeter recognized, was scientifically very rigorous and his disciple ex lectione was a scientistic who despised facts that did not conform to his arguments, abhorred compromise and rarely admitted his own mistakes. The importation of Marx contributed to westernizing Russia, “one of the most ignorant, medieval and shamefully backward Asian countries” said Lenin, who proposed to turn the Empire of the Czars into the USSR, the only world Empire.

An example of his differences with Marx: for the German thinker, the evolution towards socialism could only take place in capitalist countries with a developed industrial proletariat, which would emancipate itself without the need for a revolution. Instead, Lenin considered necessary the “democratic dictatorship of the proletariat,” led by a firmly cohesive revolutionary vanguard party, which would provide the working classes with political consciousness (education and organization) and lead the struggle against Capitalism. Nor did he attach importance to the theory of surplus value, the key to Marx’s socio-economic thought. According to Lenin, “what is fundamental in Marx’s doctrine is the class struggle. Thus it is very often written and said. But this is not accurate. From this inaccuracy derives very often the opportunist misrepresentation of Marxism, its distortion in a sense acceptable to the bourgeoisie.” And so on. Lenin thought of the homogeneous new man with whom all differences would disappear.


The Ulyanov couple, who could not have children because of a physical defect of Nadia Krupskaya, managed to flee from Siberia to Western Europe. They returned to Russia at the outbreak of the 1905 revolution against tsarism at the same time as the Russian-Japanese war (8.II.1904-5.IX.1905), which ended with the defeat of the Russian Empire and the affirmation of the Japanese as the Asian power capable of confronting the Western powers. In truth, that revolution was nothing more than a broad social movement calling for an improvement in the deplorable situation of the working classes. But it was the prolegomenon of Lenin’s revolution, because of “Bloody Sunday”: on January 22, 1905, a peaceful demonstration led by the priest Georgy Gapon of more than 150,000 Orthodox workers and peasants, who held up crosses and icons and portraits of Tsar Nicholas II—who was absent—to whom they wanted to deliver a request for labor improvements, was violently repressed by the imperial guard who killed about 2,000 people, at the gates of the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, including women. and children. The news spread throughout Russia. There were riots and revolts that were repressed; the unrest spread through all layers of Russian society. The absurd response of the government was not forgotten and the memory of the tragic event was kept very much alive.

Authentic revolutions are first prepared in the heads, said Ortega, and the Bolshevik revolution, destined to change the course of universal history, began that Sunday. It was a revolution “suspended,” said Gonzague de Reynold, “unfinished” said Stéphane Courtois. For, as Ortega also said in The Revolt of the Masses: “every ignored reality—in this case the manifestly improvable situation of the majority of the Russian people—prepares its revenge.” The postponed revolution had three phases.

Lenin and his wife went into exile again in 1907, after the failure of the first phase in which, by the way, the soviets appeared on the scene. They returned in 1917, during the second phase: the “bourgeois” revolution of February 23, 1917, which forced the tsar to abdicate. This revolution occurred almost by chance, since the revolutionary bourgeoisie did not have politicians of stature. Kerensky, second president of the Republic in the few months of the provisional government, was called “the clown.” Lenin, rather Trotsky, initiated the third revolutionary phase in the same year 1917, in which “a new epoch begins. It concludes the history of Russia, begins that of the USSR and also initiates a new era for mankind.” Both phases, bourgeois and Leninist, also took place during another war, the Great European World War of 1914-1918. The bourgeois was in favor of continuing the struggle against the central empires; the proletarian, a revolution of intellectuals who hastened to sign the peace of Brest-Litovsk to begin the third phase, which lasted practically, although sub-phases could be distinguished, until the implosion of the USSR in 1989-1992.


Lenin, “the great machinist of the revolution,” who imposed the technological mentality in the USSR by describing his revolution as “soviets and electrification”—the State as a great capitalist enterprise—was a very cultured man, who also knew German, French and English perfectly. A great reader, very interested in the French Revolution, especially in the Jacobins—”furious theoreticians” (Burke), the first totalitarians according to common feeling—he certainly read Sylvain Maréchal’s prophecy in the Manifeste des Egaux (1795): “The French Revolution is only the precursor of a much greater revolution, much more solemn, and which will be the last one.” It would be the Great Revolution of Equality, another delayed revolution confused with the democratic revolution that began in the Middle Ages, according to Tocquevilie and which Rodney Stark traces back to the Roman Empire when women and slaves converted to Christianity.

Lenin was a nationalist according to Trotsky. But, a reader of Bakunin, because “the revolution begins at home” and Moscow was, according to the myth, the Third Rome, he was surely thinking of Maréchal when he declared, “Russia is but a stage towards the world revolution.” In exile, he had already begun to spread the idea of transforming the Great War into a revolution of the European proletariat that would prepare the utopian world revolution of equality—the key to his thought, his political action and his success, very different from the revolution of freedom—”freedom for what?” Lenin replied to Fernando de los Ríos in 1920—initiated by Christianity.


Lenin and Trotsky, who had gone from the conciliatory Mensheviks to the intransigent Bolsheviks, carried out the coup d’état on October 25, according to the Julian calendar then in force in Russia, November 7 according to the Gregorian calendar of 1917, skillfully taking advantage of the power vacuum. “Ten days that shook the world,” became the title of a book published in 1919 by the American Marxist journalist John Reed. The revolution proper, destined to change the course of world history, came later. Not as an exclusively Russian political revolution, but as the beginning of the world revolution of the proletariat, which would definitively redeem Humanity. A religious revolution that began with the period of the Terror, which lasted nineteen and a half months (September 1918-January 1920) with an annual average of 1.5 million dead.

Vladimir Lenin is an example of what Walter Schubart said about the religiosity of the Russians: “In the Russians everything is religious… even atheism. They offered to the world, for the first time and in great style, the unusual spectacle of a religious atheism; or, in other words: a pseudomorphosis of religion, the birth of a belief in the form of unbelief, a new doctrine of salvation in the figure of perdition, of impiety. Its religiosity… has nothing European about it; it hurls itself, eager for dogmas, to seize a doctrine that comes from rationalist Europe. Hence the profound antagonism that explodes from within Russian atheism, and with it, Bolshevism: the contradiction between the ideal and the methods; between the goal of peace and humanity, and the means of terror and crime, typical marks of the Russian soul. If one wants to characterize Bolshevism with a blunt phrase, it could be done with this formula: in the hands of the Russians Marxism has become a religion; and more precisely: a semblance of religion. For it cannot be called “religion,” a movement which considers finite values as absolute greatness—without the note of an all-embracing totality—mere fragments, mere fragments of the universe.” But, as John Gray says in The New Leviathans: Thoughts after Liberalism, “Russian atheists, nihilists and terrorists sought to divinize the human species, instead of ‘learning to live without God.’”

To understand Lenin, including his crimes, it is necessary to take into account that deeply religious character, which drove him to hate God—as a Gnostic, Voegelin would say—because the world is not perfect: “every thought dedicated to God is an unspeakable vileness.” His passionate atheism made him a charismatic leader, like those of Max Weber: “passion,” said Weber, “does not turn a man into a politician if he is not at the service of a cause and does not make responsibility for that cause the guiding star of his action.”


The young Lenin, faithful orthodox, good student and very mature—he always gave his family a preeminent place—had never been interested in politics. But hurt, naturally, by the death of his older brother Aleksandr in 1887, hanged for participating in an anarchist plot to assassinate Alexander III—Lenin would avenge him by ordering the assassination of Tsar Nicholas II and his entire family—he began to associate with revolutionary groups and, moved by hatred, became a political activist. A figure about which Lenin would later theorize as a quasi-priestly profession, dedicated to redeeming Humanity incarnated in the proletariat. “Except for power, everything is illusion,” Lenin believed and said; and he conceived of the party of the proletariat as a Comtean community, or pouvoir spirituel, and the shock troops of History against “class monopoly capitalism;” capitalism which was and remains the Satan of the socialist faith. The party was the priestly caste that led the egalitarian revolution, promoting Stakhanovism and Gaganovism, so that there would be no free hours of work, but free activities, to achieve total equality, in which the new men, being equal in everything, would follow the instructions of the nomenklatura, and thus it was assumed that all would be free.

Dazzled by the novel, What Is to be Done? (1862), by Nikolai Chernyshevsky, one of the leaders of the populist movement (narodnik) of socialist tendency, Lenin exchanged his orthodox faith for faith in science, founded the communist religion as a more radical heresy of the socialist one and, as Nietzsche guessed—die Zeit kommt, wo man über Politik umlernen wird (the time is coming when the meaning of politics will be changed), effectively changed the traditional conception of politics, which seeks a balance between freedom and security, making it revolutionary: The Permanent Revolution theorized by Trotsky, the continuous change that leads to totalitarianism according to Hannah Arendt. The Brazilian thinker Olavo de Carvalho said that the ideas of Lenin and Gramsci coincide with those of Wycliff, Huss, Müntzer and other messianics. For the messianic scientistic Lenin, who never took facts into account, “there is no Marxist dogma. Marxism is the scientific management of human affairs.”

Follower of the Marxist branch of German social democracy, rival of the most powerful social democracy of Lassall against which Bismarck reacted, Lenin distanced himself from the liberalizing of his teacher Georgi Plekhanov (1857-1918), considered the “father” of Russian Marxism, and founded Marxism-Leninism—an ideology that has more of Lenin—almost everything—as Ersatz religion, substitute, than of Marx; atheist, but not moved by hatred. “Where Lenin is, there is Jerusalem,” said the Marxist philosopher, Ernst Bloch.

Just as Marx inverted Hegel to found socialism, Lenin inverted Marx to found the religion of hatred. Nevertheless, hagiography presents Karl Marx as Moses and Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, a Slav with a “Mongolian face” (F. de los Ríos) as a westernizing Marxist, as the Joshua who brought down the walls of bourgeois capitalism. Certainly, at the cost of millions of victims, killed by him and his disciples in Russia and the rest of the world.

However, since the denunciation of Stalin’s crimes by Nikita Khrushchev in 1956, Lenin was the good guy, and the evil one his disciple and successor, Stalin. Lenin, who wanted to eliminate all bourgeois and all those who were not proletarians, was the redeemer of humanity; Stalin, who followed the terrorist policy of Lenin’s religion of hatred, the Satan infiltrated who had into Leninism. Communism seemed to Alain Besançon more perverse than Nazism—an imitation of Leninism in its most sinister aspects—because it uses the universal spirit of justice and goodness to spread evil. But the slogan reductio ad hitlerum prevails. Solzhenitsyn commented in 1980: “During Lenin’s lifetime, there were no fewer innocents killed among the civilian population than under Hitler, and yet Western students, who today give Hitler the title of the greatest madman in history, regard Lenin as a benefactor of mankind.”

Leninism is still present. Lenin is invoked in universities in the USA and all over the world, in the America of “21st century socialism” and in monarchic Spain, in the European Union, in China… one reads books like the one by the Slovenian Slavoj Žižek, Repeating Lenin (2004), etc. The Leninist conception is a world completely planned by a party that bureaucratically controls—the nomenklatura—the least human activity. This conception has been revived by Klaus Schwab and the Davos Forum bosses, who claim to be the “administrators of the future,” already put into practice by the Anti-European Union, against which populisms are beginning to rebel: “the nickname,” says Chantal Delsol in her politically incorrect book, Populisme, “A defense of the indefensible, with which the perverted democracies virtuously disguise their contempt for populism.”


Since “the revolution begins at home,” Lenin hastened to create in Russia, in the few years that he enjoyed his triumph, the structures of the terrorist State—the Cheka, the repression of nonconformists, the denunciations—which turned it into the USSR, the paradise of the proletariat.

Some of Lenin’s sayings on the use of terror as an instrument of political and social control:

“It does not matter if ninety percent of the Russian people perish as long as only ten percent of them live through the world revolution.”

“I am astonished that you do not proceed to mass executions for sabotage,” he telegraphed to his people on January 29, 1920, on the occasion of the railroad workers’ strikes.

“The good communist is also a good chekist.”

“The greater the number of representatives of the reactionary clergy and the reactionary bourgeoisie that we succeed in executing, the better.”

Against the formal abolition of the death penalty in the USSR: “How are you going to make a revolution without executions? Do you expect to eliminate your enemies by disarming yourself? What other means of repression are there?”

“When people censure us for our cruelty, we wonder how they can forget the most elementary principles of Marxism” (Pravda, October 26, 1918).

“We must set an example: 1) Hang (and I say hang in such a way that people will see) not less than 100 kulaks, rich men, too well-known blood drinkers. 2) Publish their names. 3) Seize all their grain. 4) Identify the hostages as we have indicated in our telegram of yesterday. Do this in such a way that people for a hundred leagues around will see it, so that they will tremble and say: they kill and will continue to kill bloodthirsty kulaks. Telegraph that you have received these instructions. Yours, Lenin.”

“Lenin,” writes Richard Pipes in his classic, The Russian Revolution (1992), was “the guiding force of the Red Terror throughout.” He wanted to build a world inhabited by good citizens and that obsession led him, like Robespierre, “to justify morally the elimination of bad citizens.”

Dalmacio Negro Pavón (Madrid, 1931) has been professor of History of Ideas and Political Forms in the Faculty of Political Science and Sociology at the Complutense University of Madrid and is currently professor emeritus of Political Science at the CEU San Pablo University. He is also a full member of Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas (the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences). He has translated and edited several classic works of German, English and French political thought. His many books include El fin de la normalidad y otros ensayos (The End of Normality and Other Essays), La ley de hierro de la oligarquía (The Iron Law of Oligarchy), Lo que Europa debe al Cristianismo (What Europe Owes to Christianity), Il Dio Mortale. Il Mito dello Stato tra Crisi Europea e Crisi delle Politica (The Mortal God: The Myth of the State amidst the European Crisis and Crisis of Politics), and La tradición de la libertad (The Tradition of Liberty). This article appears through the kind courtesy of La gaceta de la Iberosfera.

Featured: Lenin and Demonstrations, by Isaak Brodsky; painted in 1919.

Canticum Cambrorum

Cambri tumultuosi expediti erant ad invadendae Marchiae opportunitatem; et hoc carmen, sive ab uno eorum compositum sit, sive opus cuiusdam Anglici, qui eos satiandi occasionem sumpsit, dat nobis pulchram imaginem animi in quo impediverunt.

Carmen hoc saeculo XIII est et invenitur in Bibliotheca publica Leidensi, MS. Vossius, Numero 104, folio 144, recto.

Trucidare Saxones soliti Cambrenses
Ad cognatos Britones et Cornubienses;
Requirunt ut veniant per acutos enses,
Ad debellandos inimicos Saxonienses.
Venite jam strenue loricis armati;
Sunt pars magna Saxonum mutuo necati,
Erit pars residua per nos trucidati:—
Nunc documenta date qua sitis origine nati.
Mellinus veredicus nunquam dixit vanum;
Expellendum populum prædixit vexanum.
Et vos hoc consilium non servatis sanum;
Cernite fallaces quorum genus omne profanum.
Prædecessor validus rex noster Arturus
Si vixisset hodie, fuissem securus
Nullus ei Saxonum restitisset murus;
Esset ei[s] sicut meruerunt in prece durus.
Procuret omnipotens sibi successorem
Saltem sibi similem, nollem meliorem,
Qui tollat Britonibus antiquum dolorem,
Et sibi restituat patriam patriæque decorem.
Hoc Arturi patruus velit impetrare,
Sanctus [qui]dam maximus, Anglum ultra mare;
Scimus festum Martis kalendis instare,—
Ad natale solum Britones studeat revocare.
Virtuosos filii patres imitantur;
Sic Arturum Britones virtute sequantur:
Quam probo, quam strenuo monstrant procreantur;
Ut fuit Arturus sic victores habeantur!
Regnabat Parisius potestas Romana,
Frollo gygas strenuus, cujus mens ursana;
Hunc Arthurus perimit, credit fides sana,
Testis tentorium sit et insula Parisiana.
Insanit qui Britones necat generosos;
Videtur quod habeat sic eos exosos,
Namque per invidiam clamat odiosos
Semper et assidue, quos audit victoriosos.
Ex hac gente iiijor sunt imperatores,
Arthurus, Broinsius, fortes bellatores,
Constantinus, Brennius, fere fortiores.
Hii monarchiam tenuerunt ut probiores.
Solum suum Karolum Francia præjectat;
Et Ricardum Anglia probitate jactat;
Paucitatem numerus major labefactat,
Virtutem regis quia quadrupla gloria mactat.
Istis suis finibus contigit regnare;
Illis duces, præsides, reges triumphare,
Quibus nullo merito se possint æquare;
Est quam regnare longe plus induperare.

Featured: Cambrica sagittarius, tertio decimo saeculo. Charter House Liber A, Public Record Office.

Russia did not Lose the Russo-Japanese War

War against Russia was necessary for Japan, both for territorial gains and for acquitting the status of a world power. The idea of the inevitability of war with Russia had been implanted in the minds of the Japanese people long before 1904. The famous Irish writer Lafcadio Hearn wrote back in 1895 that when the Japanese move on Russia, even the dead Japanese soldiers and sailors who died in the recent war with China will come to their aid. The ambitiousness of Japanese politicians was supported by Western powers interested in weakening Russia. The U.S., Germany, and England provided Japan with enormous assistance in rearming, training, and military supplies for the army.

By 1904, Japan had concentrated five times more armed forces in the Far East than the Russian armed forces. They were equipped with the most modern Western European and American weapons. The Japanese fleet was at least twice as large as the Russian Pacific fleet.

Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II foresaw the war with Japan and prepared for it, but, unfortunately, Russia by 1904 did not have time to re-equip the Siberian and Far Eastern railroads for military transportation, which was one of the decisive reasons for the defeats of the Russian army at the beginning of the war.

Tsar Nicholas II was not a bellicose man and considered war the greatest evil, so he tried in every way to avoid it. In negotiations with Japan, he was ready to make major concessions, up to the lease of part of the island of Sakhalin. But, as noted by S. S. Oldenburg, “Russia could avoid the struggle only by surrender. By self-removal from the Far East. No partial concessions—and a lot were made—could not only prevent, but also postpone the war.”

And war broke out. On the night of January 26-27, 1904, Japanese ships treacherously attacked the Russian squadron in Port Arthur. In his manifesto to the people, Emperor Nicholas II stated:

“In our concern for the preservation of the peace dear to our heart, we have made every effort to strengthen the tranquility in the Far East. For these peace-loving purposes, we have agreed to the revision of the existing agreements on Korean affairs between the two empires, proposed by the Japanese Government. The negotiations on this subject, however, were not brought to an end, and Japan, without even waiting for the receipt of the last reciprocal proposals of Our Government, announced the termination of the negotiations and the severance of diplomatic relations with Russia.

Without warning that the interruption of such relations would mean the opening of hostilities, the Japanese Government ordered its destroyers to suddenly attack our squadron, which was moored at the naval base of the fortress of Port Arthur. Upon receipt of the report of our Viceroy in the Far East, we immediately ordered an armed response to the Japanese challenge.”

Some Russian politicians of that time doubted the expediency of the war. And the liberal-revolutionary public immediately declared that Russia did not need territories thousands of versts away and, in order to have good-neighborly relations with Japan, it had to “withdraw from the Far East.” However, Russian politicians and public figures understood the significance of the Russo-Japanese war. This understanding was later expressed by Sergei S. Oldenburg:

“Since the days when Peter the Great cut through the ‘window to Europe,’ no war was as much a struggle for the future of Russia as the Russo-Japanese war. The question of access to ice-free seas, of Russian predominance in a vast part of the world, of the almost unpopulated expanses of Manchuria was being decided. Otherwise, having made its mark on its entire future in Asia, Russia could not evade this struggle.”

In addition, we can say that Russia’s war with Japan was predetermined in heaven. This is evidenced by the following mystical cases. Seven days before the war began, one Valaam elder had a vision, later recorded from his words and kept in the archives of the Valaam Monastery.

In this subtle vision an angel in the form of a young man appeared to him and foretold the coming calamities. Here is how the elder himself told about it:

“One night a bright Young Man came to me and said: ‘Come with me, and you will see something that no one on earth understands.’ The Young Man turned the other way, and I saw a huge beast walking in the distance, and behind it a dark cloud went over the Russian land. I became afraid, and I took a step back. But the Young Man said: ‘Where will you go? There is nowhere to hide from it. But know that it does not concern you.’ Then I felt a kind of strength within me and I began to look at everything. I asked: ‘What does it mean?’ The young man said: ‘One, the beast is war, and two, the cloud is punishment.’”

In addition to this vision there was another mystical incident, confirming the predetermination of the war with Japan. Two months before it began, a pilgrim, an old Russian sailor, a participant in the famous defense of Sevastopol in 1854, during the Crimean War, came to the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. At the Kiev shrines he prayed diligently for the Russian fleet in Port Arthur. And then, one day, he had a vision: the Mother of God standing with her back to the bay, who was holding an oblong shawl in her hands. With Her feet She was trampling naked double-edged swords. The sailor was very frightened by this vision, was struck with fear, but the Mother of God calmed him and told him that the war would soon begin, in which Russia would face severe trials. And in conclusion She said that it was necessary to paint an icon, which should exactly reflect this vision, and send it to Port Arthur.

When the old sailor began to speak of this vision everywhere, few believed him. And only after the attack of Japanese ships on the Russian squadron in Port Arthur did the Orthodox believe in the truth of Our Lady’s apparition to the sailor. Ten thousand Kiev worshipers collected the sum necessary to paint the icon, “Solemnity of the Mother of God,” or, as it is called otherwise, the icon of the Mother of God “Port Arthur.” Soon this icon was painted and sent to Port Arthur. But by that time, it was already besieged by the Japanese, and attempts to deliver the icon there ended in failure. And so it was sent to the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, General Kuropatkin.

From the failure of the spiritual order, the beginning of the war was also unsuccessful for Russia in other respects. In March 1904 near Port Arthur there was a battle between Russian and Japanese squadrons. By tragic accident, at the very beginning of the battle, the Russian battleship Petropavlovsk, on which Admiral Makarov, Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet, was stationed, exploded on a mine. The ship sank in a matter of minutes. Among the dead was the Admiral himself. Left without leadership, Russian ships were defeated. The death of a remarkable naval commander, Admiral Makarov, was a heavy, irreplaceable loss. With his name, Russia reasonably associated hope for victory in this war. But the death of the Russian squadron in many ways predetermined further defeats, as after that Russian troops were deprived of support from the sea. The strategic position of the Russian army and fleet worsened. Taking advantage of the situation, the Japanese inflicted a heavy defeat on the Russian troops at Mukden and defeated the squadron in the Tsushima Strait.

Nevertheless, these defeats did not bring Japan victory over Russia. Sergei S. Oldenburg writes:

“The Russian army even after Mukden remained a formidable fighting force, and the Japanese were severely exhausted, despite the victory. They took the advantage of their earlier readiness for the last time – and yet they did not achieve a decisive result. Talk of Mukden as an unprecedented and shameful defeat was explained by political considerations – to show the unfitness of Russian power.”

After Mukden, the Japanese army could no longer fight actively. The economy and finances of Japan were undermined. Military losses were enormous:

“In the hostilities, Japan lost 270,000 men, including 86,000. The number of dead on the part of Russia was 36,000 thousand less. The economic and financial situation remained stable.”

In this regard, after the Battle of Tsushima, the Japanese Emperor appealed to U.S. President Roosevelt with a request to begin negotiations with Russia on the conclusion of peace, as Japan was unable to continue the war.

Emperor Nicholas II did not want to make peace, realizing that the defeat of Japan was inevitable and everything depended only on time. Nevertheless, he was forced to enter into peace negotiations, as internal turmoil began in Russia, which turned out to be more dangerous than the Japanese armies. The enemies of the Russian Orthodox monarchy provoked the revolution of 1905. The Russian Orthodox Church sounded the alarm. “There is a difficult war going on,” wrote Metropolitan Anthony (Vadkovsky) at that time, “it will be necessary for all to unite in high self-sacrifice, full patriotic feeling; but instead of this, internal turmoil reigns in our land. Native sons of Russia, under the influence of harmful teachings of enmity, unknown in the old days, tear her maternal heart. There is no love for the Church, reverence for authority has disappeared… This is where the real grief and misfortune of Russia.”

It must be said that huge foreign funds were involved in the organization of anti-state demonstrations. “Japan allocated money for the organization of strikes and riots in Russia,” writes historian Oleg A. Platonov. “Through front men and organizations, Japan financed trade union funds to support the strikers… In addition to Japanese money, Russian revolutionaries received huge sums from anti-Russian organizations and individuals in Europe and America.”

Of course, it should not be stated unequivocally that the revolutionary riots were organized with the help of foreign money. They became possible because a part of Russian society, infected by socialist teaching, decided to build a state according to human reasoning, and not according to the Divine gift, which for Russia is the monarchy, the power of God’s Anointed One—the Tsar. This position was a consequence of unchurching, a retreat from the Orthodox faith. People wished to live “freely,” without Gospel laws limiting them in action, so, as St. Righteous John of Kronstadt said about that situation, “faith in the word of God, in the word of truth has disappeared and has been replaced by faith in human reason; the press in the majority has become corrupted—there is nothing holy and honorable for it… there is no obedience of children to their parents, of students to those who teach them… Marriages are ruined, family life is decaying; there is no firm politics—everyone is politicking… everyone wants autonomy. The intelligentsia has no love for the Motherland and is ready to sell it to foreigners, as Judas sold Christ to the evil scribes and Pharisees.”

Departure from the Orthodox faith, forgetting of moral and ethical principles led to the possibility of using foreign money in the Russian revolutionary movement. And it was used at full scale, bribing educated Russian people and directing their activities to the struggle against the Orthodox monarchical statehood. The remarkable pastor of that time, Archpriest John Vostorgov, wrote directly about the betrayal of national interests by the intelligentsia during the Russo-Japanese war: “Never since the beginning of Russia has the absence of the most mediocre reason of state, patriotism and simple decency, been discovered to such an extent in people who consider themselves representatives of Russian thought. In this moment of grief and upheaval of the Fatherland, they found it convenient to destroy all the foundations of power and order… They welcomed and fanned each of our failures, they infected the troops going to battle with despondency; it finally came to the point that Russian students sent greetings to the Japanese Mikado (on Japanese victories—the author); they sent from Switzerland, to the Japanese army, to General Kuroki, the most detailed map of Northern Manchuria, so that the enemies could inflict harm to the Russian army without error… Cains, Hams and Judases have raised their seats in Russia. Cains killed the best Russian people—the Tsar’s servants: the Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich was killed, Bobrikov was killed in Finland, Pleve was killed. The Hams rejoiced at the humiliation of the Motherland and mocked its suffering. The Jews took Japanese money, bought weapons with it for rebellion inside Russia, organized strikes of workers in factories that prepared military supplies, in shipyards that built military ships, on roads that transported troops.”

Today we can say with all certainty that whoever and however one evaluates the outcome of the Russo-Japanese War, the Sovereign Emperor Nicholas II should be honored and praised for the fact that in the conditions of outright sabotage, secret political intrigues and moral and spiritual betrayal on the part of liberal society, he managed to bring Russia to the threshold of victory, and only the burgeoning revolution of 1905 prevented this war from reaching its victorious conclusion.

Igor Evsin is a ooet, writer and journalist. He is the author of twelve books. He is a monarchist who lives and works in Ryazan. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Ruskline.

Featured: The Theotokos Port Arthur, 1904.

Proelium Lewensis

Factum est hoc proelium in die XIIII mensis Maii anno MCCLXIIII.

[MS. Harley 978. fol. 128, r].

Calamus velociter scribe sic scribentis,
Lingua laudabiliter te benedicentis,
Dei patris dextera, domine virtutum,
Qui das tuis prospera quando vis ad nutum;
In te jam confidere discant universi,
Quos volebant perdere qui nunc sunt dispersi.
Quorum caput capitur, membra captivantur;
Gens elata labitur, fideles lætantur.
Jam respirat Anglia, sperans libertatem;
Cuï Dei gratia det prosperitatem!
Comparati canibus Angli viluerunt,
Sed nunc victis hostibus caput extulerunt.
Gratiæ millesimo ducentesimoque
Anno sexagesimo quarto, quarta quoque
Feria Pancratii post sollempnitatem,
Valde gravis prelii tulit tempestatem
Anglorum turbatio, castroque Lewensi;
Nam furori ratio, vita cessit ensi.
Pridie qui Maii Idus confluxerunt,
Horrendi discidii bellum commiserunt;
Quod fuit Susexiæ factum comitatu,
Fuit et Cicestriæ in episcopatu.
Gladius invaluit, multi ceciderunt,
Veritas prævaluit, falsique fugerunt.
Nam perjuris restitit dominus virtutum,
Atque puris præstitit veritatis scutum.
Hos vastavit gladius foris, intus pavor;
Confortavit plenius istos cœli favor.
Victoris sollempnia sanctæque coronæ
Reddunt testimonia super hoc agone;
Cum dictos ecclesia sanctos honoravit,
Milites victoria veros coronavit.
Dei sapientia, regens totum mundum,
Fecit mirabilia bellumque jocundum;
Fortes fecit fugere, virosque virtutis
In claustro se claudere, locis quoque tutis.
Non armis sed gratia christianitatis,
Id est in ecclesia, excommunicatis
Unicum refugium restabat, relictis
Equis, hoc consilium occurrebat victis.
Et quam non timuerant prius prophanare,
Quam more debuerant matris honorare,
Ad ipsam refugiunt, licet minus digni,
Amplexus se muniunt salutaris ligni.
Quos matrem contempnere prospera fecerunt,
Vulnera cognoscere matrem compulerunt.
Apud Northamptoniam dolo prosperati,
Spreverunt ecclesiam infideles nati;
Sanctæ matris viscera ferro turbaverunt,
Prosperis non prospera bella meruerunt.
Mater tunc injuriam tulit patienter,
Quasi per incuriam, sed nec affluenter:
Punit hanc et alias quas post addiderunt,
Nam multas ecclesias insani læserunt;
Namque monasterium, quod Bellum vocatur,
Turba sævientium, quæ nunc conturbatur,
Inmisericorditer bonis spoliavit,
Atque sibi taliter bellum præparavit.
Monachi Cystercii de Ponte-Roberti
A furore gladii non fuissent certi,
Si quingentas principi marcas non dedissent.
Quas Edwardus accipi jussit, vel perissent.
Hiis atque similibus factis meruerunt
Quod cesserunt hostibus et succubuerunt.
Benedicat dominus S. de Monte-Forti!
Suis nichilominus natis et cohorti!
Qui se magnanimiter exponentes morti,
Pugnaverunt fortiter, condolentes sorti
Anglicorum flebili, qui subpeditati
Modo vix narrabili, peneque privati
Cunctis libertatibus, immo sua vita,
Sub duris principibus langüerunt ita,
Ut Israelitica plebs sub Pharaone,
Gemens sub tyrannica devastatione.
Sed hanc videns populi Deus agoniam,
Dat in fine seculi novum Mathathiam,
Et cum suis filiis zelans zelum legis,
Nec cedit injuriis nec furori regis.
Seductorem nominant .S. atque fallacem;
Facta sed examinant probantque veracem.
Dolosi deficiunt in necessitate;
Qui mortem non fugiunt, sunt in veritate.
Sed nunc dicit æmulus, et insidiator,
Cujus nequam oculus pacis perturbator:
“Si laudas constantiam, si fidelitatem,
Quæ mortis instantiam vel pœnalitatem
Non fugit, æqualiter dicentur constantes
Qui concurrunt pariter invicem pugnantes,
Pariter discrimini semet exponentes,
Duroque cognomini se subjicientes.”
Sed in nostro prelio cuï nunc instamus,
Qualis sit discretio rei videamus.
Comes paucos habuit armorum expertos
Pars regis intumuit, bellatores certos
Et majores Angliæ habens congregatos,
Floremque militiæ regni nominatos;
Qui Londoniensibus armis comparati,
Essent multis milibus trecenti prælati;
Unde contemptibiles illis extiterunt,
Et abhominabiles expertis fuerunt.
Comitis militia plurima tenella;
In armis novitia, parum novit bella.
Nunc accinctus gladio tener adolescens
Mane stat in prelio armis assuescens;
Quid mirum si timeat tyro tam novellus,
Et si lupum caveat impotens agnellus?
Sic ergo militia sunt inferiores
Qui pugnant pro Anglia, sunt et pauciores
Multo viris fortibus, de sua virtute
Satis gloriantibus, ut putarent tute,
Et sine periculo, velut absorbere
Quotquot adminiculo Comiti fuere.
Nam et quos adduxerat Comes ad certamen,
De quibus speraverat non parvum juvamen,
Plurimi perterriti mox se subtraxerunt,
Et velut attoniti fugæ se dederunt;
Et de tribus partibus tertia recessit.
Comes cum fidelibus paucis nunquam cessit.
Gedeonis prelium nostro comparemus,
In quibus fidelium vincere videmus
Paucos multos numero fidem non habentes,
Similes Lucifero de se confidentes.
“Si darem victoriam,” dicit Deus, “multis,
Stulti michi gloriam non darent, sed stultis.”
Sic si Deus fortibus vincere dedisset,
Vulgus laudem talibus non Deo dedisset.
Ex hiis potest elici quod non timuerunt
Deum viri bellici, unde nil fecerunt
Quod suam constantiam vel fidelitatem
Probet, sed superbiam et crudelitatem;
Volentes confundere partem quam spreverunt,
Exeuntes temere cito corruerunt.
Cordis exaltatio præparat ruinam,
Et humiliatio meretur divinam
Dari sibi gratiam; nam qui non confidit
De Deo, superbiam Deus hanc elidit.
Aman introducimus atque Mardocheum;
Hunc superbum legimus, hunc verum Judæum;
Lignum quod paraverat Aman Mardocheo,
Mane miser tollerat suspensus in eo.
Reginæ convivium Aman excœcavit,
Quod ut privilegium magnum reputavit;
Sed spes vana vertitur in confusionem,
Cum post mensam trahitur ad suspensionem.
Sic extrema gaudii luctus occupavit,
Cum finem convivii morti sociavit.
Longe dissimiliter accidit Judæo,
Honorat sublimiter quem rex, dante Deo.
Golias prosternitur projectu lapilli;
Quem Deus persequitur, nichil prodest illi.
Ad prædictas varias adde rationes,
Quod tot fornicarias fætidi lenones
Ad se convocaverant, usque septingentas,
Quas scire debuerant esse fraudulentas,
Sathanæ discipulas ad decipiendas
Animas, et faculas ad has incendendas,
Dolosas novaculas ad crines Samsonis
Radendos, et maculas turpis actionis
Inferentes miseris qui non sunt cordati,
Nec divini muneris gratia firmati,
Carnis desideriis animales dati,
Cujus immunditiis, brutis comparati,
Esse ne victoria digni debuerunt,
Qui carnis luxuria fœda sorduerunt:
Factis lupanaribus robur minuerunt,
Unde militaribus indigni fuerunt.
Accingitur gladio super femur miles,
Absit dissolutio, absint actus viles;
Corpus novi militis solet balneari,
Ut a factis vetitis discat emundari.
Qui de novo duxerant uxores legales,
Domini non fuerant apti bello tales,
Gedeonis prelio teste, multo minus
Quos luxus incendio læserat caminus.
Igitur adulteros cur Deus juvaret,
Et non magis pueros mundos roboraret?
Mundentur qui cupiunt vincere pugnando;
Qui culpas subjiciunt sunt in triumphando;
Primo vincant vitia, qui volunt victores
Esse cum justitia super peccatores.
Si justus ab impio quandoque videtur
Victus, e contrario victor reputetur;
Nam nec justus poterit vinci, nec iniquus
Vincere dum fuerit juris inimicus.
Æquitatem comitis Symonis audite:
Cum pars regis capitis ipsius et vitæ
Solam pœnam quæreret, nec redemptionem
Capitis admitteret, sed abscisionem,
Quo confuso plurima plebs confunderetur,
Et pars regni maxima periclitaretur,
Ruina gravissima statim sequeretur;
Quæ mora longissima non repareretur!
.S. divina gratia præsul Cycestrensis,
Alta dans suspiria pro malis immensis
Jam tunc imminentibus, sine fictione,
Persüasis partibus de formatione
Pacis, hoc a Comite responsum audivit:
“Optimos eligite, quorum fides vivit,
Qui decreta legerint, vel theologiam
Decenter docuerint sacramque sophiam,
Et qui sciant regere fidem Christianam;
Quicquidque consulere per doctrinam sanam
Quicquidve discernere tales non timebunt,
Quod dicent, suscipere promptos nos habebunt;
Ita quod perjurii notam nesciamus,
Sed ut Dei filii fidem teneamus.”
Hinc possunt perpendere facile jurantes,
Et quod jurant spernere parum dubitantes,
Quamvis jurent licita, cito recedentes,
Deoque pollicita sana non reddentes,
Quanta cura debeant suum juramentum
Servare, cum videant virum nec tormentum
Neque mortem fugere propter jusjurandum,
Præstitum non temere, sed ad reformandum
Statum qui deciderat Anglicanæ gentis,
Quem fraus violaverat hostis invidentis.
En Symon obediens spernit dampna rerum,
Pœnis se subjiciens, ne dimittat verum,
Cunctis palam prædicans factis plus quam dictis,
Quod non est communicans veritas cum fictis.
Væ perjuris miseris, qui non timent Deum!
Spe terreni muneris abnegantes eum,
Vel timore carceris, sive pœnæ levis;
Novus dux itineris docet ferre quævis
Quæ mundus intulerit propter veritatem,
Quæ perfectam poterit dare libertatem.
Nam Comes præstiterat prius juramentum,
Quod quicquid providerat zelus sapientum
Ad honoris regii reformationem,
Et erroris devii declinationem,
Partibus Oxoniæ, firmiter servaret,
Hujusque sententiæ legem non mutaret;
Sciens tam canonicas constitutiones
Atque tam catholicas ordinationes
Ad regni pacificam conservationem,
Propter quas non modicam persecutionem
Prius sustinuerat, non esse spernandas;
Et quia juraverat fortiter tenendas,
Nisi perfectissimi fidei doctores
Dicerent, quod eximi possent juratores,
Qui tale præstiterant prius jusjurandum,
Et id quod juraverant non esse curandum.
Quod cum dictus pontifex regi recitaret,
Atque fraudis artifex forsitan astaret,
Vox in altum tollitur turbæ tumidorum,
“En jam miles subitur dictis clericorum!
Viluit militia clericis subjecta!”
Sic est sapientia Comitis despecta;
Edwardusque dicitur ita respondisse,
“Pax illis præcluditur, nisi laqueis se
Collis omnes alligent, et ad suspendendum
Semet nobis obligent, vel ad detrahendum.”
Quid mirum si Comitis cor tunc moveretur,
Cum non nisi stipitis pœna pareretur?
Optulit quod debuit, sed non est auditus;
Rex mensuram respuit, salutis oblitus.
Sed ut rei docuit crastinus eventus,
Modus quem tunc noluit post non est inventus.
Comitis devotio sero deridetur,
Cujus cras congressio victrix sentietur.
Lapis hic ab hostibus diu reprobatus,
Post est parietibus duobus aptatus.
Angliæ divisio desolationis
Fuit in confinio, sed divisionis
Affuit præsidio lapis angularis,
Symonis religio sane singularis.
Fides et fidelitas Symonis solius
Fit pacis integritas Angliæ totius;
Rebelles humiliat, levat desperatos,
Regnum reconsilians, reprimens elatos.
Quos quo modo reprimit? certe non laudendo,
Sed rubrum jus exprimit dure confligendo;
Ipsum nam confligere veritas coegit,
Vel verum deserere, sed prudens elegit
Magis dare dexteram suam veritati,
Viamque per asperam junctam probitati,
Per grave compendium tumidis ingratum,
Optinere bravium violentis datum,
Quam per subterfugium Deo displicere,
Pravorumque studium fuga promovere.
Nam quidam studuerant Anglorum delere
Nomen, quos jam cæperant exosos habere,
Contra quos opposuit Deus medicinam,
Ipsorum cum noluit subitam ruinam.
Hinc alienigenas discant advocare
Angli, si per advenas volunt exulare.
Nam qui suam gloriam volunt ampliare,
Suamque memoriam vellent semper stare,
Suæ gentis plurimos sibi sociari,
Et mox inter maximos student collocare;
Itaque confusio crescit incolarum,
Crescit indignatio, crescit cor amarum,
Cum se premi sentiunt regni principales
Ab hiis qui se faciunt sibi coæquales,
Quæ sua debuerant esse subtrahentes,
Quibus consüeverant crescere, crescentes.
Eschaetis et gardiis suos honorare
Debet rex, qui variis modis se juvare
Possunt, qui quo viribus sunt valentiores,
Eo cunctis casibus sunt securiores.
Sed qui nil attulerant, si suis ditantur,
Qui nullius fuerant, si magnificantur,
Crescere cum ceperint, semper scandunt tales
Donec supplantaverint viros naturales;
Principis avertere cor a suis student,
Ut quos volunt cadere gloria denudent.
Et quis posset talia ferre patienter?
Ergo discat Anglia cavere prudenter,
Ne talis perplexitas amplius contingat,
Ne talis adversitas Anglicos inpingat.
Hüic malo studuit comes obviare,
Quod nimis invaluit quasi magnum mare,
Quod parvo conamine nequibat siccari,
Sed magno juvamine Dei transvadari.
Veniant extranei cito recessuri,
Quasi momentanei, sed non permansuri.
Una juvat aliam manuum duarum,
Neutra tollens gratiam verius earum;
Juvet et non noceat locum retinendo.
Quæque suum valeat ita veniendo;
Gallicus ad Anglicum benefaciendo.
Et non per sophisticum vultum seducendo,
Nec alter alterius bona subtrahendo;
Immo suum potius onus sustinendo.
Commodum si proprium comitem movisset,
Nec haberet alium zelum, nec quæsisset
Toto suo studio reformationi
Regni, sed intentio dominationi,
Solam suam quæreret, et promotionem
Suorum proponerat, ad ditationem
Filiorum tenderet, et communitatis
Salutem negligeret, ac duplicitatis
Palli[o] supponeret virus falsitatis;
Sic fidem relinqueret Christianitatis,
Et horrendæ subderet se pœnalitatis
Legi, nec effugeret pondus tempestatis.
Et quis potest credere quod se morti daret,
Suos vellet perdere, ut sic exaltaret?
Callide si palliant honorem venantes;
Et quod mortem fugiant semper meditantes;
Nulli magis diligunt vitam temporalem,
Nulli magis eligunt statum non mortalem.
Honores qui sitiunt simulate tendunt,
Caute sibi faciunt nomen quod intendunt;
Non sic venerabilis .S. de Monte-forti,
Qui se Christo similis dat pro multis morti;
Ysaac non moritur cum sit promptus mori;
Vervex morti traditur, Ysaac honori.
Nec fraus nec fallacia Comitem promovit,
Sed divina gratia, quæ quos juvet novit.
Horam si vocaveris locum que conflictus,
Invenire poteris quod ut esset victus
Potius quam vinceret illi conferebat;
Sed ut non succumberet Deus providebat.
Non de nocte subito surripit latenter;
Immo die redito pugnat evidenter.
Sic et locus hostibus fuit oportunus,
Ut hinc constet omnibus esse Dei munus,
Quod cessit victoria de se confidenti.
Hinc discat militia, quæ torneamenti
Laudat exercitium, ut sic expedita
Reddatur ad prælium, qualiter contrita
Fuit hic pars fortium exercitatorum,
Armis imbecillium et inexpertorum:
Ut confundet fortia, promovet infirmos,
Confortat debilia Deus, sternit firmos.
Sic nemo confidere de se jam præsumat;
Sed in Deum ponere spem si sciat, sumat
Arma cum constantia, nichil dubitando,
Cum sit pro justitia Deus adjuvando.
Sicque Deum decuit Comitem juvare,
Sine quo non potuit hostem superare.
Cujus hostem dixerim? Comitis solius?
Vel Anglorum sciverim regnique totius?
Forsan et ecclesiæ, igitur et Dei?
Quod si sic, quid gratiæ; conveniret ei?
Gratiam demeruit in se confidendo,
Nec juvari debuit Deum non timendo.
Cadit ergo gloria propriæ virtutis;
Et sic in memoria, qui dat destitutis
Viribus auxilium, paucis contra multos,
Virtute fidelium conterendo stultos,
Benedictus dominus Deus ultionum!
Qui in cœlis eminus sedet super thronum,
Et virtute propria colla superborum
Calcat, subdens grandia pedibus minorum.
Duos reges subdidit et hæredes regum,
Quos captivos reddidit transgressores legum,
Pompamque militiæ cum magna sequela
Dedit ignominiæ; nam barones tela
Quæ zelo justitiæ pro regno sumpserunt,
Filiis superbiæ communicaverunt,
Usque dum victoria de cœlo dabatur,
Cum ingenti gloria quæ non sperabatur,
Arcus namque fortium tunc est superatus,
Cœtus inbecillium robore firmatus;
Et de cœlo diximus, ne quis glorietur;
Sed Christo quem credimus omnis honor detur!
Christus enim imperat, vincit, regnat idem;
Christus suos liberat, quibus dedit fidem.
Ne victorum animus manus osculetur
Suas, Deum petimus quod illis præstetur;
Et quod Paulus suggerit ab ipsis servetur,
“Qui lætatus fuerit, in Deo lætetur.”
Si quis nostrum gaudeat vane gloriatus,
Dominus indulgeat, et non sit iratus!
Et cautos efficiat nostros in futurum;
Ne factum deficiat, faciant se murum!
Quod cæpit perficiat vis omnipotentis,
Regnumque reficiat Anglicanæ gentis!
Ut sit sibi gloria, suis pax electis,
Donec sint in patria se duce provectis.
Hæc Angli de prælio legite Lewensi,
Cujus patrocinio vivitis defensi;
Quia si victoria jam victis cessisset,
Anglorum memoria victa viluisset.
Cuï comparabitur nobilis Edwardus?
Forte nominabitur recte leopardus.
Si nomen dividimus, leo fit et pardus:
Leo, quia vidimus quod non fuit tardus
Aggredi fortissima, nullius occursum
Timens, audacissima virtute discursum
Inter castra faciens, et velut ad votum
Ubi et proficiens, ac si mundum totum
Alexandro similis cito subjugaret
Si fortunæ mobilis rota semper staret;
In qua summus protinus sciat se casurum,
Qui regnat ut dominus parum regnaturum.
Quod Edwardo nobili liquet accidisse,
Quem gradu non stabili constat cecidisse.
Leo per superbiam, per ferocitatem;
Est per inconstantiam et varietatem
Pardus, verbum varians et promissionem,
Per placentem pallians se locutionem.
Cum in arcto fuerit quicquid vis promittit;
Sed mox ut evaserit, promissum dimittit.
Testis sit Glovernia, ubi quod juravit
Liber ab angustia statim revocavit.
Dolum seu fallaciam quibus expeditur
Nominat prudentiam; via qua venitur
Quo vult quamvis devia recta reputatur;
Nefas det placentia, fasque nominatur;
Quicquid libet licitum dicit, et a lege
Se putat explicitum, quasi major rege.
Nam rex omnis regitur legibus quas legit;
Rex Saül repellitur, quia leges fregit;
Et punitus legitur David mox ut egit
Contra legem; igitur hinc sciat qui legit,
Quod non potest regere qui non servat legem;
Nec hunc debent facere ad quos spectat regem.
O Edwarde! fieri vis rex, sine lege;
Vere forent miseri recti tali rege!
Nam quid lege rectius qua cuncta reguntur,
Et quid jure verius quo res discernuntur?
Si regnum desideras, leges venerare;
Vias dabit asperas leges impugnare,
Asperas et invias quæ te non perducent;
Leges si custodias ut lucerna lucent.
Ergo dolum caveas et abomineris;
Veritati studeas, falsum detesteris.
Quamvis dolus floreat, fructus nequit ferre;
Hoc te psalmus doceat; ad fideles terræ
Dicit Deus, “Oculi mei sunt, sedere
Quos in fine seculi mecum volo vere.”
Dolus Northamptoniæ vide quid nunc valet;
Nec fervor fallaciæ velut ignis calet.
Si dolum volueris igni comparare,
Paleas studueris igni tali dare,
Quæ mox, ut exarserint, desistunt ardere,
Et cum vix inceperint terminum tenere.
Ita transit vanitas non habens radices;
Radicata veritas non mutat per vices.
Ergo tibi libeat id solum quod licet,
Et non tibi placeat quod vir duplex dicet.
Princeps quæ sunt principe digna cogitabit:
Ergo legem suscipe, quæ te dignum dabit
Multorum regimine, dignum principatu,
Multorum juvamine, multo comitatu.
Et quare non diligis quorum rex vis esse?
Prodesse non eligis, sed tantum præesse.
Qui nullius gloriam nisi suam quærit,
Ejus per superbiam quicquid regit, perit.
Ita totum periit nuper quod regebas;
Gloria præteriit quam solam quærebas;
En radicem tangimus perturbationis
Regni de quo scribimus, et dissentionis
Partium quæ prælium dictum commiserunt.
Ad diversa studium suum converterunt.
Rex cum suis voluit ita liber esse;
Et sic esse debuit, fuitque necesse
Aut esse desineret rex, privatus jure
Regis, nisi faceret quicquid vellet; curæ
Non esse magnatibus regni, quos præferret
Suis comitatibus, vel quibus conferret
Castrorum custodiam, vel quem exhibere
Populo justitiam vellet, et habere
Regni cancellarium thesaurariumque.
Suum ad arbitrium voluit quemcumque,
Et consiliarios de quacumque gente,
Et ministros varios se præcipiente,
Non intromittentibus se de factis regis
Angliæ baronibus, vim habente legis
Principis imperio, et quod imperaret
Suomet arbitrio singulos ligaret.
Nam et comes quilibet sic est compos sui,
Dans suorum quidlibet quantum vult et cuï
Castra, terras, redditus, cuï vult committit,
Et quamvis sit subditus, rex totum permittit.
Quod si bene fecerit, prodest facienti;
Si non, ipse viderit, sibimet nocenti
Rex non adversabitur. Cur conditionis
Pejoris efficitur princeps, si baronis,
Militis, et liberi res ita tractantur?
Quare regem fieri servum machinantur,
Qui suam minuere volunt potestatem,
Principis adimere suam dignitatem,
Volunt in custodiam et subjectionem
Regiam potentiam per seditionem
Captivam retrudere, et exhæredare
Regem, ne tam ubere valeat regnare
Sicut reges hactenus qui se præcesserunt,
Qui suis nullatenus subjecti fuerunt,
Sed suas ad libitum res distribuerunt,
Et ad suum placitum sua contulerunt.
Hæc est regis ratio, quæ vera videtur,
Et hæc allegatio jus regni tuetur.
Sed nunc ad oppositum calamus vertatur:—
Baronum propositum dictis subjungatur;
Et auditis partibus dicta conferantur,
Atque certis finibus collata claudantur,
Ut quæ pars sit verior valeat liquere.
Veriori promor populus parere.
Baronum pars igitur jam pro se loquatur,
Et quo zelo ducitur rite prosequatur.
Quæ pars in principio palam protestatur,
Quod honori regio nichil machinatur;
Vel quærit contrarium, immo reformare
Studet statum regium et magnificare;
Sicut si ab hostibus regnum vastaretur,
Non sine baronibus tune reformaretur,
Quibus hoc competeret atque conveniret;
Et qui tunc se fingeret, ipsum lex puniret
Ut reum perjurii, regis proditorem,
Qui quicquid auxilii regis ad honorem
Potest, debet domino cum periclitatur,
Cum velut in termino regnum deformatur.
Regis adversarii sunt hostes bellantes,
Et consiliarii regi adulantes,
Qui verbis fallacibus principem seducunt,
Linguisque duplicibus in errorem ducunt:
Hii sunt adversarii perversis pejores;
Hii se bonos faciunt cum sint seductores,
Et honoris proprii sunt procuratores;
Incautos decipiunt, quos securiores
Reddunt per placentia, unde non caventur,
Sed velut utilia dicentes censentur.
Hii possunt decipere plusquam manifesti,
Qui se sciunt fingere velut non infesti.
Quid si tales miseri, talesque mendaces,
Adhærerent lateri principis, capaces
Totius malitiæ, fraudis, falsitatis,
Stimulis invidiæ puncti, pravitatis
Facinus exquirerent, per quod regni jura
Ad suas inflecterent pompas, quæque dura
Argumenta fingerent, quæ communitatem
Paulatim confunderent, universitatem
Populi contererent et depauperarent,
Regnumque subverterent et infatuarent,
Quod nullus justitiam posset optinere,
Nisi qui superbiam talium fovere
Vellet, per pecuniam largiter collatam;
Quis tantam injuriam sustineret ratam?
Et si tales studiis suis immutarent
Regnum, ut injuriis jura supplantarent;
Calcatis indigenis advenas vocarent;
Et alienigenis regnum subjugarent:
Magnates et nobiles terne non curarent,
Atque contemptibiles in summo locarent;
Et magnos dejicerent et humiliarent;
Ordinem perverterent et præposterarent;
Optima relinquerent, pessimis instarent;
Nonne qui sic facerent regnum devastarent?
Quamvis armis bellicis foris non pugnarent,
Tamen diabolicis armis dimicarent,
Et regni flebiliter statum violarent;
Quamvis dissimiliter, non minus dampnarent.
Sive rex consentiens per seductionem,
Talem non percipiens circumventionem,
Approbaret talia regni destructiva;
Seu rex ex malitia faceret nociva,
Proponendo legibus suam potestatem,
Abutendo viribus propter facultatem;
Sive sic vel aliter regnum vastaretur,
Aut regnum finaliter destitueretur,
Tunc regni magnatibus cura deberetur,
Ut cunctis erroribus terra purgaretur.
Quibus si purgatio convenit errorum,
Convenit provisio gubernatrix morum,
Qualiter prospicere sibi non liceret,
Ne malum contingere posset quod noceret?
Quod postquam contigerit debent amovere,
Subitum ne faciat incautos dolere.
Sic quod non eveniat quicquam prædictorum,
Quod pacis impediat vel bonorum morum
Formam, sed inveniat zelus peritorum
Quod magis expediat commodo multorum;
Cur melioratio non admitteretur,
Cuï vitiatio nulla commiscetur?
Nam regis clementia regis et majestas
Approbare studia debet, quæ molestas
Leges ita temperant quod sunt mitiores,
Et dum minus onerant Deo gratiores.
Non enim oppressio plebis Deo placet,
Immo miseratio qua plebs Deo vacet.
Phara[o] qui populum Dei sic afflixit,
Quod vix ad oraculum Moysi quod dixit
Poterant attendere, post est sic punitus,
Israel dimittere cogitur invitus;
Et qui comprehendere credidit dimissum,
Mersus est dum currere putat per abyssum.
Salomon conterere Israel nolebat,
Nec ullum de genere servire cogebat;
Quia Dei populum scivit quem regebat,
Et Dei signaculum lædere timebat;
Et plusquam judicium laudat misereri,
Et plusquam supplicium pacem patri[s] veri.
Cum constat baronibus hæc cuncta licere,
Restat rationibus regis respondere.
Amotis custodibus vult rex liber esse,
Subdique minoribus non vult sed præesse;
Imperare subditis et non imperari;
Sibi nec præpositis vult humiliari.
Non enim præpositi regi præponuntur;
Immo magis incliti qui jus supponuntur.
Unius rex aliter unicus non esset,
Sed regnarent pariter quibus rex subesset.
Et hoc inconveniens quod tantum videtur,
Sit Deus subveniens, facile solvetur.
Deum namque credimus velle veritatem,
Per quem sic dissolvimus hanc dubietatem.
Unus solus dicitur et est rex revera,
Per quem mundus regitur majestate mera;
Non egens auxilio quo possit regnare,
Sed neque consilio qui nequit errare.
Ergo potens omnia sciensque præcedit
Infinita gloria omnes quibus dedit
Sub se suos regere quasique regnare,
Qui possunt deficere, possunt et errare,
Et qui suis viribus nequeunt præstare,
Suisque virtutibus hostes expugnare,
Neque sensu proprio regna gubernare,
Sed erroris invio male deviare.
Indigent auxilio sibi suffragante,
Necnon et consilio se rectificante.
Dicit rex: “Consentio tuæ rationi;
Sed horum electio subsit optioni
Meæ; quos voluero michi sociabo,
Quorum patrocinio cuncta gubernabo;
Et si mei fuerint insufficientes,
Sensum non habuerint, aut non sint potentes,
Aut si sint malevoli, et non sint fideles,
Sed sint forte subdoli, volo quod reveles
Cur ad certas debeam personas arctari,
A quibus prævaleam melius juvari?”
Cujus rei ratio cito declaratur,
Si quæ sit arctatio regis attendatur;
Non omnis arctatio privat libertatem,
Nec omnis districtio tollit potestatem.
Potestatem liberam volunt principantes,
Servitutem miseram nolunt dominantes.
Ad quid vult libera lex reges arctari?
Ne possint adultera lege maculari.
Et hæc coarctatio non est servitutis,
Sed est ampliatio regiæ virtutis.
Sic servatur parvulus regis ne lædatur;
Non fit tamen servulus quando sic arctatur.
Sed et sic angelici spiritus arctantur.
Qui quod apostatici non sint confirmantur.
Nam quod Auctor omnium non potest errare,
Omnium principium non potest peccare,
Non est inpotentia, sed summa potestas,
Magna Dei gloria magnaque majestas.
Sic qui potest cadere, si custodiatur
Ne cadat, quod libere vivat, adjuvatur
A tali custodia, nec est servitutis
Talis sustinentia, sed tutrix virtutis.
Ergo regi libeat omne quod est bonum,
Sed malum non audeat; hoc est Dei donum.
Qui regem custodiunt ne peccet temptatus,
Ipsi regi serviunt, quibus esse gratus
Sit, quod ipsum liberant ne sit servus factus,
Quod ipsum non superant a quibus est tractus.
Sed quis vere fuerit rex, est liber vere
Si se recte rexerit regnumque; licere
Sibi sciat omnia quæ regno regendo
Sunt convenientia, sed non destruendo.
Aliud est regere quod incumbit regi;
Aliud destruere resistendo legi.
A ligando dicitur lex, quæ libertatis
Tam perfecte legitur qua servitur gratis.
Omnis rex intelligat quod est servus Dei:
Illud tantum diligat quod est placens ei;
Et illius gloriam quærat in regendo,
Non suam superbiam pares contempnendo.
Rex qui regnum subditum sibi vult parere,
Reddat Deo debitum alioquin vere;
Sciat quod obsequium sibi non debetur,
Qui negat servitium quo Deo tenetur.
Rursum sciat populum non suum sed Dei,
Et ut adminiculum suum prosit ei:
Et qui parvo tempore populo præfertur,
Cito clausus marmore terræ subinfertur.
In illos se faciat ut unum ex illis;
Saltantem respiciat David cum ancillis.
Regi David similis utinam succedat,
Vir prudens et humilis qui suos non lædat;
Certe qui non læderet populum subjectum,
Sed illis impenderet amoris affectum,
Et ipsius quæreret salutis profectum,
Ipsum non permitteret plebs pati defectum.
Durum est diligere se non diligentem;
Durum non despicere se despicientem;
Durum non resistere se destituenti;
Convenit applaudere se suscipienti.
Principis conterere non est, sed tueri;
Principis obprimere non est, sed mereri
Multis beneficiis suorum favorem,
Sicut Christus gratiis omnium amorem.
Si princeps amaverit, debet reamari;
Si recte regnaverit, debet honorari;
Si princeps erraverit, debet revocari
Ab hiis quos gravaverit injuste negari,
Nisi velit corrigi; si vult emendari,
Debet ab hiis erigi simul et juvari.
Istam princeps teneat regulam regnandi,
Ut opus non habeat non suos vocandi:
Qui confundunt subditos principes ignari,
Sentient indomitos sic nolle domari.
Si princeps putaverit universitate
Quod solus habuerit plus de veritate,
Et plus de scientia, plus cognitionis,
Plus abundet gratia, plusque Dei donis:
Si non sit præsumptio, immo sit revera,
Sua tune instructio suorum sincera
Subditorum lumine corda perlustrabit;
Et cum moderamine suos informabit.
Moysen proponimus, David, Samuelem,
Quorum quemque novimus principem fidelem;
Qui a suis subditis multa pertulerunt,
Nec tamen pro meritis illos abjecerunt,
Nec illis extraneos superposuerunt,
Sed rexerunt per eos qui sui fuerunt.
“Ego te præficiam populo majori,
Et hunc interficiam;” dicit Deus.—“Mori
Malo, quam hic pereat populus,” benignus
Moyses respondeat, principatu dignus.
Sicque princeps sapiens nunquam reprobabit
Suos, sed insipiens regnum conturbabit.
Unde si rex sapiat minus quam deberet;
Quid regno conveniat regendo? num quæret
Suo sensu proprio quibus fulciatur,
Quibus diminutio sua suppleatur?
Si solus elegerit, facile falletur,
Utilis qui fuerit a quo nescietur.
Igitur communitas regni consulatur;
Et quid universitas sentiat, sciatur,
Cuï leges propriæ maxime sunt notæ.
Nec cuncti provinciæ sic sunt idiotæ,
Quin sciant plus cæteris regni sui mores,
Quos relinquunt posteris hii qui sunt priores.
Qui reguntur legibus magis ipsas sciunt;
Quorum sunt in usibus plus periti fiunt;
Et quia res agitur sua, plus curabunt,
Et quo pax adquiritur sibi procurabunt.
Pauca scire poterunt qui non sunt experti;
Parum regno proderunt, nisi qui sunt certi.
Ex hiis potest colligi quod communitatem
Tangit quales eligi ad utilitatem
Regni recte debeant; qui velint et sciant
Et prodesse valeant, tales regis fiant
Et consiliarii et coadjutores;
Quibus noti varii patriæ sunt mores;
Qui se lædi sentiunt, si regnum lædatur;
Regnumque custodiunt, ne, si noceatur
Toti, partes doleant simul patientes;
Gaudenti congaudeant, si sint diligentes.
Nobile juditium regis Salomonis
Ponamus in medium; quæ divisionis
Parvuli non horruit inhumanitatem,
Quia non condoluit atque pietatem
Maternam non habuit, quod mater non erat
Teste rege docuit; ergo tales quærat
Princeps, qui condoleant universitati,
Qui materne timeant regnum dura pati.
Sed si quem non moveat ruina multorum;
Si solus optineat quæ vult placitorum;
Multorum regimini non est coaptatus,
Suo cum sit omnium soli totus datus.
Communis conveniens est communitati;
Sed vir incompatiens cordis indurati
Non curat si veniant multis casus duri;
Casibus non obviant tales modo muri.
Igitur eligere si rex per se nescit
Qui sibi consulere sciant, hinc patescit
Quid tunc debet fieri. Nam communitatis
Est ne fiant miseri duces dignitatis
Regiæ, sed optimi et electi viri,
Atque probatissimi qui possint inquiri.
Nam cum gubernatio regni sit cunctorum
Salus vel perditio, multum refert quorum
Sit regni custodia; sicut est in navi;
Confunduntur omnia si præsint ignavi;
Si quis transfretantium positus in navi
Ad se pertinentium abutatur clavi,
Non refert si prospere navis gubernetur.
Sic qui regnum regere debent, cura detur
Si de regno quispiam non recte se regit;
Viam vadit inviam quam forsan elegit.
Optime res agitur universitatis,
Si regnum dirigitur via veritatis.
Et tamen si subditi sua dissipare
Studeant, præpositi possunt refrenare
Suorum stultitiam et temeritatem,
Ne per insolentiam vel fatuitatem
Stultorum potentia regni subnervetur,
Hostibus audacia contra regnum detur.
Nam quocumque corporis membro violato,
Fit minoris roboris corpus. Ita dato
Quod vel viri liceat propriis abuti,
Quamvis regno noceat; plures mox secuti
Et libertatem noxiam, sic multiplicabunt
Erroris insaniam, quod totum dampnabunt.
Nec libertas proprie debet nominari,
Quæ permittit inscie stultos dominari;
Sed libertas finibus juris limitetur,
Spretisque limitibus error reputetur.
Alioquin liberum dices furiosum,
Quamvis omne prosperum illi sit exosum.
Ergo regis ratio de suis subjectis,
Suomet arbitrio quorum volunt vectis,
Per hoc satis solvitur, satis infirmatur;
Dum quivis qui subditur majore domatur.
Quia nulli hominum dicemus licere
Quicquid vult, sed dominum quemlibet habere
Qui errantem corrigat, benefacientem
Adjuvat, et erigit quandoque cadentem.
Præmio præferimus universitatem;
Legem quoque dicimus regis dignitatem
Regere; nam credimus esse legem lucem,
Sine qua concludimus deviare ducem.
Lex qua mundus regitur atque regna mundi
Ignea describitur; quod sensus profundi
Continet mysterium, lucet, urit, calet;
Lucens vetat devium, contra frigus valet,
Purgat et incinerat quædam, dura mollit,
Et quod crudum fuerat ignis coquit, tollit
Torporem, et alia multa facit bona.
Sancta lex similia p’rat (?) regi dona.
Istam sapientiam Salomon petivit;
Ejus amicitiam tota vi quæsivit.860
Si rex hac caruerit lege, deviabit;
Si hanc non tenuerit, turpiter errabit;
Istius præsentia recte dat regnare,
Et ejus absentia regnum perturbare.
Ista lex sic loquitur, “per me regnant reges;
Per me jus ostenditur hiis qui condunt leges.”
Istam legem stabilem nullus rex mutabit;
Sed se variabilem per istam firmabit.
Si conformis fuerit huïc legi, stabit;
Et si disconvenerit isti, vacillabit.
Dicitur vulgariter, “ut rex vult, lex vadit:”
Veritas vult aliter, nam lex stat, rex cadit.
Veritas et caritas zelusque salutis
Legis est integritas, regimen virtutis;
Veritas, lux, caritas, calor, urit zelus;
Hæc legis varietas tollit omne scelus.
Quicquid rex statuerit, consonum sit istis;
Nam si secus fecerit, plebs reddetur tristis;
Confundetur populus, si vel veritate
Caret regis oculus, sive caritate
Principis cor careat, vel severitate
Zelum non adimpleat semper moderate.
Hiis tribus suppositis, quicquid placet regi
Fiat; sed oppositis, rex resistit legi.
Sed recalcitratio stimulo non nocet;
Pauli sic instructio de cœlo nos docet.
Sic exhæredatio nulla fiet regi,
Si fiat provisio concors justæ legi.
Nam dissimulatio legem non mutabit,
Cujus firma ratio sine fine stabit.
Unde si quid utile diu est dilatum,
Irreprehensibile sit sero perlatum.
Et rex nihil proprium præferat communi;
Quia salus omnium sibi cessit uni.
Non enim præponitur sibimet victurus;
Sed ut hic qui subditur populus securus.
Reges esse noveris nomen relativum;
Nomen quoque sciveris esse protectivum;
Unde sibi vivere soli non licebat,
Qui multos protegere vivendo delebat.
Qui vult sibi vivere, non debet præesse,
Sed seorsum degere, et ut solus esse.
Principis est gloria plurimos salvare;
Cum sua molestia multos relevare.
Non alleget igitur suimet profectum,
Sed in quibus creditur subditis prospectum.
Si regnum salvaverit, quod est regis fecit;
Quicquid secus egerit in ipso defecit.
Vera regis ratio ex hiis satis patet;
Quod vacantem proprio status regis latet.
Namque vera caritas est proprietati
Quasi contrarietas, et communitati
Fœdus insolubile, conflans velut ignis
Omne quod est habile, sicut fit in lignis
Quæ dant igni crescere patiens activo,
Subtracta decrescere modo recitivo.
Ergo si fervuerit princeps caritate,
Quantumcumque poterit de communitate,
Si sollicitabitur quod recte regatur,
Et nunquam lætabitur si destituatur,
Unde si dilexerit rex regni magnates,
Quamvis solus sciverit, quasi magnus vates,
Quicquid opus fuerit ad regnum regendum,
Quicquid se decuerit, quicquid faciendum,
Quod sane decreverit illis non celabit,
Præter quos non poterit id quod ordinabit
Ad effectum ducere; igitur tractabit
Cum suis, quæ facere per se [non] putabit.
Cur sua consilia non communicabit,
A quibus auxilia supplex postulabit?
Quicquid suos allicit ad benignitatem,
Et amicos efficit, fovet unitatem,
Regiam prudentiam decet indicare
Hiis qui suam gloriam possunt augmentare.
Dominus discipulis cuncta patefecit,
Dividens a servulis quos amicos fecit;
Atque quasi nescius a suis quæsivit
Quid sentirent sæpius, quod profecte scivit.
O! si Dei quærerent principes honorem,
Regna recte regerent, et præter errorem.
Si Dei notitiam principes haberent,
Omnibus justitiam suam exhiberent.
Ignorantes dominum, velut excæcati,
Quærunt laudes hominum, vanis delectati.
Qui se nescit regere, multos male reget;
Si quis vult inspicere Psalmos, idem leget.
Joseph ut se debuit principes docere,
Propter quod rex voluit ipsum præminere.
Et in innocentia cordis sui David,
Et intelligentia, Israelem pavit.
Ex prædictis omnibus poterit liquere,
Quod regem magnatibus incumbit videre
Quæ regni conveniant gubernationi,
Et pacis expediant conservationi;
Et quod rex indigenas sibi laterales
Habeat, non advenas, neque speciales,
Vel consiliarios vel regni majores,
Qui supplantant alios atque bonos mores.
Nam talis discordia paci novercatur,
Et inducit prælia, dolos machinatur.
Nam sicut invidia diaboli mortem
Induxit, sic odia separat cohortem.
Incolas in ordine suo rex tenebit,
Et hoc moderamine regnando gaudebit.
Si vero studuerit suos degradare,
Ordinem perverterit, frustra quæret quare
Sibi non obtemperant ita perturbati;
Immo si sic facerent essent insensati.

Featured: Simon de Montfort, Sixth Earl of Leicester; drawing of a stained glass window at Chartres Cathedral, ca. 1250.

A Tale of the Palestine Archaeological Museum

Abdullah Jaddallah was a native of Jerusalem. He was a devoted husband and father to seven children. Highly favored for his education, Jaddallah was employed by the British army during the years of British Mandate rule in Palestine. Following a successful career with the British military, in which he traveled across the Middle East on various assignments, Jaddallah permanently settled in Jordan. Jaddallah enjoyed drinking his black tea with milk, a ritual adopted during his tenure in the military; tea with milk would become a fond family tradition upheld by successive generations. Two generations later, and from a much farther distance, I was transfixed by the story of my grandfather, a man that I barely knew. Immersed in his memory, my practice as an artist evolved into one that traced lineage, familial histories, and, subsequently, the geopolitical forces which catalyzed our migration. I was left to wonder: What historical circumstances created these conditions? What constraints did he endure, and how did it impact his movement? How am I implicated within this meshwork of history, chance, and fate? Meditating on his story and the complexities of these intersections, a larger research project unfolded; while its major thrusts are historical, it still resides between the poles of fact and fiction.

In 2014, I stumbled upon the story of the Palestine Archaeological Museum; however, the brief history that I encountered felt wholly insufficient. While the Israel Antiquities Authority foregrounds central figures who oversaw the erection of the museum (like John D. Rockefeller and Henry Breasted, whom I introduce later in this essay), these historical ac-counts neglect to acknowledge the violent seizure of land that altered the fate of this institution. It is through colonial theft that a more complex picture emerges of the Palestine Archaeological Museum; however, extant histories proffer a depoliticized image of the museum impacted by the occupation of Palestinian land. Meditating on the erasures in the museum’s history, I could not help but feel that this story was an allegory for larger, more persistent efforts to suppress Palestinian history.

This spurred the creation of A Partial Restoration of the Palestine Archaeological Museum (2014–19), a multimedia project that restores the memory of the former Palestine Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem, an institution entrenched in geopolitical turmoil and precarity. A Partial Restoration of the Palestine Archaeological Museum is presented as a museological installation, with an exhibition space formerly held online. Before embarking on this project, I had never been to Palestine, nor to the museum, and so my research and art making was carried out at a distance. Due to these constraints, imagination served as a vehicle that stitched together an otherwise fragmented history. Suddenly I stepped into the role of a collector, driven by an impulse to salvage any valuable material I could find. This collection became a bridge to a site that I could not physically access.

A Partial Restoration of the Palestine Archaeological Museum is composed of this makeshift archive; the collection also contains personal, familial heirlooms. By juxtaposing these intimate mementos with historical ephemera, I reclaim authority over personal experience, validating its role in the pro-duction of knowledge. Furthermore, it is through these personal histories and experiences that cultural memory is shaped and transmitted. Hours were spent mining and excavating hidden corners of internet marketplaces. I purchased photographs, stamps, and pamphlets from independent eBay and Etsy merchants. Some merchants sold aged books and press clippings as their official business line. Others sold more sporadically, auctioning off junk culled from drawers and cabinets. This collection does not, in fact, belong to the Palestine Archaeological Museum proper; however, it became a speculative archive for the “restored” iteration of the museum that I introduced to the public. Digitized portions of this collection were shared on an exhibition webpage [no longer online]. This website played an integral role in the afterlife of the installation, connecting me to other Palestinian artists, researchers, and writers, all producing their own unique historical and archive-based research projects.

(In 2019, I received a note from Yazan Kopty, a writer, oral historian, and National Geographic Explorer. Kopty is currently the lead investigator on an archive- based research project titled Imagining the Holy, which examines images of historic Palestine from the National Geographic Society archive. Kopty makes space for the Palestinian community, providing opportunities to collaborate and restore Indigenous knowledge and narratives to the images in the archive. The photographic archive can be accessed on Instagram via @imaginingtheholy.)

The story of the Palestine Archaeological Museum begins with its founding mission: preserving and recording the diverse cultures of the region. However, this vision was stymied in its infancy. By engaging the fraught trajectory of the museum, my project questions the ways that didactic institutions are implicated in the erasure of subjugated peoples and histories. Furthermore, the project confronts the colonial legacies of the institution as we know it. A Partial Restoration of the Palestine Archaeological Museum considers the rich possibilities in creating our own imaginative histories, institutions, and archives to bridge gaps in history and distance.

Ruminating on my grandfather’s story and the course of his career, it became more pressing to consider how colonial entanglements played out across personal, political, and cultural registers. This led me to broader questions about archaeological practice, soft power, and Western cultural hegemony, and how this impacted Palestine in particular. These forces undoubtedly led to the erection of the Palestine Archaeological Museum. This museum was only one chapter within a larger history of extractive archaeological projects taking place in the Middle East at this time, initiated under the jurisdiction of colonial governments. James Henry Breasted, America’s first formally trained Egyptologist and a professor at the University of Chicago, spearheaded the birth of the museum. Breasted also founded the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, with generous philanthropic support from John D. Rockefeller. Breasted and Rockefeller formed a mutually beneficial relationship; between 1924 and 1927, Rocke-feller supported Breasted’s archaeological projects in the Middle East. Breasted insisted that archaeological artifacts had a home in the heart of Jerusalem. Following an unsuccessful attempt to open an Egyptian antiquities museum and research center in Cairo, Breasted proposed opening the Palestine Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. In January 1927, Rockefeller approved the museum’s initial development plans, allotting two million dollars to subsidize construction costs and operating expenses. The British government provided necessary approvals for Breasted and fellow organizers to erect the museum. Austen St. Barbe Harrison, the architect at the helm of the project, combined contemporary European design with local architectural traditions, a style later defined as Mediterranean Modern-ism. The fusion of these aesthetics asserted British cultural prestige and further expressed its paternalistic role as a colonial occupier. The Palestine Archaeological Museum was built on a hill overlooking the northeast corner of the Old City, officially opening to the public on January 13, 1938.

The museum endeavored to catalog and preserve the rich diversity within the region. But as political tensions heightened, the museum’s mis-sion was further out of reach. On April 1, 1948, the British government closed the museum to the public. The high commissioner assembled an international board of trustees to preside over the institution. The makeup of the board traced back to Britain and France, with members also recruited from various antiquities departments across Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, among others. The international board remained effective until November 1966, when King Hussein of Jordan nationalized the museum. During the Six-Day War of 1967, Israeli military forces seized control over the Old City of Jerusalem, and, as a result, the Palestine Archaeological Museum was captured and relinquished to the Israel Antiquities Authority. Bullet holes still line the library walls, serving as a memento from the battle. Following the end of the war, the institution was officially renamed the Rockefeller Museum. It remains unclear who authorized changing the identity of the museum. However, the decision to rename the museum has remained a point of contention. The Rockefeller Museum continues to operate today, instilling a new collective memory throughout the region, one that undermines histories of Palestinian indigeneity.

In 2017, I left Ohio and journeyed to the Rockefeller Museum, which still stands on that hill overlooking the Old City. The edifice is officially deemed a historical landmark; old etchings, markings, and carvings on the muse-um’s facade reveal its conflicted past. Exterior entrance halls direct visitors to the Government of Palestine Department of Antiquities offices. Upon entering through the front doors, patrons encounter the building’s floor plan, guiding them to the exhibition halls. Above the map reads “Palestine Archaeological Museum,” its maiden name hand-carved into the limestone wall. Wandering through these hallways, the museum felt virtually untouched—its interior halls unfixed and unchanged from the photographs I examined in the archives. While these appearances remained frozen on the surface, the wall text was quietly confrontational, promoting a narrative positioning Palestinians as “visitors” of their native land. The story of the Palestine Archaeological Museum is a painfully layered one, replete with the haunt-ings of colonial power and historical erasure. In many ways, its story is only a modicum of the more pervasive effacement of Palestinian historical and cultural memory that occurs ad infinitum. This institution was born out of a deep entanglement with colonialism and Western expansion, only to become the spoils of its new colonial occupier. Palestine was forcefully re-moved from its name, much like our names on villages, streets, and maps effectively erased by the violent workings of a settler-colonial regime. Re-claiming this institution’s fraught history opened a pathway to creating A Partial Restoration of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, an imaginative space that reclaims and resuscitates the elisions of history.

Dareen Hussein is a writer, curator, and multimedia artist based in Ohio. She is a PhD student in the Department of History of Art at the Ohio State University. This essay appears in FUTURE/PRESENT. Arts in a Changing America, Duke University Press (2024).

War as an Object of Study in French Political Philosophy


Hopes for a peaceful development of mankind in the 21st century have not come true, and the predictions of polemologists led by Gaston Bouthoul have largely become the reality of today. In this regard, theories that have not recently had a wide reception, as they chose war as the object of research, are now coming to the fore. Among them we should mention the area of the “philosophy of war,” which has found numerous proponents among French political philosophers.

Continuing the French tradition of viewing war through the prism of philosophy, a study by the renowned French philosopher Henri-Paul Hude, A Philosophy of War, was published in France, in November 2022, and in English in 2023. In it, Hude poses the problem of the emergence and the possibility of eliminating war from the life of mankind in our time. On April 11, 2023, at the Department of Philosophy of Politics and Law, Faculty of Philosophy, Lomonosov Moscow State University, a discussion of this book was held online with the participation of the author of the book. The event included a fruitful dialogue on the causal links between war and politics. The French professor presented his point of view on the importance of penetrating into the essence of war through its philosophical interpretation. Obviously, his views are based on a solid foundation created by French political philosophers and thinkers over several centuries, which I would like to describe in this article.

Philosophical Understanding of War: The Emergence of the Term, “Philosophy of War”

Since ancient times, philosophers have tried to understand the meaning of war and the reasons for its emergence. The philosophical approach fundamentally differed from other forms of understanding this phenomenon: mythological, religious, historical. Rational comprehension of this phenomenon allowed us to identify its essential features and thereby understand the cause-and-effect relationship between the factors that give rise to it and the coming consequences. We find such attempts in European antiquity in Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and others. War as an essential part of the life of society was reflected in the works of military leaders, thinkers, philosophers, but for a long time there was no separation of the field of knowledge about war into a separate branch.

One of the first to speak of a “philosophy of war” was Marquis Georges de Chambray, a participant in the Russian campaign of 1812. In the preface to his work called Philosophie de la guerre (Philosophy of War), (first published in 1827, then continuously reprinted), he explains in what sense he treats the concept of “philosophy,” which he connects with the concept of “war” to penetrate into the essence of this phenomenon:

As the word “Philosophy” has several meanings, I feel I must make known the one I have given it in the title of this work.
There are four stages in the exercise of human intelligence: 1. Craft; 2. Art; 3. Science; 4. Philosophy. Craft is a routine or skill acquired through practice, without knowledge of principles and rules; art is subject to rules or principles; science is a system of knowledge about a useful object; philosophy is the background, the positive, the essence or even the generalities of a science.
I have used the word Philosophy in this sense: (a) Linné, (b) Voltaire, (c) Fourcroy, (d) Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and many other authors have used it in the same sense (Philosophie de la guerre, pp. v-vi).

It should be noted that the Marquis de Chambray’s book was published several years earlier than Carl von Clausewitz’s work, On War, in which the Prussian military thinker did not use this term. Of course, this does not indicate that his work had no philosophical significance. Clausewitz is rightly written about as a representative of the philosophy of war, but the priority in the creation of the term does not belong to him.

Formation of the Field of the “Philosophy of War”

It is noteworthy that at the initial stage of the emergence of the philosophy of war, a significant contribution to the formation of this field was made by professional military men (von Clausewitz, de Chambray). The continuator of this tradition was the French author, Captain R. Henry, who wrote another book on the philosophy of war. It is not by chance that his work is referred to by the Russian and Soviet military commander Andrei E. Snesarev, who created a training course on the philosophy of war for officers-in-training at the Military Academy of the Red Army, of which he was the head from 1919 to 1921.

On the eve of the 19th century, pacifist sentiments prevailed in European philosophical and socio-political thought. In France, as in other European countries, there were illusions among intellectuals that war would be replaced by a new system of relations between states, when wars would become unnecessary because an adequate substitute would be found. In this case, war becomes pointless, as it is replaced by other ways of conflict resolution: diplomatic, economic, expansion of cultural contacts, etc. Among those who did not share optimism about the peaceful development of mankind was the French philosopher and sociologist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who doubted that war could be done away with. In his two-volume study, War and Peace (La guerre et la paix), he comes to the conclusion that war is inseparable from the life of society and that it is a necessary condition for its existence:

In my own view, it is plain that war has deep roots, scarcely discernible, in the religious, juridical, aesthetic and moral sentiments of peoples. It might even be argued that it has its abstract formula in dialectics. War is our history, our life, our very soul; it is legislation, politics, State, homeland, social hierarchy, the rights of people, poetry, theology; it is, once again, everything. We hear talk of doing away with war, as if it were some sort of toll or tariff. And there is no appreciation that if we discount war and its
associated ideas, nothing, absolutely nothing remains of humanity’s past and not a single atom upon which to build its future. Oh, I may well say to these clumsy peace-mongers, as I myself was once told in respect of property: How do you envision society, with war abolished? What ideas, what beliefs are you offering? What literature, what poetry, what art? What would you make of man, that intelligent, religious, justice-dispensing, free, individual and, for all of those very reasons, a warring creature? What would you make of the nation, that independent, outgoing, autonomous collective? What becomes of the human race in its eternal repose?

Proudhon was not satisfied with the superficial reasons by which wars are usually explained; he wanted to penetrate into the essence of the phenomenon. Another French author, François-Odysse Barot, reflecting on the philosophical problems of history, in particular on the paradoxes of war, noted:

Above all these numerous species of animals is man, whose destructive hand does not spare anything living. He kills to feed.He kills to clothe.He kills to dress up.He kills to attack.He kills to defend.He kills to educate.He kills to have fun.He kills to kill. An arrogant and formidable king, he needs everything, and nothing resists him. However, what creature would destroy the one who destroys them all?He himself?. It is upon man that the killing of man is entrusted.

In doing so, he points to the cause of wars, which lies in man himself. The illusions inspired by optimistic authors were not justified. The First World War, which the French called the Great War (La grande guerre), was a severe test for the participating countries, showing the depth of contradictions that became the real cause of the cataclysm, and gave food for more realistic assessments of this phenomenon.

Teilhard de Chardin, who participated in this war as a medic, in his free time from duty kept notes, which were later included in a collection under the general title, Writings in Times of War. In them, musings on various topics are interspersed with thoughts about the war. Life on the front line gave, strangely enough, rich food for philosophical reflections on war and peace. And it is quite natural, as it is difficult to separate one from the other. It is noteworthy that the observations of an eyewitness, a participant in the events and at the same time a thinker and philosopher give this collection a special value. In one of the essays in this collection, entitled, “Nostalgia of the Front,” he writes:

And so, when the desired peace of the nations (and of me first of all) comes, something like a light will suddenly be extinguished on earth. War had torn through the crust of banalities and conventions. A “window” had opened onto the secret mechanisms and deep layers of human becoming. A region had opened up where men could breathe air charged with heaven. With peace, all things will be covered by the veil of monotony and ancient pettiness.

He contrasts this with war, which reveals to the participants a superhuman reality:

Happy, perhaps, those whom death will have taken in the very act and atmosphere of war, when they are driven, animated by a responsibility, a conscience, a freedom greater than their own, when they are exalted to the very edge of the world—very close to God!

Thus, war becomes for him an encounter with the Absolute.

Henri Bergson, a representative of intuitionism and philosophy of life, published a text in November 1914 in the Bulletin des armées de la République, in support of France and its soldiers. In the first line, he declares that the end of battle is beyond doubt: Germany will fall. This is not really a foresight; it seems like a prophecy. Jean-Philippe Cazier evaluates this short address to the French soldier:

Thus, Bergson’s text carries out a series of shifts from the very beginning: history and politics overlap there with metaphysics, chance is shifted to a higher necessity, the singular is placed in the category of the political and the moral, as well as the vital, which embraces the individual and the subject, defined as the means of this order. The soldier becomes a kind of antique hero, and France becomes both a mythical and metaphysical figure.

The theme of war, although not explicitly expressed, is also constantly present in Bergson’s work, The Two Sources of Morality and Religion, published in 1932. We find elements of nihilism and mysticism in the conceptualization of war Georges Bataille’s works Inner Experience, The Limit of the Useful. The theme of war in Marcel Proust acquires a real philosophical resonance in his work In Search of Time Lost. Philippe Mengue argues that Proust has two types of understanding of war: orthodox, integrated into the state apparatus, and the second, original, anticipating the views of Gilles Deleuze, showing the existence of “war machines,” independent and external to the state. The war also influenced the work of Jean-Paul Sartre, who participated in the Second World War. The period at the beginning of German hostilities against France was called the Phoney War (in French, “Funny” or “Strange War”). During this time, the French philosopher served as a private at a surveying station in the Vosges. There he had the opportunity to devote his leisure time to writing diaries in which he described the events around him. These entries were later published under the title, War Diaries: Notebooks from a Phoney War, 1939-40. The war was a turning point in Sartre’s destiny: a break with pacifism and a transition to active citizenship.The time spent in captivity and participation in the Resistance also played an important role in his philosophical formation. His diaries have a syncretic character. They contain observations, reasoning and inferences of a socio-philosophical nature. In War Diaries, Sartre applied the experience of his philosophical novel, Nausea (1938), where he had already used the genre of diary entries kept by the protagonist Antoine Roquentin. The influence of previous philosophical works is also evident. His observations on the “world of war” are not yet philosophy, but they are no longer mere eyewitness notes:

Man—I want to say, the enlisted herd? The messiness of war and the ambiguity of the warrior’s nature stem from the fact that man is treated simultaneously as a machine and as a psychic being sensitive to ceremony.
1) Like a machine. Like the worker, the soldier provides work. But it is unproductive work. Its ultimate purpose is to destroy, and when it is not actually destroying, it is nothing more than a simulacrum—firing blanks, big maneuvers, endless drills. So, you cannot rob him of his labor, because his labor doesnot provide value, in the Marxist sense. It is a naked effort. A soldier is not exploited, but even more than the worker, we maintain him like a machine.
2) Like a ceremonial being. Yesterday’s gathering emphasized “the high significance of saluting.” We see the conservative thinking process: the salute as ceremony. Then there is the search for a higher meaning. This is the thinking of Maistre and Bonald. We are bound by ceremonies and dances; we are captives of military politeness. The men of Verdun were forced to exercise during their rest periods, to “keep them well in hand.” Here, Alain’s analysis is perfectly accurate. It is obvious, however, that he is far from complete. The ambiguity is that command, in its representation of the enlisted herd, cascades endlessly from the material to the ceremonial and from the ceremonial to the material. And, of course, following the command in his representation of himself, the man himself jumps?

In his Dairies, Sartre’s reasoning about freedom, democracy, fascism, civilization, values is close to political philosophy:

One should not confuse the origins of this war, which may be clear to the historian, with the motivations that drive us to fight, which, as I indicated above, are unclear. Indeed, one should try to think of this war as an event, as a meaningful reality and as a value. It is precisely the value of this single war that is elusive.

The widespread assertion that the phenomenon of war is a common theme for twentieth-century intellectuals is well-founded. Many French writers, politicians, and thinkers wrote about this phenomenon. Among the famous names is Raymond Aron, Sartre’s friend at the École Normale Supérieure, who later became his opponent and ideological adversary. Aron’s versatile oeuvre did not ignore the fundamental theme of modernity—war. As a prominent theorist of international relations, Aron paid great attention to the phenomenon of war.

Among Aron’s significant works in this regard are, The Century of Total War (Les guerres en chaîne), Peace and War (Paix et guerre entre les nations), and Clausewitz: Philosopher of War (Penser la guerre, Clausewitz). In The Century of Total War, Aron emphasizes the idea of the ratio of quantity and quality in the process of creating a “critical mass.” Wars can reach it, thus creating the conditions for the emergence of a “chain reaction.” Thus, the First World War developed into the Second, and has the possibility of moving into the Third. Another of his works, Peace and War, published in 1962, is devoted to the justification of the theory of international relations. In an extensive article on the publication of this book, the French historian and political scientist Jean-Baptiste Duroselle elaborated on the contribution made by Aron to the development of the theory of international relations:

This abstract theory, which consists in conceptualization, presupposes, naturally, a second part: the search for determinants. Theory suggests what elements are to be analyzed; sociology influences these elements. The sociologist’s task “lies between that of the theorist and that of the historian.”The historian interprets the totality of the particular, the singular. The sociologist looks for judgments of “some universality.” So, there are two categories of possible determinants. One is physical or material: space, population, resources; the other is of a social nature: the nation and its regime; “civilization,” a phenomenon of the future whose relatively stable features (regularities) and transformations must be comprehended; and, finally, humanity, that is, a regularity related to the essence of human nature. The great problem relating to the last concept is to know whether man is aggressive by nature, whether there is biological aggressiveness or whether war is a consequence of the social condition. “The difficulty of peace refers rather to the human essence than to the animal beginning of man.”

In our opinion, this part of the task belongs not only, and not so much, to the competence of a historian or sociologist, but to the competence of a philosopher. Therefore, it is quite appropriate to talk about Aron’s contribution to the philosophy of war, but not only. At the same time, in his work he tries to reflect on the future of humanity. To an even greater extent, Aron reveals himself as a proponent of the philosophy of war in one of his later works, Clausewitz: Philosopher of War. André Glucksmann, who was influenced by his teacher during his tenure as an assistant to Aron, published his first book, Le discours de la guerre (A Discourse of War), in December 1967, which he characterized twenty years later as a mixture of philosophy, military strategy, nuclear deterrence and game theory. Nevertheless, it determined his interest in military issues, conflicts, the problem of violence, and terrorism.

At this time in the study of the phenomenon of war was developed polemology—”a new science of war”—in the words of creator Gaston Bouthoul. This field aroused interest in scientific and political circles in France. The French Institute of Polemology in Paris (Institut français de polémologie) has been under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of State for Scientific Research. Although Bouthoul believed that polemology was the sociology of war, this field was characterized by interdisciplinarity in the study of the phenomenon “war-peace.” Polemologists widely used heuristic possibilities of related disciplines. The fundamental works of the founder of polemology often contain reasoning that is philosophical in nature. This is noted by Alexis Philonenko in his Essais sur la philosophie de la guerre (Essay on the Philosophy of War), identifying the philosophy of war and polemology. He highlights the philosophical orientation of the reflections in the works of Bouthoul, who felt the urgent need to move away from the sociologism of his theory andtoward generalizations of a philosophical nature. A similar idea is formulated by the Romanian author Vasile Secăreş: “The ideas of the father of polemology, which are controversial, no doubt returning unexpectedly for our days to Durkheim’s sociologism, nevertheless have the merit of emphasizing the need for a holistic view of man and his past.”

Philosophical Paradigm for the Study of War

Since the emergence of the “philosophy of war,” its representatives have sought to consider war within the philosophical paradigm. Thus, the above-mentioned R. Henry in his essay tried to depart from the established standards of considering war from the point of view of military science. He wanted to give his study a philosophical character. His book in structure and style resembles the work of Carl von Clausewitz, On War. Henry combined philosophical and political reasoning about the phenomenon of war with military-strategic inferences. In a number of instances, he managed to find a connection between war and other areas of human activity. He points out that war “…is linked to politics and social science by its causes and results; it combines all the knowledge accumulated by mathematics, physics, and the natural sciences to increase man’s strength a hundredfold and to raise the intensity of his collective action.Finally, it gives rise to a real philosophy through the consideration of simple principles and natural laws with which the thinker can relate all the social, moral, and technical questions put at stake by these conflicts, in which the mind and vitality of the human race are periodically tempered.”

The Dutch ethnologist and sociologist,Sebald Rudolf Steinmetz, writing on the eve of the First World War, devoted his work (Die Philosophie des Krieges) to a philosophical consideration of war as a phenomenon inherent in the human race.In it, he analyzed the causes, consequences and trends of this phenomenon. Relying on a solid base of sources, he paid tribute to the contribution of researchers who devoted their research to the study of war. Among them he mentioned the names of French colleagues: Gustave Lagneau, Charles Létourneau, Ernest Lavisse, Alfred Nicolas Rambaud, Jean Lagorgette, Maurice Loir. Later, Emile Ollivier devoted his work to this problem. Following Loir’s example, he analyzed the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 in his book, Philosophie d’une guerre: 1870 (The Philosophy of One War: 1870). In the context of sociology’s offensive against philosophy, the position of the philosophy of war was weakened. However, the outbreak of the First World War brought philosophy of war to the fore. Paul-Louis Landsberg published an article entitled, “Réflexions pour une philosophie de la guerre et de la paix” (“Reflections on the Philosophy of War and Peace”) in the October 1939 issue of Esprit, a journal aimed at French-speaking intellectuals. He writes at the very beginning of the article: “…philosophical thought must remain clear and pose problems in its own way.”

A great contribution to the formation of the philosophy of war was made by Charles de Gaulle. His political and philosophical thought covered the most diverse aspects of the development of the French state and nation. Military and national security issues were not the least important. His concept of “defense in all directions” was influenced by the French philosophers Jean Bodin and Montesquieu, who attached great importance to the geographical and psychological factors in the political development of nations. The concepts of “nation” and “national interest” became the axis of the policy pursued by de Gaulle during his presidency. French military policy became a derivative of these determinants. The problem of national interest remains very important to this day, although it is interpreted differently by some theorists (Raymond Aron, Jean-Baptiste Duroselle, Régis Debray, Thierry de Montbrial). The realistic approach of a number of French political thinkers, philosophers and sociologists to the interpretation of the concept of “universal values,” which under certain circumstances can cause conflict situations at different levels, deserves attention. The position of the famous French polemologist Julien Freund, who warned about the danger of fighting for mythical “universal values,” which he perceived as an acceptance of political dependence, is interesting in this regard.

Philosophy of War and Modernity

Years and centuries pass, but the relevance of the philosophy of war does not diminish. The French philosophical community has reacted vividly to the military conflicts and wars that periodically arise in various corners of our planet. Publications devoted to this problem are multiplying. Alexis Philonenko’s work, Essais sur la philosophie de la guerre is a large-scale work on the coverage of problems and personalities. The author refers to the concepts of such thinkers and philosophers as Machiavelli, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Saint-Just, Clausewitz, Proudhon, Tolstoy, and de Gaulle. The comparison of Tolstoy’s and Clausewitz’s views on war is certainly unexpected.

Philonenko’s reflections on the correlation between language and war, logic and strategy, respectively, are interesting. The philosophical tradition in discussing the phenomenon of war continues in the socio-political and professional philosophical thought of France, and the 21st century has convincingly proved it. The debate involves members of the public and professional philosophers. Lecture-debates such as those organized by the Philosophical Society of Nantes in 2003-2004 around the theme of “Philosophy in the Face of War” demonstrated the interest in the philosophical treatment of the phenomenon of war in relation to modernity. During the debate, presentations were made by well-known French philosophers J. Gobert, Thierry Ménissier, B. Benoit, and P. Hassner. In addition to the already mentioned experts on this problem, we should name P. Gallois, J. Guitton, D. David, Régis Debray, A. Joxe, Roger Caillois, E. Murez, P. Lelouch, C. Le Borgne, D. Herrmann and others. The philosophy of war has attracted the attention of many French philosophers. In particular, the work of Clausewitz was the subject of research both by Raymond Aron and René Girard.

The views of the French philosopher and political scientist Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer on the problems of modern wars are of interest. In his book, La guerre au nom de l’humanité (War in the Name of Humanity), he considers a whole set of problems affecting the basics of understanding the phenomenon of war. His multifaceted education (philosophy, law, political science) allows him to consider war in a political-philosophical way with the knowledge of legal issues. Former French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine, in the “Introduction” to this book, notes his commitment to realism, a sense of proportion, balance, without any theoretical excesses or dogmatic simplifications. Early 2019 saw the publication of a book by the French engineer, philosopher Jean-Pierre Dupuy, La guerre qui ne peut pas avoir lieu: Essai de métaphysique nucléaire (The War That Cannot Happen: An Essay in Nuclear Metaphysics). It would seem to be a return to the old theme of the inadmissibility of nuclear war. One recalls the statements of progressive scientists who put forward pessimistic predictions of the fate of humanity after nuclear war, about the possibility of a “nuclear winter.” Dupuy is concerned that the world has come even closer to the brink of nuclear war than during the Cold War, but most people ignore the danger. He discusses the possibility of war breaking out uncontrollably regardless of the will of politicians, because of the triggering by “apocalyptic machines.” He raises in a new way the problem of the effectiveness and morality of nuclear weapons.


Given the presence of competing approaches to the cognition of war, there have been and are different points of view on the way to penetrate to the essence of this phenomenon. At the present stage, we can say that none of the paradigms has clearly proved its superiority in the realization of the epistemological goals set by the supporters of one or another direction. Apparently, mutual complementarity remains the fundamental principle of truth comprehension. In this respect, there are proposals to create a “new science of war.” Here, however, conceptual questions arise. One of them is the question of what a “new science” is. For example, the Russian military scientist Nikolai N. Golovin meant by this “the sociology of war,” as Gaston Bouthoul later did (though with significant inclusions of philosophy). Andrei E. Snesarev called the “philosophy of war” a universal tool for understanding the phenomenon of war. Gustave Le Bon considered war from the standpoint of psychology. The need in our time to create a “new science of war” requires combining different approaches, which can give a positive effect of understanding this phenomenon and the influence upon it.

This is all the more relevant now, since terrorism is gaining such a scale that a number of authors consider it as a kind of war. In the complex of methodological approaches to the study of wars and military conflicts, philosophy occupies an important place, as it perceives and conceptualizes this phenomenon in the most general way, which allows us to get close to its essence and find methods and means of counteraction. It is philosophy that can answer the following questions: what is war? What are the causes of wars? What is the relationship between human nature and war? Are there just wars, etc.?

The Department of the Philosophy of Politics and Law, in the Faculty of Philosophy, at the Lomonosov Moscow State University does a lot to study the phenomenon of war in keeping with the times: special courses devoted to this problem are offered, such as “The Philosophy of War” (since 2009), “Fundamentals of Polemology” (since 2016); numerous articles devoted to polemological problems have been published; members of the department have participated in various conferences on the problems of wars and military conflicts. One of the features of the departmental approach to the study of the phenomenon of war is the focus on the comparison of different points of view on this problem. As a result, we have formed the opinion that the concepts of French philosophers writing about war, in the paradigm of the “philosophy of war,” are characterized by originality and deserve careful study in the context of the dominance of Anglo-American theories.

Complete references are found in the Russian original.

Alexei V. Soloviev is Associate Professor in the Department of the Philosophy of Politics and Law, Faculty of Philosophy, Lomonosov, Moscow.

Featured: Le siège de Paris (The Siege of Paris), by Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier; painted in 1870.

Napoleon’s Gut by Ridley Scott

Directed by an Englishman who has not forgotten that Napoleon was his enemy, and who attacks his posterity through the means of propaganda—cinema—Ridley Scott’s film is heavy-handed to the point of ridiculousness. And it struggles, to say the least, to find its tone. The tragedy of the story eludes him, and some of the great protagonists are conspicuous by their absence. But why do we leave it to Hollywood to paint our great characters? And what is left of France after Napoleon? This article is both an analysis of the film and a more general historical reflection.

Expectations were high, but we were disappointed all the same. One might have imagined that Ridley Scott, a lover of history and blockbuster frescoes, would find the inspiration and form to tell the story of Napoleon, Emperor of the French. His first film, The Duelists, an adaptation of Conrad’s short story, set during the Empire, is as hard, incisive and sharp as steel, not to mention Gladiator, which regales us with sandy virile combat. Alien, Prometheus, Blade Runner; the list goes on and on.

The film’s main flaw is Ridley Scott himself: he is English. His entire film is an indictment of Napoleon. In his endeavor to demythologize and demystify the Emperor, a dazzling victor in the sunshine of Austerlitz, a grandiose force with the will of Destiny, romantic even in the fall of Waterloo, and the dark melancholy of St. Helena, Scott portrays an irascible little, fat man, traumatized by women and complexed by his mother, who to compensate for his weakness gets drunk on the blood of men, taking pleasure in killing. It is the kind of barroom psychology that would make Chateaubriand, the Emperor’s enemy biographer, pale, and Zweig, a portraitist in his own right, a surgeon of consciences and wills, feel sorry for him. The man’s flaws and failings are strung together like a string of bad apples: virile, toxic, macho, violent towards his wife, sexually obsessed, a pedophile, a liar, a narcissistic manipulator, a conspiracy theorist and an exaggerator. What the vulgar press lends to Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin is offered to us throughout. We start with the revolution, celebrated with the death of the Queen—the dark hours of our history—and end with a little moral lesson worthy of a Bertrand Tavernier thesis film: Napoleon is responsible for the death of millions of people, and he is revered as a legend.

The film’s tone is constantly ambiguous. Burlesque and self-mockery combine with the pathology of a killer’s itinerary. We have the worst of Nicolas Sarkozy, a nothingness on two feet. This is L’Histoire d’un mec meets Faites entrer l’accusé. Napoleon is sometimes ridiculous, sometimes as cold as a sociopath, sporting the same hard, constipated face under increasingly pasty features. This in-betweenness between farce and tragedy is uncomfortable throughout.

The film focuses solely on Napoleon and Josephine. Talleyrand is barely sketched in, Fouchet appears in a single shot, and Marshals Ney, Murat, Lannes and Masséna are nowhere to be seen. We can recall Claude Rich, John Malkovich and Guitry as the lame devil and our own Depardieu as Fouchet. The acting leaves much to be desired. Joaquin Phoenix can’t seem to get out of his role as the Joker, drawing mimicry, breathlessness and fragility from it. Both characters share common traits: an infirmity of the soul, a violence within them, a pathological coldness, a strange laugh and the behavior of a mental hospital escapee. It is hard to believe that the actor has remained locked into his role as a buffoon. Vanessa Kirby is unbearable, appearing disheveled all the time, bland and tasteless, laughing uncontrollably at the announcement of her divorce, sad as rain at Malmaison.

The relationship between the emperor and empress takes up a place that spoils the film. The viewer could not care less about this conflicted, friendly relationship; the passions that end up in ashes, the upscale domestic scenes in the Tuileries, to put it politely. No, the viewer could not care less. Scott has no idea how uninteresting the subject is. Napoleon, like all great figures in history, is solitary. To show him held, entrenched, locked in by his wife, is pathetic.

The chronological progression of events in the form of key dates is lazy. The Egyptian expedition is as uninteresting as it gets; and the Italian campaign, with the Pont d’Arcole and Marengo, is skipped. Jena, Wagram, Eylau, all three, are silent. The war in Spain does not exist. The campaigns in Germany and France are forgotten. All these disappointments fail to explain the geopolitical stakes of the moment. Napoleon was a pragmatic and deliberately authoritarian politician. His work as a reformer, too. So be it. What we are left with for over two hours is a distressing portrait of a mad, megalomaniac killer. As a backdrop, we would have preferred to see Napoleon in exile, in his last days, going over in his memory the important events of his life as Emperor, confronting his demons, introspecting his character, in the depths of his solitude and in the face of his intimate weakness.

But there is more to this film than meets the eye. The battle scenes, the ones that remain, are well realized. The assault on Toulon is dynamic, while Austerlitz, without sunshine or triumph, is shown in all its cruelty and violence. The death of those Austrian and Russian soldiers on that icy lake delivered to the cannonballs is implacable. Even Waterloo is not lacking in interest. The film’s cold, gray photography is chiseled; the sets, outfits and palaces are well laid out; the music, from Piaf to Haydn’s Creation, via a Mozarabic Kyrie Eleison played by Marcel Pérès, is welcome. The aesthetic side of this film does do the job, and lives up to its director’s reputation.

Do we really think that the Englishman Scott wanted to deconstruct Napoleon? This verb is often used to denounce a political attempt, driven by a certain ideology, to wipe the slate clean, to cancel, to destroy. I do not believe that the director is so committed to Wokeism as to ideologically undermine the Emperor. He reacts as a subject of perfidious Albion, France’s eternal enemy, and attacks his posterity through the means of propaganda: cinema. Yet to place the Emperor in a harsh light, to be on the other side, opposite, with those who suffered the Corsican ogre, is not entirely without interest if things had only been done well. The problem is, they are not. We did not wait for Scott to shoot Napoleon. Let us sting and provoke a little. Let’s play devil’s advocate.

Napoleon was the strongest armed force of his generation, and came at just the right moment to support the party of order. A leader was needed to avoid chaos and put things right. The bourgeoisie took power, replacing the old nobility, and chose its foal: Bonaparte, a man of action, a military man, a man of the center, neither revolutionary nor backward-looking. Napoleon was a man overtaken by the force of things he had taken on. His talent lay in his ability to synthesize the old and the new: royalism and the republican adventure inherited from Rousseau. Napoleon did not go backwards; he did not make a break; he made a synthesis that worked. If we were to be more provocative, we would dare say that Napoleon was the very product of that social mobility capable of bringing novices, parvenus and boors to the top. The late Ancien Régime was full of these energetic types, moving from chamber pot to chamber valet, from valet to minister, right up to the head of the Directoire.

Action française thinkers such as Bainville were not kind to La Paille au nez. Léon Daudet summed up their ideas on Napoleon in one phrase: “a crusade for nothing.” Yes, Napoleon meant twenty-two years of war (out of the fifty-one years of his existence) to protect France’s borders, respond to the aggression of Europe’s dynasties, impose a continental blockade against the English and a revolutionary ideal on the rest of Europe. While Napoleon’s gesture has greatness, and the sun of Austerlitz still burns every December 2 for over two hundred years, this perpetual war ravaged Europe. Napoleon slashed his map with a saber, closed abbeys and congregations, and abolished feudal systems in southern Germany; he abrogated the Holy Roman Empire; he plundered the whole of Italy, ravaging Venice, which saw its last doge. History forgives the victors and kills the vanquished twice. So much for the great European dream we have heard so much about! Behind the laurels of war, the living blood and the tears, these victorious battles, motivated by a confused maneuver to stifle the English, border on absurd glory. Scott ends his film with this assessment: three million men died in Europe on the battlefields. That is a lot. But as Henri IV’s marshal Montluc would say: “Lords and captains who lead men to death; for war is nothing else.” Napoleon is shown in caricatures pampered by the devil, playing cards and betting men, throwing up troops and cannons. He was a soldier who knew only perpetual war, enlarged an empire that had no geographical sense, and took it upon himself to oust Bourbon from the thrones of Europe.

Some have drawn a comparison, mutatis mutandis, with Adolf Hitler. Of course, the latter’s genocide and biological racism severely limit the comparisons that should be made. Notwithstanding these caveats, both were propelled by a well-defined social class, concerned with its economic interests in the face of the messy revolution, to replace the corrupt Directoire on the one hand, and the limp, dying Weimar Republic on the other. One became consul, the other chancellor; both for life. One became emperor and the other, Führer, took possession of all institutions. Both empires collapsed because they were based on war. For an empire to survive, you need to substitute economic peace for war, as the Romans understood. An empire whose only horizon is war is doomed to disappear quickly. Ten years for the first, twelve for the second. Foreign countries waged war against them. The war waged in Europe was waged against England. It was made possible by the general mobilization of youth, supported by a formidable demographic. The same thirst for power led them to open two fronts, in Western and Eastern Europe. Both went astray in Russia, suffering the invincible General Winter. The Grande Armée was broken, while the death of twenty million Russians broke the Wehrmacht. This Russian failure set in motion the mechanics of defeat and precipitated the collapse of both empires. If France was politically dead in 1815, Germany, which was already a ghost with Hitler, the ghost of a dead 1918, was completely reduced to zero and never really recovered.

Napoleon is partly responsible for our disenchantment. France was grandiose, then ceased to exist after Waterloo. I am one of those people who re-enact the battle a thousand times a year, cannot accept defeat and, in front of Scott’s film, could not watch this drama without bowing their heads in shame and sadness. With Waterloo, France was buried. I cannot deny that the defeat at Waterloo, which signaled our submission to foreign powers and those of money, was followed by a half-hearted Restoration, a bourgeois King of the French, a frilly Second Empire and a republic of bacchantes, rigid and progressive, and allowed for the worst of politics and its choices, but the best of literature and the blossoming of an astonishing painting of the salons. Waterloo, when did we become great? Under de Gaule, some would say, for a while, a little over a decade, and then some. Even now, we are still immersed in this malaise, this melancholy and this hope for greatness. We are waiting as some wait for the man who will save us. Our formidable paradox was revealed when the film was released: we are throwing up the man we are waiting for to emerge from his tomb at Les Invalides.

There was Abel Gance’s great film with the unforgettable Albert Dieudonné; later, by the same director, Austerlitz, with the serious and virile Pierre Mondy. Why on earth is no one in France capable of producing and directing, with substantial resources, a real film about the Emperor, while we leave the matter to those who are hostile to us? I would like to know.

Nicolas Kinosky is at the Centres des Analyses des Rhétoriques Religieuses de l’Antiquité and teaches Latin. This articles appears through the very kind courtesy La Nef.

Proelio apud Bannockburn

This account of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314) was written during the reign of King Edward III (1312 – 1377). It is found in Cotton. Titus, A. XX., fol. 68.

Quomodo comes Gloverniæ fuerat occisus apud Strivelyn, et Anglici victi.

Me cordis augustia cogit mira fari,
Scotiæ quod Anglia cæpit subjugari:
Nova jam prodigia dicitur patrari,
Quando matri filia sumit dominari.
Regionum Anglia plurium matrona,
Cuï tributaria jam dabantur dona,
Proth dolor! nunc cogitur nimis esse prona
Filiæ, qua læditur materna corona.
Exiit per Angliam edictum vulgare,
Admonendo quempiam arma præparare,
Ut adiret Scotiam phalanx vendicare
Jura, vel injuriam posse vindicare.
Ad quod thema debeam nimis protelare:
Rex cæpit militiam suam adunare,
Inconsultus abiit Scotos debellare.
Ira sponte rediit nolens plus obstare.
Erant in excercitu plures generosi,
Milites in exitu nimis et pomposi;
Cum ad bellum venerant tot impetuosi,
Satis promti fuerant hostes animosi.
Animosi fuerant et hoc apparebat;
Cum partes certaverant, illa permanebat
Stabilis, sed fugiit quæ superbiebat.
Inproba succubuit, astuta vincebat.
Inauditus ingruit inter hos conflictus;
Primitus prosiliit Acteus invictus,
Comes heu! Gloverniæ dans funestos ictus;
Assistens in acie qui fit derelictus.
Hic phalangas hostium disrupi coegit,
Et virorum fortium corpora subegit;
Sed fautor domesticus sibi quem elegit,
Hic non erat putitus quando factum fregit.
Hic est proditorius vir Bartholomeus,
In cunctis victoriis quem confundat Deus!
Domino quod varius fit ut Pharisæus.
Hinc Judæ vicarius morte fiet reus.
Videns contra dominum hostes desævire,
Fingit se sex seminum longius abire;
Domino quod renuit suo subvenire,
Proditor hic meruit tormenta obire.
Plures sunt quem perperam comes est seductus,
Ut ovis ad victimam et ad mortem ductus,
Qui [sunt] per quos oritur tam vulgaris luctus,
Hoc satis cognoscitur per eorum fructus.
Quorum virus Anglia tota toxicatur;
Vulgaris justitia sic et enervatur;
Regale judicium per hos offuscatur;
Ex hoc in exilium fides relegatur.
Victa jacet caritas, et virtus calcatur;
Viret ingratuitas, et fraus dominatur;
Quicquid in hiis finibus mali perpetratur,
Dictis proditoribus totum inputatur.
Iste deceptorius vir non erat solus,
Per quem proditorius jam fiebat dolus;
Alter sed interfuit, quem non celet polus,
Et fiat ut meruit infernalis bolus.
Hujusmodi milites, regno pervicaces,
Sathanæ satellites, sunt nimis rapaces;
Regis si sint judices undique veraces,
Destruent veneficos suos et sequaces.
Capitis sententiam pati meruerunt,
Cum sponte militiam talem prodiderunt;
Qui fuerunt rustici, sicut permanserunt,
Comitis domestici fugam elegerunt.
Hii fraude multiplica virum prodiderunt,
Inpia gens Scotica quem circumdederunt;
Ipsum a dextrario suo prostraverunt,
Et prostrati vario modo ceciderunt
Fideles armigeri qui secum fuerunt;
Milites et cæteri secum corruerunt;
Cum sui succurrere sibi voluerunt,
Hostibus resistere tot non valuerunt.
Sic comes occubuit præ cunctis insignis,
Qui sua distribuit prædia malignis;
Sibi quisque caveat istis intersignis,
Jam fidem ne præbeat talibus indignis.
Ex hoc illi comites actibus periti,
Adhuc qui superstites sunt, fiant muniti,
Alias in prælio cum sistant uniti,
Ne sic proditorio telo sint attriti.
Cruciatur Anglia nimio dolore,
Tali quod versutia privatur honore,
Muniatur cautius mentis cum labore,
Error ne novissimus pejor sit priore.
Consulo comitibus adhuc qui sunt vivi,
Quod sint proditoribus amodo nocivi;
Sic et per industriam omnes sint captivi:
Anglici ad Scotiam fiant progressivi.
Credo verum dicere, non mentiri conor;
Jam cæpit deficere nostri gentis honor;
Comitem cum lividus mortis texit color,
Angliæ tunc horridus statim crevit dolor.
Nostræ gentis Angliæ quidam sunt captivi;
Currebant ab acie quidam semivivi;
Qui fuerunt divites fiunt redemptivi;
Quod delirant nobiles plectuntur Achivi.
Mentes ducum Angliæ sunt studendo fessæ,
Nam fœdus justitiæ certo caret esse;
Ergo rex potentiæ stirps radice Jessæ,
Fautores perfidiæ ducat ad non esse!
Quando sævit aquilum, affricus quievit;
Et australi populo dampnum mortis crevit.
Anglia victoria frui consuevit,
Sed prolis perfidia mater inolevit.
Si scires, Glovernia, tua fata, fleres,
Eo quod in Scotia tuus ruit hæres;
Te privigni capient quorum probra feres;
Ne te far … facient, presens regnum teres.
Facta es ut domina viro viduata,
Cujus sunt solamina in luctum mutata;
Tu es sola civitas capite truncata;
Tuos casus Trinitas fæcundet beata!

Featured: The Battle of Bannockburn, by William Allan; painted in 1850.