On the Horns of a Dilemma: Paris, Languedoc and the Clash of Civilizations in Nineteenth‐Century France

December 2002
French History;Dec2002, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p416
Academic Journal
This article traces the evolution of local and national attitudes during the nineteenth century towards various forms of bullfighting in Languedoc. The state, be it monarchical, imperial, revolutionary or republican, shifted uneasily between sheer hostility and guarded acceptance of the two principal forms of bullfighting, the course libre and corrida. Yet the reasons for the state's caution varied. Initially it bespoke a general concern with public order, but soon assumed ideological significance. Not only were the bull contests swept into the vortex of revolutionary and reactionary activity, but so too were they implicated in the debate between Paris and the provinces over the identity of France. Tellingly, by the second half of the century, notables in Nîmes and elsewhere, previously hostile to bullfighting, began to claim it as an integral part of French civilization (while Parisian republicans labelled it as a form of barbarism). This evolution of attitudes towards the course libre and corrida casts light not only on the growth of French regional consciousness, but also on the ways in which the Third Republic helped broker a broader and more generous notion of the French nation.


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