They make house calls…



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Flowers and Fruit, 1899 - Louis Valtat
Flowers and Fruit par Louis Valtat, 1899 (

I apologize for not posting more frequently. First, someone is reading my posts as I write them. He or she may have the best intentions. Still, I have always worked alone. Although I have read and continue to read books and articles on Molière and insert quotations in learned articles, I usually present a significantly personal analysis of Molière.

It seems, however, that I may henceforth publish shorter posts. Last Wednesday, I tried to do some online banking. However, the company has created a new and safer version of its online tools. I followed the instructions, and a message appeared confirming that all was well. However, I could not log in.

So I phoned the company and waited for a few minutes until someone was available, but I started to cry when a young man answered. Technologies are a genuine obstacle, and technical problems may trigger a vulnerability. At any rate, within a few minutes, two large policemen were inside my apartment. I put on my mask, and we spoke.

I mentioned that my cat had died on 29 November 2019 and that it would soon be a year since he died. Moreover, I had been inside my apartment since March, avoiding the coronavirus. As well, in the space of three years, I had failed to settle in my apartment. Finally, Sherbrooke is now a red zone. One cannot call a carpenter, until a degree of safety has been reached. Who would help during a pandemic?

One of the policemen suggested I adopt a cat, and one offered to remove a heavy box from the hallway. They were good persons. I thanked them because I felt much better. It had been an accident.

One returns to life as usual, a narrower life because of Covid-19, but life.

However, I reflected that in the days of the coronavirus, if a citizen of Sherbrooke, Quebec, feels distraught, his or her best help could be the police. They are available twenty-four hours a day and they make house calls.

Love to everyone 💕

Afficher l’image source
Anemones and Green Jug by Louis Valtat, ca. 1926 (courtesy Art Resource, NY)

© Micheline Walker
20 November 2020

Chronicling Covid-19 (7): The Plan



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I would invite you to reread the article I posted yesterday.

I have not changed my mind. I believe that we have to test people and let the healthy return to the workplace. Self-isolation alone will not keep us safe. Not if we can no longer work and earn a living. There is no overnight miracle, but testing may allow the economy to recover more quickly.

Testing is much easier than discovering a vaccine. As I mentioned yesterday, there is an American group who is working with doctors and scientists and would send the healthy back to a safe workplace. Testing would be needed.

A vaccine will be produced, but it may not be produced in the foreseeable future, luck being a factor. Who will come up with the brilliant idea that will allow a cure and also allow the world to be as it should be. We can now see the magnificent Himalayan range of mountains.

Leaders, doctors and scientists must work together, but expertise must inform decisions made by elected officials. Mr Trump is ready to send people back to work to save the economy. But we cannot allow people who test positive to return to work. They must still self-isolate, or the pandemic will continue.

A Triage: Testing

What I am suggesting is a triage that would separate the healthy from the sick and allow those who test negative to return to work. The sick would be treated, but the healthy would keep the economy alive. We have new tools: Skype, etc. Although humanity has been scourged for millennia, it has survived.

I have a healthy nephew whose employees are healthy, but they are not allowed to work. So why do we not test them? Testing was carried out in Germany quite successfully.

We cannot close the future down. We cannot let massive unemployment follow the pandemic. That is a grim scenario. Scientists would continue to search for a vaccine, but the economy would not crumble. Testing may be difficult to organize, but it has to be organized. There is no other way.

Expertise is what world leaders need. I do not wish to trivialize world leaders, but they need guidance from doctors, scientists and economists, which is leadership in the days of the novel coronavirus.

Streets would still be disinfected as well as the workplace, but we would ensure economic stability and lift the world’s morale. Can we truly justify the self-isolation of my nephew and his healthy employees?

I am not a medical doctor, a scientist, or an economist. I am quite simply civic-minded. If we test and test, we will find those who test negative. I’m scared, because this virus may be airborne. Hence cleaning the workplace. But why isolate people who would test negative and create a new nightmare.


The Creation
, Die Schöpfung, by Joseph Haydn


Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States.

© Micheline Walker
12 April 2020








Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings



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L’Avare by François Boucher (drawing) and Laurent Cars (engraving) (Photo credit: Pinterest)


  • Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BCE)
  • commedia dell’arte
  • French 17th-century misers: sources
  • Hellenic (ancient Greek) sources
  • French medieval farces and fabliaux
  • translations into English

As indicated in a previous post, Molière‘s L’Avare, The Miser, was first performed on 9 September 1668 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. It is a five-act play, in prose, inspired by Roman dramatist Plautus‘ (254 – 148 BCE) Aulularia, the Pot of Gold. As we have seen, it is also rooted in the commedia dell’arte as well as Italian comedies and tales, and in France’s own medieval farces and the largely scatological fabliaux.

However, Molière also drew his material from La Belle Plaideuse (1655), by François le Métel de Boisrobert, which features a father-as-usurer, and Jean Donneau de Visé‘s La Mère coquette (1665), where a father and son are in love with the same woman.[1]

L’Avare is one of Molière’s better-known comedies and it was translated into English by Thomas Shadwell (1772) and Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones. However, it was not a huge success in Molière’s own days. It has been speculated that Molière’s audience expected a play written in verse, the nobler alexandrine verse (12 feet or syllables), first used in the twelfth-century Roman d’Alexandre.


L’Avare (

The dramatis personæ is:

Harpagon, father to Cléante, in love with Mariane.
Cléante, Harpagon’s son, lover to Marianne.
Valère, son to Anselme, lover to Élise, and “intendant” to Harpagon
Anselme / Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, father to Valère and Mariane, and 
Master Simon, broker.
Master Jacques, cook and coachman to Harpagon.
La Flèche, valet to Cléante.
Brindavoine, and La Merluche, lackeys to Harpagon.
A Magistrate and his Clerk.
Élise, daughter to Harpagon.
Mariane, daughter to Anselme.
Frosine, an intriguing woman.
Mistress Claude, servant to Harpagon.

The scene is at Paris, in Harpagon’s house.

Act One

We will be focusing on the manner in which the young couples featured in the Miser, L’Avare, manage to overcome the obstacle to their marriage. Short of a miracle, they are condemned to do as their father’s greed dictates. All the elements of L’Avare’s plot are introduced in the first act of the play, which reflects the Græco-Roman origins of comedy and tragedy. As a five-act play, Molière’s L’Avare is a ‘grande comédie,’ not a farce (Molière wrote both), and its plot is the archetypal struggle, also called the agôn, between, on the one hand, the alazṓn of Greek comedy, or the blocking character, and, on the other hand, the eirôn, the young couple and their supporters: valets, maids, zanni. In other words, it is a traditional blondin-berne-barbon plot. The young couples will succeed in marrying.

A Comedy of Manners and A Comedy of Intrigue

  • doublings: two young couples and two fathers
  • Harpagon is the father of Élise and Cléante
  • Anselme is Valère and Mariane’s father, which we do not know until the fifth act (V. v) of the comedy

L’Avare is both a comedy of manners, a form we inherited mostly from Greek dramatist Menander, and a comédie d’intrigue, a comedy where the plot prevails. As the portrayal of a miser, L’Avare is a comedy of manners (see the full text in Wikisource and eBook #6923). Harpagon’s greed constitutes the obstacle to the marriage of Cléante (Harpagon) and Mariane as well as the marriage of Valère and Élise (Harpagon).

Cléante gambles and wins, which allows him to buy elegant clothes and court Mariane, but he does not have sufficient money to marry and must therefore go to a moneylender. Ironically, the moneylender happens to be Harpagon himself who demands no less than the now metaphorical “pound of flesh” (Shylock) as repayment. The moneylender episode—act two, scene two (II. i) [II. 2]—shows to what extent Harpagon’s greed is an obstacle to the marriage of our young couples. The plot advances in that Cléante cannot obtain a loan that might enable his marriage. Another “trick” must be devised. However, plot and manners (greed) are inextricably woven.

Obstacles to Two Marriages

  • “genre” art
  • a family tyrant

The action takes place in Harpagon’s house in Paris and can be described as genre arta depiction of ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities. Will G Moore has remarked that Molière’s characters

“[a]re concerned with everyday life; the stuff of which it was made was by tradition the doings of ordinary people in ordinary surroundings.”[2]

L’Avare is a five-act comedy, but it is written in prose, not verse, and Harpagon, our blocking character, is an enriched bourgeois. Although he does not feed his horse properly, he owns a carriage and he has servants. As depicted by François Boucher, the interior of his house is rather elegant. However, he is extremely greedy and he behaves as though he owned his children. He is a domestic tyrant. In act one, Harpagon states that he has arranged for his children to marry, but has not consulted them. Cléante will marry a “certain widow,” our tyrant has just heard of, and Élise will be “given” to Mr. Anselme, a gentleman who will not request the customary dowry, or “sans dot

Quant à ton frère, je lui destine une certaine veuve dont ce matin on m’est venu parler; et, pour toi, je te donne au seigneur Anselme. (Harpagon to Élise, [I. iv])
[As to your brother, I have thought for him of a certain widow, of whom I heard this morning; and you I shall give to Mr. Anselme. [1. 6] [eBook #6923]

Élise does not know Mr Anselme and refuses to marry him, threatening to commit suicide. As for Harpagon, he plans to marry Mariane, who loves his son (Cléante). For Harpagon, Mr Anselme is a perfect choice because Élise will marry at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. iv FR) (I. 6 EN) 

Harpagon’s Rigidity

Valère will attempt to save Élise from a marriage to a person other than himself. Valère, Harpagon’s “intendant,” begs Harpagon to free Élise. However, the objections he presents are followed by Harpagon’s “sans dot” (without a dowry). Molière’s blocking characters are inflexible or rigid. This rigidity is the feature Henri Bergson (18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) attached to the comical or comedic in his Laughter. Valère’s objections having been rebuked by a litany of “sans dot,” he is literally speechless. He simply repeats what the Harpagon, the miser, has told him:

Lorsqu’on s’offre de prendre une fille sans dot, on ne doit point regarder plus avant. Tout est renfermé là-dedans, et sans dot tient lieu de beauté, de jeunesse, de naissance, d’honneur, de sagesse, et de probité. (Valère à Harpagon, I. v)
[When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and “without dowry” compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity.] (I. 10[eBook #6923]

But there is some hope. As the story goes, Valère’s father, Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, is believed to have drowned when he and his family (his wife, Valère and Mariane) were fleeing Naples. It appears, however, that Dom Thomas has survived and that he is a man of means. Valère was looking for him when he met Élise. At her request, he decided to stay near her and made himself Harpagon’s “intendant,” but someone else is looking for Valère’s father.

Mais enfin, si je puis, comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. J’en attends des nouvelles avec impatience, et j’en irai chercher moi-même, si elles tardent à venir. (I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us. I am expecting news of them with great impatience; but if none comes I will go in search of them myself.] [I.1]

The curtain will then fall on an anagnorisis  (V. v) [V. 5], a recognition scene. However, when Anselme enters Harpagon’s house and hears that there is opposition to the contract he has come to sign, he tells Harpagon that he will not coerce a woman into a mariage, which frees Élise. He also remarks that he will not “lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself,” thereby allowing Mariane, his daughter, to marry Cléante, Harpagon’s son, rather than Harpagon.

Ce n’est pas mon dessein de me faire épouser par force, et de rien prétendre à un cœur qui se serait donné ; mais pour vos intérêts, je suis prêt à les embrasser ainsi que les miens propres. (Anselme to Harpagon [V. v])
[It is not my intention to force anybody to marry me, and to lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself; but as far as your interests are concerned, I am ready to espouse them as if they were my own.] (V. 5) [eBook #6923]

Anselme seems a fine gentleman whom the anagnorisis (V. v) [V. 5], the dénouement (see Dramatic Structure, Wikipedia), will identify as Valère and Mariane’s father. A greedy Harpagon has chosen Anselme as the perfect groom because Anselme would marry Élise without requesting the customary dowry, or at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. v) [I. 5]


Qu’il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger. (III. i)

A Comedy of Intrigue

  • a plot or intrigue
  • a chiasmus (a mirror image in a sentence)
  • a quiproquo (a misunderstanding)
  • the doubling of the father figure (mirror image)

Harpagon’s greed is enormous, so students are taught that Molière concentrates on manners rather than the plot. He does, but in L’Avare, although the plot is mainly episodic, manners and plot (intrigue) are inextricably linked. For instance, when Harpagon is having a meal prepared to celebrate the marriage(s) that are to take place that very day, Harpagon hears Valère say that il faut manger pour vivre and not vivre pour manger, that one should eat to live and not live to eat, Harpagon so loves Valère’s witty chiasmus, that he wants these words engraved in gold and placed above his fireplace. (III. i) [III. 1] It is unlikely that Harpagon would use gold to celebrate greed, but it is true to character and comical. A meal often ends comedies and may solemnize a wedding.

Moreover, it is a quiproquo, a comical misunderstanding which, in L’Avare, leads to the anagnorisis. When Harpagon realizes his cassette has disappeared and may have been stolen, he loses his composure and accuses Valère, at the instigation of Maître Jacques. Maître Jacques resents the trust Harpagon has placed in Valère. If he could, Harpagon would have Valère drawn and quartered. Valère has not stolen Harpagon’s cassette, but he and Élise have signed a promise to marry another. Valère has ‘robbed’ Harpagon, but it is Élise he has taken, not a cassette. (V. iii & iv) [V. 3 & 4] [eBook #6923]

Anselme first steps foot on the stage as the battle rages. Given Élise’s promise, he cannot and would not marry her. However, Valère stands accused of a theft and wants to tell his story. The anagnorisis has now begun. To give himself credibility, Valère says that he is the son of Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, which Anselme hesitates to believe because he is a friend of Dom Those and, to his knowledge, all members of Dom Thomas’ family drowned as they were trying to flee Naples, which is not the case.Valère says that he was rescued by Pedro, a servant, and later adopted by the captain of the ship he and Pedro were allowed to board. He can prove his identity. As he speaks, Mariane realizes that Valère is her brother.

For their part, Mariane and her mother were also saved, but their helpers were corsaires, pirates, who enslaved them. Following ten years of enslavement, they were released and they returned to Naples where they could not find Dom Thomas d’Alburcy. They therefore picked up a small inheritance in Genoa and moved to Paris. Mariane’s mother is Valère’s  mother and Dom Thomas d’Alburcy’s wife. As he watches this scene, Dom Thomas learns that no member of his family died leaving Naples. He has just found his children and his wife. He would not stand in the way of Valère and Mariane’s marriage who wish to marry Harpagon’s children. Le sieur Anselme knows le sieur Harpagon.

Le Ciel, mes enfants, ne me redonne point à vous, pour être contraire à vos vœux. Seigneur Harpagon, vous jugez bien que le choix d’une jeune personne tombera sur le fils plutôt que sur le père. Allons, ne vous faites point dire ce qu’il n’est point nécessaire d’entendre, et consentez ainsi que moi à ce double hyménée. (V. v)

[Heaven, my dear children, has not restored you to me that I might oppose your wishes. Mr. Harpagon, you must be aware that the choice of a young girl is more likely to fall upon the son than upon the father. Come, now, do not force people to say to you what is unnecessary, and consent, as I do, to this double marriage.] [V. 5] [eBook #6923]


Molière’s L’Avare has an intrigue which resembles the intrigue of most comedies. A young couple wishes to marry, but a blocking character, or alazṓnprevents their marriage. However, Molière has doubled the young couple who are a brother and sister wishing to marry a brother and a sister, so Molière has therefore doubled the father figure which happens during the anagnorisis. As Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, Anselme is the eirôn who allows the young couples to marry.

The anagnorisis, the recognition scene, does not take place unannounced. As mentioned earlier, as he despairs,Valère tells Élise that he hopes to find his father who may still be alive. Act one (I. i) [I. 1] has prepared the reader or spectator:

Mais enfin, si je puis comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. (Valère à Élise, I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us.] [I. 1] [eBook #6923]


Der Geizigue, Harpagon & La Flèche by August Wilhelm Iffland, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In L’Avare, Molière does not use a deus ex machina. He simply introduces a second father figure who will allow the young couples to marry and will pay all costs. L’Avare‘s young couple are in fact very resourceful, but one cannot marry without money. Mariane (Dom Thomas) recoils at wishing Harpagon’s death, feelings that are reciprocated by Cléante (Harpagon).

Mon Dieu, Frosine, c’est une étrange affaire, lorsque pour être heureuse, il faut souhaiter ou attendre le trépas de quelqu’un, et la mort ne suit pas tous les projets que nous faisons. (Mariane à Frosine, III. iv)
[Oh, Frosine! What a strange state of things that, in order to be happy, we must look forward to the death of another. Yet death will not fall in with all the projects we make.] [III. 8] [eBook #6923]

Que veux-tu que j’y fasse ? Voilà où les jeunes gens sont réduits par la maudite avarice des pères ; et on s’étonne après cela que les fils souhaitent qu’ils meurent. (II. i)
[What would you have me do? It is to this that young men are reduced by the accursed avarice of their fathers; and people are astonished after that, that sons long for their death.] [II. 1] [eBook #6923]

When his father falls, accidentally, Cléante is worried:

Qu’est-ce, mon père, vous êtes-vous fait mal ? (III. ix)
[What’s the matter, father? Have you hurt yourself?] [III. 14] [eBook #6923]

Critic Northrop Frye states that “[t]he tendency of comedy is to include as many people as possible in its final society: the blocking characters are more often reconciled or converted than simply repudiated.”[3]

As for Harpagon, although he may he has been tyrannical, when Dom Thomas and the young couples leave to bring good news to Dom Thomas’ wife, Harpagon is off to see his dear cassette. His cassette, a casket, his vital to Harpagon.

Et moi, voir ma chère cassette. (I. vi)
[And I to see my dear casket.][1. 6] [eBook #6923]


I have already suggested that Molière uses doubling and fusion of functions.[4] Harpagon is a miser and will remain a miser ready to sacrifice his children. It is a sad reflection on humanity but perhaps less sad than the intervention of a deus ex machina. Dom Thomas d’Alburcy is a  major member of the play’s society, the intervention of a second father figure allows the happy ending the play demands. An anagnorisis may not be as dazzling a dénouement as the intervention of a deus ex machina, the prince in Tartuffe and a godlike figure in Dom Juan, but all’s well that ends well. 

Love to everyone



Commedia dell’arte


Sources and Resources

The Miser is a Wikisource eBook (Charles Heron Wall, translator)
The Miser is an Internet Archive publication EN
The Miser is a Project Gutenberg publication [eBook #6923] EN
The Miser, Henri Fielding is an eText EN
L’Avare is a publication FR
Molière21 is a research group
Le Salon littéraire FR
The Miser is a LibriVox text publication (YouTube)
Laughter, Henri Bergson is an Internet Archive publication EN

[1] L’Avare in Maurice Rat, Œuvres complètes de Molière (Paris : Éditions Gallimard, coll. La Pléiade, 1956), p. 968.
[2] Will  G. Moore, Molière, a New Criticism (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1968 [1949], pp. 69-70.
[3] Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1957]), p. 165.
[4] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Misanthrope, ou la comédie éclatée, » in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds. L’Âge du théâtre en France (Edmonton, Alberta: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988 ), 53 – 63. (papers from a conference held in Toronto, May 14 – 16, 1987) ISBN 0-920980-30-9 — PQ527.A33 1988

The Miser


L’Avare by Jean Degrassi, 1955 (

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016

Language Laws in Quebec: Bill 96


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Less than two weeks from now, Canadians will celebrate what is viewed as their birthday. In 1867, the Province of Canada, future Quebec and Ontario, and two maritime provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, confederated. This year, Canada’s birthday follows the passage of language laws in Quebec. Bill 96 was voted into law on 24 May 2022 and took effect on 1st June. It has generated controversy, so details cannot be revealed accurately. English-speaking Quebecers will lose “rights.”

In earlier posts, I noted that Canadian Confederation eliminated instruction in the French language in Canadian provinces outside Quebec. One often reads that Confederation ended Catholic public schools, but the French were Catholics. They were the product of French absolutism, a form of centralisation demanding that the French speak one language, practice one religion, and be governed by one king: Louis XIV. After the fall of Nouvelle-France, the French language and devotion had waned in a province that would later be described as “priest-ridden,” but remedies were at hand.

First, the Quebec Act of 1774 restored former Seigneuries, and Catholics had to pay tithe (la dîme) to the clergy, which “habitants” protested. However, the Quebec Act allowed French-speaking Canadians to enter the civil service and run for office without renouncing their faith. Second, England asked the bishopric of Québec to welcome émigrés priests. Fifty-one (51) priests travelled to the former New France (See French immigration in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia). I have mentioned l’abbé Sigogne in an earlier post. L’abbé Sigogne was an émigré priest who worked in Acadie, the current Nova Scotia. He was rather harsh on Acadians, his flock, but very loyal to Britain, the country that spared him the guillotine. He spoke English and befriended Thomas Chandler Haliburton. After the French Revolution, Lower Canada also welcomed a few émigrés families and Count Joseph-Geneviève de Puisaye attracted forty people to York, north of the current Toronto, Upper Canada. (See French immigration in Canada, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)[1]

Arrival of the Brides (Filles du roi) A view of women coming to Quebec in 1667, in order to be married to the French-Canadian farmers. Talon and Laval are waiting for the arrival of the women (Watercolour by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale, 1871-1945.) (Photo credit: The Canadian Encyclopedia)
Séminaire de Nicolet (The Canadian Encyclopedia)

Émigrés priests revitalised waning Catholicism in the former New France and they founded colleges (Séminaires). Many graduates of these colleges became priests. Others usually entered a profession. They were lawyers, notaries, medical doctors, and teachers. The majority of graduates were conservative, but higher learning often leads to liberalism. (See L’Institut Canadien, Britannica.) Liberal-minded graduates of colleges opposed Ultramontanism, but ultramontanism remained the dominant ideology in the province of Quebec until the late 1940s. It ended with the publication of Refus global (1948), a manifesto written by artists, and the Asbestos strike (1949). Refus global and the Asbestos strike were the turning point.

Throughout the 19th century, as industries developed, the Church in Quebec recommended compliance on the part of workers. So, factory workers, including the Irish, lived on a small salary and were not promoted. In the eyes of the clergy, living in poverty could guarantee salvation. Jansenism exerted considerable influence in Quebec. The more one suffered, the better.[2] However, during the Asbestos strike, the archbishop of Montreal, Joseph Charbonneau, sided with the strikers, some of whom were severely beaten. This had not happened before. Monseigneur Charbonneau was “exiled” to Victoria (B. C.), by Quebec Premier Maurice Duplessis. Monseigneur Charbonneau died a year before the beginning of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, la Révolution tranquille.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to Raymond Tanghe[3], Canadian Prime Minister (1896-1911) Sir Wilfrid Laurier tried to pass a motion favouring a degree of tolerance regarding instruction in the French language. Sir Wilfrid Laurier‘s motion was defeated and Sir Charles Tupper called for an election. Priests told Quebecers not to vote for Liberal candidates (the party). If they did, they would commit a “mortal sin.” Rome ruled in favour of a separation between Catholicism and politics.

Canada was very British. Its national flag, the Canadian Red Ensign, represented Canada as a nation until it was replaced by the maple leaf design in 1965. (See Canadian Red Ensign, Wikipedia.)

The Canadian Red Ensign, the national flag of Canada from 1957 to 1965. (See: the Canadian Red Ensign on the Register of Arms, Flags and Badges)


Let us return to Confederation (1867). To a vast extent, Quebec’s language laws stem from John A. Macdonald’s categorical refusal to allow the creation of “separate” schools, i.e. French-language instruction outside Quebec. However, Quebec had not entered Confederation unreservedly. It was allotted a province where French-speaking Canadians could maintain their language and their faith, which Québécois remember. Moreover, an alliance with Britain could preclude annexation by the United States. Living in the British Empire promised safety and the prospect of election to the Assembly. Confederation would stretch Canada from sea to sea, a lovely vision. Railroads were being constructed.

However, in 1867, when British North America became the Dominion of Canada, several anglophones, many of whom were former citizens of the Thirteen Colonies, still entertained such notions as the Rights of Englishmen.

The Rights of Englishmen is an assumed group of rights that had its roots in the basic rights granted in the Magna Carta. The idea reached its peak during the British settlement of North America. By this time colonial Englishmen felt they were entitled to certain additional rights and liberties.

(See Rights of Englishmen, Wikipedia.)

During the late 18th century and most of the 19th century, the British Empire was at its zenith, which reinforced placing the British in a superior position. The Rights of Englishmen was a concept that could justify seeking independence from Britain, the motherland. The American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) created the independent United States of America, a republic. However, the same motivation, the Rights of Englishmen, could lead the inhabitants of the former Thirteen Colonies to move to a British Colony where they expected to be treated as Englishmen. United Empire Loyalists left the United States to settle in British North America where they were given large lots:

The Crown gave them land grants of one lot. One lot consisted of 200 acres (81 ha) per person to encourage their resettlement, as the Government wanted to develop the frontier of Upper Canada. This resettlement added many English speakers to the Canadian population. It was the beginning of new waves of immigration that established a predominantly English-speaking population in the future Canada both west and east of the modern Quebec border.

(See United Empire Loyalists, Wikipedia.)

The Manitoba Schools Question

As of Canadian Confederation (1867), Quebec would have French-language and Catholic Schools, as well as English-language Protestant schools. But as immigrants settled in other provinces, they had to attend non-confessional English-language schools. Outside Quebec, most French-speaking Canadians were assimilated. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then prime minister of Canada, oversaw the “addition” (The Canadian Encyclopedia) of Alberta and Saskatchewan to Confederation. The only compromise he could reach was the Greenway-Laurier Compromise (Manitoba), which wasn’t much.

The Laurier-Greenway compromise was a regulation on schools named after Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier and Manitoba Premier Thomas Greenway. This compromise came after the adoption in 1889 of the notorious Official Language Act, which made English the sole language of Manitoba government records, minutes, and laws. Other laws abolishing French in all legislative and judicial spheres followed, leading to the disappearance of Catholic schools.

(The Greenway-Laurier Compromise, 1896.)

The compromise is described as follows:

The Laurier-Greenway compromise contained a provision (section 2.10) allowing instruction in a language other than English in “bilingual schools,” where 10 or more students in rural zones and 25 or more in urban centres spoke this language.

(The Greenway-Laurier Compromise, 1896.)

Thomas Greenway would be the Premier of Manitoba in 1888, three years after Louis Riel‘s execution on 16 November 1885. Thomas Greenway had been a friend of Sir John A Macdonald in the earlier years of his career. He

is remembered, however, for the elimination of minority educational rights for Roman Catholics; the MANITOBA SCHOOLS QUESTION dominated provincial and federal politics during his years as premier. He remained leader of the provincial Liberals until his election as MP for Lisgar in 1904.

(See Thomas Greenway, The Canadian Encyclopedia.)

The Manitoba Schools Question & the Quebec Question

The MANITOBA SCHOOLS QUESTION migrated to provinces other than Manitoba and it resulted in a mostly unilingual Canada. In fact, the “schools question” became “la question du Québec,” the Quebec question. As I noted above, immigrants to Canada who settled outside Quebec were educated in “uniform” schools, or schools where the language of instruction was English. Therefore, outside Quebec, most Canadians were anglophones. This created a malaise in Quebec and this malaise led to both the Quiet Revolution and the establishment, by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, of a Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (19 July 1963-1969).

The Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism

The mission entrusted to the royal commission was

to inquire into and report upon the existing state of bilingualism and biculturalism in Canada and to recommend what steps should be taken to develop the Canadian Confederation on the basis of an equal partnership between the two founding races, taking into account the contribution made by the other ethnic groups to the cultural enrichment of Canada and the measures that should be taken to safeguard that contribution.

(See Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Wikipedia.)

The Commission was co-chaired by André Laurendeau, publisher of Le Devoir, and Davidson Dunton, president of Carleton University. The Commission recognized, officially, that Canada was a bilingual and bicultural country. Canada’s founding nations, other than its First Nations, or Amerindians, were France and Britain. The work of the Commission led to the Official Languages Act of 1969. However, its findings could not justify the creation of French-language schools across Canada. These were created in Acadian communities and in certain districts. During the century separating Confederation (1867) and the Official Languages Act (1969), Canada became a largely English-language country. Yet, in the 1970s, French immersion schools were created, as well as summer immersion programmes. English-speaking Canadians also formed an influential association: Canadian Parents for French.

Bilingualism has its advantages. It can lead to a fine position in the Civil Service, in the Military, in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and elsewhere. I taught French to civil servants. At first, some expressed reticence. French was being “thrown down their throat.” Two weeks later, or by coffee break, these students enjoyed learning French.

History could not be rolled back, but the Official Languages Act of 1969 was a blessing. It recognized that Canada’s founding nations, other than its First Nations, were France and Britain. However, French-speaking Canadians had been recognized earlier. Governor James Murray refused to assimilate Britain’s new subjects and, as noted above, Sir Guy Carleton negotiated the Quebec Act of 1774 which restored the Seigneurial System. Habitants would work for their seigneur and provide tithe (la dîme) to the clergy. The Test Act was no longer required for an applicant to join the Civil Service or to run for office as a member of Parliament. The arrival of the United Empire Loyalists in British North America changed matters. So did Confederation. French-speaking Canadians were a minority and most lived in Quebec.

Quebec’s Language Laws

Five years after the passage of the Official Languages Act of 1969, Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa‘s Liberal Government passed Bill 22. In 1974, Quebec declared itself a unilingual province. In 1977, Quebec passed Bill 101, the Charter of the French language. Bill 101 dictated unilingual posting and the enrolment of immigrants in French-language schools. English-speaking Canadians of British ancestry could be educated in English-language schools. Other English-speaking Canadians could not. (Education is a provincial portfolio.) Bill 22 did not please English-speaking Montrealers, nor did Bill 101. Many anglophones left Montreal and Toronto gained status. Moreover, Quebec’s language laws often affected the life and the career of French-speaking Canadians living outside Quebec. These individuals had to explain Quebec and compensate for language laws. Teachers had to create French-speaking Canadians. Besides, where would immigrants find refuge? Most immigrants are seeking a peaceful environment. During WW II, several French-speaking European royals lived in Quebec.

Bill 22 and Bill 101 created tension, and so did Quebec’s two referendums on sovereignty: the 1980 Referendum (20 May 1980; defeated by a 59.56% margin) and the 1995 Referendum (30 October 1995; defeated by a 50.58% margin). The first referendum took place four years after René Lévesque‘s Parti Québécois was elected (1976). Both referendums proposed sovereignty (independence), but the wording of the 1995 referendum included a reference to a “partnership” with Ottawa:

Do you agree that Québec should become sovereign, after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership, within the scope of the Bill respecting the future of Québec and of the agreement signed on 12 June 1995?

(See Quebec Referendum (1995), The Canadian Encyclopedia)


I wish Sir John A. Macdonald had not created the “schools” question. Sir Wilfrid Laurier might have been able to support the re-introduction of French as a language of instruction had the French not linked language and faith inextricably. But I doubt that religion played as important a role as the language of instruction:

Despite Macdonald's reluctance, Manitoba entered Canada as a province. English and French-language rights were safeguarded in the new legislature and the courts. Protestant and  Roman Catholic educational rights were protected, but the right to education in either English or French was not.(See Manitoba and Confederation, The Canadian Encyclopedia.) Bold characters are mine.

As you know, I spent forty happy years in English-language provinces and had decided never to return to Quebec because of disputes between anglophones and francophones. I knew I could not survive in such a climate. Truth be told, I am not doing very well.

Canada’s two founding nations were separated for a century to the detriment of French-speaking Canadians and Canadian unity. How would French-speaking Canadians save their language? Quebec passed language laws, and these have generated acrimony. I have heard Canadians express pride because a family member was educated at an English-language Quebec University without learning French. Anglophones can live in Quebec without using French. The Eastern Townships is a bilingual region of Quebec because it was settled by United Empire Loyalists. My grandfather, who was born and raised in the Townships, could not speak a word of French. However, Quebec’s language laws erode what English-speaking Canadians view as their rights. As for Québécois, they monitor the survival of the French language, which they view as their right. They pass abrasive language laws. Quebec is a unilingual province inside a bilingual Canada.

It could be that such a notion as the Rights of Englishmen had survived in the collective memory of Quebecers of British origin. As for French-speaking Canadians, I would not exclude the negative consequences of being “conquered.” They may look upon themselves as a defeated people.

I have a photocopy of Hubert Aquin‘s article entitled L’Art de la défaite, published in Liberté, 1965. Aquin writes that the Rebellion of 1837-1838 is irrefutable proof that French Canadians are capable of anything, including stirring up their own defeat.[4]

La rébellion de 1837-1838 est la preuve irréfutable que les Canadiens français sont capables de tout,voire même de fomenter leur propre défaite.

Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine built a bilingual and bicultural Canada. English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians are compatible and equal. English-speaking Quebecers do not have to learn French. Fortunately, many anglophone Canadians have attended and still attend a private French school or are sent to a French school in Switzerland. Enrolment in a private school can be costly. These individuals have “grace.” I’ve known many and married one.

John Ralston Saul attended an Alliance Française school. He wrote a book on the Great Ministry of Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine. (See John Ralston Saul, Wikipedia.) Many share the view that Canada was born before Canadian Confederation.

He argues that Canada's complex national identity is made up of the "triangular reality" of the three nations that compose it: First Peoples, francophones, and anglophones. He emphasizes the willingness of these Canadian nations to compromise with one another, as opposed to resorting to open confrontations. In the same vein, he criticizes both those in the Quebec separatist Montreal School for emphasizing the conflicts in Canadian history and the Orange Order and the Clear Grits traditionally seeking clear definitions of Canadian-ness and loyalty. (See John Ralston Saul, Wikipedia.)

Isn’t it possible to study French or English at school, as a second language? It is not that old-fashioned an idea. After all, Quebec managed the Pandemic in both French and English.

But I must go … This post is too long.



[1] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Récit d’Acadie : présence d’une absence », in Édouard Langille et Glenn Moulaison, éditeurs, Les Abeilles pillotent: mélanges offerts à René LeBlanc, Revue de l’Université Ste-Anne, Pointe-de-l’Église, 1998, pp. 255-275. ISBN 2-9805-909, ISSN 0706-8116

[2] Denis Monière, Le Développement des idéologies au Québec des origines à nos jours, Montréal, Éditions Québec/Amérique, 1977, p. 209.

[3] Raymond Tanghe, Laurier, artisan de l’unité canadienne, MAME, Figures Canadiennes, 1960, pp. 48-49.

[4] Hubert Aquin, « L’Art de la défaite », Liberté, Volume 7, numéro 1-2 (33-38), janvier–avril 1965, p. 33.



Love to everyone 💕

John Ralston Saul

Cameron of Lochiel (Les Anciens Canadiens) [EBook #53154]

© Micheline Walker
21 June 2022
(revised 22 June 2022)

From the Rurik Dynasty to the first Romanov


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Viktor VasnetsovThe Invitation of the VarangiansRurik and his brothers arrive in Staraya Ladoga.


A Timeline 

From Prince Rurik (862) to Michael of Russia, the first Tsar (1613)

1547-1721, the Tsardom of Russia

1721-1917, the Russian Empire 

False Dmitry’s Agents Murdering Feodor Godunov and his Mother, by Konstantin Makovsky (1862), Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow


The Last Rurikid Princes (by date)

Love to everyone 💕

Sergei Prokofiev’s Chanson Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78: V. The Battle on Ice
Portrait of Ivan IV by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1897 (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)

© Micheline Walker
29 May 2022

Uvalde: Analysis Paralysis


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© CECILE CLOCHERET/afp via getty images
Devant le bâtiment de la convention, des partisans [proponents] du port d’arme et des opposants [opponents] se livrent à une bataille médiatique [engage in a media battle]. This is the front of the building where the NRA is holding its convention. One can read “Acres of Guns & Gear”.

I sent this post to thrash after hearing that Uvalde police officers stood in the hallway outside the murder scene, as children dialled 9-1-1 begging for help. My story had changed. The officers now say that they made the “wrong decision.” Not quite! They were facing a gunman and could not make a decision. It was a case of analysis paralysis. Uvalde tells, in horrid terms, the story of police officers shooting unnecessarily or not shooting because they suspect or know the person they are attacking is armed.

Outside the building where the NRA (National Rifle Association) convention is taking place, one can read in large letters “acres of guns & gear.” Given that a teacher and 18 young students were killed by gunshot, that sign is offensive. Moreover, the gunman was eighteen years old and may have been mentally unfit when he shot his victims. Why are eighteen-year-olds sold a weapon?

Former President Donald Trump told members of the National Rifle Association to “arm law-abiding citizens” in response to “evil.” Given that the gunman took the life of 18 children and their teacher, and coming from the mouth of a former president of the United States, that statement is inappropriate.

There are many conclusions to be drawn from this latest American tragedy, but two will suffice. Ban the wearing of firearms and enable police officers (the “militia”) to act when they must. In Uvalde, 19 children and 2 adults died who might have been saved.



Love to everyone 💕

Brahms‘s Lullaby
Rodin‘s The Thinker (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
28 May 2022

The Second Amendment to the American Constitution: a Misunderstanding


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Guernica by Pablo Picasso (Image credit: RMN-Grand Palais, Musée national Picasso-Paris/Mathieu Rabeau) and the BBC


The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:

“A well regulated [sic] militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

The United States has a well-regulated militia, so “the security of a free state” is not endangered, except by those who misread the Second Amendment. If the goal of the Second Amendment is to promote the “security of a free state,” it forbids the wearing of deadly weapons.

In short, the insufficiently-controlled use of firearms has just led to the death of nineteen (19) innocent children and two (2) teachers. So, the American National Rifle Association could be described as a parallel government. The bearing of arms currently threatens the security a “free state” should promote. Proponents of the bearing of arms have become advocates of social disorder and great sorrow.

My love and sincere condolences to all who have lost a child or a dear one at Uvalde, Texas.


Love to everyone 💕

Guernica: What inspired Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece? BBC News
Picasso in 1905 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
27 May 2022

The Rurikid Princes & the Tsardom of Russia


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Ivan the Terrible meditating at the deathbed of his son by Vyacheslav Schwarz (1861)




Ukraine: the Pereiaslav Agreement (1654)

Let us step back a little. What happened to Kievan Rus’? It fragmented into principalities before it fell to the Mongols (See Mongol invasion, Wikipedia). Later, it was ruled by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In 1648, Bodhan Khmelnytsky (c 1595-1657), Hetman of the Zaporozhian Host, Ukraine, led a successful insurgency that freed the Zaporozhian Host from the suzerainty of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. However, in 1654, Bodhan Khmelnytsky allied the independent Ukraine Zaporozhian Host with the Tsardom of Russia, which would benefit Muscovy. Under the last Rurikid Princes, the prospect of a Tsardom of all Russias dwarfed regionalism and such covenants as the Pereiaslav Agreement. In short, Alexander Nevsky‘s bequest to his son Daniel was not modest. Britannica dates the fall of Kievan Rus’ to the Mongol conquest, despite its brief rise as an independent Ukraine Cossack state and the Pereiaslav Agreement.

The title of grand prince of Kiev lost its importance, and the 13th-century Mongol conquest decisively ended Kiev’s power.

(See Kievan Rus’, Britannica.)

The Last Rurikid Princes

Ivan IV, the Terrible, was a self-declared Tsar of all Russias. A “Chosen Council” validated his claim to the tsardom. However, by killing his son in a fit of rage, he ended the Rurik Dynasty. His predecessors initiated:

  • the centralisation of Russia
  • its independence from Mongol suzerains, and
  • Rus’ independence from Roman Christianity

To a large extent, all of the above occurred under the rule of Ivan III, the Great, the son of Vasily II. Ivan the Great married a Byzantine Princess, Sophia, the former Zoë. It was a second marriage, and Sophia was a Catholic. This marriage did not prevent the growth of an Eastern Orthodox Tsardom. Ivan III took back land that had been part of Kievan Rus’, but he failed to reconquer Ukraine. Ivan the Great had two sons: Dmitry, by a first marriage, and Vasily, Sophia’s son. Dmitry was crowned, but Ivan III changed his mind. Vasily II, born to Sophia Palaiologina, would succeed him. Dmitry and his mother were jailed for life.

Vassals of the Golden Horde

Before ascending the throne of a principality, a prince needed a patent from the Khan of the Golden Horde. Dmitry (II) Donskoy won the Battle of Kulikovo (1380), which brought him stature. A century later, in 1480, Ivan III ended the Mongol suzerainty. (See The Great Stand on the Ugra River, Wikipedia.) We know from earlier posts that certain khanates remained: the Crimean Khanate, 1441-1783, and the Kazakh Khanate, 1465-1847 are the best examples, but these khanates did not date to the Mongol Invasion of Kievan Rus’. (See Mongol Invasion of Kievan Rus’ 1237-1242, Wikipedia.) Further annexations would occur, but as of Ivan III, the princes of Rus’ had ceased to be vassals of Mongol khans.

The Centralisation of Russia 

As the Duchy of Moscow grew into the Tsardom of Russia, the competition for the principality of Muscovy was fierce: uncles, brothers and impostors could contest the legitimacy of a claim, fiefs, or fiefdoms. The sorry fate of Vasili II (1415-1462), Ivan III’s father, is a testimonial to fratricidal conflicts. Vasily II’s uncle Yury (1434) and his cousins Vasily the Squint-Eyed and Dmitry Shemyaka (1446–47) laid claim to the throne. Vasily II was arrested and blinded by his cousin Dmitry Shemiyaka (1446). This was extreme cruelty. Despite blindness, Vasily II regained his rightful bequest, and his son, future Ivan III, provided the help blind Vasily II needed.

His son, Vasily III, annexed Pskov in 1510, the appanage of Volokolamsk in 1513, the principalities of Ryazan in 1521, and Novgorod-Seversky in 1522. He also took Smolensk away from Poland. (See Siege of Smolensk, Wikipedia.)

Territorial development between 1300 and 1547
(Grand Duchy of Moscow, Wikipedia)
The Turco-Mongol residual states and domains by the 15th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tsar Ivan IV admires his sixth wife, Vasilisa Melentyeva, by Grigory Sedov, 1875. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Fall of the Rurikid Dynasty

As the legend goes, Varangian Viking Prince Rurik was invited to rule an East Slavic territory, where he founded Kievan Rus’. Prince Oleg would rule Novgorod, and Kyiv would be the capital. Several princes of the Rurik dynasty conquered and annexed Rus’ land’s territory. However, the principal architect of a centralised Rus’ was Ivan IV, a self-declared Tsar of all Rus’, recognized by a “Chosen Council.” (See Ivan IV, Britannica and Ivan the Terrible, Wikipedia). However, Ivan IV killed Ivanovich, his son and heir, and a Rurikid prince. Besides, Ivan Ivanovich’s mother was a Romanov, Anastasia Romanovna. Feodor I, Ivan IV’s second son with Anastasia Romanovna, would reign. Still, he was “sickly and weak.” (See Feodor I, Tsar of Russia, Wikipedia.)

Ivan IV, or the Terrible, had a third presumptive heir, his son Dmitry, born to a sixth wife. Maria Nagaya was the sixth wife. (See Ivan the Terrible, Wikipedia.) Had the Eastern Orthodox Church and the people of Rus’ recognized Dmitry Ivanovich as the legitimate heir to the Tsardom of Russia, the Rurikid Dynasty may have survived. The Eastern Church did not recognize sons and daughters born to a third or later wife. It violated its canonical laws. (See Canon Law of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Dmitry of Uglich, Wikipedia.)


Ivan IV killed his son Ivan Ivanovich in a fit of anger. He was a Rurikid, and Boris Godunov (1557-1605) had witnessed the homicide of Tsarevich Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan IV’s profound grief. Ivan had a second son by Anastasia Romanova. Feodor was a prince of the Rurik Dynasty, but, as we have noted, Feodor was frail. Ivan IV appointed a regency council led by Boris Godunov, the witness. A third son Dmitry (1582-1591), born to Maria Nagaya, was sent to his appanage, Uglich, where he died mysteriously at 8 years old. Dmitry may have suffered an epileptic crisis. (See Dmitry of Uglich, Wikipedia.) However, one suspects that Boris Godunov had Dmitry killed so he could reign as Tsar. Dmitry was impersonated. A False Dmitry I reigned briefly. Maria Nagaya had “recognized” him for personal gains. She renounced him. Had the genuine Dmitry ascended the throne, he would have been a prince of the Rurik dynasty, but young Dmitri was sent to Uglich. This is how Boris Godunov cleared his way to the throne, ending the Rurikid dynasty. Boris Godunov was of East Slavic and Tatar descent.

Tsarevich Dmitry, by Mikhail Nesterov,
Boris Godunov Overseeing the Studies of his Son, painting by N. Nekrasov (19th century) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boris Godunov is a legendary figure. He was portrayed in Aleksandr Pushkin‘s play Boris Godunov and in an opera by Modest Mussorgsky, also entitled Boris Godunov.

I have not discussed Ivan IV’s oprichnina, a police force that could act with impunity. Nor have I mentioned the Massacre of Novgorod. One pillaged mercilessly. But we have seen that one blinded opponents and killed the rightful heir to the throne in the quest for power. Moreover, we have travelled lightly. There were Tsaritas and interregnums. Ivan IV had two more heirs, but the death of Ivan Ivanovich doomed the Rurik dynasty. Fear of opponents led Ivan IV to surround himself with a force that eliminated accountability. Ivan the Terrible’s oprichnina was a deadly force. They terrorized Rus’. Oprichniki could rape, torture, and kill in the name of power. Another Rurik prince could not ascend the throne.

The entire episode of the oprichnina leaves a bloody imprint on Ivan’s reign, causing some doubts about his mental stability and leaving historians with the impression of a morbidly suspicious and vindictive ruler.

(See Ivan IV, Britannica)

We have another list, and more must be said about Ivan IV. This post will be continued.


Daniel of Moscow‘s Descendants: Rurikid Princes


Love to everyone 💕

Boris Godunov – Coronation scene (Bryn Terfel; The Royal Opera)
Portrait of Ivan IV, by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1897 (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)

© Micheline Walker
22 May 2022

The Decline of Kievan Rus’


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Novgorod marketplace by Apollinary Vasnetkov

A Timeline

I have improved the timeline in Ukraine’s Varangian Princes, its Primary Chronicle, and the Russkaya Pravda (23 April 2022). It complements earlier posts on the history of Ukraine and indicates that the Tsardom of Russia ended in 1721 when Peter the Great became an emperor. Nicholas II, the last Tsar, was the Emperor of Russia until 1917 or the Russian Revolution.

The Dissolution of the Grand Duchy of Kiev

This post shows how the Grand Duchy of Kyiv dissolved before the Mongol Invasion. Novgorod became independent of princely rulers. Kyiv was absorbed by Vladimir-Suzdal, which in turn was absorbed by the Duchy of Moscow, but dukes and princes were Rurikid princes for several generations, including Ivan the Terrible


First, Kievan Rus’ lost Novgorod, which Prince Oleg had ruled.

When Kiev declined, Novgorod soon (1136) declared its independence from princely power, and, although it accepted princely protectors from various neighbouring dynasties, it remained a sovereign city until conquered by Muscovy (Moscow).

(See Novgorod, Britannica)
Territorial development between 1300 and 1547, Grand Duchy of Moscow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Theotokos of Vladimir (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)
Saint Alexander Nevsky (1221-1263), (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Rise of the Duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal

Second, the Duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal, one of the duchies that succeeded Kievan Rus’ in the late 12th century, gained prominence. In 1169, a few years after losing Novgorod, Kyiv was pillaged by Andrey Bogolyubsky, the Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal, from 1157 until he died in 1174. Prince Andrey’s father, Yuri I Vladimirovich (Yury Dolgorukliy), led his son on a conquest of Kyiv. This conquest was bloody, but under Andrey Bogolyubsky, Vladimir-Suzdal became the new capital of the Rus’. Moreover, Alexander Nevsky (1221 – 1263), Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kyiv (1236 – 52), and Grand Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal (1252 – 63) defeated the Swedes on 15 July 1240 at the Battle of the Neva, protecting Novgorod from a full-scale invasion from the West. This victory earned Alexander a sobriquet, Nevsky from Neva. On 5 April 1242, his Rus’ army defeated German knights and the Estonian infantry at the Battle on the Ice. His envoys also signed a treaty between Russia and Norway in 1251. It prevented the Swedes from blocking the Baltic Sea, which hindered the movement of Rus’ people’s principalities.

He preserved Russian statehood and Russian Orthodoxy, agreeing to pay tribute to the powerful Golden HordeMetropolite Macarius canonized Alexander Nevsky as a saint of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547.

(See Alexander Nevsky, Wikipedia.)

He also obtained an exemption for Russian from a draft of men for a planned invasion of Iran.

(See Saint Alexander Nevsky, Britannica.) [1] [2]

Moreover, Vladimir welcomed the Theotokos of Vladimir, the Virgin of Vladimir, an icon created in Constantinople and sent to Kyiv as a gift before being transferred to the Assumption Cathedral in Vladimir.

Vladimir-Suzdal is traditionally perceived as a cradle of the Great Russian language and nationality, and it gradually evolved into the Grand Duchy of Moscow.

(See Duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal, Wikipedia.)

Daniel of Moscow

Third, Alexander Nevsky’s youngest son, Daniel of Moscow (1261 – 1303), born in the Duchy of Vladimir-Suzdal, inherited the least of his father’s patrimony, Moscow. Ironically, Moscow developed into the Grand Duchy of Moscow. The Duchy of Moscow grew by conquering or annexing neighbouring principalities. In other words, Vladimir “gradually evolved into the Grand Duchy of Moscow.” Daniel of Moscow’s successors were Rurikid Princes, including Ivan the Terrible.

Time had elapsed since Vladimir the Great, Prince of Novgorod, Grand Prince of Kyiv, and the ruler of Kievan Rus’ from 980 to 1015, converted to Christianity (988) and imposed Christianity on the entire population of Kievan Rus’. Still, Vladimir the Great ascended the throne after a fratricidal war of succession. His father, Sviatoslav I of Kyiv, did not leave clear instructions about his line of succession. Vladimir’s brother, Yaropolk, murdered his other brother, Oleg of Drelinia, and conquered Rus’. Vladimir fled to Scandanavia and returned with an army of Varangian Vikings. He reconquered Rus’ and was Prince of Kievan Rus’.

Ögedei Khan‘s Invasion of Europe (see the Crimean Khanate)


Kyiv declined before the Mongol Invasion. It fragmented. It would enjoy a modest degree of independence as a Ukrainian Cossack state, but Ivan Mazepa and Charles XII of Sweden lost the battle of Poltava, in 1709.

In 1238, Kievan Rus’ was sacked by Mongol invaders. Batu Khan founded the Golden Horde, later consisting of Tatars and Turkic people. Ögedei Khan, the third son of Genghis Khan, succeeded Batu Khan. Ögedei ruled briefly. He died in 1241, ending the Mongol invasion of Russia. (See Mongol Invasion and List of conflicts in Europe, Wikipedia). However, Rus’ were vassals of the Golden Horde and Ösbeg Khan, or Ös Beg, adopted Islam. Laws would no longer reflect the Norse jurisprudence of the Russkaya Pravda.

The Golden Horde would remain active until 1480 – 82, when it was defeated at the Great Stand on the Ugra River. The Crimean Khanate and the Kazakh Khanate, the “last remnants of the Golden Horde,” survived until 1783 and 1847. (See Golden Horde, Wikipedia.) In 1354, Rome north, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire. After their victory, the Ottomans conquered countries neighbouring present-day Russia. When the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Empire, Greek scholars fled to Italy carrying books and initiated the Renaissance. But artists, who produced icons, headed to Muscovy. Icons would henceforth be created in Muscovy.

Kyiv would enjoy a degree of independence as a Ukrainian Cossack state, but Ivan Mazepa and Charles XII of Sweden lost the battle of Poltava in 1709. But despite the Ukrainian diaspora, Ukraine remained, and it is currently defending the territorial integrity it gained in 1991 when the USSR collapsed.

Map of Ukrainian Diaspora in the world (Photo Credit: Wikipedia)


[1] Hellie, Richard. “Saint Alexander Nevsky”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 10 Nov. 2021, Accessed 11 May 2022.

[2] According to the Encyclopedia Britannatica, [t]here is no book-length study of Nevsky in English. Information may be found in A. E. Presniakov, The Formation of the Great Russian State: A Study of Russian History in the Thirteenth to Fifteenth Centuries (1970; Orig. pub. in Russian, 1918); and George Vernadsky, A History of Russia, vol. 3, The Mongols and Russia (1953).

Sergei Prokofiev, Dance of the Knights
The Moscow Kremlin under Prince Ivan Kalita (early XIV century) by Apollinary Vasnetsov

© Micheline Walker
11 May 2022

Ilya Repin, Ivan IV and his son Ivan on 16 November 1581, Tretyakov GalleryMoscow


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Ilya Repin and his Son Ivan on 16 November 1581, Tretyakov GalleryMoscow

Ivan IV was the Grand Prince of the Duchy of Moscow who may have named himself the Tsar of all Russias, but a Tsar who had moments of insanity. In a fit of rage, he killed his son and could not believe nor undo what he had done.


One wonders whether Vladimir Putin will ever realise that Ukrainians are defending themselves? This invasion is madness so profound that Putin does not want other countries to help Ukraine. He will destroy Britain if Britain opposes him. He seems to believe that Ukraine is his possession and that he can do as he pleases …

That one man should be allowed to unleash such devastation as Ukraine is suffering makes no sense. Putin, and Putin alone, stands between war and peace. No one should be this powerful. Moreover, President Putin may no longer be completely aware of what he is doing. He may be ill. At any rate, he will not be brought to his senses.

Millions have left Ukraine, and thousands of lives have been lost, but, ironically, because the world knows Putin could use nuclear and chemical weapons, it is paralysed. Have we out-weaponed ourselves? An army! Give Ukraine a multinational army that will end this massacre. Ukraine must defend itself. I remember the Holocaust and pogroms.

I sound like a preacher and will, therefore, close this post. I apologise for not being an active blogger. I haven’t recovered. Ilya Repin (5 August [O.S. 24 July] 1844 – 29 September 1930) was a Ukrainian-born Russian artist.


Love to everyone 💕

Ilya Repin
A Fisher Girl, 1874 (

© Micheline Walker
29 April 2022

Ukraine’s Varangian Princes, its Primary Chronicle, the Russkaya Pravda …


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Viktor VasnetsovThe Invitation of the VarangiansRurik and his brothers arrive in Staraya Ladoga.

Kievan Rus’ dates to the Rurik dynasty. Prince Rurik was a Varangian Viking who entered an East Slavic territory. He and his two brothers were asked to rule future Ukraine because of political strife. Prince Rurik’s brothers died, so Rurik alone founded Kievan Rus’, “a loose federation in Eastern Europe and Northern Europe” (see Kievan Rus’, Wikipedia).

Viktor Vasnetsov, Oleg of Novgorod

The Primary Chronicle and the Russkaya Pravda

The Primary Chronicle or Tale of Bygone Years (12th century) is a written history. Although it is not altogether accurate, it remains a precious document. For instance, it provides the name of a few Varangian Princes who ruled Kievan Rus’, an independent state. The first Varangian Prince is Prince Oleg (879–912), who protected Varangian traders from Khazar incursions.

Sviatoslav I (943–972), Grand Prince of Kiev was given a Slavic name. Prince Sviatoslav’s father, Igor of Kiev, was assassinated when Sviatoslav was a child. His mother, Olga of Kiev, avenged Igor’s death by burying Drevlians alive. They had come to fetch her believing she would marry a Drevlian ruler. Olga reigned until her son grew of age. Prince Sviatoslav moved his capital from Kiev to Pereyaslavets in current-day Romania. Prince Sviatoslav was a conqueror. Under his rule, Ukraine would grow to be the largest country in Europe.

Prince Vladimir the Great (980–1015) introduced Christianity in Kievan Rus’ and imposed it by decree on the people of the state of Kievan Rus. His sons, one of whom is Yaroslav the Wise (1019–1054) “assembled and issued its first written legal code, the Russkaya Pravda, shortly after his death.” The “absence of capital and corporal punishment” in the Russkaya Pravda “reflects Norse jurisprudence.” (See Russkaya Pravda, Wikipedia.)

Sviatoslav I by Eugène Lanceray (1886)
St Olga by Mikhail Nesterov in 1892

Varangians were the bodyguards of Byzantine emperors, but Kievan Rus’ was sacked by Mongols in the 1240s (See Mongol invasion, Wikipedia). It was a devastating loss. Constantinople, the former Byzantine Empire, did not fall to the Ottoman Empire until 1453. Kievan Rus’, an independent state, was never reborn. However, as we have noted in earlier posts, in 1648, Cossack Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky “led an uprising against the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth which led to the creation of an independent Ukrainian Cossack state.” In 1654, he “allied the Cossack Hetmanate with Tsardom of Russia thus placing central Ukraine under Russian control.” (See Bohdan Khmelnytsky, Wikipedia). Ukrainians will nevertheless enjoy a degree of independence until Ivan Mazepa, a Cossack Hetman, and Swedish King Charles XII are defeated by Peter I, Peter the Great of Russia, at the Battle of Poltava on 8 July 1709. Catherine the Great ended Cossack Hetmenates in 1764.

Yet, although Ukraine did not gain its independence until the collapse of the USSR, the former Soviet Union, Ukraine is pushing back Vladimir Putin‘s forces so energetically that one expects Ukraine to survive. Nationhood is not always defined by borders. Ukraine is an ancient culture.

A Timeline


On Good Friday, I remembered the sayings of Jesus on the Cross. Regarding the objectionable invasion of Ukraine, the first saying would be the most important, but forgiving would be difficult: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do ( Luke 23:34).” One would like a multinational army to fight alongside Ukrainians and push out the Russians. Providing weapons seems insufficient. But would Vladimir Putin see intervention as other than humanitarian? At any rate, Putin is not at liberty to destroy a country. Will autocracies replace democracy?


Sources and Resources

Wikipedia, abundantly
Bohdan Chmelnyskyj or Hetmanat (German)
Armed Forces of Ukraine, Wikipedia
The Cossacks of Ukraine, Britannica
Photo credit: Wikipedia, all images

Love to everyone 💕

Vikings of the East: the Kievan Rus’

© Micheline Walker
22 April 2022

Bohdan Khmelnytsky, a Cossack Hetman


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Entrance of Bohdan Khmelnytsky to KyivMykola Ivasyuk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I had to revise my post on the word Ruthenia. I am sure all of you realised that the exonym Ruthenia is derogatory. However, I forgot to include a quotation that clarifies that exonyms could be insensitive.

Bodhan Khmelnytsky

Bohdan Khmelnytsky is a name associated with the beginning of the Cossack Hetmenate (1648-1764) and the Khmelnytsky Uprising, an uprising in 1648-1657 during which atrocities were committed. However, the 1648 uprising gave Ukraine autonomy. Hetman Ivan Mazepa and Charles XII of Sweden lost the Battle of Poltava, which was fought against Peter the Great in 1709.

Execution of Polish captives after the battle of Batih 1652. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The insurgency was accompanied by mass atrocities committed by Cossacks against the civilian population, especially against the Roman Catholic clergy and the Jews.

(See Khmelnytsky Uprising, Wikipedia)

After the Battle of Batih (Batoh), on 3–4 June 1652, between 3,000 and 5,000 elite Polish soldiers and officers, including 3,500 members of the szlachta, were tied up and massacred in two days of methodical beheadings and disembowelments.

(See Batoh Massacre, Wikipedia)


The Szlachta (Polish, an exonym) were the noble estate of the realm in the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth who, as a class, had the dominating position in the state, exercising extensive political rights and power.

(See Szlachta, Wikipedia)

During the Cossack Hetmenate, Ukrainians exercised greater control over their country. Therefore, Bohdan Khmelnytsky is a hero to Ukrainians, but he could be ruthless. All of us are paying a price for the current war in Ukraine. Wars kill and they are costly. I read today that Russia opposed gifts of powerful weapons to Ukraine on the part of the United States. Does anyone expect Ukrainians not to defend their country?

Hondius Bohdan Khmelnytsky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
16 April 2022

Ruthenia vs Ukraine


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Ruthenia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ruthenia or Ukraine

Outsiders have often given Ukraine the name Ruthenia, which is confusing. Ruthenia is an exonym, a name for a place that is only used outside that place. But Ukraine, an endonym, is the name Ukrainians give their country.

Exonyms and Endonyms

There are exonyms and endonyms. According to Lexico, “many exonyms can be considered insensitive and preference is given to the endonym.” (See Exonym [other examples], in Lexico). Ruthenia, an exonym, would mean a small Ukraine, which is insensitive. However, it has often been the meaning of the exonym Ruthenia, since the state of Kievan Rus’, today’s Ukraine, was founded in the 9th century by Varangians, Vikings from Sweden mainly. Kievan Rus’, was vandalized by Mongols in the 13th century. (See Mongol Invasion of Kievan Rus’, Wikipedia.) Since the Mongol Invasion, Ukraine has been under external control except for the years when it was a Cossack Hetmanate, from 1648 to 1764. Ivan Mazepa was the Cossack Hetman of Zaporizhian Host in 1687–1708. He died in Turkey, where he and Charles XII of Sweden had fled after their defeat at the Battle of Poltava (8 July 1709).

In 1764, the Cossack Hetmanate was incorporated by Russia as the Little Russia Governorate headed by Pyotr Rumyantsev, “with the last remnants of the Hetmanate’s administrative system abolished in 1781.” So, there was a Little Russia Governorate, or Little Russia, la petite Russie.

However, despite the Cossack Hetmanate, Ukraine was under foreign domination for 600 years. The Cossack Hetmanate fell to Peter I at the Battle of Poltava.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Ukraine rose for a few years and would rise again after the dissolution of the USSR, the Soviet Union.

Ukraine has been independent since 1991, but Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014. The current war is a continuation of the annexation of Crimea.

In short, the Latin word Ruthenia reflects the foreign domination of Ukraine. The Russian army entered Ukraine in February 2022, when it was directed to do so by Vladimir Putin. President Putin may think that Russia will defeat Ukraine, but Ukraine will probably survive.

At a NATO-Russia summit in 2008, Vladimir Putin “told US President George W. Bush that ‘Ukraine is not even a state!'” while the following year Putin referred to Ukraine as “Little Russia.” (See Vladimir Putin, Wikipedia.)

Love to everyone 💕

Hymn of the Cherubim by Tchaikovsky (excerpt)
The Virgin of Vladimir

© Micheline Walker
14 April 2022