Keep your head, Manu; you are president, not king

If you want to be president of France it’s wise to grasp not just the historical facts of 1789, but what the French Revolution actually meant.

It was supposed to signal the end of the oppression of the French masses – the peasantry – by the aristocracy.

The revolutionaries underlined their point by decapitating the king – the epitome of the old social structure – and his wife, who famously (and allegedly) said, when told people were starving for want of bread, “qu’ils mangent de la brioche” – let them eat cake.

This is the month when the French celebrate the anniversary of the start of that bloodbath, 229 years ago. There have been unsuccessful flirtations with monarchy since – starting with Napoleon – and one need only look at the Carnet du Jour in Le Figaro to see what a significant role various ducs, marquis, comtes, vicomtes and barons still play in French society.

But disturb the notions of fraternité and égalité, and all hell breaks loose – as President Macron discovered when rebuking a 15-year old lout who ...

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