chapter  14
17 Pages

Region and ‘M entality ’

What has principally determined the beliefs and political loyalties of French people since the Revolution has been the part of the country where they lived. The already discussed influences of family and immediate community usually (though not always, as will be seen later) reinforced an identity shared over a much wider area. The way that different regions experienced the Revolution marked them durably; and the political shocks and economic changes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries modified but did not efface these differences. The political map of France therefore shows a continuity more striking and complex than that of Britain with its ‘Celtic fringe’, Italy with its Mezzogiorno or the United States with its Southern particularism. Fundamental contours fixed in the 1790s remained with slight modification at least until the mid-twentieth century, a graphic illustration of the long-term influence of the Revolution at the deepest level as both ‘revealer’ and ‘creator’ of political identities.1