The family coat-of-arms of Jean-Jacques Renouard de Villayer (1607-1691) on a stamp issued for Stamp Day 1944. He was a member of the Council of State of Louis XIV, and is remembered chiefly for introducing post boxes in Paris in 1653: for a fixed prepaid charge of 1 sol, letters could be put into the boxes for delivery the same day. Receipts for the charge had to be affixed to the letters. The scheme, known as the "Petite Poste" ("Little Post") failed to cover its costs, but was imitated elsewhere - for instance in a penny post scheme inaugurated in London in 1680.
A 1945 semi-postal in aid of an anti-tuberculosis fund. It shows a TB patient getting fresh air at a sanatorium. When I was a young child, TB was still a major scourge in Britain: in late 1950 my father, a hospital doctor, took charge of a hospital in Brighton in Sussex, England which had only TB patients. As new medicines and the effect of vaccination (BCG was first used medically in 1921) reduced the incidence of TB, the hospital evolved into one dealing with heart conditions and with lung cancer and other chest diseases, with many patients terminally ill.
Issued for the 1945 Stamp Day, this semi-postal shows Louis XI (who reigned from 1461 to 1483) with a postal rider in the background. In 1477 his administration established the first state postal service in France, with coaching inns on key routes, often to battlefields to facilitate communication with generals.
After viewing the last 4 stamps, which in my opinion are wonderful, I can see there were hippies way before the 1960's.
It could get worse. I'm starting to worry that historians will discover early recordings of 18th-century hair-metal bands, and we'll have 300 years' worth of guys who sound like Def Leppard except that they sing in French. In mono.
Jean Gerson (1363-1429) on a French semi-postal of 1946. In his time he was a leading theologian, but he is now remembered chiefly for two things: his efforts to heal the Great Schism in the Roman Catholic Church (which led to there being rival Popes in Rome and Avignon - and at one stage even a third Pope); and his key role in the condemnation of Jan Hus, a Czech priest who was a precursor of the Reformation.
Charles VII of France, who ruled from 1422 to 1461. It was he who was crowned at Reims in 1429 following Joan of Arc's efforts to inspire the French to greater success against the English; and under him the English were expelled from all of France except an enclave round Calais. His last years were marred by conflict with his son, the future Louis XI. One of Charles's mistresses was Agnès Sorel, depicted in several paintings, including one in which she featured - incongruously - as the Virgin Mary. Historians regard her as the first officially recognised royal mistress of a French monarch.
Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin (1807-74) on a 1948 semi-postal. He was a lawyer and politician who championed the cause of the working class. He played a leading role in the lead-up to the French revolution of 1848 but failed in his bid to become President of France. He opposed the policies of the successful candidate Louis Napoleon, the future Napoleon III, whom he sought unsuccessfully to impeach. He fled into exile in London, where he was accused in 1857 of a part in an alleged attempt on the life of Napoleon III. In 1870, following an amnesty, he returned to France, and though elected in three French Departments in 1871, he declined to sit in the National Assembly until 1874. One of the Paris Metro stations is named after him, as is an avenue in the city.
Louis Blanc (1811-1882) on a 1948 semi-postal. He was a French politician who became a member of the provisional government following the 1848 revolution. He advocated the establishment of worker co-operatives but his plans were not accepted, and he was, like many opposed to the regime of Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III), forced into exile in Britain. In 1870, after the fall of the Second Empire following defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, he returned to Paris, being elected to the National Assembly the following year. In 1879 he secured an amnesty for members of the short-lived Paris commune which seized control of Paris in 1871. A Paris Metro station is named after him.
Alexandre Martin (known as Albert the workman), 1815-1895, on a 1948 semi-postal. He was a politician who participated in the 1830 revolution and fought at the barricades in the revolution of 1848. After a bloodily-suppressed demonstration, he was put on trial for treason and received a prison sentence. In 1859 he was released under an amnesty and took a job as a labourer for a gas company in Paris. He had a role in the short-lived first republican government (1870-1) following the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War and the fall of the Second Empire. On his death in 1895 he was given a national funeral.
Pierre Joseph Proudhon (1809-1865) on a 1948 semi-postal. He was the first known person to declare himself an anarchist, and influenced Karl Marx's thinking. He participated in the 1848 Revolution but became disillusioned. In 1849 he was arrested for insulting Louis Napoleon (the future Napoleon III), serving several years in prison before going into exile in Belgium. In 1863 he was able to return safely to France.
Louis Auguste Blanqui (1805=1881) on a semi-postal of 1948. An ardent republican with a leaning towards violent methods to achieve his political ends, he took part in the 1830 revolution and was subsequently imprisoned several times during the monarchy of Louis Philippe. He was released following the 1848 revolution, but came into sharp conflict with more moderate republicans and was sentenced to 10 years in gaol. He escaped from prison and fled France in 1865, returning to France following an amnesty 4 years later. At the end of October 1870 he was one of the group that briefly seized power in Paris after the defeat and capture of Napoleon III during the Franco-Prussian War: he was condemned to death in his absence, and arrested in March 1871. When the Commune seized control of Paris, they elected Blanqui as president and sought his release in exchange for prisoners they held, but the official Thiers government refused the offer so Blanqui never played an active part in the Commune. In 1872 he received a further prison sentence for his (virtually non-existent in practice) role in the Commune: he was freed in 1879 following his election as a Deputy for Bordeaux - an election declared invalid.
Blanqui believed in wholesale redistribution of wealth, but he was not an advocate of large-scale movements of the people: instead he held that a small group should temporarily seize power by force and then hand power to the people only after a new social and economic order had been established. A quotation from him was used by Italian fascists - "The one who has iron has bread".
Armand Barbès (1809-1870) on a semi-postal of 1948. He was a staunch republican. As a young man he abandoned the study of medicine because he could not stand the sight of blood (though this does not seem to have stopped him seeking to use violence for political ends), and turned to law. A strong opponent of the monarchy of Louis Philippe, he faced his first arrest and imprisonment for his politics in 1834. Released in early 1835, he defended 164 other republicans charged with attempting to overthrow the monarchy, and that summer helped some 35 of them escape from prison. In 1836 he and Blanqui (see the previous post in this thread) were arrested while loading ammunition in their apartment. They were freed the next year. Throughout this period Barbès was a central figure in a succession of republican groups, which formed and reformed as they sought to evade the authorities. In 1839 one of these groups mounted an unsuccessful coup, and Barbès was sentenced to death for his part: the author Victor Hugo intervened to have the sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Three years later an attempt by him to escape prison failed when he injured himself in a fall. He was released in the 1848 revolution, and then championed a moderate republicanism against the more extreme policies of Blanqui, the two men (who had previously shared living-quarters) quarrelling vehemently. In 1849 he was again sentenced to life imprisonment, this time on charges of attempting to overthrow the government and incite civil war during his part in an unsuccessful demonstration. Freed in 1854, he went into exile in the Hague, where he died just before the fall of Napoleon III.
Denis Auguste Affre (1793-1848) on a 1948 semi-postal. He was Archbishop of Paris from 1840 to his death. He was opposed to the monarchy of Louis Philippe and in favour of the establishment of the French Second Republic in the 1848 revolution, but did not play an active part in revolutionary politics. In June 1848 a large group of the poor rioted because of plans to close national workshops on which they depended for a living. Affre attempted to reconcile the two sides, speaking from a barricade despite being warned about the danger to his life, but the rioters heard some shooting, thought they had been betrayed, and opened fire on the National Guard. Affre was accidentally killed in the crossfire. His last words are said to have been, "May my blood be the last blood spilt." According to some reports, some 200,000 people took part in his funeral procession. Streets in Paris, Nantes and Toulouse are named after him. He is at present being considered by the Roman Catholic Church for canonisation.
Louis Braille (1809-1852) on a 1948 semi-postal. Blinded in both eyes as a result of an accident playing with his father's tools in early childhood, he invented the Braille system for books and music for the blind, though this did not become widely adopted until after his death. An asteroid was named after him in 1992.
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