Tréguier at the Core of Ernest Renan’s Legacy

Ernest Renan, 1823–1892.

Back in 1838. Young Ernest enrolled at the Paris Seminary. He was fifteen years old. The child was remarkably gifted, and his masters at the ecclesiastical college in Tréguier, his hometown, believed strongly in his promising rhetoric.

Seven years later, young Ernest, hardly contemplative, breaks the moorings and slams the seminary door.

Ernest was free and could devote himself to what he loved: the studies that made him the most gifted philologist of his generation. In December 1860, with his perfect command of Hebrew, he left for the Promised Land to write his ‘Life of Jesus’, his most important work. Back in Paris at the Collège de France, he raised an enormous polemic.

The book is worth Renan’s happiness and misfortune. The anti and the pro are unleashed everywhere in Europe. The Pope points the finger at ‘the blasphemer’. A controversy on a par with the one that Tréguier experienced on September 13, 1903, when the bronze of Renan was placed on the cathedral square. Nonetheless! Renan, crippled with villainy but proud and finally fortunate, set out again, this time in the footsteps of Saint-Paul.

One is in 1870. Germany has the face of Bismarck. Renan called for intellectual and moral reform, advocated a United States of Europe based on a Franco-German alliance and the separation of Church and State. As early as 1905, history will prove him right. In the meantime, Renan became the master thinker of his whole generation. Including in Tréguier, where he went back in 1884.

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Houda BELABD

Houda BELABD

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Writer @ the Times of Israel. Journalist @ Le Petit Journal de New York. Philatelist. Numismatist. Haikist. Researcher in Judeo-Andalusian cultural legacy.