Publication details [#10361]

Steuckardt, Agnès. 1997. Père du peuple (Father of the people). 18 pp.


The history of the images of the 'père du peuple' (father of the people) and the 'père de la Patrie' (father of the fatherland) in France is surveyed, with focus on the semantic and strategic shifts in their usage during the 18th century. It is found that, although the association between "king" and "father" and the notion of the 'patris patriae' existed since the Greek and Roman empires, the metaphor of the 'père du peuple' was first used in 1506 with regard to Louis XII. Subsequently, the idea gained ground with the publication of Filmer's royalist 'Patriarcha' (1680), in which the term was used to designate Louis XVI. However, Filmer's ideas were heavily challenged by particularly John Locke (1689) and later Rousseau (1755); the 1789 Revolution secured the demise of Filmer's image of the king as a tyrannical and divine father and that of the mediating, spiritual leader envisioned by others. Examination of the FRANTEXT corpus yields the conclusion that neither term has been used without sarcastic or archaic connotations since 1830. (S. Paul in LLBA 1998, vol. 32, n. 5)