Thursday, April 11, 2013

There's a Treaty of Utrecht Day? And I missed it?

"In 1713, by the Treaty of Utrecht..."

When I was a little baby historian at Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, it seemed every public statement, every research report, every article, every piece of writing of every kind that came out of our shop began that way, leading into a potted explanation of how it was as a consequence of that treaty that the French government founded the fortified city of Louisbourg, and history began, as far as we were professionally concerned.  It gave me a little seminar in narrative openings: search my works, and you will not find that opening in any of them, until today.

But permit me to note the 300th anniversary of the signing of that treaty of peace between His Most Christian Majesty (France) and His Most Britannic Majesty (Britain), duly signed in the Dutch city of Utrecht, April 11, 1713. Charlevoix has the details. And Active History  Also, Louisbourg will be rocking it this summer. Still, I'm not entirely surprised that today is not a major public holiday,

Utrechtiana: there is a story by Alice Munro, published in her first book of stories Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), called "The Peace of Utrecht."  It is not set in Utrecht; indeed, it is the first of the semi-autobiographical stories rooted in the southwestern Ontario home she called "Jubilee," and henceforth "this was the only kind of story I wrote." So the story is historic in its own right. One of its characters had been studying European alliances at university before returning to Jubilee to negotiate peace with her family and ... well, if you have read a little Munro, you get the picture. Suffice it to say this is not a historical novella about the foundation of Louisbourg.
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