Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Cardinal Manning and France

Now safely packed in acid-free boxes
One of our ongoing projects is the electronic cataloguing of the papers of former Archbishops of Westminster. Although some sort of index or listing is available for each collection, in the case of the earlier Archbishops, these are extremely unreliable. Our volunteers are currently in the process of cataloguing Wiseman and we hope to start Vaughan early next year. The Manning papers have just been completed by Tobias Cooper, who is now leaving us as he has been offered a job. However, before he left, I managed to get him to write our first blog post...

Among the Manning papers are some letters to the Cardinal from a Mr J C Millage, a journalist based in Paris. Mr Millage appears to have decided to be an agent for Manning in France although there is little evidence that he was asked to do so. His letters are an eccentric mix of gossip, politics and personal requests.

In a letter of 4th February 1882 (Ma.2/16/2) he writes to Manning ostensibly to ask for a letter of introduction to Prince Henri, Duc d’Aumale, the Inspector-General of the French Army and a son of the exiled King Louis-Philippe. In the next paragraph however he informs that Cardinal that he can “obtain the concurrence of three generals willing to make a “coup d’etat” and place Monseigneur in the Elysée” this he sees as the “only way of preventing a socialistic revolution in France”.
To whom this refers is unknown but it is presumably one of the sons of Louis Philippe possibly Prince Henri or Prince François, who had put his name forward for the Presidency in 1851.

The next year Millage writes again on French politics (Ma.2/16/6 dated 11th February 1883). In this letter, he discusses the possibility of Prince Peter Kropotkine (sic) being pardoned and worries that Louise Michel and her supporters may cause trouble. He then returns to his theme of the previous year, telling Manning that Jules Grévy is ill and may soon resign, and that army morale can only be supported by a Presidency of “the person I mentioned as a forerunner to Constitutional Monarchy”. In fact Jules Grévy remains President until 1887.

There is absolutely no evidence in the Manning Papers that the Cardinal ever considered supporting an attempt to re-establish the monarchy in France, although in a letter to Herbert Vaughan of 1880 (Ma.2/12/20) he does bemoan the weakness of the French government and fear the resurgence of the Communards.

We hope that the new Manning catalogue will be available on Catholic Heritage early next year and would like to thank Tobias for all his work and wish him well for the future.

Monday, 13 December 2010


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