A fellow traveller of aristocratic and Germanic origin was asking me the other day why it is that Hilaire Belloc, so aggressive and militant a Catholic writer, evinced such an enthusiasm for the French Revolution. “Well” I responded “in the end it all comes down to Romanitas. For him the political ideal was the Augustan Principate, the regime under which the Saviour was born. Not as it was in fact but as it was in theory: a Republican Monarchy. This had been corrupted in part by the despotic instincts of the Hellenistic Greeks and in part by the blood-monarchy and aristocracy of the invading Germanic barbarians. When the people overthrew the monarchies and aristocracies of Europe at the end of the eighteenth century it was just the long overdue revolt of the oppressed Roman population of the Mediterranean against their ghastly barbarian rulers.” My aristocratic interlocutor was not pleased with this analysis and its implicit inversion of his worldview and sense of worth. “Neminem regem non ex servis esse oriundum, neminem non servum ex regibus.”

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