When history makes dates (Arte)

When history makes dates (Arte)

33, 1492, 1789, 1945 ... How did these dates slip into our collective memory? Who decided which ones were memorable? How do you build an event, why, for whom, and how does it end
by entering history textbooks? Historian Patrick Boucheron looks back on some of these dates to discover how they help us today to grasp the panorama of a global history.

Because there are many calendars in the world ... Not a single story, but a multitude of intertwined stories.

33: Crucifixion of Jesus

Christian time is oriented time. It begins with the birth of Christ, but what gives it meaning - its direction and its hope - is the Crucifixion. She is the landmark in Christian history. The crucifixion of Jesus is perhaps for historians the least uncertain indication of the existence of Jesus. Why invent such a scandalous, unbelievable story if it wasn't true? Christianity, moreover, is nothing more than this: making a date with the incredible.

September 24, 622: Year 1 of Islam

The Hegira, the passage of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622, marks the beginning of a new era: it is year 1 of Islam. But what do we really know about the birth of Islam? How is it that in less than a century a new spirituality has conquered an empire?

June 13 - 323 Death of Alexander the Great

Along with Alexander, dies in Babylon the greatest conqueror in history, the only one to have extended an empire over the whole of Eurasia. What has happened to us much later is a powerful wave of tales far stronger than the story, the legend of Alexander. What to do with a story that is almost inseparable from its myth?

1492: A New World

Officially, 1492 is the year of the discovery of the Americas, the end of the Middle Ages, and the beginning of modern times. But it could well be that this foot placed by Christopher Columbus on a beach in the Antilles one day in October, obscures a much more complex story, a story that begins in Andalusia, in Granada, and which colors Western modernity with a hue. a little different.

20 June 1789 The Jeu de Paume Oath

On June 20, 1789, the deputies of the Third Estate, gathered in the Salle du Jeu de Paume in Versailles, jointly swear not to separate until they have given France a constitution. What really happened that day in Versailles? And who are these men who, by coming together, by their oath, imposed the people as a political body and invented national sovereignty?

February 11, 1990 Release of Nelson Mandela

"I am here before you not as a prophet but as your humble servant" such are the first words pronounced by Nelson Mandela on his release from prison on February 11, 1990, in front of the cameras, after 27 years of captivity. From the outset, the event was global in scope, as the fight against apartheid in South Africa had become a cause of universal mobilization. The first African land to be colonized, South Africa is therefore historically the last to be decolonized. This is what dates back to 1990: the end of a colonial history as violent as it was long. But is this really the end?

One day in 79 The destruction of Pompeii

Pompeii remained hidden from the eyes of men for more than 1,600 years, until this day in 1748, when ancient sculptures and remains were excavated there to decorate the palace of the King of Naples. Then begins another story, that of archeology, but also that of the construction of an imagination of the Roman world, which sees Pompeii as the model of the ancient city. But are we not on the wrong track in seeking in Pompeii the miraculous preservation of an idealized Roman city?

August 6, 1945 Hiroshima

Hiroshima is no longer a place name, but a universal name for atomic fear. Because the city has no other history than that of its annihilation, no more memory than a fear to be warded off. And therefore a question specific to modernity arises for the whole world: how to commemorate a disaster? How do we make what happened that day happen to us? To understand what took place, you have to go beyond the images, or rather the war of images between the Americans and the Japanese. To approach the time when humanity realizes the possibility of its own end.


When history makes dates. Documentary series, from March 17 on Saturday at 4:15 pm on Arte.

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