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Remembered Today:

Philosophe Cemetery


Fred van Woerkom
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Is it possible that the place or location already had the name Philosophe pre-war ?

If not I would expect "Philosopher".

(Sorry, Fred, this is not really an answer to your question.)

Aurel

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Fred,

From what a remember, the area/village? was marked as 'Philosophe' on trench maps, so I've assumed the name came from the village, although today it is Mazingarbe.

Alan

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Philosophe was a small mining village between Mazingarbe and Vermelles, though why it was so called I have no idea. There was still a housing estate called the 'Cité du Philosophe' until last year, when it was demolished.

cheers Martin B

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I understand it was Philosophe pre war. The reference to Cite du Philosphe probably reflects that iun the mining area little "estates" grew around specific Pit Heads often developed by the mining companies. One might regsard Mazingarbe as a larger "parent" village and they may have been linked by commune or similar.

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PHILOSOPHE CEMETERY

Can anyone explain why it is so called ?

Cheers,

Fred

The 'Philosophes' were the thinkers of the eighteenth century Enlightenment such as, for instance, Rousseau, Montesquie and Voltaire. I cannot gaurantee that the pre-war settlement, and thus the cemetery, are named after them but it would not suprise me.

Jon B)

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Bonjour" big moustache"

before the war the hameau du philisophe exist near the river the surgeon

a hameau is a very small village with 2,3,4 houses ....

perhaps a explication

gilles

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Aurel, you young Flemish philosopher (or was it philologist?), thank you for an interesting reply.

Alan: if it was 'Philosophe' on a trench map this means that it was so called before the trench map was drawn or else a philosophically inclined British officer (I'm only joking !)

Martin B: now we're talking ! The housing estate was only demolished last year. So it must be fresh in people's memory. I'll write to the mayor.

Martin W: you could be right that the name was given by a parent company or village. But why 'Philosophe'?

Jon : perhaps a 'philosophe' was born there or lived there. From what I know about Diderot , Roussau , Voltaire and others, they were highly controversial in their time and it is hardly likely that even the humblest housing estate would be called after them. Besides it is Philosophe in the singular.

Gilles: thank you again for showing us the Loos War museum and driving us up the Double Crassier for the wonderful view! Highly recommended ! Do you mean that in pre-war days a surgeon could be called a 'philosophe'? Or that the river was so called? Anyway I've sent you an eamil off forum with a further two questions.

All the best,

Fred

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Bonjour" big moustache"

gilles

And if someone wants a photo to prove it, I think somewhere I have one in my archives... :D

Aurel

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...

Jon : perhaps a 'philosophe' was born there or lived there. From what I know about Diderot , Roussau , Voltaire and others, they were highly controversial in their time and it is hardly likely that even the humblest housing estate would be called after them. Besides it is Philosophe in the singular.

...

Ah, but we are talking about the Third Republic now, a republic which followed (or at least tried to follow) the principles which the Philosophes believed in, people were eager to embrace republican concepts. It might simply be a reflection of a desire to be associated with republican history. It seems unlikely that a Philosophe was born there, but possible.

You are probably right, but maybe not...

Jon

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According to "Vie Quotidienne des Bullygeois de 1850 à nos jours" (which you can find bits of online) Philosophe was certainly there and going by that name in 1897.

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Fascinating site, Chris. There is an excellent section with picture (postcards etc) of the area in days gone by - many giving a picture of what it must have been like in 1914. Looking at it reminds me that I think I have (or have seen) a postcard from before the war of Philosophe - probably one of the french "LL" series.

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Chris: I agree with Martin that you have discovered a fascinating site. I'll spend some time on the fascinating social history of the area. It sounds like Emil Zola come to life !

Jon: You may be quite right about the political ambitions of the Republicans in the Third Republic in naming this area 'Philosophe'.

Aurel: Don't you dare ! Once was enough.

All the best,

Fred

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According to "Vie Quotidienne des Bullygeois de 1850 à nos jours" (which you can find bits of online) Philosophe was certainly there and going by that name in 1897.

So that's why I couldn't find it in Waterstones. You snatched the last copy.

Must confess my input on Philosophe was taken from the site Chris referred to, but I made a mistake, the Cité was demolished this year, not last year. But it would of course have been a post-WW1 development.

As Fred says, if you want to know what it was like before the war, read Zola's Germinal. But I doubt if there was any connection between surgeons and philosophers. The French for surgeon is chirurgien. Philosophe could well have been the name of the local pit -- an intellectual coal-owner?

cheers Martin B

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PHILOSOPHE CEMETERY

Recently we visited this cemetery with the unusual name.

Can anyone explain why it is so called ?

Cheers,

Fred

As others have pointed out, a mining village of this name already existed by 1897, because there was consideration of a tramway to serve it. So the cemetery takes its name from the area in which it is sited.

Assuming that the pit villages were established by the mining companies - in this case probably Compagnie des mines de Bethune - to house their workforce, why was it named 'Philosophe'?

My guess is that it is a reference to Jean Buridan (1298-1358), a religious philosopher who was born at Bethune, just a few miles up the main road. But it is only a guess, and I would welcome having it confirmed or rebutted.

David

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David,

What a fascinating character this Jean Buridan ! The pupil of William of Ockham, the teacher of François Villon, who wrote a poem about him and reputedly the lover of the queen of France, for which he was to be trhown in a sack of stones into the Seine rumour has it.

Also he adjucicated in 1358 in a territorial dispute between the Picard and the ..... English nations.

One wishes it to be true that it was him that gave his name to that part of the mining village as he was born in or near Béthune.

Cheers,

Fred

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  • 2 weeks later...
PHILOSOPHE CEMETERY

Recently we visited this cemetery with the unusual name.

Can anyone explain why it is so called ?

Cheers,

Fred

Could you let me have any photographs of this area, please? My grandfather was killed in action at Philosophe, serving with the Connaught Rangers, on 7th February, 1916.

Michael

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Many thanks to Fred van Woerkom and his friend, Klaas van der Linde, who sent me photos of the cemetery and a view of the area.

Michael Pegum

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Just thought I would thank everyone for the interesting points. Some 40 of my 9th Battalion Sherwood Foresters are buried there and I visited last year. trying for ages to find out why/how it got its name.

stevem

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David,

At last I have found the reference to which you alluded in François Villon's poem to Jean Buridan. It is in BALLADE (DES DAMES DU TEMPS JADIS) just before the recurring line of 'Mais où sont les neiges d'antan !':

Sembablement, où est la reine

Qui commanda que Buridan

Fût jeté en un sac en Seine ? ...

The notes in my anthology tell me that it was the Queen of Burgundy who was said to have ordered this, not the Queen of France.

More corrections: Buridan (look up 'Buridan's Ass', fascinating reading !) did NOT teach Villon, who lived a hundred years later and who , as my anthology says " preferred the tavern to the lecture hall, the society of thieves and prostitutes to that of professors and earnest students".

Ah well, "a little learning ......"

All the best,

Fred

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