The Formative Years: Péguy 1877–1902
Jules Isaac was born at Rennes on 18 November 1877 into a judéo-lorraine family, by his own admission “more Lorrainer than Jewish.” He was preceded by two sisters: Laure (1867–1945) and (Lucie) Henriette (1873–1958). Seven years had elapsed since Lorrainers east of the Vosges and Alsatians had lost their French citizenship following Bismarck’s annexation of Alsace and a slice of Lorraine in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War. Young Jules arrived into this world in the year that marked the beginning of the end of the conservative Republic of the Dukes. The crisis of 1877 settled the question of the locus of the balance of power under the constitution enacted on 31 December 1875. The president of the Republic was compelled to give way to the sovereign voice of France. This was the France into which Jules Isaac arrived, republican for a third time, a republic still in its infancy, fragile and resentful, if not hostile, to Jews.