I have recently found the following sentence in Honoré de Balzac novel “La Duchesse de Langeais”:

Quoique les maisons religieuses de la Péninsule et celles du Continent aient été presque toutes détruites ou bouleversées par les éclats de la révolution française et des guerres napoléoniennes, cette île ayant été constamment protégée par la marine anglaise,

“Aient été détruites” looks like subjonctif passé to me and I am not sure why Balzac used it like this here. Is it because he referred to the hypothesis and did not consider it to be a fact? I think I have not seen this kind of usage before.

2 Answers 2


Quoique always takes the subjunctive for the next verb.

Semantically, it expresses a certain doubt or reservation ("even though..."). This reservation is associated with the subjunctive.


He does consider it as a fact, not a hypothesis. He's just using this fact in the scope of a concession, and not as the core information of his sentence.

In a way, you are indeed presented with a subordonnée concessive introduced by "que". The thing is, "que" is hidden in the ending of "quoique". If you mentally replaced "quoique" by "bien que", keeping the sentence almost identical syntaxically and unaltered in terms of meaning, you could be easily persuaded of it.

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