A far-right French historian shot himself in the head beside the altar of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris today apparently in protest against the legalisation of gay marriage in France.

Dominique Venner, 78, a former member of the nationalist terrorist movement, OAS, placed a pistol in his mouth and shot himself dead in front of scores of tourists inside the most visited building in France.

Mr Venner, a presenter on a Catholic-traditionalust radio station and controversial historian and essayist,  posted an essay on his website earlier in the day calling for "new, spectacular and symbolic actions to shake us out of our sleep, to jolt anaesthetised minds and to reawaken memory of our origins".