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Published in 1986 as one of the first titles in the Studies in European History series, this essay quickly established itself as the most concise and accessible guide to the meanings and hidden complexities of an apparently straightforward historical category, both in the history of France and Europe as a whole. A second edition now incorporates material which has widened and advanced the historical debate in the intervening years, and includes a completely revised and expanded bibliography.
• Part I: Evolution of an Idea 1789-1914
• Initial Definitions
• The Polarisation of Opinion
• Towards Scholarly Analysis
• Part II: Anciens Regimes
• Part III: The Limits of the Ancien Regime