The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny

The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny

by Ian Davidson

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The French Revolution: From Enlightenment to Tyranny by Ian Davidson

The fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 has become the commemorative symbol of the French Revolution. But this violent and random act was unrepresentative of the real work of the early revolution, which was taking place ten miles west of Paris, in Versailles. There, the nobles, clergy and commoners of France had just declared themselves a republic, toppling a rotten system of aristocratic privilege and altering the course of history forever.

The Revolution was led not by angry mobs, but by the best and brightest of France's growing bourgeoisie: young, educated, ambitious. Their aim was not to destroy, but to build a better state. In just three months they drew up a Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was to become the archetype of all subsequent Declarations worldwide, and they instituted a system of locally elected administration for France which still survives today. They were determined to create an entirely new system of government, based on rights, equality and the rule of law. In the first three years of the Revolution they went a long way toward doing so. Then came Robespierre, the Terror and unspeakable acts of barbarism.

In a clear, dispassionate and fast-moving narrative, Ian Davidson shows how and why the Revolutionaries, in just five years, spiralled from the best of the Enlightenment to tyranny and the Terror. The book reminds us that the Revolution was both an inspiration of the finest principles of a new democracy and an awful warning of what can happen when idealism goes wrong.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781681772929
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 12/06/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 620,913
File size: 61 MB
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About the Author

Ian Davidson worked for the Financial Times for many years, as Paris correspondent and as chief foreign affairs columnist. He studied English and Classics at Cambridge University, before being awarded the Frank Knox Memorial Fellowship at Harvard and later becoming Visiting Fellow at the School for Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University. Based in London, he is author of Voltaire in Exile (2004) and Voltaire: A Life (Profile, 2010 - 9781846682322).
Ian Davidson worked for the Financial Times for many years (among other things as Paris correspondent and as chief foreign affairs columnist). His earlier Voltaire in Exile (2004), was called 'powerful and illuminating ... revealing and disturbing' by the Sunday Times.

Table of Contents

Maps ix

Timeline xvii

1 Introduction 1

2 États Généraux 9

3 The Fall of Necker 22

4 The Storming of the Bastille 25

5 The Dismantling of Feudalism 30

6 Declaration of the Rights of Man 34

7 The King Moves to Paris 40

8 The Assembly Starts to Govern France 50

9 The Revolutionaries Reform the Church 59

10 The Flight of the King 66

11 The Rush to War 77

12 The Overthrow of the Monarchy 87

13 The Commune insurrectionnelle 103

14 The Convention 119

15 The War in 1792: From Valmy to Jemappes 130

16 The Trial of the King 137

17 Girondins and Montagnards 144

18 The Fall of the Girondins 154

19 The Civil Wars of 1793 164

20 The Gouvernement révolutionnaire 175

21 The Terreur 190

22 The Spasm of Religion to the Fall of Danton 205

23 The Fall of Robespierre 218

24 The Aftermath 232

25 Epilogue 244

In Place of a Bibliography 253

A Note on the Children of Louis XVI 257

A Note on the Franchise for Women 258

The Coups d'État of the French Revolution 259

The French Text of the Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1789 261

A Note on Money and Inflation 263

A Note on the Comité de salut public 266

A Note on Death and the Revolution 269

Notes 278

List of Illustrations 298

Index 300

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