There has never been agreement on how to understand the French Revolution, and probably never will be. It divided not only France, but all Europe, as soon as it began. The philosopher and statesman Edmund Burke, who had supported American independence, condemned it as something infinitely more dangerous, while his former friend, Thomas Paine, called for Britons to join the Franco-American tide of change. In this short guide, David Andress, drawing on the views of other leading historians, offers an erudite and succinct analysis of the causes, progress and legacy of one of the defining events of modern Europe.
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-907776-82-3
A rough outline
Why has the French Revolution caused so much argument?
What caused the French Revolution?
How did the changing political culture breed revolution?
Why was France in such bad shape?
What were the main obstacles to reform?
Why was the hierarchical society of the Old Regime so hard to change?
How did the political culture enforce the social structure?
How effective was the censorship on which the “system” depended?
How did men and women of the old order become revolutionaries?
How did French society respond to the calling of the Estates- General?
How significant were the popular uprisings of 1789?
Why did revolutionary politics become a spiral of violence?
Why was the Revolution seen as an attack on religion?
What was the effect of suspicion and inflamed passion on both sides?
How did a revolutionary political culture develop?
Why were the French so terrified of political dissent?
Who were the Jacobins?
Why was the language of the revolution so extreme?
Who were the “sans-culottes”?
How many people were actually executed?
Can the violence be blamed on the bloodthirsty crowd?
What role did Robespierre play?
Why is the pace of events so significant?
After The Terror
Did the “real” revolution end in 1794?
Why was there a revival of ideological conflict after Thermidor?
What did the Directory actually achieve?
How did the Directory endure for four years?
Where did Bonaparte emerge from, and how did he rise so fast?
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