French revolution historiography essay

French Revolution historiography Historians are often sharply divided over the French Revolution The French Revolution is an event of great historical significance.

French revolution historiography essay

It is generally estimated that a half-million Frenchmen died as a result of the French Revolution. Of these, approximatelydeaths resulted from the war with the European alliance in defense of Republican France against its foreign enemies.

Anotherdied as a result of conflicts within France itself: Perhaps half of these deaths were also on behalf of the Revolution against its domestic enemies. In the aftermath of the civil conflicts, military tribunals and executions of captured rebels-in-arms dispatched perhaps an additional 40, Tens of thousands more died from the inevitable results of war: The casualty figures are, of course, approximations.

French revolution historiography essay

The British put down the revolt of the United Irishmen inand in a matter of weeks killed up to 30, people, to say nothing of the murders committed by Irish loyalists, rapes, and other atrocities that went with the slaughter.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Warsaw, the victorious Russians killed 20, Polish civilians in the Massacre of Praga on November 4, Nonetheless, despite the contemporary slaughters of soldiers and civilians, the Terror of the French Revolution continues to stand out. Burrows, Forgotten Patriots New York, Why is there so much notoriety attached to the victims of the Terror, when over ten times that number died defending France against foreign invasion?

There are a several possible explanations.

The Early Enlightenment: 1685-1730

Perhaps foremost among them in the popular consciousness is the image of the guillotine, cleanly and efficiently slicing through necks before celebratory crowds, providing a ghastly visual representation of a vicious justice system. Others point to the incongruity of a policy of state terrorism in defense of a revolution laying claim to the rule of law, and wonder how things could have gone so badly.

Allied with those questioners are some who view the Terror as the ironic result of Enlightenment rationalism that in its questioning of tradition and faith became an orthodoxy in its own right, persecuting those who dissented from its claims of scientific truth.

Available on line at http: The Jacobins and their latter-day sympathizers would surely have blamed the royalists and other counter-revolutionaries for exaggerating its significance and its body count, thus scoring a propaganda victory that has persisted for over two hundred years.

And, finally, there are those who claim that the Terror should not be viewed as exceptional at all— that it was necessary to defend the Revolution against foreign and domestic enemies, that while there were excesses in the exigencies of the moment, the leaders of the Revolution attempted to maintain control and rein in those who had gone too far.

From the beginning, it has been nearly impossible to extricate history from politics, as those who supported the aims of the Revolution found ways to excuse, or even justify, the Terror, and those who could not support the Revolution saw it as a natural and calamitous progression from the events preceding it.

This debate found renewed vigor during and following the bicentennial of the Revolution.

French revolution historiography essay

This essay will examine several of the most prominent recent contributions. To assess the recent debate, the necessary starting point is what has come to be known as the Classic Interpretation. For Lefebvre and the Classicists, the threats of foreign invasion and the fear of sedition from counter-revolutionaries still residing in France were the cause of the Terror.

Moreover, economic instability and the ever-present potential for food shortages in Paris led to increasing suspicion of hoarding by the peasantry. France, in short, was faced with both external and internecine wars and an atmosphere of economic crisis.

Yet, while these threats were the reason for the Terror, Lefebvre was careful to argue that it was the precise nature of the threats, not the threats themselves, which led to the Terror: There is some temptation to regard the revolutionary government as simply a government of self-defense.

It was certainly that, but not that alone, for this theory would imply a cessation of dechristianization and a moderation of the Terror after Germinal. Yet such was not the case. The reason is to be found in the war. It was more than a national war—it was a class war as well.

The Third Estate was defending the soil of the Patrie, while at the same time it was pursuing the struggle, begun inagainst the aristocracy. New York, Indeed, while terror was not an instrument of state policy in the first years of the Revolution, it was nonetheless present in the form of popular action as the punitive will was exercised in the streets starting with the storming of the Bastille, followed by the attack on the Tuileries Palace on August 10 and culminating in the September Massacres in Lefebvre acknowledges that, as necessary as it was to stabilize the economy and address civil and military threats, the Terror was frequently left in the hands of Deputies-on-Mission who applied very inconsistent policies in the regions under their jurisdiction.

Some ruled with moderation and leniency. If the majority of Frenchmen clung to the Revolution and detested foreign intervention, their civic education was not enough to repress selfishness and make them all submit to discipline. The Terror forced it upon them and contributed greatly to developing the habit and feeling of national solidarity.

While the Classic Interpretation was widely accepted in France, some Anglo-American historians were not entirely convinced of the class struggle thesis. Without criticizing the focus on social conflict, R.

Palmer posed an alternative political explanation that linked the French with the American Revolution and other struggles for democracy.

For Talmon, the French Revolution ultimately represented the Messianic demand for an egalitarian Republic of Virtue from which a straight line could be drawn through Marx to the Bolsheviks. Furet followed this essay with a new history of the Revolution and, as he saw it, the post-revolution throughand, collaborating with Mona Ozouf and other like-minded revisionists, he published A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution just ahead of the bicentennial celebrations in Furet followed this essay with a new history of the Revolution and, as he saw it, the post-revolution through , and, collaborating with Mona Ozouf and other like-minded revisionists, he published A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution just ahead of the bicentennial celebrations in Not only did Furet catch the moment by.

French Revolution historiography

Aug 29,  · Watch video · The American and French Revolutions were directly inspired by Enlightenment ideals and respectively marked the peak of its influence and the beginning of its decline. The Enlightenment ultimately.

The French Revolution brought about great changes in the society and government of France. The revolution, which lasted from to , also had far-reaching effects on the rest of Europe. “It introduced democratic ideals to France but did not make the nation a democracy. The French Revolution is a historical event of great significance.

Its outcomes have shaped not just the development of France but also the history of Europe and the world.

Because of its importance, the French Revolution has been studied by countless historians. The French Revolution of had many long-range causes. Political, social, and economic conditions in France contributed to the discontent felt by many French people-especially those of the third estate.

The French Revolution: A History was eventually published in Unlike previous histories of the revolution, which were written in dry and bland tones, Carlyle’s account was colourful and dramatic, filled with poetic language, florid expression and metaphor.

Enlightenment - HISTORY