|Subject||The French Revolution|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover and Paperback)|
|LC Class||DC148 .S43 1990|
Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution is a book by the historian Simon Schama, published in 1989, the bicentenary of the French Revolution.
"The terror," declared Schama in the book, "was merely 1789 with a higher body count; violence ... was not just an unfortunate side effect ... it was the Revolution's source of collective energy. It was what made the Revolution revolutionary." In short, “From the very beginning [...] violence was the motor of revolution.” Schama considers that the French Revolutionary Wars were the logical corollary of the universalistic language of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and of the universalistic principles of the Revolution which led to inevitable conflict with old-regime Europe.
Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm has described the book as being "exceptionally stylish and eloquent" and "extremely well-read." Nevertheless, he considers Citizens to be, above all, a political denunciation of the revolutionand a continuation of a tradition in British literature and popular consciousness (established by the writings of Edmund Burke and Thomas Carlyle, reinforced by Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and promulgated in subsequent pop literature), which has defined the Revolution foremost by the Terror. In Hobsbawm's view, Schama fails to see the positive aspects of the revolution and focuses solely on the horror and suffering, presenting them as gratuitous. Hobsbawm further criticizes the book, opining that "Schama is not involved as an expert in the field, for . . . the book does not set out to add to the knowledge already available. The author's choice of a narrative focused on particular people and incidents neatly sidesteps the problems of perspectives and generalization."
Reviewing the book in the journal French Politics and Society, Robert Forster of Johns Hopkins University writes that "Schama desacralized the Revolution [...] by his inimitable style and wit". Forster praises Schama's analysis of key issues and his descriptive talents, though he criticizes what he sees as Schama's overly favorable picture of the French economy and society on the eve of the revolution.
In his review published in Annales historiques de la Révolution française, Youngstown State University professor Morris Slavin, another Marxist historian, criticizes the lack of sympathy displayed by Schama for "the revolutionaries in the real circumstances of a profound social and political crisis", arguing that he judges the events from the standpoint of royalist elites. Echoing Thomas Paine's comment on Edmund Burke, Slavin remarks: "He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird". Slavin finds it "regrettable that such a capable historian as Schama [...] should be so prejudiced against the Revolution".
The Society of the Friends of the Constitution, after 1792 renamed Society of the Jacobins, Friends of Freedom and Equality, commonly known as the Jacobin Club or simply the Jacobins, became the most influential political club during the French Revolution of 1789 and following. The period of their political ascendancy includes the Reign of Terror, during which time well over ten thousand people were put on trial and executed in France, many for political crimes.
Pierre Gaspard Chaumette was a French politician of the Revolutionary period who served as the president of the Paris Commune and played a leading role in the establishment of the Reign of Terror. He was one of the ultra-radical enragés of the revolution, an ardent critic of Christianity who was one of the leaders of the dechristianization of France. His radical positions resulted in his alienation from Maximilien Robespierre, and he was arrested on charges of being a counterrevolutionary and executed.
The sans-culottes were the common people of the lower classes in late 18th century France, a great many of whom became radical and militant partisans of the French Revolution in response to their poor quality of life under the Ancien Régime. The word sans-culotte, which is opposed to that of the aristocrat, seems to have been used for the first time on 28 February 1791 by officer Gauthier in a deregatory sense, speaking about a "sans-culottes army". The word came in vogue during the demonstration of 20 June 1792.
Jacques-Nicolas Billaud-Varenne, also known as Jean Nicolas, was a French personality of the Revolutionary period. Though not one of the most well known figures of the French Revolution, Jacques Nicolas Billaud-Varenne was an instrumental figure of the period known as the Reign of Terror. Billaud-Varenne climbed his way up the ladder of power during that period, becoming one of the most militant members of the Committee of Public Safety. He was recognized and worked with French Revolution figures Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre, and is often considered one of the key architects of The Terror. "No, we will not step backward, our zeal will only be smothered in the tomb; either the Revolution will triumph or we will all die."
The historiography of the French Revolution stretches back over two hundred years, as commentators and historians have sought to answer questions regarding the origins of the Revolution, and its meaning and effects. By the year 2000, many historians were saying that the field of the French Revolution was in intellectual disarray. The old model or paradigm focusing on class conflict has been challenged but no new explanatory model had gained widespread support. Nevertheless, there persists a very widespread agreement to the effect that the French Revolution was the watershed between the premodern and modern eras of Western history.
Sir Simon Michael Schama is an English historian specialising in art history, Dutch history, Jewish history and French history. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University, New York.
The Law of Suspects was a decree passed by the French National Convention on 17 September 1793, during the French Revolution. Some historians consider this decree the start of 'the Terror' over France; they argue that the decree marked a significant weakening of individual freedoms that led to "revolutionary paranoia" that swept the nation.
The Law of 22 Prairial, also known as the loi de la Grande Terreur, the law of the Great Terror, was enacted on 10 June 1794. It was proposed by Georges Auguste Couthon but seems to have been written by Robespierre according to Laurent Lecointre. By means of this law the Committee of Public Safety simplified the judicial process to one of indictment and prosecution.
Albert Marius Soboul was a historian of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods. A professor at the Sorbonne, he was Chair of the History of the French Revolution and author of numerous influential works of history and historical interpretation. In his lifetime, he was internationally recognized as the foremost French authority on the Revolutionary era.
Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Gobel was a French Catholic cleric and politician of the Revolution. He was executed during the Reign of Terror.
Albert Mathiez was a French historian, best known for his Marxist interpretation of the French Revolution. Mathiez emphasized class conflict. He argued that 1789 pitted the bourgeoisie against the aristocracy and then the Revolution pitted the bourgeoisie against the sans-culottes, who were a proletariat-in-the-making. Mathiez greatly influenced Georges Lefebvre and Albert Soboul in forming what came to be known as the orthodox Marxist interpretation of the Revolution. Mathiez admired Maximilien Robespierre, praised the Reign of Terror and did not extend complete sympathy to the struggle of the proletariat.
The Hébertists, or Exaggerators were a radical revolutionary political group associated with the populist journalist Jacques Hébert, a member of the Cordeliers club. They came to power during the Reign of Terror and played a significant role in the French Revolution.
François Furet was a French historian and president of the Saint-Simon Foundation, best known for his books on the French Revolution.
George Rudé was a British Marxist historian, specializing in the French Revolution and "history from below", especially the importance of crowds in history.
Morris Slavin (1913–2006) was a scholar of the French Revolution, a Marxist historian, and an early American Trotskyist activist between the 1930s and 1950s. Slavin was born in Kiev but lived primarily in Youngstown, Ohio. Slavin taught for many years at Youngstown State University and his books made a significant contribution to the understanding of the French Revolution in the "history from below" style established by Albert Soboul.
Louise-Félicité Guynement de Kéralio was a French writer and translator, originating from the minor Breton nobility. Her father was Louis-Félix Guynement de Kéralio who had served as tutor to the Prince of Parma together with Condillac and taught at the École Militaire until 1776. Her mother was Françoise Abeille. She was present at the court of Versailles between October 1777 and April 1782. She married Pierre-François-Joseph Robert, a politician, revolutionary and secretary to Georges Danton.
The Oxford History of the French Revolution is a history of the French Revolution by the British historian William Doyle, in which the author analyzes the impact of the revolutionary events in France and in the rest of Europe.
Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a French lawyer and statesman who was one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. As a member of the Constituent Assembly and the Jacobin Club, he campaigned for universal manhood suffrage, and the abolition both of celibacy for the clergy and of slavery. Robespierre was an outspoken advocate for the citizens without a voice, for their unrestricted admission to the National Guard, to public offices, and for the right to carry arms in self-defence. He played an important part in the agitation which brought about the fall of the French monarchy in August 1792 and the summoning of a National Convention.
Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm was a Jewish-British historian of the rise of industrial capitalism, socialism and nationalism. He is considered one of the world's best-known historians. Ideologically a life-long Marxist, his socio-political convictions influenced the character of his work. His best-known works include his trilogy about what he called the "long 19th century", The Age of Extremes on the short 20th century, and an edited volume that introduced the influential idea of "invented traditions".
Echoes of the Marseillaise: Two Centuries Look Back on the French Revolution is a book by Eric Hobsbawm first published in 1990 by Verso Books. It was written just after the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989 which was accompanied by a large outpouring of new scholarship. The recent anti-communist revolutions of 1989 further polarised commentators between those who saw them as a culmination or embodiment of French revolutionary ideas and those who saw it as their emphatic repudiation.