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French Revolution Historiography
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You are currently reading a thread in /his/ - History & Humanities

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Haven't seen a historiography thread in /his/ before. So which argument does /his/ find most convincing?

The Marxist argument (That it was a bourgeois revolution), the revisionist argument (That it was a political revolution) or the post-revisionist (That the French culture was the ultimate cause)?
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>>2097703
I'm using your thread anon. What's the best place to start with the french revolution? I've read about the oxford history of the french revolution by william doyle, liberty or death by peter mcphee and citizens by simon schama, although I heard the last is biased and extremely negative.
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>>2097703
>The Marxist argument (That it was a bourgeois revolution)
This isn't even a Marxist argument, it existed years before Marx.
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>>2097728
Well, I've only read a couple of books myself and wanted to use this thread to exchange opinions.

From your picks I'd say the only thing you're missing is the Marxist viewpoint. Eric Hobsbawm would probably be your best bet.
You'd probably cover more ground if you didn't read Citizens because it's about 800 pages long though I can't really comment on how useful it is because I honestly saw it as a chore to read.
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>>2097757
Well it's commonly referred to as the Marxist interpretation because most people that interpret it that way are Marxists.
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>>2097703
I vote for the overall argument

that it was the result of every facet of society going wrong all at once
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>>2097796
I haven't read any of those books anon. I'm just aware they exist. Do you recommend anything in particular apart from Hobsbawm?
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No expert on the FR, but I would say the first (Marxist) argument is most convincing. Most social movements, from communism to jihad, are by and large rooted in the bourgeois, even if disguised as political.
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>>2097728
>oxford history of the french revolution by william doyle
there's a recommended reading section the short history books that you can consult
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Isn't the Marxist argument pretty much dead now?

I don't really know what I'm talking about, but to me the French Revolution was a result of the politicization of French society in the years leading up to it, with Enlightenment rhetoric spreading throughout urban (and to a lesser extent rural) society due to stuff like mass pamphleteering and creating an ideological justification for popular discontent. Political and economic crises were the immediate cause of that discontent and triggered revolt both in Versailles and among the populace, but it was the ideological aspect that actually turned in into a true revolution.
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>>2097851
Where's that anon? I'm on mobile and can't find it.
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i like de Tocqueville's argument about it being a continuation of government centralisation. seems pretty undeniable, but doesn't really answer why it happened imo.

apparently the bourgeois revolution argument is empirically false according to the newer histories (sorry i can't remember the names).

Furet is pretty interesting, says its essentially an ideological shift within the elite and had little to do with material conditions or the people at the bottom.

i don't know what to beleive. why is it so fucking hard to understand? the american revolution is so easy to understand compared to this. why?
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>>2097825
I am currently reading French society in revolution by David Andress who seems to be leaning more towards the revisionist argument. Francois Furet is another popular choice but I'm hesitant to recommend him since I've only glanced at his work.

I haven't really read too many books on this myself so I don't think I can help you more than that.
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>>2097904
Someone mentioned that book some time ago and I saved it. It seems like a more specific book so I didn't pay more attention for now as I'm a newcomer to the period. What can you say about it and what did you read before?
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>>2097867
But then why did it not happen in the German states? There were a bunch of publishing and printing cities there like Leipzig.
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>>2097934

didn't have 2 shitty kings in a row. the monarchy was desacrilised by its own corruption.
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>>2097924
So far the book is focusing on illustrating what French society was like before the French Revolution, mostly its political structure but there are some parts about the peasant life.

I remember reading The Night the Old Regime Ended which is post-post-revisionist as silly as that sounds and it basically covers each facet of French society during transition one by one in each of its chapters.
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>>2097899
I've barely read anything about the American Revolution but people argue about it a lot so its should at least be somewhat more complicated than what you're implying.
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>>2097822
Most of the historians would agree with that. They're really arguing about which is more important at this point.
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>>2097992

nah it's ez pz compared to this shitfight
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>>2097986
Will definitely read Andress book. Thank you anon.
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>>2098005
No problem.
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>>2097867
It's also wrong since the revolution started with the nobles refusing to obey to the king.
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>>2097836
Quick thread derail, by bourgeois jihad, do you mean the Saudis?
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>>2097996
I go with the WWI theory that if any of those facets weren't screwed up if not completely avoided then it wouldn't be as bad
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>>2098070
That makes sense since the peasants and technocrats couldn't have pulled it off without the nobles and vice versa.
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>>2098095
and naturally if the king knew what he was doing none of them would get out of line.
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>>2097868
ah nvm I apologize. William Doyle also cowrote an Oxford Short History on Old Regime France and that would have a recommended reading list. There's also an Oxford Short History on Revolutionary France (1789-1880)
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>>2098154
free dl on OSH Revolutionary France
http://bookzz.org/book/925224/39b2cc
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>>2098049
not him but a lot of the islamic revival in 1970s egypt was among middle class university students. As a matter of fact these students tended to be high achieving. Many muslim brotherhood members are drawn from the professional classes (doctors lawyers) after having been recruited in university.
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>>2098032
>It's also wrong since the revolution started with the nobles refusing to obey to the king.

How so?
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>>2098182
Would the Muslim Brotherhood brand of Islamism be worse than Whabbism?
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>>2098193
I'm guessing he means when the nobles refused to give up their privileges such as tax exemptions etc etc.
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>>2097934
It did though? The 1848 revolution was particularly strong in German states even if it got crushed.
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>>2098198
I think it would be more like Iran. The Muslim Brotherhood has always shied away from the topic of the form of government it would take. From what little I've read on the subject, the Muslim Brrothers after 1980s attempted shed their radical image for one of a mainstream political party. Consequently, its ideologues argues for working within liberal democracy and ruling within a democratic framework. I'm not sure they'd do that in practice though, considering Morsi's authoritarian turn towards the end of his yearlong rule as President.
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Stupid question:
What do you mean by "political revolution"?
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Piggybacking, but what (if any) are some worthwhile books about Marie Antoinette? The Antonia Fraser biography seems divisive, people either call it great or hogwash.
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>>2098305
Well if we're going with the argument that the enlightenment caused it then it should have really had the same effect in the German states. I'm not well versed in 1848 history but I'm guessing it didn't get support from the nobles and the army like the French Revolution did.
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>>2097899
>seems pretty undeniable, but doesn't really answer why it happened imo.
I don't think centralization was inevitable. The emergency military and economic climate required it from 1792 onward if the Revolutionary government was to survive. Essentially, France would be fighting wars from 1792 all the way to 1815, during which time centralization became entrenched through institutions and the experiences of governing men. I would say after 1815, though, that the statist tradition became a permanent feature of French government and political culture.
I think it's also important to note, as Tocquville did, that the revolutionaries demolished many 'intermediate' institutions that kept royalism/the state in check, such as the parlements and a powerful Catholic church.
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>>2098322
I remember talking about this in another thread but I think the rise of Wahabbism is probably more responsible for the Islamic Revival than the Muslim Brotherhood. After all, the Saudis not only had the resources to spread their ideology but was also made infallible since they held the two holiest sites of Islam.
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>>2098323
A sudden, abrupt change from one government type to another. In the American case, it meant casting off subordination to Britain and fusing the states into a cohesive union governed by three branches of government. In the French Revolution it meant the successive changes from monarchy, to constitutional monarchy, to republic, to empire. Equally important the political revolution usually sees one ruling class replaced by another, as when former colonists replaced british officials in America or when deputies of the third estate (at the beginning of the Revolution) took it upon themselves to cast aside the other two estates and declared themselves the sole legitimate representative of France, usurping the power of the king and his ministers.
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>>2098379
It's probably important to note that when historians argue about this they're arguing which came first. So in this case, did the economic needs of the people cause the political revolution or did the political revolution just happen because of the ineffective form of government etc etc.
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>>2097796
>the Marxist viewpoint
Might as well include the feminist interpretation as well.

>>>/trash/
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>>2098360
I agree with you mostly. I'd write a response but I'm very tired atm. Tomorrow hopefully.

>>2098193
He's not right really. The threat of bankruptcy from huge debts (a lot of which were incurred from funding the American Revolution) compelled King Louis to call a Assembly of Notables in 1788. As the other anon said, they didn't vote any funds to Louis because some refused, and there was a deadlock over details of tax reform. The Notables also recommended calling the Estates General in the following year, which was when the Third Estate launched a parliamentary coup
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>>2097728
>>2097868
>>2098159 here. I'd also recommend Jeremy Popkin's Short History of the the French Revolution and Christopher Hibbert's Days of the French Revolution for a more popular and anecdotal take on the famous parts of the revolution (bastille, king's flight to Varrenes, attack on the tuileries, robespierre's execution, napoleon's coup d'etat).
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>>2098328
Fraser's biography is the most thorough of the English biographies, but it isn't always the most academic. Some of the information comes from apocryphal memoirs from the 19th century rather than primary resources. Like most biographies about the queen, all pretense at neutrality is thrown out when it comes to the figures of the revolution.

Desmond Seward has a biography that isn't the most extensive, but it gets the job done.
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>>2098418
The threat of bankruptcy became a reality after the American Revolution, but people knew it was coming since the Seven Years' War.

Louis XV tried to solve that issue in 1770 by taxing the nobles who he considered to be "parasites". He also tried to abolished the Parlement because it was filled with butthurt nobles.

Unfortunately, he died in 1774 and his son, Louis XVI, didn't want to displease the nobles so he stopped the reforms his father had done and continuously ignored his minister of finances.

Louis XVI eventually had to call the États-Généraux (fuck the anglicized names desu) to find a solution to the debt but the Tiers-État couldn't agree with anyone, so they created their own government. Louis XVI was so desperate that he let them do whatever they wanted until he realized they wanted to write a constitution.

He tried to stop the new government so the new government had to kill the king (they did not want to originally btw, they simply had to in order to keep the legitimaty they had acquired).

Btw, the ones who reformed everything under Louis XVI were bourgeois. It was when the populace got into power that things fucked up.
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>>2098522
>in 1770

I thought his attempts at tax reform were in the 1750s? What law did he pass in 1770?

>Louis XVI, didn't want to displease the nobles so he stopped the reforms his father had done and continuously ignored his minister of finances.

Louis XVI (who was his grandson) also attempted major tax reforms. He backed off on his plans (which were to majorly overhaul the tax system and make taxes based on your income rather than class, rank, or positions) after the Parlement waged a propaganda war against him with the people of Paris, which caused riots and a (albeit minor, compared to 1789) minor revolt. He stopped the revolt by promising to back off on the tax reform, which had been labeled "tyrannical" by the Parlement aka the nobles it would have affected.
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in commie times we were taught that it was a revolution to free the ppl from the shackles of inqeuity and nobility but was later hijacked by the bourgois
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>>2097703
Hate to be the pussy with no conviction but are any of these arguments mutually exclusive.
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>>2098843
Most of the arguments in the OP are pretty general. If you go into detail enough the theories would probably be less compatible if that makes sense.
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