Napoleon: For and Against

By Pieter Geyl; Olive Renier | Go to book overview

FIVE 'UNIVERSITAIRES'

CHAPTER 1

ALPHONSE AULARD


THE ESTABLISHMENT OF DESPOTISM

AULARD, with whom I want to deal first, has exercised great influence as an expert of the Revolution period, and founded a school. Appointed in 1886 as the first holder of a new chair in the History of the Revolution in the University of Paris, he produced in 1901, when he was over fifty, after many editions of sources and monographs, a great work of synthesis, Histoire politique de la Révolution française. The leader of the new historical tendency which claimed to study and appraise events in an objective, scientific way, 'historically and not politically',1 Aulard presented a conception which, though based upon an impressive amount of factual material, strictly sifted and arranged, is in truth dominated by a rigid ideology, and that in a tyrannical manner. He follows the history of Bonaparte as far as the imperial coronation: this in his opinion brings the Revolution to a definitive end, a conception which already implies a judgment. Mignet went to 1815; Thiers saw in the solemnity at Notre Dame the coronation of the Revolution, while Quinet thought that it was its untimely conclusion.2 In the eyes of Aulard, also, Napoleon is the man who arrested the Revolution, who even initiated a reaction towards the ancien régime, who abolished liberty and encroached upon equality. His chapters dealing with the Consulate give little else than the story of the derailment of the Revolution, of the gradual demolition of liberty, and the establishment of despotism.

The brutality with which force was used on the 19th Brumaire, says Aulard, was unintentional, and at first Bonaparte seemed to make himself as inconspicuous and innocent a figure as possible in the hope of being forgiven. Public opinion indeed allowed

____________________
1
According to a French critic: cf. G. KALFF, De verklaring der Franse Revolutie bij haar voornaamste geschiedschrijvers (a thesis, 1920), p. 176.
2
Carlyle, be it noted, thought the Revolution was finished by General Bonaparte's 'whiff of grapeshot' of 13 Vendémiaire (October 5th), 1795, and with this concluded his book.

-356-

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Napoleon: For and Against
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Preface - To the First Dutch Edition 7
  • Part One - The Antithesis at the Beginning 13
  • Chapter I - Chateaubriand 17
  • Chapter II - Madame de StaËl 19
  • Chapter III - The Napoleonic Legend 23
  • Part Two - The First Chroniclers 33
  • Chapter I - M. Mignet 35
  • Chapter II - Baron Bignon 37
  • Chapter III - Armand Lefebvre 45
  • Chapter IV - Adolphe Thiers 53
  • Part Three - Reaction against the Legend 69
  • Chapter I - Jules Barni 73
  • Chapter II - Edgar Quinet 77
  • Chapter III - Pierre Lanfrey 86
  • Chapter IV - Comte D'Haussonville 106
  • Chapter V - Hippolyte Taine 133
  • Part Four - Admirers 149
  • Chapter I - Prince Napoleon 156
  • Chapter II - Henry Houssaye 160
  • Chapter III - Arthur - LÉVy Polemic against Taine 169
  • Chapter IV - FrÉDÉric Masson 177
  • Chapter V - Count Albert Vandal 230
  • Part Five - The Problem of Foreign Policy 233
  • Chapter I - Old Acquaintances 235
  • Chapter II - Emile Bourgeois 241
  • Chapter III - Two More Old Acquaintances 250
  • Chapter IV - Albert Sorel 254
  • Chapter V - Edouard Driault 308
  • Part Six - The Antithesis at the End 349
  • Chapter 1 356
  • Chapter II - A. L. GuÉrard 362
  • Chapter Ill - G. Pariset 364
  • Chapter IV - Jules Isaac 371
  • Chapter V - Charles Seignobos 373
  • Chapter VI - Jacques Bainville 376
  • Chapter VII - Louis Madelin 390
  • Chapter VIII - Gabriel Hanotaux 403
  • Chapter IX - Georges Lefebvre 446
  • Chronological Table 451
  • Index 465
  • Index of Authors 475
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