The Names of Kings: The Parisian Laboring Poor in the Eighteenth Century

The Names of Kings: The Parisian Laboring Poor in the Eighteenth Century

The Names of Kings: The Parisian Laboring Poor in the Eighteenth Century

The Names of Kings: The Parisian Laboring Poor in the Eighteenth Century

Excerpt

The work presented here has been in gestation for a long time, for it deals with a subject in which I first became interested while still a graduate student more than ten years ago. No doubt there will be those who will find the baby still premature, lacking flesh on his bones and squealing where he cannot reason. I leave that to the judgment of my fellow historians and readers in the sure and certain hope, as the Book of Common Prayer has it, that I will agree with them only in part.

My purpose has been to understand how and why the Parisian masses were led to take so active a part in the essentially bourgeois French Revolution, as historians like Lefebvre, Soboul, Rudé and

Cobb, among others, have shown them to have done. Hence, the plan of this book. In the first chapter, I attempt to locate the laboring poor in their city, both physically and socially. I then go on to define their several strata; to discuss how they lived, worked, and died; what they believed and how; and finally, how the sum of their life experience first prevented and then prepared them to take part in the politics of the age. The approach has been informed by the conviction that the concept of the laboring poor is an appropriate one for analyzing preindustrial capitalist societies and that the laboring poor as a coherent social unit had to disappear with the advent of a modern capitalist social formation. Hopefully, it will be possible at some later date to continue this investigation with a view to producing a book about the making of the French working class.

Because my point of view is (I think) a Marxist one, I will undoubtedly—inevitably—be accused of displaying too much sympathy for my "heroes," as one reader of the manuscript put it. Let me make it clear that there are no heroes in this book. That I have . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.