Historical Dictionary of France from the 1815 Restoration to the Second Empire

Historical Dictionary of France from the 1815 Restoration to the Second Empire

Historical Dictionary of France from the 1815 Restoration to the Second Empire

Historical Dictionary of France from the 1815 Restoration to the Second Empire

Synopsis

"Of Greenwood's series of five historical dictionaries covering modern France from the Revolution through the Third Republic, this is the longest. Perhaps this reflects changes in historiography that find historians such as David Pinckney affirming the importance of this lesser-known era in the formation of modern French society and institutions. . . . The numerous entries by Guillaume de Bertier de Sauvigny, the ranking authority on the period, assure the prestige of the work. Highly recommended for college and university libraries." Choice

Excerpt

The period from 1 January 1815 to 31 December 1852 began and ended with a Napoleon Bonaparte as emperor of the French. It included two major revolutions and several revolts, an experiment with parliamentary government and an independent press, the dawn of socialist ideology, the golden age of romanticism, and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. But this was an age dominated by memories, not events.

The conflicts of the great French Revolution grew in stature as time passed. They seemed larger than life, like the ancient wars between gods and giants. The Republic and the Terror had proven that France was not ready for democracy, and the men associated with the Republic and the Terror were generally despised. The memory of Napolean, however, was more and more the one source of excitement in a lackluster world. France was a divided nation, and only the army was a truly national institution. The legend of its conquests could confer glory upon the most ordinary shopkeepers and peasants. While the surface of political life kept changing, Bonapartism remained the constant undercurrent in France during the first half of the nineteenth century. It surfaced as soon as it could. In the first democratic presidential election, which took place on 10 December 1848, the common people cast their votes for Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte. Meanwhile the memory of Napoleon and the Revolution had affected every event, every trend in literature and art, and every mind in France. Frenchmen of the nineteenth century had a sense of being dwarfs who lived in the shadow of giants. Each current event was seen as the product of the Revolutionary past. Leftists, however moderate, could be made to appear dangerous if they were presented as reincarnations of Maximilien Robespierre. The memory of Voltaire was a living force; his books were best-sellers, and his ideas were at the height of their influence. Consequently figures from the past like Robespierre and Voltaire have been included in this book because of their influence on France between the two Napoleons. And the system of cross-references, which has been used in all the . . .

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