The Two French Revolutions, 1789-1796

The Two French Revolutions, 1789-1796

The Two French Revolutions, 1789-1796

The Two French Revolutions, 1789-1796

Excerpt

Guglielmo Ferrero reserved a special place in his writings for the French Revolution. It was for him a cardinal event which continues to weigh heavily upon the world of today. In order to grasp its full consequences, it is necessary to have lived through World War I. At first sight the war seems to be an incoherent succession of grandiose and outrageous events resulting in the destruction, in 1917 and I9I8, of the great ruling dynasties. The revolutions which followed the collapse of the European monarchical system sharply illuminated this great drama. Was not Europe in I9I8 reliving the tragedy that had befallen France when it attempted to establish a republic after the fall of Louis XVI? "From 1919 onward, throughout most of Europe, as in France after 1789," wrote Ferrero in his book Pouvoir, "the difficulty of organizing a republic in countries steeped in the monarchical traditions gave rise to all sorts of disorders, and resulted finally in the creation of revolutionary governments. It was these revolutionary governments which finally unleashed World War II, and for the same reasons and in ways similar to those of the French Revolution."

It was these events, to which Ferrero was a witness and of which he was to be the victim, which rendered intel-

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