Six Villages Compared, 1760–1820
This book examines the interface between the old and the new France in the period 1760–1820. It adopts an unusual 'comparative microhistorical' approach in order to illuminate the manner in which country dwellers cut themselves loose from the congeries of local societies that made up the ancien régime, and attached themselves to the wider polity of the revolutionary and Napoleonic state.
The apprehensions and ambitions of six groups of villagers located in different parts of the kingdom are explored in close-up across the span of a single adult lifetime. Contrasting experiences form a large part of the analysis, but the story is ultimately one of fusion around a set of values that no individual villager could possibly have anticipated, either in 1760 or in 1789. The book is at once an institutional, social and political history of life in the village in an epoch of momentous change.
PETER JONES is Professor of French History at the University of Birmingham. His previous publications include Politics and Rural Society (1985), The Peasantry in the French Revolution (1988), and Reform and Revolution in France (1995).