The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook

By Philip G. Dwyer; Peter McPhee | Go to book overview

24

FRENCH MEN AND WOMEN REFLECT

On the French Revolution

Baron Trouvé on southern peasants

Charles-Joseph Trouvé was a highly intelligent and politically adaptable man from an artisan family to whom the Revolution offered opportunities which would have been unthinkable under the Ancien Régime. In 1794, when just 26 years old Trouvé had become editor of the Moniteur, and ambassador to Naples three years later. He was stridently anti-Jacobin, but no less hostile to Ancien Régime élites and the Church. As Baron Trouvé, he was prefect of the department of the Aude from 1803 to 1816. He recognised the improvement in the peasants' standard of living, but claimed that unchecked land clearances had wreaked environmental damage.

The suppression of feudal dues and the tithe, the high price of foodstuffs, the division of the large estates, the sale in small lots of nationalised lands, the ending of indebtedness by [the inflation in the value of] paper currency, gave a great impulse to the industry of the peasantry….

In this region, people have always complained about the fury of land seizures and clearances. Decrees and laws were made to repress it. The storms of the Revolution having released this brake, now powerless against anarchy, seizures multiplied, clearances became an almost general calamity; and a region formerly covered with pastures and flocks suddenly found itself threatened with losing the raw material for its manufactures, the principal source of its wealth. Through the wish to expand the cultivation of grain crops, the hills and mountains have been given up to destruction; bushes and trees have been uprooted; and the fields on the hillsides, formerly so fertile and useful, were no longer held together by the tree-roots and were washed into the streams which they have blocked and forced to overflow onto the river-flats,

-202-

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The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • A Note on the Revolutionary Calendar xv
  • Chronology xvi
  • 1 - The Ancien Régime Challenged 1
  • 2 - Revolutionary Action 16
  • 3 - Creating a Regenerated France 24
  • 4 - Exclusions and Inclusions 35
  • 5 - The Church and the Revolutionary State 43
  • 6 - Monarchy and Revolution 51
  • 7 - The Revolution at War 60
  • 8 - The End of the Monarchy 68
  • 9 - The Peasantry and the Rural Environment 80
  • 10 - A New Civic Culture 84
  • 11 - The Republic at War 90
  • 12 - Revolt in the Vendée 97
  • 13 - The Terror at Work 103
  • 14 - The Thermidorian Reaction 115
  • 15 - The Directory 121
  • 16 - Bonaparte 128
  • 17 - Law and Order 140
  • 18 - Rule by Plebiscite 149
  • 19 - Governing the Empire 155
  • 20 - Resistance and Repression 169
  • 21 - The Russian Catastrophe 175
  • 22 - Collapse 187
  • 23 - The Hundred Days 193
  • 24 - French Men and Women Reflect 202
  • Index 209
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