This book is a revised and rewritten version of a doctoral dissertation presented to the Graduate Programme in Social and Political Thought at York University. My studies and the writing of much of this text were made possible in part by a fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
There are several people whose contributions to this work I would like to acknowledge. William Irvine and Nicholas Rogers advised and commented on the text of my dissertation, and each helped to steer me towards some important questions, and away from a few pitfalls. Neal Wood also commented on that searly text, while Robert Brenner read and commented upon the revised manuscript.
For introducing me to the range of historiography on the ancien régime, I am greatly indebted to J. F. Bosher. He does not, of course, bear any responsibility whatever for the use I have made of the rich history which I discovered through his generous assistance.
My interest in the class relations of the French Revolution was first stimulated by the work of George Rudé, who retrieved the lives of common people from forgotten documents to make meaningful their political acts. I was fortunate to have been able to study briefly with Professor Rudé, and even more fortunate since then to have benefited from his kindness, interest, and good advice. I want to thank him for his comments and suggestions, and look forward to taking up those for which there was no room here in a future work.