Visions and Revisions of Eighteenth-Century France

By Christine Adams; Jack R. Censer et al. | Go to book overview

4
Crimes of Opinion
Policing the Public in Eighteenth-Century Paris

Lisa Jane Graham

More than two decades ago, Richard Cobb drew attention to the fact that police archives provide abundant information on topics besides crime. Cobb suggested that the police offer the most reliable guide to the ordinary and routine elements of popular life in eighteenth-century France because "who more than a commissaire would have heard so much of the spoken thoughts and insults of the common people?"1 Several historians heeded Cobb's call and used police records to shed light on a stratum of beliefs and attitudes normally hidden from the historian's view.2 Perhaps no one has been so

____________________
⋆I thank Jack Censer, William M. Kuhn, and Jeffrey S. Ravel for their comments on earlier versions of this article.
1
Richard Cobb, The Police and the People: French Popular Protest, 1789-1820 ( London: Oxford University Press, 1970), 44.
2
In addition to Cobb's own work, prominent examples of this type of history would include: Thomas Brennan, Public Drinking and Popular Culture in Eighteenth-Century Paris ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988); David Garrioch, Neighborbood and Community in Paris, 1740-1790

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