The Abolition of Feudalism: Peasants, Lords, and Legislators in the French Revolution

By John Markoff | Go to book overview

CHAPTER
7

TRACKING INSURRECTION THROUGHTIME AND SPACE

Up to this point, we have only examined the national picture of revolt. How did France's peasant communities, considered as a whole, resemble and how did they differ from, France's nobility and urban elites in the positions they asserted at the onset of revolution? What were the targets and tactics of rural rebels? How did these targets and tactics shift over time? France's forty thousand villages, however, were not engaged in nationwide coordinated action but in separate decisions and separate actions. A full account of local and regional differences would require a book at least the size of this one, if it is not altogether beyond the scope of any single book. But an exclusive focus on the national picture risks distorting that national picture; part of that national picture is precisely its shadings and contours as one travels across space as well as through time. Without some attention to the flow of insurrectionary events across space, we will not be able to appreciate the rural situation as it confronted the revolutionary legislators in the process of elaborating their own reorganization of rural institutions.

It is not only the search for a greater accuracy in assessing the context of

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