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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: July 2011

11 - Constitutional liberalism in France

from II - Modern liberty and its defenders
Summary
By 1789, there was a demand in France for a written constitution that would limit governmental actions and define citizens' rights. Benjamin Constant's early essays define his pro-republican but anti-Jacobin position and do so often by making the comparison between the English experience of revolution in 1660 and 1688 and that of France in 1789. It would be tempting to conclude that the defining experience for constitutional liberalism in France was that of the descent of the Revolution into the nightmare of the reign of Terror. Such a conclusion would be unwisely to ignore the impact of the Bonapartist regime upon the thinking of French liberals. The dominant tradition was that associated with Francois Guizot, the doctrinaires, and the 'orleanist galaxy'. The chapter also examines the contribution made by Alexis de Tocqueville to constitutional liberalism in France. Tocqueville explained why France had not been able to establish an enduring political regime characterised by the liberty of the individual.
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The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Political Thought
  • Online ISBN: 9780511973581
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CHOL9780521430562
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