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The French Revolution marks the beginning of modern politics. Using a diverse range of sources, Robert H. Blackman reconstructs key constitutional debates, from the initial convocation of the Estates General in Versailles in May 1789, to the National Assembly placing the wealth of the Catholic Church at the disposal of the nation that November, revealing their nuances through close readings of participant and witness accounts. This comprehensive and accessible study analyses the most important debates and events through which the French National Assembly became a sovereign body, and explores the process by which the massive political transformation of the French Revolution took place. Blackman's narrative-driven approach creates a new path through the complex politics of the early French Revolution, mapping the changes that took place and revealing how a new political order was created during the chaotic first months of the Revolution.Read more
- Analyses the critical constitutional debates in the Estates General and National Assembly of 1789 in unprecedented detail
- Draws on a wide range of previously underused sources including letters, eye witness accounts and deputies' diary entries
- Demonstrates the importance of Louis XVI's actions in driving the Revolutionaries to take action to reform the French constitution and state
Reviews & endorsements
'It might be assumed that there is little more to be said about how the French Revolution began with the creation of a National Constituent Assembly in the summer of 1789, but Robert H. Blackman's excellent book proves otherwise. By employing a series of fresh sources, he demonstrates precisely how the deputies seized the initiative and started founding a new order, despite Louis XVI's bad faith on the one hand, and pressure from the populace on the other. This study offers a stimulating reinterpretation of a momentous episode in European history.' Malcolm Crook, University of KeeleSee more reviews
'A splendid close study of the critical moments of 1789 as Old Regime slid into Revolution, debunking the argument that the political choices made by the deputies of 1789 progressed along an inexorable route allowing little scope for compromise. Blackman gives us a new understanding of the choices faced by the deputies of the Third Estate.' Marisa Linton, Kingston University London
'Blackman’s intense focus on the debates in and around the National Assembly results in a rich, convincing narrative, and deserves to become a standard reference for the political history of 1789.' Peter McPhee, H-France
‘… a novel interpretation of the first two years of the French Revolution … This clearly written study is an excellent addition to the historiography of the revolution … Highly recommended.’ S. P. Harshner, Choice
‘Blackman’s work, based on decades of detailed study of the French Revolution’s ﬁrst months, is a useful and necessary corrective to the post-revisionists who sought to make facile connections between the legislative debates of the early revolution and the complex forces that unleashed the Terror of 1793/4 … Blackman’s book will become required reading for anyone wishing to understand the complex political dynamics of the early French Revolution.’ Micah Alpaugh, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
‘This excellent book provokes the reader to wonder 'what if' the delegates' fail-safes had worked, if moderate voices continued to place a check on radicalism, and terror did not eventually become the order of the day.’ Caroline Hackett, H-Nationalism
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- Date Published: September 2019
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781108492447
- length: 296 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 158 x 22 mm
- weight: 0.56kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: building a national assembly
1. The long slumber of the Estates General
2. The Estates General sitting as a National Assembly
3. The king responds
4. The king resists
5. Toward a defensive constitution
6. A truly national Assembly
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