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Historians of the French Revolution have traditionally emphasised the centrality of violence to revolutionary protest. However, Micah Alpaugh reveals instead the surprising prevalence of non-violent tactics to demonstrate that much of the popular action taken in revolutionary Paris was not in fact violent. Tracing the origins of the political demonstration to the French Revolutionary period, he reveals how Parisian protesters typically tried to avoid violence, conducting campaigns predominantly through peaceful marches, petitions, banquets and mass-meetings, which only rarely escalated to physical force in their stand-offs with authorities. Out of over 750 events, no more than twelve percent appear to have resulted in physical violence at any stage. Rewriting the political history of the people of Paris, Non-Violence and the French Revolution sheds new light on our understanding of Revolutionary France to show that revolutionary sans-culottes played a pivotal role in developing the democratically oriented protest techniques still used today.Read more
- The first comprehensive quantitative study of Parisian Revolutionary protests
- Explores the place of the Revolution in the development of democratic protest methods
- Offers new interpretations of some of the French Revolution's most significant events
Reviews & endorsements
"Micah Alpaugh offers an important new perspective on the complex urban culture of eighteenth-century Paris, and on the French Revolution. Reading beyond the traditional narrative of violent confrontations, he shows us persuasively that such clashes were the exception rather than the rule, and that overt confrontation often came after the failure of authorities to respond to popular concerns expressed through the full panoply of a surprisingly modern culture of democratic engagement."
David Andress, University of PortsmouthSee more reviews
"An impressively researched book that transforms our understanding of eighteenth-century protest and of the revolutionary process in Paris. A major contribution to the history of the French Revolution."
David Garrioch, Monash University, Australia
"Non-Violence and the French Revolution challenges one of the central images of the French Revolution in the western imaginary. Micah Alpaugh shows us that the violent actions of the Parisian crowd need to be set in the context of a huge but largely hidden wave of popular protest and demonstration characterised essentially by non-violence. Placing the Parisian sans-culottes back at the centre of his analysis, this imaginative and striking study contributes significantly to a new social and political history of the Revolution."
Colin Jones, Queen Mary University of London
"Alpaugh gives us a fresh and compelling thesis about the essentially non-violent and almost continuous protest of the revolutionary years in Paris, a major contribution to our understanding of the roots of collective, participatory democracy."
Peter McPhee, University of Melbourne
"It is a well-researched book that deserves to be widely read and debated … this book is a fine contribution to historical writing on the political life of the streets in Paris during the French Revolution."
Mark Jones, European Review of History
"Alpaugh deploys his own impressive evidentiary base to portray protesters as rational actors experimenting with non-violent ways of participating in the political process, experiments that helped to shape contentious politics in the age of democratization."
Cynthia A. Bouton, American Historical Review
'Alpaugh’s book is a compelling riposte to those who have conceptualised the Revolution as essentially violent: but it is also a passionate reflection, drawing on a vast range of sources, on key global questions of revolution in the eighteenth century and today. This book demonstrates that there are many ways to do global history: the Paris sections - so richly documented, and so frequently analysed by scholars over the past century - serve here as a microcosm for thinking about the emergence of contentious politics and popular participatory democracy, with global implications.' Ian Coller, French History
'Alpaugh has offered yet another empirical rebuttal to a thesis that has received disproportionate attention … [he] is to be commended for reminding us of the nonviolent nature and focused purposes of most Parisian political demonstrations during the Revolution.' Michael P. Fitzsimmons, The Journal of Modern History
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- Date Published: October 2014
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107082793
- length: 302 pages
- dimensions: 237 x 155 x 23 mm
- weight: 0.55kg
- contains: 4 tables
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Marching in Paris, from the Old Regime to the Revolution
2. Political demonstrations and the politics of escalation in 1789
3. From rapprochement to radicalism, 1790–1
4. War, collaborative protest, and the 1792 Republican movement
5. Fraternal protest in a time of terror, August 1792–September 1793
6. Reasserting collective action:
7. Moderate and conservative marches in Revolutionary Paris
Appendix: Parisian protests, 1787–95
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