Beginning with a discussion of familiar images of the French Revolution, garnered from Dickens, Baroness Orczy, and Tolstoy, as well as the legends of let them eat cake, and tricolours, Doyle leads the reader to the realization that we are still living with developments and consequences of the French Revolution such as decimalization, and the whole ideology of human rights.
Continuing with a brief survey of the old regime and how it collapsed, Doyle continues to ellucidate how the revolution happened: why did the revolutionaries quarrel with the king, the church and the rest of Europe, why this produced Terror, and finally how it accomplished rule by a general.
The revolution destroyed the age-old cultural, institutional and social structures in France and beyond. This book looks at how the ancien regime became ancien as well as examining cases in which achievement failed to match ambition. Doyle explores the legacy of the revolution in the form of rationality in public affairs and responsible government, and finishes his examination of the revolution with a discussion as to why it has been so controversial.
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About the Author
William Doyle is Professor of History at the University of Bristol. His publications include The Oxford History of the French Revolution (1990), Origins of the French Revolution (1999), The Old European Order 1660-1800 (1992), and forthcoming from OUP, Old Regime France (2001).
`[William Doyle] writes on the French Revolution with more understanding, balance and clarity than any other historian, living or dead.'
Prof. Tim Blanning, University of Cambridge
2: Why it happened
3: How it happened
4: What it ended
5: What it started
6: Why it matters
Bibliography and further reading