Old Regime and the French Revolution

ISBN-10: 0385092601

ISBN-13: 9780385092609

Edition: N/A

Authors: Alexis de Tocqueville, J. P. Mayer, A. P. Kerr, Alexis De Tocqueville

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The French Revolution is undoubtedly one of the most significant events in world history, one whose repercussions still affect Western society today, two hundred years later. The most important contribution to our understanding of the French Revolution was written almost one hundred years ago by Alexis de Tocqueville, who is recognized today as one of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century. Tocqueville's Democracy in America was only one part of the study of democracy to which he devoted his life; the second, and to his mind more important, part was to be a monumental study of the French Revolution, its origins, course, and consequences. Only the first section--The Old Regime and the French Revolution--was completed before his death. It brilliantly and searchingly examines the nature of French society in the years before the Revolution. Why did the Revolution break out? Was it inevitable, and if so, why? How was France really changed by the Revolution? Why did the intellectuals become enemies of the old French state and society? Why was the French nobility so estranged from the French people? Why, in short, were Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette doomed to the guillotines of the Revolution? In The Old Regime and the French Revolution, Tocqueville examines these and many other questions and in large measure succeeds in answering them. Book jacket.
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Book details

List price: $15.00
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/1/1955
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 320
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.25" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.902

French writer and politician Alexis de Tocqueville was born in Verneuil to an aristocratic Norman family. He entered the bar in 1825 and became an assistant magistrate at Versailles. In 1831, he was sent to the United States to report on the prison system. This journey produced a book called On the Penitentiary System in the United States (1833), as well as a much more significant work called Democracy in America (1835--40), a treatise on American society and its political system. Active in French politics, Tocqueville also wrote Old Regime and the Revolution (1856), in which he argued that the Revolution of 1848 did not constitute a break with the past but merely accelerated a trend toward greater centralization of government. Tocqueville was an observant Catholic, and this has been cited as a reason why many of his insights, rather than being confined to a particular time and place, reach beyond to see a universality in all people everywhere.

Conflicting opinions of the Revolution at its outbreak
How the chief and ultimate aim of the Revolution was not, as used to be thought, to overthrow religious and to weaken political authority in France
How, though its objectives were political, the French Revolution followed the lines of a religious revolution and why this was so
How almost all European nations had had the same institutions and how these were breaking down everywhere
What did the French Revolution accomplish?
Why feudalism had come to be more detested in France than in any other country
How administrative centralization was an institution of the old regime and not, as is often thought, a creation of the Revolution or the Napoleonic period
How paternal government, as it is called today, had been practiced under the old regime
How administrative justice and the immunity of public servants were institutions of the old regime
How the idea of centralized administration was established among the ancient powers, which it supplanted, without, however, destroying them
Of the methods of administration under the old regime
How in France, more than in any other European country, the provinces had come under the thrall of the metropolis, which attracted to itself all that was most vital in the nation
How France had become the country in which men were most like each other
How, though in many respects so similar, the French were split up more than ever before into small, isolated, self-regarding groups
How the suppression of political freedom and the barriers set up between classes brought on most of the diseases to which the old regime succumbed
Of the nature of the freedom prevailing under the old regime and of its influence on the Revolution
How, despite the progress of civilization, the lot of the French peasant was sometimes worse in the eighteenth century than it had been in the thirteenth
How towards the middle of the eighteenth century men of letters took the lead in politics and the consequences of this new development
How vehement and widespread anti-religious feeling had become in eighteenth-century France and its influence on the nature of the Revolution
How the desire for reforms took precedence of the desire for freedom
How, though the reign of Louis XVI was the most prosperous period of the monarchy, this very prosperity hastened the outbreak of the Revolution
How the spirit of revolt was promoted by well-intentioned efforts to improve the people's lot
How certain practices of the central power completed the revolutionary education of the masses
How revolutionary changes in the administrative system preceded the political revolution and their consequences
How, given the facts set forth in the preceding chapters, the Revolution was a foregone conclusion
The pays d'etats, with special reference to Languedoc
General Notes
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