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French Revolution

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Already rocked by defeats in the War of the Spanish Succession, Louis XIV’s France faced economic meltdown as the chaotic nature of its finances became apparent. Guy Rowlands discovers striking...

Rachel Hammersley discusses how events in the 1640s and 1680s in England established a tradition that inspired French thinkers on the path to revolution a century later.

Volume: 61 Issue: 10 2011

Gemma Betros examines the problems the Revolution posed for religion, and that religion posed for the Revolution.

Issue: 68 2010

Already rocked by defeats in the War of the Spanish Succession, Louis XIV’s France faced economic meltdown as the chaotic nature of its finances became apparent. Guy Rowlands discovers striking parallels with the current credit crunch as he charts the crisis that was to lead, ultimately, to the French Revolution.

Volume: 59 Issue: 2 2009

Thomas Paine, who died 200 years ago, inspired and witnessed the revolutions that gave birth to the United States and destroyed the French monarchy. A genuinely global figure, he anticipated modern ideas on human rights, atheism and rationalism. David Nash looks at his enduring impact.

Volume: 59 Issue: 6 2009

Richard Cavendish charts the life of Robespierre, who was born on May 6th, 1758.

Volume: 58 Issue: 5 2008

Graham Goodlad assesses the success of British governments in responding to the demands of war, from the French Revolutionary conflict to the 1914-18 struggle.

Issue: 54 2006

Marisa Linton reviews the life and career of one of the most vilified men in history.

Volume: 56 Issue: 8 2006

Richard Ballard looks at how events in the opening years of the French Revolution took shape in a town three days’ journey from Paris.

Issue: 54 2006

Louis XVI was born on August 23rd, 1754, in the palace of Versailles.

Volume: 54 Issue: 8 2004

The essay entitled 'How important was the press in the desacralisation of the French monarchy in 1789?', by Olivia Grant of St Paul's Girls' School, was awarded the Julia Wood Prize out of 136 entries. An edited version appears below; a second award was made to Richard Eschwege of City of London School for an essay on Pope Gregory VII.

Issue: 44 2002

John Spiller shows that, in constitution-making in the USA (1787-89), France (1789-92) and Great Britain (1830-32), some men were considered more equal than others.

Issue: 41 2001

William Doyle discusses traditional and revisionist interpretations of the downfall of the Kings of France, arguing that notions of a 'desacralised monarchy' are inadequate to explain what happened.

Issue: 36 2000

Andrew Matthews examines three new books on key themes in modern history.  

Issue: 34 1999

John Dunne signposts main landmarks and current directions in the historiographical debate.

Issue: 30 1998

Beasts behind bars - Katharine MacDonogh tells the tale of the animals forced to share their owners' fall from grace after 1789.

Volume: 46 Issue: 8 1996

Studies on French history


Omer Bartov asks how the armies of lords and kings became the forces of peoples and nations.

Issue: 22 1995

For some in the years 1789-94, the people's drama in Paris was not fast enough at reflecting a world turned upside down. Michele Root-Bernstein looks at what was performed and how revolutionary it really was.

Volume: 43 Issue: 2 1993

Stuart Andrews considers the life and radical milieu of the dissenting preacher whose support first for the American and then the French Revolutions brought him public controversy, and in the case of the latter, triggered Edmund Burke's classic denunciation of 1789.

Volume: 41 Issue: 5 1991

Robin Blackburn describes how the message of liberte, egalite, fraternite, acted as crucial catalyst for race and class uprisings in Europe's Caribbean colonies.

Volume: 41 Issue: 11 1991

Peter Burley looks at how changing times and political climates are echoed in the 20th-century's view of the Revolution on film.

Volume: 39 Issue: 5 1989

An English cricket team set out on a goodwill visit to Paris in the turbulent summer of 1789. But the proposed tour never took place. Overtaken by events, it turned back at Dover. John Goulstone and Michael Swanton compile the following account from broadsheets and from correspondence, between certain of the personalities involved.

Volume: 39 Issue: 8 1989

To export the Revolution's benefits across Europe was the early hope of the French - but the unenthusiastic response from the liberated peoples rapidly soured the vision. Tim Blanning chronicles that descent from optimism to realpolitik.

Volume: 39 Issue: 5 1989

The philosophe may have laid the egg, but was the bird hatched of a different breed? Maurice Cranston discusses the intellectual origins and development of the French Revolution.

Volume: 39 Issue: 5 1989

Despite the later conflicts between Church and Revolution, Nigel Aston argues that the majority of France's churchmen in 1789 were keen for reform and eager for change.

Volume: 39 Issue: 5 1989

Olwen Hufton chronicles the varied but influential voices of feminine awareness that intervened, often decisively and despite male misgivings, in the course of the Revolution.

Volume: 39 Issue: 5 1989

Stuart Andrews shows how, in his person and in his writings, Tom Paine forms a link between the two great revolutions of the late eighteenth century - the American and the French.

Volume: 33 Issue: 8 1983
This month History Today publishes the first in a new regular series of bibliographical essays on a wide variety of historiographical topics. The idea of the series is to survey the subject and to provide a guide to the most important and most recent books about it. In the first of the series, Douglas Johnson looks at the French Revolution.
Volume: 32 Issue: 1 1981

Popular art in the form of cartoons, caricatures and simple engravings offered great potential for political propaganda as the revolutionary leaders discovered. As Lynn Hunt explains, it also provided the lay middle class which established the new government with an opportunity to define itself and its revolution while attempting to win the allegiance of the nation.


M.L. Clarke profiles an enterprising governor in the education of Louis Philippe for eight years, until 1790.

Volume: 27 Issue: 10 1977

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