Why Is Momoko Attracted to a Particular Style That Preceded the French Revolution
Instead, emergency powers were used to conduct a repressive Terror. As the war turned in the favour of the French, the actions of the radical revolutionaries became unjustifiable and another coup of moderate revolutionaries swept them to power. However, the moderates were unable to establish stability while fending off resurgent conservative royalists and radicals, and their government became synonymous with corruption and self-interest. Ultimately, this led the French people into the safe and comforting arms of one man; Napoleon Bonaparte; essentially exchanging the authoritarian regime of an absolute monarchy, for another authoritarian regime.
According to official figures in 1863, 8,381 of France’s 37,510 communes were not majority French. They included a quarter of the country’s population. Thus French was basically a foreign language to many “Frenchmen. ” Despite this language barrier, the inhabitants of France somehow achieved spiritual unity beyond political or administrative structures, a unity of mind and feelings that was a reflection of a shared culture. The idea of la patrie emerged to express these binding qualities among the people of France (Ross, Steven T. , 1984). It began among certain social groups, perhaps, but soon spread beyond their origins. One result of this consciousness was the people’s will to form a nation. Prerevolutionary France had little sense of a united people. Class divisions were strong, and those of privilege generally did not associate socially with those below them. According to B. A. Avner, “Nationalist sentiments were known, then, in prerevolutionary France, but they were shared mainly by limited circles within the elite and were subordinated to the higher value system of the Church and the monarchy. It was the Revolution that transformed them into a powerful, popular force which cut itself loose from the tenets of the Old Regime and based itself upon a new set of principles.” Before the Revolution, much of the national sentiment revolved around a particular social class rather than the entire nation. On the eve of the revolution, however, class divisions became less important, and the desire for a single nation emerged (Shafer, Boyd C., 1938).
Executive power would lie in the hands of a five-member Directory (Directoire) appointed by parliament. Royalists and Jacobins protested the new regime but were swiftly silenced by the army, now led by a young and successful general named Napoleon Bonaparte. The Directory’s four years in power were riddled with financial crises, popular discontent, inefficiency and, above all, political corruption. By the late 1790s, the directors relied almost entirely on the military to maintain their authority and had ceded much of their power to the generals in the field.
Ross, Steven T. French Military History, 1661-1799: A Guide to the Literature. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1984.
Shafer, Boyd C. “Bourgeois Nationalism in the Pamphlets on the Eve of the French Revolution” The Journal of Modern History. Vol. 10, No. 1. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938.
Thompson, J. M. Leaders of the French Revolution. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1962.
Weber, Eugen. Peasants into Frenchmen, specifically Part 1. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1976.