By Peter McPhee
This quantity offers an authoritative synthesis of modern paintings at the social historical past of France and is now completely revised and up to date to hide the 'long 19th century' from 1789-1914. Peter McPhee deals either a readable narrative and a particular, coherent argument approximately this century. McPhee explores topics resembling peasant interplay with the surroundings, the altering adventure of labor and relaxation, the character of crime and protest, altering demographic styles and kin constitution, the spiritual practices of employees and peasants, and the ideology and inner repercussions of colonisation.
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Extra resources for A Social History of France, 1789-1914
However, such an argument misses the essential interrelation between the central tenets of the new philosophy and the society it was challenging and examining. It is no coincidence that the chief and linked targets of critical writing were royal absolutism and theocracy; in the words of Diderot, ‘the rope which holds and represses humanity is made up of two strands: one of them cannot give way without the other breaking’. For most philosophes, such a critique was limited by an acceptance of the social value of parish priests as guardians of public order and morality; resigned to what they saw as the ignorance and superstition of the masses, intellectuals similarly turned to enlightened monarchs as the best way of ensuring the liberalization of public life.
Instead, they have insisted that political conflict was short-term and avoidable, and have pointed to the coexistence of nobles and wealthy bourgeois in an élite of notables, united as property-owners, FRANCE IN THE 1780s 29 office-holders and investors, and even by involvement in profit-oriented industry and agriculture. However, within this bourgeois and noble élite was a ruling class of nobles with inherited titles who dominated the highest echelons of privilege, office, wealth and status. Social changes since 1750 had aggravated tensions between this élite and the less eminent majority of the privileged orders while nourishing rival conceptions among commoners about the bases of social and political authority.
Peter Jones has argued that in the southern Massif Central the community was indeed a communion of souls, reinforced by mutual mistrust between Catholics and small, concentrated groups of Protestants. 28 Eighteenth-century France was thus a society in which privilege was integral to social hierarchy, wealth and individual identity. At the summit of every form of privilege – legal, fiscal, regional – was the noble élite of the first two estates. Internally united by privileges belonging to their ‘corporate’ estate, their vision of their social functions and identity, and their relations with commoners, the first two estates in the juridical structure of eighteenth-century France were divided by internal ranking of status and wealth.