Historians of the French Revolution used to take for granted what was also obvious to its contemporary observers--that the Revolution was shaped by the radical ideas of the Enlightenment. Yet in recent decades, scholars have argued that the Revolution was brought about by social forces, politics, economics, or culture--almost anything but abstract notions like liberty or equality. In Revolutionary Ideas, one of the world's leading historians of the Enlightenment restores the Revolution's intellectual history to its rightful central role. Drawing widely on primary sources, Jonathan Israel shows how the Revolution was set in motion by radical eighteenth-century doctrines, how these ideas divided revolutionary leaders into vehemently opposed ideological blocs, and how these clashes drove the turning points of the Revolution. In this compelling account, the French Revolution stands once again as a culmination of the emancipatory and democratic ideals of the Enlightenment. That it ended in the Terror represented a betrayal of those ideas--not their fulfillment.
Jonathan Israel is professor of modern history at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is the author of A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy (Princeton).
List of Figures vii Acknowledgments ix Prologue 1 Chapter 1 Introduction 6 Chapter 2 Revolution of the Press (1788-90) 30 Chapter 3 From Estates-General to National Assembly (April-June 1789) 53 Chapter 4 The Rights of Man: Summer and Autumn 1789 72 Chapter 5 Democratizing the Revolution 103 Chapter 6 Deadlock (November 1790-July 1791) 141 Chapter 7 War with the Church (1788-92) 180 Chapter 8 The Feuillant Revolution ( July 1791-April 1792) 204 Chapter 9 The "General Revolution" Begins (1791-92) 231 Chapter 10 The Revolutionary Summer of 1792 246 Chapter 11 Republicans Divided (September 1792-March 1793) 278 Chapter 12 The "General Revolution" from Valmy to the Fall of Mainz (1792-93) 316 Chapter 13 The World's First Democratic Constitution (1793) 345 Chapter 14 Education: Securing the Revolution 374 Chapter 15 Black Emancipation 396 Chapter 16 Robespierre's Putsch ( June 1793) 420 Chapter 17 The Summer of 1793: Overturning the Revolution's Core Values 450 Chapter 18 De-Christianization (1793-94) 479 Chapter 19 "The Terror" (September 1793-March 1794) 503 Chapter 20 The Terror's Last Months (March-July 1794) 545 Chapter 21 Thermidor 574 Chapter 22 Post-Thermidor (1795-97) 593 Chapter 23 The "General Revolution" (1795-1800): Holland, Italy, and the Levant 635 Chapter 24 The Failed Revolution (1797-99) 670 Chapter 25 Conclusion: The Revolution as the Outcome of the Radical Enlightenment 695 Cast of Main Participants 709 Notes 733 Bibliography 803 Index 833