FRENCH REVOLUTIONARIES AND ENGLISH REPUBLICANS: THE CORDELIERS CLUB, 1790-1794

Political clubs were an important driving force in the French Revolution. Alongside the well-known Jacobin and Girondin Clubs, the Cordeliers Club was one of the most significant during the early years of the Revolution and included among its membership leading figures such as Camille Desmoulins and Jean-Paul Marat. French Revolutionaries and English Republicans explores the ideological outlook of the Club and the ideas of its members, who were quick to embrace the novel notion of 'democracy' and advocated policies that would increase the political participation of ordinary people. In developing these ideas the Cordeliers drew heavily on the works of English republican authors of the mid-seventeenth century, such as James Harrington and Marchamont Nedham. Leading Club members translated the works of these authors, but also adapted them so as to make them even more democratic than originally intended. They even produced a draft constitution that was heavily based on Harrington's The Commonwealth of Oceana, which they submitted to the French government in the autumn of 1792. This book serves as an important counterweight to the common idea that the French Revolution was solely a product of French ideas, such as those of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

THE ENGLISH REPUBLICAN TRADITION AND EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FRANCE: BETWEEN THE ANCIENTS AND THE MODERNS

The French have a reputation for being the revolutionary nation. Their 'great' Revolution of 1789 is often seen as a model for all later revolutionary moments and they experienced further revolutionary upheaval during the nineteenth century (1830, 1848, 1871) not to mention the central role the French played in the student movements of 1968. Yet, as this book demonstrates, despite their claims to be starting afresh, the French revolutionaries of the 1790s were very conscious of earlier models that might act as a guide in their own time of revolution, and, of particular interest and importance to them were the events of mid-seventeenth-century England. Not only were the French revolutionaries the first to describe those events as a revolution, but they also compared the execution of Charles I with that of Louis XVI and translated English political tracts from that period that they felt might shine light on their own experiences. The English Republican Tradition and Eighteenth-Century France explores this neglected aspect of European history by looking at how English republican ideas of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were interpreted and used by eighteenth-century French thinkers, writers and political activists.

 

 

revolutionary moments: reading revolutionary texts

This collection of essays explores the concept of revolution and its development since the seventeenth century. Each chapter focuses on a short extract from a revolutionary text. These texts might be a constitutional document, manifesto, or a more theoretical work, but in each case the extract is used as a springboard to exploring the author's understanding of the particular revolution about which he/she was writing and of the developing concept of revolution more generally. The reader can therefore make connections and comparisons across the different revolutionary texts and moments, thereby providing a broader, deeper and more nuanced understanding of revolutions. 

 

MAJOR ARTICLES/BOOK CHAPTERS

'James Harrington, The Commonwealth of Oceana and a Revolution in the Language of Politics', in Rachel Hammersley (ed.), Revolutionary Moments: Reading Revolutionary Texts (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), pp. 19-26.

'Spence's Property in Land Every One's Right: Problems and Solutions', in Thomas Spence: The Poor Man's Revolutionary, ed. Alastair Bonnett and Keith Armstrong (London: Breviary Stuff, 2014).

'Rethinking the Political Thought of James Harrington: Royalism, Republicanism and Democracy', History of European Ideas, 39:3 (2013), pp. 354-370.

'The Harringtonian Legacy in Britain and France', in Gaby Mahlberg and Dirk Wiemann (eds), European Contexts for English Republicanism (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013)

'Harringtonian Republicanism, Democracy and the French Revolution, La Revolution française: chairs de l'Institut d'histoire de la Revolution française, 5 (2013).

'La France contre l'Angleterre, tout contre, ou lire les texts des républicains anglais au temps du Directoire', in Républiques soeurs - Le Directoire et la Révolution atlantique, ed. Pierre Serna (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2009).

'The Commonwealth of Oceana de James Harrington: un modèle pour la France revolutionnaire', Annales historiques de la Révolution française (2005), No. 4, pp. 3-20.

'Jean-Paul Marat's The Chains of Slavery in Britain and France, 1774-1833', The Historical Journal, 48:3 (2005), pp. 641-660.

'English Republicanism in Revolutionary France: The Case of the Cordeliers Club', Journal of British Studies, 43 (2004), pp. 464-481.

'Camille Desmoulins's Le Vieux Cordelier: A Link Between English and French Republicanism', History of European Ideas, 27 (2001), pp. 115-132.