History of the French revolution, from 1789 to 1814 - PDF by M. Mignet

History of the French revolution, from 1789 to 1814 

History of the French revolution
History of the French revolution

This book was published in 1826 by  François-Auguste-Marie-Alexis Mignet who wasFrançois Auguste Marie Mignet was a French journalist and historian of the French Revolution. . It is a trusted source of the french revolution by a trusted french author.
From the introduction:

I shall take a rapid view of the French revolution, an event that introduced a new state of society in Europe, as the English revolution had been the epoch of a new system of government. This revolution has not merely modified the political power of the nation but has entirely changed its interior constitution. 

The forms of society which had sprung up in the middle ages still existed. The territory was divided into hostile provinces and the population into rival classes. The noblesse, although still preserving its distinctions, had lost all its power; the people possessed no rights; the royal authority was restrained by no limits; and France was abandoned to the confusion of arbitrary administration, partial governments, and privileged bodies. 

For this disordered state of things, the revolution has substituted one more conformable to the principles of justice, and better adapted to the spirit of our times. Privilege gave way to equality, and arbitrary power was replaced by the regulations of law; the distinctions of classes, and the provincial barriers, were annihilated; industry was freed from the control of corporations and wardens; agriculture from tythes and feudal services; and property from the system of entails. In a word, France, as respect, her territory, her laws, and her population were consolidated and united. Such reforms could not be effected without encountering great difficulties, and transient evils necessarily followed in the train of solid and enduring ameliorations. 

The privileged classes wished to prevent, Europe tried to subdue, the revolution; and thus, forced into the struggle, it could neither measure its efforts nor moderate its triumphs. Resistance from within led to the sovereignty of the multitude, and aggression from without to the military domination. Nevertheless, despite anarchy and despotism, the object has been attained; ancient society has been destroyed during the revolution, and a new spirit established under the empire.

When reform has become necessary, and the period for its accomplishment has arrived, attempts to stifle tend only to hasten its progress. Happy would it be for mankind, could they properly estimate these changes; if they who possess too much, would yield up a portion of their abundance; and they who have too little, would be content with what they really needed. Revolution would then be divested of its horrors; and the historian, instead of having to record a series of evils and excesses, would only have to describe human nature to become wiser, freer, and happier. But the page of history offers no example of such prudent sacrifices: they who should have made, have refused to make them; and they who have demanded, have in their turn imposed them. 

Thus good has been found operating like evil, by the means and with the violence of usurpation. As yet, there has been no sovereignty but force. In retracing the history of this important period, from the opening of the states-general to the year 1814, I shall define the several crises of the revolution, at the same time that I describe its progress. We shall see how, after having begun under the happiest auspices, it degenerated so violently; in what manner it changed France into a republic; and how upon the ruins of the republic the empire was elevated. 

The government of France, from the reign of Louis XIV to the revolution, was arbitrary rather than despotic; for the monarchs had much greater power than they exercised: their immense authority was resisted only by the feeblest barriers. 

The crown disposed of the person by lettres-de-cachet; of property, by confiscations; of income, by imposts. It is true, certain bodies possessed a means of defence, which they called privileges; but these privileges were seldom respected.

 The parliament had the privilege of consenting to or refusing an impost, but the king enforced registration by a bed of justice [lit de justice] and punished its members by letters of exile. The noblesse was exempt from imposts; the clergy had the privilege of taxing themselves by voluntary grants. Some of the provinces had the privilege of compounding for these imposts, and others, that of making the as- assessment themselves. Such was the small guarantees of France, and even these were still turned to the advantage of the favoured classes, and to the oppression of the people.

the book details :
  • Author: M. Mignet
  • Illustrator: Samuel  Drummond,
  • Publication date  1826
  • Company: London: Printed for Hunt and Clarke, Tavistock Street, Covent Garden

  • The book is in two volumes :

    Download Volume 1

    Download Volume 2
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