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p. 654. What it endedlocked

  • William Doyle


The French Revolution began as a destructive force. The revolutionaries wanted to get rid of anything associated with the old order. ‘What it ended’ examines what the French Revolution abolished about France. The Revolution had begun as an attack on despotism, aristocracy, old-style corporatism, and privilege. It provided an opportunity to dispense with the old and replace with new. However, although the Revolution symbolized the assertion of political will against the constraints of history, circumstance, and vested interest, the revolutionaries soon realised that will alone is not enough to destroy the old. The old fought back. But these attempts were always problematic as concerns with the old regime remained. No true restoration was ever possible.

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