The French Revolution: A History  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The French Revolution: A History was written by the Scottish essayist, philosopher, and historian Thomas Carlyle. The three-volume work, first published in 1837 (with a revised edition in print by 1857), charts the course of the French Revolution from 1789 to the height of the Reign of Terror (1793-4) and culminates in 1795. A massive undertaking which draws together a wide variety of sources, Carlyle's history—despite the unusual style in which it is written—is considered to be an authoritative account of the early course of the Revolution.

Carlyle happened upon the idea of writing a general history of the French Revolution when John Stuart Mill, a friend of his, found himself caught up in other projects and unable to meet the terms of a contract he had signed with his publisher for just such a work. Mill therefore proposed that Carlyle produce the work instead; Mill even sent his friend a library of books and other materials concerning the Revolution, and by 1834 Carlyle was working furiously on the project. When he had completed the first volume of his epic account, Carlyle sent his only completed manuscript of the text to Mill, whose maid famously mistook it for trash and had it burned. It was said that Carlyle then rewrote the entire manuscript from memory, achieving what he described as a book that came "direct and flamingly from the heart."

The book immediately established Carlyle's reputation as an important 19th century intellectual. It also served as a major influence on a number of his contemporaries, most notably, perhaps, upon Charles Dickens, who compulsively read and re-read the book while producing A Tale of Two Cities, one of the novelist's most popular works.


Part I: The Bastille

  1. Death of Louis XV
  2. The Paper Age
  3. The Parlement of Paris
  4. States-General
  5. The Third Estate
  6. Consolidation
  7. The Insurrection of Women

Part II: The Constitution

  1. The Feast of Pikes
  2. Nanci
  3. The Tuilleries
  4. Varennes
  5. Parliament First
  6. The Marseillese

Part III: The Guillotine

  1. September
  2. Regicide
  3. The Girondins
  4. Terror
  5. Terror the Order of the Day
  6. Thermidor
  7. Vendémiaire

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The French Revolution: A History" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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