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date: 16 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter aims to establish the first years of the French Revolution as a radical experiment in the practice of democracy, and to overturn the ‘moderate’ or ‘liberal’ perspective that many historians have adopted. Following the wholesale destruction of the ancien régime and the principles laid down in 1789 for the creation of a replacement, a new political culture emerged. The administrative framework that was rapidly instituted was by no means decentralized, but it proved incapable of controlling the great explosion of political activity and discussion, which subverted rather than supported the foundation of representative government. The analysis of elections, clubs and newspapers that flourished nationwide demonstrates these unruly dynamics of revolutionary citizenship, which the constitutional monarchy struggled to circumscribe. Despite the concerted efforts made to close this period of upheaval with the inception of the Constitution in the autumn of 1791, the Revolution was far from over.

Keywords: Political clubs, press, newspapers, elections, suffrage, departments, sections, citizenship

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