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date: 09 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This contribution examines the political violence of urban crowds in 1789. It endorses previous contributions that emphasize the importance of subsistence issues for urban consumers and the hopes the calling of the Estates-General stimulated for a drastic transformation. It argues, however, that popular consciousness should not be envisaged as moving from a less to a more sophisticated level. Instead, new slogans, aspirations, and heroes were grafted onto older sentiments like revenge for insults, assaults on hate figures, and the like. The crowd also enacted justice through the carnival of mock or real executions and the maiming of individuals they had killed. The revolutionary crowd could be shocking and inspiring at the same time. Many politicians and journalists approved of these extremely violent and lawless activities or excused them, so that the distinction between ‘crowd’ and ‘civil society’ was fluid.

Keywords: Women, Bastille, Réveillon riots, October Days, Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Strasbourg, Nantes, Toulon, Aix-en-Provence lynching

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