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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The economic history of the French Revolution has been largely neglected for decades. Those historians interested in the economy have been strongly influenced by the ‘cultural turn’, relying heavily on the tools of intellectual history. These studies avoid the investigation of the economic impact of the ‘threat from below’ and revolutionary political economy. The decade 1789–99 provides opportunities to demonstrate the limited opportunities and flawed implementation of the strictures of both liberal economics and a command economy. To do justice to the historical record, analysts should situate their work in the specificities of revolutionary economic practice. A firm grounding in the lived experience of production and consumption is necessary to understand the role of the economy in the twists and turns of the Revolution as well as its complex legacy in the nineteenth century, in particular, the delayed onset of industrialization and the rise of the notables to power.

Keywords: Terror, machine-breaking, moral economy, Maximum, assignat, levée en masse, blockade, smuggling, inflation, land redistribution

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