The ‘long nineteenth century’ from the French Revolution to World War I has often been described as the ‘century of revolution’. Implicit in such a trope is a world of change. In stark contrast, Arno Mayer has emphasized the continuities of social history: France remained ‘first and foremost a peasant economy and rural society dominated by hereditary and privileged nobilities’. Mayer’s view has found a nuanced echo in that of David Higgs, who has argued that, although the number of ancien-régime nobles had declined from about 125,000 before 1789 to fewer than 40,000 after 1870, French society remained dominated by landed wealth and the aristocratic values it underpinned. As late as 1893, 56 per cent of deputies were nobles and wealthy bourgeois. The latter were from the wealthiest 3,000 families in France, with incomes above 100,000 francs.1
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Conclusion — Plus ça change?
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number