A broad view of the revolutionary and Napoleonic period between 1789 and 1815 would suggest that it contains three basic political models: constitutional monarchy (1789–92), democratic republic (1792–1804) and Napoleonic Empire (1804–15). French politics since 1815 have largely drawn on these three models, with two constitutional monarchies between 1815 and 1848, another Napoleonic Empire between 1852 and 1870, and five republics in 1848–52 and from 1870 to the present day. Political debate in France has always had a strong historical content and the fact that the revolution marked the beginning of modern politics and provided two out of its three political models makes it an important part of the debate. When François Furet launched his revisionist approach to the revolution in 1978, he argued that the collapse of French communism and decline of the traditional right had rendered the revolution largely irrelevant. The events of 1789–94 could now be examined dispassionately, without the need for comparisons between the 1790s and the present day. ‘The Revolution,’ he argued, ‘is over’ .
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