Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

This book is a fascinating survey of nineteenth-century republicanism, the first of its kind this century. It investigates why it was that although France was one of the first countries in modern Europe to become a republic in 1792, it was nearly a hundred years before a republic was acceptable to the majority. Pamela Pilbeam suggests that republicanism was a witch's brew of Enlightenment rationality, bloody memories and conflicting socialist expectations. The book concludes that the successful republic of 1871 used the rhetoric of democracy to conceal persistent elitism.

Table of Contents

1. The Republic: Idea and Image

Abstract
France was the only major European state to attempt to replace monarchical with republican government at the end of the eighteenth century. It took three revolutions, two monarchies, two empires and defeat in the war of 1870 before a republic proved sustainable. The purpose of this book is to try to explain why it took so long for a republic to become tolerable to the majority of the French.
Pamela M. Pilbeam

2. Historians and the Republic

Abstract
Until the creation of the Fifth Republic in 1958 the republic always divided Frenchmen, those who welcomed 1789 honouring it, counter-revolutionaries detesting it. Its history became part catechism, part epic; for opponents a major factor in the decline of France and the French spirit; for the one, hagiography, for the other, demonology. This chapter will leave the demonologists on one side and concentrate on some of the more sympathetic writers, often also active politicians in the nineteenth century, who have tried to explain the significance of republicanism.
Pamela M. Pilbeam

3. The Legacy of the First Republic and the Napoleonic Empire

Abstract
The French Revolution from its inception challenged privilege, demanding that ‘rights’ be justified by more than tradition and purchase, whether they be the rights of the Church or of the aristocracy. It might seem that the logical sequel to this attack on privilege would be the elimination of the monarchy, the source of much of the power within society and the state. The calling of the Estates-General in 1789 was surrounded by ambiguity; Louis XVI and his advisers envisaged a transient gathering to help resolve a financial crisis, while many of those elected saw the opportunity to create a representative system of government such as had been discussed in various quarters in France during the century. In just over three years from the calling of the Estates General of May 1789, the king was replaced by a republic. Why was a republic declared? Why, subsequently, did it prove impossible to establish a settled form of government? Why did a military dictatorship emerge and what was the relationship between the republican and the imperial experiences?
Pamela M. Pilbeam

4. Conspirators and Parliamentarians: Republicans 1814–1830

Abstract
In 1814 France’s future form of government was determined by an unholy alliance of the Great Powers who defeated Napoleon and the emperor’s former officials, some of whom had been republican in the 1790s. Why it was that a republic was not contemplated? To what extent was the opposition to the restored Bourbon monarchy which developed subsequently republican in character?
Pamela M. Pilbeam

5. Revolution and Popular Unrest: Republicans 1830–1835

Abstract
The 1830 Revolution, the ‘Three Glorious Days’ as it was called with relief at its brevity and relative mildness, was not a republican revolution.1 Nor was it a Bonapartist revolt, a bourgeois revolution, as the disillusioned republicans and socialists labelled it, not even an Orleanist coup, even though the duke of Orleans was made king immediately afterwards. The Revolution was the product of the coincidence of a political conflict between the king and the liberals in the Chamber of Deputies and an economic recession which had started in 1827. The political crisis was partly a continuation of the 1789 revolutionary conflict over where power lay. During the Restoration a tolerable compromise had been reached by which the king selected ministers who would be acceptable to the Chamber of Deputies. After the liberal victories in the 1830 election Charles X decided that article 14 of the 1814 Constitution, which allowed him to issue decree laws in an emergency, could be used to scotch the liberals, by now a ‘revolutionary’ threat in his mind. The Four Ordinances of St Cloud, signed on July 25th, ordered the liberal newspapers to cease publication, dissolved the new assembly, reduced the electorate to the quarter most rich, and called new elections.
Pamela M. Pilbeam

6. The Republic Outlawed: Insurrection and Reform 1835–1848

Abstract
Between the September laws of 1835, which muzzled the republican press, and the February Revolution of 1848, those who continued to hold out against Orleanism were divided and marginalized, by their own actions as much as by government manoeuvres. Three main strands of radical opposition — insurrectionary, reformist and socialist — can be discerned for the purposes of the historian’s urge to tidy up the past (individuals might, of course, be a mixture of these). A tiny minority maintained the belief that a republic could emerge from a popular rising; the remainder were irresolute. Should energy be consolidated around an attempt to develop parliamentary institutions, in which case electoral and suffrage reform had priority, or did the visible social problems of an industrializing society dictate that social reform should dominate the agenda? If so, should this be piecemeal, radical, revolutionary or Utopian? All republicans were certainly not socialist, socialists tended to favour a republic, but as a means, not as an end in itself. The two issues of electoral and social reform came to dominate debates among a quarrelsome and largely middle-class minority, few of whose adherents believed that the creation of a republic was possible or likely, and certainly not at the beginning of 1848.
Pamela M. Pilbeam

7. Socialist Utopians and Reformers before 1848

Abstract
Socialism was a major formative influence in the new republicanism which developed after the 1830 Revolution. This chapter assesses the positive and negative contributions of socialist ideas to republicanism before the Revolution of 1848. Pierre Leroux in 1832 was the first person in France to use the term ‘socialism’. In the 30s and 40s the debate on the evils of advancing industrialization and urbanization became ‘the social question’ and a paramount preoccupation for thinkers, politicians, journalists and novelists. In the 1830s and 40s some socialists assumed that a form of republican framework would be appropriate for their dreams, some republicans likewise imagined that social reform would be an intrinsic component of a republic, but others were afraid that socialism was a threat rather than an asset to their ideal republic.
Pamela M. Pilbeam

8. Universal Suffrage and the ‘Right to Work’: The Second Republic, February–April 1848

Abstract
Universal suffrage and ‘the right to work’ were proclaimed at the outset as the two basic principles of the Second Republic. This chapter will consider the problems encountered in trying to implement them up to the end of April 1848, the first in the election of a Constituent Assembly, the second in controlling escalating unemployment in the capital and other major towns.
Pamela M. Pilbeam

9. The June Days; Bonapartism; The Decline and Fall of the Second Republic

Abstract
Logically the decision of the new mass electorate to choose a Constituent Assembly containing a large majority of tepid post-February converts to republicanism meant that the new democratic Second Republic was likely to be stillborn. The républicains de la veille continued to hope that a republic would emerge, despite their minority position in the Assembly. They believed that a combination of ‘natural’ emergent republicanism and institutional change could confirm the republic. But divisions between long-term republicans, moderates and radicals were themselves becoming increasingly rigid. Given the composition of the Assembly, was it inevitable that France would have a conservative, near-monarchist, constitution?
Pamela M. Pilbeam

10. From the Silent Years to Bloody Week: Republicans 1852–1871

Abstract
On 7 November 1852 an empire was formally and officially re-established. At one level the Second Empire marked the virtual disappearance of republicanism, particularly in the ‘silent years’1 of strict government censorship and rigid republican abstention in the 1850s and early 1860s. Many of the senior figures, including Ledru-Rollin and Blanc, were in exile and even in 1870 there were only 30 republicans in the Legislative Assembly. In May 1870 a leading young republican, Gambetta, admitted the plebiscite on liberal reform confirmed the continuing popularity of Louis-Napoleon. Yet the declaration of a republic in September 1870 aroused no opposition, except from radical republicans. In what ways did the aspirations of republicans change during the Empire? There were marked similarities between the parliamentary system of the Empire in 1870 and the republic created after its fall. This chapter will also ask to what extent the Empire itself was in process of being transformed into a republic by 1870, and if so, in response to what pressures.
Pamela M. Pilbeam

Conclusion

Abstract
In 1814 a republic was not considered; in 1871 nothing else was seriously contemplated. What did this signify? This volume has addressed the question by attempting to define the norms and assumptions of republicans, how the historic experience has been presented since 1814, the conflicting traditions created by the revolutionary years, the emergence and development of radical attitudes during the Constitutional Monarchy, the input of socialist thinking, the ‘apprenticeship’ of 1848–52, the growth of confidence in parliamentary institutions in the 1860s which brought together the formerly warring heirs of the 1789 tradition, the significance of the Commune and the establishment of a stable republican regime in the 1870s.
Pamela M. Pilbeam
Additional information