The French Revolution never had the unified support of the whole French people. From its origins it stirred up formidable enemies, and each stage added yet another layer to the range of opponents. The conflict of Revolution and Counter-Revolution was to be one of the enduring legacies of the period, helping to shape French politics for another century or more, determining the attitudes of regions and classes, as well as historical interpretations. Distortion and misunderstanding were built into revolutionary conflict from the beginning. Who was, or was not, a friend of the Revolution lay very much in the eye of the beholder so that at some stage or other almost everybody could find themselves denounced as a counter-revolutionary agent. Such a charge came easily to Revolutionary governments, who tended to see their opponents, at least during the more intense phases of the Revolution, in fairly simple terms: the peasantry must have been led astray by aristocrats and priests; the émigrés were traitorous relics of a tyrannical past. That neat solution came naturally to politicians for whom the Revolution was a stage in the advance of humanity towards a more enlightened and just world and therefore anyone who resisted this was more than a traitor, he was also wicked. At a simpler level it also fitted into the thinking of a still credulous age, where conspirators lurked in the most unlikely places, and where disaster was always blamed on human misdeeds.
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