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By Norman Hampson

The innovative circulate which started in 1787 disrupted each point of French society, emerging to a pitch of such severe violence that the consequences are nonetheless felt in France this day. The Revolution used to be the fabricated from social tensions that built all through France within the moment half the eighteenth century. Norman Hampson analyses the character of those social conflicts inside of their political framework.
With sufficient heritage details to meet the final reader without prior wisdom of the topic, Norman Ha mpson's e-book devotes specific recognition to provincial France. the result's either an image of the splendid obstacle in French society, and an exam of social attitudes and aspirations whose impression has been common and enduring.

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The result of this tendency towards capitalist farming was sharply to accentuate the tensions within the village. A small minority of independent farmers, growing for the market, made substantial profits, while peasants of moderate means often found themselves on the road to insolvency and eventual expropriation. The poor, unable to afford to renew their leases and often deprived of grazing for their cattle, were reduced to a rural proletariat on the margin of mendicity. The bad forage harvest and epidemic of murrain in the summer of 1785 completed the ruin of the less fortunate farmers.

3 When the Minister of the Interior sent observers to report on the state of the countryside in 1793, each was provided with copies of the Wealth of Nations and of the works of Arthur Young. Caron, Rapports des Agents du Ministre de l’Intérieur dans les Départements (Paris, 1913, 1951), I, Introduction. 4 McManners, op. , p. 3. 21 FRANCE ON THE EVE OF THE REVOLUTION on to the high seas of economic liberalism where ten would founder for every one who made good. Sharing the hostility towards the aristocracy felt by their social superiors, these men might join the bourgeoisie in an attack on the superstructure of the ancien régime, but they were sceptical of the brave new world of free enterprise and suspicious of its advocates.

French agriculture had risen a little above subsistence level and during the eighteenth century the population rose by about six million. This increase accentuated the competition for land and perhaps helped to keep wages low, but at least the extra mouths were fed. One important effect of the traditional agricultural system was to foster a strong community-feeling in the village. The management of the open fields required uniformity of cultivation and the commons were administered by the village as a whole.

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