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Cover for the book The Jacobin Republic Under Fire

The Jacobin Republic Under Fire

The Federalist Revolt in the French Revolution Paul R. Hanson
  • Copyright: 2003
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 272 pages
  • Illustrations:
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-02281-9
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-05844-3
“[The Jacobin Revolution Under Fire] is a solidly researched, imaginatively conceived, and well-written contribution to the study of the Revolution and the Federalist revolt. . . . Hanson has made an interesting point about differing views on sovereignty, and his book has merit. I would certainly recommend it to academic and public libraries that have any depth at all on the French Revolution.”
“Hanson’s interpretive synthesis, a careful mixture of narrative and thematic chapters, will be appreciated by non-specialists.”
“Hanson’s book provides a useful synthesis of material that is often neglected or skimmed over in the telling of the story of the French Revolution. The bibliography of archival, primary, and secondary sources should prove especially beneficial to those interested in research on the French Revolution, while the departmental maps offer helpful visual aids to understanding the political events and situations under discussion. This book will be a welcome addition to my library.”
“One of the virtues of Hanson’s book lies in the skillful interweaving of local political tensions that served as the foundation for revolt and the national political crisis that triggered the outbreak. . . . Overall, through, this well-written and accessible book is timely as a synthesis of recent scholarship, engaging as a complex narrative of fascinating events, and, because it examines the federal revolts through the prism of a debate over sovereignty, important as an interpretation.”

One of the central questions of the French Revolution is what happened to the country from the time the monarchy collapsed in the summer of 1792, when the prospects for popular democracy seemed brightest, to the Terror of 1793–94, when the Committee of Public Safety ruled by fiat and repression. A key moment during this interim period was the so-called Federalist Revolt, when four provincial cities—Caen, Bordeaux, Lyon, and Marseille—rebelled against the more radical revolutionaries in Paris, threatening to plunge France into civil war. Over the years some very good work has been published on the Federalist Revolt, but no one has attempted an overarching study of the event in over a century. It is time for a major work of synthetic interpretation, and this is what The Jacobin Republic Under Fire offers.

The revolt pitted federalist rebels from the provinces, known as Girondins, against the republican Montagnards (also known as Jacobins) who dominated the National Convention in Paris. The four federalist cities never succeeded in creating a unified resistance to Paris, but the revolt had a substantial impact on revolutionary politics. In July 1793 Maximilien Robespierre joined the Committee of Public Safety, at which time the Montagnards moved decisively to quell the provincial rebels—the first major act of the Terror. Hanson presents a general narrative of the events as well as a pointed analysis that ultimately seeks to identify what, exactly, divided Girondins from Montagnards. According to Hanson, the conflict arose over the question of popular sovereignty: Who are the sovereign people, and how are they to exercise their sovereignty?

Paul R. Hanson is Professor of History and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Butler University. He is the author of Provincial Politics in the French Revolution (1989) and the forthcoming Historical Dictionary of the French Revolution.


List of Maps



1. Girondins on Trial

2. Girondins versus Montagnards

3. Revolt in the Provinces

4. The Federalist Program

5. The Local Context of Federalism

6. Contemporary Perspectives on the Revolt

7. Prelude to the Terror


Appendix: Demands of the Central Committee

of Resistance to Oppression



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