The French Revolution: An Economic Interpretation

Sampul Depan
Cambridge University Press, 22 Mar 1990 - 226 halaman
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The economic history of revolutionary France is still a neglected area in studies of the revolution of 1789. While some attention has been given to the condition of the peasants, the urban working classes and the financial crisis of the Ancien Régime, there has been a general tendency to regard economic factors as external and somewhat peripheral to the truly political nature of the Revolution. This book is designed to redress the balance, providing a clear, accessible and thought-provoking guide to the economic background to the French Revolution. Professor Aftalion analyzes the policies followed by successive Revolutionary assemblies, examining in detail taxation, the confiscation of church property, the assignats, and the siege economy of the Terror. He shows how decisions taken in 1789 by the Constituent Assembly inevitably led to a deepening financial and economic crisis, and to increasingly radical and disastrous policies. The study is important also for its exposure of many of the economic fallacies propounded both by many Frenchmen at the time, and later by many modern historians.
 

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Figures
x
Chronology
xi
Acknowledgements
xviii
Introduction
1
The fiscal crisis
11
Taxfarmers and financiers
15
The origins of the Royal Treasurys difficulties
18
Louis XVIs missed opportunities
21
The first assignats issued by the Convention
123
The Enragés
126
The taxing of the rich
129
The alliance of the Mountain with the Enrages
131
The effects of the first Maximum
134
Economic dictatorship
138
Vain attempts to reduce the quantity of assignats
142
Terror the order of the day
146

Neckers expedients
23
Cahnnes skill in deception
25
From Brienne to the return of Necker and the calling of the EstatesGeneral
27
The French economy at the end of the Ancien Régime
31
Crises
36
Economic thought and the Enlightenment
43
1789
48
The seizure of power by the Constituent Assembly
49
The new organisation of government
52
Financial problems
55
From Mirabeaus ambitions to Duponts wisdom
59
The nationalisation of church property
61
The assignats
68
The first debate on the assignats
70
The second issue of assignats
76
The finances of the Constituent Assembly
86
Evaluation of the new fiscal system
92
The assignats and the monetary crisis
95
The sale of the biens nationaux
99
The rising cost of living anarchy and war
102
Anarchy and fiscal crisis
103
Further issues of assignats
106
The rising cost of living
108
The return of price controls
115
The seizure of power by the Mountain
119
The provisional return to free trade in grain
120
The General Maximum
149
The centralisation of the economy
151
The fall of the Hébertists
153
Financial arrangements during the Terror
157
The war of the patriots against the rich
158
Dirigisme in retreat
163
The gradual reintroduction of free trade
164
The famine of Year III
167
The end of the assignats
171
The lamentable episode of the mandats territoriaux
173
The Directorys financial distress
177
The French Revolution economic considerations
180
The depreciation of the assignats
181
The assignats and the redistribution of wealth
184
The question of property rights
187
The economic consequences of the Revolution
191
Appendices
196
The grain trade
198
The life of Dupont de Nemours
200
Value of the bids for the biens nationaux
204
Econometric study of the depreciation of the assignats
206
Notes
208
Select guide to further reading
218
Index
220
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