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Political alignment in the French National Assembly, 1789-1791

Author: Harriet Branson Applewhite
Publisher: Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, ©1993.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
In this richly detailed study Harriet B. Applewhite analyzes the political alignment and loyalties of the deputies elected to the Estates General/National Assembly between 1789 and 1791. Her purpose is to understand how these men shaped the struggle that transformed France's constitutional structure and invented its modern political practices.
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Genre/Form: History
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Harriet Branson Applewhite
ISBN: 080711751X 9780807117514
OCLC Number: 26766780
Description: xxxii, 279 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: Methods and Sources --
Introduction: Alignment and Revolutionary Political Culture --
Ch. 1. Elections to the Estates' General --
Ch. 2. Deputy Opinion, May, 1788, to June, 1789 --
Ch. 3. Alignment and Opinion in the National Assembly --
Ch. 4. Alignment Trajectories --
Ch. 5. Roles in the National Assembly --
Ch. 6. Deputies' Public Careers After 1791 --
Conclusion: Alignment in the National Assembly: The Political Legacy --
Appendix: List of 1,318 Deputies by Alignment Categories.
Responsibility: Harriet B. Applewhite.

Abstract:

In this richly detailed study Harriet B. Applewhite analyzes the political alignment and loyalties of the deputies elected to the Estates General/National Assembly between 1789 and 1791. Her purpose is to understand how these men shaped the struggle that transformed France's constitutional structure and invented its modern political practices.

To gauge the deputies' political alignments, Applewhite establishes categories based on their voting records, club memberships, signatures on protest lists, assessments by contemporary observers, and other evidence. She then arranges on a left-to-right scale all 1,318 of these individuals. For a selected group of deputies she uses published political pamphlets and biographical records not only to assess and compare their attitudes on issues concerning political legitimacy and political participation but also to establish and analyze connections between these attitudes and actual political behavior.

Applewhite's investigation focuses on the origins of the deputies' understanding of French national unity, the nature and basis of the fierce partisan battles that raged in the National Assembly, and the changes in political institutions and practices that were handed down to postrevolutionary France. Contrary to the converging-elites theory popular among many students of the French Revolution, Applewhite finds that membership in one of the three estates of the Old Regime - the clergy, the aristocracy, and the commonalty - channeled the early careers of future deputies, their subsequent political opportunities, and their responses to the power struggles of the National Assembly.

Applewhite defines two key legacies of the first National Assembly for the future of French legislative politics: first, a reluctance to compromise and an absence of trust that developed among participants at the outset and hardened throughout the twenty-eight months of the assembly; second, the development of a left, center, and right political culture within the National Assembly and a style of conflict that pulled both leaders and followers away from the center. This meticulously researched and carefully written work makes a significant and lasting contribution to the study of the French Revolution and points to new avenues of inquiry.

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