Modern history

The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon (New Penguin History of France)

The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon (New Penguin History of France)

There can be few more mesmerizing historical narratives than the story of how the confident monarchy left by Louis XIV in 1715 became the discredited failure toppled by revolution in 1789. This brilliant new book is the first in forty years to describe the whole period, from the last days of the “Sun King” to the wars of Napoleon. In a groundbreaking work of scholarship, Colin Jones argues that, contrary to popular belief, the house of Bourbon’s downfall was hardly a foregone conclusion. Producing an illuminating account of a society torn apart from within, he recounts the saga of how a dynamic French society—the heart of the Enlightenment—fell prey to the debt and humiliation of its wars against Britain.



Chapter 1 - France in 1715: The King’s Leg and the Choreography of Power

a) The Mythic Present of the Sun King

b) The Bourbon Polity

c) The King’s Nobility

d) Absolutism under Pressure

e) The Dreaded Regency

Chapter 2 - Negotiating Stormy Weather: The Regency and the Advent of Fleury (1715–26)

a) Hope beyond Sunset

b) The Polysynody Experiment

c) Princes, Dukes and Magistrates: A New Fronde?

d) The Financial and Economic Context of the Regency

e) A Scottish Wizard in a Land of Troubles

f) The Childhood of Louis XV: Six Funerals and a Wedding

Chapter 3 - Fleury’s France (1726–43)

a) Hercules on a Tightrope

b) Tridentine Themes …

c) … and Jansenist Variations

d) The King’s Information: News, Views, Secrets, Lies

e) The Wilting Cardinal

Chapter 4 - Unsuspected Golden Years (1743–56)

a) Herod ‘the Well-Beloved’?

b) The Balance of Power and the Globalization of Warfare

c) Flexing the Sinews of War

d) Vital Signs in Rural France

e) Health and Wealth by Stealth

Chapter 5 - An Enlightening Age

a) The Moment of the Encyclopédie

b) Points of Light

c) Civilised Man, Natural Woman

d) Re-enchanting a Disenchanted World

e) The Contested Politics of the Public Sphere

Chapter 6 - Forestalling Deluge (1756–70)

a) Damiens’s Epiphany

b) Things Fall Apart: The Seven Years War

c) Choiseulian Scapegoats: Dévots and Jesuits

d) The Monarchy Retools

e) Languages of Patriotism: The Judges Judged

f) From the Brittany Affair to the Maupeou Revolution

Chapter 7 - The Triumvirate and Its Aftermath (1771–84)

a) Maupeou’s Revolution

b) The Turgot Experiment

c) Patriotism à l’Américaine

d) The Price of Patriotism

e) Figaro’s Masters

Chapter 8 - Bourbon Monarchy on the Rack (1784–8)

a) Diamonds: Not a Queen’s Best Friend

b) The Appearance of Luxury and the Luxury of Appearances

c) Silent Revolution in an Age of Noise

d) The Elusive Public: Financial and Institutional Reform

Chapter 9 - Revolution in Political Culture (1789–91)

a) Imagining the Nation, Fearing the Worst

b) Summer Lightning

c) The Task of Political Architecture

d) Demolition Problems

Chapter 10 - War and Terror (1791–5)

a) Aux Armes, Citoyens!

b) Louis Capet Bows Out, Terror Bows In

c) The Glacial Logic of Republican Unity

d) Killing Robespierre, Ending Terror

Chapter 11 - The Unsteady Republic (1795–9)

a) Shaky Foundations

b) Revolution: A User’s Guide

c) Economic Fortunes and Misfortunes

d) Bourgeois Revolutionaries …

e) … and their Other(s)

Conclusion: The Brumaire Leviathan and La Grande Nation


Further Reading

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