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French Revolution

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#1 Jem

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 03:27 PM

I have recently been asked to start research for my A2 history coursework. I decided to write it on the French Revolution with my question being 'who benefitted from The Terror'. I have been looking at overviews of the French Revolution as a topic but am finding it hard to know where to start my sepcific research and from what angle i need to come at this quetsion. I have a number of book titles (although more of these would be helpful) and i just really do not know where to begin with it all!!! i hope someone can help :D thanks a lot.

#2 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 25 June 2004 - 06:23 PM

Hello Jem and Welcome to the Forum.

I have deleted your second very similar message. When people post for the first time then their message is queued for approval by a moderator - which is why your post did not appear straightaway.

As I am sure you appreciate there is only a limited amount of guidance that the Exam Boards permit candidates to receive where Coursework/Personal Investigations are concerned and to be quite honest your own teacher is the person best placed to offer help and guidance with your initial research and enquiries.

However, we will certainly try to offer what help we can. You seem to be approaching your initial research sensibly since you need to have 'the big pictuure' fairly clear in your mind before you begin to get 'stuck in' to your own question.

If you are not yet doing so then I advise you to read the chapter on the French Revolution in any A Level course textbook on late C18th/early C19th European History before moving on to a one-book study of the revolution. Only then should you begin (once you have the 'big picture') to research the Reign of Terror in more depth.

In order to tackle your question you will need to 'come at it' from the angle(s) of :
* a clear understanding of what those who led the Terror were trying to achieve.
* a clear definition of what you mean by 'benefit' in this context.
* an analysis and evaluation of the impact of the Terror on various groups in French society.
* a consideration of the impact of the Terror in the short and longer term.

I don't know what your teacher thinks of your question as it stands, but my own view is that the wording rather limits what you are able to do. You might consider a re-wording?

Who benefitted most from the Reign of Terror? - which would open the doors for you to evaluate the relative position of different groups and would enable you potentially to do better.
Did the Reign of Terror result in any benefits for the French? - perhaps that wording is not quite right but something like that would open the topic up a bit for you.

The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introduction Series.): William Doyle
The Oxford History of the French Revolution: William Doyle
Revolution and Terror in France, 1789-95 (Seminar Studies in History Series] : D.G. Wright
The Terror in the French Revolution [Studies in European History]: Hugh Gough
Citizens: a chronicle of the French Revolution: Simon Schama.
A booklist for a Uni. course on the Terror

Also: use the Bibliographies of the books you read to see what other titles may be of use to you.
And: ask your teacher if s/he can find whether there is a book on The French Revolution in the Hodder and Stoughton 'Access to History Series'


The French Revolution: The Radical Stage
The Radical Revolution
A useful-looking links page on the Reign of Terror

I hope that helps a bit - but I am not an 'expert' on this topic so other teachers who help here may be able to help more.

#3 daryl leeworthy

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 12:07 PM

Hello Jem,

I've just completed my A2 and my coursework was on the Terror and the Insurrection in the Vendée so I thought I'd post my bibliography minus those Mrs Faithorn has already suggested, some books have more in them than others for instance Citizens is pretty good for the Church but be careful sometime Schama isn't as objective as others and likes to tell a gruesome story:

D.M.G Sutherland; 1789-1815, Revolution and Counter-revolution; Fontana 1990 *

Georges Lefebvre; The French Revolution: from 1793-1799; Columbia 1967

Gwynne Lewis; The French Revolution: Rethinking the debate; Routledge, 1993

J.M. Roberts; The French Revolution; O.U.P. 1990 (6th edition)

Norman Hampson; A Social History of the French Revolution; Routledge, 1988

J.M. Thompson; The French Revolution; Blackwell, Oxford, 1966*

Albert Soboul; The French Revolution: 1787-99 – From the Storming of the Bastille to Napoleon; Trans. Alan Forrest and Colin Jones, Hyman, 1989 (English)

George Rudé; The French Revolution; Phoenix Giant, 1999 (reprint)

C. Lucas; The Structure of the Terror; O.U.P. 1973

Cobb and Jones; The French Revolution: Voices from a Momentous Epoch, 1789-1820; Simon and Schuster,

J. Favier; The Chronicle of the French Revolution; Longman, 1989

*very good on the Terror but the Thompson is out of date, try getting your hands on a copy of Duncan Townson's book in the Access to History series he gives a good analysis of the recent literature.

Bonne Chance anyway...

#4 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 12:14 PM

That is most helpful of you Daryl. Thank you very much. As I said, this isn't 'my period' and so I am not as familiar with the literature as you.

I hope your own A2 exams went well.

#5 daryl leeworthy

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 12:23 PM

Thank you Mrs Faithorn my exams have gone rather well (I hope!), ironically enough one exam was on a very similar topic to this. That said, I would like to thank you for your help on the Gallican Church a few weeks ago - I'm going to do some research on it in the summer and see if I'm right!

#6 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 12:53 PM

Fingers crossed that you meet your offer from Oriel then. Will you be reading History or Mod. Lang.?

PS. I think you are right about the Gallican Church, but would be interested to hear the results of your research.

#7 daryl leeworthy

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Posted 26 June 2004 - 03:47 PM

Another thing I've dug up for you Jem:


it's called 'Why did terror become the order of the day?'. It's useful as a start and gives you hints as to where to look in the books I've suggested above.

As for Oriel - History, no other subject in the world I would ever consider! Although because it's Oxford mod. lang is thrown in just to make it interesting, perhaps Clio is smiling on me!

Edited to activate the link.

Edited by Mrs Faithorn, 26 June 2004 - 03:55 PM.

#8 Jem

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 11:31 AM

Dear Mrs Faithorn and Daryl,

Thank you both very much for all your help and suggested reading lists. They have been of great help for me starting my research on this topic. The more i read on the topic the more interesting it is becoming and I can see a number of 'ways to go' with my essay.

thanks again

#9 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 28 June 2004 - 12:48 PM

That's good to hear, Jem.

By all means post again if you have any further general questions, but do bear in miind that Exam Regulations on the amount and kind of help that candidates are permitted to receive with their C/W are quite strict.

What you have asked for so far is absolutely fine.

#10 Jem

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Posted 28 July 2004 - 08:47 PM

hi, i am back again!!!!

wel i have just come back from the USA where our school took us to research this coursework at an American University which was all very exciting! :D
i have used as many of the resources as i could get my hands on that you suggested and they were all really useful so thank you very much.... but now that i am getting further into the question i was just wondering if you could suggest anywhere that i could find some specific details on the effects of the Terror on different social classes and groups within French society. most of these books have given me viewpoints and justifications ( escepcially from Rospierre) and general overviews of the benefits and problems of the Terror but i can not seem to find anything specific on how it affected different groups.
i do not know whether it is just me looking in the wrong place or not but i would appreciate any help that could be given!!

thnaks again


#11 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 28 July 2004 - 11:03 PM

Hi Jem,

Good to hear from you again. How enterprising of your school to take you to the States!

I'm afraid I really don't know my way round the literature on this topic (I've never taught the Fr Rev at A Level) and most of the people/teachers who might possibly help are away at the moment. I haven't spotted Daryl online for a while either :(

All I can suggest right now is that you look carefully at the footnotes and bibliographies of the books you have for further clues as to where you might find the sort of details you're looking for. I suspect that these may well be articles in academic journals. Do you have access to a University library here?

I suppose the other thing to be aware of is that you need to look at this not only as a short term consequence of the Terror, but also in the longer term too - so maybe you are not finding much because you have not yet read far enough ahead?

My final suggestion is that you consider changing the focus of your question - perhaps one of the questions I suggested before?

Sorry not to be more helpful. I will try to find someone better informed than I to offer ideas.

#12 daryl leeworthy

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 11:37 AM

Hi Jem,

There are several aspects you could look at here:

Peasant classes - try taking one example of the terror (i.e. La Vendée), you should be able then to give an expose on the terrible effects of the terrorism inflicted upon not just the men but the women and children too. Try looking for "les noyades" on google*.

Clergy - here is the campaign of dechristianisation unleashed by the sans-cullotes and the jacobin representatives on mission. You would probably need to explain why the church was estranged from the revolution.

Noble - this should be straight forward, think of the Scarlet Pimpernel (nothing if not exagerated) or the blackadder episode where they go to France (Blackadder III series). Then try to find some exaples of nobles being executed.

Statistics are hard to find on the internet, I did find one set but be wary of them since I couldn't find the source again and although they have been used in a book I've read too, I didn't use them in my c/w submission because they were not supported by any other evidence but they give a useful idea of the numbers anyway:

Paris: Nobles 666; Middle-classes 1103; Clergy 246; Peasants 587; Unknown class 37.

Vendee: N 112; M 474; C 160; P 6509; U 50

Federalist South: N 85; M 245; C 68; P 79; U 24

All other areas: N 168; M 1101; C 200; P 703; U 29

I hope that helps a bit, if you need anything more...you know where to find me!

*You'll need to try something like "noyades Vendee 1793" to get anything in English unfortunately.

Edited by daryl leeworthy, 29 July 2004 - 11:40 AM.

#13 Mr Field

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 12:19 PM

Thank you Daryl for this very helpful reply.

#14 Mrs Faithorn

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Posted 29 July 2004 - 01:52 PM

Yes. Thank you Daryl. You reappeared as if by magic!

I think the problem here is that Jem has said her question was to be about who benefitted from the Terror (and clearly this is a question to be analysed on a class/'estates' basis) which seems to me to make life more difficult and is why I have suggested that the question might be reworded.

As you suggest - I suspect the answer to finding out more lies in regional studies, but I don't know the literature. Do you? (other than la Vendee)

#15 Jem

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Posted 02 August 2004 - 07:10 PM


wel once again i am amazingly impressed and grateful for the help that has been offered on here!
i just thought i would let mrs faithorn know that i did change my question to one that she suggested which is ' who benefitted most from the Terror' whether this makes any difference to the responses im not sure!


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