By Georges Lefebvre

Across the world well known because the maximum authority at the French Revolution, Georges Lefebvre mixed impeccable scholarship with a full of life writing type. His masterly review of the heritage of the French Revolution has taken its rightful position because the definitive account. A vibrant narrative of occasions in France and throughout Europe is mixed with acute insights into the underlying forces that created the dynamics of the revolution, in addition to the personalities liable for daily judgements in this momentous interval.

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The new regent, Sadanobu, undertook to restore the regime—or at least its treasury—by issuing sumptuary ordinances, reducing debts, and stabilizing the currency. But, having quarrelled with the court and encountered opposition from his predecessor, he had to retire when Ienari came of age in 1793. A bourgeoisie of merchants and financiers who had influence but were denied landed property and government office existed in the large towns, chiefly at Osaka. We do not know if they learned from Chinese émigrés of rationalist Confucianism, which evidently dared to assert that the gods made no distinction among men and which contested the solar origins of the Mikado.

The Périers built a few steam engines, but they were as yet used only in the mines of Anzin, Aniche, or Creusot. Metallurgy had european economy undergone little change and, dependent upon wood for fuel, remained widely scattered. Agricultural production in France slowly continued to improve. Corn had transformed it in the south-west, vineyards spread throughout the nation, potatoes and fodder crops were cultivated. The government endeavoured to improve the breeding of stock, and its agricultural associations lavished advice upon farmers.

17 18 the french revolution Consequently the great majority of the earth’s population lived and died without suspecting that in one corner of the world, in France, a revolution had occurred which was to leave a spiritual legacy to their descendants. 2 EUROPEAN ECONOMY The European economy developed steadily through the final centuries of the Middle Ages, then gained momentum from the mercantilist policies of great states and the exploitation of new lands overseas. In England during the eighteenth century economic progress gained revolutionary force, brought in the reign of the steam engine and of mechanized power, and on the eve of the French Revolution gave Britain a superiority which was to play an essential role during the long struggle that followed.

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