In the famous law of the 3rd of Charles I, called the Petition of Right, the parliament says to the king, "Your subjects have inherited this freedom", claiming their franchises not on abstract principles "as the rights of men", but as the rights of Englishmen, and as a patrimony derived from their forefathers.
Selden and the other profoundly learned men who drew this Petition of Right were as well acquainted, at least, with all the general theories concerning the "rights of men" as any of the discoursers in our pulpits or on your tribune; full as well as Dr. Price or as the Abbe Sieyes. But, for reasons worthy of that practical wisdom which superseded their theoretic science, they preferred this positive, recorded, hereditary title to all which can be dear to the man and the citizen, to that vague speculative right which exposed their sure inheritance to be scrambled for and torn to pieces by every wild, litigious spirit.
The same policy pervades all the laws which have since been made for the preservation of our liberties. In the 1st of William and Mary, in the famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two Houses utter not a syllable of "a right to frame a government for themselves". You will see that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties that had been long possessed, and had been lately endangered. You will observe that from Magna Charta to the Declaration of Right it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity- as an estate specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right.
By this means our constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown, an inheritable peerage, and a House of Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties from a long line of ancestors. This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection, or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection, and above it.
A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know that the idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation and a sure principle of transmission, without at all excluding a principle of improvement.
It leaves acquisition free, but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement, grasped as in a kind of mortmain forever. By a constitutional policy, working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of providence are handed down to us, and from us, in the same course and order.
Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the order of the world and with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts, wherein, by the disposition of a stupendous wisdom, molding together the great mysterious incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, is never old or middle-aged or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve we are never wholly new; in what we retain we are never wholly obsolete.
By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood, binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties, adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections, keeping inseparable and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.
Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions, and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small, benefits from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual native dignity which prevents that upstart insolence almost inevitably adhering to and disgracing those who are the first acquirers of any distinction.
By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits, its monumental inscriptions, its records, evidences, and titles. We procure reverence to our civil institutions on the principle upon which nature teaches us to revere individual men: on account of their age and on account of those from whom they are descended.
All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a rational and manly freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges. Your privileges, though discontinued, were not lost to memory.
Civic Catechisms and Reason in the French Revolution : Adrian Velicu - Book2look
Your constitution, it is true, whilst you were out of possession, suffered waste and dilapidation; but you possessed in some parts the walls and in all the foundations of a noble and venerable castle. You might have repaired those walls; you might have built on those old foundations. Your constitution was suspended before it was perfected, but you had the elements of a constitution very nearly as good as could be wished. In your old states you possessed that variety of parts corresponding with the various descriptions of which your community was happily composed; you had all that combination and all that opposition of interests; you had that action and counteraction which, in the natural and in the political world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers, draws out the harmony of the universe.
These opposed and conflicting interests which you considered as so great a blemish in your old and in our present constitution interpose a salutary check to all precipitate resolutions. They render deliberation a matter, not of choice, but of necessity; they make all change a subject of compromise, which naturally begets moderation; they produce temperaments preventing the sore evil of harsh, crude, unqualified reformations, and rendering all the headlong exertions of arbitrary power, in the few or in the many, for ever impracticable.
Through that diversity of members and interests, general liberty had as many securities as there were separate views in the several orders, whilst, by pressing down the whole by the weight of a real monarchy, the separate parts would have been prevented from warping and starting from their allotted places. You had all these advantages in your ancient states, but you chose to act as if you had never been molded into civil society and had everything to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by despising everything that belonged to you. You set up your trade without a capital.
If the last generations of your country appeared without much luster in your eyes, you might have passed them by and derived your claims from a more early race of ancestors. Under a pious predilection for those ancestors, your imaginations would have realized in them a standard of virtue and wisdom beyond the vulgar practice of the hour; and you would have risen with the example to whose imitation you aspired.
Respecting your forefathers, you would have been taught to respect yourselves. You would not have chosen to consider the French as a people of yesterday, as a nation of lowborn servile wretches until the emancipating year of In order to furnish, at the expense of your honor, an excuse to your apologists here for several enormities of yours, you would not have been content to be represented as a gang of Maroon slaves suddenly broke loose from the house of bondage, and therefore to be pardoned for your abuse of the liberty to which you were not accustomed and ill fitted.
Would it not, my worthy friend, have been wiser to have you thought, what I, for one, always thought you, a generous and gallant nation, long misled to your disadvantage by your high and romantic sentiments of fidelity, honor, and loyalty; that events had been unfavorable to you, but that you were not enslaved through any illiberal or servile disposition; that in your most devoted submission you were actuated by a principle of public spirit, and that it was your country you worshiped in the person of your king?
Had you made it to be understood that in the delusion of this amiable error you had gone further than your wise ancestors, that you were resolved to resume your ancient privileges, whilst you preserved the spirit of your ancient and your recent loyalty and honor; or if, diffident of yourselves and not clearly discerning the almost obliterated constitution of your ancestors, you had looked to your neighbors in this land who had kept alive the ancient principles and models of the old common law of Europe meliorated and adapted to its present state- by following wise examples you would have given new examples of wisdom to the world.
You would have rendered the cause of liberty venerable in the eyes of every worthy mind in every nation. You would have shamed despotism from the earth by showing that freedom was not only reconcilable, but, as when well disciplined it is, auxiliary to law. You would have had an unoppressive but a productive revenue. You would have had a flourishing commerce to feed it. You would have had a free constitution, a potent monarchy, a disciplined army, a reformed and venerated clergy, a mitigated but spirited nobility to lead your virtue, not to overlay it; you would have had a liberal order of commons to emulate and to recruit that nobility; you would have had a protected, satisfied, laborious, and obedient people, taught to seek and to recognize the happiness that is to be found by virtue in all conditions; in which consists the true moral equality of mankind, and not in that monstrous fiction which, by inspiring false ideas and vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and embitter that real inequality which it never can remove, and which the order of civil life establishes as much for the benefit of those whom it must leave in a humble state as those whom it is able to exalt to a condition more splendid, but not more happy.
You had a smooth and easy career of felicity and glory laid open to you, beyond anything recorded in the history of the world, but you have shown that difficulty is good for man. COMPUTE your gains: see what is got by those extravagant and presumptuous speculations which have taught your leaders to despise all their predecessors, and all their contemporaries, and even to despise themselves until the moment in which they become truly despicable.
By following those false lights, France has bought undisguised calamities at a higher price than any nation has purchased the most unequivocal blessings! France has bought poverty by crime! France has not sacrificed her virtue to her interest, but she has abandoned her interest, that she might prostitute her virtue. All other nations have begun the fabric of a new government, or the reformation of an old, by establishing originally or by enforcing with greater exactness some rites or other of religion.
All other people have laid the foundations of civil freedom in severer manners and a system of a more austere and masculine morality. France, when she let loose the reins of regal authority, doubled the license of a ferocious dissoluteness in manners and of an insolent irreligion in opinions and practice, and has extended through all ranks of life, as if she were communicating some privilege or laying open some secluded benefit, all the unhappy corruptions that usually were the disease of wealth and power. This is one of the new principles of equality in France.
France, by the perfidy of her leaders, has utterly disgraced the tone of lenient council in the cabinets of princes, and disarmed it of its most potent topics. She has sanctified the dark, suspicious maxims of tyrannous distrust, and taught kings to tremble at what will hereafter be called the delusive plausibilities of moral politicians. Sovereigns will consider those who advise them to place an unlimited confidence in their people as subverters of their thrones, as traitors who aim at their destruction by leading their easy good-nature, under specious pretenses, to admit combinations of bold and faithless men into a participation of their power.
This alone if there were nothing else is an irreparable calamity to you and to mankind. Remember that your parliament of Paris told your king that, in calling the states together, he had nothing to fear but the prodigal excess of their zeal in providing for the support of the throne.
It is right that these men should hide their heads. It is right that they should bear their part in the ruin which their counsel has brought on their sovereign and their country. Such sanguine declarations tend to lull authority asleep; to encourage it rashly to engage in perilous adventures of untried policy; to neglect those provisions, preparations, and precautions which distinguish benevolence from imbecility, and without which no man can answer for the salutary effect of any abstract plan of government or of freedom.
For want of these, they have seen the medicine of the state corrupted into its poison. They have seen the French rebel against a mild and lawful monarch with more fury, outrage, and insult than ever any people has been known to rise against the most illegal usurper or the most sanguinary tyrant. Their resistance was made to concession, their revolt was from protection, their blow was aimed at a hand holding out graces, favors, and immunities.
This was unnatural. The rest is in order. They have found their punishment in their success: laws overturned; tribunals subverted; industry without vigor; commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, yet the people impoverished; a church pillaged, and a state not relieved; civil and military anarchy made the constitution of the kingdom; everything human and divine sacrificed to the idol of public credit, and national bankruptcy the consequence; and, to crown all, the paper securities of new, precarious, tottering power, the discredited paper securities of impoverished fraud and beggared rapine, held out as a currency for the support of an empire in lieu of the two great recognized species that represent the lasting, conventional credit of mankind, which disappeared and hid themselves in the earth from whence they came, when the principle of property, whose creatures and representatives they are, was systematically subverted.
Were all these dreadful things necessary? Were they the inevitable results of the desperate struggle of determined patriots, compelled to wade through blood and tumult to the quiet shore of a tranquil and prosperous liberty? The fresh ruins of France, which shock our feelings wherever we can turn our eyes, are not the devastation of civil war; they are the sad but instructive monuments of rash and ignorant counsel in time of profound peace.
They are the display of inconsiderate and presumptuous, because unresisted and irresistible, authority. The persons who have thus squandered away the precious treasure of their crimes, the persons who have made this prodigal and wild waste of public evils the last stake reserved for the ultimate ransom of the state have met in their progress with little or rather with no opposition at all. Their whole march was more like a triumphal procession than the progress of a war. Their pioneers have gone before them and demolished and laid everything level at their feet.
Not one drop of their blood have they shed in the cause of the country they have ruined. They have made no sacrifices to their projects of greater consequence than their shoebuckles, whilst they were imprisoning their king, murdering their fellow citizens, and bathing in tears and plunging in poverty and distress thousands of worthy men and worthy families.
Their cruelty has not even been the base result of fear. It has been the effect of their sense of perfect safety, in authorizing treasons, robberies, rapes, assassinations, slaughters, and burnings throughout their harassed land. But the cause of all was plain from the beginning. THIS unforced choice, this fond election of evil, would appear perfectly unaccountable if we did not consider the composition of the National Assembly. I do not mean its formal constitution, which, as it now stands, is exceptionable enough, but the materials of which, in a great measure, it is composed, which is of ten thousand times greater consequence than all the formalities in the world.
If we were to know nothing of this assembly but by its title and function, no colors could paint to the imagination anything more venerable. In that light the mind of an inquirer, subdued by such an awful image as that of the virtue and wisdom of a whole people collected into a focus, would pause and hesitate in condemning things even of the very worst aspect. Instead of blamable, they would appear only mysterious. But no name, no power, no function, no artificial institution whatsoever can make the men of whom any system of authority is composed any other than God, and nature, and education, and their habits of life have made them.
Capacities beyond these the people have not to give. Virtue and wisdom may be the objects of their choice, but their choice confers neither the one nor the other on those upon whom they lay their ordaining hands. They have not the engagement of nature, they have not the promise of revelation, for any such powers. After I had read over the list of the persons and descriptions elected into the Tiers Etat, nothing which they afterwards did could appear astonishing.
Among them, indeed, I saw some of known rank, some of shining talents; but of any practical experience in the state, not one man was to be found. The best were only men of theory. But whatever the distinguished few may have been, it is the substance and mass of the body which constitutes its character and must finally determine its direction. In all bodies, those who will lead must also, in a considerable degree, follow.
They must conform their propositions to the taste, talent, and disposition of those whom they wish to conduct; therefore, if an assembly is viciously or feebly composed in a very great part of it, nothing but such a supreme degree of virtue as very rarely appears in the world, and for that reason cannot enter into calculation, will prevent the men of talent disseminated through it from becoming only the expert instruments of absurd projects! If, what is the more likely event, instead of that unusual degree of virtue, they should be actuated by sinister ambition and a lust of meretricious glory, then the feeble part of the assembly, to whom at first they conform, becomes in its turn the dupe and instrument of their designs.
In this political traffic, the leaders will be obliged to bow to the ignorance of their followers, and the followers to become subservient to the worst designs of their leaders. To secure any degree of sobriety in the propositions made by the leaders in any public assembly, they ought to respect, in some degree perhaps to fear, those whom they conduct. To be led any otherwise than blindly, the followers must be qualified, if not for actors, at least for judges; they must also be judges of natural weight and authority.
Nothing can secure a steady and moderate conduct in such assemblies but that the body of them should be respectably composed, in point of condition in life or permanent property, of education, and of such habits as enlarge and liberalize the understanding. In the calling of the States-General of France, the first thing that struck me was a great departure from the ancient course. I found the representation for the Third Estate composed of six hundred persons.
They were equal in number to the representatives of both the other orders. If the orders were to act separately, the number would not, beyond the consideration of the expense, be of much moment. But when it became apparent that the three orders were to be melted down into one, the policy and necessary effect of this numerous representation became obvious.
A very small desertion from either of the other two orders must throw the power of both into the hands of the third. In fact, the whole power of the state was soon resolved into that body. Its due composition became therefore of infinitely the greater importance. Judge, Sir, of my surprise when I found that a very great proportion of the assembly a majority, I believe, of the members who attended was composed of practitioners in the law. It was composed, not of distinguished magistrates, who had given pledges to their country of their science, prudence, and integrity; not of leading advocates, the glory of the bar; not of renowned professors in universities;- but for the far greater part, as it must in such a number, of the inferior, unlearned, mechanical, merely instrumental members of the profession.
There were distinguished exceptions, but the general composition was of obscure provincial advocates, of stewards of petty local jurisdictions, country attorneys, notaries, and the whole train of the ministers of municipal litigation, the fomenters and conductors of the petty war of village vexation. From the moment I read the list, I saw distinctly, and very nearly as it has happened, all that was to follow. The degree of estimation in which any profession is held becomes the standard of the estimation in which the professors hold themselves.
Whatever the personal merits of many individual lawyers might have been, and in many it was undoubtedly very considerable, in that military kingdom no part of the profession had been much regarded except the highest of all, who often united to their professional offices great family splendor, and were invested with great power and authority.
These certainly were highly respected, and even with no small degree of awe. The next rank was not much esteemed; the mechanical part was in a very low degree of repute. Whenever the supreme authority is vested in a body so composed, it must evidently produce the consequences of supreme authority placed in the hands of men not taught habitually to respect themselves, who had no previous fortune in character at stake, who could not be expected to bear with moderation, or to conduct with discretion, a power which they themselves, more than any others, must be surprised to find in their hands.
Who could flatter himself that these men, suddenly and, as it were, by enchantment snatched from the humblest rank of subordination, would not be intoxicated with their unprepared greatness? Who could conceive that men who are habitually meddling, daring, subtle, active, of litigious dispositions and unquiet minds would easily fall back into their old condition of obscure contention and laborious, low, unprofitable chicane?
Who could doubt but that, at any expense to the state, of which they understood nothing, they must pursue their private interests, which they understand but too well? It was not an event depending on chance or contingency. It was inevitable; it was necessary; it was planted in the nature of things. They must join if their capacity did not permit them to lead in any project which could procure to them a litigious constitution; which could lay open to them those innumerable lucrative jobs which follow in the train of all great convulsions and revolutions in the state, and particularly in all great and violent permutations of property.
Was it to be expected that they would attend to the stability of property, whose existence had always depended upon whatever rendered property questionable, ambiguous, and insecure? Their objects would be enlarged with their elevation, but their disposition and habits, and mode of accomplishing their designs, must remain the same. Were they then to be awed by the supereminent authority and awful dignity of a handful of country clowns who have seats in that assembly, some of whom are said not to be able to read and write, and by not a greater number of traders who, though somewhat more instructed and more conspicuous in the order of society, had never known anything beyond their counting house?
Both these descriptions were more formed to be overborne and swayed by the intrigues and artifices of lawyers than to become their counterpoise. With such a dangerous disproportion, the whole must needs be governed by them. To the faculty of law was joined a pretty considerable proportion of the faculty of medicine. This faculty had not, any more than that of the law, possessed in France its just estimation. Its professors, therefore, must have the qualities of men not habituated to sentiments of dignity. But supposing they had ranked as they ought to do, and as with us they do actually, the sides of sickbeds are not the academies for forming statesmen and legislators.
Then came the dealers in stocks and funds, who must be eager, at any expense, to change their ideal paper wealth for the more solid substance of land. To these were joined men of other descriptions, from whom as little knowledge of, or attention to, the interests of a great state was to be expected, and as little regard to the stability of any institution; men formed to be instruments, not controls. Such in general was the composition of the Tiers Etat in the National Assembly, in which was scarcely to be perceived the slightest traces of what we call the natural landed interest of the country.
We know that the British House of Commons, without shutting its doors to any merit in any class, is, by the sure operation of adequate causes, filled with everything illustrious in rank, in descent, in hereditary and in acquired opulence, in cultivated talents, in military, civil, naval, and politic distinction that the country can afford. But supposing, what hardly can be supposed as a case, that the House of Commons should be composed in the same manner with the Tiers Etat in France, would this dominion of chicane be borne with patience or even conceived without horror? God forbid I should insinuate anything derogatory to that profession which is another priesthood, administering the rights of sacred justice.
But whilst I revere men in the functions which belong to them, and would do as much as one man can do to prevent their exclusion from any, I cannot, to flatter them, give the lie to nature. They are good and useful in the composition; they must be mischievous if they preponderate so as virtually to become the whole.
Their very excellence in their peculiar functions may be far from a qualification for others.
It cannot escape observation that when men are too much confined to professional and faculty habits and, as it were, inveterate in the recurrent employment of that narrow circle, they are rather disabled than qualified for whatever depends on the knowledge of mankind, on experience in mixed affairs, on a comprehensive, connected view of the various, complicated, external and internal interests which go to the formation of that multifarious thing called a state.
After all, if the House of Commons were to have a wholly professional and faculty composition, what is the power of the House of Commons, circumscribed and shut in by the immovable barriers of laws, usages, positive rules of doctrine and practice, counterpoised by the House of Lords, and every moment of its existence at the discretion of the crown to continue, prorogue, or dissolve us?
The power of the House of Commons, direct or indirect, is indeed great; and long may it be able to preserve its greatness and the spirit belonging to true greatness at the full; and it will do so as long as it can keep the breakers of law in India from becoming the makers of law for England. The power, however, of the House of Commons, when least diminished, is as a drop of water in the ocean, compared to that residing in a settled majority of your National Assembly. That assembly, since the destruction of the orders, has no fundamental law, no strict convention, no respected usage to restrain it.
Instead of finding themselves obliged to conform to a fixed constitution, they have a power to make a constitution which shall conform to their designs. Nothing in heaven or upon earth can serve as a control on them. What ought to be the heads, the hearts, the dispositions that are qualified or that dare, not only to make laws under a fixed constitution, but at one heat to strike out a totally new constitution for a great kingdom, and in every part of it, from the monarch on the throne to the vestry of a parish?
But- "fools rush in where angels fear to tread". In such a state of unbounded power for undefined and undefinable purposes, the evil of a moral and almost physical inaptitude of the man to the function must be the greatest we can conceive to happen in the management of human affairs. Having considered the composition of the Third Estate as it stood in its original frame, I took a view of the representatives of the clergy. There, too, it appeared that full as little regard was had to the general security of property or to the aptitude of the deputies for the public purposes, in the principles of their election.
That election was so contrived as to send a very large proportion of mere country curates to the great and arduous work of new-modeling a state: men who never had seen the state so much as in a picture- men who knew nothing of the world beyond the bounds of an obscure village; who, immersed in hopeless poverty, could regard all property, whether secular or ecclesiastical, with no other eye than that of envy; among whom must be many who, for the smallest hope of the meanest dividend in plunder, would readily join in any attempts upon a body of wealth in which they could hardly look to have any share except in a general scramble.
Instead of balancing the power of the active chicaners in the other assembly, these curates must necessarily become the active coadjutors, or at best the passive instruments, of those by whom they had been habitually guided in their petty village concerns. They, too, could hardly be the most conscientious of their kind who, presuming upon their incompetent understanding, could intrigue for a trust which led them from their natural relation to their flocks and their natural spheres of action to undertake the regeneration of kingdoms.
This preponderating weight, being added to the force of the body of chicane in the Tiers Etat, completed that momentum of ignorance, rashness, presumption, and lust of plunder, which nothing has been able to resist.
To observing men it must have appeared from the beginning that the majority of the Third Estate, in conjunction with such a deputation from the clergy as I have described, whilst it pursued the destruction of the nobility, would inevitably become subservient to the worst designs of individuals in that class. In the spoil and humiliation of their own order these individuals would possess a sure fund for the pay of their new followers. To squander away the objects which made the happiness of their fellows would be to them no sacrifice at all.
Turbulent, discontented men of quality, in proportion as they are puffed up with personal pride and arrogance, generally despise their own order. One of the first symptoms they discover of a selfish and mischievous ambition is a profligate disregard of a dignity which they partake with others. To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle the germ as it were of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed toward a love to our country and to mankind.
The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage. There were in the time of our civil troubles in England I do not know whether you have any such in your assembly in France several persons, like the then Earl of Holland, who by themselves or their families had brought an odium on the throne by the prodigal dispensation of its bounties toward them, who afterwards joined in the rebellions arising from the discontents of which they were themselves the cause; men who helped to subvert that throne to which they owed, some of them, their existence, others all that power which they employed to ruin their benefactor.
If any bounds are set to the rapacious demands of that sort of people, or that others are permitted to partake in the objects they would engross, revenge and envy soon fill up the craving void that is left in their avarice. Confounded by the complication of distempered passions, their reason is disturbed; their views become vast and perplexed; to others inexplicable, to themselves uncertain. They find, on all sides, bounds to their unprincipled ambition in any fixed order of things. Both in the fog and haze of confusion all is enlarged and appears without any limit.
- Blue Monday;
- Civic Catechisms and Reason in the French Revolution!
- Werewolfs Tryst?
When men of rank sacrifice all ideas of dignity to an ambition without a distinct object and work with low instruments and for low ends, the whole composition becomes low and base. Does not something like this now appear in France? Does it not produce something ignoble and inglorious- a kind of meanness in all the prevalent policy, a tendency in all that is done to lower along with individuals all the dignity and importance of the state? Other revolutions have been conducted by persons who, whilst they attempted or affected changes in the commonwealth, sanctified their ambition by advancing the dignity of the people whose peace they troubled.
They had long views. As Markoff has properly insisted, the cahiers are an imperfect guide to what was to happen in the countryside thereafter, not only because of the circumstances in which they were drafted, but because of the changing context of local and national politics once the EstatesGeneral assembled. In any case, people were being consulted about reform proposals, not about whether they wanted a revolution. Peasant demands about how the world might be——which had previously been in the realm of the imagination——were only later to become the focus of concerted action.
In rural communities, the economically dependent were also acutely aware of the potential costs of being outspoken about noble privilege. Nevertheless, some parish assemblies were so bold as to criticize the tithe and the seigneurial system directly. There was a shared commitment in all three orders to the need for change, and general agreement on a plethora of specific abuses within the church and state apparatus; however, the divisions over fundamental issues of political power, seigneurialism, and claims to corporate privilege were already irreconcilable by the time the deputies arrived in Versailles.
Historians have long debated whether there were deep-seated, longterm causes of the political friction which erupted in , and whether there were clear lines of social antagonism. Some have insisted that political conflict was short-term and avoidable, and have pointed to the coexistence of nobles and wealthy bourgeois in an elite of notables, united as property-owners, office-holders, investors, and even by involvement in profit-oriented industry and agriculture.
However, within this bourgeois and noble elite was a ruling class of nobles with inherited titles who dominated the highest echelons of privilege, office, wealth, and status. The attempts at institutional reform after would always founder on the rocks of this intransigence and the inability of the king to direct basic changes to a system in which he was at the pinnacle. Social changes since had aggravated tensions between this elite and the less eminent majority of the privileged orders while nourishing rival conceptions of the bases of social and political authority among commoners.
The lionizing in Paris and even at Versailles of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams——representatives of a popularly elected republican government——suggests how deep was the crisis of confidence in the juridical structures of the Old Regime. The classic Marxist formulation of the origins of the crisis of is in Georges Lefebvre, The Coming of the French Revolution, trans. Oxford, ; and T. London, Alan Sheridan Cambridge, Mass.
Birrell Cambridge, , chs. This theme of the development of a commercial, consumer culture is addressed in engaging fashion by Roche, France in the Enlightenment, chs. Jean Birrell Cambridge, Alan Forrest and Colin Jones London, , 67, Roche, France in the Enlightenment, ch. Roche, France in the Enlightenment, , Rosemary Morris Oxford, Roche, France in the Enlightenment, Roger Chartier doubts the practice of reading aloud in Cultural History: Between Practices and Representations, trans. Lydia Cochrane Cambridge, , ch. Hilton L. Toulouse, Archives parlementaires, 19 November , Series 1, vol.
Roche, France in the Enlightenment, — Neither account is able to evoke the social dynamics underpinning politics as effectively as Soboul. Archives parlementaires, 12 December , Series 1, vol. Blondel London, See, too, Jay M. Cahiers, Province du Berry. Paul Beik ed. Jeffry Kaplow ed. Paris, —9 , vol. McPhee, Revolution and Environment, The cahier is reproduced in Cobb and Jones eds. For a detailed analysis of the rural cahiers, see Markoff, Abolition of Feudalism, ch.
I believe in the King, in the legislative power of the People, in the Assembly of the Estates-General, in the more equal distribution of taxes, in the resurrection of our rights and in eternal life. Let us take it. Most of the noble deputies were from the highest ramks of the aristocracy, but less reformist than those like Lafayette, Condorcet, Mirabeau, Talleyrand, and others active in the reformist Society of Thirty in Paris who were wealthy and worldly enough to accept the importance of surrendering at least fiscal privileges. In small rural parishes Third Estate meetings of male taxpayers over 25 years of age were to elect two delegates for the first households and one more per extra hundred; the delegates in turn were to elect deputies for each of the constituencies.
In what was to become a common feature of the revolutionary period, it was often in smaller communities with a stronger sense of solidarity that participation levels were highest. This ensured that virtually all of the deputies of the Third were lawyers, officials, and men of property, men of substance and repute in their region. Only of these bourgeois deputies were from trade and industry.
It was a solidarity which, within six weeks, was to encourage them to mount a revolutionary challenge to absolutism and privilege. The immediate issue was that of voting procedures: while the Third Estate deputies refused to vote separately, the nobility was in favour by votes to 46 as, very narrowly, were the clergy votes to In this they were encouraged by defections from the privileged orders. The name National Assembly is the only one which is suitable. It is decided that all the members of this Assembly will now swear a solemn oath never to separate, and to gather together anywhere that circumstances demand, until the constitution of the kingdom is established and consolidated on solid foundations, and that the said oath being sworn, each and every one of the members will confirm this unshakeable resolution with their signature.
A key reason for their decision was anger at the gulf between them and their episcopal fellows. By 27 June Louis had seemed to capitulate and ordered the remaining deputies to join their fellows in the Assembly. However, despite their apparent victory, the bourgeois deputies and their allies were soon confronted by a counter-attack from the court. Paris, 18 kilometres from Versailles and a crucible of revolutionary enthusiasm, was invested with 20, mercenaries and, in symbolic defiance, Louis dismissed Jacques Necker, his one non-noble minister, on 11 July. The men of the Assembly were saved from summary dismissal by a collective action by Parisian working people.
We will not give way! The riot was put down by troops at the cost of perhaps several hundred lives. Pamphlets expressed the anger of the menu peuple at their exclusion from the political process. Sustaining this anger was an escalation in the price of a four-pound loaf of bread from 8 to 14 sous, an increase widely assumed to be the result of deliberate withholding of supplies by noble landowners. During the four days after 12 July forty of the fifty-four customs houses ringing Paris were destroyed. The abbey of Saint-Lazare was searched for arms; popular suspicions that the nobility were trying to starve the people into submission were confirmed when stocks of grain were also discovered there.
Arms and ammunition were also seized from gunsmiths and the Invalides military hospital, and royal troops were confronted. The ultimate target was the Bastille fortress in the faubourg St-Antoine, both for its supplies of arms and gunpowder and because this powerful fortress dominated the popular neighbourhoods of eastern Paris. It was also an awesome symbol of the arbitrary authority of the monarchy. On the 14th, up to 8, armed Parisians laid siege to the fortress; the governor, the Marquis de Launay, refused to surrender and, as crowds forced their way into the courtyard, ordered his soldiers to fire upon the crowd, killing perhaps 98 and wounding Who were the people who took the Bastille?
Several official lists were made of the vainqueurs de la Bastille, as they came to be known, including one by their secretary Stanislas Maillard. Of the survivors he listed, there were perhaps a score of bourgeois, including manufacturers, merchants, and the brewer Santerre, and 76 soldiers. The rest were typical of the menu peuple: tradesmen, artisans, and wage-earners from about thirty different trades. Among them were 49 joiners, 48 cabinetmakers, 41 locksmiths, 28 cobblers, 10 hairdressers and wig-makers, 11 wine-merchants, 9 tailors, 7 stonemasons, and 6 gardeners.
The control of Paris by bourgeois members of the Third Estate was institutionalized by a new city government under Bailly and a bourgeois civil militia commanded by the French hero of the American War of Independence, Lafayette. On the same day, however, Louis formally accepted what had occurred by entering Paris to announce the withdrawal of troops and the recalling of Necker.
Later in the month Lafayette would join the white of the Bourbon flag to the red and blue colours of the city of Paris: the revolutionary tricolour cockade was born. However, the storming of the Bastille also confronted revolutionaries with a dilemma they found distressing and intractable. The collective action of the people of Paris had been decisive in the triumph of the Third Estate and the National Assembly; however, the subsequent response of some in the exultant crowd which took the Bastille had been to exercise violent retribution by killing the governor of the fortress, de Launay and six of his troops.
Was this an understandable——indeed justifiable——act of popular vengeance on a man whose decision to defend the prison at all costs had resulted in the deaths of one hundred of the assailants? Was it, alternatively, a thoroughly regrettable and retrograde moment of madness, the actions of a crowd too used to the spectacular punishments meted out by the monarchy in the violent society which the Revolution would reform? Or, finally, was this a totally inexcusable act of barbarity, the antithesis of all for which the Revolution should stand? Loustallot, a young lawyer from Bordeaux, may have hoped that the incident would be unique, but worse was to come.
On the 22nd, the royal governor of Paris since , Louis Bertier de Sauvigny, was caught as he tried to flee Paris. He and his father-in-law Joseph Foulon, who had replaced Necker in the ministry, were battered to death and decapitated, their heads paraded through Paris, apparently in retribution for allegedly conspiring to worsen the long period of hunger through which Parisians had lived in —9. Foulon had allegedly stated that if the poor were hungry they should eat straw. After Foulon was decapitated, A handful of hay was in his mouth, a striking allusion to the inhuman sentiments of this barbarous man.
O God! The barbarian! What a horrible sight! Tyrants, look at this terrible and revolting spectacle! Shudder and see how you are treated. I sense, my fellow citizens, how these revolting scenes afflict your soul; like you, I am struck by it; but think how ignominious it is to live as a slave. Never forget, however, that these punishments outrage humanity, and make Nature shudder. Simon Schama has argued that such punitive violence was at the heart of the Revolution from the very first, and that the middleclass leadership was complicit in its barbarity. All over France, from Paris to the smallest hamlet, the summer and spring of was the occasion of a total and unprecedented collapse of centuries of royal state-making.
This seizure of power was accompanied everywhere by generalized refusal of the claims of the state, seigneurs, and Church to the payment of taxes, dues and tithes; moreover, as royal troops openly fraternized with civilians, the judiciary was powerless to enforce the law. The municipal revolution was paralleled by an even greater consequence of the taking of the Bastille. News of this unprecedented challenge to the might of the state and nobility reached a countryside in an explosive atmosphere of conflict, hope, and fear.
The desperate hope invested in the National Assembly was caught by Arthur Young, on his third tour of France, while talking with a peasant woman in Lorraine on 12 July: Walking up a long hill, to ease my mare, I was joined by a poor woman, who complained of the times, and that it was a sad country; demanding her reasons, she said her husband had but a morsel of land, one cow, and a poor little horse, yet they had a franchar 42 pounds of wheat, and three chickens, to pay as a quit-rent to one Seigneur; and four franchar of oats, one chicken and one livre to pay to another, besides very heavy tailles and other taxes.
This woman, at no great distance, might have been taken for sixty or seventy, her figure was so bent, and her face so furrowed and hardened by labour,——but she said she was only twenty-eight. Panics spread from five separate sparks as bushfires of angry rumours, spreading from village to village at several kilometres an hour, engulfed every region but Brittany and the east. When noble revenge failed to materialize, village militias instead turned their weapons on the seigneurial system itself, compelling seigneurs or their agents to hand over feudal registers to be burned on the village square.
Other objects of hatred were also singled out: in Alsace, this extended to violence against Jews. On the northern outskirts of Paris, at St-Denis, an official who had mocked a crowd complaining about food prices was dragged from his hiding-place in the steeple of a church, stabbed to death and decapitated; however, this was a rare case of personal violence in these days.
Like the menu peuple of Paris, peasants adopted the language of bourgeois revolt to their own ends; on 2 August the steward of the Duke of Montmorency wrote to his master at Versailles that: The populace, attributing to the Lords of the kingdom the high price of grain, is fiercely against all that belongs to them. All reasoning fails: this unrestrained populace listens only to its own fury. Just as I was going to finish my letter, I learned that approximately three hundred brigands from all the lands associated with the vassals of Mme the marquise of Longaunay have stolen the titles of rents and allowances of the seigniory, and demolished her dovecotes: they then gave her a notice of the theft signed The Nation.
The National Assembly completely destroys the feudal regime. It decrees that, in rights and duties, both feudal and censuel, deriving from real or personal mortmain, and personal servitude, and those who represent them, are abolished without compensation; all the others are declared redeemable, and the price and the manner of the redemption will be set by the National Assembly. Those of the said rights that are not abolished by this decree will continue nonetheless to be collected until settlement. Accordingly, the Assembly abolished outright serfdom, dovecotes, seigneurial and royal hunting privileges, and unpaid labour.
Seigneurial courts were also abolished: in future justice was to be provided free of charge according to a uniform set of laws. Later, on the 27th of August, the Assembly voted a carefully debated Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This was to be a land in which all were to be equal in legal status, and subject to the same public responsibilities: it was an invitation to become citizens of a nation instead of subjects of a king. The August Decrees and the Declaration of the Rights of Man represented the end of the absolutist, seigneurial, and corporate structure of eighteenth-century France.
They were also a revolutionary proclamation of the principles of a new golden age. The Declaration in particular was an extraordinary document, one of the most powerful statements of liberalism and representative government. While universal in its language, and resounding in its optimism, it was nonetheless ambiguous in its wording and silences.
We are told there is talk of freeing the Negroes; the people, almost as enslaved as them, is recovering its rights. Will men persist in wanting to make us victims of their pride or injustice? It was therefore felt politic to exclude clauses from an earlier draft which sought to explain the limits to equality rather more directly: II. To ensure his own preservation and find well being, each man receives faculties from nature. Liberty consists in the full and entire usage of these faculties. But nature has not given each man the same means to exercise his rights.
Inequality between men is born of this. Thus inequality is in nature itself. Society is formed by the need to maintain equality in rights, in the midst of inequality in means. Moreover, as the food crisis worsened and evidence multiplied of open contempt for the Revolution on the part of army officers, the victory of the summer of seemed again in question. For the second time, the menu peuple of Paris intervened to safeguard a revolution they assumed to be theirs.
At Versailles the women invaded the Assembly. A deputation was then presented to the king, who promptly agreed to sanction the decrees. It soon became apparent, however, that the women would be satisfied only if the royal family returned to Paris; on the 6th it did so, and the Assembly followed in its wake. This was a decisive moment in the Revolution of The National Assembly owed its existence and success once again to the armed intervention of the people of Paris. Among the hundreds of participants and observers interviewed was Madelaine Glain, a year-old cleaner, who made a link between the imperatives of securing cheap and plentiful bread and the fate of the key revolutionary decrees: she went with the other women to the hall of the National Assembly, where they entered in great numbers; that some of these women having demanded 4 pound bread for 8 sols, and meat for the same price, the witness.
Elsewhere in Europe, people were similarly struck by the dramatic events of the summer. Few failed to be enthused by them: among the crowned heads of Europe, only the kings of Sweden and Spain and Catherine of Russia were resolutely hostile from the outset. Poets such as Wordsworth, Burns, Coleridge, Southey, and Blake joined with their creative peers in Germany and Italy such as Beethoven, Fichte, Hegel, Kant, and Herder in celebrating what was seen as an exemplary moment of liberation in the history of the European spirit.
If it ends as. To that task they now turned. Thompson ed. Gazette nationale ou le Moniteur universel, no. With its reprint in the s, it is an invaluable source for parliamentary debates. On the storming of the Bastille, see ibid. Jean Stewart London, An excellent collection of newspaper articles is J. Gilchrist and W. Murray eds. Moniteur universel, no. There is a detailed discussion of the Declaration in Dale Van Kley ed.
Paris, , vol. Over the next two years, the deputies threw themselves with extraordinary energy into the task of reworking every dimension of public life. However, the rostrum and committees of the Assembly were dominated by about one-tenth of the deputies, and it could be suggested that the seeds of later southern misgivings about the Revolution were sown in the domination of the Assembly from the outset by men from the north.
The remaking of France was based on a belief in the common identity of French citizens whatever their social or geographic origin. This was a fundamental change in the relationship between the state, its provinces, and the citizenry. In every aspect of public life—— administration, the judiciary, the armed forces, the Church, policing——traditions of corporate rights, appointment, and hierarchy gave way to civil equality, accountability, and elections within national structures.
Now this was reversed: at every level officials were to be elected, and the institutions in which they worked were everywhere to be the same.
The French Revolution, 1789-1799
The creation of this new map of France was the work of urban elites with a distinctive vision of spatial organization and institutional hierarchy. There was usually a valid geographic rationale to each department; but they also represented an important victory of the new state over the resurgent provincial identities expressed since Only fifteen departments, with three million people, were identified as purely French speaking. In consequence, successive assemblies encouraged the translation of decrees into local languages and over much of France the new elements of political life were assimilated through the medium of translation.
By the end of full citizenship had been granted to Protestants and, the following January, to the Sephardic Jews of Bordeaux and Avignon by only votes to This prompted a spirited reminder from eastern, Ashkenazim Jews in January France must, for justice and interest, grant them the rights of citizenship, in that their home is in this empire, that they live there as subjects, that they serve their fatherland through all the means that are in their power, that they contribute to the maintenance of the public force like all the other citizens of the kingdom, independently of the onerous, degrading, arbitrary taxes that ancient injustices, ancient prejudices, supported by the old regime, accumulated on their head: they say, there can only be two classes of men in a State; citizens and foreigners; to prove that we are not foreigners is to prove that we are citizens.
The complex set of royal, aristocratic, and clerical courts and their regional variations was replaced by a national system deliberately made more accessible, humane, and egalitarian. In particular, the introduction of elected justices of the peace in every canton was immensely popular for its provision of cheap and accessible justice. The assumption of individual liberty also extended to prostitution: in July , new municipal regulations removed all reference to prostitution and its policing.
However, while officer positions in the armed forces were opened to non-nobles, the Assembly stalled at applying popular sovereignty to their election. There were serious rebellions in the fleets at Toulon in December and Brest in September How can I reflect when my feelings are torn with despair?
I see them there, these corpses strewn about the streets of Nancy. Await rascals, the press that uncovers all crimes and dispels all errors will deprive you of your joy and your strength: how sweet it would be to be your last victim! Loustallot died shortly thereafter, at just 29 years; his funeral oration was delivered by another prominent journalist and revolutionary, Camille Desmoulins. In November , church lands were nationalized and, from November , sold at auction.
These lands were also used to back the issue of assignats, paper currency which soon began to decline in real purchasing power. The need for a radically new and universal taxation system took far longer to meet. On 25 September the Assembly decreed that the nobility, clergy, and others who so far had had fiscal immunity would now have to pay a proportionate share of direct taxes, backdated to cover the second half of However, the decree was interpreted by communities across France as meaning that there seemed little reason to pay it in the meantime. Communes objected to paying the tithe at all, and brought in crops without waiting for the tithe-collector.
Finally a new system of taxation, based on the estimated value of and income from property, was introduced from the beginning of For most peasants, however, the 15—20 per cent increase in state taxes was more than offset by the ending of tithes and, ultimately, of seigneurial dues. The second broad area for immediate attention concerned the exercise of popular sovereignty and power. While an English bicameral system was repudiated because of deep mistrust of the nobility, Louis was left with extensive executive powers, for example, to appoint his ministers and diplomats.
He was also to possess a veto enabling him to suspend unacceptable legislation for several years though not on matters pertaining to finance or the constitution. The active citizens are the ones who took the Bastille.
The mayor, municipal officers, and notables were to be elected on the basis of a property franchise. The local government law represented a significant change in the autonomy and electorate of village councils. Now municipalities were liberated from the control of seigneurs. The new law placed a huge burden of responsibility on villagers; they were now responsible for apportioning and collecting direct taxes, carrying out public works, overseeing the material needs of church and school and maintaining law and order.
In very small communities these were awesome, even impossible, responsibilities. In the west, moreover, the local government law created a puzzling separation of municipality and vestry and excluded many men and all women used to discussing parish matters after mass. The third area of urgent need concerned seigneurialism.
Rural communities all over France were waiting to transcribe one particular decree. From the outset of the Revolution, the National Assembly had been caught between the radical demands of the peasant revolution and its commitment to principles of private property and to preserving the support of liberal nobles. Moreover, the king, whom peasant communities had assumed to be their protector at the time they drew up their cahiers had initially refused his assent to even the compromise legislation on feudalism.
Even then, it was fraught with ambiguities concerning the extent to which seigneurialism had been abolished. In the four months after December , peasants from parishes in the southwest invaded over chateaux to protest against the requisite payment of harvest dues. In he began calling himself Camille, after Camillus, the fourth-century bc campaigner for equal pay in the Roman army. In other words, the burden of proof rested with those who paid.
Finally, on 3 May a decree set out the value of the redemption of seigneurial rights. It rapidly became apparent, through agitated reports pouring in from the new departments and from personal correspondence received by deputies, that across most of the country the compromise legislation of March and May had encountered stubborn and at times violent resistance. This action took two forms.
First, since the —90 legislation treated seigneurial exactions as a legal form of rent which peasants could only terminate by compensating the seigneur, many communities decided to take legal action to force seigneurs to submit their feudal titles for judicial verification. This legal challenge was often connected with an illegal, second type of action, the refusal to pay feudal dues in the meantime. Moreover, the nation had placed itself in an awkward position by its simultaneous partial dismantling of the seigneurial regime and nationalization of church property, for it now found itself the proprietor of all those non-suppressed seigneurial dues belonging to former ecclesiastical seigneurs.
The Revolution was, and long remained, overwhelmingly popular: the extent of change in public life cannot be understood except in a context of mass optimism and support. The dramatic reorganization of institutional structures had meant that many thousands of middle-class officials and lawyers lost their positions, venal or not. However, not only did they succeed in being elected to positions in the new structures, but they were also compensated for their lost offices. Indeed, the final cost of paying compensation to owners of venal offices was more than million livres, necessitating massive issues of assignats and precipitating inflation.
This compensation came at an ideal time for investment in the vast amounts of church property thrown onto the market from November Sold at auction and in large lots, this fine property was mainly purchased by urban bourgeois and wealthy peasants, and by a surprising number of nobles.
In the district of Grasse, in southeastern France, for example, where only about 6. Three-quarters of the property sold was bought by one-quarter of the buyers; 28 of the 39 largest purchasers were merchants from Grasse. For example, those whose wealth was drawn from the slave system as slave-traders or colonial planters were anxious lest the principles underpinning the Declaration of the Rights of Man were extended to the Caribbean colonies. No French city was more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of international relations——or more dependent on the slave trade and its privileged trading relationship with St-Domingue the exclusif ——than La Rochelle.
In they made that their own, too. Nine of the twelve men on the first municipal council of La Rochelle were merchants, and five of them were Protestants. The merchants constructed a Protestant church with remarkable speed, and placed their considerable resources behind the new nation. Rochelais had always been able to reconcile their principles with their self-interest. However, the slave trade itself was not mentioned. The merchants knew that Africans were human beings wishing to live freely: slaves were automatically freed once ashore in France, and there were 44 free blacks in the city in there were also as many as in Paris.
By the following year he had seen the error of his ways. The hall echoes with applause. Historians have agreed that, before and after , issues of foreign policy and military strategy dominated the domestic reform agenda; they generally assume, too, that the two intervening years of sweeping revolutionary change, —91, were a time when radical internal reform preoccupied the Assembly.
As before , three of the six ministries were War, Navy, and Foreign Affairs. Elsewhere, resentment towards the Revolution stemmed from various disappointments, such as the loss of status following administrative reorganization, as in Vence department of the Var , where a vigorous campaign failed to protect its bishopric, relocated in nearby St-Paul. As Ted Margadant has shown, the location of departmental, district and cantonal chefslieux swamped legislators with a flood of complaints and rivalries which could call into question support for the Revolution in towns formerly sustained by the presence of the maze of courts and offices of the Bourbon regime.
On the Champ de Mars, which had been levelled by voluntary labour, Louis, Talleyrand former bishop of Autun , and Lafayette proclaimed the new order in front of , Parisians. Versions of exile morality : refugees in Britain, by Adrian Velicu Book 8 editions published in in English and held by 62 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.
European cultural memory post Book 5 editions published in in English and held by 53 WorldCat member libraries worldwide "This volume is the first comprehensive mapping of how practices of cultural memory in post-communist countries and other late newcomers to the European Union have been affected due to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism.
Unifying strategies in Virginia Woolf's experimental fiction by Adrian Velicu Book 7 editions published in in English and Undetermined and held by 31 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Versions of exile morality : refugees in Britain, by Adrian Velicu Book 2 editions published in in English and held by 3 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. European cultural memory post Book 1 edition published in in English and held by 1 WorldCat member library worldwide. Introduction to the dossier on transnational cultural memory by John Sundholm 1 edition published in in English and held by 1 WorldCat member library worldwide This section of the Journal of Aesthetics and Culture is dedicated to the theme of transnational cultural memory.
The papers of the dossier are written for the second meeting of the Summer School of the Nordic Research Network of memory studies, funded by NordForsk, hosted this year by Karlstad University on June The dossier displays various approaches to the emerging topic of transnational memory studies, encompassing topical themes such as the remediation of transcultural memory, the ethics of memory in the age of globalization, the dynamics of cultural memory in the re -making of the national and the transnational, visions of transnational memory, the transnational archive, and socio-spatial aspects of the experience of displacement.