Dr. Rob S. Alexander, Department of History
Dr. Jill Walshaw, Department of History
The French Revolution continues to fascinate historians. The political culture which it is said tohave spawned has recently become a particularly salient feature in its recent historiography.Many have argued that the discrepancy between the hopes that the Revolution initially generatedand the destruction, war, and terror that followed was the inevitable result of this culture. Withinthis framework, the defeat of the constitutional proposals of the group of moderate politicians
known as the Monarchiens has been portrayed as the Revolution‟s missed opportunity to avoid
the violence of the Terror. Their most important proposals were for a bicameral legislature andstrong royal authority. My thesis questions assumptions about the ideological coherence of thefive most influential proponents of this model and the inevitability of their defeat. To do this, Iwill analyze the pre-revolutionary political careers of these men up to the defeat of their proposalsin the summer of 1789, and demonstrate that their political proposals were contingent on thepolitical context, often changing drastically to fit the demands of circumstance.