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Old Hatreds and Young Hopes the French Carbonari Against the Bourbon Restoration by Alan B. Spitzer

Old Hatreds and Young Hopes the French Carbonari Against the Bourbon Restoration by Alan B. Spitzer

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Old Hatreds and Young Hopes: The French Carbonari against the Bourbon Restoration byAlan B. SpitzerReview by: Vincent W. Beach
The American Historical Review,
Vol. 78, No. 1 (Feb., 1973), pp. 111-113Published by:
on behalf of the
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Modern Eutrope
1IIof the developmentof Parisiansociety atthetime.
THOMASF. SHEPPARD
College ofWilliam andMary
ROBERT FORSTER.
TheHouseofSaulx-Tavanes:Versailles andBurgundy,
I700-I830.
Baltimore:
JohnsHopkinsPress.
1971.
Pp.x,
277. $15.00.
This isa superbbook,a modelof itskind,inwhich closeexaminationof asinglenoble fam-ily fromthe timeof LouisXIV to theRestora-tiongivesaclearpictureofwhat the Revolu-tionreallymeant.Itismadepossiblebythepreservation at thedepartmental archives atDijon ofamass offamilypapers,estateac-counts,andordinaryhouselhold bills. Tlhanksto theauthor'sskill, bywlhichrelevancy,thor-oughness,andbrevityarehappilycombined,welivevicariously withfouror fivegenera-tions of thelhouse ofSaulx-Tavanes.ProfessorForster makesnoclaim of"statisticaltypical-ity" forthefamily, thoughhe presentsquanti-tativedatainabundance.Hedoes think thatithad a"plausibletypicality," inthatthe familyitself,and themilieu ofestate agents,tenants,lawyers,creditors,courtiers, andmarriageconnectionsinwlhich itworked,revealarealitybeyondthe specific case.Thefindingsonthe wholesupport thestandardoronce-standardview.Thatis,atleast for thehouseofSaulx-Tavanes,theno-bilityreallyweredomesticatedbyLouis XIV.Fromlhaving oncebeenindependentBur-gundianmagnatestheymovedintotheexpen-siveandfashionablelifeof Paris andVer-
sailles.Withanincomeapproaching100,000
livresayear theysavednothingandmade nosignificantinvestment toimprove theirlands.Theirmoney wentfor itemsof luxuryanddis-play.There really wasaseigneurialreaction ontheirBurgundianestates, wheretheynot onlykeptraising theirduesandrents butobtainedthecreationofanewduchy,inwhichducalof-ficerstookoversome ofthejurisidctionof theroyalcourts.There reallywas, also, apeasantrevolutionof1789. Notthat therewas muclhviolenceinthiscase.Significantly,in
1790
and1791,itwasbyusing theapparatusofthe newconstitution,throughthe neworgansof localgovernment,electiveoffice,lawcourts,and taxprocedures, thatsmall-holders,tenants, locallawyers, and business agents on the duke's es-tateswereable to refusepayments, denyIhisau- thority,anddisputehisclaims.Sincethedukeemigrated,hisestateswereconfiscated;almostall weresold, mainlytoowner-farmers and afew townspeople. Compensated to some extentinthe
182os
by receipt of government bonds,theoncebrilliant house ofSaulx-Tavanes
sank into theobscurityofprovincialrentiers or
coupon clippers.Onemight say, to satisfytheMarxists, though Mr. Forster does not do so,that in passingfromBurgundy to Versaillesandback to Burgundy, and while remainingaristocratic, they had made the whole passagefrom feudalto bourgeois society.
R. R. PALMER
Yale University
ALAN B. SPITZER.
OldHatreds andYoungHopes:The FrenchCarbonariagainstthe Bourbon
Restoration.(HarvardHistoricalMonographs,Number63.) Cambridge,Mass.:Harvard Uni-versityPress.
1971.
Pp. 334.
$12.50.
ProfessorSpitzerhas producedan importantbook onthe FrenclhCarbonari in whichhebe-gins witlhthe statementthat"no onehasunearthedone absolutelydefinitivedocumentontheleaderslhipand purposeoftheCarbo-nari"(p.io). Yethehas written aworkbasedona widevarietyofmanuscriptandprintedsourcesthat mayincorporate about all thatwewill ever know aboutthissecret society.Ingreat detailthe authordiscussesthe Carbonari'smanyfacets: itsrolein Restorationpoli-tics and its legacy;its origin,organization,andthesocialclassesthat constitutedits member-ship;itsobjectivesand justificationof itsmetlh-odsandprogram;itsbattles withthe policeandthecourts andthe reasonsfor itsfailure;and its relationslhipto otherFrenchsecret so-cietiesandits linkswithrevolutionarysocietiesabroad,particularlyin the German andItalianstatesandSpain.As to theCarbonari's originandoiganiza-tion,many questionsremain unanswered,butSpitzerseemstohave exploredaboutevery pos-sibility.Mostlikely the Carbonari'sstructurewas pyramidal(Italian)informwitha vente
supre'me
inParisandtentaclesspreadingout
across France (particularlyin the eastand
west)inthe formofhauteventes,ventes cen-
 
112
ReviewsofBooks
trales,and ventesparticulieres.In anappendixtheauthorlists244 "presumed"members,outof a totalmembershipofperhaps
50,000
inearly
1822,
but explainsthat
"mylist of244
issupportedonly by my intuition"(p.
281).
TomanycontemporaryobserverstheCarbonariappearedtobeabourgeois-military plottooverthrowtheBourbons:Spitzer's analysisofsocial classesinvolvedintheconspiracyindi-catesthatmilitarymen(someBonapartists)inonecategoryoranother constituted40.5 percentof thepresumedmembership;thebour-geois (membersoftheChamber ofDeputies,lawyers,journalists,andbusinessmen), 35.7 percent;students,
11.2
percent;workers,9.7 percent;andnobles, 2.6per cent.Thenobilityplayedamore important role thanitsnumbersmightindicate,and anumber ofpeasantsandartisans wereaccused andbroughttotrial.Withoutthecooperationofimportantmilitaryunitsanyplot against theregimewas doomedtofailure.Theswing to therightinFrenchpoliticsaftertheassassinationoftheDucde BerryinFebruary
1820
brought in itswakethe LawoftheDouble Voteandotherlegislation thatene-mies ofthe Bourbonsinsisted violatedthecharter of1814,brokethe socialcontract,andjustifiedtheirexerciseoftherightofrevolu-tion. By thesummerof
1820,
anamalgamofRepublicans,Bonapartists,andpre-Orleanistshadhardened into arevolutionaryconspiracy,theimmediateobjectiveofwhichwasthe over-throwoftheBourbon dynasty.BonapartistsandRepublicansagreedonly onpoliticalmethods:atthecore oftheCarbonariwereyoungidealists whowerewillingto risk theirlives forprinciplessuch asequality before thelaw, freedomofthepress, election ofofficersofthenationalguard,andsovereigntyof thepeo-ple.Members of theorganizationfiredwildlymore thanoncein their attacksontheBour-bonregime,buttheiractivitiesbrouglht organ-izedoppositionto thegovernment intofocus,combiningmythandrealitytocreate alegendthatcontributed tothe overthrowof CharlesXin
1830
andnourished theFrenchrepublicantradition down to thisday.Liberalssuclhas theMarquisdeLafayette,JacquesManuel, Voyerd'Argenson, DupontdeL'Eure,ArmandCarrel,VictorCousin, andperhapsBenjaminConstant,weredeeplyin-volved intheconspiracyandencouragedtheyoungermenwithout themselvesreallysharingthe risksassumed bythe militants.Spitzerpoints outthat"whatpersistedin Francewasa revolutionaryideal which justifieddirectille-gal actionin the name of principleshigherthanthelegalorder"(p.195).He notesthatthe movementfailedbecause itused"inade-quateand self-limitingmeasuresforattainingvastandilldefined goals"(p.
293).
The authorprovidesan excellent descriptionof howthe Frenchjudicialsystemoperatedduring theRestoration.Inachapterentitled"PoliticalJustice," whichhedefines as legalproceduresused for politicalends,he indicatesthatroyalistofficials talkedmuchaboutna-tionalandinternationalcabals butlacked"precise evidenceof individualcriminalacts"(p. 147).Theroyalistministerofjusticefunc-tioned both as "the chiefofthebureau that ap-prehendedcriminals andas headof the judici-ary whichtried them"(p.149). Royalistjudgesactednotas umpiresbutas instrumentsoftheregime.Therelationshipbetween theprefectand thejudicialandpoliticalpoliceon the onehand and therole of the prefect and presidingjudgesinselecting"safe"juriesontheotherisaccuratelydescribed. Yetthere was freedomofspeechandpress (thecensorshipofthepresstoprevent the"abuse" offreedom duringtheRestorationerawasan on and off affairthatwas neverreallyeffective)andenouglhrespect for dueprocessthat publicopinionwas a re-straininginfluence onroyalistofficials in thehighlycharged politicalatmosphereof theearly
1820S.
Thecourts,however,hadbrokenthe back oftheconspiracybythefallof
1822.
In the firstof whatSpitzerdescribes as thethreemajorCarbonaritrials(atColmarinJuly
1822),
no one was convictedof a plotor com-plicityina plot to overthrowtheBourbons. Amonthlater,atPoitiers,itwasadifferentstory.GeneralBertonandhiisassociates were con-victedofleadingtheonly openinsurrectionoftheFrenchCarbonari,and,afterwlhat the au-thordescribesasthemost politicalofthetrials,thegeneralandtwo others wereexecuted,tlhirtyreceived prison sentences,andtwo wereacquitted.ThelegendaryFour SergeantsofLaRochellewerebroughtto Parisfortrialin Au-gust
1822,
chargedwith plotting to overthrowthegovernment.Theywere convictedand diedon thescaffold.Generally,the attemptsof roy-alistofficialstoimplicateLiberalsintheCham-

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