Old Hatreds and Young Hopes: The French Carbonari against the Bourbon Restoration by Alan B.

Spitzer Review by: Vincent W. Beach The American Historical Review, Vol. 78, No. 1 (Feb., 1973), pp. 111-113 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the American Historical Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1853997 . Accessed: 16/01/2012 12:07
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Modern Eutrope
of the development of Parisian society at the time.


College of William and Mary

The House of Saulx-Tavanes: Versailles and Burgundy, I700-I830. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. 1971. Pp. x, 277. $15.00.

lawyers, and business agents on the duke's estates were able to refuse payments, deny Ihisauthority, and dispute his claims. Since the duke emigrated, his estates were confiscated; almost all were sold, mainly to owner-farmers and a few townspeople. Compensated to some extent in the 182os by receipt of government bonds, the once brilliant house of Saulx-Tavanes
sank into the obscurity of provincial rentiers or

This is a superb book, a model of its kind, in which close examination of a single noble family from the time of Louis XIV to the Restoration gives a clear picture of what the Revolution really meant. It is made possible by the preservation at the departmental archives at Dijon of a mass of family papers, estate accounts, and ordinary houselhold bills. Tlhanks to the author's skill, by wlhich relevancy, thoroughness, and brevity are happily combined, we live vicariously with four or five generations of the lhouse of Saulx-Tavanes. Professor Forster makes no claim of "statistical typicality" for the family, though he presents quantitative data in abundance. He does think that it had a "plausible typicality," in that the family itself, and the milieu of estate agents, tenants, lawyers, creditors, courtiers, and marriage connections in wlhich it worked, reveal a reality beyond the specific case. The findings on the whole support the standard or once-standard view. That is, at least for the house of Saulx-Tavanes, the nobility really were domesticated by Louis XIV. From lhaving once been independent Burgundian magnates they moved into the expensive and fashionable life of Paris and Versailles. With an income approaching 100,000

coupon clippers. One might say, to satisfy the Marxists, though Mr. Forster does not do so, that in passing from Burgundy to Versailles and back to Burgundy, and while remaining aristocratic, they had made the whole passage from feudal to bourgeois society.

Yale University




Old Hatreds and Young Hopes: Carbonari against the Bourbon

Restoration. (Harvard Historical Monographs, Number 63.) Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 1971. Pp. 334. $12.50. Professor Spitzer has produced an important book on the Frenclh Carbonari in which he begins witlh the statement that "no one has unearthed one absolutely definitive document on the leaderslhip and purpose of the Carbonari" (p. io). Yet he has written a work based on a wide variety of manuscript and printed sources that may incorporate about all that we will ever know about this secret society. In great detail the author discusses the Carbonari's many facets: its role in Restoration politics and its legacy; its origin, organization, and the social classes that constituted its membership; its objectives and justification of its metlhods and program; its battles with the police and the courts and the reasons for its failure; and its relationslhip to other French secret societies and its links with revolutionary societies abroad, particularly in the German and Italian states and Spain. As to the Carbonari's origin and oiganization, many questions remain unanswered, but Spitzer seems to have explored about every possibility. Most likely the Carbonari's structure was pyramidal (Italian) in form with a vente

livres a year they saved nothing and made no significant investment to improve their lands. Their money went for items of luxury and display. There really was a seigneurial reaction on their Burgundian estates, where they not only kept raising their dues and rents but obtained the creation of a new duchy, in which ducal officers took over some of the jurisidction of the royal courts. There really was, also, a peasant revolution of 1789. Not that there was muclh violence in this case. Significantly, in 1790 and 1791, it was by using the apparatus of the new constitution, through the new organs of local government, elective office, law courts, and tax procedures, that small-holders, tenants, local

in Paris and tentacles



across France (particularly in the east and
west) in the form of haute ventes, ventes cen-


Reviews of Books
younger men without themselves really sharing the risks assumed by the militants. Spitzer points out that "what persisted in France was a revolutionary ideal which justified direct illegal action in the name of principles higher than the legal order" (p. 195). He notes that the movement failed because it used "inadequate and self-limiting measures for attaining vast and ill defined goals" (p. 293). The author provides an excellent description of how the French judicial system operated during the Restoration. In a chapter entitled "Political Justice," which he defines as legal procedures used for political ends, he indicates that royalist officials talked much about national and international cabals but lacked "precise evidence of individual criminal acts" (p. 147). The royalist minister of justice functioned both as "the chief of the bureau that apprehended criminals and as head of the judiciary which tried them" (p. 149). Royalist judges acted not as umpires but as instruments of the regime. The relationship between the prefect and the judicial and political police on the one hand and the role of the prefect and presiding judges in selecting "safe" juries on the other is accurately described. Yet there was freedom of speech and press (the censorship of the press to prevent the "abuse" of freedom during the Restoration era was an on and off affair that was never really effective) and enouglh respect for due process that public opinion was a restraining influence on royalist officials in the highly charged political atmosphere of the early 1820S. The courts, however, had broken the back of the conspiracy by the fall of 1822. In the first of what Spitzer describes as the three major Carbonari trials (at Colmar in July 1822), no one was convicted of a plot or complicity in a plot to overthrow the Bourbons. A month later, at Poitiers, it was a different story. General Berton and hiis associates were convicted of leading the only open insurrection of the French Carbonari, and, after wlhat the author describes as the most political of the trials, the general and two others were executed, tlhirty received prison sentences, and two were acquitted. The legendary Four Sergeants of La Rochelle were brought to Paris for trial in August 1822, charged with plotting to overthrow the government. They were convicted and died on the scaffold. Generally, the attempts of royalist officials to implicate Liberals in the Cham-

trales, and ventes particulieres. In an appendix the author lists 244 "presumed" members, out of a total membership of perhaps 50,000 in early 1822, but explains that "my list of 244 is supported only by my intuition" (p. 281). To many contemporary observers the Carbonari appeared to be a bourgeois-military plot to overthrow the Bourbons: Spitzer's analysis of social classes involved in the conspiracy indicates that military men (some Bonapartists) in one category or another constituted 40.5 per cent of the presumed membership; the bourgeois (members of the Chamber of Deputies, lawyers, journalists, and businessmen), 35.7 per cent; students, 11.2 per cent; workers, 9.7 per cent; and nobles, 2.6 per cent. The nobility played a more important role than its numbers might indicate, and a number of peasants and artisans were accused and brought to trial. Without the cooperation of important military units any plot against the regime was doomed to failure. The swing to the right in French politics after the assassination of the Duc de Berry in February 1820 brought in its wake the Law of the Double Vote and other legislation that enemies of the Bourbons insisted violated the charter of 1814, broke the social contract, and justified their exercise of the right of revolution. By the summer of 1820, an amalgam of Republicans, Bonapartists, and pre-Orleanists had hardened into a revolutionary conspiracy, the immediate objective of which was the overthrow of the Bourbon dynasty. Bonapartists and Republicans agreed only on political methods: at the core of the Carbonari were young idealists who were willing to risk their lives for principles such as equality before the law, freedom of the press, election of officers of the national guard, and sovereignty of the people. Members of the organization fired wildly more than once in their attacks on the Bourbon regime, but their activities brouglht organized opposition to the government into focus, combining myth and reality to create a legend that contributed to the overthrow of Charles X in 1830 and nourished the French republican tradition down to this day. Liberals suclh as the Marquis de Lafayette, Jacques Manuel, Voyer d'Argenson, Dupont de L'Eure, Armand Carrel, Victor Cousin, and perhaps Benjamin Constant, were deeply involved in the conspiracy and encouraged the

Modern Euirope
ber of Deputies and other notables, who, at times, probably were the prime movers of the organization, miscarried for lack of hard evidence. (Some of the Liberals turned out to be more Orleanist than Republican.)
Between 1820 and 1823 only ten members of


the Carbonari were executed, and those who received prison sentences must be numbered in the dozens. Spitzer's use of the term "political justice" to describe the proceedings at the trials is justified. Yet one might add that with all their limitations, judicial procedures in France during the 1820S, when considered as a whole and witlhin the context of the times, seem superior to those of other European states and better than France had enjoyed during much of lher history since 1789. Basically, it was the rule of law rather than the rule of men, and, a few years later, during the reign of Charles X, royalist judges and royalist juries rarely hesitated to make decisions and render verdicts that infuriated the king and his ministers. The Liberals and others used the Chamber of Deputies, the Chamber of Peers, and the press to voice their criticisms and effectively undermine the Bourbon regime. Spitzer has produced a well-written book that must be considered a definitive treatment of a most difficult subject. His bibliography includes a very comprehensive list of printed materials that provides a basic reference for any new study of French and European secret societies of this era. The author has used police and other records with caution, and I, who have examined reports of the police and prefects during the Restoration period, agree with Spitzer that they constitute an invaluable archival source for his study. Indeed, these reports are often suirprisingly candid and objective. Spitzer asks the right questions and comes up with plausible and carefully qualified answers in this first work in English on the French Carbonari and the best account of this secret society's activities in any language.

This brief and vigorously written study samples the views of some French scientists about various scholarly and academic issues that troubled them during the period indicated. The author uses reports of faculty meetings and articles by and about French scientists to document their attitudes on matters such as national prestige in science, competition for foreign students, pure versus applied science, and, especially, German science. The most significant conclusion reached is that some French scientists vigorously urged the expansion and development of scientific research in their
country long before the crisis of 1914-18. The

author's suggestion that they had some success deserves thorough study. Over half the book consists of a summary of a 1916 propaganda publication by French scientists criticizing their German colleagues, together with an explication of two articles by Pierre Duhem contrasting national styles of scientific research. The book seems to have lacked a strong editorial hand. The author does not clearly state what he is trying to show, nor does he point out a movement or development of opinion. The lack of unity among the various subjects discussed suggests that this material might better have appeared as separate articles. Paul chooses to quote his scientists very frequently and extensively, almost on every page, and he has not translated their remarks, both unwise decisions. He fails to sum up his findings along the way, and he rarely provides transitions between different subjects. There is no index or bibliography, although the footnotes provide useful bibliographical information.


of Cincinnati


The Mortal Napoleon III. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1971. Pp. 226. $850.

University Boulder

of Colorado,



The Sorcerer's Apprentice: The Scientist's Image of German Science,

i8o0-i9i9. (University of Florida Social Sciences Monograph, Number 44.) Gainesville: University of Florida Press. 1972. Pp. vii, 86. $2.00.

In this "biographical study," Williams destroys myths and historical rumors: Napoleon III did not have a venereal disease; he was not a great womanizer; and no illness adversely affected political decisions. Williams also illumines several historical shadows surrounding the emperor: he liberalized the empire to assure hisyoung son an easy succession; he suffered from many painful ailments, but the most serious was a neurosis stemming from the empress's

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