French Revolutionaries and English Republicans

French Revolutionaries and English Republicans

The Cordeliers Club, 1790-1794

Rachel Hammersley


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An in-depth study of the radical Cordeliers Club and its influence on political and constitutional thought of the time.
Following the cataclysmic events of 1789 some of those involved in the Revolution began to take seriously the possibility of a French republic. Various ideas developed about the form this should take and the models on which it could be based, from those of ancient Greece and Rome, to modern republics such as Geneva or the United States of America. However, a small number of thinkers - centred around the radical, Paris-based Cordeliers Club - looked to the writings of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English republicans for guidance about realising ancient republican ideals in the modern world.
This book offers an intellectual history of the Club, through a close analysis of texts and the relationships between their authors. Its main focus is on individual club members and their translations of and borrowings from the works of such thinkers as Marchamont Nedham, James Harrington, Algernon Sidney and Thomas Gordon: the author shows how the Cordeliers adapted and developed those ideas so as to make them serve contemporary circumstances and concerns, and demonstrates that even after the establishment of a French republic in 1792, members of the Cordeliers Club continued to make use of English republican ideas in order to respond to key constitutional and political questions.

Rachel Hammersley is Senior Lecturer in History at Newcastle University.

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