Time and the French Revolution

Time and the French Revolution

The Republican Calendar, 1789-Year XIV

Matthew Shaw


Royal Historical Society



A history of the innovation and effects of the French Republican Calendar.
The French Republican Calendar was perhaps the boldest of all the reforms undertaken in Revolutionary France. Introduced in 1793 and used until 1806, the Calendar not only reformed the weeks and months of the year, but decimalised the hours of the day and dated the year from the beginning of the French Republic.
This book not only provides a history of the calendar, but places it in the context of eighteenth-century time-consciousness, arguing that the French were adept at working within several systems of time-keeping, whether that of the Church, civil society, or the rhythms of the seasons. Developments in time-keeping technology and changes in working patterns challenged early-modern temporalities, and the new calendar can also be viewed as a step on the path toward a more modern conception of time. In this context, the creation of the calendar is viewed not just as an aspect of the broader republican programme of social, political and cultural reform, but as a reflection of a broader interest in time and the culmination of several generations' concern with how society should be policed.

Matthew Shaw is a curator at the British Library, London.


July 2011
10 black and white illustrations
204 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series
ISBN: 9780861933112
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Royal Historical Society
BISAC HIS037050, HIS013000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Writing the History of the Republican Calendar
Time and History
The French Republican Calendar, 1793-1806: a Narrative Account
Cultivating the Calendar: the Calendar and Republican Culture in the Year II
The Clash with Religion
Work and Rest
Republican Hours
Conclusion: the Legacy of the Republican Calendar
Appendix 1: Timeline of Key Events, 1788-1806
Appendix 2: The Republican Calendar: a Glossary
Appendix 3: Names of the Days of the Republican Year
Appendix 4: Concordance for the Gregorian and Republican Calendars


Uses detailed archival research to uncover a quantity of new material about the development and implementation of the calendar during the revolutionary period. EUROPEAN HISTORY QUARTERLY

Full of fascinating details. JOURNAL OF MODERN HISTORY

There is much of value here. H-FRANCE REVIEW

Labor historians will be interested in how labor and markets were organized (Shaw says "policed") under the old and new calendars. The clash with religion is addressed, as well as decimal-time and the history of 18th-century watches and other time-pieces. REFERENCE AND RESEARCH BOOKS

Author Bio

Curator, British Library

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