The History of Civilization in Europe (Penguin Classics)

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9780140446654: The History of Civilization in Europe (Penguin Classics)

In response to the reactionary arguments of ultra-royalists, Francois Guizot (1787-1874) showed that aristocratic social conditions had gone for ever. The growth of towns and a market economy had forged the bourgeoisie and created a 'democratic' (or capitalist) society based on individual rights. Yet in France, if not in England, this just and inevitable process had been accompanied by the destruction of local autonomy and the creation of an overpowerful state bureaucracy. The History stresses the role of class conflict as a catalyst for social change, and the energizing effect of Europe's plural traditions (Roman, Christian and Germanic). Such themes, argues Siedentop, deeply influenced the thinking of his three great contemporaries Tocqueville, Marx and Mill, revealing Guizot as both 'the key to an epoch' and 'the most trenchant historical mind of the nineteenth century'.

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About the Author:

Francois-Pierre-Guillaume Guizot (1787-1874) was a French statesman, historian, educationalist and writer on religious affairs. Born into a Protestant family at Nimes and educated at Geneva, he began work as a journalist, met his first wife Paulin and with her founded the review Annales de l'education. In 1812 he began teaching history at the Sorbonne; he was largely made famous by the publication of his lectures of 1822-4 and 1828-30. The Histoire generale de la civilisation en Europe (1828) and the Histoire de la civilisation en France (1829), perhaps the two most famous of his works, were, and are considered outstanding. In addition to this his writing on the English civil war, Histoire de la Revolution d'Angleterre (1826-7) was widely read and discussed. Within the administration from 1814 to 1820, he acted as a pamphleteer and as a depute. He was associated with Royer-Collard in the Doctrinaire group defending the constitutional monarchy against the ultras. After the July Revolution he became minister for public instruction from 1832 to 1836 and minister for foreign affairs from 1840 to 1847. He became Prime Minister in 1847, a position which he held for less than a year a year. After 1848 he continued to write on English history, wrote a series of Meditations chretiennes, and was active in the Academie Francaise, to which he had been elected in 1836.

Language Notes:

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

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Francois Guizot, Larry Siedentop (Editor), William Hazlitt (Translator)
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