C. B. A. Behrens (1904–1989) was a British historian of Europe. She was the author of The Ancien Régimeand Society, Government and The Enlightenment.

The End of Servility

Among scholars on the continent of Europe the transition from “feudalism” (a term commonly used in this connection even by writers who are not Marxists) to “bourgeois society” has long been a major preoccupation. Put more precisely—for the word feudalism has been used to describe many different forms of social …

How Did the Germans Do It?

Under the title of The Age of German Liberation Peter Paret has provided us with an excellent translation of a book by one of the most important modern German historians: Friedrich Meinecke’s Zeitalter der Deutschen Erhebung. This title, however, in both its English and its German versions, is something of …

Porn, Propaganda, and the Enlightenment

In The Widening Circle, a collection of three essays on the reading public in England, France, and Germany respectively in the eighteenth century, Bernhard Fabian, the author of the essay on Germany, quotes a classification of “habitual readers” that was made in 1799 by the German romantic novelist known as …

The Ideal Grand Bourgeois

Jacques Necker was born in Switzerland in 1732 of a Swiss mother but a Prussian father who had emigrated from Küstrin in the Mark of Brandenburg and established himself in Geneva as a professor of German public law. Though the family seems to have been in prosperous circumstances, and though …

Which Side Was Clausewitz On?

The German military historian Delbrück, writing in 1907, said of Clausewitz that he was the greatest of all military thinkers: he wrote with the precision of a philosopher and the elegance of Goethe, and his works on strategy were the only ones hitherto produced that deserved the name of classics.

Opening Up the Ruling Class

The first volume of Pierre Goubert’s Ancien Régime, which was concerned with French society between roughly 1600 and 1750, was published in 1969 and reviewed in these columns in January, 1970. The second volume, which has just come out, covers, for the greater part, the same period as the first, …

Counter Revolutionaries

All three books under review are about revolution and change, though the first is concerned with only fifteen years at the turn of the eighteenth century, while the last two deal with the subject in a general way. The theme of Professor Godechot’s book, which was first published in French …

Revolution à la Mode

Alice Gérard has written an interesting little book on the historiography of the French Revolution. The continuous controversies, she points out, to which the interpretations of the Revolution have given rise themselves have a history which deserves to be studied. Her own study of them, which has had to be …

Making the Revolution

The French Revolution was an event without parallel before 1917 and one of the most momentous events in European history. It destroyed a whole way of life and government in France and threatened the comparable regimes in other countries. The wars for which it was responsible changed the balance of …

The Coming of Capitalism

The essays in this volume, Professor Lüthy tells us in his Preface, are all concerned with “the social order, the government of men and the paths of subversion.” They are not, he admits, arranged in any logical order and originally …were merely scattered reflections, with back trackings, repetitions and apparent …

Looking for Louis

No authoritative account of Louis XIV’s reign has been written since Lavisse produced his magisterial work in 1906. This work established a great body of facts, social, economic, and political. From the point of view of the layman, however, for whom all the three books now under review are designed, …

Looking for the Ancien Régime

At the beginning of the present century historians could speak of making a contribution to knowledge in a sense that is no longer possible. At that time, when academic history, if not in its infancy, was still, by present standards, only adolescent, the mere accumulation of facts could seem a …

Shadows on the Enlightenment

David Chodowiecki, a hack illustrator of the eighteenth century, once produced a sketch to illustrate the Enlightenment which was reproduced in the Göttingen pocket calendar for the year 1792. It showed a hilly landscape, with a man on foot, a man on horseback, and a coach, all facing toward the …

Tolerating the Terror

For some ten years or more now the Sans-Culottes have been establishing their claim to a front place on the stage of history. Their sponsors have been historians of various nationalities, but principally French (Professor Soboul) or English (Professor George Rudé and Mr. Richard Cobb). These historians’ inspiration is Marxist …

Spirit of the Terror

Saint-Just, the collaborator of Robespierre and one of the moving spirits of the Terror, was born in 1768. His bi-centenary last year was the occasion of tributes to his memory and to the regime in which he played one of the principal roles. The Annales devoted to him the whole …

The Price Of Revolution

Guglielmo Ferrero was an Italian historian and journalist, born in 1871, who made his name by a five-volume work on the greatness and decline of Rome, in 1907. In the 1930s he was forced into exile in Switzerland, where he began to interest himself in the history of the French …

Everybody’s French Revolution

It has long been usual in France for the scholar to make his reputation by writing a learned monograph, but then to want to try his hand in some wider and more popular field. As the monographs multiply the need to keep the textbooks up-to-date becomes more pressing; as the …

The Great Society

Life at the French court between 1660 and the Revolution is a subject that never seems to pall. Since Louis XIV’s day there have been many changes in the standards by which public opinion judges morals and politics. Even before the Revolution the behavior of high society in France (and …