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Enlightenment ideas that influenced the French Revolution

Revolutionary Ideas:An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from The Rights of Man to RobespierreJonathan Israel

The French historian François

Historians from the French Revolution accustomed to ignore that which was also apparent to the contemporary observers—that the Revolution was formed through the radical ideas from the Enlightenment. Yet in recent decades, students have contended the Revolution was caused by social forces, politics, financial aspects, or culture—almost not abstract notions like liberty or equality. In Revolutionary Ideas, among the world’s leading historians from the Enlightenment reinstates the Revolution’s intellectual history to the rightful central role. Drawing broadly on primary sources, Jonathan Israel shows the way the Revolution was put in place by radical eighteenth-century doctrines, how these ideas divided revolutionary leaders into emphatically opposed ideological blocs, and just how these clashes drove the turning points from the Revolution.

Within this compelling account, in france they Revolution stands once more like a culmination from the emancipatory and democratic beliefs in the Enlightenment. It led to the Terror symbolized a unfaithfulness of individuals ideas—not their fulfillment.

Jonathan Israel is professor of contemporary history in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He's the writer of the Revolution from the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and also the Intellectual Roots of contemporary Democracy (Princeton).


"[A]dvances an erudite and persuasive argument. . . . Israel's categorization of the several revolutionary factions offers fascinating new experience, and the knack for discovering interesting but neglected people and texts is first rate . . . wealthy and thought invoking book. It's amazing and significant."-Rachel Hammersley, Occasions Literary Supplement

"[C]losely contended. . . . Israel could be understood like a historian within the lengthy liberal tradition stretching to Madame p Stael, who herself observed the revolution and first viewed it like a story from the unfaithfulness of liberty."-Ruth Scurr, Wall Street Journal

"[W]ith typical boldness Israel invites us to reconceptualise our thought from the Revolution."-Jeremy Jennings, Perspective

"Extremely impressive."-Peter Watson, Occasions

"[P]acked with particulars . . . [Revolutionary Ideas] belongs to Israel's major project to own Enlightenment, particularly the Radical Enlightenment because he calls it, new luster."-NRC Handelsblad

"[M]ajestic."-Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe, Trinidad and Tobago News

"Israel, a professor of contemporary European history at Princeton, is really a world authority around the 18th-century Enlightenment. Here he constructs a bold and superbly contended situation the 1789 French Revolution was powered through the clash of innovative political doctrines that supported or contested Enlightenment values."-Tony Barber, Financial Occasions

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