Urban Rivalries in the French Revolution
Ted W. Margadant


The reordering of France into a new hierarchy of administrative and judicial regions in 1791 unleashed an intense rivalry among small towns for seats of authority, while raising vital issues for the vast majority of the French population. Here Ted Margadant tells a lively story of the process of politicization: magistrates, lawyers, merchants, and other townspeople who petitioned the National Assembly not only boasted of their own communities and denigrated rival towns, but also adopted revolutionary slogans and disseminated new political ideas and practices throughout the countryside. The history of this movement offers a unique vantage point for analyzing the regional context of town life and the political dynamics of bourgeois leadership during the French Revolution. Margadant explores the institutional crisis of the old regime that brought about the reordering, considers the rhetoric and politics of space in the first year of the Revolution, and examines the fate of small towns whose districts and law courts were suppressed. Combining descriptive narrative with statistical analysis and computer mapping, he reveals the important consequences of the new hierarchy for the urban development of France in the post-Revolutionary era.