As J.C. Martin noticed, the awkward itinerary of the Comte d'Antraigues may be an outstanding example of the characteristic ambiguity of counterrevolution. After having published a scathing criticism of nobility in 1788, he turned out to be, from 1790, a strong-willed counterrevolutionary activist till the time he died. His puzzling metamorphosis may seem paradoxical to say the least, but it actually highlights the danger of defining counterrevolutionaries as a united category holding a grudge against any sign of advance. Truth be told, many historians have long either disregarded this complex phenomenon or caricatured it as an outdated wish to reverse the order of things. This neglect has led to an overly simplified and incomplete vision of these movements. A British thinker, Edmund Burke, was the first to put the emphasis on the indefectible link between Revolution and Counterrevolution and to view things in a different light. Throughout his ideological analysis of the first events, he blamed revolutionaries for their utopian pretension to believe in the construction of an utterly renewed political and social order.
[...] Moreover, the targeting of the Church was increasingly ill-perceived by a mostly catholic people, especially after the Pope's solemn denunciation of the Civil Constitution of the clergy (12 July 1790): the nation was being constructed against ecclesiastical ancestral yoke. Regular clergy could not help but rejecting the compulsory civic oath institutionalized in November 1790, which not only subordinated faith to law, but also caused a repression of local non-juring priests accused of non patriotism. According to Doyle, from the explicit papal refusal of the Constitution, antirevolution, if not necessarily counterrevolution, would attract more activists now that himself was on their side.” Brittany knew an astounding rise of the oath-refusal phenomenon, and accordingly reaffirmed its status of a privileged ground for counterrevolutionary feelings to flourish. [...]
[...] Both the fall of the Bastille and the October days produced a tense climate which would incite many citizens to join the ranks of counterrevolution and would contribute to its diversification. However, it should be borne in mind that reformism had had an opportunity to replace a radical erasing of the past (the “tabula prior to 1789. Indeed, royal finance minister Calonne had relentlessly defended a revolution by the upper half of society (sort of a self- revolution) concretized by the tax program he had devised in 1787. [...]
[...] As a matter of fact, the way revolutionaries chose to implement their hard-won achievements was at least as substantial as the policies themselves in the formation of counterrevolution doctrines. As it had been prophetized by Burke, the Revolution was about to suffer from the extremism of its means of action, likely to undermine its fragile legitimacy. To him, the struggle provided material for it own criticism as soon as it chose to infringe the law that is to say from the Tennis Court Oath of 20th June 1789. [...]
[...] Logically enough, the huge amount of legislation passed by the assemblies appeared as a challenge to the defenders of the former regime, adjusted or not. Amazingly put into practice, the revolutionary leitmotiv of the destruction of the society of orders favoured the shift from a theoretical organization of effective networks of action. From the beginning, the radical and far-reaching work of the National Constituent Assembly raised thorny issues accounting for the resistance. Indeed, as a judicial revolution intended to get rid of inequality in its tremendous diversity, from justice arbitrariness up to the disproportionate tax structure. [...]
[...] That's why Norman Hampton denied the assumption that the Revolution was a “final struggle against Good and Evil” and replaced this cliché by the image of a bus people would take and leave. As he ironically noticed, some would have had better walk! There is no doubt that, as well as Revolution is not a block, unlike Clémenceau's words, Counterrevolution should not be viewed as a monolithic phenomenon either, but rather as a heterogenic category growing larger and integrating wilful actors and others who were victims of this label. [...]
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