Some Reasons for the Fronde: the Revolutionary Days in Paris in 1648
The Days of the Barricades in Paris of 26, 27, and 28 August 1648 transformed a latent civil war into a situation of acute crisis. Fairly well known as a sequence of events, these journées révolutionnaires are only poorly understood as to their causes. Historians have been concerned above all with narrative accounts, which describe events without attempting to explain them.1 They have extracted a fairly accurate account of these colourful events from confused and often contradictory sources. But they never approach them in a real spirit of historical enquiry. They summarise texts with care, but without seeking to present the realities which the words themselves should evoke. They neglect to study the words which were actually used, which in themselves are so revealing and which warrant very careful examination. Political and administrative institutions, economic evidence, social and religious developments and changes in the general sensibility have been neglected, although these alone enable us to understand the words and actions of the period and to relate them to the total situation of the realm and the structure and life of French society at that time. Historians have moreover tended to see in the texts factors which seemed to them to correspond with their own political predilections, as citizens enamoured of liberal parliamentary regimes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ignoring what was important to men of the seventeenth century, through a failure to envisage the society of the age and the mind of its contemporaries.
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