Review Corner: “The French Revolutionary Wars: 1787-1802”

28 Sep

The French Revolutionary Wars: 1787-1802. T.C.W. Blanning. Arnold. London. 1996. ISBN 0-340-56911-5. Maps. Illustrations. Index. Further Reading. Pp. xv. 309.

Reviewed by Simon S. Sundaraj-Keun

The French Revolutionary Wars: 1787-1802written by T.C.W. Blanning is a book on the background of military and diplomatic history during the French Revolution from 1787 to 1802. The author is a British scholar and Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. The underlining theme of Blanning’s book is to present a series of critical chapters analyzing the reasons that incited the French Revolutionary Wars.

The main objective of the book is to examine imperial enmities, commercial competition, and domestic political desires among the European powers towards France, which in return became a variable in inflaming the French Revolutionary Wars. This book explores the attempt made by Revolutionary France to find a solution to the military and diplomatic crisis. Blanning traces the incidents which led to the Revolutionary Wars by elaborating on the complex relationship between France and the rest of Europe during the reign of Louis XIV. The author gives an excellent analysis on the reasons that led to the break down in diplomacy by illustrating on the economical, territorial, and political rivalries between the European Monarchs and also the problems face on the domestic front. It was France domestic problems and its militaristic position led to the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars.

The French Revolutionary Wars: 1787-1802describes that power politics of the state and its military interactions between nation-states is the prime factor that led France into a general conflict. Blanning’s overall outlook of the atmosphere in the rest of Europe towards France was hostile. The Revolutionary French government anticipated that an invasion might be averted if Prussia allied with France. According to Blanning, the execution of Louis XVI invokes the invasion of France by other European powers but the reaction of Europe only galvanizes the French resolve.

Meanwhile Blanning elaborates on domestic politics that demonstrated many of these nations witnessed the conflict that arose from the French Revolution as a probable distraction from tribulations at home. The Austrians and Spaniards assumed that they could not back down from the conflict because they had failed to support Bourbon monarchy. Also the question of Belgium and Netherlands neutrality been violated by France needed a response from Britain. On the other hand, the French still desired to be recognized as a power to be recon with.

Blanning presents an excellent description of the diverse essentials like history, politics, and diplomacy that needed to be taken into consideration when discussing what the reasons were for the French Revolutionary Wars. This book contains illustrations and maps in order to give the reader a better situational awareness of France struggle for survival during this time period. There is a further reading list towards the end of his book for further research. These make it easier to refer to Blanning’s treatment of sources as strong for the targeted audience and for the function of the book itself to make it successful.

            The material is well presented in a manner that a high school student from the British Commonwealth through to the amateur historian would find it accessible. It is a good book for students who are studying a course in the French Revolutionary Wars. Blanning is straight to the point, while the book provides as an overall good basis for those interested in a survey-like description to the subject. The author is persuasive because he effectively met the purpose of presenting a concise analysis to the topic for his targeted readers.

            This book contribution to historical scholarship by providing students and others interested in this era of history with a wide-ranging synopsis of the French Revolutionary Wars. Blanning grants the readers access to all the arguments for the conflict. Nationalism, politics, military expansion, capitalists interests, imperialism along with each of the adversaries are examined in a comprehensive manner. In the end readers are left persuaded that, while the French were ultimately responsible for the progression that led to war, each country were drawn in for completely different reasons.

            Finally, The French Revolutionary Wars: 1787-1802 by T.C.W. Blanning was not bias and remains neutral guarantee the reader will not be persuaded to Blanning’s predetermined ideas. The information enclosed will inform any reader fascinated in this subject, owing to the absolute drive to which the author goes to maintain his conclusions. As a whole, Blanning achieve his task of enlightening the cause of the French Revolutionary Wars, and giving the reader precious information about not only why the wars were fought but what kept it continuing with the rise of Napoleon.

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