a1 Bedford College, University of London
France has always envied Paris. A popular interpretation of the history of France has been of conflict between the capital and the provinces in which Paris was the victor, at least from the establishment of the system of intendants by Louis XIV in the late seventeenth century. Radical Paris took the lead in the revolutionary upheavals of the 1790s, in 1830, 1848 and 1870–1. The conflict of the 1790s produced civil and foreign war and led to an even greater domination by Paris through the centralizing policies of Napoleon Bonaparte as military dictator. Under his rule and subsequently, all officials - civil, judicial, military, religious and educational - were appointed by the government in Paris. The Council of State was a corner-stone of this policy in the capital, the departmental prefect in the provinces. In 1830 the results of the July Days were acceptable on the whole to the French; but in 1848 provincial France roundly rejected the radical social revolution favoured by intellectuals and artisans in Paris; in 1871 the Commune of Paris was virtually isolated in its decentralizing and social-reforming ambitions and suffered bloody defeat at the hands of the regular army. Apparently, then, 1830 was the last, and perhaps only, time in the nineteenth century that ‘Paris led, France followed.’ Was 1830 so unique, and if so, why? The Revolution of 1830 was unquestionably Parisian, in that events in the capital determined the timing and location of acts of significant revolutionary violence and in that the major political and administrative changes which followed the revolution were enacted in Paris. Should one therefore assume that the provinces were passive, that they had little impact on events? This revolution may neatly illustrate the success with which Louis XIV, Napoleon and others had centralized France, but that conclusion needs to be based on evidence, not assumption. The most recent complete analysis of the revolution concentrated on Paris, but also delineated some aspects of provincial unrest in 1830, making use of the local studies written for the centenary of the revolution. Some provincial and departmental histories describe the events of 1830 and their local impact.