The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of literature's great romantic figures,
playing out his heroic role against a backdrop of aristocratic
finery and a brutal new reality as France struggles to come to
terms with life immediately following the French Revolution.
is not alone, however, in being impossibly romantic. The entire
French Revolution has been romanticised to the max and its three
central tenets - Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité - may have become
a slogan for all that the French like to say is what makes France
great, but history suggests that the French Revolution was essentially
From the time
that social unrest started to bubble over in 1789 until the ultimate
rise to power of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804, those three maxims
were oft-heard, but the fact remains that the French Revolution
ultimately succeeded only in displacing a distant monarchy, nobility
and clergy with a bourgeous clique surrounding a self-ascribed
the French Revolution did succeed in changing that country forever.
After the fall of Napoleon, it was clear that France would never
again return to being ruled by an unworkable alliance of The Nobility
(the First Estate), the Clergy (The Second Estate) and the Commons
(the Third Estate).
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