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Re-interpreting the maximum: a regional perspective during the French revolution

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This paper explores the events surrounding the imposition of the Maximum in 1793 against the larger backdrop of the prevailing tensions between Paris and its immediate neighbour the Seine-et-Oise over the question of subsistence. The paper argues that from a regional point of view the Maximum may be represented not as an ad hoc measure imposed by a reluctant Convention under pressure from an impatient populace, but as a much needed remedy to offset the growing imbalance between Paris and its neighbours in the matter of distribution of food grains. This alternative interpretation is then used as an entry point into the wider historiographical debate over the nature of the French Revolution. An analysis of the contrasting discourses used by Paris and the Seine-et-Oise in the course of their conflict reveals that the French Revolution was not inherently illiberal but was a multi-faceted phenomenon whose true nature is obscured by a Paris-centred historiography.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of History, University of Calcutta

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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