Chapter

Democratic Millennialism

Richard Landes

in Heaven on Earth

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753598
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199897445 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753598.003.0009
Democratic Millennialism

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This chapter explores the French Revolution as an attempt to realize the millennial dream of an egalitarian society articulated by some of the currents within the Enlightenment. It identifies the enthusiastic response to the King's calling of the Estates General in 1788 as the onset of apocalyptic time, and traces the shifting emphases from transformational (largely peaceful and legislative attempts to dismantle the prime divider) to increasingly violent and paranoid actions in response to the failure of the earlier efforts. As opposed to many historians who either argue that 1789 had little to do with the Terror of 1793, or that they were one and the same, an apocalyptic model suggests that it was the revolutionaries’ response to disappointment that produced the Terror.

Keywords: French Revolution; Robespierre; democracy; Louis XVI; guillotine; Terror; Estates General; National Assembly; Jews; Napoleon; Egyptian Campaign

Chapter.  20315 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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