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Revolutionary Time and Space

The Anxieties of Administrative ‘Transparency’
  • Ralph Kingston
Part of the War, Culture and Society, 1750–1850 book series (WCS)

Abstract

After a procession of market women unceremoniously marched the King to the capital on 5 and 6 October 1789, a new chapter began in the history of a political Revolution. No less momentous was that date for a revolution in administrative practice; as Louis relocated his court from Versailles to the Tuileries, his ministers relocated both their residences and their offices to the faubourg Saint-Germain. Montmorin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, leased two buildings for his offices between the rue de Bourbon and the rue de l'Université (near his own mansion on the rue Plumet).1 Uniting these buildings by knocking down a separating wall, some stables and a corps de logis, Montmorin concentrated his administration in a way that had been impossible while his Royal Master resided in the Château de Versailles.2 Almost overnight, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs found itself remade spatially by the events of the French Revolution, its offices united in a single building, and its employés joined – if not by politics – by the common experience of coming to work. By walking through the faubourg to the ministry (and entering by the main gate, not the domestics’ side door), the employé turned from court lackey into civil servant.

Keywords

Public Sphere Public Safety Foreign Affair Ground Floor Bourgeois Society 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Endnotes

  1. 4.
    Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York, 1959).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    For a good introduction: K. Knorr-Cetina, Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences make Knowledge (Cambridge, MA, 1999), 26–32.Google Scholar
  3. 9.
    Edouard Grimaux, Lavoisier, 1743–1794 (Paris, 1888), 65; Almanach royal (1788), 586–588. For the fermes générales as the first ‘modern’ bureaucracy: George T. Matthews, The Royal General Farm in Eighteenth-Century France (New York, 1958); Azimi, Un modèle administratif.Google Scholar
  4. 15.
    Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. T. Burger and F. Lawrence (Cambridge, MA, 1989). On how Habermas has been used by historians of the eighteenth century: Anthony LaVopa, ‘Conceiving a public: Ideas and society in eighteenth-century Europe’, The Journal of Modern History, 64 (1992), 79–116; for French Revolutionary history: Benjamin Nathans, ‘Habermas’s "public sphere" in the era of the French Revolution’, French Historical Studies, 16 (1990), 621–644. Rebecca Spang’s ‘Paradigms and paranoia: How modern is the French Revolution?’ The American Historical Review, 108 (2003), 119–147, has brought to our attention how Revolutionary historians use Habermas’s ‘public sphere’ without acknowledging his account of its relationship to economic and material change.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 43.
    P. Siguret and J. Silvestre de Sacy, Le faubourg Saint-Germain (Paris, 1987), 263–265; J. Vacquier, ‘La mairie du Palais Bourbon’, Bulletin de la société d’histoire et d’archéologie des VIIe et XVe Arrondissements de Paris, 2–3 (1906–1907), 10–11.Google Scholar
  6. 54.
    Ibid., report, Mouchelet to the Minister of the Interior, 9 Nivôse IX. On the pragmatic approach of the conseil des bâtiments civils generally: L. M. O’Connell, ‘Redefining the past: revolutionary architecture and the conseil des bâtiments civils’, Art Bulletin, 77 (1995), 207–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 83.
    J. Leith, Space and Revolution: Projects for Monuments, Squares and Public Buildings in France, 1789–1799 (Montreal and Kingston, 1991), 307.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ralph Kingston 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph Kingston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryAuburn UniversityUSA

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