Wednesday, 2 November 2016
Reading this at the moment and becoming an expert on the French Revolution! The book has so many characters from clubs, politics, the court, journalists etc I have had to download Wikipedia's thirty odd pages on the subject to get a bit of an idea where everyone fits in.
Gerda, the book focuses on three main characters; Georges-Jacques Danton, Camille Desmoulins and dear Maximilien de Robespierre. If you Wiki them you will find out where they fit into the story.
Hilary Mantel in her introduction..."My main characters were not famous until the Revolution made them so, and not much is known about their early lives. I have used what there is, and made educated guesses about the rest...a rough guide: anything that seems particularly unlikely is probably true..."
Things I didn't know, from Wikipedia:
...Freemasonry played an important role...originally largely apolitical, Freemasonry was radicalised in the late 18th century through the introduction of higher grades which emphasised themes of liberty, equality and fraternity. Virtually every major player in the Revolution was a Freemason and these themes became the widely recognized slogan of the revolution...
...During the Reign of Terror, extreme efforts of de-Christianisation ensued...the establishment of the Cult of Reason was the final step of radical de-Christianisation...Eventually, Robespierre and the Committee of Public Safety were forced to denounce the campaign, replacing the Cult of Reason with the deist but still non-Christian Cult of Supreme Being...
...A new Republican Calendar was established in 1793, with 10-day weeks that made it very difficult for Catholics to remember Sundays and saints' days. Workers complained it reduced the number of first-day-of-the-week holidays from 52 to 37...
I'm on page 587 - 300 more to go!