has long disappeared before the periodof the revolutionary France. On the one hand, the French feudal aristocrats hadnot monopolized the land because a long period of sale and resale, about athird of the aristocratic land had already flowed into civilians; on the otherhand, they virtually no longer ruled France because French aristocrats havebeen forced to leave politics since King Louis XIV ruled France. Therefore, itis not true that the so-called French revolution overthrew the “feudal system.”Cobban pointed out that during the French Revolution, the abolition of the”feudal system” by the National Assembly actually meant “seigniorial rights” suchas sovereignty, hunting rights, mills, wineries and ovens and so on. Theabolition of these rights does not mean the abolition of the feudal system.
Alfred Cobban further reviewed the Lefebvre’s theory of bourgeoisrevolution. Lefebvre argues that the French Revolution originated in the riseof the bourgeoisie, while the so-called “rising bourgeoisie” refers to thegreat merchants, industrialists, financiers and specialized professionals andso on, who the characters of the development of business. However, Cobban’sstatistical analysis of the background of the representatives of the FrenchNational Assembly has found that the French Revolution did not actually dominatethe wealthy bourgeoisie but a group of middle-lower bourgeoisie mainly composedof bureaucrats, lawyers and professionals.
Therefore, Alfred Cobbanrevised Lefebvre’s view that the middle and lower bourgeoisie what the mainforce of the French Revolution. Here, although Cobban remandedLefebvre’s point of view, he failed to deny its basic explanation structure:the French Revolution originated from the “class struggle” between thearistocracy and the bourgeoisie. He just simply replaced Lefebvre’s “rising bourgeoisie” with what hecalled the “declining bourgeoisie.” However, after the mid of 1960s, a newgeneration of British and American historians continued to examine Lefebvre’sviews from different angles with rigorous research. Theirefforts gradually shake the explanation structure of the “class struggle” ofthe Marxism.
For example, George Taylor points out that scholars are used toseparating the French society under the old order into two opposing classes,the aristocrats and the bourgeoisie, and hold that the former upholds theinherent feudal order while the latter represents emerging capitalism. In hisopinion, this dichotomy is too simple and does not reflect the reality ofFrench social classes. He also found that French aristocrats were notcompletely conservative and were in fact very entrepreneurial and activelyinvolved in investment activities. In other words, the phenomenon of capitalismor bourgeoisification arose in the French aristocracy. By contrast, afterbecoming wealthy, the bourgeoisie likes to invest its wealth in”non-capitalist wealth” such as land, government bonds and publicdebt, and imitates the aristocratic way of life.
It hopes to one day rank amongthe ranks of the aristocracy. In other words, the French bourgeoisie is alsoaristocratic or feudalized. Therefore, the actual situation is that the Frenchcapitalism and the feudal order are intertwined, it is not in keeping with thehistorical facts that they should be absolutely painted and put on the oppositeside. Taylor mainly prove that the French bourgeoisie and the aristocrat classin the eighteenth century tended to converge rather than move toward opposites.This standpoint disrupts the Marxism of “class struggle” interpretation of thestructure because there is no class antagonism, naturally there is no classstruggle.
Furthermore, George Taylor tried to come up with a new explanation thatthe French Revolution was caused by political factors. He thinks that thereasons that the revolution took place in France and the bourgeoisie opposedthe aristocrats during the revolution are the financial problems in the latterpart of the old regime and the political crisis caused by this problem.Therefore, by its very nature, the French Revolution is “a political revolutionwith some social consequences; it is not the political consequence of a socialrevolution.” Conclusion Inthe late nineteenth century, the study of the French Revolution was almostmonopolized by the orthodox theory. Until the late twentieth century, the term “revisionism” of speaking of the Revolutionappeared, but it failed to deny Marxism of basic explanation structure. It is probably that there will be more new interpretationsfor the French Revolution in the future.