New Book | Barnave: The Revolutionary

Posted in books by Editor on May 16, 2023

From Yale UP:

John Hardman, Barnave: The Revolutionary Who Lost His Head for Marie Antoinette (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2023), 416 pages, ISBN: ‎978-0300270846, $40.

book coverA major new biography of Antoine Barnave—the politician and writer who advocated for a constitutional monarchy in revolutionary France

Antoine Barnave was one of the most influential statesmen in the early French Revolution. He was a didactic man of austere morals and vaulting ambition who dressed as an English dandy, running up considerable tailor’s bills. Before his execution at age thirty-two, he played a decisive role in revolutionary politics and even governed France in 1791 through a secret correspondence with Marie-Antoinette. In the first biography for more than a century, John Hardman traces Barnave’s life from his youth in Dauphiné to his role in the Constituent Assembly and his part in forming the Feuillants, the party dedicated to the moderate cause. Despite his early death, Barnave left a remarkable volume of material, from published works to thousands of manuscript pages. Hardman uses this rich archive to explore the life of this elusive writer, politician, and thinker—and sheds new light on the revolutionary period.

John Hardman is one of the world’s leading experts on the French Revolution and the author of several distinguished books on the subject, including Marie-Antoinette and The Life of Louis XVI, which was shortlisted for the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography and won the Franco-British Society Prize.


1  Reluctant Lawyer
2  The Origins of the French Revolution according to Barnave
3  Political Awakening: Barnave in the Pre-Revolution, 1787–89
4  The Assemblies at Romans: The Last Estates of Dauphiné
5  From Estates-General to National Assembly
6  The Decisive Phase, 14 July – 6 October 1789
7  The Year 1790
8  Barnave’s Private Life
9  Barnave and the Court before the Flight to Varennes
10  Barnave on the Defensive
11  Varennes and Its Repercussions
12  The Revision of the Constitution
13  Governing in Secret
14  The Return of the Native: January – August 1792
15  A Long Incarceration
16  Trial and Death


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