Battle for the RÉpublique DÉmocratique Et Sociale in the Narbonnais, 1830-1875

Author: Guthrie, Christopher E.
Between 1830 and 1875, the city of Narbonne and its hinterland would experience the growth of a bourgeois opposition movement during the July Monarchy, repeated confrontations between republicans and their opponents during the Second Republic, the creation of an organized popular republican movement during the Second Empire, and the eruption of the insurrectionary Commune of Narbonne during the spring of 1871. These episodes were not only marked by clashes between republicans and their adversaries but also by an ongoing debate within the republican movement itself over the precise meaning of its ideology, one that provoked an irreparable division among republicans by the time of the Commune. In particular, the development of the concept of the république démocratique et sociale among the popular class of the Narbonnais, a political ideal born of the concrete experiences of ordinary people during the Second Republic and Second Empire, would increasingly be at odds with the more moderate republicanism of their erstwhile social superiors and seriously divide the movement by the spring of 1871. The purpose of this book is to trace the trajectory of this long-term political evolution and explain why the Commune of Narbonne represented both its culmination and frustration.


“Guthrie’s book, thirty years in the making, and based on extensive archival research as well as a wide reading of contemporary and secondary sources, is obviously highly specialized, yet it will be of considerable interests to many students of nineteenth-century European history (going beyond French specialists)—especially those focused on urban and/or social history . . . The book is especially good in giving vivid examples of the inventiveness of opposition groups in expressing their views during the frequent French periods of severe repression . . .” – The Historian

“Dr. Christopher Guthrie’s study of political discourse in the Narbonnais and the debates over the meaning of nineteenth-century French republicanism exemplifies this tradition of engaged scholarship. His work provides a narrative description of the lives of those who articulated and pursued a unique vision of republicanism and faithfully recreates the past on the basis of meticulous and exhaustive archival research. Yet it also analyzes their thought and actions, interpreting the significance of their political vision for the present. Dealing with political developments of national concern, Guthrie examines how they manifested themselves within the arrondissement of Narbonne (department of the Aude) ... The study is framed by the Revolution of 1830 and the founding of the Third Republic in 1875, during which the political ideal of a républicque démocratique et sociale took root in the minds of the popular classes and inspired their opposition to the July Monarchy, Second Republic, Second Empire, and beyond ...” – (from the Foreword) Professor Steven G. Reinhardt, University of Texas

“Dr. Christopher Guthrie’s book on Narbonne, a fascinating agro-town in the department of the Aude in Mediterranean France, is a valuable contribution to the literature on the evolution of modern French society and politics ... His thorough research and lucid writing highlights the essential relationship between large-scale economic change, specifically the development of viticulture (arguably the fundamental fact for the region in the nineteenth century), and social and political change in one of France’s most compelling regions.” – Professor John Merriman, Yale University

“Dr. Guthrie’s study illuminates the development of popular democracy and republican citizenship in the nineteenth century by examining the contribution of popular political activism in the Narbonnais region of southern France. His careful examination of the economic history of the region in the first seventy years of the nineteenth century forms the background to his analysis of popular political movements ... This study provides the most detailed examination of the Narbonne Commune of 1871 available in English and offers a fresh perspective on the political struggles that were part of the development of modern social democratic politics.” – Professor Laura L. Frader, Northeastern University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Steven G. Reinhardt
1. Introduction
2. The Narbonnais and Narbonne before 1848
3. The Birth of the République Démocratique et Sociale
4. Punishing the Vanquished: The Coup d’État of 1851
5. The Viticultural Revolution, 1848-1851
6. A Process of "Accentuation": Society and Property During the Viticultural Revolution
7. Repression and Politics During the Second Empire
8. The Commune of Narbonne, September 1870-March 1871
9. Epilogue: The Battle for the République Démocratique et Sociale, 1871-1873