The Gilded Youth of Thermidor

Francois Gendron, Author, James Cookson, Translator, Yves Beauchemin, Foreword by Carleton University Press $95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-7735-0902-3
The ``gilded youth'' of the title are the muscadins of jeunesse doree of the French Revolution--reactionary young fops welded into a militia by the bourgeoisie to help dismantle the economic, social and political institutions of the Reign of Terror. In a meticulous, colorful narrative history, based on a doctoral dissertation published in France in 1979, Quebec attorney and historian Gendron portrays the muscadins as a driving force of the Reaction and a chief tool of the Thermidorians, the representatives who seized power after the fall of Robespierre in 1794. The gilded youth, who sported powered wigs and whitened their hands with almond paste, fought pitched street battles against the sansculottes (lower-class radicals) of Paris. Their brazen displays of debauchery abetted a reactionary upsurge in French politics, which solidified the emergence of a new elite. Gendron's chronicle, awarded a prize by the Academie Francaise, supports standard interpretations of the role of the muscadins with a wealth of new material from France's national archives. Illustrated. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/08/1993
Release date: 03/01/1993
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