Lectures on the French Revolution

By John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton
Foreword by Stephen J. Tonsor


This collection of the lectures of Lord Acton on the French Revolution comprises a disciplined, thorough, and elegant history of the actual events of the bloody episode. It is as thorough a record as could be constructed in Acton’s time of the actions of the government of France during the Revolution.

Delivered at Cambridge University between 1895 and 1899, Lectures on the French Revolution is a distinguished account of the entire epochal chapter in French experience by one of the most remarkable English historians of the nineteenth century. In contrast to Burke a century before, Acton is not concerned with condemning the Revolution, but in providing an accurate history of its advent, its bloody action, and its aftermath.

There are twenty-two essays in the collection, commencing with “The Heralds of the Revolution,” in which Acton presents a taxonomy of the intellectual ferment that preceded and prepared the Revolution. An important appendix explores “The Literature of the Revolution,” offering assessments of the accounts of the Revolution written during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by, among others, Burke, Guizot, and Taine.

Stephen J. Tonsor is Professor Emeritus in History at the University of Michigan. He is a longtime student of the history of Germany and of Lord Acton.


Jul 2000 | 6 x 9 | 350 Pages

Foreword, author's preface, index.


978-0-86597-281-0 Paperback