Heller - Chapter 01
The notion of the French Revolution as a bourgeois revolution was
fundamental to Karl Marx's understanding of historical development.
Marx did not invent this conception of the Revolution out of thin air.
He derived it from the writings of liberal historians like François
Guizot, Augustin Thierry, and François-Auguste Mignet who published
their works in the first half of the nineteenth century. The concept of
the gradual development of the power of the middle class which is found
in the work of these historians was the basic theme of the liberal
account of French history. According to these early nineteenth-century
scholars, the story of the whole period from the Renaissance to their
own time was one of the stepby- step ascension of the middle class.
Prior to the Revolution this expansion of the power of the middle class
occurred under the protection of the monarchy and came at the expense
of the aristocracy. This process reached its culmination with the
Revolution of 1789 that saw the overthrow of the nobility, the
monarchy, and the whole of the ancien régime. Writing with the
memory of the Revolution still fresh in their minds, it was taken as
axiomatic by these historians that the Revolution saw the overthrow of
feudalism by an ascendant middle class.1