By Bailey Stone

Bailey Stone makes use of contemporary scholarship at the diplomatic, political, social, financial, and cultural heritage of eighteenth-century progressive France to envision the outbreak of the French Revolution and the dramatic advancements of the next decade. Stone reveals occasions of the interval because of the interacting pressures of foreign and family politics on these nationwide leaders trying to govern France and to modernize its associations. He contends that the Revolution of 1789-1799 should be seen within the higher contexts of "early smooth" and "modern" French heritage and sleek "progressive" sociopolitical revolutions.

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The Russians never actually fought against the French in this period – indeed, Versailles and St. Petersburg were both linked to Vienna in the bloody campaigns of the Seven Years’ War. Russia nonetheless undermined France’s influence in more insidious ways. It did so, for instance, by encroaching relentlessly upon those three eastern outposts of French continental influence, Sweden, Poland, and Turkey. 40 The Russians also scored spectacular gains against Ottoman Turkey during these years, extending their influence on the Black Sea and its surrounding territories, striking into the Caucasus, and – even more ominously – acquiring the right (behind a fac¸ade of concern for Orthodox Christians at Constantinople) to interest themselves in Turkish domestic affairs.

43 Indeed, the tsarina created a special department for German affairs in her foreign ministry and was eager at all times to act as “honest” broker in German disputes. This fundamental turn of events may have occasioned some anxiety at Berlin, where Romanov arbitration in Prusso-Austrian altercations always generated distrust; but at least Frederick II could derive satisfaction from the drubbing his armies had administered to French forces in the Seven Years’ War. Louis XV’s ministers, eager to chastise their erstwhile ally Frederick for his frequent betrayal of French strategic interests in the prior conflict over the Austrian Succession, had instead found their army mortifyingly routed by a Prussian force half its size at Rossbach, on 5 November 1757.

27 Indisputably, the French West Indies produced just about half of the Western world’s sugar and coffee in the late 1780s, thereby securing for the metropolitan power much needed foreign exchange. Still, there was no demand in the French Caribbean islands for textiles and iron goods comparable to the desire for such mass-produced wares in the British-dominated markets of the United States. 28 Already by 1783, the volume of British trade worldwide was possibly as great as at any time before the American War.

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