Napoleon’s Other War: Bandits, Rebels and their Pursuers in the Age of Revolutions by Michael Broers. Peter Lang Ltd., Oxford, 2010. £25.00. 232 pps.
One of the most enduring myths of the French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic era is that the horrific violence of the Reign of Terror (1794-96) was an isolated island of atrocities in an otherwise orderly and tranquil transformation from monarchy to Republic to Empire.
Indeed, so this version of events goes, from 1794 onward, across Europe, from the Netherlands to the smaller German states to Italy to Poland, the citizens of each country turned out with joy, Tricolour-waving and jubilation to welcome in the forces of liberty, fraternity and equality, aka the French army.
Napoleon himself was quite keen on this version of events and scrupulously nurtured its promulgation.