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THE FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY WARS 1787-1802 The French Revolutionary Wars 1787-1802 by T C W Blanning is a super Work of historiography Far more ambitious than its modest title suggests it is the history of the French Revolution as well as a military and diplomatic history of Europe from 1787 to 1802 Blanning enriches our understanding of the Revolution by placing it in its European context by showing how it affected and was affected by Frances neighbors He is especially well placed to take on this task Not only has he written extensively on the French Revolution he has written a book on Mainz under the Old Regime and the revolutionary republic another on the French occupation of the Rhineland and two biographies of the Habsburg Emperor Joseph II 1 He is one of the few historians who can move comfortably from France to Germany to the vast Habsburg empire stretching from Belgium to the Balkans and he has filled in the remaining gaps with extraordinarily vast reading Among the thousand or so footnotes in The French Revolutionary Wars are references to works in German Italian Spanish and Russian as well as French and English Yet this book is more than a tour de force of erudition It is a richly textured engaging narrative punctuated by cogent often brilliant analysis Blanning begins by arguing that French defeat in the Seven Years War 1756-63 stimulated reforms in the army which are normally associated with the Revolution the breaking up of armies into smaller more flexible divisions the use of columns in addition to lines an increasing reliance on light troops and the use of artillery More controversial however were the reforms introduced in 1787 and 1788 which slashed the number of officers in an army that was in Blannings words absurdly over-officered p 19 These reforms coinciding with the revolt of the parliaments added fuel to the fire of the aristocratic revolution by
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