Conclusion: The Power of Culture
The contrasting fates of the Bourbons and Habsburgs, are revealed by the contrasting episodes of October 1789. These are instructive about the culture of power and the power of culture in the late 18th century. It is demonstrated here that in their various ways, and with varying degrees of success, rulers had come to terms with changing conditions. Only in France was the failure almost total. Two episodes in the last decade of the old regime demonstrated the monarchy’s chronic inability to make culture work in its cause. The success of the Horattii and David’s subsequent career as a revolutionary exemplified the failure of the French establishment to adjust the previous century’s cultural institutions to modern requirements. The alliance between regime and public unleashed a combination of culture and power far more potent than anything Europe had yet seen. They tested the monarchies to the very brink of destruction.
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