The peasants could theoretically have been the masters of France. The history of the peasantry cannot be written simply in terms of the issues that parliaments debated or of the parties into which these were divided. These bourgeois preoccupations certainly affected the peasants, but the main reason why the peasants did not throw their weight more decisively was that they were fighting other battles, largely unchronicled by the literate classes, but far more important to them. It is with these battles that this chapter is concerned. The generalisations about the innate conservatism of the peasant need to be interpreted carefully in the context of French history. The French Revolution did not create a peasant democracy. The peasants' social scale is described. The duping of the peasants is also discussed.
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