Louis Adolphe Thiers

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Thiers, Louis Adolphe


Born Apr. 14, 1797, in Marseille; died Sept. 3,1877, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. French state figure and historian. Member of the Académie Française (1833).

In 1821, Thiers left Aix-en-Provence, where he had worked as a lawyer, for Paris, where he began contributing to liberal bourgeois newspapers. In 1830, he founded the newspaper the National in collaboration with A. Carrel and F. Mignet, a close friend of Thiers who shared his political views. In the same year, Thiers helped Louis Philippe to become king and was rewarded by being made a member of the Council of State. On the eve of the July Revolution of 1830, Thiers was one of the leaders of the liberal bourgeois opposition; after the revolution he became a reactionary bourgeois politician. Serving as minister of the interior for most of the period between 1832 and 1836, he organized the bfutal suppression of republican uprisings in 1834 in Lyon, Paris, and other cities. In 1836 and 1840, he held the posts of premier and minister of foreign affairs simultaneously.

During the February Revolution of 1848, Louis Philippe tried to place Thiers at the head of the government. In June, Thiers was elected a deputy to the Constituent Assembly. During the June Days of 1848, he sided with the dictatorship of General L. E. Cavaignac, but in December, as a leader of the monarchical Conservatives, he supported Louis Napoleon Bonaparte for president. Thiers spoke out in the press against the ideas of socialism, and in 1850 he helped to draft laws limiting voting rights and transferring control over popular education to the clergy.

In 1863, Thiers was elected a deputy to the national legislature, in which he sided with the moderately liberal opposition. After the revolution of September 1870, he was sent by the Government of National Defense to Great Britain, Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Italy to persuade them to support France in the Franco-Prussian War and help mediate a peace, but his efforts were unsuccessful. In February 1871 he was appointed chief of the executive power of the French Republic by the National Assembly. In the same month, he signed a preliminary peace treaty with Prussia, the conditions of which were humiliating for France.

Parisians revolted against the reactionary policies of the Thiers government, and a revolutionary uprising on Mar. 18, 1871, led to the establishment of the Paris Commune. Thiers fled to Versailles, and after enlisting the support of German occupation forces, he suppressed the Commune with exceptional brutality, acquiring ignominious fame as the bloody butcher of the Communards. In August 1871 the National Assembly elected Thiers president of the French Republic. He disbanded the National Guard, and he spoke out against universal secular primary education and other progressive reforms. Taking the political situation into account, however, he opposed the reestablishment of the monarchy. Because of his position on this issue, a sharp conflict arose between his government and the monarchical majority of the National Assembly, causing him to resign in May 1873.

Thiers was one of the founders of the trend in historiography that acknowledges the class struggle to be “the key to all French history” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26, p. 59) but considers only the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the nobility to be in accordance with the laws of history. In the 1820’s, Thiers published his History of the French Revolution, which was written from a liberal bourgeois point of view; after the July Revolution of 1830, he rewrote the work in an openly reactionary spirit. Thiers’s second substantial work, History of the Consulate and the Empire, is a panegyric to Napoleon I.


Histoire de la revolution française, vols. 1–10,2nd ed. Paris, 1870–72.
Histoire du Consulat et de I’Empire, vols. 1–21. Paris, 1845–74.
Notes et souvenirs, 1870–1873. Paris, 1903.


Marx, K. “Grazhdanskaia voina vo Frantsii.” K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 17, pp. 317–70.
Reizov, B. G. Frantsuzskaia romanticheskaia istoriografiia. [Leningrad] 1956. Chapter 7.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
"The republic," the statesman Adolphe Thiers once said, "is the regime that divides us the least"--ironically, since Thiers, the scourge of the Paris Commune and the man responsible for the deaths of thousands of Communards who were summarily executed at the Mur des Federes in 1871, was one of the most divisive figures in French history, and "republic" was once synonymous with "revolution." By the late 1870s, however, the French ship of state, launched on the hazardous seas of revolutionary political upheaval in 1789, finally "came into port"--to borrow an image from historian Francois Furet.
The French statesman Adolphe Thiers later noted that it was 'a war to give a few wretched monks the key of a grotto'.
The voices that were raised in the Egyptian People's Council calling on the security bodies to open fire on the protestors on April 6 and the activities that followed can be linked to the positions and actions of the French politician Adolphe Thiers during the Paris Commune in 1871.
Veteran politician, historian, and staunch monarchist Adolphe Thiers persuaded the physically ailing and already psychically defeated Emperor to appoint Gen.
They start with The History of the French Revolution by Adolphe Thiers, a bestseller published in ten volumes between 1823 and 1827, which gives them flashbacks, of a sort: "Old men had talked to them of 1793, and memories which were almost personal enlivened the prosaic descriptions of the author." They can see the mob before them, "brandishing at the end of a pike some discoloured head with trailing hair," and hear the guillotine "thudding like a piston" to the rhythm of the Marseillaise.
In one of the book's most methodologically interesting chapters, entitled "Taming Paris," Lehning approaches this issue by comparing four public ceremonies that took place between 1877 and 1885-the funerals of Adolphe Thiers, Leon Gambetta, and Victor Hugo, and the first celebration of the fete nationale (Bastille Day) on July 14, 1880.
National Assembly leader Adolphe Thiers (nicknamed "little runt" by Parisians) takes to the airwaves to deliver stiff, inflammatory rhetoric.
(5) In February 1836, Louis Philippe had organized his Ministry around the more Liberal politician, Louis Adolphe Thiers; in September 1836 (as Thackeray was beginning his Paris correspondence for the Constitutional), Theirs was dropped in favour of the more Conservative Comte Louis Mole.
Adolphe Thiers, the distinguished historian who was the party's leading figure, considered Louis Napoleon a cretin.