Edmund Burke Reflections On The Revolution In France Summary

Edmund Burke Reflections On The Revolution In France Summary – Published on November 1, 1790, this Irish-British politician and philosophy manifesto against the Radicality of the French Revolution sparked a debate that lasted more than two centuries. The work has had considerable influence, particularly in conservative and liberal societies.

Edmund Burke Reflections On The Revolution In France Summary

Edmund Burke Reflections On The Revolution In France Summary

 “Reflections on the French Revolution” by Edmund Burke


Written to answer François Depont, a young French patriot who had asked his opinion on the events in his country, the Reflections on the Revolution of France (1790) were in fact addressed to British readers: two years after the centenary of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Burke feels that it is urgent to discredit the English radicals, who, from the summer of 1789, saw in the French Revolution the opportunity to finish the work left unfinished a hundred years earlier. Understanding the dangers of possible transmittal across the English Channel, Burke writes a manifesto without detours, aiming to isolate the French Revolution as a monstrosity of human history.

Thinking that it is possible to change nature with the ideas of philosophy, the French, he says, destroyed the traditions that men have on the contrary the duty to preserve. Convinced that it is possible to reduce the diversity and uniqueness of human societies to uniform “human rights”, these French people put down the ancestral balances, based on the guarantee of property, religious traditions, and affinities.

According to Burke, believing in liberation, the French actually unleashed the most uncontrollable violence. Burke then raises the threat of a new Cromwell: sooner or later, these troubles will make him want a return to order and bring another tyrant into power, threatening the peace of Europe.

Edmund Burke Reflections On The Revolution In France Summary


Success is immediate because it responds to the anxieties caused by the French Revolution: Reflections are translated into French and German; 30,000 copies are sold by Burke.

If this intellectual charge is passionate, it seems to justify those who, in Europe and America, criticized the devastating effects of the Enlightenment and especially radical thought.

His success is also due to the fact that the attack does not come from the camp, often French, of the defenders of absolute power, but of that of the conservative Liberals: if Burke is quickly designated as the ideologue of the entire Counter-Revolution, in fact, those who, such as Joseph de Maistre or Louis de Bonald, espouse much tougher theocratic or organicist conceptions, will be inspired by very little.

Finally, the shock wave is also due to the “revolutionary controversy” that then divides Europe and provides a favorable ground for the book’s acceptance: from 1790 to 1795, patriots like Thomas Paine or Mary Wollstonecraft publicly defend radicalism of the French Revolution.

Since the end of the twentieth century, at the cost of distorting his thinking, Burke’s work has inspired new American and British conservatives in their moral justification for political and social inequalities, as well as in their opposition to universalism of rights of humanity.


Irishman Edmund Burke (1729-1797) has been sitting among the Liberal Whigs since 1766 in the House of Commons of the British Parliament when the Revolution broke out in France.

Opposing absolutism, convinced of the virtues of bicameralism stemming from the Glorious Revolution of 1688, an advocate of the political, religious and commercial freedom of the Irish colony, it is in the name of liberalism that it faces the more conservative Tories. , led by William Pitt. But it is also as a liberal that he reproves the principles advocated by the American insurgents, based on the ideals of republic and sovereignty of the people, and that he fights against the theses of the French Revolution, which he considers to be too democratic and universalist.

It is still in the name of this refusal that he supported, in the 1790s, the severe crackdown on British radicals.

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