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The Homeless Heritage of the French Revolution, c.1789-1889

Stammers, Tom

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The first individuals to preserve the French Revolution were the French Revolutionaries themselves. The experience of revolution encouraged many witnesses in the 1790s to hunt down traces of an era that they recognised as both momentous and transient. With the backlash against the Jacobins, these pioneering early collections were scattered abroad and dispersed on the open market. Since nineteenth-century public institutions failed to commemorate the divisive events of the French Revolution, the task of preserving its legacy instead fell to private individuals: militants, tourists, relatives and above all collectors. This article explores the ways in which revolutionary objects over the following decades were transformed into commodities, personal souvenirs, historical documents, and privileged works of art, as they migrated across multiple ‘regimes of value’. It reflects on the necessarily fugitive and homeless nature of the revolutionary heritage, denied any institutional locus for at least a century, and considers the more indirect and subtle ways in which the events of the 1790s remain inscribed within many public and private collections.


Stammers, T. (2019). The Homeless Heritage of the French Revolution, c.1789-1889. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 25(5), 478-490.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 19, 2018
Online Publication Date Feb 5, 2018
Publication Date 2019
Deposit Date Jan 25, 2018
Publicly Available Date Jan 26, 2018
Journal International Journal of Heritage Studies
Print ISSN 1352-7258
Electronic ISSN 1470-3610
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 5
Pages 478-490


Accepted Journal Article (340 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in International Journal of Heritage Studies on 05 Feb 2018, available online:

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