In 1789 the French Revolution opened with a cosmopolitan flourish and progressive observers across the world hailed a new era of international fraternity, based on a new kind of politics. Foreigners were welcomed to France, to enrich the regenerated nation and to become citizens. By the Terror of 1793-94, however, this universalist promise had all but died. Some foreigners in France were guillotined, hundreds of others were jailed, expelled, watched closely and were obliged to carry special identity cards. How and why foreignors were squeezed out of French social and political life- and to what extent- is the subject of this book. Besides such issues as citizenship, nationality, passports and surveillance, this study considers the experience of specific types of foreignors, like those who served in the French army; in the clergy; foreign radicals or patriots; and those who contributed to French economic life. The dramatic transformation in the fortunes of foreignors during the revolution reveals much about the origins of modern concepts of nationality and citizenship and the development of national identities.
In defining the limit of the nation, the revolutionaries and foreignors alike faced difficulties which have particular ressonance today.