What kinds of people were in the crowds that stormed the Bastille, marched to Versailles to bring the king and queen back to Paris, overthrew the monarchy in August 1792, or impassively witnessed the downfall of Robespierre on 9 Thermidor? Who led these crowds or mobilized them to action? What did they hope to achieve, and how far were their aims realized? Earlier historians have tended to view the revolutionary crowd as an abstraction--"people" or "mob"
according to the writer's prejudice--often even as the personification of good or evil. Professor Rudé's book, published originally in 1959, makes a first attempt to bring objectively to life each of the important Parisian crowds between 1787 and 1795. Using police records and other contemporary research
materials, the author identifies the social groups represented in them, contrasts the crowds with their political leaders, relates their activities to underlying economic and psychological tensions, and compares the Parisian crowd "patterns" to those of other popular movements in France and Britain during the 18th and early 19th centuries.