David Garrioch

david_garriochDavid Garrioch completed his first degree (BA Hons) at the University of Melbourne and his DPhil at Oxford. He joined the School of History at Monash, teaching European history, in 1984. He was elected FAHA in 2004 and promoted to Professor in 2005. He has served as Associate Dean (Teaching) in the Faculty of Arts at Monash, and been Head of the School of Historical Studies. In 2003, 2008, and again in 2012-15 he was a Visiting Fellow in the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and Visiting Professor at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyons in June 2005.

Research expertise: European urban history, 1700−1800; Eighteenth-century Paris.


As author:

Neighbourhood and Community in Paris, 1740−1790 (1986); The Formation of the Parisian Bourgeosie, 1690−1830 (1996); The Making of Revolutionary Paris (2002); The Huguenots of Paris and the Coming of Religious Freedom, 1685−1789 (2014)

As editor:

The Culture of the book: Essays from Two Hemispheres in Honour of Wallace Kirsop (1999) (with H.H.R. Love, B.J. McMullin, and M. Sherlock); La Religion vécue. Les laïcs dans l’Europe moderne (with Laurence Croq) (2012).

Details of David Garrioch’s many book chapters and refereed journal articles may be found at http://profiles.arts.monash.edu.au/david-garrioch/books/

Selected Monographs:

Neighbourhood and Community in Paris, 1740−1790 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), xii, 278 pp.

As the title suggests, this book is a study of the variety of neighbourhood subcultures and daily life in Paris, a city of multiple, overlapping communities and one of Europe’s largest, with a population of about half a million people in the middle of the eighteenth century (Burke 1989, 398). Six quartiers form the focus of the study, each with its own distinctive character: The Place de Grève, centre of municipal and artisan life and of casual labour; Les Halles, the market quarter; Faubourg St. Antoine with its cabinetmakers; Place Maubert, a smaller market centre; and two of the city’s wealthier locales, the Palais Royal and Luxembourg-St.Germain-des-Pres. Chapters focus on the themes of family, work, religion, and recreation and leisure-time sociability.

In approaching a definition of community in the introduction to the book, the author writes, ‘No part of eighteenth-century Paris formed a single economic unit and few areas were in any sense physically distinct (p. 2)… It is only in studying the way people behaved in a particular historical, social, and geographic context that we can attempt to define [community] more precisely, to distinguish the extent and the structures of a community in action’ (p. 6). Accordingly the book examines ‘the interaction of neighbourhood with the bonds created by kinship and gender, work, religion, and recreations’ (p. 6). The documentary basis of the book are the judicial records of Paris’s police commissaires, archives that record the voices of ordinary people ‘telling their own stories to the police about the pitfalls of daily life’ (Merriman 1989, 929). ‘[M]alicious (largely female?) gossip, insults, charivari, disputes, tension, tapage and riot’ (Jones 1989, 258) are all recorded in close detail for the two years of 1752 and 1788. ‘Given the sources—chatty, anecdotal, wonderful to peruse—it is not surprising that Garrioch’s book is endlessly intriguing’ (Darrow 1989, 612).

The book delineates a ‘kind of differential social geography of Parisian neighbourhoods’ and ‘sketches in the moral topography of the Parisian townscape: the church and the wineshop, the workshop and the street, the market-place and the well’ (Jones 1989, 257). One reviewer commented that ‘Garrioch is particularly good on the way that spatial considerations helped shape, but also challenged, threatened, and eroded, neighbourhood and community’ (Merriman 1989, 930). Another observed how he created ‘a general picture of the unwritten rules of social life out of a myriad of small, but sharply-observed details’ (Burke 1989, 398). The result is ‘an intelligent and sophisticated contribution to our understanding of eighteenth-century man and woman’ (Lewis 1989, 1044)

Darrow (1989, 613) described Neighbourhood and Community in Paris as a ‘fascinating book, full of information of great interest to social historians and also to historians of the French Revolution.’ It provides hitherto unexplored background to the Revolution’s iconic first events and shows how the ‘apparently spontaneous mobilization’ of the first days of the revolution ‘originated from particularly close-knit local communities with strong senses of collective identity and values’. The book is illustrated with contemporary photographs of Parisian streets and courtyards.


American Journal of Sociology 94/4 (January 1989), 928–30 (John Merriman); Social History 14/2 (May 1989), 257–9 (Colin Jones); The Historical Journal 32/2 (June 1989), 395–9 [398] (Peter Burke); The Journal of Modern History 61/3 (September 1989), 611–3 (Margaret H. Darrow); The English Historical Review 104/413 (October 1989), 1044–5 (Gwynne Lewis); Journal of Urban History 16/1 (November 1989), 91–8 (Paul R. Hanson).

The Making of Revolutionary Paris (Berkeley: California University Press, 2002), xiv, 382 pp.

Reviewers of this book noted that Garrioch had already written two important books on Paris. Complementing these earlier studies, this book explores the social, political and cultural transformations that contributed to making Paris the epicentre of the French Revolution. Using maps, illustrations, the archival reports of the forty-eight police commissaires and a rare synthesis of the best of recent scholarship, Garrioch gave the reader ‘a street-level view evoking the sights, smells and sounds of Paris, as well as explaining the economic, religious and cultural changes that molded the city’ in the century before 1789 (Riley 2003, 159). The narrative presents Paris as it would have been seen in the eighteenth century, vividly connecting the texture of lived human experience to much bigger questions about ancien régime and revolutionary society (Tumblety 2005, 257;Hanley 2004, 471). ‘The street is [Garrioch’s] narrative domain, and the ordinary pedestrian, the craftsman, the market trader, and the pauper are at the center of his story’ (Wakeman 2005, 566). The book was widely commended for its ‘nuanced, detailed and ever colorful’ (Censer 2003, 1120) evocation of Parisian life: he introduces his readers ‘to the sounds of carts, horses, and street sellers, and the small of cheese, fruit, and hay’ (Lynn 2004, 131). The use of little-known photographs by the nineteenth-century photographer Charles Marville attracted special comment (Truant 2004, 524). Among the countless studies of eighteenth century Paris—almost a discipline in itself—Garrioch’s work was seen as unique, distinguished by his command of the Parisian archives and his mastery of the vast and growing secondary literature on the city. What made the work such an achievement, commented one reviewer was ‘the interplay between the masterful analysis of 100 years of social and cultural transformation and a narrative portrait of Paris that is stunning in its detail’ (Wakeman 2005, 566).

The book is organised into three sections of unequal length that move the narrative forward in a chronological fashion within certain themes. The four chapters of the first section provide an overview of urban life before moving on to specific explorations of the lives of the different classes of people that made up the social order. The second section comprises only two chapters, located in the middle of the century, and focusing on such themes as riots (especially those of 1750), police, food supply, Jansenism and the battles between king and the Parlement de Paris—events presented implicitly, according to some reviewers, as central to the transformation of the city from one rooted firmly in the old regime to one rife with revolutionary potential and on the cusp of cataclysmic change (eg. Lynn 2004, 131; Wakeman 2005, 566). Through a variety of topics in the third section of six chapters, ‘Garrioch reveals a city full of movement and life, conflict and opportunity … a dynamic city transforming itself in the midst of intellectual, material and social changes’ (Lynn 2004, 131). This is a book about a city in transition: it looks forward to the Revolution but is primarily about the pre-Revolutionary city. Each chapter begins with an ‘engaging and enduring’ vignette of some apparently ordinary event that nonetheless reveals ‘the ways in which the city was being “reformed”’ (Truant 2004, 523). Though the Revolution itself remains offstage, the book was nonetheless hailed as a major event in revolutionary historiography (Douthwaite, 2004, 291).

The book was widely reviewed and attracted high praise, equally for the quality of its scholarship and the engaging writing style which made it equally accessible to historians and the general reading public. It was variously described as ‘charming and authoritative’ (Tumblety 2005, 257); ‘a vivid, highly readable work’ (Hanley 2004, 471); ‘elegant’ (Brennan 2004, 641); ‘among the best of the histories of Paris and urban history in general’ (Truant 2004, 524); a ‘superb book … truly a wonderful book’ (Truant 2004, 522); ‘the best starting point for anyone who wants to know about how Paris led France into revolution’ (Riley 2003, 159); ‘a superb urban history of eighteenth-century Paris’ (Censer 2003, 1120); ‘a brilliant comprehensive chronicle of the perpetually alluring city’ (Wakeman 2005, 565); a book that is ‘supremely good to think’ (Tumblety 2005, 258). The book won the New South Wales Premier’s Prize for History (General Section) in 2003.


French History 17/2 (2003): 214−5 (David Andress); Journal of Social History 36/4 (Summer 2003), 1120–23 (Jack R. Censer); History 31/4 (Summer 2003), 158–9 (Philip F. Riley); Journal of Interdisciplinary History 34/4 (Spring 2004), 640–42 (Thomas Brennan); Canadian Journal of History 39/1 (April 2004), 130–32 (Michael R. Lynn); Journal of Modern History 76/3 (September 2004), 693–4 (David P. Jordan); French Studies LVIII/4 (October 2004), 557–8 (Laurence Brockliss); Social History 29/4 (November 2004), 522–4 (Cynthia Truant); European Review of History 11/1 (2004), 99–100 (Laurence Winnie); Libraries & Culture 39/4 (Fall 2004), 470–1 (Wayne Hanley); Eighteenth-Century Studies 37/2 (Winter 2004), 290–91 (Julia V. Douthwaite); Labour History Review 70/1 (April 2005), 113–4 (William Doyle); English Historical Review 120/486 (April 2005), 538–9 (Norman Hampson); Journal of Urban History 31/4 (May 2005), 565–6 (Rosemary Wakeman); European Legacy10/3 (June 2005), 257–8 (Joan Tumblety); The American Historical Review 110/4 (October 2005), 1257–9 (Johnson Kent Wright); Revue d’histoire modern et comtemporaine (1954–) 52/4 (October–December 2005), 219–23 (Vincent Milliot) (in French); Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales 61/4 (July–August 2006), 943–5 (Jean Clément Martin) (in French).

The Huguenots of Paris and the Coming of Religious Freedom, 1685−1789 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), xii, 296 pp.

Writing recently in the English Historical Review, William Doyle provided a comprehensive summary of Garrioch’s research focus and achievements:

‘David Garrioch has spent most of his scholarly career investigating the everyday lives of Parisians over the last century of the ancien régime. His work has been marked by a warm sympathy for the practices and problems of the ordinary people of the capital, and obvious respect for how they got along with one another. He approaches the pre-revolutionary city on its own terms rather than, like too many subsequent historians, through the lurid prism of revolutionaries anxious to depict what they had destroyed as a cruel and dysfunctional shambles. His writings have been a serial demolition of retrospective myths about eighteenth-century Paris…’ (English Historical Review 130/542 [February 2015], 214).

In his most recent book, Garrioch scrutinises the claim that it was the Enlightenment that brought religious tolerance to Paris, again aiming to fill a gap in the existing literature on the eighteenth-century city.

In the first five chapters of the book the author profiles the roughly 4−7000 Reformed Protestants who lived in Paris at any given moment during the long century from 1685 (the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes) to 1789. Who were they, he asks, and how numerous? How did they survive in a ‘notoriously Catholic city, despite draconian laws against them and in the face of a hostile population’ (Garrioch 2014: 9)? How did this religious minority preserve and pass on their faith? Once again drawing on his familiarity with police records, Garrioch is able to follow the enforcement of anti-Protestant legislation in detail, and the strategies taken by Protestant individuals and families to survive them, their networks and religious practices. In the final chapters of the book he identifies factors that resulted in the gradual acceptance of this legally proscribed religious minority. The narrative mixes anecdotes, slices of life, tables and analytical statistics in order to map the cultural transformation of the city. ‘His study fills and important gap in the cultural history of Paris that traces the development of a diverse and tolerant city, a reflection of the economic and intellectual changes that marked the eighteenth century as a whole’ (Marechaux 2013, 3).

An important secondary theme of the book is its analysis of tolerance, understood as embracing ‘freedom of conscience, freedom of worship, and the civil rights accorded members of different religions’ (Benedict 2014, 1781). In this respect the book is a study with a profound contemporary resonance. As one reviewer has noted: ‘the global resurgence of religious violence and the difficult adjustment to the presence of new faiths in the West have bestowed urgency on understanding confessional conflict and coexistence’ (Benedict 2014: 1781).

As the book was only published in 2014, reviews are still appearing, but the prevailing critical consensus is that ‘Nobody can question the ambition and importance of this book’ (Benedict 2014, 1782).


H-France Review 14/160 (October 2014) [online, 3 pp] (Xavier Marechaux); American Historical Review119/5(December 2014), 1781–2 (Philip Benedict); English Historical Review 130/542 (February 2015), 214–5 (William Doyle).



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