FRENCH EMIGRATION IN GREAT BRITAIN IN RESPONSE TO THE FRENCH REVOLUTION: MEMORIES, INTEGRATIONS, CULTURAL TRANSFERS
The University of Leeds School, 2014
From 1789 onwards, thousands of Frenchmen and women left France in response to the political, social, economical and cultural changes following the outbreak of the Revolution. A large number came to the British Isles. This dissertation focuses on the interrelation and interpenetration between the migrants and their host, confronted by circumstances to cohabit. Insofar as French and British populations were concerned, it questions the extent to which displacement, exchanges, and diverse interpretations of the exile defined the limits of each community.
This thesis argues that evolving relations between the two groups pragmatically defined the political and social categories of émigré and refugee. Useful to the British State and the loyalist community, the French emigrant/refugee became a subject of propaganda against radicalism; forced to survive in a foreign environment, the emigrant group anticipated the expectations of its host by creating a public persona based on shared experiences of trauma. This discursive unity hid a financially, socially, politically and culturally divided population.
As exile went on and the relations between London and Paris fluctuated, the limits of the emigrant public persona shrunk, to recentre around a core ultra-royalist group. This attempt at a histoire croisée of emigration in the British Isles combines traditional sources (contemporary and retrospective ego-documents, journalistic accounts, political publications) and innovative ones (classified adverts, passports, returns of the Aliens) to recreate the landscape of French and British encounters at a crucial moment in their history. Indeed, this dissertation aimed to open up a space for a research on emigrant-British cultural transfers by unearthing the situations, individuals and locations fundamental in the importation and reinterpretation of cultural objects in their own culture.