I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Hugh Gough

Liberal Among the Revolutionaries

Germaine de Staël was no democrat, but the issues that she raised - the relationship between public opinion and power, the destabilising impact of street politics, the ruthlessness of power struggles and the corrosive effect of personal ambition – remain pressing today.

White Terror

The repression that followed the defeat of the left-wing revolt known as the Paris Commune led to almost four times as many deaths in ten weeks as the revolutionary terror had achieved in the city in eighteen months. Pope Pius IX called the victims “men escaped from hell”.

The World Turned Upside Down

Ideas certainly played an important role in the intellectual and political ferment that was the French Revolution, but it may be going too far to attempt to separate those ideas into distinct, contending political philosophies to which the main revolutionary figures can be attached.

The Tick of Reason

Voltaire offended the Calvinists of Geneva, ‘the Protestant Rome’, by criticising its austere lifestyle and setting up a theatre on its outskirts. A new book argues that the city eventually gave birth to a ‘reasonable Calvinism’ but we should be careful to remember the limits of any such apparent thaw in biblical fundamentalism.

There will be blood

More than any other single figure, Maximilien Robespierre is identified with, and blamed for, the terror and bloodshed of France’s revolutionary years, yet the hostility of contemporaries, historians and political commentators is not wholly justified.