Bonneville publishes his History explaining to younger readers why "fanaticism", "tyranny" and "superstition" strong>So far from able to suppress "reason" and "progress", he argues at beginning of book that tyranny is not natural form of government in Europe, at beginning of European history, Roman empires collapsed, and freedom prevailed.
However, in centuries that have passed since this freedom was suppressed by a gang of bigoted and ignorant priests, supported by selfish princes and nobles, Bonneville has refuted Edmund Burke's later claim. He insists that institutions that have grown up in history of Europe are essentially product of centuries of despotism, and therefore he calls on all Europeans to abolish or reform them : "The time will come when kings, priests and temples, cleansed of earth, will cease to multiply."
Bonneville firmly believes that European history will have a happy ending: "After all, most just man, most enlightened man, most cautious man, most generous man will make tyranny pale in order to destroy superstition." According to Bonneville, French Revolution was moment when centuries of struggle and oppression finally came to an end.
Following Montesquieu and Branvillier, Bonneville argued that freedom was brought to Europe by Germanic tribes, who put an end to despotic unity of Roman Empire and actually marked beginning of history of "modern Europe".
The Germanic tribes established a new government and new rituals on ruins of Roman Empire and made most spectacular revolution in history.
The collapse of Roman Empire was both destructive and constructive, and good Germanic tribes even established early forms of democracy, making them forerunners of French revolutionaries of late eighteenth century.
Despite fact that Germanic tribes were weakened by internal strife and civil wars, they nevertheless left behind a lasting legacy of New European Order and a spirit of freedom and independence that could not be suppressed. Even feudalism, however imperfect an institution, was never as despotic as Roman Empire.
While Germanic tribes laid original foundations of modern Europe, "modern history" actually begins with Charlemagne, who, according to Bonneville, was essentially king of France. But Bonneville's opinion of Charlemagne is contradictory. On one hand, he is praised as a promoter of civilization and material progress, on other hand, Bonneville reproaches him for his autocratic style of government and indulgence towards church members.
The historian scoffs at writers who still despair of collapse of Carolingian Empire, Charlemagne's goal of creating an absolutist empire that would harm European freedoms, and then Pope would make such an effort for a homogeneous European monarchy.
In contrast to views of Pope on Catholic Church, Bonneville was very sympathetic to Islam, Mohammed established an ideal spiritual and secular monarchy in Mecca, Bonneville saw in Mohammed a prince who brought enlightenment to people, unlike later ones, Christian rule in Spain, Islamic rule in Spain and its high degree of civilization.
Spain, "the second monarchy in Europe" after France, is portrayed as a country ruled and oppressed by a formidable class of priests and monks.
In his account of events, Bonneville focuses on history of France, England, Germany and Italy, while Eastern Europe, especially Byzantine Empire, is not usually considered part of European history. In all events across Europe, including Hungary, Spain, Poland, Sweden, central theme of Bonneville is struggle between tyranny and freedom, ignorance and reason.
Volume 2 of Bonneville continues narrative of political history of Europe as it prevailed in Middle Ages, dealing with struggle for supremacy between popes and emperors, crusades and even history of Arab world and rise of Turks, Clergy again Play role of a fanatical evil genius who roams in shadows , secretly leading a greedy and power-hungry monarch.
Bonneville interprets Crusades as an attempt by Pope to establish a universal theocratic monarchy in Europe:"In history of Crusades, for first time people see Pope working in shadows to carry out project of monarchy, their goal is Church Greco-Byzantine model, their goal is to destroy freedom and chain mind of Europe.
A lot of attention is paid to British history, which is not surprising, since history of Bonneville is based on writings of British historians. Despotic William Conqueror's invasion of England has been described as a disaster for freedom-loving Anglo-Saxons, and in short term events of 1066 led to a reduction in freedom and moral decline. due to lack of freedom.
However, invasion of 1066 eventually led to Magna Carta 1215 and creation of a British representative body, To make England "the freest people in world and a model of freedom for all of Europe.
Unlike most other European historians of nineteenth century, such as Montesquieu and François Gisot, Bonneville argued that differences between Europe and Asia should not be exaggerated, two continents being characterized by political division and lack of unity. leads to violent wars.
The third volume of History of Modern Europe by Bonneville was published in 1792, in "the first year of Republic". this book is reflected in insertion of introduction to "The King of Perjury".
Although Bonneville's line of argument is hard to follow, he supports overthrow of French kings using example of resistance to tyrants in medieval European history.
British medieval history became antithesis of French history, and according to Bonneville, example of King John Lachlan (1166–1216) shows that kings were representatives of people and combined freedom with monarchy.
The notion of a medieval king who perjured himself perfectly illustrates malleability of European history as it adapts to new political circumstances in rapidly changing political climate of French Revolution. Bonneville also demonstrates attitude of medieval Europe towards current events.
Bonneville, full of negativity and disgust, also captures in this volume struggle between emperor and pope, who, instead of being a just and peaceful mediator, is described as an overbearing and aggressive sexual institution.
In stark contrast to warlike popes and emperors, Hanseatic trading city personified "reason", "peace" and "freedom", which is interesting. Against background of abolition of monarchy at time of publication, Bonneville was quite aggressive towards some of French kings.
Louis IX "Saint Louis" (1214-1270) is described by Bonneville as a "good" and "patriotic" king who was deceived by clergy, began religious persecution and devoted himself to Crusades.
Bonneville's description of power struggle between Muslims and Christians in Spain is also striking: Moors are portrayed as rational and tolerant, while Christians are portrayed as intolerant fanatics.
As Bonneville remarked in his 1791 book The Spirit of Religion, he urged Europeans to call themselves Franks, as that name signified German freedom and "man's true friend".
The most important event of our time was development of Great Britain. For first time in modern history, British people were given right to vote in representative institutions. Bonneville believed that all other countries would follow Britain's lead. The Will of Free Men Fanaticism and tyranny will be defeated, and equality and liberty will go hand in hand in representative institutions.
Bonneville argues that revolution is unnecessary when representative institutions are established peacefully. In his description of development of freedom and progress, first in England and later in other parts of Europe, Bonneville clearly adhered to Whig interpretation of history.
In Bonneville's narrative, Bonneville abruptly switches to its own time, when events that began in medieval England will eventually take place throughout Europe, where in future representatives of people will establish freedoms enshrined in Constitution.
However, when Bonneville described tyrannical English king's attempt to suppress freedom of Scots and Welsh, he also focused on dark side of history of medieval England.
Bonneville analyzes Swiss, noble and free "Celts", against tyrannical plans of Habsburg rulers of Holy Roman Empire, apparently Bonneville saw Swiss uprising of 1308 as a harbinger of French Revolution in his time.
In his seminal article, Another Country in Past, historian Tony Judt argues that not only were 1945 and 1989 important political turning points in European political history, but that Europe's past was also rethought (or forgotten) in decisive years.
1945 was perceived in both Western and Eastern Europe as a "break from a dark European past full of violent conflict and nationalism", as part of an attempt to move away from experience of war and occupation.
This idea of a historical break, and sense that centuries of violence and war have come to an end thanks to European integration project, can also be seen in much of European history published in post-war decades.
For Judt, 1989 was not only a turning point in political fabric of Europe, but also a reconfiguration of European memory and historiography: memory of time, subject to endless revisions and reinterpretations, past never happens anywhere.”
Juter convincingly argues that European history is a construct closely linked to political order of Europe itself.
Bonneville's study shows in detail that French Revolution did not create a new narrative of European history, but that earlier Enlightenment stories were adapted to new political contexts.
As Bonneville explains in his preliminary note at beginning of first volume, he uses much of enlightenedHistory of Europe published in second half of eighteenth century.
William Russell's original English version has been adapted for a French audience, and Bonneville has added many of his own comments.
Moreover, example of Bonneville shows that unraveling of mechanisms of European history is closely linked to esoteric and mystical beliefs, as well as prophecies and utopian ideas about future of Europe, which in many ways anticipated beginning of nineteenth century. European thought.
Finally, Bonneville has a clear idea of what "European history" should be, which he sees not just as a collection of individual national histories, but as a means to capture "spirit of Europe."
European history must first of all be "modern", which is different from irrelevant "ancient history". The new circumstances of revolution created need for a new "recent history of Europe".