The republican ideal, harking back to the ‘good’ elements of the Revolution, assumes that France is a nation of progress on the side of the secular angels. But the various narratives of the last two centuries have shown that the country invariably opts for right over left with occasional eruptions to prove that its revolutionary legacy is not dead. Thus, 1830 was followed by the bourgeois monarchy when those unhappy with the system were told that the answer to their complaints of exclusion was to enrich themselves as conservatism was entrenched under Guizot’s golden mean. Within four months of the revolution that created the Second Republic, troops were liquidating the worker barricades of the June Days and, in 1851, Louis-Napoleon staged his coup. Two decades later, the Commune was suppressed with equal bloodshed. The Third Republic was slow to introduce social reforms, shied away from an income tax for decades and denied the vote to half the population. While introducing historic and lasting changes, the Popular Front collapsed after two years and Paul Reynaud set to work to chip away at its legacy.