Equality, wrote Alexandre Dumas the younger, brought kings to the guillotine and the people to the throne.
Like most felicitous phrases, this is no more than a partial truth. New tyrants rather than “the people” often ascended to the momentarily vacated throne; ‘and not simply equality but the stupidity and malevolence of kings,’ the ambitions of lesser but avaricious mortals, and the effects of changing economic and social systems brought tyrannical rulers to their deserved end. Yet who can deny that the passion for equality played a stirring and vital role?...
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