Over the past couple years I've been reading a lot about the major revolutions of the Modern Era and I've been intrigued by the different reactions people have had to these pivotal events that continue to impact our lives, so I thought I'd open a thread on the subject and let it go where it may. When first approaching this, I've always fascinated with how people look back on History and categorize it to suit whatever purposes they have in mind. For example, many historians mark the advent of the so-called "Age of Revolution" with either the American or French revolutions, but for the sake of this discussion I'm going to begin with the revolution in England that toppled King Charles I, aka the Great Rebellion or English Civil War. While the aspirations of the republicans in England - the Levellers, e.g., John Lilburne, Richard Overton, William Walwyn, et al - were thwarted by Oliver Cromwell and his upper class allies in the New Model Army and Parliament, they did lay the groundwork for the Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 that established the primacy of Parliament over the Crown. Eventually, the ideas that emerged from the Great Rebellion and Glorious Revolution and were expressed by Radical Whigs such as Algernon Sydney and John Locke would make their way across the Atlantic where they inspired the revolutionaries in America, who in turn inspired the revolutionaries in France who inspired the revolutionaries in other countries, most notably the revolutionaries in Russia. Thus, for the sake of this discussion, the Great and Not-So-Great Revolutions I have in mind are the English, American, French and Russian Revolutions. Of course, we could include more examples, such as the revolutions that took place during the tumultuous year of 1848, or perhaps the ones that brought independence to India and communism to China. One might also consider the revolutions that occurred even more recently, when the people of Central and Eastern Europe liberated themselves from the yoke of Communism during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Having established somewhat of a framework, the next things that come to my mind involve the assessments of these revolutions - which one (if any) was the greatest, which one was the worst, which one(s) had the most impact? - and how have they effected our own lives. These are the questions I would be interested to explore here if anyone is interested. As for myself, and being an American I'll be the first to confess my bias, I consider the American Revolution the greatest of these revolutions, particularly since it ended, albeit imperfectly, with the establishment of what is today the world's oldest existing democratic republic (or constitutional democratic republic, if you prefer). As for the worst of the major revolutions, I award that dubious distinction to the Bolshevik Revolution, with the French coming in a close second. As for the most influential, I'm inclined to believe that the American and French revolutions had the most impact. That being said, I think we might ask an additional question - which one is the most controversial? - and I think the clear winner is the French Revolution. Nowhere else will you find a revolution that elicits such sharply different views. On one hand, we see the self-styled "Modern Jacobins" on the Left who look on the "Great French Revolution" with admiration. On the other, we have seen since Burke's Reflections, people looking on the Reign of Terror (and genocide in the Vendée), the revolution's demise in dictatorship and the inspiration it provided the Socialist-Communist mass murderers of the 20th Century with revulsion. Then you have people who look at it with a more nuanced eye and see a revolution that began with so much astonishing promise but ended in failure and tragedy. Needless to say, most if not all of these revolutions have had their good, bad and incomplete sides, and that's part of what makes them so interesting. In many cases, the revolutions continue as people confront the dual challenges of living up to the lofty ideals expressed by the founders of their nations and struggle to ensure that their governments don't violate the rights and freedom they were instituted to secure. I'd be interested to hear whatever anyone else thinks about these events and whatever else comes to mind, and with that I will conclude the Opening Post.