The French Revolution and Napoleon

HIST-B 356 — Fall 2020 — Themester

Course Description

The French Revolution overthrew one monarchy and fundamentally challenged the legitimacy of many others. Crucial features of modern democratic politics—human rights, the division of Right from Left, the “Reign of Terror”—can all be traced to the revolutionary 1790s. The Revolution declared sovereignty to reside essentially in the nation, thereby opening—but never closing—the question of who belonged to the nation and why. It celebrated the will of the people, but left unclear how that will was to be determined. And then there was Napoleon. For all its enduring legacies, the Revolution’s history is most poignantly a tale of democracy’s fragility. 


Instructor: Dr. Rebecca L. Spang