History | French Revolution and Napoleon
B356 | 11688 | Riley


In 1789 the French began a revolution they had neither anticipated
nor planned.  In the period 1789-1815 nearly every institution and
nearly every way of thinking from the old regime was challenged.
Both the Revolution and Napoleonic rule, from the formation of the
National Assembly in 1789 to the crowning of Napoleon as emperor in
1804, can be seen as a series of experiments in finding better
government and a better social order.  Nevertheless, in 1815 the
French allowed their monarchy to be reinstated, seemingly throwing up
their hands in the face of failure.

Why did the Revolutionaries and their Napoleonic successors create
more problems than they solved?  As historical dramas, are the events
of this time arguments against the possibility of change, or cautions
against changing too abruptly or too dramatically?  Just how shall we
elect to interpret the events of this important period as we continue
to struggle with the problems of refining our political and social
institutions?

Grades will be based on exams.  Readings from interesting material.
Lectures combined with class discussion and some music.