The following unit is on the Revolutionary Period that occurred in France during the late eighteenth century. This unit begins with the crisis that arose in 1789 and then it is connected to the fervor of ‘revolution’ that was sweeping the world, during this time. We may also analyze parts of Charles Dickens’ seminal novel about the French Revolution – A Tale of Two Cities.
All of these readings are carefully woven together to create a well-rounded understanding of the “Age of Revolutions”.
Part I: Crisis in France 1789
In the first section of this unit
, the students are reading the textbook for background on the problems that were plaguing France following the Seven Years’ War. In addition the students will read about Louis XV and Louis XVI’s problems with parlements
, as well as the financial crisis. These selections will lead into the calling of the Estates General in 1788, the subsequent lock out by the monarchy, the Tennis Court Oath, and finally the storming of the Bastille.
The documents selected for this section include selections from The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, “Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen”, and Petition of Women of the Third Estate.
Part II: Reconstruction of France
The second section discusses the reconstruction period that occurred in France following the first wave of revolution. Students will analyze why the first wave or phase of the French Revolution failed. The selections in the textbook provide an overview of the political reorganization, the economic policy
, as well as the civil constitution of the clergy. This section ends with Declaration of Pillnitz and arrest of Louis XVI in 1791.
Part III & IV: A Second Revolution – The Reign of Terror
The following two sections cover the second wave of the Revolution in France and the subsequent Reign of Terror that followed this period. The textbook readings cover the emergence of the Jacobins and role of the Sans-Culottes. The execution of Louis XVI in 1793 leads to the Terror headed by Maximilien Robespierre. This section focuses on the “Reign of Terror” to illustrate the importance of the rise and fall of Robespierre.
The documents assigned to the students for this section include Robespierre’s Justification of Terror
and Edmund Burke’s The Moral Imagination.
Additionally the students will read the selected chapters from A Tale of Two Cities
Part V & VI: The Thermidorian Reaction – Aftermath of Revolution
These latter sections incorporate the tempering of the revolutionary age in France, through the Thermidorian Reaction
, the establishment of the Directory, and the removal of the San-Culottes from political life. This selection also includes a handout on French Republican Values and how the aftermath of the revolution led to the rise of Napoleon in 1799.
(Free Response Practice) – questions that may appear on the next Traditional Exam
Age of Revolutions / The French Revolution
Discuss the events leading up to French Revolution. Take account of the economic, political, social, cultural, and intellectual movements that were occurring on the Eve of Revolution. Could this revolution been prevented? Why or why not?
Who were the sans-culottes and how did they become a factor in the politics of the period? How influential were they during the Terror in particular?
Who were the Jacobins? What divisions appeared within this group during the course of the revolution and what happened to them in the end?
Discuss the role of the king in the French Revolution. If Louis XVI had been a more able ruler, what would he have done differently to maintain his rule?
A motto of the French Revolution was “equality, liberty, and fraternity.” How did the revolution both support and violate this motto?