The Western Heritage, 8th edition, by Kagan, Ozment, and Turner Chapter 20—The Age of Napoleon and Romanticism Introduction

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Mohit and Namita Agrawal (.)

The Western Heritage, 8th edition, by Kagan, Ozment, and Turner

Chapter 20—The Age of Napoleon and Romanticism


  • After the Great Fear, even peasants were property owners. They were now property owners and looked for stability. Only the army could provide it.

  • Napoleon played his position in the army very well. He was a successful and popular general.

  • By leading wars across Europe, Napoleon spread many of the ideas and institutions of the revolution and overturned much of the Old Regime.

  • He also led to an upsurge of nationalism across the Continent.

The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte

  • The Directory was not providing the necessary stability. Many people began itching for the stability of monarchy again.

  • The elections of 1797 gave royalists a huge victory.

  • To prevent a reinstating of the Bourbons, the Directory did a coup d’etat on 18 Fructidor (September) 1797. They prevented the royalists from taking office and pushed censorship across the country.

  • Napoleon was born in Corsica in 1769 (France has annexed Corsica in 1768). He got a commission in the army in 1785.

  • He was a Jacobin and was in favor of the revolution. He was successful in a battle against the British in 1793 and was made a general. In 1795 he saved the Directory and was rewarded with his own army and a post in Italy.

Early Military Victories

  • France had annexed Belgium in 1795. This made Austria and Britain extend their war with France. To fight Austria, Napoleon was sent to Italy.

  • Napoleon beat up Austria pretty badly, and he signed a peace treaty with them in October, 1797. This treaty was not sanctioned by the government in Paris, but it still made him a hero to the French people.

  • Now only Britain was left. Napoleon thought that invading would be a bad idea. He instead attacked Egypt.

  • The Ottomans and Britain were allied. The British used Egypt as a quick way to get to India. Thus, Napoleon wanted to attack the central link of the British Empire.

  • Napoleon won the ground war easily in 1798. However, Admiral Horatio Nelson won the sea battles and cut off supplies for the French.

  • The attack on Egypt had raised fears in Europe. Russia, Austria, the Ottomans, and Britain formed the Second Collation against France.

  • Napoleon’s attack on the Ottomans was the start of their long decline into oblivion.

The Constitution of the Year VIII

  • All this international and domestic intrigue had the Directory in a huffle. Abbe Sieyes proposed a new constitution that would establish a stable electorate, unlike the one in the Directory.

  • Napoleon left his army behind and returned to France in October 1799. He agreed to help Sieyes overthrow the Directory if he could become one of the three “consuls.”

  • Napoleon’s army succeeded in their coup in November. Napoleon then sidelined Abbe Sieyes and made himself dictator, ala First Consul.

  • He issued the Constitution of the Year VIII that established a legislature based on a complicated set of rules on voting, eligibility, etc. The main point is that Napoleon was a dictator in everything but name.

  • He may be considered the first of the modern dictators.

The Consulate in France (1799-1804)

  • The Consulate was the first five years of Napoleon’s rule.

  • It was the end of the Revolution. The Old Regime had been totally changed, but the idea that wealth buys power had not. The little guy no longer had a say.

  • People felt that they had gained everything they wanted out of the Revolution—all they needed now was a stable government that could secure those rights.

  • They thus overwhelmingly supported Napoleon’s constitution in a vote in 1799.

Suppressing Foreign Enemies and Domestic Opposition

  • Napoleon was aggressive in the war against the Second Coalition. He whittled away the countries one by one. First Russia dropped out, then Austria (Treaty of Luneville), and finally Britain sued for peace (Treaty of Amiens).

  • Napoleon also restored peace at home. He employed people of all political backgrounds, contingent on that they would support him.

  • He also established a strong central/unitary government in Paris. All the departments (states) were directly and efficiently controlled.

  • Nap also stamped out royalist rebellion in the outlying provinces. France was at internal peace.

  • Nap employed a highly efficient and ruthless secret police, to make sure that no one in the country threatened his own power.

  • Nap also used any possible pretext to do what he wanted. In 1804, the royalist plot against his life was uncovered. He used it as an excuse to attack the Jacobins, though, who he thought were getting too much power.

  • He also killed a German prince with claims to the French throne in a violation of international law. It helped solidify Nap’s position as the leader of France, however.

Concordat with the Roman Catholic Church

  • Refactory clergy continued to advocate royalist counterrevolution.

  • Nap needed to make peace with the Church, both in order to bring peace to France and in order to solidify his popularity with the French people.

  • Nap signed the Concordat with Pope Pius VII in 1801.

  • The agreement required all the clergy to resign.

  • The state would name the bishops of each department and pay the salary of the clergy of France. The clergy would have to swear an oath of loyalty to France.

  • The pope agreed to approve all of the state’s choices. The Church would not get its confiscated lands back, but it was allowed to keep monies collected in church.

  • The concordat said “Catholicism is the religion of the great majority of French citizens.” Thus, Nap refused to make Catholicism the state religion of France.

  • Instead, the Organic Articles of 1802 said that the state was supreme over the Church.

  • Nap made other agreements with Protestant and Jewish groups. These agreements undercut the importance of the Church and the concordat.

  • Overall, Nap got a much better deal than the pope.

The Napoleonic Code

  • In 1802, Napoleon was elected Consul for Life. A new constitution was approved that gave him nearly absolute power.

  • In 1804, he reformed and codified France’s intricate laws dating back from before the Hundred Years’ War. This is called the Napoleonic Code.

  • The Nap Code safeguarded all forms of property and tried to secure French society against internal challenges.

  • Gov jobs were based on merit, not birth.

  • Nobility and aristocracy remained abolished.

  • The conservative attitudes toward labor and women that had emerged during the revolution also received full support. Unions/guilds remained forbidden, and women had their rights reduced.

  • As Napoleon moved eastward across the Continent, he replaced local laws with the Code. Hereditary social distinctions were abolished, feudal privileges disappeared, and the peasants were freed form serfdom. The guilds were outlawed (they had been quite powerful in central/eastern Europe) and the church lost its power.

Establishing a Dynasty

  • Nap also used the bomb attack in 1804 to make himself emperor. A new constitution was written making his family into a new French dynasty. It was approved by the people as well.

  • Nap, moments before he was to be crowned emperor by the pope, decided instead to crown himself. He didn’t want to make the impression that his power came from the Church or from God. He crowned himself emperor instead.

Napoleon’s Empire (1804-1814)

  • Nap’s wars put an end to the Old Regime and its feudal trappings throughout western Europe and forced the eastern European states to reorganize themselves to resist Napoleon’s armies.

  • Nap’s advance also unleashed the powerful force of nationalism across the Continent.

Conquering an Empire

  • Spain had restored Louisiana to France in 1800. Nap sent an army to Haiti to put down the rebellion in 1803. These two acts made Britain think that France was trying to regain a foothold in the New World.

  • France also started interfering with the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the small states in Italy and Germany.

  • Because of the Treaty of Campo Formio, there were political upheavals in all the small German states, as they tried jockeying with each other to see who could secure more land. Those who allied with Napoleon generally won out, and he thus gained a political foothold in the area. This again made Britain scared.

British Naval Supremacy

  • The British issued an ultimatum to France. Nap ignored it and in 1803 the two countries went to war.

  • In 1805, the Third Coalition (Austria, Russia, Britain) was formed against the emperor.

  • On Oct 21, 1805, the British admiral Horatio Lord Nelson destroyed the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar (near Spain).

  • Nelson died in the battle, but Britain lost no ships while France was deeply hurt. The British had once again established control of the seas.

Napoleonic Victories in Central Europe

  • Nap had much more success on land, however. In Oct, 1805, he defeated an Austrian army and took Vienna.

  • On Dec 2, 1805, in perhaps his greatest victory, Napoleon defeated the combined Austrian and Russian forces at Austerlitz.

  • The following Treaty of Pressburg forced Austria to leave Italy. France annexed much of northern Italy, and Nap was declared king of Italy.

  • In 1806, Nap made extensive political changes in Germany. He organized the Confederation of the Rhine of all his allied princes in western Germany. This terribly weakened the HRE and it was finally dissolved.

  • Prussia, fearful of French power (especially in Germany), now declared war.

  • Nap crushed them at Jena in Oct, 1806. By mid-1807, Nap controlled all of Germany.

Treaty of Tilsit

  • The Russians lost the Battle of Friedland to the French in 1807. Alexander I and Nap then signed the Treaty of Tilsit, which reduced the size of Prussia by half (contingent that it become a French ally).

Organization of Europe

  • Napoleon organized conquered Europe much like a Corsican family. Nap ruled France himself, and many family members (except for one whose wife he disapproved of) got to rule other states (mostly small German or Italian ones).

  • This establishment of the Napoleonic family as the collective sovereigns of Europe was unpopular and provoked political opposition that needed only encouragement and assistance to flare up into serious resistance.

  • The nationalism that Nap harnessed to effective in France would be his downfall in Europe.

The Continental System

  • Nap issued the Berlin Decrees in Nov, 1806. It forbade all conquered lands from importing British goods (Britain was by far the most industrialized nation in the world at this time).

  • Nap planned to cut off all British trade with the European continent and thus cripple British commercial and financial power.

  • The Milan Decree of 1807 forbade all neutral nations of Europe from trading with Britain as well.

  • The British economy survived, mostly untouched, however. British control of the seas assured access to the growing markets abroad.

  • Moreover, because Nap refused to institute a free trade region on the Continent, European economies were hurt far more than the British was.

  • Nap’s tariff policies favored France, and this increased nationalistic resentment towards him.

  • Smuggling also increased dramatically. This helped limit how much the British were hurt.

European Response to the Empire

  • It was always clear that Nap’s policies were designed to favor France. Consequently, before long, the conquered states and peoples grew restive.

German Nationalism and Prussian Reform

  • German nationalism went through two phases.

  • The first was a phase of cultural nationalism. Nationalistic writers emphasized the unique and admirable qualities of the German culture.

  • After Jena in 1806, militaristic and political nationalism took over. Many people decried how a single people were split into many different small countries. This was the first impulse towards a united Germany. Henceforth, many Germans sought to solve their internal political problems by attempting to establish a unified German state, reformed to harness the energies of the entire people.

  • The nationalists pinned their hopes on Prussia. Though Frederick Wilhelm III and the Junkers did not care for their reforms, the dire problems facing Prussia made these reforms necessary.

  • The reforms did not reduce the autocratic power of the Prussian monarch, or put an end to the dominance of the Junkers. Prussia, however, was able to institute these reforms without the upheavals witnessed in France.

  • The Junker monopoly on landholding was broken. Serfdom was abolished.

  • The peasants could only own the land that they had previously tilled if they gave up 1/3rd of it to their lords. Thus, the Junker land holdings actually grew (but many peasants got land, too).

  • This also forced many rural peasants to move to large cities or to other areas (like coal mines) where the Industrial Revolution had brought more work.

  • Military reforms sought to increase the supply of soldiers and improve their quality. Many of these reforms were based on the success of the new French army. Prussian reformers abolished inhumane military punishments, sought o inspire patriotic feelings in the soldiers, opened the officer corps to commoners, gave promotions on the basis of merit, and set up new war colleges.

  • These reforms soon enabled Prussia to regain its former power.

The Wars of Liberation


  • In Spain, more than elsewhere, national resistance to France had deep social roots.

  • The Spanish had achieved nation-state status early in the 16th century. The Church also united the people.

  • In 1807, the French army went through Spain to attack Portugal. They wanted to stop the Portuguese-British alliance.

  • The presence of French troops in Spain initiated a revolt in Madrid in 1808. Nap used this as a pretext to overthrow the Spanish Bourbons and to install his own brother as king.

  • Joseph then started to limit the power of the Church. This infuriated the public. The clergy then fomented a general rebellion.

  • Guerrilla bands cut lines of communication, killed stragglers, destroyed isolated units, and then dissolved into the countryside. Nap was facing a new kind of warfare.

  • The British then landed troops to help the Spanish rebellion.

  • Controlling the Spanish situation cost Nap crucial troops from elsewhere in Europe.


  • The Austrians, seeing the French bogged down in Spain, renewed their war in 1809.

  • The Austrians counted on Nap’s distraction in Spain, French war weariness, and aid from traditional allies in Germany.

  • None of the three occurred. Nap quickly marched into Austria and won the Battle of Wagram.

  • The resulting Peace of Schonbrunn took much territory from Austria.

  • Also as part of the treaty, Nap dumped his wife Josephine for the young archduchess Marie Louise. This would help him beget his dynasty.

The Invasion of Russia

  • The Russian-French alliance concluded in the Treaty of Tilsit was unpopular with Russian nobles because of the liberalism of the Code and the restrictions of the Continental System.

  • If the French had helped the Russians against the Ottomans, then they would have been happy. But Nap did not move against the Turks.

  • Also, instead of giving Austrian land in 1809 to Russia, Nap gave it to Poland. Nap also annexed Holland (which he agreed not to do in Tilsit).

  • Russia withdrew from the Continental System in 1811 and began to prepare for war.

  • Nap assembled an army of more than 600,000 men. The Russians only had 160,000.

  • Nap intended the usual short campaign followed by a decisive battle, but the Russians disappointed him. They knew that they would lose in head to head combat, so they strategically retreated into the vast Russian territory. They had a “scorched-earth” policy, which was to burn any foodstuffs as they retreated.

  • Russia was far too big for supply lines, so the Grand Army started to starved. Terrible weather and losses instituted by Russian guerrilla warfare lowered morale.

  • Nap refused to retreat because he gambled that the Russians would not give up Moscow without a fight. The Russians did put up a fight outside Moscow, but it wasn’t a decisive victory for either side.

  • The Russians then retreated even from Moscow, and burnt the city to the ground. The Grand Army had no supplies, and the army started the long retreat in October. The bitter winter meant that only 100,000 of the original men survived the ordeal.

European Coalition

  • Even though Nap had lost a major campaign, his final defeat was far from certain.

  • At this time (1812), Nap might have won a reasonable settlement by negotiation had he been wiling to make concessions that would have split his jealous opponents. He would not consider that solution, however.

  • In 1813, the Quadruple alliance between Russia, Austria, Prussia, and Britain was formed. The new French army was inexperienced and weak, and the Alliance moved to take advantage of this.

  • Nap won a major battle at Dresden in 1813. He lost the Battle of Nations at Leipzig, however, and by March of 1814 the allies were marching into Paris.

  • Nap was exiled to the island of Elba (near Italy).

The Congress of Vienna and European Settlement

  • As soon as Nap was defeated, the allies pursued their separate ambitions.

  • The victors agreed to the Treaty of Chaumont, which would restore the French Bourbons and limit France to its 1792 borders.

  • They would also meet later at Vienna to discuss territorial and other issues.

The Hundred Days

  • Napoleon returned from Elba on March 1, 1815.

  • The French army was still loyal to the former emperor, and many Frenchmen thought that they would be safer under him than the Bourbons.

  • The negotiations had also gotten off to a rocky start in Vienna and Napoleon seized the opportunity to regain his power in France.

  • The Quadruple Alliance quickly coalesced, however, and they sent their armies to crush Nap.

  • The British under Wellington and the Prussians under Blucher defeated Nap at Waterloo (Belgium) in 1815.

  • Nap was this time banished to a small island (St. Helena) off of Africa. He later died due to arsenic poisoning. His favorite color was green, but green wallpaper had a lot of arsenic. Over the years, as the arsenic was slowly released into the air, it helped kill Nap. He died in 1821 and is buried in a massive tomb in Paris.

  • Nap’s return was called the Hundred Days. It frightened the great powers and made the peace settlement harsher for France. France was forced to pay a war indemnity and it was occupied by foreign armies.

Congress of Vienna

  • Who was going to rule the countries of Europe? How would the European powers be balanced to avoid future war? How could the Old Regime be conserved? Alternatively, how could liberalism and nationalism (self-rule) be limited?

  • The Congress of Vienna first met in Sept 1814 but did not finish until Nov 1815. All the decisions were made by the four victors. Eventually, due to the wily Talleyrand, France would have a say as well.

  • All the victors agreed that no single state should be allowed to dominate Europe, and all were determined to see that France would not do so again.

  • The non-vindictive boundary settlement was designed to keep France calm and satisfied.

  • British: Robert Stewart, the Viscount Castlereagh.

    • Cold, shy/aloof, sickly (gay). He committed suicide when he learned that the press was going to reveal his sexual orientation.

    • He wanted to weaken France, ensure freedom of the seas (because, given a level playing field, British efficiency meant that they would gain from trade), a limit on Russian expansion (“the Russian steamroller”), and protection of its overseas territories (especially India).

    • Supporting democracy/liberalism was not important to Castlereagh. This made him unpopular back home.

  • Austrians: Prince Klemons von Metternich.

    • Elegant, well-educated, calculating.

    • Wanted to stamp out liberalism/nationalism (because these were acute threats to the Austrian empire) and wanted to limit Prussia and (especially) Russia.

  • Russians: Czar Alexander I.

    • Deeply religious, vacillating, “shifty Byzantine”

    • Wanted to formally institute divine rule of kings across Europe, deeply anti-liberalism, he wanted more land in central Europe

  • French: Charles Talleyrand.

    • Shrewd, flexible, had an uncanny sense of survivability

    • Wanted to keep France intact, wanted to make France seem useful but unthreatening.

  • Alex I and the Prussians made an agreement: Russia would get Poland and Prussia would get Saxony.

  • Austria was scared out of its wits, and Britain didn’t really want Russian expansion. The two sides almost went to war.

  • Talleyrand then stepped in on the side of the British and Austrians. This broke the deadlock. Russia got most of Poland (Austria got some) while Prussia didn’t get any of Saxony.

  • Italy remained mostly fractured. Piedmont-Savoy got some French land. Austria was given Venice and other NE Italian states to balance out Russia getting Poland.

  • Switzerland is made an independent and neutral state. It serves as a buffer state.

  • The Netherlands are given Belgium and are made an official country. This makes Britain happy.

  • Germany remained mostly fractured. Prussia is given some land in west Germany (adjacent to France) to limit French power (and also because Austria didn’t want Prussia to get Saxony, so it gave them something else). A new German Confederation dominated by Austria is created.

  • The Congress also said that rulers should be those who have the truest royal lineage. This was the idea of legitimacy. The Netherlands were thus forced to have a monarchy (King William I).

  • Divine rule was the order of the day, and elections and constitutions were forbidden.

  • Russia proposed the Holy Alliance, or an alliance between the victor nations that said that they would intervene in other countries to protect monarchs.

  • Britain refused to sign on.

  • In addition to the Holy Alliance, the victors kept up the Quadruple Alliance. It was now a coalition for peace instead of war, a revolutionary idea in Europe.

  • France went into Spain to put down a rebellion against its king in 1820. It restored the king, and then left.

  • This was revolutionary in Europe—an invading country leaving on its own. This was a realization of what Alexander had wanted the Holy Alliance to do.

  • After that, France was allowed to join the Quadruple Alliance. The name was changed to the Concert of Europe.

  • The great pan-European wars of the 18th century did not occur for many years after 1815. Through the Vienna Settlement, the great powers framed the international relations so the major powers would respect that settlement and not use force to change it.

Changes Wrought after Napoleon

  • Europe saw many important changes occur, in addition to those at Vienna.

  • A new, consistent set of international laws were developed and accepted by the major powers. An important change was that treaties were now made between states, not monarchs.

  • The idea of mercantilism finally died out (mostly due to the Industrial Revolution and the end of the first round of imperialism). Countries now took into account their natural resources and economies, their systems of education, and the possibility that general growth in agriculture, commerce, and industry would benefit all states and not one at the expense of the other.

  • In general, the Congress was much more worried about liberalism than nationalism. From a modern perspective, that was the wrong tack, but “the statesmen would have had to have been more than human to have anticipated future problems or to have yielded to forces of which they disapproved and that they believed threatened international peace and stability.”

The Romantic Movement

  • Romanticism was a reaction against much of the thought of the Enlightenment. Romantic writers and artists saw the imagination or some such intuitive intellectual faculty as supplementing reason as a means of perceiving and understanding the world. Many of them urged a revival of Christianity. And unlike the philosophes, the romantics liked the art, literature, and architecture of medieval times. They were also deeply interested in folklore, folk songs, and fairy tales. The romantics were fascinated by phenomena which suggested a world beyond that of empirical observation, sensory data, and discursive reasoning.

  • The Romantic Movement had a four-point basis: 1) a love of nature, 2) a belief in the inherent goodness and empowerment of man/the individual, “spark of divinity in every person”, 3) a fight against convention (political, artistic, etc), 4) and a support of emotion and the supernatural.

Romantic Questioning of the Supremacy of Reason

  • The movement had roots in individualism of Renaissance, Protestant devotion/piety, sentimental novels of 1700’s, and dramatic German poetry of the Sturm and Drang movement.

  • Two writers closely related to Enlightenment provided the immediate intellectual foundations for romanticism: Rousseau and Kant. They raised basic questions about the sufficiency of the rationalism which was so important to the Enlightenment.

Rousseau and Education

  • He opposed many of the Enlightenment’s facets.

  • He thought that society and material prosperity had corrupted human nature.

  • He wrote his view about individual’s development toward the good and happy life not corrupted by society in Emile. He stressed difference between children and adults, distinguished stages of human maturation, and urged children to be raised w/ maximum individual freedom.

  • Children should learn by trial and error what reality is and how to deal w/ it, and adults should mostly stay out of the way. He compared this to a gardener-garden relationship.

  • He thought that b/c of physical differences, men and women would naturally grow into social roles w/ different spheres of activity. Men would be the citizens and women would be mothers.

  • He thought that children’s sentiments, as well as reason, should be allowed to flourish.

  • To romantic writers, this concept of human development vindicated the rights of nature over those of artificial society.

  • They thought this education would lead to a natural society. This view of life led romantics to value uniqueness of each individual and to explore childhood in great detail.

  • Rousseau also wrote The Social Contract (see Chap 18 ppt for more information).

  • They saw humankind, nature, and society as organically interrelated.

Kant and Reason

  • He wrote the two greatest philosophical works of the late-1700s: The Critique of Pure Reason and The Critique of Practical Reason.

  • He tried to accept the rationalism of Enlightenment and preserve a belief in human freedom, immortality, and the existence of God.

  • He argued for the subjective character of human knowledge, unlike Locke and other philosophers who saw knowledge as rooted in sensory experience alone.

  • He thought the human mind doesn’t just reflect the world around it like a passive mirror, but it perceives the world as it does b/c of its own internal mental categories.

  • Thus human perceptions are as much products of the mind’s own activity as of sensory experience.

  • He found the sphere of reality that was accessible to pure reason to be limited. Instead, he believed that much of the world was “noumenal”, which was beyond sensory experience. This world is a sphere of moral and aesthetic reality known by “practical reason” and conscience. It is not ruled by reason.

  • He thought all humans possess an innate sense of moral duty or awareness of categorical imperative – an inner command to act in every situation as one would have all other people act in that situation.

  • The existence of this imperative conscience is proof of human’s natural freedom.

  • He thought the existence of God, eternal life, and future rewards and punishments (transcendental truths) couldn’t be proved by discursive reasoning but were realities that every reasonable person could attest.

  • Romantics believed in the presence of a special power in human mind that could penetrate beyond limits of largely passive human understanding as set forth by Hobbes, Locke, and Hume.

  • They also thought poets and artists possessed these powers in abundance.

Romantic Literature

  • Neoclassical writers used romantic to mean unreal, sentimental, or excessively fanciful.

  • In both England and Germany, it meant all lit that didn’t observe classical forms and rules and gave free play to the imagination.

  • “Romantic” and “Gothic” were used interchangeably in Germany.

  • Movement peaked in Germany and England before becoming a major force in France under Madame de Stael and Victor Hugo.

  • Henri Beyle first declared himself a romantic in France in 1816, but wrote under the penname Stendhal. Classic/Englightenment literature was strong in the country through the Revolution and Napoleon.

The English Romantic Writers

  • Believed poetry was enhanced by freely following creative impulses of mind.

  • They directly opposed Lockean psychology, which regarded mind as a passive receptor and poetry an exercise following prescribed rules.

  • Poetry was considered the highest of human acts, humankind’s self-fulfillment in transcendental world.

Coleridge (1772-1834)

  • Coleridge said artist’s imagination was God at work in the mind: “a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM.”

  • Coleridge was a master of Gothic poems and supernatural.

  • He wrote “Rime of Ancient Mariner,” which relates the story of a sailor cursed for killing an albatross. The poem treats the act as a crime against nature and God and raises issues of guilt, punishment, and redemptive possibilities of humility and penance.

  • Another of his important works is “Kubla Khan.”

  • The importance of loving nature is deeply stressed in his works.

  • Coleridge was a very dependent man (probably because of mental abuse from his brothers and at boarding school). He is knows for using drugs, but with Wordsworth’s help, he was able to overcome them later.

Wordsworth (1770-1850)

  • He was Coleridge’s closest friend.

  • They published Lyrical Ballads together in 1798 as a manifesto of new poetry that rejected 1700s criticism rules.

  • “Ode on Intimations of Immortality” is one of his most important poems, which was written in part to cones Coleridge, who was suffering a deep personal crisis.

  • The subject is the loss of poetic vision, which Wordsworth felt at the time himself.

  • He lost what he believed all humans lose in the process of maturation: their childlike vision and closeness to spiritual reality. For both Wordsworth and Coleridge, childhood was the bright period of creative imagination.

  • Wordsworth held the theory of soul’s preexistence in celestial state before creation.

  • The child, being closer to time of its origin and undistracted by the world, recollects supernatural world more easily. Aging and urban living corrupt and deaden imagination, making one’s inner feelings and beauty of nature less important.

  • The Prelude was his book-length poem, presenting a long autobiographical account of the growth of the poet’s mind.

Lord Byron (1788-1824)

“Oh! Snatched Away in Beauty’s Bloom”

Oh! snatched away in beauty's bloom,

On thee shall press no ponderous tomb;

But on thy turf shall roses rear

Their leaves, the earliest of the year;

And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom:
And oft by yon blue gushing stream

Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head,

And feed deep thought with many a dream,

And lingering pause and lightly tread;

Fond wretch! as if her step disturbed the dead!
Away! ye know that tears are vain,

That death nor heeds nor hears distress:

Will this unteach us to complain?

Or make one mourner weep the less?

And thou -who tell'st me to forget,

Thy looks are wan, thine eyes are wet.

  • He was a rebel among romantic poets; most other romantic writers distrusted him.

  • He had little sympathy for their views of imagination.

  • Outside England, he was regarded as the embodiment of the new person of the French Revolution.

  • He rejected old traditions (divorced and famous for paramours with both men and women) and championed causes of personal liberty.

  • His Paris Hilton-like life made his works radioactive in the UK. Though relatively popular at first, he later become snubbed by upper society.

  • He was welcomed with open arms abroad, however. He died helping the Greeks win their independence from the Ottomans (probably from dysentery). His biggest contribution to the effort was writing poetry to raise money back in England.

  • He had grown up poor. Through he had an aristocratic title, his family had lost its money long ago.

  • In Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, he created a brooding, melancholy romantic hero. It was modeled after himself and his trip around Europe. Such a character today is called the Byronic Hero.

  • In Don Juan, he wrote w/ ribald humor, acknowledged nature’s cruelty as well as its beauty, and expressed admiration for urban life.

Shelley (1792-1822)

“Song to the Men of England”

Men of England, wherefore plough

For the lords who lay ye low?

Wherefore weave with toil and care

The rich robes your tyrants wear?

Wherefore feed and clothe and save,

From the cradle to the grave,

Those ungrateful drones who would

Drain your sweat -nay, drink your blood?

Wherefore, Bees of England, forge

Many a weapon, chain, and scourge,

That these stingless drones may spoil

The forced produce of your toil?

Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,

Shelter, food, love's gentle balm?

Or what is it ye buy so dear

With your pain and with your fear?

The seed ye sow another reaps;

The wealth ye find another keeps;

The robes ye weave another wears;

The arms ye forge another bears.

Sow seed, -but let no tyrant reap;

Find wealth, -let no imposter heap;

Weave robes, -let not the idle wear;

Forge arms, in your defense to bear.

Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells;

In halls ye deck another dwells.

Why shake the chains ye wrought? Ye see

The steel ye tempered glance on ye.

With plough and spade and hoe and loom,

Trace your grave, and build your tomb,

And weave your winding-sheet, till fair

England be your sepulcher!

  • Shelley was expelled from Oxford for supporting atheism.

  • He married Harriet Westbrook and had two children with her. While she was still pregnant with #2, Shelley started actively courting Mary Wollstonecraft. They made no secret of their love, and after birth Westbrook committed suicide. The British tabloids had a heyday with the resulting imbroglio, as Harriet’s parents fought with Shelley for custody of the two kids.

  • Shelley marries Mary and leaves England and its bad press. They spend time in Italy, France, and Switzerland.

  • He eventually dies when, in a great storm, his small yacht is rammed by pirates off of Italy. The pirates wanted the boat to sink slowly so that they could loot it and then leave. It sank quickly in the rough waters, however, and since Shelley couldn’t even swim, he drowned quickly.

  • His remains were cremated, but his heart failed to burn. Mary had it embalmed and kept it as a personal keepsake.

  • Shelley is perhaps most famous for such poetry as “Ozymandias”, “Ode to the West Wind”, “To a Skylark”, and “The Masque of Anarchy”. However, his major works were long, epic poems including Alastor, Adonais, The Revolt of Islam, and Prometheus Unbound.

The Wollstonecrafts

  • Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was the mother of Shelley’s wife. She brought Rousseau before the judgment of the rational Enlightenment ideal of progressive knowledge.

  • She wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman to protest Rousseau’s generally anti-feminist views. The immediate incentive for the essay was her opposition to certain policies of the French Revolution, unfavorable to women, which were inspired by Rousseau.

  • She argued that separate spheres for women defends the continued bondage of women to men and hinders the wider education of the entire human race.

  • Confined in their separate sphere, women were the victims of male tyranny, their obedience was blind, and they could never achieve their own moral or intellectual identity.

  • Mary Wollstonecraft broadened the agenda of the Enlightenment to include the rights of women as well as men.

  • Mary Wollstonecraft died from childbirth. Her daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) would become famous in her own right.

  • In 1816, upon a discussion of the power of emotions, Mary, Percy, and several guests in Switzerland decided to have a ghost story writing contest. They decided that fear was the strongest emotion.

  • One guest, Dr. John Polidori, came up with The Vampyre, later to become a strong influence on Bram Stoker's Dracula.

  • Other guests wove tales of equal horror but Mary found herself unable to invent one. That night, however, she had a waking dream where she saw "the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together". Then she set herself to put the story on paper. In time it would be published as Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus. Its success would endure long after the other writings produced that summer had faded.

  • Mary Shelley, daughter of the famous atheist William Godwin, was also a feminist like her mother.

French Romanticism

Madame de Stael (1766-1817)

  • Stael was the daughter of Jacques Necker, the finance minister of Louis XVI.

  • She was a friend of major French political liberals and was a firm critic of Napoleonic absolutism.

  • Stael visited Germany, read widely in the emerging German romantic literature, and introduced it to both French- and English-speaking Europe.

  • Her book Concerning Germany constituted a broad exploration of contemporary German culture.

  • She points to the novelty of the romantic poetry and then relates it to a new appreciation of Christianity and the Middle Ages.

Victor Hugo (1082-1885)

  • Hugo is most known for his long romantic novels, Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

  • Les Miserables: Jean Valjean steals a loaf of bread and is put into jail for 19 years. He gets out on probation and stays in a church overnight. He proceeds to steal the church’s silver, but when he is caught the priest says that the silver was his own gift. He then adds another piece as well. This human act is enough to break the man’s criminal ways, even though years of prison could not. He goes out, becomes a businessman, and then mayor of a town. He always does what is right, even when it could hurt himself. Because he doesn’t show up for parole, the gov sends Javert to hunt him down. In the meanwhile, Jean saves a girl from prostitution and then moves to Paris. There, the woman falls in love with a boy fighting the oppressive/ conservative gov of France. Jean joins the fight to protect the boy, and carries him away through the sewers (famous barricade scene). Jean also saves Javert’s life. Javert, unable to cope with the dichotomy of a former prisoner becoming a good person, commits suicide. The girl and boy eventually marry, though nearly everyone else dies.

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The novel is set in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in 1485. Quasimodo is a hunchback who is shown mercy by the pastor and is allowed to ring the church bells. A beautiful but poor woman, Esmeralda, gets stuck in a love triangle between an army officer, the pastor, and Quasimodo. Only Quasimodo truly loves her—the rest are after her for sensual pleasures. Esmeralda turns down the pastor because Catholic priests are to remain celibate. In retribution, the priest has her and the guard executed on trumped up charges. After her hanging, Quasimodo swoops down from the rafters of the cathedral and kidnaps her body. He also pushes the priest over the edge of the balcony from which he was watching. Years later, people find Quasimodo’s skeleton in a tight embrace with Esmeralda’s. He had entombed himself with her skeleton and died of suffocation.

  • Hugo is known for creating the historical novel. These are set in a time period, and though fictional, they could have happened.

  • His second novel was the catalyst to saving Notre Dame in the late 1800s.

  • Hugo was not despised by society, as many other Romantics were.

  • Society is also fashioned as evil and the villain in his works.

The German Romantic Writers

  • Almost all major German romantics wrote at least one novel.

  • Novels often were highly sentimental and borrowed material from medieval romances.

  • Characters were symbols for truths of life and purely realistic description was avoided.

  • First German romantic novel was Ludwig Tieck’s William Lovell (1795), which contrasted the young Lovell, whose life if built on love/imagination, w/ those who live by cold reason alone and became prey to unbelief, misanthropy, and egoism. Lovell is ruined by a mixture of philosophy, materialism, and skepticism, administered to him by TWO women he naively loves.

  • Schlegel Friedrich Schlegel wrote a progressive early romantic novel, Lucinde, which attacked contemp prejudices against women as capable of being little more than lovers and domestics.

  • Novel revealed the ability of romantics to become involved in social issues of the day.

  • Work shocked contemp morals by frankly discussing sexual activity and by describing Lucinde as equal to men.

Goethe (1749-1832)

  • Perhaps greatest German writer of modern times.

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