The French Revolution was in many ways the pivotal event of modern history, ushering in sweeping changes that radically transformed society, culture, and politics—not only in France, but throughout the world. In just a few years, monarchical government and the social systems that supported it were swept away, allowing an exciting series of social reforms and political experiments to be launched. The French Revolution promoted human rights, civil rights, nationalism, electoral politics, expansion of suffrage, and republicanism—ideas that would have enormous influence on contemporary and future developments throughout Europe and around the world.
The dark side of the French Revolutionary period casts a long shadow across these developments, though. First the Terror and the guillotine, then Napoleon Bonaparte, challenged and subverted the ideals of the French Revolution. When Napoleon was exiled in 1815, monarchy was reestablished in France, but the revolutionary ideas and experiences could not be constrained. The French Revolution became the principal model for revolutionary movements worldwide, inspiring future republican, socialist, and communist movements. Within France the memory of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic period lived on, shaping each generation’s perception of society and politics through successive reinterpretations of this event.
HIST 423 French Revolution and Napoleon Syllabus: hist423-syllabus
Internet Resources on the French Revolution and Napoleon:
L’Histoire par image (Reunion des Musées Nationaux) offers documents and artworks.
Gallica (Bibliothèque Nationale de France) has French language and image sources online.
PBS has a companion site to their biographic treatment of Napoleon.
Literature on the Age of Napoleon provides bibliographic information.
The Napoleon Series offers a popular history approach to the Napoleonic Wars.