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The French Revolution and the Rule of Napoleon 1774–1815

This option allows students to study a revolutionary period in French history. It charts the progress from absolutism, through terror and revolution to the imperial age of Napoleon. Amongst its perspectives is the impact of imperialism and the challenges to the Grand Empire.

The Causes of the French Revolution from 1774 and the Events of 1789

The structure of the Ancien Régime; qualities of Louis XVI as King of France; financial problems and attempts by Turgot, Necker and Calonne to deal with them; the ideas of the Enlightenment and the impact of the American Revolution and the War of Independence; social discontents; economic problems from 1787; the Assembly of Notables and the political developments 1787–May 1789; the Estates General, events in Paris in 1789; the ‘Great Fear’; the October Days.

The Revolution from October 1789 to the Directory 1795

The attempts to establish a constitutional monarchy; reforms in church and state; the significance of riots and direct political action 1789–1792; the Jacobins; the flight to Varennes; the overthrow of the monarchy; the Convention and the Terror; the destruction of the Girondins; the ascendancy and fall of Robespierre; the establishment of the Thermidorian Regime; the constitution of the Directory.

Napoleon Bonaparte to 1807

The career of Bonaparte to 1799: early life and character; his military leadership and reasons for success to 1799 including Toulon, the Italian Campaign, Egypt, the weaknesses of the Thermidorian regime and the coup of Brumaire in 1799; Napoleon’s reforms as Consul, including the constitutional, legal, financial, educational changes; the establishment and nature of the Empire in France; nature of and reasons for military successes and failures after 1799: Marengo and the War of the Third Coalition, including the battles of Ulm and Austerlitz, Trafalgar.

The Decline and Fall of Napoleon 1807–1815

The Continental System and the war against Britain; the war in Spain; the Russian Campaign; Napoleon’s rule in France after 1807; the campaigns of 1813–1815 and abdication; the Hundred Days; personal failings and reasons for fall.

Please click here for Course Reading List and Materials: Unit Y243: The French Revolution and the Rule of Napoleon 1774–1815