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Suzanne Desan Ph.D.

Suzanne Desan Ph.D. >

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Introduction and the Old Regime Monarchy
Episode 1 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Take a first look at the complexities of overthrowing a monarchy and constructing a democracy. This first episode introduces you to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and lays the groundwork for the gripping drama of the French Revolution.
The Enlightenment
Episode 3 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Enter 18th-century salons and cafes to join the debates over modernity and politics. While writers such as Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau argued over natural rights, political reform, the social contract, and more, the Old Regime cracked down on dissidents and…
American Revolution and the Economic Crisis
Episode 5 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Explore the economic problems of France in the 1780s. The nation was deeply in debt, due to war with Britain and participating in the American Revolution. The opening of free trade hit the textile market and caused high unemployment. Finally,…
Privilege—Old Regime Society
Episode 2 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Look at the hierarchical society of France in the 1780s, which was divided into three estates--those who prayed (the clergy), those who fought (the nobles), and those who worked and paid taxes (the peasants). This system placed a heavy burden…
France, Global Commerce, and Colonization
Episode 4 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
See how global trade, the mercantilist system, and the slave trade disrupted traditional notions of societal hierarchy as non-nobles benefited greatly from the new economy. Additionally, global warfare--especially between France and Great Britain over colonization--left France weakened and deeply in…
The Political Awakening of 1789
Episode 6 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
When the Estates-General met in 1789 to tackle the nation's woes, several questions were on the table: Who would have political power? How could France reform its tax system? What would happen to the system of privilege? Explore how the…
The Declaration of the Rights of Man
Episode 9 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Study the origins and significance of this shocking declaration, from its influences in the Enlightenment and American rights declarations to its implications for religious liberty and the role of the king. Who would get these "universal rights"? How would they…
Peasant Revolt and the Abolition of Feudalism
Episode 8 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
In the weeks after the storming of the Bastille, panic gripped the countryside. Peasants revolted against their lords, and rumors about grain hoarding, bandits, and foreign invasion swirled around France. Amid this "Great Fear of 1789," the National Assembly met…
July 14th—Storming the Bastille
Episode 7 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Unpack the story of one of the most famous days in French history. In the wake of the Estates-General crisis, hungry crowds gathered in the streets of Paris. As the king gathered troops around Versailles, the politics of hunger took…
Paris Commands Its King
Episode 10 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
March to Versailles with thousands of women and National Guardsmen to protest the price of bread and to lobby the king for political changes. This huge demonstration compelled the king and queen to move to Paris and revealed the power…
Counterrevolution and the Vendée
Episode 24 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Not everyone was on board with the Revolution. In fact, tens of thousands of peasants and artisans in the provinces were dissatisfied with what they saw as the atheism and the anarchy of the revolutionaries. Learn about the civil war…
Revolutionary Culture and Festivals
Episode 21 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Step back and explore the culture of France as revolutionary leaders tried to stamp out the power of religion and the monarchy. From a new republican calendar to festivals that celebrated the goddesses Liberty and Reason, radicals enacted a fascinating…
Terror Is the Order of the Day
Episode 27 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
The beginning of the Terror is difficult to pinpoint, but by the fall of 1793, all the institutions of the Terror were in place. This episodes hows you how the Jacobins built the Terror, introduces you to some of its…
The King’s Trial
Episode 19 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Experience the stunning trial and execution of King Louis XVI. This episode begins by surveying the political alignments of the new republic and the debates between the radical Jacobins and the moderate Girondins over what to do with the king--a…
Revolution in Crisis—Summer 1793
Episode 26 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Witness the Jacobins' struggle to hold the republic together. French Federalists wanted local power, especially in the south and in Normandy. Although their revolt never gained traction, it stunned Jacobins in Paris. Another dramatic calamity came in July, with the…
Political Apprenticeship in Democracy
Episode 11 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
The press, political clubs, and elections--these three pillars of democratic, revolutionary politics set the agenda for the nation as France redistributed power, redrew its administrative map, and instituted a host of reforms that gave local voting power to the provinces.
Slave Revolt and the Abolition of Slavery
Episode 23 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
The largest slave revolt in history took place in Saint-Domingue in the early 1790s. What made the revolt possible? How did insurgent slaves convince France that slavery should be abolished? Uncover the suspenseful story of Toussaint Louverture's rise to power,…
The Russian Campaign
Episode 44 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Follow Napoleon's harrowing march across Russia in 1812, and witness his doomed campaign from the viewpoint of his soldiers. Napoleon's fateful decision to invade Russia marked a turning point for his empire.
The Path to War with Europe
Episode 17 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Discover why France went to war with Austria and Prussia in 1792, and meet some of the key players in that decision--including the Jacobin Maximilien Robespierre who, ironically, feared war could destroy the Revolution and lead to a dictatorship. Study…
The Revolution and the Colonies
Episode 13 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon
Turn to the French colonies and ask what the Revolution meant in places such as Saint-Domingue, the colony that would soon become the independent nation of Haiti. Did the Declaration of the Rights of Man apply to free people of…