"The Old RÉgime, the Enlightenment, and Revolution in 18th Century Europe"
Lecture Notes (2000)

[Created: December 28, 2021]
[Updated: 28 December, 2021 ]

 

Hyacinth Rigaud's "Louis XIV" (1701) Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, "Liberty" (1793) slaying the hydra monster of tyanny

 

This is part of a collection of material on the history of the classical liberal tradition.

See the Seminar Reading Guide for this course.

Introduction

The theme I have chosen for this subject is the changing nature of "power and privilege" brought about by the "enlightened" critique of the Old Regime and the various attempts made to reform or overthrow it. This theme was very much part of the political vocabulary of those in the 18thC who were involved in trying to reform the society in which they lived. It is also a crucial part of the political vocabulary of modern society which evolved after the American and French Revolutions in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the lectures and the tutorial reading I want to explore the following general questions about the nature of "power and privilege":

  • what was the nature of power and privilege in the 18thC?
  • who wielded power and enjoyed privilege?
  • over whom was this power and privilege exercised?
  • how was power and privilege enforced and justified?
  • how was the existing system of power and privilege challenged and by whom?
  • how did the existing system of power and privilege change over time?
  • See the Readings on the Nature of Power and Privilege for examples of how contemporaries (i.e. 18thC writers) thought about the
  • problem, and recommended readings by modern historians on the topic.

In many respects, this subject "The Old Regime, the Enlightenment, and Revolution in the 18th Century" with its theme of "power and privilege" is the prequel to my old first year subject "Europe, Empire, and War. Part 1: The Long 19th Century, 1789-1914" which had as its theme "emancipation".

 

Table of Contents

 


 

INTRODUCTION: THEMES AND QUESTIONS

[See the Seminar Readings for this topic.]

THE NATURE OF POWER AND PRIVILEGE

Questions to consider:

  • in general (i.e. then and now), what is power and privilege?
  • who (individuals or groups) wields power and enjoys privilege?
  • how is power and privilege exercised?
  • what benefits do power and privilege confer on the wielders of power and privilege?
  • over whom is power and privilege exercised?
  • how is power and privilege enforced and justified?
  • how can an existing system of power and privilege be challenged and by whom?
  • how can an existing system of power and privilege change over time?
  • what is the legacy of the changes in power and privilege which took place in the 18thC to our society today?

 

Power

  • the ability to kill or incarcerate others with impunity
  • to command the obedience of others
  • to seize and use the resources of others
  • to conscript others into an army
  • to prevent others from buying or selling goods and services
  • to prevent others from moving elsewhere

 

Privilege

  • the exercise of power and the enjoyment of its benefits is practised by a small group
  • small group is defined by family ties, social or economic class, race, religion, ethnicity, gender
  • the majority must serve the needs of the small group under threat or exercise of force

 

Thomas Jefferson's (17443-1826) idea that the world can be divided into two contending groups of people

  • "the wolves" who enjoy the benefits of power and privilege, and
  • "the sheep" who are forced to satisfy the needs of the wolves

 

Different kinds of power and privilege:

  • political power and privilege - the monarch and his subjects, nobles and aristocrats vs commoners and peasants
  • legal power and privilege - enforcing hierarchy and privilege vs rule of law and equality of rights
  • religious power and privilege - church leaders and believers vs dissenters and non-believers
  • military power and privilege - aristocratic officers vs enlisted men and conscripts
  • power and privilege on the land (within Europe) - noble landowners vs serfs and peasants
  • power and privilege in the colonies of Europe - slave owners and traders vs black Africans
  • power and privilege within the family - husbands vs wives
  • power and privilege in the triangular relationship between the state, manufacturers/traders and consumers - protection and subsidies vs free trade
  • the depiction of power and privilege in culture (art and music) - official culture vs

 

The changing nature of power and privilege in the 18th century:

  • political authority: the change from a system with a monarch ruling by divine right over his subjects, to a "republic" limited in its power by a constitution and a bill of rights which acts in the name of "her" citizens
  • legal power and privilege: the change from a system designed to protect the power and privileges of the elites and to maintain the system of hierarchy vs a system with the rule of law and equality of rights
  • religious authority: the change from a system where a state-sanctioned Church persecuted religious minorities and non-believers, to a system without an established Church (or one with greatly reduced powers) and where religious toleration was practised or where there was "separation of church and state"
  • power and privilege in the military: a change from the highly organised, aristocrat-led armies of the old regime, to the new armies of the "nation in arms" (France) or "the peoples' war" (America and Spain)
  • power and privilege on the land (within Europe): the change from a system where land-owning lords could expect numerous privileges at the expense of their peasants (or "serfs" in Eastern Europe), to one where many (but not all) were "emancipated"
  • power and privilege in the colonies of Europe: the change from a system of chattel slavery where slave owners exploited black Africans for their labour, to one where slavery was challenged but not overthrown by the 18thC revolutions (except in Haiti)
  • power and privilege within the family: a questioning rather than a revolution in the relationship between husbands and wives
  • power and privilege in the triangular relationship between the state, manufacturers/traders and consumers: a change from a system where the state paid subsidies, issued monopoly charters and regulated trade ("mercantilism"), to one where free trade and "laissez faire" was to become the rule in the 19thC
  • the depiction of power and privilege in culture (art and music): the celebratory and approving depiction of monarchs and rulers was challenged and then replaced by new images of "Liberty" and "The Republic" ("Marianne")

 

POWER AND PRIVILEGE IN THE OLD REGIME

Questions to consider for this section:

  • who had power and privilege in the 18thC?
  • what did this power and privilege consist of and how was it wielded and enjoyed?
  • who had the least power and privilege in the 18thC?
  • what duties and obligations did these people have towards those who had power and privilege?
  • how were these duties and obligations enforced?
  • what was the relationship between the following groups
    • the monarch and his subjects
    • lords and peasants (or serfs)
    • church leaders and believers (and non-believers)
    • officers and enlisted men (and conscripts) in the military
    • slave owners and black Africans
    • husbands and wives
    • manufacturers/traders and consumers

 

THE ENLIGHTENED CRITIQUE OF THE OLD REGIME

Questions to consider for this section:

  • to what extent did "enlightened" thinkers challenge the system of power and privilege of the old regime?
  • why did they do so? what did they find objectionable about the old regime?
  • what social and economic background did "enlightened" thinkers come from?
  • what impact (if any) did they have on the ideas and institutions of the old regime?
  • what did "enlightened" thinkers have to say about the following groups, institutions or practices:
    • the monarchy
    • the nobility
    • the Catholic church
    • the military
    • serfdom
    • the slave trade and slavery itself
    • marriage, women, and the family
    • state-sanctioned trade monopolies, regulated internal trade

 

REFORM AND REVOLUTION: PUTTING ENLIGHTENED IDEAS INTO PRACTICE

Questions to consider for this section:

  • how successful were "enlightened" thinkers in persuading established monarchs (Frederich of Prussia, Catherine of Russia, Maria Theresa and Joseph of Austria) to reform the institutions of the old regime?
  • why is this strategy for change called "enlightened absolutism"?
  • why did this experiment in reform fail?
  • to what extent were the American and French Revolutions attempts (at least initially) to put "enlightened" ideals into practice? Give some examples of this "enlightened" revolutionary agenda? How did they alter the relationships between the following groups:
    • the monarch and his subjects
    • lords and peasants
    • church leaders and believers (and non-believers)
    • slave owners and black Africans
    • husbands and wives
    • manufacturers/traders and consumers
  • why did these reformers believe revolution was necessary in order to change the old regime?
  • how successful were these "enlightened" revolutionaries? where they were successful, why were they successful? where they failed, why did they fail?
  • what legacy did the American and French Revolutions bequeath to the "modern world"?

 


 

I. POWER AND PRIVILEGE IN THE OLD REGIME

[See the Seminar Readings for this topic.]

KEY QUESTIONS

  • in general (i.e. then and now), what is power and privilege and how are they exercised or enjoyed?
  • who had power and privilege in the 18thC?
  • what did this power and privilege consist of and how was it wielded and enjoyed?
  • who had the least power and privilege in the 18thC?
  • what duites and obligations did these people have towards those who had power and privilege?
  • how were these duties and obligations enforced?
  • what was the relationship between the following groups
    • the monarch and his subjects
    • lords and peasants (or serfs)
    • church leaders and believers (and non-believers)
    • officers and enlisted men (and conscripts) in the military
    • slave owners and black Africans
    • husbands and wives
    • manufacturers/traders and consumers

 

KEY CONCEPTS

  • Absolutism
  • Monarchy
  • Orders or Estates
  • Aristocracy or Nobility
  • Church
  • Feudalism
  • Dynasticism
  • Slavery
  • Serfdom
  • Mercantilism
  • Empire

 

FURTHER READING

Key Interpretative Works For this Tutorial Topic

William Doyle, The Old European Order 1660-1800 (Oxford University Press, 1978). "Society", pp. 73-148.

  • Chap. 4 "Ruling Orders", pp. 73-95.
  • Chap. 5 "The Ruled: The Country," pp. 96-125.
  • Chap. 6 "The Ruled: The Town", pp. 126-148.

Jerome Blum, The End of the Old Order in Rural Europe (Princeton University Press, 1978).

  • Part One "The Traditional Order."

Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: from the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (London: Verso, 1997).

 


 

DEFINITION OF "THE OLD REGIME"

maps

  • Europe in 1786
  • Towns and economic life 1660-1800
  • Overseas empire
  • Caribbean 1756

terminology

  • ancien régime
  • ancient or old regime
  • old order

key features of the old regme

  • monarchical system of govt
  • legally privileged orders or estates (nobility, clergy)
  • peasant agriculture (serfdom in Europe, slavery in colonies)
  • state-regulated markets and industry (mercantilism)
  • govt bureaucracy reserved largely for the nobility
  • culture dominated by Catholic Church and courtly life

time frame - from the end of the Thirty Years War (1618-48) to Revolution (1776, 1789)

 

POPULATION AND ECONOMY IN THE OLD REGIME

Population Growth

OH of map of towns

population in 1800

  • Russia 30m
  • France 26m (1790)
  • Italy 18m
  • Spain 11m
  • Britain 9m
  • Brandenburg-Prussia 2m (1770)

Malthusian trap

Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)

 

Urban Life

major cities

  • London 400,000 (1650) to 900,000 (1800)
  • Paris 450,000 (1650) to 550,000 (1800)
  • Berlin 8,000 (1648) to 150,000 (1790)
  • Vienna 220,000 (1790)
  • Warsaw 120,000 (1794)
  • St. Petersburg 218,000 (1789)

port cities (London, Amsterdam, Naples)

court cities (Berlin, Paris, Madrid, Vienna)

conspicuous consumption

guilds

putting out system

proto-industrialisation

  • common rights
  • traditional claims of lord (hunting, labour services, monopolies of milling)
  • system of crop rotation
  • poor quality of livestock & manuring
  • poor communications
  • nature of land ownership

 

Agriculture

Arthur Young, Travels in France (July 1778)

 


 

POWER AND PRIVILEGE IN THE OLD REGIME I: THE "RULERS"

William Doyle, The Old European Order 1660-1800 (Oxford University Press, 1978). "Society", pp. 73-148.

  • Chap. 4 "Ruling Orders", pp. 73-95.
  • Chap. 5 "The Ruled: The Country," pp. 96-125.
  • Chap. 6 "The Ruled: The Town", pp. 126-148.

The Society of Orders

the ruled vs the ruling orders

terminology

  • société d'ordres
  • Ständegesellschaft
  • society of orders
  • society of Estates

 

The Monarchy

  • the idea of divine right of kings
  • the idea of a "body politic"
    • the "head of state"
    • the army as the limbs
    • the people as stomach and legs supporting the state

images of royalty

  • Hyacinth Rigaud's "Louis XIV" (1701)
  • Louis XIV "The King in His Council, the Arbiter of War and Peace" (1682)
  • Louis-Michel Van Loo, Portrait of Louis XV
  • Callet, Portrait of Louis XVI (Salon of 1798)
  • "The King's Cake" (1773) - European monarchs dividing up the "cake" of Poland

primary sources

  • The King's Coucher. From Comtesse de Boigne, Mémoires, Forster, pp. 358-60.
  • Louis XIV "On Kingship" (1666), Church, pp. 69-73.

 

The First Estate - The Clergy

the First Estate - the Clergy/Catholic Church

  • control of education
  • control of belief, censorship
  • provision of public charity

Protestant Reformation

Catholic Counter-Reformation

Thirty Years War

secularisation

dechristianisation

Lisbon earthquake of 1755

"established" church

Index of prohibited books

primary sources

  • The Legal Disabilities of the Jews, "Ordinance Concerning the Jews of the City of Leipzig" (1682), Forster, pp. 399-404

 

The Second Estate - The Nobility

the Second Estate - the Nobility

  • land ownership
  • tax exemptions
  • economic monopolies

taille

seigneurial rights

primary source: - Pierre Goubert, The Ancien Regime: French Society 1600-1750, trans. Steve Cox (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973).

  • Seigneurial Rights 1780, pp. 96-97.

primogeniture

overlordship

court culture

  • Johann Sebastian Bach's "Brandenburg Concertos" (5th Concerto) (1718-21)
  • Joseph Haydn, "Emperor" String Quartet
  • Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-1786) - Flute Concerto no. 3 in C Major.

 

The Third Estate - The Bourgeoisie

town-dweller (burgher) - property owning city dwellers

terminology

  • collective noun (class) - bourgeoisie
  • adjective - bourgeois
  • individual member of the group - a bourgeois (male) or bourgeoise (female)

Alfred Cobban in The Social Interpretation of the French Revolution

 

Economic Regulation - Mercantilism

Mercantilism

economic nationalism (autarchy)

colonial preference - slave or plantation economies

image

  • Claude Lefebrve, "Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Cobert" (1666)

primary sources

  • On the Navigation Acts: "England's Answer" (1651). Rowen, pp. 91-94.
  • Jean-Baptiste Colbert, "The Regulation of Commerce and Industry" (1664), Church, pp. 81-87.

Policing the "Well-Ordered State"

the vast bulk of state resources devoted to maintaining internal (police) and external (military) order

  • tax revolts
  • opposition to conscription
  • political and religious dissent
  • smuggling

images

  • "Louis Mandrin (1755) - bankrupt, smuggler, "Robin Hood"
  • torture and execution of the assassin Robert Damiens 1757

primary sources

  • Judicial Torture and Public Execution, Restifffe de la Bretonne (1788), Forster, pp. 386-89.

The Rituals and Public Ceremonies of Traditional States

originally private functions staged only for members of the ruling elite, e.g. coronations

official culture

idea of the sovereignty of "the people" and/or constitutional limits on royal power challenges the idea of divine right of kings

images

  • Pierre Subleyras, "The Consecration of Louis XV" (1722)

 


 

POWER AND PRIVILEGE IN THE OLD REGIME II: THE "RULED"

Serfs and Peasants

Jerome Blum, The End of the Old Order in Rural Europe (Princeton University Press, 1978)

1770 2/3 of Europe's population (or 100 million) lived in lands where various forms of "serfdom" existed

Serfdom - a condition (servile status) where members of a higher "estate or order" (noble landowners) enjoyed legally protected privileges at the expense of members of a lower estate or order:

  • tax exemptions of nobility
  • peasants forced to pay state taxes (taille), tariffs, salt or tobacco monopoly, quartering of troops
  • noble land ownership with obligations on peasants for coerced labour
  • forced labour and military service to state
  • lack of free movement
  • forced to pay dues to lord (cens or Gült or tithe)

forced labour (barshchina in Russia, robot in the Habsburg lands, corvée in France)

"enlightened" monarchs (Maria Theresa and Joseph II of Austria)

peasant proprietors

seigneurial rights

tithes

salt tax (gabelle in France)

 

Slavery in the Colonies

Robin Blackburn, The Making of New World Slavery: from the Baroque to the Modern, 1492-1800 (London: Verso, 1997).

British Royal African Company 1672

British slave ports:

  • Liverpool
  • Bristol
  • Lancaster

"triangular" trade

"petite" and "grande" route

"middle passage"

mortality rate 2.7-9.6 %

African source of slaves:

  • Angola
  • Congo
  • Gulf of Benin
  • Gold Coast
  • Bight of Biafra

attempts to abolish slave trade:

  • USA 1791, 1794, 1808
  • Denmark 1802
  • Britain 1807

Total exports of slaves from Africa 1450-1900 (Table 1.1)

 

Period Volume %of total
1450-1600 367,000 3.1
1601-1700 1,868,000 16.0
1701-1800 6,133,000 52.4
1801-1900 3,330,000 28.5
Total 11,698,000 100.0

principal slave trading nations in 18thC (total 6.1m) (Blackburn, p. 383)

  • England - 2.5 million
  • Portugal - 1.8m
  • France - 1.2m

main slave buying nations

  • Brazil - 31%
  • English Caribbean - 23%
  • French Caribbean - 22%
  • Spanish America - 9.6%
  • Dutch Caribbean - 7.6%
  • English North America - 6%

slave population in the Americas (Blackburn, p. 377)

  • 1700 - 330,000
  • 1800 - 3,000,000+

slave population in the Caribbean islands (French and English) (Blackburn, p. 404)

 

Period French British
1680 11,000 64,000
1690 27,000 95,000
1710 60,000 130,000
1730 169,000 219,000
1750  265,000 295,000 
1770 379,000 428,000
1790 675,000 480,000

 

OH - sugar factories and slaves on Santo Domingo (1686-1789)

"plantocracies" (Caribbean islands and mainland America/Brazil)

  • rule by powerful plantation owning class of Europeans
  • plantations s supply metropole with cash crops - sugar, indigo, tobacco
  • use of slave labour
  • controlled by slave overseer
  • control maintained by slave codes

slave codes (French Code Noir 1685, Virginai 1705)

  • black slaves treatd as chattel property (manumission very difficult)
  • restrict movement of slaves - pass laws
  • control work practices
  • punish dissent, running away, sabotage, resistance (whipping, mutilation, execution by slow burning or stragulation/starvation by gibbet)

slave resistance

  • running away
  • maroon communities of escaped slaves
  • slave revolts (Jamaica - 1730s, 1760, 1831) (Haiti 1790s)

images

  • a sugar mill in St Domingue

primary sources

  • Olaudah Equiano African slave (1789), Craton, pp. 38-42.
  • On the slave trade from Africa: John Atkins naval surgeon (1735), Craton, pp. 24-33
  • On the Caribbean plantations: Barbadian planters answer a Parliamentary inquiry of 1788-89, Craton, pp. 87-97.
  • On Slave Law: "An Act for the Better Government of Negroes..." (Bermuda, 1764), Craton, pp. 175-78.

 

Women

upper class women excluded from direct particpation in politics

emergence in late 17thC of indirect means of exerting political influence - salon

  • hostess (salonière) invites powerful men to private meeting
  • witty conversation and sex
  • sponsoring art and literature (protection from consorship) - Voltaire
  • impact on 18thC Enlightenment - space for discussion of new ideas independent of court
  • Marquise du Deffand 1720s
  • Suzanne Necker 1760s and 1770s
  • ended with Revolutilon - women "too politically influential"

no such opportunities for middle class and peasant women - physical labour in home, workshop or field

primary sources

  • "The Frederician Code (Prussia, 1750)" Bell, pp. 31-33 and
  • Sir William Blackstone (England, 1756)" Bell, pp. 33-34.

 


 

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

THE STATE IN THE ANCIEN REGIME: GOVERNMENT, ARMIES, BUREAUCRACY

"absolute" monarchy

parlements

constitutional monarchy

William of Orange (1688)

Louis XIV the "Sun King"

Estates General (1614, 1789)

"standing" armies

Prussian War Office (Generalkriegskommissariat)

tax-farmers

farmers-general

Bank of England (1694)

 

THE CRISIS OF THE ANCIEN REGIME: WAR AND TAXES

democractic, trans-Atlantic revolution of R.R. Palmer

Seven Years War (1756-63) - "world war" between France and Britain for control of North America

reform bureaucrats in France

  • Maupeou
  • Terray
  • Turgot
  • Necker

Assembly of Notables

 


 

II. The Enlightened Critique of the Old Regime

[See the Seminar Readings for this topic. Also some Additional Readings on the Enlightenment.]

KEY QUESTIONS

  • to what extent did "enlightened" thinkers challenge the system of power and privilege of the old regime?
  • why did they do so? what did they find objectionable about the old regime?
  • what social and economic background did "enlightened" thinkers come from?
  • what impact (if any) did they have on the ideas and institutions of the old regime?
  • what did "enlightened" thinkers have to say about the following groups, institutions or practices:
    • the monarchy
    • the nobility
    • the Catholic church
    • the military
    • serfdom
    • the slave trade and slavery itself
    • marriage, women, and the family
    • state-sanctioned trade monopolies, regulated internal trade

 

KEY CONCEPTS

  • Enlightenment
  • Philosophes
  • Reason
  • Science
  • Republicanism
  • Liberty
  • Equality
  • Nature
  • Laissez-faire
  • Constitutionalism

 

FURTHER READING

Key Interpretative Works For this Tutorial Topic

Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: A Comprehensive Anthology, ed. Peter Gay (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973).

The Enlightenment in National Context, ed. Roy Porter and Mikulás Teich (Cambridge University Press, 1981).

Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation (New York: Norton, 1977), 2 vols.

 


 

INTRODUCTION

WHAT IS "THE ENLIGHTENMENT"?

terminology

  • Enlightenment
  • Aufklärung
  • siècle des lumières
  • illuminismo

Immanuel Kant "What is the Enlightenment?" (1784)

Dare to know! (Sapere aude)

Sir Isaac Newton, Principia mathematica (1687)

Key enlighhtened ideas

  • Reason and the critical method
  • Natural law and Science
  • Natural laws of human society - political economy
  • Power of knowledge to improve society
  • Reforms in religion, law, economy, art and literature
  • Optimism

 

DIDEROT AND THE "ENCLYCLOPEDIE"

Peter France, Diderot (Oxford University Press, 1983).

Denis Diderot, Encyclopédie (1751-72) - Encyclopaedia or reasoned dictionary of science, arts and crafts

philosophe - active man of letters ("engagé"), e.g. Confucius, emperor Marcus Aurelius, Pierre Bayle

Diderot's "preceptor of mankind"

republic of letters

Overhead of some engravings from Encyclopédie.

  • Traditional agriculture: cultivation of the vine
  • Windmill - importance of wind power before development of steam engine in late 18th C
  • Blast furnace - even in supposedly technical articles the liberal spirit of criticism and reform is introduced. Note fig.4 man with cocked hat and quill pen, calculating feudal dues. No such person in England, freedom to industrialise.
  • Wigmaker- went out of fashion with the Revolution, aristocratic item of dress
  • Military drill - drill instrument of discipline and ritualised combat. 27-29 Ready aim fire. 30-36 reload and cock (cartridge to be torn open by teeth in 33)
  • Skeleton leaning on a shovel

 


 

ENLIGHTENED CRITIQUES OF THE OLD REGIME

I. ART AS A WEAPON - FRANCISCO DE GOYA Y LUCIENTES (1746-1828)

Gwyn A. Williams, Goya and the Impossible Revolution (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984). Chapter 3 "The Caprichos," pp. 37-59.

Online images:

  • Goya's paintings and the Disasters of War
  • The Caprices

 

Rafael Alberti:

Sweetness, rape,

laughter, violence,

swmiling, blood,

scaffold, feasting.

There is a sleeping devil who pursues

light and darkness with a knife. (Sanchez, p. 7)

Royal Tapestry Manufactury of Santa Barbara

Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos

the "illustrados"

occupation of Spain (1808-1812)

"The Club Duel" between 2 peasants

"The Disasters of War"

"Disparates"

  • "The Second of May 1808 in Madrid: Charge of the Marmelukes"
  • "The Third of May 1808: Executions on Principe Pio Hill"

revolt of Colonel Riego in 1820

restoration of absolute monarch 1823

exile in Bordeaux

Los Caprichos (1799) or "Ideology made graphic" - The Caprices

 

II. THE CRITIQUE OF RELIGIOUS AUTHORITY - FRANCOIS-MARIE AROUET "VOLTAIRE" (1694-1778)

Peter Gay, Voltaire's Politics: The Poet as Realist (New York: Vintage, 1975).

François-Marie Arouet (1694- 1778) "Voltaire"

  • Letters Concerning the English (1733)
  • Candide, or Optimism (1759)
  • Dictionnaire philosophique (1764) - E-Text extracts (HTML)
  • Treatise on Toleration on the Occasion of the Death of Jean Calas (1763)

E-texts of Candide:

  • Facsimile of first edition in French (PDF) - 11.3 MB
  • E-Text in English (HTML)
  • E-Text in French (HTML)

Marquise Émilie du Châtelet

Cirey

Ferney, Lorraine

King Frederick II of Prussia (Frederick the Great)

Lisbon earthquake (1755)

Seven Years War (1756-63)

"écrasez l'infâme"

Chevalier de la Barre

Saint Bartholemew's Day Massacre 1572

Toulouse

Jean & Marc-Antoine Calas

 

III. OPPOSITION TO SLAVERY

The Emergence of Abolitionist Thought in the Enlightenment

18thC grounds for opposing slavery:

  • natural rights theory
  • Christian and secular humanitarianism
  • economic efficiency of free labour
  • historical inevitability

first step to abolish slave trade

Chevalier de Jaucourt, Encyclopaedia

  • "Slavery" (1755)
  • "Slave Trade" (1765)

Voltaire, Candide (1759) - "that's the price of your eating sugar in Europe"

  • Illustrations to Voltaire's Candide (1759) "The Price of eating Sugar"

Guillaume Raynal, Histoire philosophique et politique des Deux Indes (1772)

 

Organised Opposition to Slavery - England

Quakers

evangelical Christians

Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade 1787

Thomas Clarkson (1760-1846)

  • leader of British abolitionist movement from 1786
  • pioneer in mobilising mass movement (petitions, lobbying Parliament, public lectures)
  • active historian of slave trade (demonstrated high mortality rates)
  • An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particulary the African (1786)
  • A Summary View of the Slave-Trade, and of the Probable Consequences of its Abolition (1787)
  • An Essay on the Impolicy of the African Slave Trade (1788)
  • led Parliamentary investigation into trade 1789
  • 1st bill passed Lower House but not Lords 1792
  • History of the Rise, Progress, and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1808)

William Wilberforce

Thomas Paine (1737-1807)

  • active in both American and French Revolutions
  • "Anti-slavery in America" (1775) - argued for radical position of total abolition
  • clerk of Pennsylvania Assembly - Bill to Abolish Slavery 1780
  • Common Sense (1776)
  • Rights of Man (1791-92)
  • parallel between rights claimed by Americans against Britain, and rights claimed by black slaves vs slave owners
  • freed slaves should be offered grnats of land to turn them into capitalist farmers

William Blake, "A Negro Hung Alive by the Ribs to a Gallows" (1796) (b&w) - (Colour)

 

Organised Opposition to Slavery - France

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755)

  • 15th Book of Spirit of the Laws (1748)
  • explained slavery as consequence of climate theory
  • slavery is an affront to morality and liberty, violation of natural laws, politically dangerous (revolts)

aristocratic humanism - "the Friends of the Blacks" - the "Société des amis des noirs" (Society of the friends of the blacks) 1788-1793

  • founded by Jacques-Pierre Brissot de Warville
  • equal rights for free balcks, end to slave trade, gradual abolition of slavery
  • aristocratic members, Girondists (admitted women)
  • petitioned National Assembly to apply principles of 1789 to blacks
  • Girondist government (1792-93) - rights for mulattoes
  • rise of jacobins and Haitian revolt ended reform

Abbé Henri Grégoire (1750-1831)

  • bishop of Blois defended rights of Jews and slaves
  • member of the National Assembly Credentials Committee - recognised free blacks of Caribbean over planters as representatives of colonies
  • Mémoire en faveur des gens de couleur (1789) - enfranchising mulattoes (mixed race) and free blacks
  • headed enquiry into slave revolts in Haiti 1794

Abbé Guillaume-Thomas-François Raynal (1713-1796)

  • best-selling anti-slavery book Historie philosophique et politique du commerce et des éstablissments des Européens dans les deux Indes (1780, 3rd edition) (co-writen with Diderot and other Enccyclopédists
  • book banned and Grégoire forced into exile, thus guaranteeing its bestselling status
  • predicted inevitable rise of "black Spartacus" to lead slaves to freedom (Haiti 1791)

Girondins vs Jacobins

1790-91 slave revolts in Martinique and St. Domingue (Haiti)

Abolition of slavery 2 February 1794, reimposed by Napoleon 1802

 

JEAN-ANTOINE-NICOLAS CARITAT, MARQUIS DE CONDORCET (1743-1794)

Keith Michael Baker, Condorcet: From Natural Philosophy to Social Mathematics (The University of Chicago Press, 1975). Chapter 6 "The Esquisse: History and Social Science," pp. 343-382.

secretary of the French Academy of Sciences (from 1776)

elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1791

member of Convention in 1792

public education and constitutional reform

Jacobin repression vs. liberal Girondin group

Turgot Controller-General 1774-76

Inspecteur des Monnaies in 1774

laissez-faire reform such as the abolition of forced labour (the corvée) and seigneurial dues

Sophie de Grouchy (married 1786) - salon

Society of Thirty and the Society of 1789

On the Admission of Women to the Rights of Citizenship in 1790

constitutional plan to the Convention's Constitutional Committee

Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain (1795)

Condorcet and anti-slavery

  • Remarques sur les pensées de Pascal (1776) - natural rights of men take precedence
  • Reflections on Black Slavery (1781, 1788) - "Pastor Schwarz" - plan to gradually abolish slavery, gross violation of individual rights
  • founding member of the "Société des amis des noirs" (Society of the friends of the blacks) 1788-1793

 

Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797)

one of the few ex-slaves to leave a written memoir of 18thC slavery

founder of genre of "slave narrative" in English language

  • born SW Nigeria 1745
  • kidnapped at age 11
  • sent to Virginia via West Indies to be sold to a planter
  • resold to Naval officer who served in Seven Years War
  • resold again to West Iindian planter 1762
  • bought his freedom 1766
  • life as commercial sailor, writer, overseer (of other balck slaves)
  • converted to Methodism, married a white Englishwoman Susanna Cullen (1792)
  • active in British anti-slavery movement
  • The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa the African, Written by Himself (1789) - 9 editions 1789-1794

 

IV. THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN - MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT (1759-97)

Miriam Brody, "Introduction" to Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, ed. Miriam Brody (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992), pp. 1-70.

the Eighteenth-Century Commonwealthman tradition

the individualist/liberal feminist tradition

Enlightened and liberal agenda - the rights to life, liberty and property

Dissenters

Dr. Richard Price

Thoughts on the Education of Daughters: with Reflections on Female Conduct, in the More Important Duties of Life (1787)

character is formed by environment

individualist anarchist William Godwin

Mary, A Fiction (1788)

Original Stories from Real Life (1788)

Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) reply to Edmund Burke, Reflection of the French Revolution (1790)

Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) - E-Text

"a revolution in female manners"

An Historical and Moral View of the Origins and Progress of the French Revolution; and the Effect it has Produced in Europe (1794)

"fair form of Liberty" vs "despotism of licientiuous freedom"

Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1796)

Godwin, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Political Justice and its Influence on Genberal Virtue and Happiness (1793)

Mary Shelley (1797-1851) author of Frankenstein (1818)

Posthumous Novel about the Wrongs Done to Women

The Wrongs of Women, or Maria (1798 - published posthumously)

 

V. OPERA AND LIBERTY - WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791)

Nicholas Till, Mozart and the Enlightenment: Truth, Virtue and Beauty in Mozart's Operas (London: Faber and Faber, 1992).

Paul Robinson, Opera and Ideas: From Mozart to Strauss (New York: Harper and Row, 1985).

Mozart (Salzburg, 1756 - Vienna, 1791)

"The Marriage of Figaro" (1786)

works of 1791

  • "La Clemenza di Tito"
  • "Die Zauberflöte"
  • Requiem Mass

"The Clemency of Tito" (1791) and Enlightened Despotism

John A. Rice, W.A. Mozart, La Clemenza di Tito, (Cambridge University Press, 1991).

Mestastasio

coronations of Leopold II of Austria in 1790-1

  • Emperor of Holy Roman Empire in October 1790
  • King of Hungary in November 1790
  • King of Bohemia in September 1791

United States of Belgium 20 January 1790

Bohemian Estates

Titus Flavius Vespasianus 79-81 AD

 

"The Magic Flute" (1791): Free Masonry and Enlightenment

H.C. Robbins Landon, Mozart and the Masons (London: Thames and Hudson, 1991).

Peter Branscome, W.A. Mozart, Die Zauberflöte, (Cambridge University Press, 1991).

Masonic lodge "Zur Wohltätigkeit" (Beneficence)

Bildungsoper

Key Passages/Exerpts from Opera

SARASTRO

Within these halls so holy

Is vengeance all unknown

And when a man is fallen

By love is duty shown.

Then enters he by friendship's hand,

Fulfilled, content, a better land.

 

Within these walls so holy

Where men by love do live,

No vengeance can lie hidden;

We all sins do forgive.

Who hath no joy in this fair teaching

Is far beneath man's just deserving

Papageno: "There are black birds in the world, why not black men?"

Papageno (to Prince Tamino): "I am a man just like you."

 


 

III. Reform and Revolution: Putting the Ideas of the Enlightenment into Practice

[See the Seminar Readings for this topic.]

KEY QUESTIONS

  • how successful were "enlightened" thinkers in persuading established monarchs (Frederich of Prussia, Catherine of Russia, Maria Theresa and Joseph of Austria) to reform the institutions of the old regime?
  • why is this strategy for change called "enlightened absolutism"?
  • why did this experiment in reform fail?
  • to what extent were the American and French Revolutions attempts (at least initially) to put "enlightened" ideals into practice? Give some examples of this "enlightened" revolutionary agenda? How did they alter the relationships between the following groups:
    • the monarch and his subjects
    • lords and peasants
    • church leaders and believers (and non-believers)
    • slave owners and black Africans
    • husbands and wives
    • manufacturers/traders and consumers
  • why did these reformers believe revolution was necessary in order to change the old regime?
  • how successful were these "enlightened" revolutionaries? where they were successful, why were they successful? where they failed, why did they fail?
  • what legacy did the American and French Revolutions bequeath to the "modern world"?

 

KEY CONCEPTS

  • Enlightened Despotism
  • Consitutionalism
  • Bill of Rights
  • Natural Rights
  • Revolution
  • Right of Rebellion
  • Regicide
  • Counter-Revolution

 


 

FURTHER READING

Key Interpretative Works For this Tutorial Topic

Reform and Revolution in General

Enlightened Absolutism: Reform and Reformers in Later Eighteenth-Century Europe, ed. H.M. Scott (London: Macmillan, 1990).

R.R. Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800, vol. 1 The Challenge, vol. 2 The Struggle (Princeton University Press, 1959, 1964).

The American Revolution

Gordon S. Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992).

The Bill of Rights: Original Meaning and Current Understanding, ed. Eugene W. Hickock, Jr. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991).

The French Revolution

William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution (Oxford University Press, 1990).

The French Idea of Freedom: The Old Regime and the Declaration of Rights of 1789, ed. Dale Van Kley (Stanford University Press, 1994).

 


 

I. THE NEED TO CHANGE - THE "CRISIS" OF THE OLD REGIME

the crisis of the old order

  • the increasing cost of government (war and international rivalry, empire) - France, Prussia
  • the unequal nature of the tax base (privileged groups exempt - nobles, church)
  • resentment against imposition of new taxes - serfs in France, colonists in America
  • resentment against increased centralisation of government power - nobility vs. monarchy
  • growing indebtedness of nobility
  • the demographic revolution - rapid population growth in late 18thC
  • loss of legitimacy - science vs religion, enlightened critique

costs of constant war 1700-1783

  • War of Spanish Succession (1702-13) - 12 yrs
  • War of Polish Succession (1733-35) - 3 yrs
  • War of Austrian Succession (1740-48) - 7 yrs
  • Seven Years War

Seven Years War (1756-63)

  • "world war" between France and Britain for control of North America
  • France and Austria vs Prussia in Europe

 

II. ATTEMPTS AT REFORM FROM WITHIN - "ENLIGHTENED DESPOTISM"

enlightened reform in the smaller states

  • Denmark - Dr. Struensee's reforms 1770-72
  • Tuscany
  • Baden
  • Mainz

enlightened despots

  • Frederick II of Prussia
  • Catherine II of Russia
  • Maria Theresa and Joseph II of Austria

enlightened reforms of Frederick the Great of Prussia

  • a "Generallandschulreglement" of 1763 to implement a uniform national system of primary schools
  • the "Landratsreform" (local or regional govt) of 1766
  • custom and excise reforms of 1766
  • agrarian reforms 1765-1770
  • and the codification of Prussian law of 1794 (model for Napoleon's code of 1804)
  • aim was to increase economic output and make state more efficient in order to wage war more effectively - "warrior state"

enlightened reforms of Maria Theresa and Joseph II of Austria

  • freedom of the press (1780-90)- relaxation of censorship (number of publishers 1780 6 rose to 21 in 1787)
  • religious toleration garanteed, monasteries dissolved
  • abolition of serfdom
  • abolition of death penalty
  • "Leibeigenschaftsaufhebungspatent" (Patent to Abolish Serfdom of 1781) - abolish the "Robot" (feudal labour service) in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia
  • reforms aimed to reduce power of nobility and to create unitary state
  • reforms rescinded after French Revolution broke out - fear of republicanism and democracy

Quote from Joseph II's Abolition of Personal Servitude in Bohemia, 1781.

Mozart's opera in praise of enlightened despostism - "The Clemency of Titus" (1791)

reform bureaucrats in France

  • Maupeou - 1768-1771 attempted reform of the law (parlements) failed
  • Terray - 1771 increased taxation to balance budget and pay war debts
  • Turgot - 1774 attempted abolition of corvée and deregulation of grain trade failed
  • Necker - 1781 raised more war loans to fund American war (1786 debt service half total revenue)

near bankrupt French state forced to recall near defunct estates general in 1788 to vote for increased taxation - trigger for French Revolution

 

III. THE REVOLUTIONARY OVERTHROW OF THE OLD REGIME - "THE AGE OF DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTIONS"

terminology

  • the age of revolutions (Doyle) 1770-1800
  • the age of democratic revolution (Palmer)
  • the trans-Atlantic revolution (Godechot)

18thC "revolutions for liberty"

  • the American Revolution 1775-1783
  • the French Revolution(s) 1789-?

the problem of "cause" and "effect"

  • did institutional crises "produce" revolutionaraies and the revolution?
  • or did the revolutionaries (and revolutionary ideas) "cause" the revolutions?

revolutionary "moments"

  • Geneva 1768
  • North America 1768 (Boston Massacre 1770)
  • Pugachev peasant revolt in Russia 1773-75
  • Flour War in Paris 1775
  • Ireland 1778
  • Amsterdam 1783
  • Belgium 1787
  • France 1788-89
  • Haiti 1791
  • Poland 1791
  • Switzerland 1792
  • Belgium, Savoy, Rhineland 1792
  • Netherlands 1795
  • Italy 1796

slave revolts

  • Martinique 1789
  • Pointe Couopée (Spanish Louisiana) 1795
  • Curacao 1795
  • Demarara 1795
  • Jamaica 1795-6
  • Tabogo 1801
  • Guadaloupe 1802
  • Barbados 1816

new political ideologies of revolutionary period

  • in favour of reform
    • radicalism/Jacobinism
    • democracy
    • liberalism
    • republicanism
    • socialism
    • feminism
  • against reform
    • conservatism (counter-revolution)

challenges to the idea of divine right of kings

  • idea of the sovereignty of "the people"
  • constitutional limits on royal power
  • declarations of rights of man

 


 

IV. THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

The American War of Independence

Treaty of Paris 1763 ended Seven years War between France (Quebec and Louisiana) and Britain (Atlantic colonies)

American colonists' resentment against Britain after 1763

  • ban on Americans settling in territory annexed from France
  • increased taxation imposed on colonists to pay for war
  • tightening of trade restrictions to force colonists to buy goods from Britain (not directly from Caribbean - molasses)
  • 1765 Stamp tax applied to official documents and newspapers
  • 1766 new taxes on paper, glass, tea
  • 1773 monopoly of sale of tea in colonies granted to East India Company

colonial assemblies (merchants and planters) complained to British Parliament

  • "no taxation without representation" vs. idea of "virtual representation"

economic boycott of English goods, customs officials beaten up

British soldiers fire on rioters in Boston (3 killed - Boston Massacre of March 1770)

smuggling of tea to avoid monopoly of East India Company - "Boston Tea Party" December 1773 dumped tead overboard

"Coercive Acts" introduced 1774 - port of Boston closed, elected officials replaced by British appointments

calling of Continental Congress, Philadelphia 5 September 1774

  • protest against Coercive Acts - association of all 13 colonies
  • organised more effective economic boycott

British soldiers under General Gage (Commander at Boston) attempted to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock

  • April 18 1775 shots fired at Lexington by 50 "patriots" forcing "Red Coats" to withdraw

Second Contintental Congress May 1775

  • called citizens "to arms" under General George Washington

idea of political independence vs more autonomy within British empire

1776

  • Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776) - best seller called for full independence and creation of a republic - E-Text
  • Thomas Jefferson, "Declaration of Independence" 4 July 1776

international support for America from France, Spain, United Provinces (Netherlands)

British army surrended at Yorktown 19 October, 1781

Articles of Confederation adopted 1781 - colonies formed into loose federal union

Anglo-French Treaty of Versailles 1783 recongised independent USA

Constitution adopted 17 September, 1787 - came into force 4 March, 1789

12 Amendments to the Constitution - "The Bill of Rights" (1789-91)

 

The American Revolution and Enlightened Reform

Henry Steele Commager, The Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America realized the Enlightenment (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978).

end of old regime in British America

  • state and federal constitutions and declarations of rights limited government power
  • near full male "suffrage" (democracy)
  • gradual end of feudal dues
  • civil and political equality for white males (women and slaves exception)
  • slavery and slave trade abolished in some northern states

the image of "light"

  • James Trenchard, "Temple of Liberty," The Columbian Magazine (Philadelphia, 1788), pp. 473. Engraving from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the U.S. Library of Congress. Online US Library of Congress exhibit: A More Perfect Union: Symbolizing the National Union of States
  • see also "America trampling on Oppression" -  Minerva, or Civic Virtue, Associated with Franklin and Washington W.D. Cooper "America Trampling on Oppression" The History of North America, E. Newberry: London, 1789, frontispiece Rare Book and Special Collections Division Library of Congress (18)

individual natural rights

  • universal applicability of Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) and French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (1789) vs.
  • rights of Americans (citizens) in Declaration of Independence (1776) - Jefferson's rough draft and the adopted version
  • 12 Amendments to the Constitution - "The Bill of Rights" (1789-91)

first steps to abolish slavery and slave trade

  • An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery (Pennsylvania 1780)
  • An Act to Prohibit the Carrying on the Slave Trade from the United States to any Foreign Place or Country (1794)
  • An Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves into any Port or Place Within the Jurisdiction of the United States, From and After the First Day of January, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eight (1807)

The Thomas Paine Reader, ed. Isaac Kramnick (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987).

  • Song "Liberty Tree" (1775) pp. 63-64.

 


 

V. THE FRENCH REVOLUTION(S)

The Many Faces of the French Revolution

financial and institutional crisis of the old regime

the aristocratic revolution or pre-revolution (1787-89)

  • rivalry between monarchy and nobility over taxation
  • noble opposition in the "parlements" which had to ratify laws
  • calling of Assembly of Notables 22 February 1787 - refused new tax laws
  • noble pressure on king to call archaic Estates General (clergy, nobles, third estate) - last met 1614 - nobles hoped for support of Third Estate against King
  • demand by "bourgeoisie" for greater representation in Third Estate
  • election of deputies and drawing up grievence lists (cahiers de doléance) February-May 1789
  • meeting of Estates General 5 May, 1789 at Versailles

the start of the French Revolution - June/July/August 1789

  • Third Estate declares itself the representative of the nation - National Assembly 17 June - with power to consent to taxation
  • King attempts to close down Third Estate 20 June
  • removal of Third Estate to nearby "tennis court" - Tennis Court oath never to disband (David's sketch)
  • reform-minded clergy and nobles join Third Estate 24-25 June
  • declared itself National Constituent Assembly 9 July - to draw up new constitution
  • "Great Fear" in countryside of royal and noble suppression of Third Estate
  • dismissal of Necker by King 12 July trigger for popular uprisings in Paris
  • 14 July mob seizes arsenal and royal prison in Paris - Bastille (symbolic beginning of the French Revolution)
  • formation of insurrectionary city government and militia (National Guard) in Paris 12-15 July
  • spread of revolution to provinces
  • peasants take matters into own hands and destroy records of feudal dues
  • alliance between bourgeoisie and peasantry - 4 August legislation to end "feudalism"
  • "Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen" adopted 29 August, 1789

first phase of the "revolution" under the National Constituent Assembly (1789-1791) and under Legislative Assembly (1791-1792)

  • dismantle old regime and replace with liberal, enlightened reforms
  • constitutional monarchy - Constitution of 1791
  • freedom of press
  • abolition of tithes and sale of church lands
  • agrarian reforms - more widespread private land ownership
  • deregulation of the economy - abolition of guilds, laissez-faire in trade, end of price controls, uniform weights and measures (metric system), abolition of privileged trading companies
  • participation of political clubs - Friends of the Constitution or "Jacobins" (Paris club met in fomer convent of Jacobins or Domincan friars)

divisions within the bourgeoisie

  • monarchists vs republicans (moderates vs regicides)
  • Girondins vs Jacobins
  • pro vs anti-war
  • radical vs moderate democrats
  • laissez-faire vs interventionists

other groups demanding a voice in the "revolution"

  • peasants
  • artisans from towns and cities (sans culottes)
  • slaves
  • women

turning point in Revolution (1792-4) - National Convention and the Terror

  • war against external enemies of the revolution - war and conquest from 20 April 1792 to 1815
  • fall of the monarchy - 10 August 1792
  • creation of National Covention - August 1792 - based on universal male suffrage
  • arrest, trial and execution (21 January 1793) of King Louis XVI
  • war of conquest to "liberate" the people of Europe from "feudalism" - 1793 - universal military service or levy en masse
  • creation of first republic - Constitution of Year I (1793)
  • war against internal enemies of the revolution - Jacobin Terror from October 1793 to July 1794 - Committee of Public Safety (300-500,000 imprisoned, 17,000 executed, 30-40,000 killed in total)
  • revolutionary dictatorship of Robespierre
  • war inflation and shortages - Maximum price controls on food, death penalty for food hoarders
  • fall of Robespierre 9 Thermidor (27 July 1794) and end of Terror
  • "Thermidorean" government ended price controls, policy of separation of church and state, won militry victories, annexed neighbouring states to France (Belgium, Rhineland, Nice, Savoy)

external aspects of the revolution

  • impact on radicals in other countries - Britain, Latin America, Caribbean - "the Friends of Liberty"
  • support for independent (parallel) revolutions in other European countries
  • conquest of neighbouring countries to impose "reform from above"
  • militarisation of the revolution (Terror then Napoleon's Empire)

organisation of "counter-revolution"

  • military opposition organised by British in defence of European monarchies and old order - First Coalition
  • support for exiled aristocrats (émigrés) and royalty
  • development of ideology of "conservatism" - Edmund Burke, Reflections on the French Revoltuion (1790)

 

The French Revolution and Enlightened Reform

the end of the old regime in France (1789-1793)

  • end of officially sanctioned hierarchy and privilege - equality before the law, abolition of personal servitude (serfdom) and eventually slavery
  • opening of government posts and army to non-nobles
  • abolition of tithes (church), sale of church land
  • abolition of restrictions on trade within France - "laissez faire, laissez passer"
  • abolition of the monarchy

the image of "light"

  • "Regenerated Man holding a Mattock"

the sovereignty of the Third Estate or the "people"

  • Abbé Sieyès, What is the Third Estate? (1789)
  • the trial of Louis XVI & regicide - Speeches by Saint-Just and Robespierre (representing the Radical Jacobins) and Condorcet and Thomas Paine (representing the liberal Gironde group)
  • republican constitutions - The Constitution of 1793 (24 June, 1793).

individual rights

  • the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen" (1789) - English and French versions. Avalon Project: Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen
  • the abolition of "serfdom" - August 4th Decrees, 4-11 August, 1789 - .E-Text version.

women's rights

  • Condorcet's "Plea for the Citizenship of Women" (1790)
  • Olympe de Gouges, "The Rights of Women" (1791)
  • Pauline Léon, "Petition to the National Assembly on Women's Rights to Bear Arms" (1791)
  • "Decree Regulating Divorce 20 September, 1792"

the abolition of slavery

 

VI. THE REVOLUTION IN HAITI

(material to be added later)

 


 

A CHRONOLOGY OF SERF EMANCIPATION DECREES (1771-1815)

See Jerome Blum, The End of the Old Order in Rural Europe (Princeton University Press, 1978), p. 356

Pre-Revolutionary Emancipation Decrees

  • 19 December, 1771 - Savoy
  • 23 July, 1783 - Baden
  • 20 June, 1788 - Denmark

French Revolution and Napoleonic Empire (1789-1815)

  • 3 November, 1789 - France
  • 4 May, 1798 - Switzerland
  • 19 December, 1804 - Schleswig-Holstein
  • 22 July, 1807 - Poland (Grand Duchy of Warsaw)
  • 9 October, 1807 - Prussia
  • 31 August, 1808 - Bavaria
  • 1 September, 1812 - Nassau

 

CHRONOLOGY OF MEASURES TAKEN AGAINST SLAVERY (1772-1820)

  • 1772 - Lord Mansfield declares slaves free upon entering British Isles (thus illegal to repossess fugitive slaves)
  • 1783 - English "Society of Friends" (Quakers) form anti-slavery association
  • 1787 - William Wilberforce's "Abolition Society" founds Freetown, Sierra Leone as home for liberated slaves
  • 1789 - France's new constitution abolishes slavery (revoked by Napoleon)
  • 1791 - slave revbellion on French colony of Saint Domingue; independence achieved 1798
  • 1791, 1794 - 1st US measures taken against slave trade
  • 1803 - Denmark abolishes slave trade
  • 1806 - British Parliament outlaws British participation in slave trade to foreign countries (2/3 of British slave trade)
  • 1807 - British Abolition Act bans any British participation in slave trade, Royal Navy blocades West African coast
  • 1808 - US abolishes slave trade
  • 1811 - British Parliament declares any subject engaging in slave trade is a pirate
  • 1814 - Treaty of Paris - France and Britain declare slave trade is "repugnant to principles of natural justice". France agrees to limit trade to its own colonies and abolish trade in 5 years
  • 1815 - Congress of Vienna condemns slave trade
  • 1818 - France outlaws slave trade
  • 1820s - slavery outlawed in newly independent Latin American republics

 

CHRONOLOGY AND PHASES OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION (1789-1815)

1. The Aristocratic Pre-Revolution (1787-1789)

  • February 22 1787 summoning of Assembly of Notables
  • 5 May 1789 Meeting of the Estates-General

2. The Revolution (1789-1795)

First Phase - Constitutional Monarchism

  • 14 July 1789 Fall of Bastille
  • July 1789-September 1791 National Constituent Assembly
  • October 1791-August 1792 Legislative Assembly

Second Phase - Republicanism

  • 1792-1804 First French Republic
  • April 1793 War against Austria and First Coalition (1793)
  • September 1792-October 1795 National Convention
  • 21 January 1793 Execution of Louis XVI

Third Phase - The Terror

  • 1793-1794 The Terror (Committee of Public Safety)
  • 27 July 1794 Fall of Robespierre ("Thermidor")
  • 11 October 1795 Annexation of Belgium (8 new departments within Republic).

3. The Directory (1795-1799)

  • Formation of the Directory 3 November 1795
  • 1796-1797 Bonaparte's victories in Italy
  • 1798-1799 Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt
  • 1799 Incorporation of German west bank of Rhine (4 departments)

4. The Consulate (1799-1804)

  • 9 November 1799 Coup d'état of "18th Brumaire"
  • 15 December Constitution of Year VIII
  • 17 February Law on Administrative reorganization of France
  • 14 June 1800 Battle of Marengo and Defeat of Austria
  • 15 July 1801 Concordat with Pope
  • 25 March 1802 Treaty of Amiens - Peace with Britain
  • 1 May 1802 Law on education - creation of lycées
  • 19 May 1802 Creation of Legion of Honour
  • 2 August 1802 Proclamation of Life Consulship
  • 21 March 1804 Proclamation of the Civil Code (Code Napoléon)
  • 11 September 1802 Annexation of kingdom of Piedmont (6 departments)
  • 1805-07 annexation of Republic of Genoa, Tuscany, Parma

5. The Empire (1804-1815)

  • 18 May 1804 Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor
  • 2 December 1804 Coronation of Napoléon at Notre Dame
  • 2 December 1805 Battle of Austerlitz - Defeat of Austria (followed by defeat of Prussia and Russia in 1806-7)
  • 21 November 1806 Berlin Decree creates Continental Blockade prohibiting trade with Britain
  • 27 February 1808 Invasion of Spain - war 1808-1813
  • 17 February 1810 Annexation of Rome to Empire (Napoleon's heir to be King of Rome)
  • 13 December 1810 Annexation of Holland and Northwest Germany (Hamburg and Bremen) to Empire (total of 130 departments)
  • 24 June 1812 Invasion of Russia
  • 16-19 October 1813 Napoléon defeated at Battle of Leipzig - withdrawal from Germany
  • 6 April 1814 Abdication of Napoléon
  • 3 May Restoration of Bourbon Monarchy Louis XVIII
  • 4 May 1814 Napoléon exiled to island of Elba
  • March 1815 Return of Napoléon - The Hundred Days
  • 18 June 1815 Battle of Waterloo
  • 22 June 1815 Napoleon's second abdication
  • 16 October 1815 Napoleon exiled to mid-Atlantic island of St. Helena
  • 1815-1830 Restoration of the Bourbon Monarchy
  • 5 May 1821 Death of Napoleon