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 Course
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 Course
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…
The Declaration of the Rights of Man
Episode 9 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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…
Privilege—Old Regime Society
Episode 2 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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…
American Revolution and the Economic Crisis
Episode 5 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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,…
France, Global Commerce, and Colonization
Episode 4 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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 Course
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…
Revolutionary Legacies
Episode 48 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
In this concluding episode, you'll look at how the ideas, symbols, and practices of the Revolution had far-ranging consequences that are still being debated today. From the European uprisings of 1848 to the civil rights issues of the 20th and…
Peasant Revolt and the Abolition of Feudalism
Episode 8 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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…
Slave Revolt and the Abolition of Slavery
Episode 23 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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,…
Women’s Rights in the Early Revolution
Episode 14 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
Women had no official political role in the Old Regime, but the Revolution raised the question of women's rights and their place in the public sphere. Find out how two of the era's key feminists--Condorcet, a male mathematician, and Olympe…
Paris Commands Its King
Episode 10 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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…
July 14th—Storming the Bastille
Episode 7 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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…
Counterrevolution and the Vendée
Episode 24 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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…
The Directory—An Experimental Republic
Episode 31 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
Examine the moderate new republic and its attempts to find a middle way to carry out the promise of the Enlightenment and the Revolution without the disorder of the preceding years. Because this curious moment is wedged between the Terror…
Overthrowing the Monarchy
Episode 18 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
Turn to ordinary citizens as they overthrow their king and embark on a bold political experiment. With France losing the war with Austria and angry crowds in the streets, the Legislative Assembly declared the homeland in danger. See how revolutionary…
The Revolution and the Colonies
Episode 13 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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…
The Overthrow of Robespierre
Episode 29 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
How was Robespierre overthrown? As the Terror intensifies, you will follow an exhausted Robespierre as he battles to maintain control, and you will meet a group known as the Thermidorians, who would take control of France and dismantle the Terror.
The Path to War with Europe
Episode 17 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
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 Thermidorian Reaction
Episode 30 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
After the fall of Robespierre, France shifted to the right as the Thermidorians struggled to save the republic and create a social order free from the violence of the Terror. Witness the last great uprising of the Revolution, yet again…