To contemporaries who subscribed to the Enlightenment principles, preceding the French Revolution, the term "reason" was to be contrasted to superstition. Even though Christians, too, believed in reason, they also wanted to make room for the possibility of God’s intervention, particularly in miracles. Such exceptions seemed to Enlightenment adherents to conflict with reason, which they argued... Read More »
The French Revolutionary engraving's depiction of the physical eviction of the black–robed magistrates in front of a female audience has a somewhat ambiguous message. On the one hand, noting the female figure on the dias in the back, this image could suggest excessive female authority at court, notably that of the Countess du Barry. On the other hand, the humiliation of the magistrates in... Read More »
This execution in Haiti simply suspends the French officer in the air, slowly strangling him to death. His struggles, emphasized by the convulsing legs, reveal the hatred visited on opponents, themselves guilty of so many atrocities.
This Dutch engraving, based on a sketch by Berthault, shows Robespierre laid out on the table where his Committee of Public Safety did its work. It is the morning of 10 Thermidor and having been condemned to death by the Convention the night before, Robespierre and his followers now face their demise, as soldiers come to take them to the guillotine.
Toward the end of the 1700s, the evangelical movement in Britain argued that one’s commitment to Christ should be reflected in action, primarily the effort to end slavery in the British empire and to proselytize or seek converts among the “heathen.” Initially, the English East India Company had prohibited Christian missionaries from living within their territories and seeking Indian converts... Read More »
After Jacobin control faded, with its repression of exuberant social life as well as political diversity, the following years saw a rebirth of open pleasures. This image focuses on fashionable men and women enjoying the good life. Some contemporaries would see this as excessive and self–indulgent, and far bolder displays of sexuality and materialism. Indeed, what one sees here was at least... Read More »
I use images of three historical statues that triggered controversy beginning in the 2010s to teach about the concept of contested historical memory and to have students consider parallels and differences among public history controversies in different parts of the world. I have several aims in using the images. While it is beyond the scope of this lesson to cover the histories of European... Read More »
In September 1793, in response to the unwillingness of the municipal government of Lyon to enforce the legislature’s laws, the Republic sent the deputies and Committee of Public Safety members Georges Couthon and Jean–Marie Collot d’Herbois with a republican army to lay siege to the city and destroy all elements of "counterrevolution." The city surrendered on 9 October. Couthon, Collot, and... Read More »