In a woodcut that appeared in Révolutions de Paris, the guillotine is used before a crowd of soldiers and patriotic onlookers, to execute nine "émigrés" who had tried to fell France and thus demonstrated themselves to be traitors.
The revolutionary wars, which would continue in one form or another until Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, were different from other conflicts in early modern Europe. In this struggle that emerged in 1792, both sides thought they were fighting for different ideas of governance and society: political democracy versus traditional hierarchy. When England and France had fought before 1789, they might... Read More »
This aria from the Gretry opera, Richard the Lion–Hearted, was adopted by royalists during the early years of the Revolution. The song’s accusation that the king had been abandoned by all but his most devoted followers made it a suitable counter–revolutionary anthem.
This essay was printed in the periodical Meiroku Zasshi in May 1874. The magazine was produced by a small group of intellectuals committed to the study of Europe and America. This journal, and the individuals who contributed to it, were at the core of the "Civilization and Enlightenment" movement in Japan in the 1870s. These intellectuals viewed themselves as enlighteners responsible for... Read More »
World history courses often feature the rise and fall of various empires, but often little attention is paid to the concept of empire itself. While empires, defined as "expansionist states that governed different people differently" have been one of the most enduring forms of government going back to ancient history, the critique of empire implied by the word "imperialism" is a relatively... Read More »
Rare Animals; or, the Transfer of the Royal Family from the Tuileries to the Temple. Champfleury, 1792
Here the events of 10 August were expressed by reducing the royal family to animals. Driven from their palace to prison, the family became no more than a group of barnyard animals. Contrast these common four–footed animals with the erect revolutionary whipping them along.
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 »
Jean–Jacques Rousseau was the maverick of the Enlightenment. Born a Protestant in Geneva in 1712 (d. 1778), he had to support himself as a music copyist. Unlike Voltaire and Montesquieu, both of whom came from rich families, Rousseau faced poverty nearly all his life. He wrote on an astounding variety of topics, including a best–selling novel (Julie or the New Heloïse, 1761), a major tract on... Read More »
Many scholars would argue that Louis XVI’s finest moment came from his bravery at his execution. Even when he was forbidden from saying a last few words to those gathered to see him executed, he remained unflinching, retaining his composure. Here one can see the confessor, Edgeworth de Firmont, selected by Louis himself. The executioner is a member of the Sanson family, well–known for their... Read More »