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Alexis de Tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville on the French Revolution

Source

The nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59) was a historian, social critic, and politician who wrote a vastly influential work entitled The Old Régime and the French Revolution (1856). Tocqueville worried that although the revolutionary legacy was still alive and well, liberty was no longer its primary objective. He believed, indeed, that it had been a casualty of how the French... Read More »

Allegory of Truth

Source

Female revolutionary figures stood for all kinds of qualities and virtues, in this case, "Truth." Women figures appeared so prominently in paintings and engravings because French nouns for the qualities and virtues were usually feminine (Truth = La Vérité). In other words, paintings such as this one did not represent real women; they used allegorical figures to make a more abstract point.

Phelps mourning embroidery from American Centuries' collections.  It shows two people visiting a grave flanked by weeping willows.

American Centuries

Review
A section of the site called "In the Classroom" offers numerous lesson plans for elementary and middle-school teachers, some written by museum employees and some by schoolteachers themselves, using materials in the online exhibits.

An Attempt at Conciliation: The Royal Address of 4 February 1790

Source

On 4 February 1790, the Marquis de Favras was executed for plotting to spirit the King out of France and stage a coup against the Constituent Assembly. The exposure of this plot generated such negative publicity for the crown that after the execution, the King addressed the Constituent Assembly and condemned Favras, declaring his support for the Revolution. At Necker’s prompting, he here "... Read More »

An Emblematical View of the Constitutions of England and France

Source

Similar to the two engravings of trees, this engraving contrasts English order with French anarchy. On the left, a lion (representing England) sits at the foot of a chiseled rock, part of which is labeled "Unanimity." A crown appears over the rock; a unicorn lies behind it. To the right, a multiheaded serpent representing France writhes around a broken flag reading "Anarchy."

An Example of Heroic Courage

An Example of Heroic Courage

Source

In this rendition of an incident from the Vendée rebellion, an ordinary woman is shown standing up to the rebels. It comes from a series of heroic images of the Revolution and shows that women could be heroines for the Republic.

An Ordinary Guillotine

Source

The guillotine was first introduced as a humane, efficient, and above all modern form of execution in April 1792; during the radical phase of the Republic, it would become the symbol of the Terror. This engraving suggests the guillotine is providing "good support for liberty."

An Ordinary Woman Faces Prison for her Comments

Source

This petition from the wife of a wigmaker in Paris demonstrates both the volatility of the political situation (she went to jail for badmouthing a local official while standing in line at a food market) and the conditions in prison.

People Reading the Gazette thumbnail image

Analyzing Newspapers

Methods

The modules in Methods present case studies that demonstrate how scholars interpret different kinds of historical evidence in world history. In the video historian Jack Censer analyzes an 18th-century French newspaper, Le Courrier d’Avignon, and an image of the reading public in France around the same time. By the late 18th century, newspapers had become important means of... Read More »

Anecdotes on the Countess du Barry (1775)

Source

Since the royal family’s ability to procreate was crucial to the perpetuation of the reign and thus to the continuity of the monarchy, the obsession shown in pamphlets about the bodies and sexual activities of King and Queen must be seen as having not just prurient interest for readers but also political overtones.This particular pamphlet, by a journalist named Mathieu Pidansat de Mairobert... Read More »

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