Suzanne Desan Ph.D.

Suzanne Desan Ph.D. >

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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…
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.
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…
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…
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…
Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
The 25 years between the onset of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Bourbon Restoration after Napoleon in 1814 is an astonishing period in world history. Learn the full story of this era that shook the foundations of the…
48 videos
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…
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…
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…
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…
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…
Political Apprenticeship in Democracy
Episode 11 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
The press, political clubs, and elections--these three pillars of democratic, revolutionary politics set the agenda for the nation as France redistributed power, redrew its administrative map, and instituted a host of reforms that gave local voting power to the provinces.
Religion and the Early Revolution
Episode 12 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
Shift your attention from politics to the Catholic Church, which was at the heart of local communities throughout France. Despite an overall decline in religion in the 18th century, revolutionaries were playing with fire as they sought to reform the…
Terror Is the Order of the Day
Episode 27 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
The beginning of the Terror is difficult to pinpoint, but by the fall of 1793, all the institutions of the Terror were in place. This episodes hows you how the Jacobins built the Terror, introduces you to some of its…
Foreign Reactions—A Divided Europe
Episode 16 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
Travel to Great Britain to explore the foreign reactions to the French Revolution. Professor Desan walks you through Edmund Burke's defense of tradition and the aristocratic system, as well as Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man," a response to Burke that…
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…
Young Napoleon
Episode 32 of Living the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon Course
Meet the famous Corsican who would one day crown himself emperor of France. This episode introduces you to Napoleon as a young man. The context of his early military career will enhance your understanding of the mature general, and it…