Unit Guide and Primary Sources
“Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.”
The Old Regime and the Estates General
Primary Source Document(s)
Students should read Voltaire's writings on the English Constitution and Abbe Sieyes' What is the Third Estate? before class meets.
TEXTBOOK READINGS: Kagan, 445-455, 547-550 OR Wood, 227-239, 285-287
Video Lectures Available on YouTube
After you've watched the videos, CLICK HERE to take a quiz!
The National Assembly and the Declaration of the Rights of Man
Primary Source Document(s)
TEXTBOOK READINGS: Kagan, 550-564 OR Wood, 287-290
Video Lectures Available on YouTube
Women and the French Revolution Lecture Series
Women and the French Revolution
Olympe de Gouges
The Radicalization of the French Revolution
The Reign of Terror
The French Directory
Jacques-Louis David: French Neoclassical Painter
E-Lecture Available on YouTube
The Reign of Terror (1793-1794) was the most radical phase of the French Revolution and the most memorable in spite of its brevity. The National Convention and Robespierre presided over this short period when the blade of the guillotine severed heads on a regular basis.
In 1799, Napoleon overthrew the Directory and dominated French politics until his final overthrow and exile in 1815. Napoleon's rule can be divided into the Consulate (1799-1804) and the French Empire (1804-1815). Some of his key political accomplishments were the Napoleonic Code, which gave France a uniform code of laws based on Roman Law, and the Condordat of 1801, which established Catholicism as the "majority religion" after a period of de-Christianization in the 1790s.
UNFINISHED PowerPoint Presentation
This unfinished PowerPoint is here for the benefit
of my students. At some point, I intend to give Napoleon the PowerPoint he deserves.
Jacques-Louis David's neoclassical paintings provide a full overview of the French Revolution, as David was an active participant in the French Revolution throughout all of its phases. Best known for his paintings of Napoleon, he spent his last years in exile in Brussels painting classical pieces and portraits of Bonapartist exiles.
Explain the reasons for the adoption of a new calendar in revolutionary France and analyze reactions to it in the period 1789 to 1806. The adoption of the revolutionary calendar to replace the Gregorian calendar took place on November 24, 1793 by the National Convention. This new calendar lasted until Napoleon I abolished it in 1806. The new calendar was a adopted in revolutionary France for many reasons including secular ideas and political reasons. There were also many reactions to the change of calendar between 1789 and 1806 such a criticism.
There were many secular-slanted ideas that were adopted into the new calendar during revolutionary france. In 1789, the Cahier de doleances (report of grievances), from the Third Estate of Chateau-Thierry, said that they asked for the number of religious holidays be reduced because each of them enchains the activity of a great people, being of considerable detriment to the state and the numerous disadvantages of idleness. This shows that the new calendar was more secular because of the decrease in the amount of religious holidays (Document 1).
The illustrations of newly named months also show that the new calendar shows more secular-slanted ideas. The new months are named for prosperity and things they are known for. For example, the month of Fructidor which is the month of harvest is between August 18 and September 16, which harvest time. This shows a more secular calendar because the months are associate France with French stuff, instead of the old months being named after religious people (Document 4).
In a letter to the National Convention from a peasant from Etampes, it says that with nine long, hard days of labor, the simple citizens want small distractions on their day of rest. During the use of the new calendar in France, people went to church a lot less because with the new calendar they would only go every tenth day, instead of going on Sundays during the Gregorian calendar (Document 7). Government officials in the French town of Steenwerck, Picardy, said that people spend less time in the temple celebrating the tenth day and revolutionary festivals as an affront to republicans.
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This shows that the new calendar was more secular because with the new calendar people began to go to church less (Document 10). The new calendar in revolutionary France, showed how France started to move towards a more secular world. A lot of people agreed with the adoption of the new calendar by revolutionary France for many reasons. Gilbert Romme, head of the calendar reform committee, believed that the church calendar was born among ignorant people. He said “Time opens a new book for history, and it must use a new pen to record the annals of a regenerated France. What Romme means by this is that since France is going through new times, they need to change the calendar to fit it (Document 2). In “Instruction Concerning the Era of the Republic and the Division of the Year” which was a decree of the National Convention, it said that the new calendar will eliminate incoherence and inexactitude. This means that with the new calendar people will be more exact and orderly because of more work days. It also states that the new calendar will show the character of our revolution (Document 5). In the letter to the National Convention from the village of St.
Quirin, it says how the people spend their day of rest. In the letter it says that they honor the memory of the generals who have become martyrs and they read aloud the republican accomplishments. The people of the village of Quirin supported the new calendar because they got the tenth day off (Document 6). Many people agreed with the change to the new calendar in revolutionary France because, they thought it was needed since france was going through new times, they also thought the more work days will make people work better, and because some people thought that the tenth day was great.
Until the new calendar was abolished by Napoleon I in 1806, it received a lot of criticism. Pierre-Joseph Denis, a former Girondin imprisoned during the Terror and then recalled to the National Convention, wrote in Opinion on the Decades that the new calendar was an act of despotism forced on the people, and the festivals based on it were detestable. Denis is criticizing the new calendar because he thinks that it was unfair that the new calendar was forced upon them (Document 8).
Francois-Sebastien Letourneux, Minister of Interior, criticized the new calendar because he thinks that the interval between days of rest is too long. Letourneux said that the artisan and farmer can not work nine days in a row (Document 9). In an article in Gazette de France, it talks about the return to the Gregorian calendar. It says that the new calendar was so weak that when it fell, it didn’t even offer us an opportunity to exclaim about the fragility of human things.
The article also says that it was sad that the names of the festivals were not not devoted to the benefactors of humanity, but were devoted to the cabbages, the turnips, and the artichoke (Document 11). Abbe Sieyes wrote in response to the Committee of Public Instruction’s proposal for a new calendar, that it is not needed. Sieyes believed that there was no reason to differentiate ourselves from everyone else (Document 3). Many people didn’t agree with the idea of the new calendar, which was the reason it only lasted until 1806.
The new calendar was adopted in France for many reasons including to have more work days and to get rid of some of the holidays. Some people agreed with the new calendar because they thought that it was needed since France was changing and others agreed with it because they thought that with more work days, people will be more exact and will get more work done. Some people criticized it because they thought that nine straight days of work a week was bad for the farmers and artisans and because the new calendar wasn’t needed.