France: Enlightenment and Revolution





The French Revolution of 1789 stands at the crossroads of modern French history, and perhaps of western and world history more generally.  Since its outbreak, observers have debated the following questions: Why did the Revolution begin?  When did it end?  In what ways does 1789 constitute a rupture with the French Old Regime?  The answers to these questions continue to have a surprising relevance.  In this class, we will study the century and a half of French history prior to 1789, then examine some of the central events and issues of the Revolution and its Napoleonic sequel.