• Unit 5: The French Revolution and the Birth of Modernity

    Many argue the French Revolution was the most important modern revolution. In this unit, we analyze its causes, dynamics, ideologies, and legacies. The revolutionary leaders abolished the monarchy and altered most of France's social and political institutions to make them more rational and modern. They proclaimed a republic, instituted parliamentary elections, introduced educational reforms, created a new revolutionary calendar, and reorganized France's electoral districts to make representation more democratic.

    The revolutionaries, however, rejected their initial ideals when the new government began to use violence and terror to maintain its hold on power. By 1799 the revolution succumbed to Napoleon's dictatorship. In this unit, we examine the ideas that inspired the revolutionaries, the logic of revolutionary idealism and violence, and the relationship between Napoleon and the revolution. We also consider how a European struggle, that began in France in 1789, continued through the 1870s.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 12 hours.