2H France in Revolution, 1774–1815

This option provides for the study in-depth of a key period of history which was to change the relationship between the ruler and the governed, not only in France but throughout Europe and, in time, the wider world. A study of France in revolution embraces concepts such as absolutism, enlightenment, constitutionalism, democracy, republic and dictatorship. It also encourages consideration of issues such as the relationship between rulers and the ruled, the place of the Church in the State, the power of the people and promotes reflection on what makes and perpetuates revolution.

Part one: the end of Absolutism and the French Revolution, 1774–1795

The origins of the French Revolution, 1774–1789

  • Absolutism and the structure of the Ancien Régime: Louis XVI as King; government; social divisions; privileges and burdens; strengths and weaknesses
  • The ideas of the Enlightened philosophes: extent of influence in France; the salons; impact of the American revolution and War of Independence
  • Economic problems and royal finance: attempts to improve royal finances under Turgot, Necker and Calonne
  • The Assembly of Notables and political developments, February 1787 to May 1789; the state of France, politically, economically and socially by the meeting of the Estates-General

The experiment in constitutional monarchy, 1789–1792

  • The revolution May-October 1789: developments in Versailles and Paris; developments in the country, including the Great Fear; the October Days
  • The attempts to establish a constitutional monarchy: church reforms; political, judicial and administrative reforms; economic and social change
  • Reaction to change internally and externally: the political clubs; the King and the flight to Varennes; the demonstration at the Champs de Mars; the origins and impact of war
  • Sans-culottes and the collapse of the constitutional experiment; the September massacres and elections to the national Convention

The emergence and spread of the Terror, September 1792–1795

  • The establishment of a Republic: problems and policies; debate leading to the execution of the King
  • Internal and external war: the spread of war; the rising in the Vendée; attempts to establish wartime control; Robespierre; the fall of the Girondins and the Federalist revolt
  • The progress of the war: the levée en masse and the coming of the Terror
  • The spread of the Terror: executions; the influence of Robespierre and the sans culottes; the role of the CPS; Robespierre's fall and the collapse of the Terror

Part two: the rise of Napoleon and his impact on France and Europe, 1795–1815 (A-level only)

The Directory and Napoleon's rise to power, 1795–1799 (A-level only)

  • The aftermath of the Terror: the Thermidorian reaction and White Terror; the 1795 Parisian risings
  • The establishment of the Directory: the constitution; financial and political problems and policies; strengths and weaknesses of the Directory
  • Military campaigns and expansion abroad: Napoleon's contribution to French success; background, character and military leadership; the Italian campaign and Egypt
  • The coup of Brumaire and the establishment of the Consulate: the strengths and weaknesses of the new constitution; Napoleon's position and the state of France by 1799

The impact of Napoleon's rule on France, 1799–1815 (A-level only)

  • Political change: Napoleon's consolidation of power and establishment of Emperor status; constitutional developments
  • Social change: class distinctions and titles; education and attitude to women; censorship and propaganda; the position of the Church; the Concordat and its aftermath
  • Legal and administrative change: the Napoleonic codes; the prefects, police and control
  • Financial and economic policies and problems: taxation; the central economy; the impact of war and the Continental System; degree of economic change

The impact of Napoleon's rule on Europe, 1799–1815 (A-level only)

  • The army and conquest during the consulate and Empire: reasons for military success by 1808 and the part played by Napoleon; the reasons for expansion and the building of an empire, its value and problems
  • The control of the Grand Empire: administration; economic and social policies
  • Challenges to the Empire: the continental blockade; the Peninsular War; the Austrian campaign; the Russian campaign; the war of the Fourth Coalition
  • The collapse of the Empire: the first Peace of Paris; the 100 days; Napoleon's abdication and second Peace of Paris; treatment of France by the Vienna settlement; the condition of France in 1815; Napoleon's reputation and legacy