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Archived Versions

France 1660-1815: Enlightenment, Revolution, Napoleon

As taught in: Fall 2005

Painting of Napoleon on a rearing horse.

Napoléon. (Image courtesy of Public Domain Images.)


Prof. Jeffrey S. Ravel

MIT Course Number:




Course Highlights

This course features a complete set of essay topics in the assignments section. This course features also features archived syllabi from various semesters.

Course Description

A century and a half ago, Alexis de Tocqueville argued that the Revolution of 1789 in France constituted the culmination of long-term administrative and social changes, rather than a rupture with the past. In this class, we will consider that Tocquevillian insight by examining four aspects of French experience from the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV, to the rule of the Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte: Absolutism, Enlightenment, Revolution, and Empire. Through the study of primary and secondary sources, we will see how the material lives, mental worlds, and individual and communal identities of the French changed over this century and a half.