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Session #17 - The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era

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Piotr Wrobel

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November 6 , 2012 THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND THE NAPOLEONIC ERA The French Revolution - The turning point in European history, the beginning of modernity - The traditional way of governing was to be destroyed (pyramid-like structure) - Introduced a new idea – that people should govern themselves - Power to the people – But what does this mean? - Liberté, Égalité, Fraternitié France  The 7YW was very hard on the country – it had lost many of its colonies and was in financial ruin  Louis XVI’s reign was plagued by these problems from the beginning  He decided to call the Estates-General to solve the financial problem  Three estates – the 3 estate proclaimed itself a national institution (demanded a written constitution and “one person, one vote” th  The Storming of the Bastille (July 24 , 1789)  1791 – the Assembly accepted the constitution, Louis was caught in 1793 and executed  Initially foreigners did not care too much about the French affairs – especially Eastern Europeans  Counter-revolutionary movements started in Europe – 130,000 Frenchmen escaped the country, landing in neighbouring countries such as Russia ~ Started aggressive propaganda against the Rev.  The French decided that Alsace and Lorraine were French regions and that any German feudal claims were invalid  War began between France, Austria and Prussia  Britain participated in all the Coalitions against France – Napoleon even planned to invade at one point  Austria, Prussia, and Russia all participated in one or more of the Coalitions – very traditional and opposed Rev.  1793-4 – Reign of Terror – Robespierre (Jacobins) executed in 1794  The French needed to improve their army – one of volunteers of French citizens – ideological motivation Napoleon  Young man of Corsica – b. 1767  Became general at 24  Outstanding military personality – sent to Egypt (remove from British control, this failed)  In 1799 he became First Consul, in 1802 he became Consul for Life, and in 1804 he became Emperor November 6 , 2012  Treaty of Tilsit (1807) – Napoleon was able to establish a new international system in Europe  1806 – Napoleon declared that the HRE did not exist any more and that he was the new ruler of Europe ~ He took several German provinces – region which is now present day Holland, called Confederation of the Rhine, and France even had access to the Baltic Sea ~ Made his brother the King of Westphalia  These changes provoked enormous emotions and intellectual changes – the rise of national consciousness (everyone rose up in support of modern nationalism)  From the German point of view, this was a disaster. Germany was controlled by France – this was a humiliating form of captivity  For many nations in ECE though, this was a moment of freedom  Italian principalities, who had been under Hapsburg rule, were freed – Republic of Italy (the old medieval structures disappeared)  Even in Germany, for some, Napoleon was considered a liberator ~ German/Jewish history – the idea of equality was very important  Spain and Russia – foreign newspapers were banned as the idea of freedom was so dangerous  ECE – modern national consciousness appeared in Hungary, Bohemia, Croatia, even in Ukraine  Before 1807, in Illyria – the beginnings of modern Yugoslavia ~ Became separate states ruled by France ~ 1830s-40s – a political movement appeared called Illyrianism which corresponded to Croatians  Napoleon took Venice, Dalmatia and in 1809, after war with Austria, he added more territories previously controlled by the Hapsburgs  Croatia – the elites did not speak Croatian, there was no name
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