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My Notes on Massive Open Online Course:
The French Revolution
The French Revolution was one of the most important upheavals in world history. This course examines its origins, course and outcomes.
Notes on 14 Lectures I Watched in This Course:
An Introduction to the French Revolution
The Essentials of 18th Century France
18th Century French Clergy and Nobility
The Importance of Regionalism and Locality in 18th Century France
The Contribution of the Philosophes to the French Revolution
What were People of 18th Century France Reading?
The Atlantic Democratic Revolution and the Republic of Letters
1780s France Financial Crisis and its Repercussions
The Third Estate in Revolt
The Peasantry in Revolt
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The October Days
1789-91: Making the New Nation
Unresolved Issues of the Revolution
8 People I Have Learned About in this Course:
Jean Calas (1698-1762)
Merchant in Toulouse, France, famous for having been the victim of a biased trial due to his being a Protestant
  • in France, he is a symbol of religious intolerance
  • Voltaire began a campaign to get Calas' sentence overturned
  • Voltaire's efforts were successful: king Louis XV received the family, and had the sentence annulled in 1764.
Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717-1783)
Mathematician and until 1759 he was co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie
  • studied the problem of a vibrating string such as that of a musical instrument (d'Alembert's formula)
  • 1746, elected to the Berlin Academy
  • in his most famous work, Traité de dynamique, he developed his own laws of motion
  • as a known unbeliever in the religion of the time, D'Alembert was buried in a common unmarked grave
Madame de Staël (1766-1817)
A French woman of letters who organized salons for the philosophes of the Enlightenment
  • one of Napoleon's principal opponents
  • celebrated for her conversational eloquence
Marquis de Condorcet (1743-1794)
French philosophe who advocated a liberal economy, free education, and equal rights for women and other races
  • died a mysterious death in prison after a period of flight from French Revolutionary authorities
Maximilien de Robespierre (1758-1794)
French lawyer and politician and one of the most influential and controversial figures of the French Revolution, nicknamed l'Incorruptible
  • advocated against the death penalty
  • advocated for the abolition of slavery
  • supported universal male suffrage
  • supported establishment of a republic
  • opposed dechristianisation of France
  • opposed war with Austria
  • took control of the Revolution in its most radical and bloody phase
  • used terror as a tool to accomplish his overarching goals for democracy
  • arrested and executed in July 1794
Arthur Young (1741-1820)
English writer on agriculture, economics, and social statistics, known mostly for traveling throughout France around the start of the French Revolution describing the condition of the people and the conduct of public affairs
  • campaigner for the rights of agricultural workers
  • 1792: book "Travels in France"
  • 1793: appointed secretary to the Board of Agriculture
  • considered the greatest of English writers on agriculture
Abbé Sieyès (1748-1836)
French Roman Catholic abbé whose 1789 pamphlet "What is the Third Estate?" became the de facto manifesto of the French Revolution
  • first name Emmanuel
  • was among the instigators of the coup d'état of 18 Brumaire (9 November), which brought Napoleon Bonaparte to power
  • coined the term "sociologie"
Pierre-François Palloy (1755-1835)
Entrepreneurial building contractor remembered for the demolition of the Bastille
  • married the daughter of a building contractor and joined the trade himself, eventually taking over his new family's business
  • by 1789 he had made the company one of the largest building firms in Paris, employing 400 workers
  • when the Bastille fell on July 14, 1789 there was some debate as to what should replace it
  • Palloy knew exactly what he wanted to do and by that evening had begun the process of dismantling the structure
  • he secured the contract to demolish the building two days later
  • Palloy labelled himself a patriot and emphasized the symbolism of the Bastille, writing speeches, painting pictures, and even arranging celebratory festivals and theatrical reconstructions of the day the Bastille fell
  • he sent miniature replicas of the Bastille to each of the 83 departments asking only to be reimbursed for transport and postage
6 Vocabulary Words I Learned in this Course:
Tridentine Mass, n. the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the typical editions of the Roman Missal that were published from 1570 to 1962, it was the most widely celebrated Mass liturgy in the world until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI in December 1969  "The Tridentine Mass is the old form of Mass that was authorized for use throughout the Roman Catholic Church from 1570 until it was replaced following the second Vatican Council in the 1960s."
bocage, n. [BOH-kahzh] a Norman word which has entered both the French and English languages meaning a terrain of mixed woodland and pasture, with fields and winding country lanes sunken between narrow low ridges and banks surmounted by tall thick hedgerows that break the wind but also limit visibility ornamentation.  "Whereas 18th century Brittany was characterized by a bocage landscape, in the south of France people mostly lived in the cities themselves."
cockade, n. a badge, usually in the form of a rosette, or knot, and generally worn upon the hat as an indication of military or naval service, or party allegiance  "They were furious when news arrived that army officers in Versailles had shown disrespect for the new revolutionary cockade of the red, white, and blue who had stamped it under foot during a banquet."
coxcomb, n. a vain and conceited man, a dandy  "The somewhat notorious lover of Julie de Lespinasse, Guibert, a cold-hearted coxcomb of some talent, certainly paid her addresses."
curate, n. a cleric, especially one who has charge of a parish  "18th century France had approximately 40,000 priests and 19,000 curates"
seigneurial, adj. of or pertaining to the lord of a manor, manorial, vested with large powers, independent  "The Second Estate in 18th century France collected seigneurial and feudal dues particularly at harvest time."