Join us as we take a journey through history from Napoleon to De Gaulle

Napoleon Bonaparte is both one of the most admired and the most vilified of modern Europeans.  Starting with the ‘Corsican Ogre’ and ending with ‘Le Grand Charles’ this course brings France from the revolution into modern times.  Some older themes, like the pursuit of Glory, will be revisited and France’s sense of its place in European politics and its contributions to European culture will be explored.

Course outline

The course will cover the following topics:

 Napoleon; the Bourbon Restoration: The Revolutionary Wars become the Napoleonic Wars, driven by the ideas of the Revolution and the pursuit of grandeur.  The success and collapse of Napoleon and the consequences for the French. Restoration of the Bourbons cannot provide a lasting solution to the social (and   cultural) needs of the  deeply divided French nation.

The Search for Stable Ground continues –  Louis-Philippe and the Second Republic 1830 – 1848: An apparently irreconcilable clash between the ‘core values’ of the Revolution and a deeply felt conservative nostalgia for ancient ‘certainties’. Neither Left nor Right fell neatly on one side or the other of this divide.  Rural jacquerie and urban riot seem to have become endemic to French political life.

The Second Empire; Napoleon lll; the Transformation of Paris 1848 – 1870. The Third Republic (i) 1870 – c.1900:  The rise of Germany which appears to push French desire for grandeur and glory further away from fulfillment than ever. Maybe a return to revolution will soothe French angst? The Paris Commune of 1871 became entrenched as a glorious part of the European revolutionary tradition.Under the Third Republic, social change slow, and economic growth and innovation slow too.

The First World War

  • The price of victory.
  • Social and political instability.  42 governments during the inter-war years
  • Paris

The Second World War

  • Vichy
  • The long, slow rise of de Gaulle.
  • ‘Le Grand Charles’

Learning outcomes

On completion of the course participants will:

  • This course will enhance students’ understanding of France in the 19th and 20th centuries.  They will be introduced to recent writing about France and the ideas and culture of the French Revolution didn’t end with the rise (or fall) of Napoleon.
  • The course will provide useful background to enrich travel in France or further study of French history and culture.

Who should attend

  • Those who wish to increase their knowledge of modern European history and culture
  • People with an interest in political, social and economic history
  • Potential university students who wish to have a ‘taste’ of university experience before embarking on a degree programme
  • People who have travelled in Fance, or plan to do so.

About the presenter

Judith taught Early Modern European History at the University of Auckland for many years.  She is a graduate of the university in History and Law.  Her interest in European History includes a deep appreciation of the court culture of  the 18th century and France’s place in Europe from the 16th to the 20th centuries. She has an interest, too, in the popular culture of France during that time.

Recommended reading

Seen as supplementing the course but not compulsory

AuthorTitleDatePlace / Publisher
Bell, David A.Napoleon, A Concise Biography,2015Oxford/ OUP
Fenby, JonathanThe History of Modern France from the Revolution to the Present Day2015Simon & Schuster/NY
Fenby, JonathanThe General; Charles de Gaulle and the France He Saved2010Simon & Schuster/London
Jones, ColinParis: the Biography of a City2006Penguin/NY
Shennan J. H.The Bourbons2007Hambledon