Old Regime and Revolutionary Europe, 1715-1815

History 158A

Fall 2011
126 Barrows
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-330P

The eighteenth century in Europe witnessed a series of "revolutions" -- intellectual, political, and to a lesser extent, social and economic -- that together constitute the birth rites of modern European society and culture. But the history of the eighteenth century is complex, requiring sustained attention to the social groups, ideas, and institutions that promoted and that resisted change in this period. Historians collectively agree that the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the European expansion of Napoleonic France were events of world-historical significance, yet the causes and precise meaning of these events are the subjects of substantial disagreement. We will study the transformations of the eighteenth century that announced our modern world and, in this upper division course, we will also try to make sense of the different ways that historians disagree about the meaning of what happened. It may well be, as the textbooks would have it, that the "Age of Kings" simply gave way to the "Age of Peoples," but we will make every effort to study historically how this happened, relying in particular on the careful study of primary (historical) documents.