Miracles on Trial: Wonders and Their Witnesses in Eighteenth-Century France

People had become less and less likely to lend much credibility to witness testimony. One lazy afternoon in 1769, a heartfelt reunion between an incredulous young man and his former tutor led to a polite discussion regarding the possibility of miracles. After having expressed his disappointment that the young man had fallen prey to the[…]

Alchemy and the Quest for Long Life in 15th-Century France

Alchemy was an art, a scientific and technological project that foreshadowed modern chemistry. Alchemy, with its cryptic language and fantastic symbolism, evokes many aspects of the culture of the Middle Ages. In alchemical manuscripts, drawings of alembics, funnels and furnaces vividly represent this long lost art. Alchemy’s goal of transmuting base metal into gold fuels[…]

The Extortion of Haiti by France in the Early 19th Century

After enduring decades of exploitation at the hands of the French, Haiti was forced to pay a tax for their freedom – $30 billion on today’s money. Introduction I’m a specialist on colonialism and slavery, and what France did to the Haitian people after the Haitian Revolution is a particularly notorious examples of colonial theft.[…]

The Quasi-War between the U.S. and France, 1798-1800

Philadelphia experienced a tumult of both anti-French and anti-Federalist sentiment. Philadelphia, as capital of the United States during the 1790s, played a central role in the conflict called the Quasi-War, an undeclared war, between the United States and France during the years 1798 to 1800. Philadelphia became a hotbed of public displays for and against[…]

The Concept of the General Will: Writings of Rousseau, Sièyes, and Robespierre

A comparison of the concept of the “general will” in revolutionary France. Introduction The concept of the General Will – as expressed by the French term volonté générale -was developed in the seventeenth century by writers such as Arnauld, Pascal, Malebranche, Fenélon, Bayle, and Leibniz in a theological context to mean the “general will of[…]

Subject to Citizen, Kingdom to Nation: Changing Notions of Identity in the Age of the French Revolution

What did it mean to become a citizen of the new nation? Introduction In 1789 the people of France began a revolution that would bring profound changes to their country’s political and social order. These changes came especially fast during the first six years: The Revolution started with the establishment of the National Assembly and[…]

Empire in the Age of Enlightenment: The Curious Case of Baron Benyowszky

Enlightenment debates about colonialism had very little to do with what actually happened on the ground. While the period between the Seven Years’ War and the French Revolution marked an ebb tide for the fortunes of French imperialism, colonial issues loomed large in the political and philosophical discourse of the age. Statesmen such as the[…]

Exiles-Migrants and Reconciliation in the Spanish Low Countries after the Peace of Arras in 1549

Examining the experiences of exiles, returnees, and migrants and challenges faced by them. Abstract This article contributes to the assessment of the management of migrants at the end of the 16th century as part of the challenge, by both central and municipal authorities, for ending the civil war in the Spanish Low Countries. In particular,[…]

Charles VI: ‘Mad King Charles’ in Medieval France

During one attack in 1393, Charles could not remember his name, did not know he was king, and fled in terror from his wife. Introduction Charles VI the Well-Beloved, later known as Charles VI the Mad (French: Charles VI le Bien-Aimé, later known as Charles VI le Fol) (December 3, 1368 – October 21, 1422)[…]

“Courtesans of the King”: Diplomats and the French Revolution

French revolutionaries aimed to jettison the old order and everything associated with it. During the Revolution, the committed often targeted nobles for opprobrium – or death. The diplomatic corps[1] was particularly vulnerable because, like the officer corps of the army, it was dominated by aristocrats. Studying the careers and fate of such men who often[…]

Lost But Not Yet Found: Medieval Foundlings and Charity in Northern France

By the end of the thirteenth century the social context for the abandonment of infants and children had changed in important ways. Introduction The High Middle Ages was an important period of transition in the care of France’s “miserable persons,” that is, the poor, sick, widows, orphans, aged, and infirm. By 1400, civic initiatives, parish[…]

Defining French “Empire” under Napoleon III

Examining the similarities and differences between Leroy-Beaulieu and Prévost-Paradol’s respective colonial models. In the last years of the Second Empire, two liberal thinkers with little apparent connection to one another, Lucien-Anatole Prévost-Paradol and Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, wrote tracts that sought to articulate new colonial models of empire and justify the expansion of French settlement in Algeria.[…]

The Role of French Algeria in American Expansion during the Early Republic

The year 1830 was important for a distant event: the bombardment by French forces of the Barbary Power, Algiers. Aside from the significance of Alexis de Tocqueville and other famous French observers of early American democracy, historians of French-American relations in the first part of the nineteenth century have tended to focus more on the[…]

How the Paris Catacombs Solved a Cemetery Crisis

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Paris—the Catacombs—was started as a solution to the intrusion of death upon daily life. By Allison C. Meier Recently the Guardian reported on a British health expert’s proposal to bury bodies alongside roads. The idea of lining thoroughfares with corpses may seem macabre, but it could promote the[…]

The Devil Does His Mischief: The Huguenot World of Demonology during the Scientific Age

Huguenots were not only believers in science, but also remained firmly committed to their belief in God and his providence.[1] At the request of the famed scientist Robert Boyle, the French divine, Pierre du Moulin, translated an account of a demon that had plagued a Huguenot family in Burgundy, France in 1612. Moulin’s 1658 translation[…]

England and France in Conflict: The Hundred Years’ War, 1337-1453

The war owes its historical significance to a number of factors. Introduction The Hundred Years’ War is the name modern historians have given to what was a series of related conflicts, fought over a 116-year period, between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France, and later Burgundy; beginning in 1337, and ending in[…]

Notre-Dame’s Centuries of Survival, Captured in Art

A Getty exhibition illuminates the medieval cathedral’s role in European history and spotlights wondrous objects that survived the recent fire. Introduction The world came to a collective halt on April 15, 2019, when news broke that a fire was taking over Notre-Dame, an 850-year-old cathedral in the heart of Paris. Despite its age, the cathedral[…]

“The Last I Write to You”: The Courage of Youth Resisters in World War 2 France

About 3000 resisters, many under the age of 25, were tried in German military courts in France and executed. World War II in Europe was the cause of innumerable atrocities against civilians: for instance, the Shoah, Allied and Axis carpet bombing, the destruction of Warsaw, and the cruelties of enforced starvation. Another example is less[…]

Between Two Republics: American Military Volunteers in Revolutionary France

Most of these Americans left behind little evidence explaining why they took up arms for the French at a time when the official policy of the United States was one of neutrality. Introduction Historians have long recognized the vital contributions of French soldiers and officers to the American colonists during the American Revolution. Without the[…]

How Janet Flanner’s “High-Class Gossip” about Paris and Europe Changed America

The journalist’s witty Paris Letters for the New Yorker helped establish Americans’ feelings of superiority over Europe. By Matthew Wills Janet Flanner, part of that famous group of ex-pats in Paris that included Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, was a significant journalist in her own right, though she once described herself as “a high-class gossip[…]

The Native Americans Who Drew the French and British into War

The Anishinaabeg played an outsized role in world affairs. When a young George Washington approached the forks of the Ohio River in the spring of 1754, he was nervous. The previous year, as he scouted the area that would become Pittsburgh to contest French claims to the region, he came across seven scalped settlers. His[…]

Lustucru: From Severed Heads to Ready-Made Meals since 17th-Century France

Charting the migration of the Lustucru figure through the French cultural imagination since the 17th century. By Jé Wilson This article, Lustucru: From Severed Heads to Ready-Made Meals since 17th-Century France, was originally published in The Public Domain Review under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0. If you wish to reuse it please see: https://publicdomainreview.org/legal/ In France in[…]

Creating French Culture Since the 8th Century: Treasures from the Bibliothèque nationale de France

The relationship between power—or politics—and culture in French history is an ambivalent one, defined as much by conflict and censorship as by cooperation and patronage. Introduction Throughout French history the powerful have sought to harness culture to their own ends. They understood that the representation of power—what today we call “image”—is a form of power[…]

Pierre Poivre, the French Spice Quest and the Role of Mediators in Southeast Asia, 1740s to 1770s

Examining the connectedness and transnational interactions in the French spice project through the lens of Poivre’s informal networks. “One of these rare men, who reflect about things which are really useful, and who does not abandon a project until it is finished, had decided to bring wealth to France, his homeland, with the help of[…]

The Confessional Issue and Religious Networking in Post-Westphalian Europe

The often overlapping religious and diplomatic networks acted in concert to advance, for example, Protestant concerns. By Dr. Linda S. FreyProfessor of HistoryUniversity of Montana By Dr. Marsha L. FreyProfessor of HistoryKansas State University Geoffrey Parker, a noted historian of the Thirty Years’ War, argued that one of the great achievements of that conflict was[…]

Politics and Class, 1790-1794: Radicalism, Terror, and Repression in Southern France

Popular uprisings and resistance to taxation played havoc with the nine departments into which the National Assembly divided Languedoc. Between 1789 and 1793, popular uprisings and resistance to taxation played havoc with the nine departments into which the National Assembly divided Languedoc. Counterrevolutionaries organized a series of military assemblies between 1790 and the spring of[…]

France, 1693: The Year of Battles under Louis XIV

Louis XIV repeatedly reminded his commanders that 1693 had to be viewed as the year of decision. After blundering into the Nine Years War in 1688, it took Louis XIV almost another two years to build the most extensive coalition of opponents he would ever face. Increasingly desperate, the king implemented a variety of strategies[…]