Abolition of Nobility


The major principle underlying the 4 August decree found legislative expression in the decree of 19 June 1790. Situated in the broader context of the French Revolution, this document legally abolished the nobility, all its privileges, and, as the excerpt demonstrates, those aspects that seemed particularly contrary to reason.

Abstention Rate in Napoleonic Plebiscites


All regions of France did not support Napoleon equally. His rule aroused most enthusiasm in the east (a prerevolutionary border region crucial in the Napoleonic wars) and the center of the country, least in the west, which had long provided a home to royalist counterrevolution.

Abstension rate in Napoleonic plebiscites (shaded areas = those where the abstention rate exceeded 80 percent... Read More »

Abuses to Suppress


This French Revolution era print depicts the Third Estate—represented by the peasant at the rear of the chariot, the worker leading the horse, and the merchant driving—delivering to the National Assembly a petition listing "abuses" to be remedied.

Account of a Session of the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women


Unfortunately the only first-hand account of the meetings of the women’s club comes from notes taken by Pierre–Joseph–Alexis Roussel, published in a volume of memoirs in 1802. His account makes fun of the women’s club for discussing the virtues of women as warriors and administrators. Some of the details, however, are accurate and give credibility to the overall account. The club did decide to... Read More »

Activities of the Jacobins


The Englishman Arthur Young, who was in France during the early stages of the Revolution, recorded his observations. In this letter from mid–January 1790, he describes a Jacobin club meeting, which he depicts as being highly procedural in nature as it elects new leaders.

Activity: Simulating the Velvet Revolution


This case study simulates the process of the extraordinarily quick (and often peaceful) overthrow of various communist regimes is Eastern Europe in 1989. The simulation provides a powerful experiential study of how dissent can quickly cascade through a group, leading to fast, dramatic change.

This activity includes guidance for simulating the Velvet Revolution, including discussion... Read More »

Address of the Commune of Marseilles (27 June 1792)


In late spring 1792, a group of militant journalists and section leaders began planning an uprising that they hoped would lead to the summoning of a new assembly for the specific purpose of rewriting the constitution to create a genuine republic—thereby eliminating the King altogether. They hoped to enlist activists from the Parisian sections and armed volunteer units from the provinces who... Read More »

Image of Africa

Africa Past & Present Podcast

The podcast could serve as a useful tool for Africa experts to stay up-to-date on scholarship, for professors in other areas to broaden their knowledge of Africa and establish relevant connections, and for students to engage in analysis of “texts” beyond the written word.

After the Wende: GDR Jokes D


George Orwell once wrote, "Every joke is a tiny revolution." In state-socialist societies that had (or have) totalitarian characteristics, individuals found clever ways to carve out areas of freedom for themselves. These may have been areas of social freedom (with family and close friends), physical freedom (at one's small garden cottage), or mental freedom (through humor). There were risks... Read More »

Against Pig-Headedness and Corruption


Poster criticizing the Stasi - the GDR secret police - prior to March 18, 1990 East German election in which voters overwhelmingly backed unification with West Germany. The red letters in the poster "GEGEN STARRSINN UND KORRUPTION" - "AGAINST PID-HEADEDNESS AND CORRUPTION" - spell out the name of the hated secret agency, and the number "18" alludes to the upcoming balloting.

[... Read More »