Skip to main content Skip to navigation

FR350 The French Revolution

Module Code: FR350
Module Name: The French Revolution
Module Coordinator: Professor Kate Astbury
Not running 2024-25
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

This module aims to introduce students to the key events, people, and ideas of the French Revolution both in mainland France and in the Caribbean through contemporary sources. A range of material will be used, from the Déclarations des droits de l'homme, to short pamphlets and plays, to caricatures and Robespierre's speeches, to the words of the Marseillaise. By the end of the module, students will be able to assess both the impact of the French Revolution and the role of culture and of the writer in times of revolution, when censorship, rhetoric and propaganda all have a part to play. We will also explore the ongoing relevance of the Revolution for modern France. Students will have the opportunity to develop their research skills and their own interests in the assessment for the module.

Short lectures will be pre-recorded and available online so that we can have longer seminar discussions. Everyone will have the opportunity to do a group presentation to practise oral presentation skills before the final assessment.

Illustrative reading list

Please use as your main reading list the one on Talis, accessible via the Library website

  • William Doyle, The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford 2001)
  • Louis-Sébastien Mercier, Adieux à l'année 1789 available on Gallica, the Bibliothèque Nationale's digital library:'ll need adobe acrobat installed on your computer to access this for downloading.
  • La déclaration des droits de l'homme available on the Assemblée nationale's website here.
  • Olympe de Gouges, Déclarations des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne (Poche 2003 or available on Gallica, the Bibliothèque Nationale's digital library:
  • 1791 and 1793 constitutions and the Déclarations des droits de l'homme in Les Constitutions de la France depuis 1789(Garnier-Flammarion) or available on Elysée website here.
  • 3 Pamphlets against the monarchy:
  • Lettre secrette et curieuse de Marie-Antoinette (on Gallica)
  • Louis XVI et Marie-Antoinette, traités comme ils le méritent (on Gallica)
  • Républicains, guillotinez-moi ce jean-foutre de Louis VI et cette putain de Marie Antoinette (on Gallica)
  • Robespierre’s speeches Sur les principes de morale politique and Sur les rapports des idées religieuses et morales avec les principes républicains. Full text versions of a number of Robespierre's speeches are available at
  • Saint-Just, Rapport sur la nécessité de déclarer le gouvernement révolutionnaire jusqu'à la paix (Oct 1793). Full text versions of Saint Just's speeches are available at
  • Sonthonax's proclamation abolishing slavery (1793) here:
  • Maréchal, Le Jugement dernier des rois (on Marandet theatre website)
  • A selection of Napoleon Bonaparte's pronouncements (to be provided in class)

You may like to look at the following web sites for background information:

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution

and you will find a range of primary material (newspapers, speeches, decrees etc) on Philippe Royet's site at

There are also over 170 Revolutionary pamphlets available here from the University of Alabama which can be searched for keywords.

Assessment Method:

3500 word essay (80%)

10 minute presentation (20%)