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The French Revolution, 1789-99

1. Louis XVI and the Constitutional Monarchy

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about whether Louis XVI ever tried to make the Constitutional Monarchy work, focusing in particular on the royal session of the Estates-General on 23 June 1789, the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 and the king’s meeting with Bailly and Lafayette in Paris three days later, the March on Versailles and the king’s return to Paris in October 1789, his letters to foreign powers expressing his displeasure with the situation in France, his Flight to Varennes on the night of 20/21 June 1789 and subsequent arrest and return to Paris, his (alleged) undermining of the French war effort and his subsequent trial (and execution) in late 1792 (and early 1793).


In this course, Professor Dave Andress (University of Portsmouth) considers eight key questions related to the French Revolution of 1789-99: (1) Did Louis XVI ever try to make the Constitutional Monarchy work? (2) To what extent did the National Assembly reform French society and government? (3) How important was the Catholic church in the Revolution? (4) How did the ‘abolition of feudalism’ affect life in the countryside? (5) To what extent was Robespierre responsible for the development of the Terror in the years 1793-94? (6) To what extent was the Terror about putting an end to the Counter-Revolution? (7) What did ‘Thermidor’ mean for the course of the Revolution? (8) How successful was the Directory in restoring stability to France in the years 1795-99?


Dave is a historian of the French Revolution, and of the social and cultural history of conflicts in Europe and the Atlantic world more generally in the period between the 1760s and 1840s. He has written a number of books, of which the best-known is probably The Terror, (London: Little, Brown, 2005), and recently edited a major collection of essays, The Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution, (Oxford: OUP, 2015). He also regularly gives lectures and workshops for A-level students, and has written the Connell Guide to the French Revolution, (London: Connell, 2016) especially for this cohort.

His personal research interests embrace the ways in which the conscious and unconscious norms of pre-1789 French society and culture collided with the new conditions created by revolutionary upheaval, and the extent to which many of the subsequent conflicts developed from such collisions. He is interested in the current focus on emotions in revolutionary history, but believes that we need to dig deeper into how feelings drove action, on the one hand, and on the other were incorporated into narratives of identity and plotting that fitted existing cultural forms.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Andress, D. (2018, August 15). The French Revolution, 1789-99 - Louis XVI and the Constitutional Monarchy [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Andress, D. "The French Revolution, 1789-99 – Louis XVI and the Constitutional Monarchy." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,