• Sat, Jan 5 2013

Les Misérables: French Revolutions, In Order

Les Mis
If you’re anything like me, all this talk about the Les Mis movie, with its glancing attentions to the Paris Uprising of 1832, has reignited your long-dormant interest in French military history (I assume you’re already all talked out on Anne Hathaway’s weight loss and Russell Crowe’s singing voice). Between 1789 and 1905 the French tried to have a revolution at least once a year, to keep things fresh. Here are a few of the best ones.

French Revolution of 1789
Pros: Storming the Bastille, The Tennis Court Oath, the March on Versailles, Olympes de Gouges, guillotining despots
Cons: Robespierre and the Reign of Terror, forced secularization, guillotining Olympes de Gouges
Representative book: A Tale of Two Cities

The Bourbon restoration
Pros: a constitutional monarchy, the brief return of Napoleon, François-René de Chateaubriand’s hair
Cons: The military imposition of an unwanted monarch, the July Ordinances, the Verdets, the Second Treaty of Paris
Representative book: The Red and the Black

The June Rebellion of 1832
Pros: Secret societies, Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, Jean Valjean, Gavroche, Enjolras, Grantaire, M. Gillenormand
Cons: Being completely unsuccessful, Marius
Representative book: Les Misérables

French Revolution of 1848
Pros: “the right to work,” National Workshops, Napoleon III, child labor laws, the campaign of banquets, universal male suffrage
Cons: The June Days, letting bankers rule
Representative book: Sentimental Education

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]

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  • Lisa(r)

    I needed this very badly. Thank you.

  • MR

    I still haven’t seen the film yet. I like this. I never memorize history. I only attempt to understand how it shaped and shapes the future. Napoleon came from the Reign of Terror, cause in him the liberated French People saw stabliity. His People’s Army brought democratic ideals all the way to the gates Czarist Moscow. But he made himself an Emperor along the way, and I believe that is what did him in in the end.