History Conferences - Conference I

19th Century France: the era of revolutions, changes and experimentations


After introducing the Merovingians, the Carolingians, the Capetians and the French Revolution of 1789 last year, History Conferences are back in 2022 for a new season! This year, the focus will be on a vibrant yet lesser-known century in the history of France: the 19th century. Historians Romain Fathi and Claire Rioult will take you through this tumultuous period in the country’s history, starting with Napoléon and the almighty Premier Empire, and finishing with the formidable debacle of his nephew’s – Napoléon III – regime, aptly named le Second Empire. In between, you will discover or rediscover the turbulent history of the French people who managed to fit seven constitutional systems, two other revolutions, several wars, two emperors, three kings and a Président de la République in 70 eventful years! This fascinating period has left its mark on today’s France, both in politics and culture, and is therefore quite important to understand contemporary France.


Conference I: Napoléon and the Premier Empire: Rise and Fall

Napoléon is one of the most written about persons in history. From humble beginnings, he rose through the ranks of the French Army at breakneck speed, becoming a General of the French Revolution before becoming one of its leading figures under the Consulat and finally crowning (himself!) Emperor in 1804. It took a coalition of European forces to finally defeat his legendary armies in 1815. In less than two decades, Napoléon changed the face of France and Europe, for better or for worse. This is, to this day, a much debated and divisive topic. In this conference, we will present the man and the legend, but also the complex political system he progressively established in France and over much of Western Europe. We will delve into memorable battles – victories and defeats alike – and reflect on the ambitious Corsican leader and his legacy in contemporary France.

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