Grey History: The French Revolution & Napoleon

History isn't black and white, yet too often it's presented as such. Explore the ambiguities and nuances of the French Revolution. Support the show today: Ever wondered how the French Revolution started with hope for liberty and equality and descended into the Reign of Terror? Curious as to how the French Revolution still influences your life today? Looking for your next long-form, detailed history podcast recommended by universities and loved by French Revolution and Napoleon enthusiasts? Then Grey History The French Revolution and Napoleon is the history podcast for you!  In the first 12 episodes, we explore the origins of the French Revolution. Starting with French history in the late eighteenth century, the first two episodes examine the Estates of the Realm and the historic reigns of King Louis XIV and King Louis XV. We then dive into French involvement in the American Revolutionary War, and the profound impact this has on the history of France. Taking the time to contrast the experiences of contemporaries and the opinions of historians, we proceed to unpack the fall of the Old Regime (Ancien Régime), including the summoning of the Estates-General, the creation of the National Assembly (later the National Constituent Assembly), and the Tennis Court Oath. Finally, we dive into the dismissal of Jacques Necker and the series of events that triggered the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789. Along the way, we routinely dive into contentious debates in the history of the French Revolution, before proceeding to examine the period of constitutional monarchy from 1789 to 1792.  From Episodes 13 - 35, Grey History The French Revolution and Napoleon examines the workings of the National Assembly, the Constitution of 1791, and the first year of the Legislative Assembly. This includes contentious debates surrounding the Assembly's religious reforms, including the nationalisation of church property, the issuing of assignats, the closure of monastic orders, and the Civil Constitution of the Clergy. It also includes historic events such as the October Days, the Flight to Varennes, and the declaration of the Revolutionary War. As we unpack the ever-changing events of Paris during the revolutionary era, you'll not only hear from historians from across the ideological spectrum, as well as key participants. This includes Maximilien Robespierre, Georges Danton, Jean-Paul Marat, the Comte de Mirabeau, Abbé Sieyès, Jean-Sylvain Bailly, the Marquis de Lafayette, and of course, the French royals, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. We'll also examine the factional dynamics emerging in the revolution, including the Jacobins (Montagnards), Girondins (Brissotins), Feuillants, and others. Finally, we will discuss international reactions to the French Revolution, including Edmund Burke's responses as well as those of foreign monarchs.  From Episode 36 onwards, we explore the fall of the monarchy on 10 August 1792, a gruesome and chaotic event that was ironically witnessed by the future French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte. But, between the overthrow of King Louis XVI and the rise of the Napoleonic Empire a decade later, the history of France is one defined by turmoil, conspiracy, heartbreak, and bloodshed. From the September Massacres of 1792 to the Reign of Terror in 1793 and 1794, the French Revolution is an almost unbelievable tragedy of horror and crime. But, it's also an inspirational story of hope and heroism. Fighting for democratic principles, the French (and later Napoleonic) armies transformed world history forever, along with democratic societies. You absolutely don't want to miss out on the history of the French Revolution and the subsequent age of Napoleon!

by William Clark - 415 episodes

Suggested Podcasts

Spotify Studios

Spotify Studios

Slate Podcasts

Cody L. Wheat


Parcast Network

Wondery / Patrick Wyman

BBC Radio 4