Timeline of Age of Revolutions and Reactions

Some call this time from 1789-1830 the Napoleonic Era (d. 1821). This post covers history, philosophy and religion, literature, and art and architecture. How did these cultural areas react to the French Revolution and Napoleon?

Please click on the corresponding post the Outline of Revolutions and Reactions for more information!

If you’re in a hurry, please use the crtl-f search to find your key term.

This post has Bottom Line sections, and at the end there is a Conclusion section that puts demands on the Western world.

Let’s get started.

I. Introduction

A.  Timeframe:

1. 1789: French Revolution

2. 1815: Defeat of Napoleon and Congress of Vienna

3. 1830: July Revolution in France

The French Revolution (1789-1799)

I. Background

A. Timeframe:

1. 1789: National Assembly

2. 1799: Napoleon’s Consulate

II. First Phase: National Assembly (June 17, 1789)

A. Stalemate

1.  King

2.  New legislative body (June 1, 1789)

3. National Constituent Assembly (July 9, 1789)

a. Purpose: Write a Constitution

B. Tennis Court Oath (June 20)

1. Will not dissolve until they have written a constitution

C. Royal capitulation

D. Constitutional Monarchy is main achievement of this stage

III. Reconstruction of France (1789-91)

A. Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen (Aug. 27, 1789)

B. Civil Constitution of Clergy (July 1790)

1. Laity elects bishops and priests

2. Pope condemns it in Charitas bull (April 13, 1791)

F. Close of National Constituent Assembly (September 30, 1791)

1. They wrote a Constitution, the main accomplishment of this stage or phase

IV. Second Revolution or Phase (1791-1795)

A. Legislative Assembly (Oct 1, 1791-Sept 21, 1792)

B. Radical Reforms

1. End of Monarchy (Jan. 21, 1793) because Louis XVI is beheaded

V. The National Convention (Sept 21, 1792- Oct 26, 1795)

A. Reign of Terror

1. Committee of Public Safety (April 6, 1793)

a. Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794)

B. End of Terror

VIII. Thermidorian Reaction (July 1794)

A. Directory (Nov 1, 1795-Nov 9-10, 1799)

1. Directory of Five

VI. Consulate (Dec. 25, 1799)

Genealogical Tables

Source for above table: Philippe Erlanger, Louis XIV, trans. Stephen Cox (New York: Praeger, 1965, 1970).

The above table begins a little early for this post, but Louis XV and Louis XVI and Louis XVIII (son of Louis XVI, who would have been Louis XVII, dies in prison as a child) and Charles X make their appearance here.



The above genealogical table is included for the Imperial family. It should be clear from the top table that the royal lines in France survive into the twentieth century, and some of their descendants claim the throne or restoration.

Source: John Fabb, European Royalty of the Victorian and Edwardian Era (London: B. A. Seaby, 1986)

VII. Key Dates and Days

1789 May 5: Estates General opens at Versailles

June 17: Third Estate declares itself National Assembly

June 20: National Assembly takes Tennis Court oath

July 9: National Assembly renames itself National Constituent Assembly

July 14: Fall of Bastille in Paris

Late July: Great fear spreads in countryside

Aug 26: Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen

1790 July 12: Civil Constitution of Clergy is adopted; pope condemns it (Apr 1791 with Charitas bull)

July 12: King accepts political constitution

1791 June 14: Chapelier Law forbids workers’ unions

Sept 30: National Constituent Assembly dissolves

Oct 1: Legislative Assembly convenes

1792 Sept 20: French volunteers repel Austrians at Battle of Valmy

Sept 21: First session of Convention, last of Legislative Assembly; and monarchy is abolished

1793 Jan 21: Louis XVI is executed

Apr 6: Committee of Public Safety/Security is formed (9-12 members)

Sept 22: Revolutionary Calendar is adopted

Oct 5: Christianity is abolished

Oct 16: Queen Marie-Antoinette is executed

Nov 10: Cult of Reason is proclaimed

1794 Mar 24: Execution of leaders of sans-culottes (enragés)

May 7: Cult of Supreme Being is proclaimed

1795 Aug 22: Constitution of Year III is adopted, establishing the Directory

Oct 5: Royalists stage coup against Convention, but Napoleon repels them

Oct 26: Convention is dissolved

Nov 2: Directory convenes

1797 Sept 4: Antimonarchists stage coup in Directory; Napoleon helps them

1799 Dec 25: Consulate: Napoleon issues Constitution of Year VIII, so he’s First Consul

Bottom Line on French Revolution

1. Revolution is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment.

2. It sees six national governing bodies in ten years: National Assembly, soon changed to National Constituent Assembly, Legislative Assembly, Convention, Directory, and Consulate. (See Timeline: 1789, 1791, 1792, 1795, 1799) Why so many? See #3.

3. Revolution has, among other factions and combinations of factions, three main ones:

(a) Moderates/liberals: constitutional monarchy and limited suffrage and no trade unions

(b) Radicals: universal male suffrage, no monarchy, and trade unions

(c) Conservatives: pro-monarchy and anti-union; return to pre-1789

Therefore, it is inaccurate to characterize Revolution as entirely radical.

4. And therefore, Revolution takes place in stages, culminating in Napoleon becoming First Consul.

5. Religiously, France does not experience the same kind and extent of revivals that America did. In fact, the radicals abolished Christianity, but the moderates and others restored it.

6. Neighboring monarchs do not like the Revolution, so they declare war on revolutionaries. However, if not for Napoleon, the Revolution would have stayed within France, and the monarchs of Europe would not have been overly concerned with losing their own heads.

7. Napoleon conquers Europe and transmits revolutionary ideas.

8. France after Napoleon will be the seedbed of political ideologies and reactions in nineteenth century.

Napoleon Bonaparte

I. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

A. Early Life

1. Marriages

a. Josephine de Beauharnais (1763-1814)

b. Marie-Louise (1791-1847)

B.  Napoleon’s Rise to Power

1.  Royalists

a.  Directory under attack from royalists through popular consent

b.  Confusion of Fr. revolution makes monarchy seem desirable from people

c.  Spring elections of 1797 most pro-revolutionaries are replaced by royalists, giving them majority

d.  Anitmonarchists Directory stages a coup d’état on Sept. 4, 1797

e.  At request of Directory NB sends some subordinates to ensure success of coup

f.  Coup a success and Directory impose censorship and exile enemies

2.  Early victories

a.  He annexes Belgium in 1795

b.  In Oct. 1797 he concludes Treaty of Campo Formio, crushing Austrian and N. Italian armies

c.  Within a few days all of Italy and Switzerland falls under French dominion

3.  Britain

a.  He wishes to attack Britain but judges this unwise

b.  Instead goes after British interests in Mediterranean

c.  Overruns Britain in Egypt, but loses naval battle in 1798

d.  He is cut off from France

4.  Second Coalition (1799)

a.  Trouble brewing bec. Russia, Ottomans and Swiss form Second Coalition in 1799

b.  It defeats French in Italy and Switzerland and threaten to invade France

c.  NB escapes from Egypt, leaving doomed army behind in Oct. 1799

d.  Many politicians think he deserves court martial, but people support him

5.  Constitution of Year VIII (Dec. 1799)

a.  Abbé Siéyès wants new constitution in his pamphlet What is Third Estate? (1789)

b.  He proposes vigorous executive body to deal with economic and international problems

c.  NB and his troops join Siéyès on Nov. 10, 1799 and drive out legislators

d.  NB and Siéyès impose Constitution

1)  Universal male suffrage that suggested democratic principles

2)  Complicated checks and balances, appealing to Republican theory

3)  Council of State, reminiscent of Louis XIV

4)  First Consul, Bonaparte

C.  Russia

1.  Withdraws from Treaty of Tilsit

a.  At end of 1810 and prepares for war

b.  Russian nobles do not like Fr. republican ideas

c.  System prohibits lumber sale to Britain

d.  Grand Duchy of Warsaw expanded as Fr. satellite on Russia’s doorstep

e.  NB recognizes Fr. Marshal Bernadotte (1763-1844) as future King Charles XIV of Sweden

2.  Armies

a.  NB has 200k French and 400k from empire

b.  Russia has 160k and on home soil

3.  Russian strategy

a.  Withdraws from Fr. advance

b.  Scorched earth, to destroy all food and supplies

c.  Grande Armée could not live off country and supply lines too long

d.  Terrible rains and scorching summer and fatigue of Fr. army, yet NB does not withdraw

e.  Russian public opinion wants Gen. Kutuzov (1745-1813) to give fight

f.  Fr. lose 30k, and Russia almost 60k, yet Russia not destroyed and, therefore, victory for Russia

h.  Russians set fire to Moscow and leave NB in lurch with diminished army and long supply lines

4.  Russian victory

a.  In a burned out city, NB makes several peace offers

b.  Alexander ignores them

c.  In Oct. remaining Grand Army forced to retreat

d.  Fearing opposition at home, NB returns home, leaving army, of which only 100k survives

D. Consulate (1799-1804)

E. Concordat with Church (1801)

1. Pope Pius VII (r. 1800-1823)

F. Empire (1804-14)

1. Some conquests with the Grande Armée

1805 Treaty of Pressburg, after defeat of Austro-Russians forces at Austerlitz (Dec)

1806 Napoleon reorganizes Rhineland (July)

Napoleon defeats Prussian armies at Jena and Auerstaedt (Oct)

1807 Napoleon defeats Russia at Friedland (June)

Treaty of Tilsit: Czar Alexander I (r. 1801-25) recognizes Napoleon’s gains (July)

G. Continental System after Berlin Decrees (Nov 21, 1806):

1. Tariffs imposed on major trade routes;

2. Britain must be bled dry—boycotted;

3. Markets must be under French control;

4. Napoleon’s family put in power around Europe;

5. Hereditary social distinctions are abolished;

6. Peasants are freed from serfdom;

7. Feudal privileges are abolished;

8. Guilds are abolished;

9. Church is subordinated to State

H. Napoleon’s Defeat

1. Battle of Nations (October 1813)

I. Congress of Vienna (September 1815)

1. France

2. Netherlands (and Belgium)

3. Prussia

4. Austria

II. Key Dates:

1799 He marries Josephine de Beauharnais (Mar 9)

1801 Concordat with Catholic Church (July 15)

1802 He is declared Consul for life (Aug 2)

Organic Articles establishes supremacy of state over church (Apr 8)

1804 Civil/Napoleonic Code is adopted (May 7)

He is made Emperor by Senate and Tribune (May 16)

1805 Nelson (English) defeats French-Spanish fleet at Trafalgar (Oct 21)

1806 Berlin Decrees establishes Continental System (Nov 21)

1809 He marries Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria

1810 Russia withdraws from Continental System, so Napoleon plans to crush the  Russians

1812 He invades Russian, but they adopt scorched earth strategy and burn Moscow; Napoleon deserts army and returns to Paris

1813 Battle of Nations at Leipzig: Napoleon is defeated by Austrians, Prussians, and Russians and English money (Oct)

1814 Treaty of Chaumont establishes Quadruple Alliance (England, Austria, Prussia, Russia) to oppose Napoleon; they march into Paris (Mar)

He is exiled on Elba Island (Apr)

1815 He escapes from exile (Feb) “The Hundred Days”

Battle of Waterloo, Belgium, where Napoleon is defeated (June)

Quadruple Alliance is renewed (Nov 20)

1821 Napoleon dies on St. Helena Island

Bottom Line on Napoleon

1. He favored the French Revolution.

2. He was a military genius, which won for him a high place in politics.

3. He made himself Emperor in 1804.

4. Yet, he still carried revolutionary ideals with his Grande Armée.

5. He lost the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

6. During his career, he came, he saw, he won, he lost everything.

Reactions: Restoration, Nationalism, Liberalism, and Romanticism

I. Introduction

A. Timeframe:

1. 1789: French Revolution

2. 1815: Defeat of Napoleon and Congress of Vienna

3. 1830: July Revolution in France

II. Restorations and Reactions

B. Liberalism

1. Constitutionality—written up

a.  Political and civil rights

b.  Free speech

c.  Religious tolerance

d.  Voting rights for propertied classes—not full democracy

2. Economy

a. Laissez-faire economics—away from mercantilism (protectionism by gov’t.)

3. Social mobility

B. Nationalism

1. No multinational rule (e.g., Habsburg Empire)

2. Unity of Language and Education

3. Dark side: if it becomes excessive, it can provoke wars and attack smaller ethnic groups within a nation-under-development or a full-fledged nation

C. Conservatism

1. Strong monarchy

2. Strong aristocracy

3. Strong church

4. Strong military

III. Great Britain

1799 Combination Act outlaws workers’ unions, but repealed in 1824, making trade unions legal

1815 Corn [Grain] Law: Parliament passes it to maintain high prices for home-grown grain through import duties on foreign grain

1816 Income Tax abolishes tax on wealthy and replace it with taxes on consumer goods paid for by both the rich and poor

Unruly mass meeting at Spa fields near London (Dec), this leads to . . .

1817 Coercion Act 1817, suspending writ of Habeas Corpus and extended laws against seditious gatherings, but improved harvests and acts calms people

1819 Meeting at St. Peter’s field on (Aug. 16)

Royal troops and local militia there to ensure peace; as speeches begin, military moves into crowds, and crowd panics; at least 11 people killed and scores injured; called “Peterloo” Massacre

Six Acts (Dec. 1819)

(1) Forbids large, unauthorized meetings; (2) Raises fines for seditious libel; (3) Speeds up trial of local agitators; (4) Increases taxes on newspapers; (5) Prohibits training of armed groups; (6) Allows local officials to search homes in certain disturbed counties

1832 Great Reform Bill of 1832

(1) Replaces “rotten” boroughs (districts), which had very few voters, with more representative districts, so now industrial towns like Manchester have some votes in Parliament; (2) Increases voters by 50% by reducing land qualifications; House of Lords rejects bill, but mass meeting held, and riots break out in several cities; House of Lords yields; (3) Voters increase to 200k, so not a true democracy

Catholic Emancipation Act repeals law that Irish Catholics could not sit in Parliament (1800: Act of Union brings Ireland under England)

IV. France

A. Louis XVIII (r. 1814-24)

1814 Charter is issued (like Constitution of 1791)

1) Monarch appoints Upper house

2) Lower House (Chamber of Deputies) elected by those with high property qualifications

3) Guarantees Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen

4) Religious tolerance, but Catholicism is official religion

No challenge to current property owners who occupy confiscated land during revolution

1814-16 “White” Terror is carried on in provinces against revolutionaries and supporters of Napoleon

1815 Election: 51k electors selected 402 deputies, but 78% conservative, and 52% of them were ancien régime nobles

1816 Ultraroyalists elected to lower Chamber of Deputies become dangerous, so Louis dissolves chamber

1817 Election law enfranchises c. 100k, mostly landowners

1820 King’s nephew, Duke of Berri, son of future Charles X, is assassinated; king is persuaded liberals did it

1820s Conservatives firmly in power and strip liberals of power and position

1824 King Louis XVIII dies, and is replaced by his brother

B. Charles X (r. 1824-30)

1817-27 Manipulation of election laws reduces enfranchisement to 89k

1824-25 Chamber of Deputies indemnify aristocrats who lost land during Revolution

1825 Sacrilege Law imprisons or executes persons for blasphemy against Catholic Church

1827 Liberals gain enough seats to compel conciliation with Charles X, so restrictions are eased

1829 King’s concessions were not enough, so he replaces his moderate ministry with ultraroyalist ministry head by Prince de Polignac (1780-1847)

1830 Liberals win in a landslide election

Minister de Polignac wins battle in Algeria (June-July), and king uses euphoria to his advantage and decides for royalist coup d’état in Four Ordinances (July 25): (1) Restricts freedom of press; (2) Dissolves Chamber of Deputies; (3) Restricts franchise to wealthiest; (4) Calls for new elections under royalist franchise

Therefore, working people take to streets, and more than 1,800 die by troops (July 27, 28, 29)

Charles X abdicates and leaves for exile in England (Aug 2)

Bottom Line on England and France

1. After the Congress of Vienna, conservatives are firmly in power.

2. In France they react harshly (the White Terror, 1814-16) against revolutionaries, due to old wounds and loss of power and resources.

3. Yet, in England conservatives are not so harsh with liberals, as seen by Great Reform Bill, because England did not go through a recent revolution.

4. Finally, the enfranchisement of voters inches upwards.

V. Latin America

A. Wars of Independence

1. Spain Revolts in 1820

B. Countries

1. Haiti (1804)

a. Toussaint L’Ouverture (1746-1803)

b. Jean-Jacques Desselines (1758-1806)

2. Rio de la Plata (Mod. Argentina) (1810)

a. Ruling junta also liberates Uruguay and Paraguay (1810)

3. Peru (1821)

a. Jose de San Martin of Argentina leads independence

4. New Spain (Mexico) (1821)

a. Miguel Hildalgo y Costilla (1753-1811), creole priest, calls Indians to rebellion (he’s captured and executed)

b. Maria Morelos y Pavon(1765-1815) (also executed)

c. Augustin de Iturbe (1783-1824) revolts from Spain, but makes himself emperor, which does not last long, but an independent New Spain had been created

5. Brazil (1822)

a. Dom Pedro, son of Portuguese king (Joao VI), becomes regent and then emperor, and imperial government lasts until 1889, but at least Brazil is independent from Portugal

6. Venezuela (1823)

a. Simon Bolivar (1783-1830)

Bottom Line on Revolutions in Latin America and Caribbean

1. They are inspired by Enlightenment ideas.

2. Spain revolts from Napoleon’s occupation and later French rule, but no monarch in Europe favored Latin American Independence.

3. They look to USA’s recent break with Great Britain, the mother country.

4. Resentment against Spanish policies favoring peninsulares (from Spain)

5. Revolt from slavery is also a factor (Haiti).

6. However, business and trade decline, as well as the domestic economy, due to exhaustion and civil wars during search for independence.


1792 Alessandra Volta shows the electrochemical series

1795 James Hutton, vulcanist, publishes Theory of the Earth, which argues some rocks were igneous and proposes uniformitarianism—all geological features are the result of processes at work today, acting over long periods of time

Metric system in use in France, the working out of system being subsidized by Revolutionaries

1796 Edward Jenner develops safe smallpox immunization, using cowpox virus

1799 Jean-Baptiste Delambre and Pierre Méchain, after six years of work measuring an arc from Barcelona to Dunkirk, get the metric system enacted into law in France

Cavendish shows water is a compound

1799-1825 Pierre Laplace publishes Méchanique céleste (Celestial Mechanics), supporting a Newtonian view of the universe

1801 Giuseppe Piazzi discovers first asteroid, Ceres

Joseph-Marie Jacquard develops an automatic loom controlled by punch cards

Interference of light is discovered by Thomas Young

1804 Jean Biot and Joseph Gay-Lussac, physicists, study atmosphere from hot air balloon

Richard Trevithick builds first steam locomotive and runs it on tracks at Pen-y-darren iron works in South Wales

1807 Humphrey Davy passes electric current through molten compounds (process of electrolysis) in order to isolate elements (e.g., potassium) that had never been separated Rev. Forsyth patents percussion principle for ignition of firearms

1808 John Dalton publishes his atomic theory: every element consists of similar indivisible particles (atoms) that differ from atoms of other elements in their mass; he also draws up a list of relative atomic masses

1809 Jean-Baptiste Lamarck advocates a theory of evolution through inheritance of acquired characteristics

William Maclure produces first geological survey of eastern US

1813-14 Berzelius devises chemical symbols and formulas still used to represent elements and compounds

1815 William Smith shows rock strata (layers) can be identified on the basis of fossils found in them

Refraction of light is explained by Augustin Fresnel

1820 Charles Thomas de Colmar mass-produces calculator (Arithometer)

Hans Oersted discovers electromagnetism

1822 Jean-François Champollion deciphers Egyptian hieroglyphs

Laws of electrodynamics established by André Ampère

1825 Cuvier proposes his theories of catastrophes as cause of extinction of large groups of animals

George Stephenson in England build first public railroad to carry steam trains—the Stockton and Darlington line—using his engine called Locomotion

1830 Reaping machines are developed in Scotland and US; Steel plow made by John Deere in Illinois

Charles Lyell, Scottish geologist, publishes first volume of The Principles   of Geology, describing earth as several hundred million years old

Stephenson completes Liverpool and Manchester Railway

First US-built locomotive, Best Friend of Charleston, goes into service on   SC Railway


Please click on the corresponding post the Outline of Revolutions and Reactions for more information!

I.  Background to Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

A. Descartes Represents A priori (note word prior)

B. Hume represents A posteriori (note stem post or after)


A Priori A Posteriori
Knowledge without reference to or dependence on experiencing world Knowledge that comes from experiencing world

(Empiricism = Experience)

Relations of Ideas Matters of Fact
Intuitive Knowledge;

Demonstrative Knowledge

Experience of cause/effect Custom or habit
Examples: Geometry, Arithmetic, Algebra, Laws of Logic Examples: Natural world around us, e.g., the sun coming up tomorrow, bread and egg nourishing humans; billiard ball striking another one and moving it
Impossible to find a logical contradiction, e.g., it is logically impossible that a triangle would not have three sides or that three times five would not equal half of thirty There is no logical contradiction in these statements: the sun will not come up; sun will come up. Besides, in some cases cause/effect actually breaks down
Reasoning and process of thought in our mind alone (though we may have to check our proofs on paper or see a triangle) Impressions from outside world, which we process afterwards in our mind

Click on Outline of Descartes’s Meditations I ans II

And click on Outline of David Hume’s Theory of Knowledge

II. Kant’s Bridge

A. Critique of Pure Reason (1781)

See the Outline of Revolutions and Reactions

B. His bridge is to link a priori with a posteriori

III. Kant on Art

A. Background:  Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

1. Origin of Our Idea of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757)

a.  Sublime produces astonishment

b.  Runs ahead of our Reason

c.  Higher than admiration, reverence, respect

d.  Terrible image:  obscurity; power and size

B.  Kant:  Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and  Sublime (1764) Pre-“critical” book

Sublime Beautiful
Snow-covered peak

Description of raging storm

Milton’s portrayal of Infernal Kingdom

Tall oaks and lonely shadows in sacred grove


Great or huge



Flowery meadow

Valley with winding brook and flocks

Description of Elysium

Low hedge and trimmed trees





C. Kant on Genius: Critique of Practical Judgment (1790)

1. Talent – originality

2. Exemplary, not imitative

3. Unexplainable

4. Nature

“Genius is the innate mental disposition (ingenium) through which nature gives rule to art.”

“Genius is the exemplary originality of the natural gifts of a subject in the free employment of his cognitive faculties.”

Note: These two books by Burke (1757) and Kant (1764) were written during the Age of Reason, as was Rousseau’s Confessions (1781-88), another early expression of Romanticism. Thus, movements, trends, and outlooks can overlap, such as enlightened, skeptical Reason and passionate, restless Romanticism.

IV. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

A. Works

1. Phenomenology of Spirit (1807)

2. Reason in History (publ. 1837)

B. World-Spirit

C. Providence Guides History

1. Napoleon

2. America

D.  Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis?

God, therefore, in determining Himself, remains equal to Himself; each of these moments is itself the whole Idea and must be posited as the divine totality. The different moments can be grasped under three different forms: the universal, the particular, and the individual. First, the different moments remain preserved in the eternal unity of the Idea; this is the Logos, the eternal Son of God as Philo conceived it. The other to this extreme is individuality, the form of finite Spirit. As a return into itself, individuality is, indeed, Spirit; but, as otherness with exclusion of all others, it is finite or human Spirit, for finite spirits other than human beings do not concern us here. The individual man grasped as also in unity with the divine essence is the object of the Christian religion; and this is the most tremendous demand that can be made on him. The third form which concerns us here, the Idea in the mode of particularity, is Nature, which lies between the two extremes. This form presents the least difficulty for the Understanding; Spirit is posited as the contradiction existing explicitly, for the Idea in its finite freedom, and again in the form of individuality, are in objective contradiction; but in Nature, the contradiction is only implicit or for us, the otherness appearing in the Idea as a quiescent form. In Christ, the contradiction is posited and overcome, as His life, passion, and resurrection: Nature is the son of God, but not the Son, but as abiding in otherness—the divine Idea as held fast for a moment outside the divine love. Nature is Spirit estranged from itself; in Nature, Spirit lets itself go, a Bacchic god unrestrained and unmindful of itself; in Nature the unity Notion is concealed.

V. American Transcendentalism

A. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

We distinguish the announcements of the soul, its manifestation of its own nature, by the term Revelation. These are always attended by the emotion of the sublime. For this communication is an influx of the Divine mind into our mind. It is an ebb of the individual rivulet before the flowing surges of the sea of life. Every distinct apprehension of this central commandment agitates men with awe and delight. A thrill passes through all men at the reception of new truth, or at the performance of a great action, which comes out of the heart of nature . . . By necessity of our constitution, a certain enthusiasm attends the individual’s consciousness of that divine presence. The character and duration of this enthusiasm varies with the state of the individual, from an extasy and trance and prophetic inspiration,–which is its rarer appearance,–to the faintest glow of virtuous emotion . . . The trances of Socrates, the ‘union’ of Plotinus, the vision of Porphyry, the conversion of saint Paul, the aurora of Behmen, the convulsions of George Fox and his Quakers, the illumination of Swedenborg, are of this kind . . . Everywhere the history of religion betrays a tendency to enthusiasm. The rapture of the Moravian and Quietist; the opening of the internal sense of the Word, in the language of the New Jerusalem Church; the revival of Calvinistic churches; the experiences of the Methodists, are varying forms of that shudder of awe and delight with which the individual soul always mingles with the universal soul. (from “The Over-Soul”)

The same Omniscience flows into the intellect, and makes what we call genius. Much of the wisdom of the world is not wisdom, and the most illuminated class of men are no doubt superior to literary fame, and are not writers . . . [Emerson now talks about inferior writers, but moves on to writers of genius.] But genius is religious. It is a larger imbibing of the common heart . . . Humanity shines in Homer, in Chaucer, in Spenser, in Shakespeare, in Milton. They are content with truth. They use the positive degree. (from ibid.)


Please click on the corresponding post the Outline of Revolutions and Reactions for more information!

I. Romantic Literature in Germany

A. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

1.  Works

a.  Faust Part I (1790)

Faust and Mephistopheles make a bet:

FAUST: If ever I recline, calmed, on a bed of sloth,

You may destroy me then and there.

If ever flattering you should wile me

That in myself I find delight,

If with enjoyment you beguile me,

Then break on me, eternal night!

This bet I offer.


FAUST:                         Right.

If to the moment I should say:

Abide, you are so fair—

Put me in fetters on the day,

I wish to perish then, I swear.

Then let the death bell ever toll,

Your service done, you shall be free,

The clock may stop, the hand may fall,

As time comes to an end for me. . . .

In sensuality’s abysmal land

Let our passions drink their fill! . . .

For restless activity proves a man.

(From Study, lines 163-77; 221-22; 230)

II. Romantic Literature in England

A. William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

1. Works

a. Lyrical Ballads 1798, 1800, 1802, 1805

The World Is Too Much with Us

The World is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and Spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not.—Great God! I’d rather be

A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;

So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,

Have glimpses of Proteus rising from the sea;

Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

B. Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Ode to the West Wind


O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing;

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red;

Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O Thou,

Who chariotest to their dark wintery bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,

Each corpse within its grave, until

Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill

(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)

With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;

Destroyer and Preserver; hear, O hear!

C. John Keats (1795-1820)

To Autumn


Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Close-bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For Summer has o’er-brimmed their clammy cells.

D. Mary Shelley (1797-1851)

1815 M prematurely gives birth, and baby dies within few days

1816 son William

Frankenstein begun in Switzerland

1816 Mary and Percy marry after Harriet, P’s wife, commits suicide

1817 Percy denied custody; Frankenstein completed; Clara b., but dies in 1818

1819 (June 7) William dies

(Nov. 12) Percy Florence Shelley

1822 miscarriage; Percy drowns in Gulf of Spezia

Dies in London

2.  Works

a. Frankenstein (1818, 1823, 1831)

E. George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

1. Sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale

2. B. in London, son of Capt. John Byron, libertine (d. in France, 1791); child had clubfoot

3. Mother takes him to Aberdeen Scotland (1790)

1793 enters Aberdeen Grammar school

1794 Uncle dies, so he inherits title, Baron; made Lord in 1798; moves with mother to Newstead Abbey, ancestral home

1801-05 Harrow school

1803 falls in love with neighbor Mary Chaworth, but overhears her say, “What! Me care for that lame boy!”

1805 Trinity College, Cambridge

1807 Takes his seat in House of Lords

1808 A. M. degree; 1809 travels around Europe, reaching Athens; 1811 returns to England; death of mother

1812 meets wife-to-be Anne Isabella Milbanke; affair with Lady Caroline Lamb; and with Lady Oxford

1814 engaged to Annabella; 1815 marry; daughter Augusta Ada b. Dec. 10;

1816 wife leaves him in Jan.; separation formalized, and he leaves England forever on April 24; befriends Percy and Mary Shelley and Claire Claremont, with whom he has an affair; travels to Venice and has an affair with Marianna Segati, landlord’s wife

1817 Daughter Allegra b. to Claire; affair with Margarita Cogni, baker’s wife

1818 Allegra comes to Venice

1819 affair with Countess Teresa Guiccioli; moves to Ravenna to be near Teresa; 1824 lives in her palace with Allegra; Teresa and husband separate; joins revolution against Austrian rule

1822 Allegra dies in April; 1823 Byron sails for Greece, arriving Dec. 30, to join Greek independence from Turkish rule; catches chill in rain; dies at Missolonghi

2.  Works

a. Don Juan (Cantos I-II, 1819; III-V, 1821; VI-XXVI, 1823-24)

V. Neo-Classical Literature in England

A. Jane Austen (1775-1817)

1. Works

a. Pride and Prejudice (1797 as First Impressions; then as P and P in 1813

Art and Architecture

Please click on the corresponding post the Outline of Revolutions and Reactions for more information!

I. Neoclassicism

A. Painting

1. Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)

2. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867)

B. Architecture

1. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

II. Romantic Painting

A. Introduction

B. England

1. John Constable (1776-1837)

2. Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851)

C. Germany

1. Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)

D. Spain

1. Francisco Goya (1746-1828)

E. France

1. Théodore Géricault (1791-1824)

2. Eugène de la Croix (1798-1823)

Bottom Line on Neo-Classical Art and Architecture

1. Neoclassicism is still alive because for a long time it has represented the morals and sacrifice found in the Greeks and Romans, so it was co-opted by Revolutionaries;

2. It also  becomes settled and conservative as seen in the controlled, middle-class life in Jane Austen’s novel.

Bottom Line on Philosophy and Romanticism

In Art and Literature during French Revolution and Reactions:

1. Romanticism breaks with the Age of Reason, which studied visible things mathematically and scientifically.

2. Therefore, Romantics seek invisible super-nature that moves humans and flows through them.

3. At first, Romantics such as Wordsworth, Goethe, and Beethoven admire the French Revolution and Napoleon because they offered freedom from the Old Regime; then the Romantics rejected them when they became oppressive.

4. Therefore, Romantics write and paint on people’s struggle from oppression, as seen in Géricault’s painting Raft of the Medusa and Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables.

5. Rousseau, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats and others follow Nature, which does not deceive, whereas society binds people up, so humans must throw off restraint; Romantics stand in awe of Nature, as Kant and Burke said.

6. Therefore, Romantics believe that if they could connect with Nature and the Life-Force behind it, they would elevate their consciousness to the Divine. That is the feeling of the sublime, as Kant said in Observation on the Feeling of the Sublime and Beautiful

7. Emerson and the much greater Hegel turn away from orthodox Christianity to seek a divine World-Spirit working in/through nature; they coalesce the Divine with Nature, making it difficult to draw the line between the two.

8. Romantics react not only against orthodox Christianity, they also react against Deism, whose God is remote and impersonal.

9. Genius inspires or comes to those who connect with the Divine and divine Nature, and then Genius enables humans to create divine works of art and literature, as Kant seems to imply in Critique of Practical Judgment, and Emerson says outright: “Genius is religious.”

10. Romantics are constantly, restlessly striving to explore human nature and Nature that flows with divinity, as seen in Goethe’s Faust.

11. As seen in Rousseau’s Confessions, Romantics explore the self more deeply than ever before, far apart from orthodox Christianity (as seen in Augustine’s Confessions), and the self deals with the sentiment (in French) or feeling.

12. Romantics explore the odd, freakish, grotesque, or monstrous, as seen in Francisco Goya’s painting and prints and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This is a strong reaction against the Age of Reason’s love of order and control.

13. Neo-classicism is still hanging on because it represents restrictive society, morals, and middle class.

Key concepts:


Self: sentiment or Feeling

Divine, supernatural

Invisible world

Freedom from orthodoxy and social restrictive customs

Sublime and awe

Rejection of Christian orthodoxy and Deism

Genius (divine or special)

Odd, grotesque, monstrous


Get up, Western world! Remember your good roots, like your true biblical Christian faith! the bad. No longer focus on your bad past! Don’t allow leftists or Islamists to browbeat you about it! You  fought hard for your liberties. Now live in it!


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