RL/HS 362 - Nantes Between Revolution and Counter-Revolution. Political and Religious Controversies of the French Revolution: the Example of Nantes (1780-1832)

This course will look at the major events in the history of Nantes from the city’s golden age industry, the slave trade, to the rebuilding of Catholicism in the city after the revolution. Students will explore the history of the city from 1780 to 1832. Religious and cultural issues will be discussed in a national and local context: religious absolutism, the Jansenist quarrels (Nantes is one of the strongholds of Jansenism in France), and the preaching and missions of Father Louis - Marie Grignon de Monfort.

Intensive field studies throughout the city will show students the most important monuments and signs of prosperity from this period and will complement the course work in the classroom. Various documents will also allow students to distinguish between reality and legend, and to reflect on the repressive tendencies of the French Revolution.

In brief, the 18th century is considered the golden age for the city of Nantes, due especially to the slave trade. In the countryside, growth was much more limited. Using primary resources from this period, students will discover how the Nantais, after being welcomed with enthusiasm by the General Assembly, will be troubled by the Civil Constitution of the clergy (1791). In 1792, only the city of Nantes supports the Republic while the rural areas side with the counter-revolution. In June 1793, the town of Nantes is found at the center of a fierce battle between Republicans and royalists: a "Valmy in the West.” Students will analyze the progress of the battle of Nantes, especially during a field study that will show the main scene of the fight. After defeat of the Vendéens at Nantes, Nantes knows terror. Drowning of prisoners are even organized by Carrier in the Loire River. After 1794, several royalist uprisings occur until Napoleon Bonaparte takes power in 1799. First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte reaches an agreement with the Pope Pius VII in 1801, the Concordat, which allows a return to religious peace. Various sources studied will enable students to appreciate the speed of the reconstruction of Nantes Catholicism; Bishop Duvoisin, the Bishop of Nantes, became even friend of the Emperor and the chaplain of the Empress Josephine.  The return of the Bourbons (1814-1830) helps strengthen the power of Catholicism in France and of the diocese of Nantes. An ultimate political blip occurs in 1832 when, after the fall of King Charles X in 1830, the Buchesse de Berry tries--in vain--to stip up Western France against the new "King of the French", Louis Philippe, whom she believes was "illegitimate." The scheme ends quite extraordinarily in a house in Nantes. 

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Religious Studies

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