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   Course Title    History of Europe 1789-1914
Lecturer    Jirí Lach
Institution    Palacky University
Country    Czech Republic


The course should offer fundamental orientation in the main currents of the "long 19th century", which is terminated by two overwhelming events: the French Revolution and WWI. The course is based on active involvement of each student. Students are expected to develop critical thinking in their analysis of seminar reading, individual presentations as well as in written seminar work and in tests at the end of the winter and summer semesters.


History of Europe 1789-1914 is a one-year compulsory course for the 1st year students at the DPES. Therefore, mainly political history is stressed here, with attention paid to major ideological doctrines of the time. The course should give students a compact basis for a further studying of European history in the 2nd and 3rd year (from 1914 to present), and also provide them with a solid structure for other subjects in the curriculum (such as a history of political theory, political systems etc.). As the French Revolution personifies one of the most critical turning points in modern history, a special one-semester optional course (French Politics 1789-1914) is offered to intensify knowledge of this unique process. Students are highly recommended to sign up for this course. The Austrian Empire played one of the crucial roles in 19th century Europe. However, its history is covered in the course History of the Czech Lands since 1848. Therefore bigger attention will not be paid to post 1848 Austrian development in order not to overlap with this topic.


Students are attending one lecture (45 minutes) and one seminar (45 minutes) per week. Lectures are to provide an outline for the most important trends in the 19th century European politics. Seminars serve for more detailed analysis of particular occurrences or phenomena, which should improve students’ insight into problems of the given period. Seminars give a possibility to understand a weekly shorter reading in discussion, which is also altered by short (5-7 minutes) individual presentations related to the seminar’s topic. Attendants of the course present deeper analytical skills in the written seminar work (see assessment) and in further compulsory readings (one book per semester), which are examined in the test. The used methods present an effort to test oral and written skills at different levels. Students are welcome for further discussions during the consultation hours.


Lectures: Thursday 11:30-12:15

Seminar 1: Friday 8:00-8:45

Seminar 2: Friday 8:45-9:30

abbreviations: lecture "L", seminar "S", reading "R".

Week 1


Distribution and explanation of the syllabi, topics for presentations, suggested topics for written work etc. Open discussion based on students’ questions

Week 2

L: Distribution of power in Europe prior to French Revolution

European concert of power, European settlement since the Seven Years War

S: Intellectual climate, major political, social and economic doctrines

Absolutism: theory and practice, defenders and critiques, aspects of enlightenment, mercantilism

R: Josef ŠUSTA, Absolutism, merkantilism, osvícenství. In: Dejiny lidstva od praveku k dnešku. Praha 1939, pp. XI-XLIV

Week 3

L: The French Revolution: preconditions

Why the revolution took place in France? Comments on political development in France prior to 1789

S: What is the "Old Regime"?

Toquevillian foundation of the term, role of aristocracy, bourgeoisie and of the Church

R: François FURET, Ancien Régime. In: A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution. London - Cambridge 1989, pp. 604-615.

Week 4

L: The French Revolution: development

Political changes from 1789 to 1795. Differences between revolutionary assemblies, major political groupings and clubs.

S: Changing political sovereigns and habits in revolutionary France

R: Antoine de BAEQUE, From Royal Dignity to Republican Austerity: The Ritual for reception of Louis XVI in the French National Assembly. Journal of Modern History, 66, 1994, No. 4, pp. 671-696.

Week 5

L: Napoleon in power

Napoleon´s domestic policy, military career as a condition for political success. Napoleonic administrative reform (Civil Code)

S: Physiognomy of the dictator

Napoleon: populist or tyrant? Foundation of Bonapartism, Napoleon between ideologies of revolution and reaction

R: Michael BROERS, The First Napoleonic Regime, 1799-1815: The Origins of Pozitivist Right or the Zenith of Jacobinism? In: Nicholas ATKIN-Frank TALLETT (eds.), The right in France 1789-1997. London – NY 1997, pp. 19-35

Week 6

L: Europe against revolution and in the fire of the Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon´s military campaigns: their aims, ideological roots. Coalitions against revolutionary regimes and Napoleon

S: Napoleon´s military skills

Why he was so successful? Limits of Napoleonic army potential.

R: Pavel BELINA, Poláci v ohni napoleonských válek [Poles in the Fire of the Napoleonic Wars]. Dejiny a soucasnost, 21, 1999, No. 2, pp. 16-21.

Milan ŠVANKMAJER, Bitva u Lipska roku 1813 [The Battle of Leipzig in 1813], pp. 22-25.

Week 7

L: The Congress of Vienna and the Holy Alliance

Diplomatic representation at the congress, 1st rate powers and 2nd rate powers, reaction wins

S: Who dominated the Congress? Foundation of the post 1815 European order

R: Vienna Congress Treaty. In: Michael HURST (ed.), Key Treaties for the Great Powers I. Oxford 1971, pp. 41-95. (due length, the text will be divided between three groups in the seminar).

Week 8

L: Europe 1815-18148 I.

Situation in Austria, Metternich as a statesman and hidden ruler

S: Metternich´s influence on Austrian emperors, his political style

R: Alan SKED, Úpadek a pád habsburské ríše [The Rise and Fall of the Habsburg Empire]. Praha 1995, pp. 15-48.

Week 9

L: Europe 1815-18148 II

Eastern Europe and Russia: End of Tzar Alexander I.’s government and the beginning of Nicholas’ rule). The Polish question.

S: National question in Central and Eastern Europe

R: Éra liberalismu a nacionalismu. In: Piotr S. WANDYCZ, Cena svobody [The Price of Freedom]. Praha 1992, pp. 128-148.

Week 10

L: Europe 1815-18148 III

British internal and international politics since the Congress of Vienna (parliamentary reform, Canning’s activities)

S: Economic, political and social aspects of industrialization

R: První prumyslová velmoc – Velká Británie [The First Industrial Power – Great Britain]. In: Miroslav HROCH, Obecné dejiny novoveku. Praha 1989, pp. 254-260.

Week 11

L: Revolutionary wave in South and Southwestern Europe

Heritage of Napoleonic times in Italy and Spain, conflict between liberal ideas and divine order, regional differences against unity of a nation state

S: International aspects of liberal attempts in Iberian Peninsula and in Italy

R: Eva SLADKOVSKÁ, Kongresy Svaté aliance. [Congresses of the Holly Alliance]. Historický obzor, 9, 1998, No. 11-12, pp. 242-249.

Week 12

L: The July Revolution and its impact on European affairs

Origins of July revolution, creation of the Kingdom of Belgium, reaction of European powers

S: Typology of "July" regime

R: Pamela PILBEAM, Orleanism: A Doctrine of the Right? In: The Right in France, pp. 35-49.

Week 13


Week 14

L: Spring of Nations

Outline of European Revolutions of 1848

S: Typology of the revolutions

R: 1848: The Year of Trial. In: Jacob L. TALMON, Romanticism and Revolt: Europe 1815-1848. NY 1979, pp. 166-196. (due length, the text will be divided between two groups in the seminar).

Week 15

L: Crimean War

The Crimean War and Eastern question, "liberal" western camp against Russia

S: Why Austria and Prussia did not participate in the Crimean War?

R: Východni otázka a krymská válka [Eastern question and Crimean War]. In: Miroslav HROCH, Obecné dejiny novoveku. Praha 1989, pp. 307-313.

Week 16

L: Unification of Germany

Political and economic integration of the German territory prior to 1871, three wars for German unification

S: Personality of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck

R: Allan MITCHELL, Bonapartism as a Model for Bismarckian Politics, Journal of Modern History, 49, 1977, pp. 183-199.

Week 17

L: Italy on the road to unification and its aftermath

Actors of Italian unification (Cavour and Garibaldi), Austria weakened, role of France

S: Role of nationalism in Italy prior to World War I

R: Richard DRAKE, Theory and Practice of Italian Nationalism. Journal of Modern History, 53, 1981, pp. 213-241

Week 18

L: France: From the second republic to the Commune of Paris

Lois Bonaparte: from president to emperor, three stages of the Second Empire, beginnings of the Third Republic

S: In the shadow of Second Empire: The Commune of Paris

R: The Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune. In: Charles SOWERWINE, France Since 1870. Culture, Politics and Society. NY 2001, pp. 12-26.

Week 19

L: State and Church in the 19th century

Position of the Catholic Church throughout the 19th century, Impact of the French Revolution, 1848 and the 1st Vatican Council

S: Regional differences of anticlericalism

R: The Rise of Anticlericalism. In: Owen CHADWICK, The Secularization of European Mind in the 19th Century. Cambridge 1995, pp. 107-139. (due length, the text will be divided between two groups in the seminar).

Week 20

L: European powers in the age of Imperialism

The idea of imperialism in the 19th century, territorial preferences for expansion of European powers

S: Typology of European colonial powers

R: Typen der kolonialen Herrschaft. In: Propyläen-Geschichte Europas, Vol. 5, Staatensystem als Vormacht der Welt. Berlin 1992, pp. 292-306.

Week 21

L: Inner development in the Great Britain and Russia in the 2nd half of the 19th century.

Lecture only

Week 22

L: Formation of Triple Alliance and Entente

Division of European powers

S: Differences between Triple Alliance and Entente.

R: First Treaty of Triple Alliance between Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy. In: Key Treaties for the Great Powers II, pp. 611-613.

Week 23

L: Main currents in the 19th century European politics


S: Discussion

R: Eugen WEBER, The Nineteenth-century Fallout. In: Geoffrey BEST (ed.), The Permanent Revolution. The French Revolution and its Legacy 1789-1989. Chicago 1989, pp. 155-181.

Week 24





Seminar reading listed in course content

One book per semester:

Fall semester:

Miroslav HROCH, V národním zájmu [In National Interest]. Praha 1999, 200 p.

Summer semester:

Milan HLAVACKA–Marek PECENKA, Trojspolek. Nemecká, Rakousko-uherská a italská zahranicní politika pred první svetovou válkou [Triple Alliance. German, Austro-Hungarian, and Italian Foreign Policy before the Great War]. Praha 1999, 279 p.


Students are provided with the extensive list of historical textbooks, atlases, monographs, review articles, and essays at the beginning of academic year.


Compulsory attendance in seminars: 2 justified absences at maximum.

Active involvement in the seminars: students are expected to give one presentation per year and discuss actual reading. A student without preparation is qualified as absent. Seminar reading is part of the test at the end of the semester in the form of multiple choice or open questions.

One book per semester: knowledge of the book will be examined in the written test in the same way as seminar readings.

Written seminar work: students are offered a list of topics, however they are encouraged to come up with their own suggestions.
Work will be submitted according to the following instructions:
3000 words (tolerance of 150 words), editor Microsoft Word, size 12, spacing 1,5 in Times New Roman, front page, footnotes, list of sources, pagination; text of will fulfill current grammatical and stylistic conventions.
Time schedule:
October 12, 2001 – selection of a topic

November 9, 2001 – submission of an outline

February 28, 2002 – submission of a printed essay with diskette

Please, follow the deadlines. Students, who will not respect time schedule, are excluded from the course automatically.

Written test: will take place during examination week; 1st emendatory term will be written; 2nd emendatory (the last one) term will be taken as oral exam. Test will last 90 minutes. It will combine methods of multiple choice and open questions. Single-handed work of each student is required. Plagiarism is automatically treated as "fail" for the whole course.

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