Lesson 1: Overview of the French Revolution
Preview: With Ms. Mac narrating, students will reenact three moments in time:
- 1775: It’s early June 1775 in the magnificent cathedral at Reims. The young Louis XVI is only 20 years old. He walks toward the altar for his consecration as the king of France. He’s outfitted in a glorious, long silver robe. The stands in the cathedral are packed with aristocrats and high clergy. The common people are waiting outside. In his hand, the bishop has a vial, filled with the holy oil of the French monarchy. This is the exact same oil that a dove had carried down from heaven to baptize the first Christian king of France 13 centuries earlier. The bishop anoints the young Louis. The king then bows his head to the solemn moment. His wife, Marie-Antoinette, overcome with emotion, bursts into tears.
- 1793: Fast forward eighteen years later and it’s fall 1793, four years into the French Revolution. A band of revolutionaries enters the cathedral of Reims. A blacksmith mounts onto the altar. The crowd is cheering nervously. He snatches the vial of sacred oil and smashes it to smithereens with his hammer. The monarchy itself has fallen. How could that drop of oil be sacred?
- 1804: Fast forward another 11 years to 1804, in the Paris cathedral of Notre Dame this time. Pope Pius VII marks the brow of Napoleon Bonaparte with a new sacred oil. Napoleon is magnificent. He’s wearing ermine, silk, and diamonds. He stuns the crowd by seizing the golden crown and putting it on his own head.
- The Fascination of Revolutionary France
- Politics and Political Creativity
- Impact of the Era on Everyday Life
- International Impact and Significance
- Changing Nature of the Monarchy
- Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette
- The Diamond Necklace Affair
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of a political system built on the notion that its ruler is sacred?