Overview: France, 1715 to 1815: a century of dubious greatness

David Andress*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


At either end of this century-long period, France stood in European affairs as a dangerous, and defeated, titan. In between, it spent decades wrestling with the internal contradictions of “absolutism” as continuing struggle for global imperial dominance forced the state to spend beyond its means and social privilege prevented the expansion of those means. Collapse into revolution brought the aspiration to rationalize everything, but that unleashed confrontation with irreconcilable ideological opposition. Napoleonic dictatorship was the eventual outcome, but the gains of submission to a new kind of monarch were ultimately outweighed by the terrible costs of his ambition.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of French History
EditorsDavid Andress
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781003823971
ISBN (Print)9780367406820
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2023

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