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Conquering the Natural Frontier: French Expansion to the Rhine River During the War of the First Coalition, 1792-1797

Description: After conquering Belgium and the Rhineland in 1794, the French Army of the Sambre and Meuse faced severe logistical, disciplinary, and morale problems that signaled the erosion of its capabilities. The army’s degeneration resulted from a revolution in French foreign policy designed to conquer the natural frontiers, a policy often falsely portrayed as a diplomatic tradition of the French monarchy. In fact, the natural frontiers policy – expansion to the Rhine, the Pyrenees, and the Alps – emerged only after the start of the War of the First Coalition in 1792. Moreover, the pursuit of natural frontiers caused more controversy than previously understood. No less a figure than Lazare Carnot – the Organizer of Victory – viewed French expansion to the Rhine as impractical and likely to perpetuate war. While the war of conquest provided the French state with the resources to survive, it entailed numerous unforeseen consequences. Most notably, the Revolutionary armies became isolated from the nation and displayed more loyalty to their commanders than to the civilian authorities. In 1797, the Sambre and Meuse Army became a political tool of General Lazare Hoche, who sought control over the Rhineland by supporting the creation of a Cisrhenan Republic. Ultimately, troops from Hoche’s army removed Carnot from the French Directory in the coup d’état of 18 fructidor, a crucial benchmark in the militarization of French politics two years before Napoleon Bonaparte’s seizure of power. Accordingly, the conquest of the Rhine frontier contributed to the erosion of democratic governance in Revolutionary France.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Hayworth, Jordan R.

The Countess of Counter-revolution: Madame du Barry and the 1791 Theft of Her Jewelry

Description: Jeanne Bécu, an illegitimate child from the Vaucouleurs area in France, ascended the ranks of the Ancien régime to become the Countess du Barry and take her place as Royal Mistress of Louis XV. During her tenure as Royal Mistress, Jeanne amassed a jewel collection that rivaled all private collections. During the course of the French Revolution, more specifically the Reign of Terror, Jeanne was forced to hatch a plot to secure the remainder of her wealth as she lost a significant portion of her revenue on the night of 4 August 1789. To protect her wealth, Jeanne enlisted Nathaniel Parker Forth, a British spy, to help her plan a fake jewel theft at Louveciennes so that she could remove her economic capital from France while also reducing her total wealth and capital with the intent of reducing her tax payments. As a result of the theft, her jewelry was transported to London, where she would travel four times during the French Revolution on the pretext of recovering her jewelry. This thesis examines her actions while abroad during the Revolution and her culpability in the plot. While traveling to and from London, Jeanne was able to move information, money, and people out of France. Jeanne was arrested and charged with aiding the counter-revolution, for which the Revolutionary Tribunal sentenced her to death. Madame du Barry represented the extravagance and waste of Versailles and of Bourbon absolutism, and this symbolic representation of waste was what eventually inhibited Jeanne’s success.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Lewis, Erik Braeden

France and the Little Entente, 1936-1937: the Work of Yvon Delbos

Description: This thesis studies France"s relations with the Little Entente during the term of Foreign Minister Delbos. It relies primarily on published diplomatic papers and memoirs. It discusses Delbos's background, the histories of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Rumania from 1919-1936, and the formation of the Little Entente. The thesis focuses on France's efforts after the Rhineland crisis to strengthen her Eastern European alliances. Delbos chose the Little Entente over the Soviet Union as France's primary Eastern European alliance. Delbos's proposed Mutual Assistance Pact between France and the Little Entente and his Eastern European trip in December, 1937, failed owing to Yugoslavian and Rumanian opposition. German economic domination and intimidation of, and British disinterest in, Eastern Europe contributed to Yugoslavian and Rumanian rejection of France's overtures.
Date: December 1981
Creator: Kephart, Brad W.

Louis XI and the Feudality of France 1461-1483

Description: This thesis examines the struggle between King Louis XI and the great feudal houses of the fifteenth century such as Burgundy, Brittany, Anjou, Armagnac, Bourbon, and Foix. It attempts to provide a detailed narrative based on the primary sources and the excellent studies on individual feudal princes produced by a number of French historians, supplemented by a critical analysis of the traditional view of Louis XI as the "vainquer de la grande féodalité."
Date: December 1984
Creator: Spencer, Mark B. (Mark Benner)