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Home » Church History » Chapter 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part III – The French Revolution and its Aftermath

Chapter 21: Enlightenment: Ally or Enemy? (1492 – 1815) – Part III – The French Revolution and its Aftermath


"Liberty Leading the People", Eugene Delacroix, 1830

“Liberty Leading the People”, Eugene Delacroix, 1830 It commemorated the July Revolution of 1830 which toppled King Charles X of France. A woman personifying Liberty leads the people forward over the bodies of the fallen, holding the flag of the French Revolution – the tricolor flag which is still France’s flag today.


For our next meeting, we will be concluding our survey of the Enlightenment period by reading the last two sections of Chapter 21: The French Revolution (1789 – 1815) and Aftermath of Revolution: A Europe of Nation-States.  


We’ve come a long way in our study of Christian history.  Starting with the seeds of Western Civilization in ancient Greece, to the humble beginnings of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, the growth of the Church in Roman times, through the Middle Ages, the rise of the Catholic Church and the Christian Empire, the spread of Orthodox Christianity, the impact of the Reformation, the spread of Christianity throughout the entire world in Europe, Africa, Russia, Asia, and to North and South Americas, and now we come into the origins of the modern world we live in today starting with the Enlightenment period.  Christianity and her Church have come a long way and have been through much change to say the very least.


Please submit for our next meeting on Sunday, Sept. 7 an essay on one of the topics:


  1. Describe the events and reasons that led up the French Revolution in 1789.  How did the National Assemblies attempts to reform the Catholic Church in France evolve to remove all spheres of Christianity or religion from France?  Describe the anti-Christian sentiment provoked by groups like the Jacobins.  What was the overall effect of the efforts to de-Christianize France?
  2. How did Napoleon Bonaparte use religion to his advantage in uniting France?  Discuss his relationship with the Catholic Church, especially with Pope Pius VII and the Concordant.  How did Napoleon use the history of France to bolster his image as a Christian monarch?
  3. Discuss the impact the Industrial Revolution had upon not only Europe but the Church as well.  How did the Church adjust?
  4. Discuss the emergence of the ideology known as “nationalism” during the 19th century and how it became a replacement for the Christian religion.
  5. Discuss how an economic revolution in the 19th century gave rise to the “middle class”.  Who comprised this class and what were their political agendas?  Discuss how “liberalism” gained prominence through them and how it spurred the movements of “Romanticism”, “Fraternity”, and “Socialism”.  What were the aims of each movement?
  6. How did socialism arise in Europe?  What was its attitude towards Christianity?  Discuss the impact of such socialists such as Robert Owen, Louis Blanc, and Friedrich Engels.
  7. What are some similarities in vision and message between Karl Marx and Christianity?  What was distinctive about Marx’s socialist ideas and rhetoric?  Why did Marx view Christianity and religion to be such threats to humanity that he believed needed to be expunged entirely?


Please submit your essays by Saturday, Sept. 6.








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