Europe after Napoleon 1815-1849 - HIST8860

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2023 to 2024.


The period 1815-1848 is often seen as an age of stagnation, reaction and obscurantism when compared to the heroic revolutionary and Napoleonic maelstroms that had preceded it. There is a sense that, once the monarchs who attended the Congress of Vienna returned home, they turned the clocks back to 1789 and pretended that the previous decades had never happened. This is why the period is often given the label of the 'Restoration.' Nothing could be further from the truth. This was the age of Tocqueville, Turner, Balzac, Hugo, Schubert, Gogol, Hegel, Rossini, Bellini, Mazzini and Schinkel. Europe was awash in political, international and cultural ferment. States could not just sweep reality under a carpet of reaction, Europeans struggled to reconcile their heroic revolutionary past with the need for stability in the present. This age witnessed the first experiments with modern parliamentary government and democracy ceased being shorthand for demagogy. Key terms, like liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and egotism, that remain foundational to our contemporary political lexicon, were all coined at this time. Equally, these years witnessed the great revolt against the austere classicism of the eighteenth century. Artists, novelists, poets, playwrights, philosophers and architects all sought keenly their inner genius and struggled to give life to their demons and monstrous passions. The movement known today as Romanticism was the result of this far from innocent soul-searching. It had repercussions that went well beyond the cultural sphere, spilling over into the world of politics, government, war and peace.

This module will introduce students to the latest research, theories and controversies surrounding the history of the European Restorations. Each week a theme, event or controversy will be chosen. Students will be presented with a key historiographical text and a key primary source. Every week, they will try to gauge how well the interpretations and arguments of historians fit the period. The primary goal of this module is to demonstrate that, far from stagnant, the Post-Napoleonic age was a crucial étape in the transition to what we today understand as modernity.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 22
Total private study hours: 278
Total module study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 6,000 words 80%
Presentation 1 15 minutes 7.5%
Presentation 2 15 minutes 7.5%
Presentations Outline 1,000 words 5%

Reassessment methods :
100% Coursework (3,000 words)

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

M.S. Anderson, The Ascendancy of Europe: 1815-1914 (London, 2003)
Michael Broers, Europe After Napoleon: Revolution, Reaction and Romanticism, 1814-1848 (Manchester, 1996)
T.C.W. Blanning, The Nineteenth Century: Europe 1789-1914 (Oxford, 2001)
-, The Romantic Revolution (London, 2011)
Jacques Droz, Europe between Revolutions 1815-1848 (London, 1985)
Robert Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914 (Oxford, 2003)
Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution: Europe, 1789-1848 (London, 1988)
Mark Jarrett, The Congress of Vienna and its Legacy: War and Great Power Diplomacy After Napoleon (London, 2014)
Henry A. Kissinger, A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-22 (any edition)
Jürgen Osterhammel, The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century (Princeton, NJ, 2015)
Adam Zamoyski, Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries 1776 - 1871: Romantics, Patriots and Revolutionaries 1776-1871 (London, 1999)
-, Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty 1789-1848 (London, 2014)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate an enhanced and sophisticated understanding of the political, diplomatic, intellectual, cultural and social history of the History of the European Restorations 1815-1849.
2 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of advanced concepts in historiography, intellectual thought, political theory and post-imperial Europe.
3 Demonstrate an enhanced capability to understand complex and multi-valent movements like dynasticism, counter-revolution, conservatism, liberalism, socialism, romanticism and nationalism.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate their mental flexibility in dealing with complex issues.
2 Sustain concentration and aim in the application of advanced knowledge and techniques.
3 Construct detailed and coherent written and oral arguments which address complex issues.
4 Research and critically evaluate different types of complex sources.
5 Produce a wide variety of robust and detailed outputs, making use of in-depth historical knowledge and techniques.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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