This is The Siècle, Supplemental 6: France and England After Waterloo.
Welcome back to The Siècle. Just shy of one year ago today, I released Episodes 0 and 1 of The Siècle, with no idea what kind of reception I would get for this experiment. I had 77 downloads that first day, just under 40 for each episode.
Over the 12 months since January 23, 2019, I’ve released 22 different episodes, keeping more-or-less to a bimonthly schedule, covering France’s tumultuous period from Napoleon’s first abdication in early 1814 to the birth of the Bourbon’s long-sought heir, the Comte de Chambord, in the fall of 1820. In addition to the main narrative, we’ve taken digressions into topics from France’s geography to its constitution to its peasants to its literature.
In the meantime, the podcast’s audience has grown by leaps and bounds. From 39 downloads on the first day of Episode 1, we’ve gone to 457 for Episode 16, the most recent scripted episode, an order of magnitude higher.
I’m so excited for what the next year will bring, as the podcast will cover France’s dramatic history through the transformational year of 1830, as well as exploring French society and life in topics such as religion, class, gender, age, and France’s nascent colonial empire.
The next scripted episode of the show will be coming out very soon. But in the meantime, I wanted to share with you a conversation I had with another superb history podcaster: Chris Fernandez-Packham of the Age of Victoria podcast, which is covering essentially the same time period as The Siècle but with a focus on Great Britain. Chris and I hopped on a call to talk about how France and Britain experienced the years after Waterloo, and our conversation was fascinating. I was personally most interested in how despite being the big winner of the Napoleonic Wars, and despite being poised for a century of tremendous power, Britain’s experience in the first few years after Waterloo was surprisingly rocky — and poor, buffeted France ends up looking pretty good in some areas.
Our discussion starts with me providing a brief overview of France’s experience during the years after Waterloo:
THE SIÈCLE: So, France after the Napoleonic wars was sort of dominated by two big structural factors. One of them, obviously, was politics. This is a country that had spent a generation see-sawing between various different regimes. Now the Restoration monarch was frantically trying to build up a sense of legitimacy with a very divided populace.
Politically, France at this time had a very restrictive electoral franchise. Obviously most countries in the world had very restrictive electoral franchises at this time, but France was particularly restrictive. About 1 percent of adult men were rich enough to have the vote under the Charter of 1814. That’s about 0.3 percent or so the entire country, counting women, obviously, who weren’t allowed to vote, as well as minors. But lots of people who couldn’t vote were still really interested in politics. Ordinary people had opinions about the Bourbons and Napoleon, about the Revolution and the Catholic Church and so on.
AGE OF VICTORIA: When we’re talking about this 1 percent, obviously they’re wealthy and probably fairly well-educated. But what about the rest of the interested population? How literate was the sort of mass electorate?
SIÈCLE: The broader French population, it really depends on what part of the country you’re looking at. In the cities, a lot of people weren’t literate or weren’t fully literate, they could maybe at most sign their name, or something like that, but would still follow politics closely. A lot of times, for example, the one person in your group who did know how to read would read the newspaper out loud at a café or bar, and people would follow the news from Paris that way. Out in the countryside, literacy was even lower, although again this varied from region to region — there were parts of the country that had very high rates of literacy, such as the northeast around Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine — and other parts that had very low literacies, in the south and west of the country.
Even if you didn’t have a strong opinion about the more abstract ideas of royalist, the Revolution, Napoleon, etc., people still cared about if, for example, the land they bought during the Revolution was going to be confiscated by the Restoration government and given back to the Church, or if peasants would have to resume performing feudal dues for their lords, having to work on the roads in the area, or give over a part of the grain, etc. And everyone cared if conscription was going to come back.
On top of this you had international politics, of course. In the immediate aftermath of Waterloo most of France was occupied by international armies who were ostensibly there as France’s armies, but not only humiliated the people who were under occupation but also sort of plundered pretty liberally from the people they were occupying. And the regions that weren’t occupied had a sort of domestic terrorism going on, the so-called “White Terror,” as royalists sought revenge on their liberal or Bonapartist opponents. Meanwhile the government passed all sorts of repressive laws, criminalizing shouting “Vive Napoléon! Vive l’empéreur!” That could get you locked up in jail. There’s one funny story of a farmer who was arrested because his chicken laid an egg that looked sort of like Napoleon.
VICTORIA: Which was obviously a strange experiment in genetics gone wrong.
VICTORIA: But out of interest, then, you’ve got these armies of occupation, and you’ve got the restored Bourbons. Do you have a view on why the country didn’t actually come apart? Why did it hold together as a political entity?
SIÈCLE: Part of that was that none of the other countries in Europe who were calling the shots after Waterloo wanted the end of France as a country. There were a few Prussians who were interested in dismembering France, but by and large all the great powers of Europe thought that a restored monarchist France was better for the balance of power in Europe. They thought it was better to have a strong, centrally controlled, royalist Bourbon France, and they didn’t want more chaos, and more warfare, and all that. And, you know, France had a pretty strong tradition of central government. Centralizing efforts going back to Louis XIV, and them accentuated during the Revolution and under Napoleon, had left a very powerful French state, that even when things were at their most chaotic was still exerting a powerful influence on peoples’ everyday lives.
Of course the question of who controlled the state remained a big one throughout this whole period. The Bourbon monarchy didn’t really have a lot of legitimacy. They were a relatively new — this whole form of government was relatively new. Obviously they claimed an ancient heritage that gave them the right to rule, but, you know, the French people had experience with other types of government, and probably no more than half the country was really, truly supportive of the Bourbons.
So you saw in the 1810s and 1820s a lot of whipsawing back and forth as even this very small electorate, this very small group of people, kept changing their mind about which type of government they wanted, both in terms of people actually changing their votes and then people, whether or not people bothered to show up to vote. So you had an extreme right-wing government right after Waterloo, and then elections the next year returned a centrist, moderate royalist government, and then the liberals gained strength, and then there was a backlash against them and the conservatives gained strength again. So even though very few people could vote, that shouldn’t imply there wasn’t actual politics going on. A lot of this is the big issues that were being debated — the question of the constitution and the role of the Church and the state. Of course there was also plenty of small-bore stuff, people trying to get jobs and investments in their districts and stuff like that.
VICTORIA: I remember in one of your shows you were mentioning the role of the Catholic Church in all of this. A lot of the Revolution had been anti-state religion, anti-Catholicism. So how was the reaction when the growth of the Church and the growth of Church power was becoming more obvious after the Restoration?
SIÈCLE: So the Restoration obviously endorsed Catholicism as sort of the state religion of France. There was a compromise in which some people wanted to recognize Catholicism as “the religion of the majority of Frenchmen,” other people as the religion of the state; some people wanted nothing to do with it. But in general, Catholicism was promoted as a state policy — never as much as the Catholic partisans wanted. The Restoration never quite went as far as many people thought it should in terms of promoting Catholicism. But there was lots of state money spent on religious art, lots of people went to seminaries, a lot of new priests were created, etc.
Whether you liked this or not depended on your politics and religion. If you were a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic it was all great, and needed to go even further. There were lots of people in France, of course, who were not particularly Catholic, or even outwardly anti-Catholic or atheist, legacies of the Revolution and the Enlightenment. And these people were highly offended by all this. So there were lots of little flash points — there were students protesting, there were professors who were dismissed for giving lectures that were perceived as anti-Catholic, etc.
Just really quickly, I wanted to talk about the experience of England in this time. As I said, we shouldn’t put too much emphasis on politics because again, only a small percentage of people could vote, and even though ordinary people still followed politics, there were big structural economic issues that were really affecting ordinary peoples’ lives. Starting with, in 1814-1815, France was coming off a generation of war, and one that had been fought on, I guess, a much more personal way than Britain’s experience with the Napoleonic Wars — which of course was still very significant.
VICTORIA: That’s interesting. Because from the British point of view, at the time, France, it was culturally respected, obviously, it always had been in British culture, but there was a real bitterness to the conflict that sort of is quite unusual when you look at a lot of British military history and British political history, there isn’t usually this sort of vicious antagonism that you were starting to get towards the French at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. I think for the British coming off the end of these Napoleonic Wars, it must have been quite a culture shock that while the old enemy we had been fighting for 20 years odd now is actually all over. I wonder, did the French experience maybe that feeling of dislocation?
SIÈCLE: To a certain degree, yes, but I think for the French the experience of this whole Revolutionary/Napoleonic Era — again, the changes have been happening inside France itself. People had the struggle of their relationship with Britain — there were various trade conflicts. The Restoration government signed a trade deal with Britain that was very unpopular. For example, people didn’t like British goods flooding the market. Parisians didn’t like all the British tourists who flooded into the city to live it up with the favorable exchange rate. But whereas for Britain the experience of the Revolutionary Wars had been all these changes over there, in France it was all these changes here. So in addition to their relationship with Britain, the French were grappling with all the things that had changed in their country. So it was a little less of a strict back-and-forth in the same way it was for the British.
VICTORIA: Oh, absolutely. And of course, there had been quite a significant body of support for Napoleon and the Revolution in British intellectual circles. It wasn’t all anti-French or anti-Napoleonic. And I think in a way, no one’s lucky when their country’s occupied, but I think the French were incredibly lucky it wasn’t the Prussians unchecked that did it.
SIÈCLE: Absolutely. The French were very lucky that the Prussians didn’t have complete control. The Prussians wanted to blow up bridges, dismember the country. They were very better. Admittedly, the French had done the same things to them. They were very much about an eye for an eye. Wellington and other people were much more interested in a gentle occupation that could reform France rather than destroy it.
But just to get back to what I was talking about earlier, millions of French people had been killed or wounded. There were high taxes to pay for the war. British blockades had just devastated the trade in France’s port towns, which had once been very prosperous and now were shells of their former selves. So, you know, by far the single most popular policy in France in 1814-1815 was peace. People wanted an end to the war, at least for a little bit. They wanted a breather. The country needed it.
But of course then, in 1816 comes the “Year Without a Summer,” when bad weather causes harvest failures around the world, especially in large parts of France, which pushes many people to the brink of starvation.
VICTORIA: I think it’s important to make it clear to listeners of the podcast just how agrarian the societies we’re talking about are.
SIÈCLE: Something like 80 percent of the French people lived in rural areas in 1815 or so.
VICTORIA: And you’d be looking at similar figures for the United Kingdom. And also, we ought to remind people, food production was in many ways intensely local, because of the lack of food storage. So it’s not like today where it’s relatively easy to stockpile food for long term disaster management. We’re talking about an era where if your food is going to be preserved, you’re talking salting, smoking, limited freezing capacity sometimes. But really, not very much is available. So it makes these societies very fragile when it comes to famines, doesn’t it?
SIÈCLE: Absolutely. The French had traditionally experienced a harvest failure every decade or so, over the past century or so preceding this. They were becoming rarer. Agricultural technology was improving. Yields were getting higher. But, especially if you were a peasant, you were often on the brink. You were farming very small plots of land, often having to do day labor or piecework on the side to make enough money to buy food. And then of course you had a year where it’s cold and rainy the whole time, and your crop yields are terrible, and on top of that, the French government had a policy during their response to the crisis of feeding the capital first. Louis had seen what happened when hungry people took the streets in 1789, and — Louis XVIII, the king of France, I haven’t mentioned that in this conversation yet — and so he prioritized shipping food from the countryside into Paris to keep the Parisians fed and quiet.
And that worked. But it also accentuated the problem out in rural areas. So you had huge upsurges in crime, bread riots, even banditry. There were even organized bands of armed peasants that occupied whole towns. It turns out that most of the people punished under the post-Waterloo repressive laws that I talked about were punished for this kind of famine-related crime, rather than for supporting Napoleon.
VICTORIA: Exactly. And this event, this year without summer, I think it’s the seminal event in many ways of the period. Because it comes on top of such a period of war for Europe, but it actually has a worldwide impact — this enormous, cataclysmic volcanic eruption in 1815, in Mount Tambora, it’s one of the largest in recorded human history, and it destabilizes weather patterns around the world. The monsoon is disrupted. The local area the size of nearly Australia is buried in ash and fallout. You have disruption to rivers in India that sort of leads to the rise of cholera and the first cholera epidemics. You have wild temperature swings in America. And that’s particularly damaging, because of course Europe actually does take a lot of things like wheat and rice from America, and these harvest supplies are interrupted as well.
SIÈCLE: So how was Britain affected by the Year Without a Summer. My research suggests it was less serious than France, but still a major impact.
VICTORIA: Yeah. Britain really does suffer. It suffers in some pretty devastating flooding, that’s the big thing for the British. It just exacerbates the rainfall, fields get deluged, which means crops start to rot… There’s a lot of hunger. And then they all have to deal with this huge influx of unemployed ex-soldiers after the Napoleonic Wars are over. These men sort of flood the local labor markets just at a time when food production takes a massive hit, and they know it’s a crisis, but the government sort of tries to play it down; there’s quite a lot of whitewashing in the press, but eventually, there’s a realization that this is a significant disaster. And of course in places like Ireland, it is absolutely devastating for parts of Ireland. It’s not on the level of the later famine, but there are whole areas that are absolutely flooded out, and crops are completely lost again. You do get the start of an uptick in emigration from Ireland.
The British state is not equipped to deal with this on a practical level, and ideologically, they’re committed to this sort of free-market economics where they don’t like to give aid to people because they think it’s interfering with the economy, and that it will just make things worse.
SIÈCLE: It sounds like Britain, despite having arguably a more capable state at this point, did less to respond to the effects of the crisis than the French government did, which was of course in very dire straits, but there was still relief, and obviously they shipped the grain into the capital, and they also placed state orders of grain from Russia and America. There were various relief programs. People were hired to build roads as a way to give money to people they could use to buy food, etc. It sounds like there was less of that in Britain.
VICTORIA: There was much less of it. It does exist. There are schemes. Robert Peel learns quite a lot about famine relief during this period, and there were a lot of charitable schemes. There was a lot of expectation that this falls on local government and on charity rather than on central government. And Britain does have a big advantage over a local country, in that she’s drawing on her huge international trade networks. So there is a bit of a buffer there, where they can draw rice from India at prices the locals sometimes can’t afford. They can bring in sugar and rum from the West Indies are still available, and British presence in the Mediterranean also means that they can access things like Portuguese wines and fish and things like that. So Britain does have a bit of a cushion. But Britain also has some terrible times.
It’s touch and go in places where this is going to be the event that kicks off the British Revolution. The authorities are absolutely convinced that only sort of strong, repressive state action is going to keep Britain from turning into mob rule and the evils, as they see it, of democracy and revolution and the tyranny of the mob.
SIÈCLE: We walked about how the French had various forms of unrest during this period — as you might expect, given that this was a government that was relatively new and trying to build legitimacy. The British government, which was coming off a successful victorious war, which was well-established, had built up popular support, still encountered various challenges to its rule, even with everything it seemed to have going for it.
VICTORIA: Well absolutely. I think the thing to remember is that Wellington and the British forces were popular and had done well. And the war had been excellent for some of the merchants. The finance industry had done very well out of it. But there were problems the British state just didn’t didn’t address. It had a colossal democratic deficit, even by the standards of the time. It’s not as democratic as it pretends to be. The aristocracy is very reactionary and backward-looking.
Particularly, they have this problem that they can’t engage their citizens at local levels as easily as they want. They’ve got ex-soldiers who are sort of flooding the countryside; they’ve got this rising merchant class that is challenging the old order, and they’re dealing with a complex international situation with commitments around the globe. So the government was really stretched thin, and it would need a really talented government. And they do have some talented people in it, but the king at the time who was prince regent and became George IV was absolutely hated. He is not a popular figure. He’s well known to be an absolute spendthrift. He wastes a fortune. His personal spending on debts at one point is estimated that he could fit out a ship of the line. That’s the equivalent if President Trump now said his debts were equivalent to fitting out a U.S. aircraft carrier, and he expected the state to pay for it. That’s just staggering for everyone.
So the British government is not popular with its citizens. And there are instances where, you know, you get a riot here over food or a riot somewhere else over unemployment. And in one or two places, the rioters raise pikes with red caps on them, which is hugely symbolic for the British government. They are instantly, ‘Well, this is it; we’re being challenged directly, this is a direct attack on the state, hit them hard.’
SIÈCLE: What were the political demands of these protesters and rioters? In France, you know, when people were protesting against the Bourbons they would sort of by default call for Napoleonic principles or a return to Napoleon or they would call for a return to republican virtues. What as the alternative in Britain? Was it more democratization? Or what kind of changes were they calling for?
VICTORIA: By our standards it was quite modest. Often the demands were bread, which was the first one —
VICTORIA: — yeah. And it’s the staple product. You’d think, why shouldn’t people have access to at least a secure food supply.
A lot of people demanded the right for trade unions, which was seen as basically sedition. Coercive, it interferes with the free-market doctrines. Trade unionists were sometimes arrested, tried, transported to the Australian colonies.
The other things they often want are a widening of a suffrage. They want a right to petition parliament or the king for redress of grievances. They want more elections. They want some really basic things. But there’s no real call for a overthrow of the state in the way the French did. But to the British authorities, it was the same kind of call.
SIÈCLE: In France, even though people were calling for drastic overthrow of the state, it’s interesting that at least in the 1810s and early 1820s, there was not a lot of agitation to democratize the system, which was even less democratic than the British one. A much smaller share of French people could vote than British people. But even the left wing reformers were not demanding or proposing expansions of the suffrage at this time in France. That would happen later; that would become a major issue in the late 1820s and in the 1830s. But there was sort of a widespread assumption in France at this time that only the well-to-do should have a vote.
The question was, how do you structure it so that the right well-to-do people are the ones who are making decisions, rather than should we, heaven forbid, let poor people vote.
VICTORIA: That’s an almost mirror image of the king of debates you get in Britain. But I think in Britain they do have the outlet of empire. They are quite willing to, you know, seize territory overseas if it’s advantageous, and that requires a flow of military power and it requires the Navy. So they do have the Royal Navy which is always hungry for manpower, and it allows them to push into more aggressive trade positions in places like India, and they can leverage this. It’s also, whatever the merits of an empire, an empire is usually a way for talented people to find positions and improve their social status. And that is, you know, something you will have seen with the Napoleonic marshals who started out in obscure circumstances, and talented administrators who have risen.
And for the British it is the same. The opportunity is there. So I think a lot of the sort of middle class and the rising middle class is either able to be co-opted by the state in some way internally, or they ship themselves voluntarily overseas to seek out these opportunities. Which I think leaves the working class in a very difficult position, because they don’t have this sort of leverage with the rich middle class that they need to push hard for political reforms successfully.
SIÈCLE: I want to circle back to something you said a little bit ago, that the British government had an issue with local, with exerting power at the local level. Because some of the things some of the French historians have commented on about this period, with some of the various disturbances, coup attempts, uprisings, protests, etc., was that the French government was relatively effective, at least at this point, at controlling its troops at the local level. There are some instances where there were protests, and there were skirmishes that were fought between the troops and rioters. But that didn’t escalate into bloodshed.
Some historians have drawn the comparison to the actions of the militias in Britain, and their role in violently putting down, getting out of hand in putting down, things like what became known as the Peterloo Massacre.
VICTORIA: At the local level, the British — the British have this excellent army, and it performs very well, and it is a state army, of course it’s the Royal Army, but it’s very much tied into a regimental structure. And it can be deployed in sort of various places around the world. Which means that British forces are always stretched and on rotation somewhere.
So to take the pressure off they have a militia system, which is where you get sort of local worthies and local men who are avoiding military service overseas by joining the militia, but still getting the sort of kudos of being in the military and wearing the uniform. But they’re not very well-disciplined, usually. They’re often considered sort of overdressed and overpaid but underperforming.
The big problem is that the British state can’t just order things to happen. It’s not an autocracy like in Russia or in Prussia. It has this strong tradition of the rule of law, which is great, obviously, from everyone’s point of view, and it was something that was highly regarded. But it means that actually, the courts were quite good with protecting the rights of what was essentially the local landowning class. So the local landowners had a lot of freedom and power. But they were operating within the framework of the law. They were often the judges themselves; they were magistrates and justices of the peace. They would know the militia quite well. And they had a sort of almost incestuous relationship with the local militia.
So you get these situations where local militias would clamp down on someone, and the local magistrates, who know them very well, would back them to the hilt. Everything was fine, yes of course you had no choice but to go in hard, all guns blazing, as we would say to day.
The Peterloo Massacre is sort of the most extreme version of this, where they’ve got this huge crowd of very peaceful protesters. The local magistrates lose their tempers, lose their heads, make some bad decisions, and eventually the local militia is sent in. And the local militia don’t know what they’re doing in terms of crowd control. If you send in cavalrymen with swords, you’re not defusing a situation, you’re escalating it. The crowd panics, people are sabered, the militia find themselves trapped. The regular army has been looking on; they’ve been called up to support this. As far as they’re concerned, it seems to be, well, we’ve been asked to support the militia cavalry. That’s the militia cavalry presumably under attack by a local crowd. Our job’s support. Off we go! And they start laying into the crowd as well.
And it’s pretty vicious. It’s sort of the nadir of the British political movement for reform. It’s called the Peterloo Massacre because that is directly mocking the government’s sort of triumphalism over Waterloo. Instead this is the army’s darkest hour, as it were, the massacre of civilians. And when you look at the actual mechanisms of today, it’s a war crime, essentially. There is no need for the military to do what they’re doing. But they’ve drawn up this plan to help control the crowd, and it’s all gone wrong, and people die and are injured quite horrifically with saber cuts, and eventually you realize that actually, even the regular infantry have joined in. They put this, almost a perfect Napoleonic battle plan, only to find actually your enemies are civilians, and you didn’t need to do this. So it’s a very dark time for the British military and the reputation of the British state.
SIÈCLE: Obviously with our own podcasts, we all focus on a particular area and a particular setting. But it’s easy to forget just how connected all these countries were at the time. I just the other day was reading about some French political protests in 1820, where among the various chants that the protesters sent up, things like “Long live the Charter of Government,” some “Long live Napoleon,” “Long live liberty.” There was also “Long live our brothers from Manchester,” which is a reference to the people who’d been killed in the Peterloo Massacre. These French students and workers were aware of what had happened across the channel, and had sort of weaponized it into a political slogan.
VICTORIA: Yeah, and it’s completely understandable. It is sort of a seminal event in the British labor rights movement. It still has attraction today, culturally. I think the British state knows it has blundered here, but it’s not really willing to address the grievances for another nearly 15 years.
SIÈCLE: What was the dominant political question in British government in this sort of decade after Waterloo?
VICTORIA: Well, in terms of foreign policy, the big question was actually the political arrangement of the Mediterranean. For the British government that is a big question to be answered — what’s going to happen with the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean? What’s going to happen with Corfu, with Crete, with Malta? What’s going to happen with the Greek War of Independence? What’s going to happen in Italy? Will a resurgent France start to dominate the Mediterranean? Is there a danger of a resurgent French fleet? What’s going to happen with the trade links through India up through the Persian Gulf and across the Isthmus and into the Mediterranean?
So for them, that’s a very big focus when they’re looking outward, is still this fear of the French, essentially.
But domestically, of course, they’re desperately struggling with Catholic emancipation, and with the Reform Bill, which is the widening of the franchise — things I think the French would recognize as domestic issues that were a high priority.
SIÈCLE: Sure. The French were in this time internationally were sort of caught in the middle between on the one hand Britain — successive French governments made their number one priority to get on Britain’s good side, be a friend to Britain — and the traditional continental monarchies of Austria, Prussia and Russia on the other hand.
The Bourbons were of course a traditional monarchy, but they were a constitutional monarchy. So they felt sort of torn. You would see this play out in Italy, when the French government wasn’t going so far as to back the reactionary course being pushed by the Austrians, but also wasn’t opposing the reactionary course being pushed by the Austrians. This ended up alienating both the left and the right, who joined together to try to rebuke the government for their muddled Italian policy, even though the two sides voting in favor of this rebuke disagreed about what the replacement policy should be.
But after a generation of war with Britain, and in the larger sense a century of conflict with Britain, people of all political stripes had decided that enough is enough — these guys are on the up-and-up and we want to keep them close. A lot of the most prominent French political figures in this time would serve as ambassador to London; it was the most important diplomatic role. Talleyrand would serve as ambassador to London. The French prime minister, Élie Decazes, when he was toppled in a domestic power struggle, his golden parachute was he was appointed as ambassador to London. Jules Polignac, who would become Charles X’s most important minister, was also ambassador to London. It was far and away the most important international role, because the French were tired of getting kicked around by the British, and they decided, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
VICTORIA: I think it’s really important to remember just how culturally powerful and admired France was. You know, the British had their differences with the French culturally, but French culture, French art, French science, French cooking — it was all revered by the British. You can just look at the British language from the period and see how much has been adopted from French. A lot of British military terminology of the time was adopted wholesale from French practices and languages. Most of the British aristocracy would expect to speak French. There was this sort of feeling that the French had sort of lost their mind during the Revolution, and it was quite stunning, because everyone had admired French culture before, and everyone was sort of hoping it was going to get back to what it was after.
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I know it’s been a while since the last fully scripted episode of The Siècle. But fear not — today’s discussion of Britain was only a teaser for the broader look at Europe in the aftermath of Waterloo that I’m partway through writing, and will be sharing with you before the end of the month. Keep an eye on your feeds for the upcoming Episode 17: Europe in Concert.