Marie Antoinette Online Forum

A Level History Assignment
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Author:  antoine [ Sun Sep 07, 2008 6:12 pm ]
Post subject:  A Level History Assignment

Hello everyone!

I'm currently studying for my A2 History, and for our coursework we're allowed to do an assignment on any area of history that interests us. I'm thinking of doing something about Marie Antoinette or something from her era (maybe the French Revolution), as I find it all fascinating. However, I was hoping you'd be able to help me with a few questions...

a) Is Marie Antoinette/ French Revolution a suitable topic for a 2,000 word essay, ie. is there enough to write about (say, politics, religion etc) I need a strong argument, and be able to show different perspectives.


b) What question should I base my essay around? It should be something like, 'To what extent did bla bla bla affect bla bla bla in the years bla bla bla' or 'To what extent do you agree that bla bla bla bla bla..???'


c) Are there any books you would recommend? I've got Antonia Fraser's 'The Journey', but I'll need a few more.

Thank you so much! Any help would be very much appreciated.

Author:  dreamoutloud [ Sun Sep 07, 2008 7:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

I'll just reply to the first question and say, yes, most definitely. There have been thousands of books written on the French Revolution and no doubts hundreds on Marie Antoinette specifically. You'll have to pick a very specific topic for a 2,000 word essay!

I'm afraid I can't give you a specific topic, that's something you need to think up for yourself. Do you want to write more about something related to Marie Antoinette or something else in the Revolution? Once you've chosen a topic perhaps we can recommend some books for you.

Author:  antoine [ Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

Thanks for your quick reply!

For the question I was thinking perhaps Marie Antoinette's role in the Revolution, her influence and whether or not she was to blame for the events that happened. Or is that a bit too predictable? You see, I don't want it to become too 'pop' culture-like - I need a strong argument - and I don't want it to sound too biographical. So maybe I shouldn't simply focus on Marie Antoinette, but on other areas of the Revolution as well.... but then it does need to be specific. This is the problem. I'm also torn between whether to do something I'm really interested in (i.e. Marie Antoinette & French Revolution) or something completely different that I think will get me the grade. :?

To be honest I don't really know that much about the revolution so I think I'll start reading my book and do a little bit more research into the main facts and events and I'll see where that takes me...

Thanks again for your help.

Author:  dreamoutloud [ Sun Sep 07, 2008 10:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

If you need to do some background research on the Revolution, I have two books to recommend to you. First is Mark Steel's "Vive la Révolution!" which is, as he puts it "a stand up history of the Revolution." It's intended to be funny, but he is also quite historically accurate (a few fudges here and there, but I've seen worse in serious history). It's quite short and it reads quickly. A more serious work is "Days of the French Revolution" by Christopher Hibbert. It's fairly even-handed and, most importantly for you, it's also relatively short (less than 400 pages, though longer than Steel's). These would be good introductions to the Revolution, so perhaps you could get a better sense of Marie Antoinette's role in it, as well as a broader look at the Revolution as a whole. Maybe something else will strike your interest, or you'll come up with a new and interesting way of interpreting Marie Antoinette's role.

If you decide to do something Marie Antoinette-focused, I'm not the person to ask for book recommendations specific to her, but there are many many people on this forum who would be happy to help you. Let us know when you come up with a topic and we can help you find books and organize your ideas.

Author:  DreamersRose [ Mon Sep 08, 2008 12:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

Yes, as the others have said, there is endless information on the French Revolution and the royal family. To make it even more interesting for an essay writer, the authors do not always agree, so you can gather up different eyewitness accounts and then come to your own conclusions or choose certain reports to support your thesis.

I think an interesting topic would be "What impact did the isolation of Louis XVI and his court have on the outbreak of the French Revolution?" This is interesting because his isolation was the result of Louis XIV's policies to concentrate and control the French nobility at Versailles. He instituted strict court etiquette and favors as a prize to the nobles to keep them there. By the time the crown came to Louis XVI, he was totally unprepared and didn't have a clue how to reign. (He also wasn't expected to reign and wasn't educated to do so.) So Louis withdrew, not only because of his personality, but because the court was structured that way. You will have to do your own research and writing to describe the impact this had on the cultural, social, and economic factors existing at the time and why the situation exploded into revolution.

Louis XVI's daughter, incidentally, was keenly aware of the isolation of the royal family, and when the monarchy was restored many years later, she made every effort to tour the provinces and stay in touch with and retain the affection of the people.

Author:  Christophe [ Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:03 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

I think Marie Antoinette's role in the French Revolution would make an excellent topic. You could start by looking at the specific charges brought against her at her trial, then refer to her biographies to disprove those charges. In any case, there is enough available info on M.A. to supply a hundred research papers.

Author:  Hellou_Librorum [ Mon Sep 08, 2008 12:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

I also recommend Louis and Antoinette by Vincent Cronin. It is a long read so far but it is extremely detailed.

Author:  antoine [ Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

Wow! Thanks everyone, that's been a great help :queen: I finally have some idea of where to start!

Any more suggestions would be very welcome!

I'll let you know how it goes ...(!)

Author:  dreamoutloud [ Tue Sep 09, 2008 2:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

Oh, and do you by any chance read French?

Author:  antoine [ Wed Sep 10, 2008 8:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

erm... well, I'm doing French A Level but I'm not exactly fluent...!

Author:  dreamoutloud [ Wed Sep 10, 2008 7:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

Between that and some online dictionaries, that should be alright. That just means you'll be able to actually read source documents for yourself.

Author:  antoine [ Sun Sep 14, 2008 9:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

Good :) So where can I find these original sources... are there any on the web? Or do you mean in the books already mentioned?

Author:  dreamoutloud [ Sun Sep 14, 2008 5:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Level History Assignment

An excellent resource for primary sources is (the holiest of holies) Gallica, the Bibliothèque Nationale online.

Another good site, specifically for Revolutionary related things is, which is an online archive for documents relating to the French Revolution. The layout is rather confusing, but once you get through the intros, you've got two options: Notes and Archives. Notes provides biographies, bibliographies, the Republican calendar, and maps. Archives includes speeches, pamphlets, records of debates and from the Tribunal (they have the official record of Marie Antoinette's trial), newspapers, and other spiffy things. It's a great resource for the period.

Another excellent site for Revolutionary primary sources is Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, with many assorted primary documents and images. A quick search of "Marie Antoinette" will bring you all sorts of primary sources.

The first two sites are in French, the third is in English.

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