The Romantic Age


1798-1832


- during 1770s, American colonies revolted against British rule


- American Revolution divided British public opinion and aroused some awareness of the need for reform


- French Revolution demonstrated that is was possible for a long-standing gov’t to be challenged by it’s own soil


- French Revolution began on July 14, 1789; group of French citizens stormed the Bastille


- Placed limits on the powers of King Louis XVI, established a new gov’t & approved a Declaration of the Rights of Man


- France became a constitutional monarchy


- Ruling class felt threatened by the implication of the events in France


- Charles James Fox, supporter of the revolution & leader of the Whig party


- William Wordsworth, poet, spoke out in support of the revolution


- William Godwin, philosopher & novelist, reacted to the revolution by writing an Enquiry Concerning Political Justice


o Predicted British society would evolve peacefully into a free, equal nation


- Edmund Burk- condemned events in France, Reflections on the Revolution in France, he argued that France, unlike the Americans, was attacking very fabric of their society with complete disregard for their roots & ancestry


o Warned that the revolution would grow violent


o Views disregarded until they became true


- 1792, France declared war on Austria


- Jacobins, radical group, gained control of French legislative assembly, abolished the monarchy, & declared the nation a republic Mobs attacked and killed many prisoners


- Revolutionaries tried and convicted Louis XVI on charge of treason, went to guillotine in 1793


- Violence reached its peak under Maximilien Robespierre- began the Reign of Terror


o Imprisoned 1000s of royalists, moderates & even radicals


o Ended ins summer of 1794


o Sent 17,000 to guillotine & then Robespierre was sent himself


- 1793, France took initiative of declaring war on Britain, thus beginning a series of wars that would drag on for 22 years


- Tory gov’t led by William Pitt outlawed all talk of Parliament reform outside the halls of Parliament, banning public meetings, and suspending certain basic rights


o Later crushed a rebellion in Ireland


- Many turned to literature and art as a way to find beauty & truth in the world


- 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte came into power in Paris


- Britain ruled the ocean, but Napoleon ruled Europe


- 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia & suffered a series of defeats


o forces were defeated in the Peninsular War in Portugal and Spain (1808-1814)


- allies closed in on him and exiled him to Elba, he plotted to return


- 1815 managed to return got 100 Days, but is glory ended in Waterloo, Belgium


- England, workers protested the loss of jobs to new machinery in the violent Luddite Riots (1811-13), mounted soldiers charged a peaceful mass meeting of cotton workers & killed several in what is known as the Peterloo Massacre


- 2 angry camps—working class, demanded reform, & ruling class, resisted reform


- Reform Bill of 1832- allowed voting rights to middle class males


- 1833, Parliament passed a reform to govern factory safety & abolish slavery


- Romantic style- offered a new perspective on the world, focused on nature and “the common place”


- abandoned many of the dominant attitudes & principles of 18th century literature


- shaped by the French revolutionary or the effects of the Industrial Revolution


- Thomas Gray, Robert Burns, & William Blake displayed Romanic thinking


Jean Jacques Rousseau


- died before start of Romantic period


- leading philosopher of 18th century


- planted the seeds of which Romanticism grew


- saw society as force evil infringed on personal liberty & human happiness


- thought humanity should revert to its natural state


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


- most influential


- source of pride for a new generation & also a primitive simplicity much in keeping with Rousseau’s ideas


- Romantic Age – called that b/c of its interest in medieval romance


- it produced music of Ludwig van Beethoven & Austria’s Franz Schubert


- painting, Britain’s John Constable & J.M.W. Turner


- 1798, William Wordsworth & Samuel Taylor Coleridge published the Lyrical Ballads, established romantic principles that would dominate British literature for decades


- William Wordsworth poems gave a charm of novelty to every day things


- Samuel Taylor Coleridge created imaginative settings & mysterious sequences of events


- Nature was no longer a force not to be tamed with or analyzed scientifically, but a wild, free force that could inspire poets to instinctive spiritual understanding


- George Gordon, Lord Byron


o Part of British aristocracy—member of the House