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Bill Thayer

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Readings in
French History

The page before you is no more than a guide to the rather miscellaneous collection of pages onsite of some significance to the history of France or of the French people. As my site has grown to over fifteen thousand webpages and about two hundred books on various historical topics, the increase in the number of such pages was inevitable, and this index may therefore prove useful to some. These pages are all in English, unless otherwise indicated by a little French flag 
[image ALT: The French flag.]

[image ALT: A photograph of a well-preserved fully pedimented and roofed Roman temple, at the top of a short flight of steps. It has 5 Corinthian columns across the front and 6 down the side plus a pilaster with a small section of wall. The image serves as the icon on this site for 'The Romans on the Riviera and the Rhone' by W. H. Hall.]

First things first: before there was a France, there were Greeks and Romans, leaving a rich history to be tracked down by moneyed English travelers; among them, William Henry Hall, whose book The Romans on the Riviera and the Rhone documents his excursions in Provence with history, maps, photographs, and even some of a friend's watercolors.

[ 185 pages of print, 4 maps, 15 illustrations
presented in 21 webpages ]

[image ALT: A late version of the coat of arms of France. It serves as the icon on my site for John Wilson Croker's book, 'Royal Memoirs on the French Revolution', a translation of several first-hand memoirs of the French royal family held captive in the Revolution.]

John Wilson Croker's Royal Memoirs on the French Revolution is his translation of original French documents, the first-hand accounts of some of the parties involved: the Duchess of Angoulême's narrative of the journey to Varennes of Louis XVI and his Family (June 1791), her memoirs of her own imprisonment in the Temple thru the execution of the King in January 1793 to that of the Queen in October to the death of Louis XVII in June 1795; and the narrative of the future Louis XVIII's flight out of France in 1791.

[ 293 pages of print
presented in 10 webpages ]

[image ALT: The head-and‑shoulders detail of an oil painting, a woman of about 35, with a triangular face and a few curls peeking out from under a diadem. It is a portrait of 19c French socialite Josephine de Beauharnais, who became Empress of France; the image serves as the icon on this site for the biography of her by Ernest John Knapton.]

Empress Josephine: the biography of Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, first wife of Napoleon, by Ernest John Knapton (1963).

[ 372 pages of print
presented in 26 webpages ]

[image ALT: An escutcheon on a background of stylized waves. The escutcheon bears the following arms: gules two bends sinister or between two mullets of the second. The image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'The Bonapartes in America'.]

The Napoleonic saga told from a different angle: The Bonapartes in America details the American stories, schemes, marriages, properties and lives of Napoleon, his relatives, and their descendants: e.g., the Patterson Bonapartes, Joseph's life in New Jersey, plots to rescue the Emperor from St. Helena, Napoleonic adventures in Mexico, the life of Marshal Ney in North Carolina for thirty years after he was executed. . . . It's amazing how many members of the family found their way to the United States, some even becoming good Americans.

[ 277 pages of print
— 18 webpages; 9 photos, 11 engravings ]

[image ALT: An engraving of a heroic scene of men in 19c French Army uniforms wielding hatchets and such against a rural backdrop. Taken from an engraving illustrating the article 'French Military Adventurers in Alabama 1818‑1828', it serves as the icon for it on this site.]

"French Military Adventurers in Alabama 1818‑1828" tells the curious story of a group of Napoleonic generals and army officers who founded the Vine and Olive Colony at Aigleville in Marengo County, Alabama.

[ 36 pages of print
— 1 webpage, 3 engravings ]

[image ALT: A map of France against a dark background.]

France at War collects several books and other texts bearing on the First and Second World Wars as lived in France and French North Africa.

[image ALT: The French flag.]
[image ALT: The British flag.]
			 [ 1718 pages of print
— 62 webpages, 19 illustrations, 3 maps ]

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One of the largest sections of my site deals with the history of the American territory and State of Louisiana. Not all of that history is French by any means; but Louisiana began as French exploration and a French colony, and about half of Charles Gayarré's massive History of Louisiana can be considered French history, as well as a similar portion of Grace King's New Orleans: The Place and the People; and although Kendall's History of New Orleans focuses on the American city, he cannot avoid treating the French town in his first chapter, The French Domination.

[ over 1000 pages of print and a number of illustrations
presented in 28 webpages ]

[image ALT: missingALT.]

English-speakers all know the vigorous race of Normans, now long settled north and west of Paris and firmly French, as the conquerors of England; but the Normans also conquered Sicily and southern Italy, ruling those parts for nearly three hundred years. Their story, from the 11c to Charles d'Anjou and the Sicilian Vespers in 1282, is told onsite in Vol. II, Chapter 3 of F. Marion Crawford's book The Rulers of the South.

[ 210 pages of print
presented in 3 webpages ]

[image ALT: A montage of five portraits of 18c gentlemen, the central of which is larger: George Washington surrounded by John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton.]

Henry Jones Ford's Washington and His Colleagues treats of the many difficulties the first president of the United States had to face in setting up his government. Chapter 6, titled "French Designs on America", details French government plans to reëstablish a French colonial empire in North America on the wreckage of the United States.

[ 32 pages of print — 1 webpage ]

[image ALT: The three-quarters left profile portrait of a middle-aged man in military uniform, his somewhat unkempt hair pulled back. We see a three-masted sailing ship on a calm sea near shore. The ship is the 18c frigate U. S. S. Constellation, and the officer is its captain Thomas Truxtun; the image serves as the icon on this site for the book 'Truxtun of the Constellation'.]

Commodore Thomas Truxtun, one of the founding fathers of the United States Navy, is best known for two great victories over the French — one clear-cut, the other less so — in the Quasi‑War of 1798‑1800. In the standard biography of him, Truxtun of the Constellation, Chapter 33 gives an account of the seafight against L'Insurgente; Chapter 36 of the fight against La Vengeance.

[ 21 pages of print — 2 webpages ]

Onsite link

Among the journal articles collected in my American History Notes section, several are of interest here, listed as chronologically as possible:

The Apostle of the Abnakis: Father Sebastian Rale, S. J. (1657‑1724)

The Attack on Norridgewock, 1724

Captivity of a Party of Frenchmen among Indians in the Iowa Country, 1728‑1729

Excerpts from Bossu's Travels in North America

General Collot's Reconnoitering Trip Down the Mississippi

Lafitte, the Louisiana Pirate and Patriot

The Policy of France toward the Mississippi Valley in the Period of Washington and Adams

[image ALT: The French flag.]
			La guerre franco-américaine (1798‑1801)

The Origin of Genet's Projected Attack on Louisiana and the Floridas

Icaria and the Icarians

The French in Mexico and the Monroe Doctrine

My Year in Europe as a Prisoner of War (in which an American pilot of World War II tells how he was smuggled thru Belgium and France by men and women of the Resistance at the peril of their lives)

[ 245 pages of print presented in 12 webpages ]

[image ALT: A sentimental head-and‑shoulders engraved portrait of a woman of about forty in 18c dress.]

And then there's the Souvenirs of the Marquise de Créquy: if you know what to make of them, you're doing better than most. They are, however, French history — of sorts; maybe the small excerpts onsite, in my translation, will encourage you to read the (linked) original.

[ 6 pages of print presented in 5 webpages ]

[image ALT: A rectangular field of two equal vertical stripes, bearing three fleurs-de‑lis on the whole. This design serves to represent the section of my site on French history.]

The field of the icon I use for this subsite is the two colors of the city of Paris — the same colors which with the addition of a white center gave rise to the flag of the French Republic — with the fleurs-de‑lis of the French kings on the whole. The gentle reader should not be led astray though by the assemblage of the two, which is my own graphic and has, to my knowledge, never been borne as an emblem by anyone.

The fleur-de‑lis is repeated in the background of this page; along with the French royal arms derived from it, the revolutionary cockade, and the current French flag.

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Site updated: 20 Jun 21