The French Revolution and Napoleon
The French Revolution had a far greater impact on the Western world than the American revolt ever did, even though the French Revolution occurred after the American example and even though the French championed many of the same principles of natural rights as the Americans had.  Although the American Revolution was an inspiration to Europeans and other people the world over and although the American revolt did affect England (somewhat), it occurred in a far-off place for most people, and it did not affect nearly as many people as the French Revolutionary wars did--Remember the French had a world empire.  (The American experience was also far less violent than the French.)  Events in France reverberated everywhere (from Moscow to Dublin) and affected everyone (from king to peasant) on the continent.  In addition, the French Revolution had a far-ranging overseas impact.
Napoleon became the subject of heated debate after his death in 1821.  Was this man a child of the French Revolution, i.e., was he a symbol of all that the revolution stood for, or was he the destroyer of the revolution as just another dictator?  Did he destroy the revolution with his dictatorship, a dictatorship based on limited political participation, support of the church and suppression of free speech?  Or did he symbolize a new revolutionary order because he was able to rise to such a prominent position based solely on his talent--It was highly unlikely that a son of minor Corsican noble would have ever become a French general, let alone a major political figure, in the Ancien Régime in France.  Did Napoleon undo the ideals of the revolution by his attempt to conquer all of Europe and subjugate it to his personal control?  Or did he fulfill the goals of the revolution by his wide-ranging domestic reform program that swept away many of the remnants of the Old Regime and created new, more "Enlightened" reforms, for example his law code and new educational system?
Some recommended online lectures and websites:

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