I retired in the summer of 2014, after spending the entirety of my career in the History Department at Keele. It was a thoroughly rewarding experience, from the wider campus environment, to supportive colleagues and lively students. I am, therefore, delighted to have retained an affiliation to Keele as an emeritus professor. Naturally, I am continuing my research into French history, not simply that of the Revolution and Napoleon, but on a broader basis too, with a recently published book, entitled How the French Learned to Vote. A History of Electoral Practice in France (Oxford University Press, 2021). In collaboration with my son, Tom, who is a History lecturer at Oxford Brookes, I have also been studying the wider history of voting. We hope to write a book about the global history of the vote in the near future.

Research and scholarship

I have recently published a major study, entitled How the French Learned to Vote. A History of Electoral Practice in France. It is not concerned with who was elected, but how voters behaved at the polls. Across the Channel universal male suffrage was established in 1848 (though women had to wait for another century), along with a series of different electoral systems and frequent elections, so France constitutes a crucial case study in the development of democracy. I have also been working on a global history of the secret ballot with Tom Crook and on elections in authoritarian regimes with John Dunne. I have just stepped down as editor of the journal French History, but I remain on the editorial board.  

My major publications are:

Toulon in War and Revolution, from the Ancien Regime to the Restoration, 1750-1820 (Manchester UP, 1991)

Elections in the French Revolution, 1789-1799: An Apprenticeship in Democracy (CUP, 1996 and 2002)

Napoleon Comes to Power: Democracy and Dictatorship in Revolutionary France, 1795-1804 (Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1998)

(ed.) Revolutionary France 1788-1880 (OUP, 2002).


Recent articles and essays include:

(with Tom Crook), ‘Reforming voting practices in a global age: the making and remaking of the modern secret ballot in Britain, France and the United States, c.1600-c.1950’, Past & Present, 212 (August 2011), pp. 199-237.

‘Citizenship without Democracy: The Culture of Elections in France under the Constitutional Monarchy, 1814-1848’, in S. Hensel et al. (eds), Constitutional Cultures: On the Concept and Representation of Constitutions in the Atlantic World (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2012), pp. 403-25.

 ‘L’avènement du suffrage des femmes  dans une perspective globale, 1890-1914’, in L. Charrier et al. (eds), Circulations et réseaux transnationaux en Europe (XVIIIe-XXe siècles) : acteurs, pratiques, modèles (Peter Lang, Bern, 2013), pp. 57-68.

‘Elections and Democracy in France, 1789-1848’, in J. Innes and M. Philp (eds), Re-imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions: America, France, Britain, Ireland 1750-1850 (Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 83-97.

(with John Dunne), ‘The first European Elections? Voting and state-building under Napoleon, 1802-1813’, The Historical Journal, 57, 2014, pp. 661-697.

‘Les révoltes « fédéralistes » et les origines de la Terreur en 1793’, in M. Biard and H. Leuwers (eds), Visages de la Terreur, Armand Colin, Paris, 2014), pp. 15-27.

 ‘The new regime: political institutions and democratic practices under the constitutional monarchy, 1789-1791’, in D. Andress (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2015), pp. 218-35.

‘Universal suffrage as counter-revolution? Electoral mobilisation under the Second Republic in France, 1848-1851’, Journal of Historical Sociology, 28 (2015), 49-66.

 ‘Protest Voting: The Revolutionary Origins of Annotated Ballot Papers Cast in French Plebiscites, 1851-1870’, French History, 29 (2015).

School of Humanities
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Dr Nick Seager
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