Episode 313: Mike Duncan, The Marquis de Lafayette

You know “America’s favorite fighting Frenchman” is the Marquis de Lafayette. But what do you know about Lafayette and his life?

How and why did this French-born noble end up fighting in the American Revolution?

Mike Duncan, a self-described history geek, public historian, and the podcaster behind the award-winning podcast The History of Rome and the popular podcast Revolutions, joins us to investigate the life of the Marquis de Lafayette with details from his book, Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution.

This episode is supported by an American Rescue Plan grant to the Omohundro Institute from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

Mike Duncan joins us to explore the life and times of Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette. Mike is a historian and the podcaster behind the award-winning podcast The History of Rome and the popular podcast Revolutions. He’s also the author of three books, including Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis de Lafayette in the Age of Revolution.

During our investigation, Mike reveals the important role classical political thought and theory played in the Age of Revolutions and in Lafayette’s political thinking; Details about Lafayette’s early life and education as a French noble; And how and why the Marquis de Lafayette became involved with two revolutions: the American Revolution and the French Revolution.

What You’ll Discover

  • Political Revolutions
  • Age of Revolutions and classical philosophy
  • Marquis de Lafayette
  • Lafayette’s at Versailles
  • Lafayette’s early life
  • How Lafayette became a revolutionary
  • Lafayette’s military training and involvement with the French Army
  • How and why Lafayette joined the American Revolution
  • Lafayette’s first journey to North America
  • American reception of Lafayette
  • Balancing Lafayette’s desire for military experience with his safety
  • Lafayette’s role in the Continental Army
  • Franco-American Alliance, 1778
  • The French Revolution
  • The American Revolution and its role in the French Revolution
  • Lafayette’s involvement in the French Revolution
  • Lafayette’s legacy

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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if the Marquis de Lafayette had not sailed off to fight in the American Revolution in 1777? How do you think his life and story would have played out?

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