The French Revolution

Powerful Essays
Creating a new Society

14 July 1789 to 9 Thermidor II,(27 July 1794) (snapshot Napoleonic France 1804)

According to Joseph Weber, foster brother of Queen Antoinette, there were three primary causes of the French revolution 'the disorder of the finances, the state of mind, and the war in America.' The 'disorder in the finances' acknowledged that the bankruptcy of the monarchy opened the doors to defiance of the King's authority. The greatest single cause of the revolution was the economic crisis, which forced the King to recall the redundant Estates General which had not been called since 1614, which opened the debate for people to make complaints with the current system through the cahiers of the three Estates. The 'state of mind' largely attributed to the philosophes of the Enlightenment who challenged the very foundations that the Ancien Regime was based on. Another contributing factor to the crisis was a plight of millions of peasants, and the even more critical situation of the landless vagrants and the unemployed masses in the towns. Between 1715 and 1789 the population in France had increased from 18 million to 26 million. Land was a fixed resource, and thousands could not work in rural regions. As a result peasants were forced into the towns. Their situation was exacerbated by the bad harvest of 1788, which saw inflation of basic commodities such as bread, widespread unemployment and destitution accentuated the crisis.

*** Original revolutionary goals***

Original ideology: Enlightened
Document: Declaration of Rights of Man
The August decrees cleared the way for the erection of a constitution, but first they decided to lay down the principles on which it was based. It is a curious mixture of enlightenment theory and bourgeois aspirations. The Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen , passed into law by the National Assembly on the 26 August 1789, It condemned the practices of the Ancien Regime and expressed the broad agreement which was to be found in the cahiers of all three orders.
1. Men are born free and equal in their rights

3. The fundamental source of all sovereignty resides in the nation - an application of Rousseau's principle of the 'general will'

7. No man may be accused, arrested, or detained except in cases determined by the law

13, General taxation is indispensable for the upkeep of the public force and for the expenses of govern...

... middle of paper ... Catholic Chruch lost its dominant position in French society in effect society was largely de-Christianised and secularies

Since the revn most historians have argued that for better or worse, the revn profoundly altered most aspects of life in France. Since mid 1950s, when Alfred Cobban atacked 'the myth of the french revolution' revisionist historians have increasingly questioned the long accepted certainties of the origins and outcomes of the rev.

British historian Roger Price
'In political and ideological terms the revolution was no doubt crucial importance, but humanity was not transformed, thereby at the end of all the political upheavels fo the revolution and Empire little had changed in the daily life of most frenchment.'

Soboul: 'A classic bourgeois revn, its uncompromising aboliton of the feudal system and the seigneurial regime made it the starting point for a capitalist society and the liberal representative socialist revn.'

Nobles - greatest loses in the revn
- lost their feudal dues
- *Nobles who stayed in France and were not prosecuted during the Terror reatined their lands and never lost their position of economic dominance
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