The French Revolution : An Era That Centered Around The People Essay

The French Revolution : An Era That Centered Around The People Essay

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The French Revolution proved to be an era that centered around the people. Following the Enlightenment, French citizens found themselves questioning ideas and concepts that were previously considered traditional. A major disagreement formed between the French people about the ruling government of France. In Rousseau, Burke, and Revolution in France, 1791 author Gary Kates states that “Furet [claimed] the Revolution embraced a radical ideology of popular sovereignty so that any abuse of power could be excused so long as it was achieved in the name of the people” (175). Citizens of France used the previous writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Edmond Burke to gain power. The French Revolution was built upon this concept that the French citizens were willing to abuse power to achieve the desired outcome of having a government ran by the people.
A key element of the Revolution was the idea that the people should rule France instead of a king. Before the Revolution, France experienced a period of time called the Enlightenment. Traditional concepts, such as religion and style of government, were debated upon by scholars, philosopher, and ordinary people. One of the most famous writers of the Enlightenment was philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He introduced the concept that the people should be in charge instead of an individual ruler. This idea became known as the general will. In his “Ths Social Contract” Rousseau states, “Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole” (Rousseau). Throughout the future French Revolution, Rousseau’s writings became a cornerstone to the Frenc...


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...ence gives is to repulse them as enemies” (161). Both essays were written more than a year before the Terror began. If a leader of the Revolution did not want bloody occurrences, how could the Terror be planned years ahead of time?
Prior to the Revolution, French citizens blindly followed the rules and regulations set before them. To them, the King was the powerful ruler who decided what was best for the entire country of France. However, in response to ideas from the Enlightenment people realized how they could gain power by simply being the majority. Using the highly respected writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Edmond Burke regular French citizens were able to take control of the French government. Such a vast amount of power quickly became mistreated and resulted in the people becoming the tyrant dictator who they had originally desired to get rid of.

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