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French Revolution

The French Revolution was the major change of political system and society from 1789 to1799. During this period, France was temporally changed from absolute monarchy, where all the powers was vested on the King to a republican in which all the citizens were not only free but equal. The effect of French Revolution surpassed the borders of France and was rated as one of the most significant events in the history of France. The issue concerning what caused the Revolution has sparked a lot of debate among the historians.

The Revolution did not just come as a result France backwardness but also largely due to the lack of proper integration of social and political changes with the economic and political progress in the country. King Louis XIV caused the destruction of the roots of feudalism through concentrating absolute monarchy although external feudal forms increased and became more burdensome. France was still controlled by privileged groups comprised of nobility and the clergy.

Huge taxes were levied on the productive class and the money collected was used to cater for external wars, court expenses and increasing national debt. In many regions the poor comprised of the small landowners (tenant farmers). They were to pay feudal dues, indirect taxes to royal agents, tithes, subjected to compulsory labor and other more impositions. Poor farming methods and internal tariff led to increased food shortages although some speculators managed to make huge gains while the rural overpopulated areas languished in hunger.

This caused the economy to grow very slowly. Apart from economic and social setbacks the other factors that undermined the ancient regime were the apostles from the Enlightenment. The disorganized condition of government finance was the major direct contributor of Revolution. Jacques Necker the director general for finance chose to uplift the public confidence. The French inclusion in the American Revolution led to the rise in debt and Charles Alexandre (Necker’s successor) in 1787 in a bid to solve bankruptcy proposed the Assembly of Notables.

He called upon the privileged class to take a share of the financial burden. This was met by resistance by the privileged class who wanted to preserve there economic advantages. Although the French Revolution appeared a total failure in 1799 and extinguished by 1815 its result had spread far across. Bourgeois and the land tenants in France later rose to become the dominant power. Feudalism was abolished; social order and contractual relations were united by the code Napoleon. The Revolution created unity in France and strengthened the national state’s power.

The Napoleonic Wars and Revolutions led to the breakdown of the ancient creation of Europe, expedited the formation nationalism and welcomed the period of current, full warfare. Reign of Terror widely viewed by many historians as an ominous precursor of current totalitarianism faced objections from other historians who felt that it did not address the major role Revolution in formation of the precedents like democratic intuitions such as an inclusive government, the constitution, and elections. Politically, the significance of the revolution was greater than its success.

The consistent failure by those in the urban lower middle class to benefit from the economic and political advantages super ceded the class conflict which was experienced during the 19th century. 1 The outcomes of French revolution were experienced through many faces. It caused the end of French monarchy and there nobility. Power struggle experienced between the French legislatures and nobility was ended in favor of those who represented the views of the people and to the over prejudice of the King and the Queen. The heads of both the King and the Queen fell for Madame Guillotine.

This caused a lot of fear and panic across the European neighbors who were concerned of the extension of the ideas from the republicans. During the faces of revolution France joined in the era of European wars with Britain Prussia, United States and Australia. Its friend from the east had recently succeeded the American Revolution. Britain became the most powerful sea power after the both the Spanish fleet and France were defeated south of Spain by Napoleon. Lord Nelson reputation was greatly improved after the war.

As a result of French Revolution about 500,000 people were imprisoned and about 300,000 enemies executed without proper justice. In some two instances the whole city was punished and the revolutionary army used cannon shot for large number execution. The revolution was taken by force and France changed into a country full of repression and fear by the zealots until they were destroyed by there own method which they instigated. The revolution also created a favorable means for coup by a group who exploited the public weariness for disorganization of the republicans.

Napoleon Bonaparte later took control and was the reason for war in Europe that lasted for 16 years. Although the effects and the interpretation of the French Revolution has caused a major debate among the Historians many of them still cannot ignore the fact that it had potential influence in the formation of the modern world. Bibliography Carlyle Thomas, 1867. The French Revolution: A History. New York: Harper, pp. 14 Doyle William, 1999. Origins of the French Revolution. London: Routledge, pp. 19, 23 Hibbert Christopher, 1989. The Days of the French Revolution. London: Penguin, p. 26

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