The French revolution Essay

The French revolution

The French revolution is an historical event which took place during the periods of 1789 to 1799. This event is characterized by political as well as social upheaval, which resulted in tremendous changes in France. Some of the changes that took place during this period include the change in the French government structure, that had been an absolute monarchy system supported with the existence of the feudal privileges, that had an origin in the Catholic church as well as in the aristocracy to the adoption of governance forms which were based on enlightenment principles that focused on creation of citizenship as well as inalienable rights (Doyle 2003).

In the efforts to carry out the above mentioned changes, violent struggles were involved whereby the king of that time was tried and executed and also a lot of blood shed. In addition to that, repression was experienced that was eventually termed as the reign of terror. There was also warfare that involved the countries within the European power. The major events which can be related to the French revolution comprises of the Napoleonic wars, which were two accounts of events that sought to restore the monarchy system, and also two more revolutions which were aimed at establishing modern France. Following the changes, the government of French was being governed partially as a republic and partially as a constitutional monarchy, which was being conducted as two separate empires (McPhee 2006).

Reign of terror

This one of the events which took place during the French revolution in between 1793 to 1794, that lead to the deaths of over 16,000 people as well as the imprisonment of around 40,000 people. At around June 1793 some of the sections in Paris took over the control of the convection, which was calling for changes in the political as well as administrative components of the government. They sought to bargain for a fair price of living given that the famine was spreading out very fast, leading to reductions in food. In addition to that, they requested for change in the electoral franchise. They managed to gain the support of the National Guard which led to the arrest of the Girondin leaders (Palmer 2005).

When the leaders were arrested the Jacobins managed to take control of the committee which was concerned with public safety, thus beginning the reign of revolutionary dictatorship. Following the beginning of the revolutionary dictatorship, the leader of the Jacobins that is Jean-Paul was assassinated which resulted to the expansion of the Jacobin political influence, whereby an influential leader was elected to take over radical measures which were targeted against both the domestic as well as the foreign enemies in relation to the revolution (Schama 1990).

New republican constitutional measures were adopted latter on amendments were sought for the constitution to adopt male suffrage. The public sought to amend the constitution by carrying out a memorandum, but the entire process became a failure following the suspension of the normal legal process before it was able to take effect. When the peasants realised all those changes, they acted in opposition to the French revolutionary government by resenting the various changes that the civil constitution of the clergy was placing on the Roman Catholic Church. Eventually the resentments lead to the open declaration of the revolt that was opposing the ideas of the revolutionary government’s military. The resulting effect of the opposition was the beginning of the guerrilla war, whereby a number of people ranging between 100,000 to 300,000 lost their lives. In the wars brutal means were used to use to execute the enemies, thus many of the historians termed the event as genocide (Mason and Rizzo 1999).

In reacting to the war, the French government waged counter attacks by involving most of the citizens in military, by use of forced means in their recruitment programs. Through these involvements many citizens lost their lives as the reign of terror took place. Some of the policies that the government had adopted to deal with the war were the use of violent means in crushing those that were opposing the government actions. In addition to that, more violent policies were continued to be devised whereby the farmers were forced to surrender their farming products upon the demands that the government was making. Latter on in September 1793, another violent law was passed, that encompassed the charging of suspects of the revolution with unfounded accusations. Following the false charges, the victims were killed by either being hanged or even drowned and in some occasions mob beats were used (Stewart 2003).

In the real sense the reign of terror was a means that the revolutionary government was using to avoid the truth of having lost in war. The military forces were being interchanged from time to time which lead to their eventual win in the war. Towards the end of the war in 1794, the political extremists were charged for their participation in the revolutionary activities, and then they were charged and executed in relation to their crimes. It was during this particular period of time that a new state religion, which recognized the presence of God was, adopted (Kafker et al 2002).

Causes of the revolution

Some of the researchers on the history of the French revolution have established that, one of the contributing factors of the revolution is the features of the ancient regime that was purely a monarchy system of governance. During that period of time the French government was experiencing economic difficulties such as extensive spread in famine as well as malnutrition, which lead to the increase in the spread of diseases and also death of many people. In addition to that, there were cases of intentional starvation in a number of destitute components of the entire population in the first few months prior to the revolution taking place (Gilchrist and Murray 1971).

The second contributing factor to the French revolution was the too much involvement of France in war activities, whereby Louis XV participated in a number of war activities, thus spending a lot of resources to the wars. The resulting effects from France’s involvement in the war activities were that it was going bankrupt. To make matters worse Louis XV supported the colonists at the time the American Revolution was taking place, which lead to the worsening of the financial crisis for the French government. The third cause of the terror was the extravagant budget consumption of the noble social class in the French government especially like those of Louis XVI as well as Marie Antoinette even when the French was experiencing financial difficulties. The Roman Catholic Church played a great role in the revolution, whereby being the one of the largest landowner in France it began levying taxes on the various food crops in the name of tithe. Even though the tithe seemed to reduce the effects of the monarchy’s taxes which were increasing, it increased the plight of the poor people who continues to face the effects of malnutrition and other economic related problems as there were many trade barriers which were instituted (Andress 2006).

There were social as well as political factors that contributed to the revolution given that many of the factors involved acts of resentments and aspirations, which were based on the adoption of the enlightment ideas. Some of the resentments included those that were dealing with loyal absolutism, those that concerned the ambitious professional as well as the mercantile classes in relation to the noble privileges that were associated to the dominance in the public life as they compared themselves with their peers in the other countries. The other resentments included those of the peasants and the bourgeoisie well as for the wage earners in relation to the traditional privileges that were called seigneurial privileges which the noble classes of people possessed. The clerical resentment also contributed to the revolution whereby freedom of religion took the central position as the poorer people in the community resented the bishops which lead to unchanged hatred for the role that the Catholic Church was taking in controlling most of the social institutions. (Dwyer 2002).

Finally the contributing factors to the causes of the French revolution was the administrative failures of Louis XVI, and his several advisors especially in dealing with the above mentioned economic, social and political problems (Dwyer 2002).

References

Andress, D. 2006. The Terror: The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France. Abacus.

Doyle, W. 2003. The Oxford History of the French Revolution. 2nd edition. Oxford University Press.

Dwyer, P and McPhee, P. 2002. The French Revolution and Napoleon: A Sourcebook. Routledge.

Gilchrist, J and  Murray, W. 1971. The press in the French Revolution: a selection of documents taken from the press of the Revolution for the years 1789-1794. St. Martin’s Press.

Kafker, F, Laux, J, Levy, D. 2002. The French Revolution: Conflicting Interpretations. 5th edition. Krieger Pub. Co.

Mason, L and Rizzo, T. 1999. The French Revolution: a document collection. University of Michigan.

McPhee, P. 2006. Living the French Revolution, 1789-99. Palgrave Macmillan.

Palmer, R. 2005. Twelve who Ruled: The Year of the Terror in the French Revolution. Princeton University Press.

Schama, S. 1990. Citizens: a chronicle of the French Revolution. Vintage Books.

Stewart, J. 2003. A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution. Textbook Publishers.

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