- Slides: 37
The French Revolution
Causes of the French Revolution: 1. Enlightened Ideas 2. Economic (Debt & Taxes) 3. Famine 4. A weak Leader- Louis XVI 5. The Estates
1. Enlightenment • The Enlightenment movement of the 18 th century was arguably the first time in history when mass amounts of people and cultures began to question traditional notions of authority in an attempt to accomplish change • Mainly originated in France, Germany, and England
Influence of the Enlightenment • The political influence, then, will be assessed through an examination of the works of Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Paine. • The principles extracted from the era helped shape both American culture and government • In France, the influence damaged age-old traditions and the ancient Monarchical regime causing chaos and instability to ensue
The Enlightenment • The belief that people could use reason to change their ways of life was a main idea of this era which served at the heart of both revolutions • British colonies in America were being taxed unfairly and deprived of political representation • In France, royal extravagance, war, and a rigid class system were amongst the greatest of problems • Because of these problems, people, began to find ways to change such systems • Accordingly, people began to voice their discontent in writing • As a result, people such as those discussed throughout this paper became fundamentally important thinkers to both the Enlightenment and its subsequent revolutions • As such, an examination of their political treatises is necessary
IN AMERICA: • As Robert A. Peterson states in his scholarly article entitled A Tale of Two Revolutions, • "The American Revolution was not fought to obtain freedom, but to preserve the liberties that Americans already had as colonials. Independence was no conscious goal, secretly nurtured in cellar or jungle by bearded conspirators, but a reluctant last resort, to preserve 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. ” IN FRANCE: • Similarly in France, the rigid class system deprived many people of their rights, along with economic debt and monarchical abuse • So, in order to change the feudal class structure, citizens revolted in accordance with Locke’s views: • In Locke’s scheme, there is no basis for supposing that human nature requires or inclines towards a government that defines for its subjects their happiness, virtue, or salvation: • The commonwealth seems to me to be a society of men constituted solely for the preservation and advancing of civil goods. Civil goods I call life, liberty, and the integrity and freedom from pain of the body, and the possession of external things, such as estate, money, furniture, and so forth… ”
Political Liberalism • Main goal is to achieve individual freedom • Supports ideas of freedom of speech and thought, which are coincidentally embodied in the 1 st Amendment of the U. S. Constitution • “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. ” (1791) • Political Liberalism also rejects concepts such as divine right • Consequently, this idea further foreshadows the downfall of the monarchy in France during its revolutionary era
In France… • The Spirit of the Laws had a different affect in France, though, as it helped to further embody the idea of revolution into the minds of French citizens • Montesquieu distrusted the feudallike class system the ancient regime employed, by maintaining that the Crown too much resembled a despotic state: • “In despotic states, the nature of the government requires extreme obedience, and the prince’s will, once known, should produce its effect as infallibly as does one ball thrown against another. No tempering, modification, accommodation, terms, alternatives, negotiations, remonstrances, nothing as good or better can be proposed. Man is a creature that obeys a creature. ”
VOLTAIRE: • "Lord!" said Martin, "what can be said to it? It is the way of these people. Figure to yourself all the contradictions, all the inconsistencies possible and you may meet with them in the government, the courts of justice, the churches, and the public spectacles of this odd nation. " • Like many of his enlightenment predecessors, Voltaire also took issue with the class structure in France as he found the aristocrats to be fraudulent and the bourgeoisie to be too small • Was also remembered by many as one devoted to political equality and liberty, and ““…a crusader against tyranny and bigotry. ” • Also fought for freedoms such as a fair trial and freedom of religion, both of which were pressing concerns in both America and France during their revolutionary eras • His works and speeches even got him imprisoned in the Bastille by Louis XV at one point, which sparked further discontent in France
2. Growing National Debt caused by… A. Selling of noble titles for revenue, exempting those new nobles from taxes B. Borrowing from other countries C. Extravagant spending by the nobility, such as Versailles D. France incurred massive debt from prior wars (7 Years War and American Revolution)
E. Massive debt incurred massive taxes F. Very little trade; all revenue from internal taxation G. 3 rd Estate taxed by nobility and the church H. Clergy and nobles exempt from taxes
3. Famine • Grain shortage in 1780 s • People could not afford bread • Peasants moved to cities for jobs, intensifying shortage • Crowded urban areas cram unhappy people together
4. Louis the XVI (16 th) Weak Leadership Taxed the people to death Wasted the country’s money on Fancy goods & And war Married an “Outsider” Too busy with His “hobbies” To care about the People.
The Chateau of Versailles cost an estimated 2 billion in 1994 dollars. 36, 000 laborers and 6, 000 horses worked on the palace
Satin, loyal Gown = $50, 000 Furry, feathered hat = $2, 000 Bouquet of imported roses = $650 The feeling of robbing the people blind = PRICELESS! Marie Antoinette
5. THE FRENCH ESTATES Second Estate Bourgeoisie Urban lower class Peasant farmers
2 nd Estate = King/Nobles (1% of the population) owns 98% of Wealth, pays no taxes 1 st Estate = clergy (2% of the population) owns no Wealth, pays no Taxes 3 rd Estate (97% of the population) owns 2% of Wealth, pays 50% of income to Taxes
Louis XVI called emergency meeting of Estates-General to solve the financial crisis May 1, 1789 A meeting like this had not happened since 1614.
Tired of being suppressed, the Third Estate formed the National Assembly (June 1, 1789) Abbe Sieyes
But……. the doors were locked to their meeting room
So they met at a nearby tennis court and vowed not to rest until they created a constitution The Tennis Court Oath(June 20, 1789)
In response…. The King stationed his aggressive army of Swiss guards to put down the “rebellion. ”
The people of Paris panicked and became desperate
The Storming of Bastille July 14, 1789
August th 4 , 1789 - The National Assembly abolished all legal rights of the 1 st and 2 nd Estates
Declaration of the Rights of Man (August 26 th, 1789) Inspired by English Bill of Rights and American Declaration of Independence
“The aim of all political association is the preservation of natural…. . Rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression. ”
In October, 6, 000 Paris women rioted over the rising price of bread. . They seized knives and axes. They broke into the Palace and killed two guardsmen. They kidnapped the royal family.
The invention of the Guillotine
Austria threatened to attack France. The French citizen army declared war them on April 20, 1792.
On January 21, 1793… the crazy French mob voted to cut off King Loui’s head.
Marie Antoinette could not escape death.
Maximilien Robespierre nicknamed “the uncorruptible”
But, Robespierre was out for revenge…. . Reign of Terror
Nearly 45, 000 will die as a result of this Reign of Terror…. Nearly 3, 000 will have been beheaded…. Including the King and the queen and their family.
Within a year, the people began to see how crazy Robespierre was and they executed him as well.
A new leader rose into power through the assembly……… Napoleon Bonaparte