1 The French Revolution has been described in this course as a crucibl
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1) The French Revolution has been described in this course as a crucible of modernity, an event that brought about a
new, "modern" world. Examine the impact of the French Revolution from the standpoint of the birth of new world
views - political, cultural, scientific, social.
Revolutions are set into action to provide a change of an undesirable government to one of better appeal to the
people. The French Revolution was no stranger to this idea. It has been said to be one of the most important political
events of the eighteenth century. The French Revolution provided an end to the Enlightenment and provided for a
new era in human history. This "new" era being called the "modern" world.
Before the French Revolution, France was in a state of turmoil. By the 1780's the government was practically
bankrupt. Seeing that they needed to remedy this situation, the nobles raised the taxes to counter the loss of cash. On
top of this, the peasants were being taxed by the priests and the nobility. Louis then began to feel his power slipping
away when the third assembly, the peasantry, broke away and formed their own assembly, the National Assembly.
Louis then started massing troops to reassert his monarchical authority.
Then the war broke out! Between 1788 and 1789, bread prices began to rise and the people start the revolt. On July
14, 1789, the angry Parisians stormed the Bastille, a French prison. This sparked the countryside into action.
Everywhere peasants began to rise up against their lords. The Great Fear thus ensued.
Then the Bourgeoisie stepped back in and established a limited monarchy. Later that year, the National Assembly's
Declaration of the Rights of Man stated the citizens' rights and gave them equality in face of the law and
government. Seeing that this was a step in the right direction, the National Assembly established a constitutional
monarchy and began to pass important reforms. Among these reforms were that the nobility was to be abolished as a
separate legal order, the introduction of the metric system, the promotion of economic freedom, and that all
lawmaking power was to be given to the National Assembly. Next the National Assembly abolished the monasteries
and gave the lands of the church back to the nation.
Through this first revolution we hear of famous men like Wollstonecraft and Burke. Burke believed that this new
form of government would not last and it soon did collapse. He predicted , against strong objections, that it would
lead only to chaos and tyranny. Wollstonecraft was a reactionary who believed that women should have equal rights
under the law. Wollstonecraft thought that now would be the best time to challenge that assumption.
The second revolution began when in the August of 1792, a revolutionary crowd swarmed upon the royal palace and
the imprisonment of the French king. With the king behind bars, the National Convention declared that France
should henceforth be called a republic near the close of 1972. Louis was later guillotined in early 1793 due to a
treasonous sentence. Robespierre was then ushered into power where he turned France into a socialist type of
government. He fixed prices on key products and began the rationing procedure among the French peasantry. He
then took control of the workshops in order to help build the necessary components for the war effort. Suddenly the
war became a national mission against foes both inside and outside of France. This danger of foreign and internal
foes encouraged nationalism and was called the Reign of Terror.
Robespierre is then executed due to increased fear of the Reign of Terror. The bourgeoise then come back into
power where they reinstate their liberalism. They abolished all economic controls and the middle class rewrote the
constitution to protect their power. In is also in this period that the Directory, a five-man executive body, was
Napoleon Bonaparte then comes to power and he institutes a military dictatorship still used today by many
countries. He passed a Civil Code in 1804 to grant the middle class equality under the law and allowed them the
right to own their own property. He also signs the Concordat of 1801 which allows for freedom of worship for
Catholics. This later leads to freedom to
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French Revolution, Republicanism in France, Montagnards, France, Liberalism, Maximilien Robespierre, American Revolution, National Convention, France in the long nineteenth century, States and Social Revolutions
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