Free Essay On French Revolution And Napoleonic Era
France, before the revolution began, was experiencing social, political and economic problems. Generally, the people were not satisfied with the monarchy’s reign under King Louis XVI. There have been conflicts between the social classes and corruption was very evident. People were overtaxed, hungry and unemployed. Aside from these, new ideologies were emerging pushing for “good governance” as well as the increasing influence of public opinion.
The French Revolution was an effort to “forge a new state and new national community based on the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity” (Schwartz, n.d.).
According to Schwartz, there is a revolutionary situation when there are other groups, aside from the government, who are challenging the monopoly of power within a state. In the case of France, the Third Estate’s Oath of the Tennis Court dated June 1789 created the revolutionary situation when they claimed the representation of sovereignty of the nation.
Also, Schwartz showed the revolution stages or processes using the events in the French Revolution. First, the “Second Revolution” on August 1792 or the establishment of the First French Republic. Second, the Reign of Terror – suppressed both the internal (Republican vs. counter-revolutionary movements) and external (Austria, Prussia and Britain) forces of counter revolution. It was also known for the reign of Maximiliean Robespierre and the committee of Public Safety. Lastly, the Directory – new government that attempted to close the revolution; relied heavily on Bonaparte and the military force. Later on, it was Bonaparte with the help of the militia that overthrew this government.
But other than this, there have been several factors that have motivated and influenced the French Revolution.
Together with equality and fraternity this has been the slogan and aim of the French revolution. People wanted liberty from the monarchy, but after the revolution, Napoleon I said that Liberty is gone because it is only a necessity felt by few classes and can be still be restricted with impunity, while the democracy can be for everybody (History World International [HWI], n.d.).
The French wanted equality so much during the time of the revolution as this is what they do not get from the monarchy. It was always the nobles and clergy who were exempted to pay obligations such as taxes and it was the third estate or the class of the peasants, artisans, merchant and professionals who pay. But even within the third estate, tax collection was not equal. Most of the important taxes were the land tax and the salt tax. Nobles and clergy are exempted of the land taxes while some provinces were not required to pay their gabelle or salt taxes.
It was only in Aug. 4, 1789 when a treaty has been signed to formally abolish the whole feudal system, when equality stepped into the light. But it was until 1793 when the peasants who were still struck by the remnants of feudalism went at ease (HWI, n.d.).
Brotherhood is part of the slogan of the revolution, "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. But even so, it has been sacrificed during the revolution, but at least, people were able to get equality (HWI, n.d.).
Because of France’s overconfidence, a year after the success of the military campaigns and the execution of Louis XVI, France declared war against Britain, Spain and Netherlands. Aside from this, internal tensions grew that led to rebellions in the Vendée and in the manufacturing and port cities of Lyon, Marseilles and Toulon Schneid (Schneid, 2011).
During this time, France was in deep debt due to financial mismanagement of Louis XVI who has spent so much in the military and in their aristocratic living. The said king tried to restore the country through a taxation system. This has eventually led to a nearly political breakdown and agitation (HWI, n.d.).
After the treaty being signed on 1789, the Assembly made the monarchy in France limited to a one-house legislature. The Declaration of the Rights of Man was immortalized and was the first chapter of French towards democracy. The said rights include:
Everyone was born free and has equal rights;
All citizens have the right to take part in choosing representatives to make law;
Everyone has freedom of speech, and opinion, may it be through vocal or written or printed as long as this privilege is not being abused; and
The amount of tax citizen shall pay will be based on the amount of wealth he has.
King Louis XVI promised to obey the said right but still wavered due to the influence of his wife and evil council. In 1971, he king’s family fled from France, but upon reaching the boarder they were captured. Sept. 21, 1792, the royalty has been abolished then four months after that the family was beheaded (HWI, n.d.).
Between 1793 to 1795, France’s government took over the industries. It produced large quantity of uniforms, arms, medical supplies, and equipment. It made hundreds up to thousands of gun barrels and forges. Due to the availability of technology, materials, and weapons have been readily available and France’s territories have been regained and all campaigns have been successful
At the end, the French revolution could have been more of Napoleon Dictatorship, there has still been several changes on plan one of the most important, is the when feudalism and monarchy was abolished and the people were given more rights than what they used to have before.
History World International (n.d.). The French Revolution. Retrieved from http://history-world.org/french_revolution1.htm. Accessed April 1, 2015
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution. Retrieved from http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/chap1b.html. Accessed April 1, 2015
Schwartz. (n.d.) History 151 The French Revolution: Causes, Outcomes, Conflicting Interpretations. Retrieved from https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist151s03/french_rev_causes_consequences.htm. Accessed April 1, 2015
Schneid, V. F. (2011). The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Retrieved from http://ieg-ego.eu/en/threads/alliances-and-wars/war-as-an-agent-of-transfer/frederick-c-schneid-the-french-revolutionary-and-napoleonic-wars
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