French Revolution

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Within the context of the period 1789-1889, how far did the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte overcome the long term of social and political divisions in France?

During the beginning of 1789 Louis XVI was formally known as the ‘King of France’. When the National Assembly was created in 1789 Louis' power began to deteriorate. This was because the National Assembly was seen as the new ‘leader’ of France, a government that decided all of France’s fate. Louis was not in favour of having his powers limited and he attempted to dissolve the assembly. This clash between the political powers started to cause problems. The King’s powers diminished until they were words rather than actions and a fight for power began between the two parties. On September 9th the King was refused the right to dissolve the Assembly, there was nothing Louis could do to banish this government. On September 30th the King was also denied the right to create or prevent legislation from being passed. There was becoming a great political division in France, the Monarchy against Democracy. The Monarchy was becoming overrun with Democracy; even Louis’ charge of the people was being undermined through the voting system. Louis XVI was executed on 21st January after being imprisoned by the government on the 16th; this was the sign that it was the end of Monarchy. After the execution of Louis XVI a government called the Committee of Public Safety (April 5th 1793) took over the ruling of France. It consisted of 12 members, including Robespierre who later became ‘leader’ of the CPS. ‘The Terror’ happened after the execution of the king, ie. mass executions occurred after the king, but there was no one to blame but the CPS at the time, so socially it became a more terrifying environment to live in than it was during the reign of Louis, because people became torn between wanting their old Monarchy back, and supporting the revolution, a great split in the social economy of France. Throughout the era of Robespierre significant events occurred, one being the Terror, the cause of thousands of deaths. Amongst this period revolutionary tribunals were created to try those suspected of counter revolutionary activity, the beginning of more social terror. Suppressing ant-revolutionists was seen to be Robespierre’s main aim. He became very pro-revolutionary and created decrees and laws that allowed him to silence any anti-revolutionaries who might try to damage the revolutions progress. This meant that the community of France became afraid to speak their opinions even more so than when they were under the ruling of Louis XVI - the opposite effect the government promised them. Instead of a democracy like the people wanted, they ended up with a dictatorship.

At the time anyone who thought the revolution wasn’t working in favour of the people and wanted back the Monarchy could be arrested, if they were seen to be anti-revolutionists they would have been tried and executed without hesitation. Robespierre’s pro-revolution campaign became so severe that the people of France were too afraid to leave their homes. Robespierre also introduced the ‘Carmagde’; it was a uniform that was a visible representation of the division between pro and anti revolution. First it was just to suppress the opposition but it started coming to the point were he was suppressing revolutionaries in the fear that they may turn and become followers of the Monarchy. One of the reasons people supported the removal of the King was because they wanted more opportunity to speak and be to heard, a democracy, something which was promised by the government, yet never followed through. The first people to fall in the Terror were the autocracy, who were trying to restore the Monarchy. The law was then changed to allow the arrest and execution of suspected anti-revolutionaries, so from then on people only had to be suspected of anti-revolutionary activity to be executed, creating more fear amongst the French people and...
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