French Revolution: Ultimately a Failure

Topics: French Revolution, Reign of Terror, Louis XVI of France Pages: 5 (1819 words) Published: November 26, 2012
Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité were the main principles of the French revolution. However, it was a time where these three ideals would be twisted into nothing more than moral and physical violence. The revolution was ultimately a failure which spun out of control and began to murder itself. The French wanted Freedom from its absolutist ruler, but in turn saw themselves being governed by the devil. These citizens wanted a sense of brotherhood amongst their country, but saw their nation being torn apart by violence. Furthermore, the third estate sought to benefit from a new government that promised equality; however, the result was a further imbalance in an already corrupt society. Ironically, the gruesome reign of terror which was fabricated by the French government, contradicted the ideals of which the very revolution stood for, further illustrating the utter failure of this event. In the beginning, the French saw the revolution as a way to improve their lives, but this path quickly turned into a horrifying ascent into oblivion, which aside from immense suffering, achieved nothing. During the reign of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, revolutionary ideas flourished through the age of enlightenment. However, Louis made a crucial mistake by aiding the American Revolution; although it was a military success, it was an economic failure. France was bankrupt and the people were starving; they watched as their monarchs, nobles and aristocracy live a life of luxury and wealth while they suffered through poverty, drastically changing how the citizens perceived their monarch. Soon this resentment transformed into pure hatred and nothing could be done to change their minds. Before long the people revolted and Louis’ powers were stripped away, a new man was then put in his place, Robespierre. Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre was a man who had great power and abused it; to some he was “The Incorruptible”, but in reality was a blood thirsty dictator. As a young man, he studied the law and held a reputation for honesty and compassion. He sought to abolish the death penalty and refused to pronounce a required death sentence after becoming a judge : A victor who kills his captive enemies is called a barbarian! A grown man who kills a child that he could disarm and punish seems to us a monster! An accused man condemned by society is nothing else for it but a defeated and powerless enemy. Before it, he is weaker than a child before a grown man — to erase from the code of the French the blood laws that command judicial murders, and that their morals and their new constitution reject. I want to prove to them: 1- that the death penalty is essentially unjust and, 2- that it isn’t the most repressive of penalties and that it multiplies crimes more than it prevents them.

However, as the revolution progressed so did his ideas; he soon became the head of the Jacobin club, a radical group who advocated exile or death for the French nobility. By this time the once soft and kind-hearted man, was now replaced by one who had developed a great love of power along with a reputation of intolerance, self-righteousness and cruelty . Robespierre quickly came to a conclusion that the end would justify the means, and that in order to defend the revolution against those who would destroy it, the shedding of blood was justified. Merlin de Thionville who was a member of several French legislative bodies said commented that: “In those days so rotten had France become that a bloody mountebank without talent or courage, whose name was Robespierre, made every citizen tremble under his tyranny”. The French now lived under fear and oppression of a man who no longer cared for the people of the revolution but rather the revolution itself. Using his great oratory skills he successfully demanded the execution of the king and queen without fair trial or judgement, saying that “Louis must die so that the revolution may live”. In January...
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