How Far, and Why, Did the Aims of the Revolutionaries in France Change During the Period from 1789-1793?

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During the turbulent and unstable years of the French Revolution, there were many changes in the aims and ideologies of the revolutionaries. The Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789 sparked off events that caused the upheaval of French society, as the three Estates sought to protect and advance their interests. Many factors influenced the changing of the revolutionaries aims, and perhaps none more so than the abolishment of the constitutional monarchy. From the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, it can be assumed that the aims of the revolutionaries in 1789 were for the benefit of the French people of every class, but the desire for exclusive political power had undermined this.

With mounting social and economic unrest, the French monarchy was under constant scrutiny in the years prior to the Revolution. The Enlightenment had served to cause a change in perception of the French people, from the nobility to even common artisans. The blind faith in the Aristocracy was waning, and the Third Estate, the majority of the population, had much cause to complain. The Third Estate enjoyed few privileges, and were subject to feudal obligations and heavy direct and indirect taxes (e.g. taille and gabelle) as well as the hated corvee royale. The peasants’s lives were ruled by the seigneurial obligations, the payment of tithes, and the scarcity and expenses of common essentials such as bread heightened the dislike for the monarchy who led extravagant lifestyles. The peasant class sought only to improve their standard of living.

The bourgeoisie felt an increasing sense of frustration as opportunities for social and employment advancement were limited. The nobility and clergy occupied the higher social classes, and had the privilege of birth, but the business leaders of the Third Estate could not penetrate those circles. While the general consensus among the bourgeoisie was for a constitutional monarchy, they also desired a more significant say in the...
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