What Was Revolutionary About the French Revolution

Topics: French Revolution, Louis XVI of France, American Revolutionary War Pages: 6 (2166 words) Published: November 23, 2010
What was revolutionary about the French Revolution?

Since the beginning of history itself, several and numerous people, inventions, ideologies or behaviours were immediately attached to a particular and self-explanatory concept such as revolutionary. As the time goes by its outreaching characteristics and meaning remains the same. A revolutionary is an individual who either actively participates in or advocates revolution. When used as an adjective, the term revolutionary refers to something that has a major, abrupt impact on society or on some aspect of human endeavour. The tern – both as a noun and adjective – is usually applied to the field of politics and is occasionally used in the context of science, invention or art. [1] One of the themes in modern European history which can be directly linked with this concept is the French Revolution. The main interrogation remains in “What was revolutionary about the French Revolution?” In order to answer to this question it is necessary to acknowledge the reasons or origins of the revolution, which initiated or motivated this event and finally, which was the impact and importance of it. The French Revolution is considered one of the greatest social and political upheavals in European History and its tremors can still occasionally be felt. In the popular imagination, the magical figure 1789 conjures up conflicting images of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity alongside the “tricoteuse” and the “guillotine”, of a revolution that offered individual choice and freedom, but that was transformed first into terror and subsequently the caesarism of napoleon.[2] These events continue to fascinate historians and the causes and consequences of the French Revolution continue to be a rich source of debate. The revolution started in 1789 and the exact date of its end it is still uncertain but studies believe it lasted almost ten years. [3]A series of political and social crises led up to it: widespread of popular discontent because of poverty which was highly influenced by the taxation system implement by the king Louis XVI in order to maintain his own luxurious and extravagant lifestyle, the wave of unemployment, the growth of the bourgeoisie , an agricultural crisis which left the population in a state of hunger and resentment, the royal treasure’s state became desperate because of help given to The American revolt against Britain which lead to drastic solutions such as reducing the privileges of the aristocracy and clergy producing revolt on their part among several other origins. The king offered no lead and the result was a government trapped by the Estates General. The political initiative was not so much lost as given away, and it was considered the perfect opportunity to ambitious or radical deputies such as Mirabeau, Lafayette, Sieyes and Le Chapelier to come to the front. [4] Under their influence the third estate, representing a minimum of 98 per cent of the population, declared itself the National Assembly on the 17th of June. [5] Due to this action, the deputies broke the umbilical cord connecting them to the society of orders marking the birth of the sovereign nation and the death of the old regime. The revolution had begun officially. By the end of June, effective power was draining away from the monarchy and the political failing of Louis XVI (who reigned from 1774-92) was observed once more after the violence in the capital culminating in the storming of the Bastille on the July 14th. The fall of the Bastille was nevertheless highly noteworthy equally as a political Symbol and as a result of the municipal revolutions that followed. In Paris, order was restored by the newly created National Guard, headed by another ambitious aristocrat – Lafayette - , and effective power passed into the hands of the elected municipality (leaving royal officials with little more than their titles). Throughout France, the conventional power of governors, parliaments and...
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