French Revolution

Ariana Herbert
Modern European Revolutions
Essay # 1

The French Revolution (1789-1799) was one of the most influential social and radical movements in European and modern history. Like all revolutions there were many successes and many failures. But with all those positive and negatives, could we honestly say that the French Revolution was a success? Did the radicals come to common ground? With these and other factors all playing major roles, especially as the Revolution became more radical, the results were decidedly broke even.

By 1789 France was in a financial crisis, the country engaged in competition with Great Britain for supremacy and this competition with Great Britain bankrupted the French government. Also a number of ill-advised financial decisions in the late 1700s worsened the country’s finances. France prolonged involvement in the seven years’ war of 1756-1763 , which drained the treasury as did the country’s participation in the American Revolution of 1775-1783. The most obvious failure of the French Revolution was the Reign of Terror from 1793-1794. The terror which was organized by Robespierre and his followers was a way to provide for the security of the country by exposing “traitors” to the people of France. According to Robespierre “The Springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror; virtue without which terror is fatal; terror without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe inflexible; it is therefor and emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our countries most urgent needs”. (Course packet) Robespierre strongly believed that virtue and terror work hand in hand, one couldn’t work without the other. He believed that virtue needed to be established throughout the republic and that it wouldn’t be properly implemented without the use of violence and terror. The Reign of Terror...
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