With the French Revolution began the institutionalization of secularized individualism in both social life and politics; individualism and rationality found expression in parliamentary government and written constitutionalism. Obviously, the English and American revolutions of and prefigure these changes, but it was the more universalist French… Origins of the Revolution The French Revolution had general causes common to all the revolutions of the West at the end of the 18th century and particular causes that explain why it was by far the most violent and the most universally significant of these revolutions.
Beginning inFrance produced the most significant of the eighteenth-century revolutions. In some ways it was remarkably similar to the American movement that had preceded it.
Both revolutions applied principles of the Enlightenment; both swept away traditional systems; both followed similar three-stage courses, moving from moderate to radical before a final conservative swing; and both helped set in motion modern constitutional government, along with democracy and nationalism.
There were, however, striking differences. Unlike the American colonies, France had a classic Old Regime, with aristocratic privilege and monarchy. Instead of being far removed from the centers of civilization, it was the most populous and cultured state of western Europe. Its revolution, therefore, was more violent and more decisive.
The Explosive Summer Of During the summer ofFrance faced a financial crisis, caused primarily by military expenditures and a parasitic aristocracy, which resisted any cuts in its returns from the treasury and any taxes on its wealth.
Louis XVI had succeeded his grandfather in The young king was intelligent but indolent and dominated by his frivolous wife, Marie Antoinette, whose limited political vision and influence over her husband increased his problems.
The result of this lapse of leadership was a political near-breakdown, followed by a sudden explosion of popular unrest and agitation.
Between Louis' succession andhis finance ministers continuously struggled with a rapidly rising debt. Robert Turgotcontroller-general of finance, had proposed deep cuts in expenditure, but he was forced out by the nobles. His successor, Swiss banker Jacques Neckerafter resorting to more exhaustive borrowing, was dismissed inand two succeeding ministers failed to deal with the problem.
InLouis called an assembly of nobles, hoping that they might accept taxation and economy measures. They flatly rejected his requests, insisting that he call the Estates-General, which had not met since In this body, where the clergy and nobility traditionally voted separately, they hoped to dominate the Third Estate, including the middle-class majority of taxpayers.
Ultimately, Louis summoned the Estates-General, with more than elected delegates representing the Third Estate.
They were chosen during the spring ofamid feverish excitement, and supplied by their constituents with lists of grievances, the famous cahiers, which involved a diverse mixture of reform proposals, including demands for a national legislature, a jury system, freedom of the press, and equitable taxes.
Once the Estates-General had convened, the Third Estate insisted that voting should be by head rather than by chamber, because it had more members than the other two estates clergy and nobles combined.
Six weeks of wrangling over this issue brought delegates from the Third Estate along with lesser numbers from the other two orders, to a meeting at an indoor tennis court. There, on June 20,they solemnly swore the historic tennis-court oath, agreeing not to disband until they had produced a French constitution.
Later, after defying a royal order to reconvene separately, they declared themselves to be the National Constituent Assembly of France. Within weeks, the king had completely lost control of the situation.
Although grudgingly accepting the National Assembly, he had 18, troops moved to the vicinity of Versailles. Middle-class members of the Assembly, in near panic at the threat of military intervention, appealed for popular support.
On July 14, an estimatedParisian shopkeepers, workers, and women demolished the Bastille, liberating the prisoners. It had served as the most visible symbol of the Old Regime, and its fall clearly demonstrated the rapily growing popular defiance.
The event also destroyed Louis' courage and his municipal Parisian government, which was replaced by a middle-class council, with its own "national guard. As emotional tensions ran high throughout the country, the government faced a serious problem involving blacks.
Although illegal in France, slavery was a legal foundation of the economy in the French West Indies, that remaining valuable gem of the French empire. Many wealthy French aristocrats and businessmen who owned plantations in Santo Domingo and Martinique feared that revolutionary rhetoric would promote slave rebellion.
Another complication was provided by mulattoes, many of whom were wealthy planters themselves, who supported the slave system but complained about infringement of their civil rights, both in France and in the islands.
Their petitions were enforced and carried further by an organization known as the Amis des Noirs "Friends of the Blacks"which capitalized upon the revolutionary atmosphere during the summer of to spread abroad antiracist ideas from the Enlightenment.
Another unique aspect of the summer upheaval was the aggressive roles played by women. In the cahiers they had presented demands for legal equality, improved education, and better conditions in the markets.
They were present in large numbers at the fall of the Bastille.From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes, the SparkNotes The French Revolution (–) Study Guide has everything . The outbreak of the French Revolution in the summer of stirred the imagination of nearly all Europeans.
The French revolutionaries - that is, those men and women who made conscious choices - sensed in their hearts and minds that they were witnessing the birth of a new age.
July Revolution: July Revolution, (), insurrection that brought Louis-Philippe to the throne of France. The revolution was precipitated by Charles X’s publication (July 26) of restrictive ordinances contrary to the spirit of the Charter of Protests and demonstrations were followed by three days of.
Lecture 13 The French Revolution: The Radical Stage, The proof necessary to convict the enemies of the people is every kind of evidence, either material or moral or verbal or written.
French Revolution, also called Revolution of , the revolutionary movement that shook France between and and reached its first climax there in Hence the conventional term “Revolution of ,” denoting the end of the ancien régime in France and serving also to distinguish that event from the later French revolutions of and But history remembers the French Revolution in a starkly different way, as the same leaders who sought a more democratic system while out of power devolved into establishing an incredibly repressive tyranny of their own once they acquired it.1/5(1).