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Weisheng zhaoNewell MargaretHistory 3675Dec. 2nd 2017                 The French Revolution and therise of Radicalism This paper intends to postulate the process of the Frenchrevolution in light of those who contributed towards its success. It will alsoindicate the causes of the French revolution, vis a vis the consequences itbrought about, both in the past and the present world, both locally andinternationally. The paper will also highlight the various revolutionaries thatpropagated the revolution as well as the situations that catalyzed therevolution.

The French revolution caused the rise of the leader NapoleonBonaparte in 1789 and ended in the 1790s. The revolution is famous for causinga change in the politics and institutions like the feudal system and monarchy(Furet, 12). The revolution was propagated by ideals of enlightenment likesovereignty. The French revolution significance lies in the ingeniousorganization that led to its success and the unity of many factions thatpropagated.The reasons why it arose are varied.

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One cause is westernsocial structure. The initial feudal system had slowly been eroded bywesternization. Thus, there were a lot of elites, manufactures, professionals,and merchants who were wealthy. They were known as the bourgeoisie and whoseclass was privileged in the society. This class strived to get political power.

The peasants who were learned improved their standard of living. They thus didnot want the feudalism to continue, as they wanted to fully own the lands onwhich they worked and owned. With the improved standards of living, mortalityrate reduced, leading to the increase of the population. The large populationthen started to compete for food and other resources, whose demand rose.

Therearose a need for social reform, and this revelation was made by the risingintellectuals who spoke about it in their writings, like the famous writer,Descartes (Chartier, 92)The second reason why the French revolution came about isthat there was a political crisis in France. The extravagances of King Louis inthe 18th-century war raised the protests against the regime, and thusprotesters wanted to remove him from power. To recover the money that the kinghad used, there was a need to highly tax the citizenry, and even include theprivileged as well as the nobles. The government was in debt and to restore itsfailing economy, taxed its people heavilyThe reaction that arose contributed to the revolution as itdivided further the various classes. Monarchs like France at the time alsotried to control the situation by seeking for allies among the peasants and themiddle class. In fact, it was the middle class that established the nationalassembly and tried to sway the wealthy to evenly distribute money in the middleand lower classes. The third estate that met at the communes invited the lowerclass and the aristocrats.

They made themselves the national assembly of thepeople but were ready to be the leaders. The king ordered the closure of thecommunes by saying that there was to be a renovation, but the assembly met at atennis court and decided to establish a constitution. They got allies in theclergy and nobility (Hunt, 112).Thirdly, the bourgeoisie class did not like the fact thatthey were excluded from positions of privilege and political power. They werethus opposed to any changes that would deny them their privileges in France.

The fact they were exempted from tax made them have undue advantage over thosewho were taxed. This privilege maintained the class gap since it made the richto remain rich and the poor remained poor since the little they would be taxedheavily by the state so that it can recover the extravagance caused by the warsit had(Hunt, 112).Fourth, when there were economic crises that arose from thefailed agriculture, rising population that caused competing for resources, itpropagated restlessness. It is this restlessness that led to the women’s marchon Versailles in 1789. The women showed up at Parisian markets and demandedthat city officials should listen to their grievances. They wanted that thegovernment addresses the bread shortages they had in their households and whichhas arisen from economic shortages. They also demanded that the king shouldmove to Paris so that he could address the poverty levels of thecommoners.

  They also insisted that thenational assembly is allowed by the royal efforts to run their activities. Thecity officials did not respond favorably, and in turn, the women collected anassortment of weapons like cannons and guns and marched all the way toVersailles. The soldiers were commandeered to control them as certain mobsdescended on the palace, killing some guards. The king was eventually made tolisten to their demands and move the monarchy to Paris (Baker, 33).Fifth, the monarchy system seemed unsuitable for thepressures that were coming up politically and in the society.  The revolution shifted power to the state,form the roman catholic church.

The church had owned land in large tracts, andit was not obligated to pay tax. Ironically the church levied a 10 percent taxon money earned by the congregation, as tithe.in many instances, the peasantswould bring the equivalent of ten percent of their products in the church as atithe. A small percent of the tithe was given to the poor in the society whilethe church kept the rest.

There was thus resentment towards the church due tothe seeming exploitation it had on the poor. The clergy (first estate) joinedthe third estate when the national assembly was established. It is through thenational assembly that reforms the economy and the social order was done. Forinstance, the tithe tax on income was abolished by the legislature and thechurch’s property would be used by the state and running of certain activitieswas done by the state. Some of the activities are like caring for the poor, theorphaned and paying the clergy.

The lands that had previously owned by thechurch was then auctioned so that money can be raised (Lyons, 14)Other changes made is that the clergy would now work for thestate, and was paid by the state. They would be appointed through voting.Change always faces resist, and many Catholics felt that the Roman pope wouldnot lord over the French church. Civilians protested the law and the nationalassembly reiterated by requiring that the clergy should sign an oath of loyaltyto the constitution. This obviously led to discord between those who took theoath and those who did not, and preferred to pledge their allegiance to theRoman pope. To understand the French revolution, it is prudent to know whatwent on before it started (Landes, 55).  As a monarchy, French involved itself in the Americanrevolution which ate up most of its resources as between 1754 and 1793; KingLouis XVI spent much of the nation’s money.

To make matters worse, agriculturewas affected as there were poor harvests of crops and the animals that werediseased could not get treatment owing to the bad economy. It was a bad timefor the poor peasant’s farmers and also for the urban dwellers that relied onthe produce. Everything became expensive as there was general lack ofresources. The regime did not spare its citizens as they also had to part withheavy taxes that the government imposed on them. The poor felt the pinch ontheir pockets as the privileged classes were not taxed. It was only in 1786that reform was done and which proposed that the privileged would also have topay lad ta. It was presented to the king who called for a meeting of theprivileged so that they can vote for the proposal. This estate that had beenslowly rising since 1614 wanted the abolishment of noble veto power and wantedthat voting by status to be removed.

The three orders were input into theassembly since the third estate had rallied with liberal nobles and clericalduties.Since the national assembly would meet at Versailles, therearose tension as many people feared that violence would erupt, as it eventuallydid. There were rumors of a coup due to the breakdown of royal power. Rioters,on July 14 stormed the fortress of Bastille to get warfare like guns and gunsand gunpowder.

This marked the beginning of the French revolution.Once the rioters stormed into the fortress, there was an airof revolutionary energy everywhere as people were now ready for a change.  They were tired of the exploitation that theyhad suffered from the regime.

Peasant used to work for the landowners forlittle money, and in the end, the tax collectors would come for the remainderof their dignity. The peasants burned the property of landlords, landowners andtax collectors owing to the frustration they had undergone for years. Feudalismwas abolished as a result of the nobles and elites being dethroned by thepeasants. The famous Declaration of rights of man and citizens was adopted onAugust 4th. The declaration was based on enlightenment, and its purpose was tocome up with a regime that would treat everyone equally regarding rights andprivileges.Though the assembly was ready to come up with a newconstitution, it had the challenge of balancing legislature of the economy andappointing delegates.

There was another issue of reducing the powers that anyking would have. The first constitution was adopted in 1791, and which gave theking power to appoint ministers under him and veto power. Just like everypolitical leader has foes, there were people that did not like the power thatthe king had been bestowed by the constitution. They thus started to rallypeople against King Louis XVI so that he could be tried.  Eventually, insurgents led by Jacobins led anattack on the palace in Paris and arrested the king. The assembly also declaredwar on Prussia and Austria as it felt that those against the French governmentwere making allies with the two nations (Ozouf, 78). The arrest of the king ledto a lot of massacre of people that were supporting the fallen regime.

Theassembly was abolished, the monarchy was also abolished, and in its place, thenational convention was placed. The convention took to changing the monarchyinto the French Republic and sentenced the fallen king Louis to death. He wasaccused of crimes against the state and treason, thus was guillotined.Jacobins, later in June 1793, seized the national conventionand radically changed it, by eradicating Christianity and establishing a newcalendar. The revolution took off in earnest energy and growth, and anyone thattried to resist was killed. Many were massacred in the ten-month period thatfollowed through the new invention of the guillotine that executed the king andhis wife earlier. A committee of public safety was commissioned but ironicallywas responsible for the deaths of those who tried to resist the revolution. InJuly 1794, Robespierre, the leader of the committee was executed and with hispassing came to another phase where the French citizens attempted to stop themassive executions of the citizenry (Person, 250) Role of Radicalism There was a lot of disunity in the assembly.

For instance,the right-wing led by Jean-Sifrein Maury and Jacques Antoine opposed therevolution while other royalists democrats like Pierre Victor and Jean-JosephMounier fought for the revolution. The national party, on the other hand,propose for legislation, while the other parties like the mayor and committeeswere independent. The national guard under Lafayette emerged rather strongly,gaining fame for its values. The French army at the time, (1790), was notunited.

Since most were noblemen, there was discord as they would not cooperatewith soldiers drawn from the lower classes. The lower classes would also turnagainst those who were above them like the commanders. This led to rebellionsin the national guards in the ranks and highly put discord in the army.

Manyofficers abandoned their duties for other countries (Schama, 11)It is after this that clubs like the Jacobin club wereestablished and who led to many changes in the revolution direction. Even inthe club, there were factions since as it grew, there were those who did notagree with the ideologies of the Jacobin club and would form others on theirown. Eventually, the clubs were suppressed by the army, under the leadership ofNapoleon Bonaparte.The assembly then formed a new judicial organization andwhich would not be an affiliate to the monarchy. The offices that werehereditary were abolished since there was a dislike of monarchy as there was afocus on creating a French republic, thus the constitution.

The king would makedecisions on war, backed by the legislature. Trade barriers, fortunately, wereabolished which led to increasing improvement in the economy. The advantage ofhaving rights to trade earned the state money through trade licenses while theworker’s organizations checked on conditions in which the workers were.In 1795, the national convention passed a new constitutionthat gave power to five members known as Directory. The directory was appointedby the parliament and which has executive power.

Jacobins again rose toprotest, together with the royalists, but found the wrath of the army under thegeneral Napoleon Bonaparte in 1769. The directory was however not successful indealing with the power and economy of France. The directory relied mostly onthe army to guide them on running the nation. The generals ended up having toomuch power. Napoleon Bonaparte led the army in a coup de tat and appointedhimself as the consul after doing away with the directory. The Frenchrevolution thus ended. The culture that arose out of the revolution was famousas it was open and transparent.

For instance, there was more freedom of speechand the media thrived, informing the citizens of politics and events. Therewere public events that bound and united the people like tree planting andfestivals commemorated the revolution and celebrated the new order (Person,259)The French revolution created a point to refer back to, andin other revolutions that followed like the Russian revolution, the sameclarion calls were used. Today, France still basks in the glory of therevolution as it led to the abolition of the feudal system and which allowedfarmers to fully have land rights. There was the emancipation of the Frenchpeople since it led to the declaration of the rights and which was laterchanges and amended to include the rights of women. When the nobles lost theirprivileges, it ensured that other peasants and commoners were able to have asay in the running of their nation and other rights. The nobles then began topay taxes and were now equal (Ozouf, 66). Internationally, the revolution leddemocracy and a rise in republics. Many modern political ideologies borrowedfrom the revolution to make changes in their politics which led to radicalism,liberalism, feminism, and socialism.

      Works CitedBaker,Keith Michael. Inventing the French Revolution: essays on Frenchpolitical culture in the eighteenth century. Vol.

16. Cambridge UniversityPress, 1990. Chartier,Roger. The cultural origins of the French Revolution. DukeUniversity Press, 1991. Furet,François. Interpreting the French revolution. Cambridge UniversityPress, 1981.

 Hunt,Lynn. Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution: With a NewPreface. Vol. 1. Univ of California Press, 2004. Landes,Joan B.

 Women and the Public Sphere in the Age of the French Revolution.Cornell University Press, 1988. Lyons,Martyn.

 Napoleon Bonaparte and the legacy of the French Revolution.Vol. 1. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994. Ozouf,Mona. Festivals and the French revolution.

Harvard UniversityPress, 1991. Person,Term, and Thing Definition Place. “The French Revolution andNapoleon.” (1933). Schama,Simon.

 Citizens: A chronicle of the French Revolution. Penguin UK,2004.


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