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The French Revolution: Period Of Radical Political And Societal Change

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We can agree that kings have ruled for centuries governments in Europe, France after centuries of being under the control of kings finally made the decision to start a revolt and fight the system that has oppressed them for centuries. Thomas Paine in his Rights of Man explains the problem of having a monarchy government. Paine had ideas on how to help France after the revolution, the revolution that occurred in France was a brave stand and challenge to fight a monarchy government and wanted to create a new form of government.

The French revolution went from 1789-1799 and would in the end have future effects all through Europe, the French Revolution would introduce a democratic government to the country of France however France did not become a democracy. The French Revolution made the kings, nobles and other political parties relive they took powers for granted and they could either go with the current government or they could accept liberty and equal rights for the people.

With the French people, their frustrations and the tensions were getting to a breaking point, this tension led to the people revolting against the government and their current leaders the kings. With the current way the government was there was more power with the king and the upper class, this system was biased and equal. It was made up of three estates the majority was the third estate. It was the first estate and the second estate that would hold a great majority of power and the clergy and nobility were what made them up. Within France, these two estates obtained and held on to most of the wealth. There was constant tension between these classes and the king, and a power struggle began despite these classes having most of the wealth and power.

During the face-off and fighting between the nobility and the royalty, it was the lower class the bourgeoise who were hurting and suffering from the struggle of being poor having to live in poverty, all through the struggle with poverty and living in poor conditions they had to live by the rules of society. During this time equality within society was not present and did not exist. The lower class when it came to voting were only allowed one vote which shows how the monarchy is a truly corrupt government and in France, the government only wanted what was good for them.

The court system which was made up of royals in Versailles maintained a monarchy and created a system that would allow the government to keep a hold on power and control over the people, within the middle class and the lower class who were hard-working people this form of government created tensions, frustration, and resentment leading the French people to call for equality. The French people grew angry and tensions kept mounting with France coming back from the American Revolution war being the breaking point after France was in financial pieces after providing money and military power to the Americans, King Louis the XVI assumed that if he helped the Americans with the war that France would gain more territory and France would benefit with both monetary and territory benefits.

The truth was that King Louis the XVI was a failure as a leader and had no say of what was going on in France, there was no leadership with his country as he led France down a road to constant debt. France was walking a tight rope and was in danger of going bankrupt. The nobility class had a tight hold on the wealth which only made things worse for the country and didn’t help their financial crisis, the nobility also did not have to pay any taxes which if they would pay taxes it would help the country in their financial mess, King Louis XVI saw only one option to stop the financial downfall and crisis and that was to enact orders for the lower class who were already fighting poverty to pay higher taxes on everything which led the lower class to fight for food since they could not afford to pay for the food which now cost even more.

With the rising taxes on the people tension grew, even more, this hardship was even worse during the winter of 1769-1783 when it was a harsh winter, there were dangerously cold temperatures and hail storms that wreak havoc, a lot of the crops that the lower class had grown were now dying and failure to grow more crops was major devastation for the corn and grain production. The French people were hoarding bread and scrapping for anything they could get; some bakers were lynched for hoarding bread when the people needed it.

It was not only the problem of taxes and food for the lower class there was a big social problem that would fuel the fire for the French Revolution. The 18th century for France presented tension between the social classes, there was a division between people. The nobles and the royalty thought that they had a God-given right to be who they were and that they were born to be noble or born to be royal. It was all about the precept that they are entitled to their social class. There were a lot of reasons that the French Revolution started and some of the goals of the French Revolution were that for the French people they wanted to change the way the political system worked, second, the French Revolution was a result of an economic system that did not work that was being run by King Louis the XVI.

The government of France was in constant discontent that ran through the Revolution. The French people lived their lives in a state of fear, the king was the one and only person who decided the fate of someone and the country of France. During the reign of King Louis the XVI the justice system was a one-way street, there really was no justice system except king Louis XVI's justice where there would not be any fair trial for someone who criticized the king, they would be arrested and jailed. To create an alliance between France and Austria the king married an Austrian Duchess named Marie Antoinette. The king and his queen lived in a palace called Versailles.

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King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette did not care much for the troubles of the people but with themselves and what was good for them, King Louis XVI loved to hunt and go on these hunting games while Marie Antoinette indulged in jewels, expensive art, and loved to have her hair done in these crazy ways that took hours to do, she had no care about what was going on outside with the French people. While the French people starved and scraped for food the king and queen lived life in luxury eating everything from fancy pastries to pheasants.

The people of France felt like king Louis betrayed them and saw how the political system was corrupt, the king supported a block count, not the headcount that is usually done, with all the hardship that the people of France were under king Louis decided to support the Americans with their war the American Revolution. The financial crisis was not getting better and France was deep in debt which was contributed to both France supporting the Americans and the seven-year war, with all the debt the parliament made a suggestion to king Louis XVI that he borrows money which could only be done with the states-general approval so the king proceeded to call a meeting.

It was in May of 1789 that the States-General opened at Versailles, it was the first two estates made up of the nobles and the royals that wanted to vote by each estate, there were a lot of French people that represented France since the third estate made up a good majority. The third estate gave their suggestions however the king and the first estates did not want to agree with the third estate. The king decided that a National assembly would be made up of all three estates. The king would go against the National Assembly and bring troops in to break it up, in 1789 a large group of the French people went into action and raided the prison at Bastille with the intention of gathering all the ammunition they could find and weapons they could find.

The French people used the weapons to fight against the king's troops, French people after raiding the prison proceeded to tear it down brick by brick since the French people didn’t have any explosives, all along the countryside the French people were rioting. After all the revolts the king was put on trial mainly spearheaded by Robespierre who with the help of the newspaper convinced the French people that the king must be removed. King Louis XVI was eventually put on trial which he was already found guilty and it was just a matter of what the punishment would be, for the French people felt that king Louis XVI had betrayed the country by trying to flee to Austria where his brothers were and he had an alliance.

In 1793 the National Convention found king Louis XVI guilty, even though only a small group were in support of the death penalty and having guillotined the National Convention still sentenced him to be beheaded, 1793 the king was executed and his wife Marie Antionette followed not too far behind him under the same accusations as the king himself, after the king was executed the revolution which had good intentions for peace became more radical, the revolution accepted change which was violent and often extreme and the leaders who had become extreme became more active among the French people. Leaders of the convention who were radical included Maximilien Robespierre, Georges Danton, and Jean-Paul Marat who ran the newspaper that would daily spread rumors and any accusations throughout the country. Marat would eventually be assassinated by a woman named Charlotte Corday.

There would be a struggle for power and authority with both the radicals and the group known as the Jacobin club which was headed by Georges Danton, Danton would lead the Jacobin club and try to convince the people that the National Convention was becoming too violent, Danton was against all the violence and said that Maximilien Robespierre who was heading the radicals was out of control and needed to stop, the terror, as it was known, would use spies to find out who was talking bad about the convention and who was not supporting them.

This period of the revolution was the most violent and horrific with thousands of people being sent to the guillotine and executed, the terror had no compassion for anyone who they felt were traitors against the radical government. Georges Danton would be executed by being beheaded by the radicals who accused him and his supporters of betraying the convention. The policy of terror headed by Robespierre, Carnot, Barere would continue and wreak havoc through the country, they would call for the beheading of anyone who did not support them and was supporters of the king. The French people lived their lives scared and did not want to talk about anything since their spies everywhere the bakery, the store, anyone who disagreed with the radicals were in danger of being executed.

The prisons would eventually become filled with over a thousand suspects who didn’t support the radicals, over 18,000 people who were mainly innocent were beheaded during the reign of terror, every day carts would slowly move through the streets making the French people shiver and fear for their lives as these carts would take the accused to the guillotine. It was at this time of the terror that the radicals would start to fight among themselves, with Danton and his supporters dead after being executed the people of France wanted to see an end to the violence, it was only when Robespierre was accused of being a traitor when he presented a list of names of men who were against the radicals but refused to give the list to the convention, the men who supported him and his reign of terror turned against him fearing that now anyone could on that list.

In July of 1794, Robespierre was executed ending his reign of terror, after he was executed a democratic government was installed in 1793, in 1795 a new document was signed that replaced the old one. This new government and this new constitution were called the directory. In October of 1795, the directory would begin to meet. In October of 1799, there was a group of political leaders who did not support the directory started to try and overthrow the directory. The was these in order to overthrow the directory they were going to need the support of the military and have the power of the military, these political leaders decided to go to a famous general named Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon was a hero to the French people after commanding and leading military campaigns in Europe to include Italy, Austria, and Russia. Napoleon would take control of the government and in November of 1799 which would bring an end to the revolution.

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The French Revolution: Period Of Radical Political And Societal Change. (2022, February 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
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