French Revolution Class 9 History, Chapter 1 Notes
French Revolution Class 9 History, Chapter 1 Notes
What is the French revolution?
The French Revolution of 1789-1799 was a historical event that marked the beginning of the European Revolution. The main result of the revolution was the formation of a constitutional monarchy and a significant reduction in royal and feudal status.
The story began when Prince Louis XVI, the prince of France back then, and Marie Antoinette, the Archduchess of Austria got married in France in 1770.
France was in severe debt during the 18th century since France aided America during the American Revolution of 1776. This aid cost the country huge sums of money, and it led the country to bankruptcy. Moreover, King Louis and Ms Antoinette’s exorbitant expenses did not help.
Prince Louis, crowned as the king upon the death of his grandfather, imposed heavy taxes on the rural and urban populations to compensate for the empty royal treasuries, poor harvests, and rising food prices. This event caused unrest among the poor rural and urban population.
Since the tax duties were so heavy, the population was unable to pay taxes, causing riots, looting and attacks that became common in the country.
Petrified with the situation, in 1986, Louis XVI’s controller general, Charles Alexandre de Calonne, proposed a financial reform package that included a universal land tax from which the privileged classes would no longer be exempt.
The king summoned the Estates-General that was an assembly representing France’s three estates – clergy (1st estate), nobility (2nd estate) and middle class (the 3rd estate), to vote on the implementation of those measures.
The events after this can be divided into 5 stages.
French Revolution Timeline
Stage I – Meeting of the General of the Estates – 5th May 1986
In terms of population, the number of members of the 3rd Estate was more than that of the 1st and 2nd Estate, making up for nearly 98% of the country’s population. Each Estate was given 1 equal vote meaning the 3rd Estate could be easily overcome by two other bodies even though the population concentration was that high.
Before the Estates-General meeting on 5th May, members of the 3rd Estate began to mobilize support for equal representation and the abolishment of the noble veto—in other words, they wanted voting by head and not by status.
The 3rd Estate felt that financial and judicial reform was the need of the hour. However, the 1st and the 2nd estate opposed the idea, supporting their privileges in the traditional system.
When the meeting started, the question of voting procedure turned into an open hatred between the three orders, thus neglecting the real purpose of the meeting and the authority of the king who demanded it.
On June 17 1789, after negotiations failed, the 3rd Estate formally adopted the name – National Assembly after meeting alone and took an oath together at a nearby indoor tennis court vowing not to disperse until reforms begin.
Seeing no other option, Louis XVI incorporated all three assemblies into the new order.
Phase II – The French Revolution Begins
The meeting of the National Assembly continued at Versailles. Meanwhile, fear and violence ravaged Paris.
There were rumours of an imminent military coup. These rumours led to a rebellion and the capture of the Bastille on July 14, 1789. This event marked the origination of this Revolution and is considered a national holiday to this day in France.
A revolutionary wave spread through the countryside, which led to a peasant revolt. They burned down many houses of tax collectors as well as the houses of the nobles.
The riots forced the country’s nobles to flee. On August 4, 1789, the National Assembly dealt a heavy blow to feudalism and called this period the Great Fear. The old order expired.
Phase III – Declaration of Human Rights
On August 4, 1789, the National Assembly recognized the Rights of Man and Citizen. The Human Rights, based on the principles of democracy and embodies the philosophical and political ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, were published on August 26, 1789
The constitution got adopted on September 3, 1791. It symbolized a new French society, where the king would have limited powers.
Although moderating the king’s hold, this was not enough for radical influentials such as Gorges Denton and Maximilian de Robespierre, who demanded more republican rule for the king.
Phase IV – Reign of Terror
In April 1792, the new legislative declared war on Austria and Prussia.
The revolution then took a more radical turn on August 10, 1792, when a group of rebels led by anextremist called Jacobins stormed the royal palace in Paris and arrested Louis XVI.
The following month, there was a massacre of several enemies of the revolution in Paris. The National Convention replaced the Legislative Assembly, which proclaimed the abolition of the monarchy and the establishment of the French republic.
King Louis XVI was executed to the guillotine on January 21, 1973, for high treason and crimes against the state. After nine months, his wife, Marie Antoinette, would follow him.
The king’s execution marked the beginning of the most violent and turbulent phase of the French Revolution.
Jacobins took over the National Convention from the more moderate Girondins. Thousands got killed for treason and counter-revolutionary activities at the order of Robespierre, who dominated the draconian Committee of Public Safety. The terroristic regime ended on July 28, 1794, until Robespierre’s execution.
Robespierre’s death marked the Thermidorian Reaction, the beginning of a medium period during which the people of France revolted against the atrocities committed during the Reign of Terror.
Phase V – End of the French Revolution
On August 22 1795, the National Convention, consisting of Girondins mostly, approved a new constitution created by France’s two-pronged legislature.
The power would be vested in the Directory, a five-member body appointed by the Parliament. Any opposition to this group ended with the military, led by General Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Directory worked towards the financial crises while indulging in political corruption. By the late 1790s, the directors relied almost entirely on the military to maintain their authority. They had ceded much of their power to the generals in the field.
Eventually, resentment against the Directory reached a fever pitch, and Napoleon overthrew and ousted them from power. Napoleon appointed himself “First Consul”.
The French Revolution ended.
The Napoleonic era marked a time when French-dominated continental Europe became the norm.
What was the immediate cause of the French Revolution?
Social – The social conditions in France at the end of the 18th century were extremely unequal and deceitful. Priests and nobles constituted the first two estates and were the most ancestral class in French society. On the other hand, the third estate, which consisted of farmers and labourers, made up the majority of the population.
Economic – The state treasury was empty as a result of several wars fought by Louis XVI. The situation was further complicated by the involvement of France in the American War of Independence and the wrong system of taxation.
Political– Louis XVI caused much unrest among the people living a life of extreme poverty and widespread famine.
Intellectual – Philosophers like Rousseau rejected the model of monarchy and promoted the principle of human equality and the sovereignty of the people.
What is the significance of the French Revolution?
The French Revolution is considered a turning point in modern history as the rise of new ideas leapfrog into liberalism and democracy. The revolution saw the collapse of total monarchy across Europe.
It is significant that the French Revolution marked the end of the establishment of an absolute monarchy and republic in France.
Liberty, equality and fraternity, which became the guiding principles of the French Revolution, became the core values of the French Republic.
The revolution established the first democratic government in Europe.
The revolution buried feudalism as an institution and placed the church and clergy under state control.
Eventually, Napoleon Bonaparte ascended the throne of France.
It marks the end of ancient beliefs and political systems and the deserved recognition of the new era of the Industrial Revolution.
It popularized the idea of nationalism. It also contributed to the development of the welfare state.
What did the French Revolution of 1789 stand for?
The French Revolution enhanced the way people thought, as one might say, with an emphasis on broader thought.
It emphasized the responsibility of the government to look after the welfare of the people.
It encouraged people to speak out against the government if it is unjust and unequal.
The ideas of liberty and equality were expressed by all.
It emphasized the role of the political community in looking after the welfare of men and women.
It paved the way for the attainment of noble goals of national identity and national pride, which can aptly be called nationalism.
Most importantly, it stood for the importance of the Republic.
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