Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Impact of the French Revolution, 1789

Question VI-2-9: Discuss the immediate and permanent results and achievements of the French Revolution.
What was the legacy of the French Revolution of France, Europe and the World?
Give a critical account of the permanent effects of the French Revolution of 1789 on Europe.
Describe the permanent political and social changes in the life of France resulting from the French Revolution.

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Answer: The French Revolution is the greatest event of the modern period. It influenced the whole of human society. The whole world received the message of liberty, equality, and fraternity. The welfare of the common man became the paramount priority and required changes were made in their constitution by the different countries. A brief description of the effects of the French Revolution is as per the followings.
I. Effect on France
There is no doubt that the French Revolution had far-reaching implication for the world. However, it had influenced France the most. The Revolution had left following social, economic and political effects on France.
France – The Representative of Humanity: - France became the representative of humanity. It gave to the world of humanity three main important messages of Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality. However, it paved the way for Republican governments for the rest of humanity when it became successful in France.
The Empire of France became the French Nation: - The French nation was born because of the French Revolution. Since then, there was one France in place of different regions. The thirty million French (three crores) now had the equality of status as a citizen of a nation and equality before the law for all of them. They were patriots of their nation in place of loyalty to any dynasty.
End of Despotic Rule: - Before the French Revolution, the Bourbon family was ruling over France. The rulers of this dynasty believed in the theory of the divine right of kingship. They ruled as per their own wishes and whims. The French Revolution destroyed their very existence. It established a constitutional form of government and republic in France. They made the French people their own ruler.
Written Constitution: - France got her first written constitution due to the French Revolution. It was also the first written constitution of the European continent. It gave the right of franchise to the citizen of France. There were some shortcomings in the constitution but it had ushered in a new era in France.
Declaration of Human Rights: - The main result of the French Revolution was that the French people acquired many human rights. They were given the right to equality, freedom of expression, etc. They were free to organize their associations. They got the right to property. They got the equality before the law. They could object to illegal actions of the government officials.
Abolition of Feudalism: - The Feudal system ended due to the French Revolution. With the French Revolution, the difference between the privileged and non-privileged class ended. It was an end of the old despotic system.
Decrease in the influence of the Church: - The influence of the high priests on the society of France ended. The priests took oath on the new constitution to maintain their loyalty to the French nation. The state became the owner of the wealth of the church. The priest started receiving a salary from the state. On the other hand, the French people started adopting a rational attitude in place of the blind faith based on religious affiliations.
Administrative Changes: - Numerous changes were made in the administrative structure of France due to the French Revolution. A single code of law was implemented in the whole of France and it was also codified. The whole of the country was divided into 83 departments for the administrative purpose. The principle of election was adopted in the administrative at the required places in the administration.
Re-Organisation of the Judicial System: The National Convention introduced a common judicial system for the whole of France. The penal code was made soft and same types of punishments were introduced for the similar type of crimes committed by any person without any discrimination. The judicial system was made independent of the executive and legislator. The 'Jury System' was introduced to try criminal cases.
Public Works: - Many public welfare works were undertaken due to the French Revolution. New roads and canals were constructed. New dams and bridges were built. The land was reclaimed from marshes for farming. The economic infrastructure was improved to promote trade. The large landholdings of the lords were sold to farmers at cheaper rates. Agriculture was modernized. Such improvements brought amazing changes in the economic strength of France.
Changes in the Conditions of Farmers: - The condition of farmers improved due to the French Revolution. The revolution ended the feudal system, which liberated the farmers from the burden of unnecessary taxes. They did not have to pay the taxes to the landlords and tithes (the religious tax) to the church.
Cultural Effects: - France made numerous achievements in the field of art, science, and literature due to the French Revolution. Numerous schools, colleges, universities, and academies were opened in the country. The special attention was paid to art, literature, science, mathematics, technology, and physical training in the field of education.
II. Effect on England
The immediate effects of the Revolution on England were as per the followings.
Effect on Reform Movements: - Pit, the Younger, the Prime Minister of England in 1789, praised and welcomed the events of the French Revolution when it started in May 1789. When the Britishers watched the bloodshed which followed the revolution, they turned against it. However, the main message of liberty, fraternity and equality arrested the attention of the British. They started various movements for social and political reforms.
Effect on British Politics: The social reform movements which started as a result of the French Revolution divided the Whig party. The division due to ideas of the French Revolution weakened the Whig party of Britain.
Economic Crises: It led to Financial crises in Britain. Britain started supporting the anti-revolution parties. It also extended them the monetary help. Britain also suffered due to the economic blocked launched by Napoleon. It increased her financial liabilities and her citizens were made to suffer the load of extra taxes.
Influence on Ireland: The success of the French Revolution encouraged the revolutionaries of Ireland. They increased their revolutionary activities. The British government was forced to adopt oppressive measures in Ireland.
Effect on Literature: The issue of the French Revolution became the subject matter of the English poets, essayists and political commentators.
Effect on Europe
1). Responses and Reactions: Russia, Spain, Austria and Turkey remained untouched by the French Revolution. In Poland and Ireland, the French Revolution encouraged revolutionary activities. The Revolution also influenced the middle class of Germany and Italy.
2). A phase of new Wars: The rising tide of revolution in different countries became the cause of fear among the autocrat rulers. They joined to check the spread of the revolution. It pushed Europe in a spate of anti-revolutionary wars.
3). Rise of Concert of Europe: After defeating Napoleon, the European nations organised the Concert of Europe in 1815. It aimed at maintaining the status quo and reinstatement of European royal families. It was also accompanied by the reactionary policies against the revolutionary movements in European countries.
Permanent Effects
Spirit of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity: The main gift of the French Revolution was the ideas of Equality, Fraternity and Equality. It ended the dominance of the theory of the divine right of kingship. It gave a deathblow to social status by birth. It became the cause of the rise of nationalism.
Rise of nationalism: The French Revolution infused the sense of nationalism among the people of France. The people of France faced the attack of a foreign power as one nation and inculcated the feeling of nationalism among them. It was soon followed by a similar rise in feelings of nationalism in other countries.
Growth of Democratic Ideas: The French Revolution encouraged the rule of law, the politics of census and democratic rule.
Rise of Internationalism: The French Revolution gave rise to the need for coming together at the international level in order to face a common danger. It emerged in the form of Concert of Europe. It started an era of international bodies. The origin of UN (UNO) is also traced to Concert of Europe.

Total Word Count: 1342




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  18. Surprising no one from India is reading this note. It is written as per the requirements of the syllabus of Indian Universities. The European and American Students are following it. Attention people from Europe and America. The interpretation of many historic facts and historicism are different presented by Western Scholars. There are some cultural objection to some statements in some countries given in my answer. So must be aware of all such restraints if you are using the contents for the homework or assignments of your institutions. Sumir the Blogger

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