The Ancien Regime and the Revolution by Alexis de Tocqueville French revolution is the period of far-reaching, social and political turmoil in France and its consequences spread all over in Europe. It was a revolution in which people fought against the absolute monarchy which was ruling France for centuries…
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The original work “L’ancien Regime et la Reevolution” was translated into English as “The Old Regime and Revolution.” The book throws light on the causes responsible for the Revolution. In this book Tocqueville propounds the theory of continuity. In it he opines that even if the French tried to deny their connection from the past and from old aristocratic regime, ultimately they went back to their old ways to a powerful central government. The aim of French Revolution was not to end the power of church. It also did not aim at spreading anarchy in the society. But it aimed at political and social reform. The purpose behind this revolution had never been changing the existing social structure. The ultimate goal was to suppress the feudality, which had not been questioned by anyone in most of the European countries and to establish the society based on equality. The French Revolution took place in 1789. The people of France separated their history into two different parts. According to the writer, apart from their effort they unknowingly have the connection with the sentiments, ideas of old regime. On the old pillars itself they have built the edifice of the new society. In short they cannot keep themselves away from their past. Hence if one wants to study French Revolution, it is essential to study the France before Revolution. Chapter 1: Contradictory Opinions about French Revolution The book is divided into two sections, Book first and Book Second. Book First contains 5 chapters. Chapter 1 of Book First focuses on the contradictory opinions on French Revolution when it actually broke out. According to the writer, Fredrick, the Great was the agent or predecessor. French Revolution was a subject of curiosity for entire Europe. Everyone was then expecting the transformation. Though everything was vague but the people had no idea of what exactly would be going to happen. The Princes, ministers never took the Revolution seriously and they would think that it is a common phenomenon in political history of every nation. England saw the steady advances of the great revolution but could not determine its form, or anticipate the influence. Arthur Young was a writer who travelled to France just before the revolution. He also could not predict about the consequences of the Revolution. He just predicted that the privileged class would become more powerful and it would be harmful. The statesman Edmund Burke’s opinion was that France would be weakened due to this Revolution and it would take a long time for France to recover. Till the eve of the outbreak of French Revolution, no one knew what would be the consequences of this calamity. It was the fear that royalty or court would maintain excessive predominance. But still no one was sure about the consequences of the Revolution till it destroyed civil as well as political institutions, manners, customs, laws and even the mother tongue. It completely shook the foundation of the society and ready with full vigour to attack the Supreme power i.e. God. According to M. De Maistre, “the French Revolution has a satanic character.” France was looking like a pity object or insult. What happened which resulted into such horror revolution in the history of France? What was the true attribute of this terrible and peculiar revolution? The writer further has tried to give the answers of these questions in the next chapters.
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