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The French Revolution - Essay Example

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The French Revolution was a multi-faceted movement with a variety of underlying reasons, and just as many aspects to its aftermath. It was not merely a political revolution, although political dissatisfaction and ideological motivation formed the basis of this movement. …
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Download file to see previous pages But more interestingly, it was a rebellion against the conventional ideas and the established philosophy, with even religious discord and a struggle for supremacy (Smitha). This paper purports to discuss the main aspects of the revolution, both in terms of its reasons, and its effects. Let us consider the economic and political reasons first. France was emerging as the second world power after Britain, and there was a relentless struggle for world domination (Smitha). The French had colonies and their economic status was improving. However, their population was increasing side by side, and at a much rapid pace. Moreover, the colonies in the New World were getting independent and forming the United States of America, so the trade and commerce was divided, with Britain taking the lead (Smitha). The population of France had increased by five or six million in a span of roughly fifty years, whereas the food production was still slow and rudimentary, unsuitable to provide for the increase in the people to be fed (Smitha). In the 1780s, Paris alone had a population of 650,000 (Smitha). However, around eighty percent of the crop production around Paris was done for personal consumption by the farmers, and only around twenty percent was available in the market (Smitha). This meant that any loss in the yield, which happened frequently due to poor methods of farming and feudal system, made the common man go hungry (Smitha). This was worsened by the fact that the French economy was by large an agricultural economy, so there was no other major source of income for the government (Smitha). The government had not provided any means of storage or relief in times of need, and so the prices of bread, the staple food of the French, rose as the availability declined (Smitha). Moreover, the textile industry, which was till then a leading industry, was overtaken by the British who provided cheaper and better quality cloth to the French, thereby decreasing French export and increasing their import (Smitha). These, and many other economic and political factors led to a great divide between the ruling class and the common man. In 1788, there was a terrible hailstorm, which led to the worst crop yield in forty years, giving way to a most severe winter season (Smitha). Most of the people were jobless. A riot broke out (Smitha), which soon formed the shape of the revolution that went in history as the French Revolution. The intellectual and philosophical reasons behind the revolution were as important as the economic and political motives. There were two distinct groups of thinkers and socialites, the conservatives and the radicals (Cody). It is interesting to note that this intellectual revolution, for the most part, originated elsewhere outside of France, mostly in Britain, but it effected the French in the most potent manner, who rose to rebel against the established regime (Cody). There rebellion, in turn, effected the British and the rest of Europe in a profound way. The conservatives sided with Newton and Locke, and believed in reason, whereas, the radicals included Blake, Godwin, and Paine, among others (Cody). The French were then more influenced by the radicals who promised equality, brotherhood, and freedom (Cody). This strife led to prolonged debates on the subject of humanity and liberty between the radicals and conservatives for years (Cody). The French Revolution, however, ended in a “reign of terror” (Cody). The radicals, who had been greatly praised and supported by their British counterparts, lost control and went too far in their struggle to end any traces of the former regime (Cody). They assured that by slaughtering anyone who had any ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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