The French Revolution and the Freedom from Feudalism - Term Paper Example

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The author examines the French Revolution and concludes that the subsequent changes in political policy, military advancement, social structure, cultural awareness and conceptions of national identity would eventually infect every nation on earth to some degree or another for years to come…
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The French Revolution and the Freedom from Feudalism
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Download file to see previous pages There was “a vast peasantry accounting for one in seven or one in eight of the population, most of whom were legally free but bound to their seigneur … by a myriad of services and obligations surviving from the medieval past. … And, in cities, … a great urban population of innumerable crafts and occupations, for the most part, poor and depending for survival on cheap and plentiful bread” (Rude 1995). When they rose up against their king, overthrew their monarchy and established a new social order, the French did something no other country on the European continent had done, which had a profound effect upon the other European nations who sat watching to see what would happen. This small war completely contained within the country and lasting only 12 years would send ripples throughout Europe and have consequences that would reach as far as North America and the Dutch East Indies (Taylor, 2006). The changes brought about by the French Revolution were cultural, social and political.

As the rumors spread regarding the fall of the Bastille, people in twenty-eight of the largest thirty cities in France were reported to have staged uprisings and hundreds of thousands of peasants in the rural areas attacked lords’ manors and destroyed other symbols of the seigneurialism system throughout the summer of 1789. This gave rise to a wide-spread wave of mass panic, known now as the “Great Fear”, in which the people pulled down the old system of French feudalism “and the state machine of royal France lay in fragments” (Hobsbawm 1969) as the bourgeoisie drafted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and limited the King’s power. “Between 1789-1791, the victorious moderate bourgeoisie, acting through what had now become the Constituent Assembly, set about the gigantic rationalization and reform of France … its policy for the peasantry was the enclosure of common lands and the encouragement of rural entrepreneurs, for the working-class, the banning of trade unions, for the small crafts, the abolition of guilds and corporations”, but “[i]t gave little concrete satisfaction to the common people” (Hobsbawm 1969). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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