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The French Revolution

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The French Revolution
-Key Concepts-
I. Revolutionary Ideas
-Ideological Foundation for
Political Liberalism-
A. Liberty
 The notion of individual





human rights
A new type of
government in which the
people are sovereign
The importance of a
representative assembly
The importance of a
written constitution
The notion of selfdetermination
Freedom to accumulate
property
B. Equality
 Equality of rights and civil liberties
 Equality before the law
 No special privileges for the rich
 Equality of opportunity
 “Careers Open to Talent”
 Inherent tension between liberty and
equality
II. Roots of Liberalism
 Judeo-Christian and
Greek roots
 Enlightenment
Foundation
 Locke’s Notion of the
Rights of Englishmen
III. “A Dual Revolution”
 The French Revolution was the inaugural




European revolution
The French Revolution and the Industrial
Revolution together transformed the western
world
This “Dual Revolution” changed everything
politically, socially and economically
Triumph of European states and economies
globally
The Modern Era was inaugurated by the Dual
Revolution
IV. “The Atlantic Revolution”
 French Revolution was a part of a whole
series of revolutions which took place
during the late 18th century
--Political agitation in England, Ireland,
Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy,
Germany, Hungary, Poland and the
American colonies
 One big movement of revolutionary
agitation
A. British North America
 “All Men are Created
Equal”
 The significance of
the American
constitution
 The influence of the
American Revolution
 The impact of the
American Revolution
B. Central and South America
 Independence from
Spanish rule
 Simon Bolivar, the father
of Latin American
independence
 Continued dominance of
the white minority
 The abolition of the slave
trade is set in motion
--United States abolished
this trade in 1808
C. The French Revolution
 More fundamental and profound




consequences than the American
Revolution
France = most powerful and populous
state in Europe
Massive social revolution
Worldwide impact
Becomes model for future revolutions
How Should We Look at
the French Revolution?
“Series of revolutions which became
more radical as leadership cascaded
down through French society.”
V. The Events of the
French Revolution
Watch for the different revolutions
within the Revolution!
A. Origins
 Began as a revolt of
the aristocracy
 Attempt to capitalize
on the financial woes
of the monarchy
 Only solution = tax
reform and a direct
tax on all property
 Aristocracy refused
and forces the issue
B. The Estates-General
 An old feudal assembly
that had not met since
1614
 Three Estates: Clergy,
Nobility, All Others
 The significance of the
voting procedure
 The miscalculation and
lack of social awareness
of the aristocracy
C. The Third Estate
 Who were they?
 Third Estate was
dominated by the middle
class
 Blending of aristocratic
and bourgeois classes by
1789
 Middle class = Big
Winners
 Revolutionary goals of
the middle class
D. An Agenda of Classical
Liberalism
 Representative
government did not
mean democracy or
“mob rule”
 Estates-General
became the National
Assembly in June of
1789 with the power
to frame a constitution
--Tennis Court Oath
E. “Revolutionaries in the Streets”
 Who were they?
 “Sans-culottes”
(without knee
britches)
 Picked up the ideas
and slogans of the
Revolution from the
more educated
leadership of lawyers
and journalists
What were the Motivations of these
Revolutionaries?
 Poverty and Hunger
 Low wages and fear of
unemployment
 Heightened expectations
and the exposure to a
political perspective
-- “Cahiers”
 Strong dislike for and
distrust of the wealthy
 The role of conspiracy
F. A Case Study: Storming the
Bastille
 Events of the night of July




13, 1789
Reasons for the attack on
the Bastille the next
morning
The stubbornness of the
governor of the fortress
Celebrations on the night
of July 14th
Sparks tremendous
popular revolution all over
France
G. “The Great Fear”
 Independent




revolutionary agitation in
the countryside
Rumors of Royalist troops
becoming wandering
vandals
Fear breeds fear and
peasants start marching
Within 3 weeks of July
14, the countryside of
France had been
completely changed
Abolition of the Nobility
Declaration of the Rights of Man—
August 27, 1789
H. The Court Returns to Paris
 Mounting unemployment
and hunger in Paris in the
fall of 1789
 “October Days”
-- “The point is that we
want bread!”
 Women nearly killed the
Queen
 The Royal Family returns
to Paris on October 6,
1789
I. The Consolidation of the Liberal
Revolution
 Events from October, 1789 through




September, 1791
Abolition of the French nobility as a legal
order
Constitutional Monarchy established
Economic centralization
Nationalization of the Church
--Stage set for subsequent civil war
J. Popular Political Mobilization
 Revolutionary Talk
--More than 500 new
newspapers
--Oath of Loyalty
-- “Liberte, Equalite,
Fraternite!”
 Revolutionary Symbols
 Revolutionary Clubs
--The Jacobins
 Revolutionary Leaders
K. Growing Radicalism
 Reasons:
--Snowball Effect
--Unsatisfied
Expectations
--Outbreak of War
 Results:
--Increasing Violence
--Change in Political
Leadership
L. Robespierre’s Reign of Terror
 The Committee of
Public Safety
 The Concept of “Total
War”
 Maximum price
ceilings on certain
goods
 Nationalization of
Small Workshops
L. The Reign of Terror (cont)
 Execution of 40,000




“Enemies of the Nation”
Stress on radical
definition of equality
Wanted a legal maximum
on personal wealth
Wanted a regulation of
commercial profits
End of Robespierre’s
dictatorship on July 28,
1794
M. The Directory and Napoleon
Bonaparte
 The Directory (1794





1799)
Napoleon’s Rise to Power
The Napoleonic Code
Establishment of the
Bank of France
Reconciliation with the
Catholic Church
--Concordat of 1801
Heavy Censorship
Napoleon’s “Art of War”
VI. Legacies of the French
Revolution
 A revolutionary model
 A Mass political
consciousness
 Varying interpretations of
the Revolution
--Conservative View:
Edmund Burke
--Liberal View: Thomas
Jefferson
 Conflict within the Liberal
Tradition
 “Libertarianism” vs.
“Egalitarianism”
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