Causes Of French Revolution Essay

1867 words - 7 pages

The French Revolution: Causes, Outcomes, Conflicting InterpretationsCauses of the French Revolution:-1. International: struggle for hegemony and Empire outstrips the fiscal resources of the state2. Political conflict: conflict between the Monarchy and the nobility over the "reform" of thetax system led to paralysis and bankruptcy.3. The Enlightenment: impulse for reform intensifies political conflicts; reinforces traditionalaristocratic constitutionalism, one variant of which was laid out in Montequieu's Spiritof the Laws; introduces new notions of good government, the most radical beingpopular sovereignty, as in Rousseau's Social Contract [1762]; the attack on theregime and privileged class by the Literary Underground of "Grub Street;" thebroadening influence of public opinion.4. Social antagonisms between two rising groups: the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie5. Ineffective ruler: Louis XVI6. Economic hardship, especially the agrarian crisis of 1788-89 generates popular discontentand disorders caused by food shortages.Revolutionary situation: when the government's monopoly of power is effectivelychallenged by some groups who no longer recognize its legitimate authority, nolonger grant it loyalty, and no longer obey its commands. Dual or multiple sovereigntyis the identifying feature of a revolutionary situation - the fragmentation of an existingpolity into two or more blocs, each of which exercises control over some part of thegovernment and lays claim to its exclusive control over the government. Arevolutionary situation continues until a single, sovereign polity is reconstituted. TheThird Estate's Oath of the Tennis Court in June 1789 and its claim of representing thesovereignty of the nation creates a revolutionary situation in France.Revolutionary Process or Stages:One interpretation from this definition is that a revolution will continue until a singlesovereign order has been restored either by agreement or force. As the French Revolutiondemonstrated, the level of violence is likely to be greater after the first outbreak of revolutionor revolutionary situation, as one group claiming sovereignty seeks to vanquish one or moreother rival groups also claiming sovereignty.o A good example in the French Revolution is the events leading up to theoverthrow of the Constitutional Monarch on August 1792-often called the"Second Revolution"-and the establishment of the First French Republic.o After the establishment of the Republic, the level of violence grew as theRepublican regime sought to repress counter-revolutionary movements inFrance (Federalist revolts and the Vendée uprising) while struggling at thesame time to prevent defeat in war by the combined forces of Austria, Prussia,and Britain. The so-called reign of Terror was instituted to quash both internaland foreign forces of counter revolution. But once these internal and foreignthreats were under control in the spring of 1794, Terror continued at thedirection of the...

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