Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: The French Revolution

2415 words - 10 pages

Liberté, égalité, fraternité, this was the motto of the French Revolution. It was coined by Pierre Leroux in 1838. The years 1779-1789 saw everything from the first constitution of France being drawn up, to the “Reign of Terror” in which the symbolic guillotine proved to be both the judge and the executioner. The Revolution initially started in an attempt to make the king answer to the people, in an attempt to overthrow the absolutist role and in an attempt to gain equality in all areas including taxation. The financial crisis was a burden to heavy to bear for the Third Estate. The people grew hungry which swiftly turned to rage. The lack of results led to the end of the monarchy and the execution of both King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. However, despite the bloodshed, the ideals that the French were fighting for were alive in their hearts. Liberty is the freedom to think or act without being constrained by necessity or force. In France, people were seeking liberty from the tyrannical rule of the monarch in which the Queen was using taxes to endow herself in riches. The second ideal, equality, consists of rights, treatment, quantity, or value equal to all others in a specific group. This meant getting rid of the hierarchical system and ensuring that nor the Church or nobles were exempt from taxation. The last ideal, brotherhood, means a group of people with feelings of friendship and mutual support between them. The French lacked this during the Revolution. Civil disobedience was present and very few showed camaraderie towards one another. Ten years of hardship, striving towards one common goal, sacrificing thousands of lives the French achieved what they set out to do. With great willpower and with the help of a benefactor in the name of Napoleon Bonaparte, France emerged as the elite empire of the time. Therefore, liberty, equality and fraternity offer a precise depiction of the French Revolution because it paved the way for the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, created a new sense of nationalism in France and led to the establishment of a strong central government.
France was in a state of turmoil and mass violations were being committed. There were no formal codified laws or rules of conduct to prevent any of these. Taxation and famine were some of the largest reason for the Revolution. There was a large gap between the first and second estate in comparison to the third. There was a clear cut violation of the Rule of Law which holds everyone equal. This was not the case as the nobility and the church did not have to pay. Wasteful collection methods resulted in heavier losses. These methods included tax farming in which tax collectors would charge people extra in order to make profits. The absolutist government would very seldom receive the full amount and thus raised taxes even higher. As all this went on, the French began to question the royal power with the Enlightenment phase. The French had seen a war of succession...

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