Positive Outcomes Of The French Revolution

1855 words - 7 pages

A common theme of the historical French Revolution of the 1790s is the bloodshed associated with a new execution device, the guillotine. This negative connotation of the Revolution resides in the minds of the French and foreigners alike. However, although the French Revolution has contained a fair amount of bloodshed, its aftermath on the French has been overall positive.
To begin, there were several contributing factors to the Revolution. Even though theorists have divergent opinions on the factors that started the rebellion, there are three widely accepted causes: financial status of the country, rapid overpopulation, and the relative unfairness of the French political system (“French Revolution,” Columbia). The French government was in great debt because it had assisted America in the American Revolution in the 1770s. Moreover, the underclass, made mostly of peasants and manual workers, worked increasing longer hours for less food. In addition, due to France’s bankruptcy, taxes increased, but some upper class citizens and institutions were exempt (Kreis). An increasing lack of food was primarily responsible due to an overpopulation of rural communities in the 1700s – over 80 percent of the twenty plus million French were concentrated in the rural areas (“Social Causes”). Furthermore, there was a series of relative droughts in the late 1700s, and one of the biggest occurred in 1788, just a year before the beginning of the Revolution (“French Revolution,” Encyclopaedia Britannica 1). Inversely, members of the upper class Bourgeoisie, composed of the nation’s small minority of noblemen, clergy, merchants, and professionals, found increases to their wealth due to an overall economic growth in the 18th century. Because of these trends, the underclass became less willing to support the current political system, known as the old regime.
This traditional system consisted of three “estates”. All three factions voted on legal issues, ranging from laws to wages for different occupations. The three groups consisted of the nobility, the clergy, and the commoners. Because the nobility controlled the clergy, nearly all the voting in the old regime was done in favor of the nobility and clergy, who composed only five percent of the French population (“Social Causes”). The beginnings of the revolution started with the changing of the political workings of France. In 1789 at the city of Versailles, members of the three Estates had an argument on whether or not they should vote by head, thereby giving the common class the advantage, or by estate, as was customary. Because the representatives of the common estate was larger than the other two and often started arguments in favor of head count voting, the royal officials, who were in favor of the upper two estates, decided to lock the lower class representatives outside of their meeting hall on June 20. In retaliation, the third estate arranged for a rendezvous in the royal tennis court and pledged not to...

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