World History Notes French Revolution

World History Notes French Revolution

FRENCH REVOLUTION
Reasons?
 
Economic Causes
  1. Disastrous policies of Louis XVI. Participation of French forces in the American war of Indpendence had completely ruined the French economy.
  2. Louis XIV declared himself the state and fought innumerable wars. The king was interested in worldly pleasures and did not care for the welfare of the people.
  3. Irresponsible expenditure of royal households worsened the situation. The palace of Versailles was called as the graveyard of the national income. The government resorted to borrowing from public and defaulted on its debt.
  4. The Queen Marie Antoinette lived in luxury and did not care for the plight of the masses. She is associated with the famous remark – “If they don’t have bread let them eat cakes?”
  5. To meet expenditure Louis XVI tried to impose new taxes on people which met wide resistance.
  6. Church owned 20% of land in France and enjoyed its revenues. Any attempt to levy tax on church was threatened met with reply : “Do not make us choose between God and the King, for you know what are answer will be.”
  7. Peasants paid close to 86% of their income in the form of taxes.
Political
  1. Weakening administration led to anarchy in the country.
  2. No representation of Third Estate in the governance of the country. The upper middle resented being left out of the civilian and military administration.
  3. The first two estates i.e. nobility and clergy did not have to pay any taxes.
  4. The king enjoyed power over life by issuing the notorious letter de catchet by which persons were imprisoned without any trial.
Social
  1. Differences between privileged and non privileged class. Clergy, Nobles and Common man. The Church formed the 1st estate and enjoyed all the privileges, the nobles the second state and the common man the third estate.
  2. A majority of bishops lived a life of luxury.
Age of Reason / Role of Intellectuals
  1. Voltaire: Creativity is the biggest force. Freedom of expression. Newton and Galileo are bigger than Alexander and Caesar. The best way to promote creativity is through Freedom of Expression.
  2. Montesquieu: Rejected autocratic government and called for responsible government. This could only be achieved through separation of power.
  3. Rousseau: His Social Contract theory caused a sensation. He gave a stirring slogan – “Man is born free but everywhere in chains”. Kingship is not the gift of the God to the kings. It is the outcome of the contract between the rulers and the ruled and king should respect the will of the people. This can be only respected by giving Liberty, Equality and Fraternity to the people.
  4. Didrouet: He prepared the encyclopaedia of the problem faced by France alongwith solution to those problem. He denounced the role of religion in polity and administration. He gave the promotion to the concept of secularism.
The intellectuals of France not only acted as a guide for France but they provided the fundamental philosophy of modern polity and administration.
Immediate Cause
  1. The drought of 1788-89 broke the peasant’s back. A loaf of bread now cost his full day’s wage. Pesants left their villages for cities in the hope of getting their problems resolved.
  2. The success of American Revolution inspired the French. Many of the French generals had participated in American war.
Discuss Important Events during French Revolution
 
Estates General
  1. Amidst political deadlock Louis XVI tried to use force against people. He started ruling France through Ordinance which gave birth to riots in different parts. People demanded the invitation of estates general.
  2. Louis XVI invited estates general. Large number of people started moving towards Paris. People demanded change in voting pattern as 5% of the population enjoyed 2/3rd vote and the voice of common people were ignored. They demanded voting rights as per population ratio and voting rights based on One Person, One Vote.
  3. Louis XVI closed the doors of the assembly. People gathered in a nearby Tennis court and declared themselves as national representative aspiring to frame the constitution for France. Thus a national assembly was born.
  4. Louis XVI committed 2 blunders: He dismissed Necker  who was a sympathiser of common man. This sent a wrong message to the people that the king was acting against people. He started gathering troops in Paris.
Fall of Bastille (14 July 1789)
  1. Basille was fort cum prison and a symbol of royal despotism. The motive of the people was to release political prisoners and to gather arms and ammunition. Fall of Basille became the inspiration for direct action in France. Old ruling class Manors  (residing place of feudal lords) became the special target of the people.
  2. Formation of National Guards under General Lafayatte. This was the biggest development as army came under the command of the common people. Tricolour flag of the revolution was adopted.
  3. Begining of modern administrative system as the people in Paris established Municipal Corporation in Paris to manage the city. This was called Paris commune.
  4. It signified victory of common man on autocracy and aristocracy.
  5. When the King heard about the fall of Bastille, he said – “This is a great revolt” but his minister replied – “No, Sir, It’s a great revolution!”
  6. The King had to recognise National Assembly and took Necker into service.
  7. Some liberal minded nobles and clergy came forward to renounce their rights and privileges.
Peasant Revolt
  1. Peasants rose against the nobles and burnt their castles.
  2. Municipal governments were formed on the Paris model in all towns.
  3. Feudalism, titles, serfdom stood abolished.
Drafting of Constitution (1791)
The power centre in France after the Fall of Basille was National Assembly and it drafted the first constitution of France in 1791.
The important features were:
  1. It included the “Declaration of the Rights of Man”. It asserted that “all men are free and equal”. Freedom of expression, Judicial Rights, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
  2. Constitutional Monarchy: People were not against monarchy but against inequality and exploitation.
  3. A single assembly instead of bicameral legislature was formed. The members were elected by indirect election through electoral college. King became only the nominal head and had limited veto right.
  4. There was no universal suffrage and voting rights were restricted to those who paid taxes.
  5. A decentralised system of government was introduced.
  6. Religion was subordinated to the state as people got the right to elect the priestly class and they took the oath of loyalty to the state. Pope became the superficial religious head and church property was nationalised.
  7. Mixed Economy: Equal respect for capitalism and socialism. It started the new currency Assignats (paper currency).
King Flees
  1. Louis XVI had enough and he hatched a plan to escape and win back his empire. However, he was caught escaping and brought back to Paris. This further infuriated the masses as they labelled King as traitor and as someone who was deserting them in the need of hour.
Political Clubs
  1. Two prominent clubs Jacobians and Cordelier was born.
  2. Jacobians consisted of assembly members and local politicians. Maxmillian Robospierre was the most influential leader of Jacobian club. Jacobians gained control over the assembly and forced it to obey their wishes.
  3. It had more than 2000 branches all over France.
  4. The members of Cordelier were from lower strata of society. It thought of establishing a republic with the worker’s support. Danton was its popular leader. It remained restricted to Paris only and did not have any branches.
Revolutionary Wars
  1. European countries like Prussia, Austria declared war against France as they did not want to meet the same fate as Louis XVI. They wanted to contain the spread of the nationalist movement and restore monarchy in France.
  2. They made a declaration of Pilnitz (1791). It threatened the success of revolution and led to dangerous situation.
Reign of Terror
  1. Marat, a Jacobian leader, used to publish furious and provoking messages in the newspaper. He called for execution of anti revolutionaries. Robospierre was the man in charge. He unleashed bloodshed by conducting trials and putting to death all anti revolutionist and sympathiser of monarchy.
  2. Thousands of execution were carried out and people could be sent to trial even on trivial matters such as complaining against rise in food prices.
  3. All dissenters were put to death and a special machine Guillotine was designed to cause speedy, painfree death.
  4. Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette were executed.
  5. Ultimately people became fed up of the violence and Maxmillian Robospiere the chief architect of the revolution was himself put to death. This ended the cycle of violence and restored temporary peace.
National Convention (1792 – 95)
  1. France became Constitutional republic as there was no king in France.
  2. The country was to have 2 houses: Upper House and Lower House. The proposals were to be made in the upper house but they can be only passed in the lower house.
  3. Religion became the personal affair and lost all support from the state.
  4. Prices of food grains and goods were fixed by the “laws of maximum”.
  5. Complete abolition of feudal custom and manners and everybody was addressed as citizen.
  6. Capitalist were declared enemies and prices of commodities were fixed. Emphasis on communism.
  7. Slavery was eradicated.
  8. Compulsory military service and a code of law for the whole country was introduced.
However, the convention had several shortcomings.
  1. The interference of state in personal lives of people was resented.
  2. Doing away with the authority of the church irritated the catholic population.
  3. Emphasis on communism frightened the capitalist class
Discuss the importance of French Revolution
  1. It was a landmark event in the history of mankind. It was an attempt to build a new society on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity.
  2. It rejected tyranny, divine right and feudalism.
  3. It wished to establish an egalitarian society.
  4. Total separation of religion from the state was brought about. It laid the foundation of modern secular state. The education system was built on secular foundations.
  5. It ushered in the era of nationalism and liberalism and paved the way for revolutions in other parts of Europe.
 
FRANCE UNDER NAPOLEAN
Napolean Bonaparte
Napolean was born on August 15, 1769 in the island of Corsica. The island was a colony of France. Napolean secured a scholarship to study at Royal Military College. He had once contemplated joining English East India Company (that would have been awesome !)
 
Turlom Expedition
  1. Napolean was sent to Turlom to repel British naval fleet. There was certainly a vaccuum and opportunity for officers who could prove themselves under fire. He successfully handled the situation.
  2. British fled and Turlom was recaptured. In just 3 months he rose from Captain to Brigadier General. He was finally made Commander of the army after he successfully thwarted a revolt in Paris and saved National Convention.
  3. He married Marie Josephine, a 32 year old widow. She was a member of high society and had political links and was mistress of the ruler.
Italian Expedition
  1. Italy was under the control of Austria. Napolean was sent to Italian Alps. His assignment was to challenge the power of allies of Prussia. Everyone made fun of him for French army was ill equipped. Napolean was in no condition to win anything. However, through his inspirational speeches he tranformed French Army into a fighting machine
  2. Within just 2 weeks he won 6 battles. He was hailed as “liberator” in Italy.

After the victory he dictated the terms of the treaty with Austria and signed the Treaty of Campofornia and he turned into a hero of France. According to the treaty:

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  1. Rhineland became the natural frontier of France. France got the control on Coal and Iron deposits of the region.
  2. He was accepted as guardian of Italian republic.
  3. He also got control on Netherlands and Lombardy.
  4. He gifted the area of rich natural resources to France at the time of crisis and that too free of cost. The expenditure of the whole expedition was borne by the defeated forces.
Egyptian Expedition
  1. He landed in Egypt in a hope to disrupt British trade routes with India. Egyptians were part of Turkish empire ruled by Mamaluks who were known for their cruelty. Napolean defeated them in the Battle of Pyramids (1798). He led his army into Cairo and wasted much time in enjoyment.
  2. His dreams were quickly shattered. His fleet of warships was destroyed by British fleet led by Nelson, the famous British admiral.
  3. After this defeat he spent lot of time in studying Egypt. Egypt was an enigma for Europeans. He brought remarkable groups of mathematicians (e.g Cauchy), architects and scientists. They produced 24 volumes on Egypt. Rosetta stone was the most important discovery.
  4. In 1799 he took his army to Syria. He assaulted Acra. French soldiers perished in bubonic plague. He had to return to Acra.
  5. He secretly returned to France leaving 30,000 soldiers in Egypt. The govt in Paris was in disarray. He dreamed of rescuing France. The campaign in Egypt, a military disaster was projected as a successful campaign. The people hailed him as the conqueror of Egypt.
  6. Napolean was aware that rule of Directory was highly unpopular. The debt was mounting, bandits roamed the countryside.  He planned a military coup and found a way to seize power.
Coup d’etat
  1. With the help of his brother he overthrew the Directory in 1799.
  2. A provisional three councils was set up. Later NB dismissed the 2 councils made himself the head of the state.
  3. He organised Sainklu Convention and became the first council in 1799. He later crowned himself King. Just 15 years back French people had executed King and now they crowned a new one !
  4. Napolean divorced his wife and married the daughter of ruler of Habsburg empire in order to have a son.
Discuss reforms undertaken by Napolean.
 
Economic
  1. Peace with Europe: Appealed to the rulers of Austria and England asking them the utility of war in the era of prosperity and development. Treaty of Ameims between England and France leading to friendly relations between two countries.
  2. He took steps for increasing fertility of the soil, barren and unproductive lands were brought under cultivation. He also adopted liberal attitude towards farmers.
  3. Established Bank of France to strengthen and manage currency system.
  4. Chamber of commerce and commercial exchange was founded. He improved the system of taxation.
  5. France also witnessed industrial revolution. Means of tranport and communications were improved. Many canals, roads and bridges were built. Napolean was particularly interested in beautiful cities and made Paris the most attractive city in Europe.
  6. He never bothered about land reforms and did not give promotion to industrialisation. French economy was still backward and weak.
  7. He ignored the advice of Fulton to introduce Steam Boats in France.
Political
  1. Turned France from republic to monarchy. He organised Plebisite in France. He got 30 lakh votes in support and on this ground he became the emperor of France in 1804
  2. He established 4 Houses: Council of States, Senate, Tribunate and Legislative Body and introduced a Unique voting system known as 10 % law. It was a list system. District (10%) -> State (10%) -> Centre (10%). From Centre list only Napolean could pick members for 4 houses.
  3. Bureaucrats were called Prefects. Appointment and transfers of these officers was in the hands of Napolean and they were only responsible to Napolean.
  4. It was a democracy only in name. It was completely under the control of Napolean.
  5. Centralisation was the chief characteristic of his rule.
  6. He sold Louisiana territory in North America to USA as he was in need for money.
Educational
  1. National Assembly took out education from the hands of religion when it established National Education Council. Napolean established secular institution for education for primary to higher education.
  2. Napoleanism was part of the syllabus. Glorification of Napolean was done in schools.
  3. A number of technical schools were founded in France.
  4. He neglected primary education.
Law
  1. Napolean Code. He codified modern law and set up Code of Civil and Criminal Procedure, Commercial code etc. His codes are still relevant and followed.
  2. It provided individual rights and duties and organised all spheres of social life and institutions. The duties of parents and children were defined.
Others
  1. Started the Legion of Honour.
  2. Concordat Agreement – Pope was accepted nominal religious head of the Nation. Catholic religion was declared as the religion of the majority.
  3. He misbehaved with Pope during his coronation ceremony at Notredam.
All his reforms were basically meant to strengthen his position. France still lagged behind in economy, polity and culture.
Give an account of blunders of Napolean and his subsequent Fall.
 
Numerous Wars
He fought approximately 40 wars. The important wars were:
  1. Battle of Astroliptz: Defeated the combined armies of Austria and Prussia. Napolean considered it as one of his greatest victory.
  2. Battle of Iaana: He defeated Prussian army and destroyed the Holy Roman Empire.
  3. Battle of Iaaloo: Russia was defeated. Through the Treaty of Tilsit Russia became the friend of France
These wars caused much resentment among European powers and they united against Napolean.
Continental Policy
  1. Britain was a super power during Napolean and was economically, industrially and militarily advanced. Napolean was not able to defeat her in war. His defeat in Trafalgar Square was a shock to his dreams. But he was determined to challenge the authority. As European nations were the biggest importer of British products, he sought to impose a ban on imports and trade relations with Britain. He hoped that this would wreck Britain economically.
  2. He made 3 declarations: Berlin (1806), Milan (1807), Fontebeleiau (1808)
  3. It proved to be harmful because Britain had a huge market outside of Europe. On the other hand import of industrial goods harmed France and European countries and caused economic hardships.
  4. Russia left France on this issue and this was the beginning of rift between France and Russia.
Spanish Ulcer
  1. Violation of Sovereignty : France often violated the sovereignty of Spain during its military campaign. Its forces used to cross Spain without taking permission from Spain.
  2. Ferdinand Episode : King Ferdinand of Spain was facing some internal crisis and Napolean replaced him by his brother Joseph. This was a cause for much resentment in Spain
  3. Land Reforms of Ferdinand : Joseph started snatching away land from Feudal lords and distributed to farmers but it united aristocrats against him and they raised the slogan of Spanish nationalism. Napolean wasted a lot of resource in fighting Spain and managed to turn a friend into enemy.
  4. Napolean was not able to break the will of the people and went against the advice.
Russian Disaster
Napolean attacked Russia. He initially secured easy victories and captured Moscow but met with stiff resistance afterward. However, lakhs of soldiers perished in the freezing cold weather of Russia. The campaign ended in a big failure and out of 6,00,000 soldiers that had gone to fight only 90,000 returned. The French army no longer existed as fighting force. The weakening of Napolean gave an opportunity to others to unite and seek revenge.
End of Napolean
  1. Prussia, Britain, Russia inflicted a crushing defeat on Napolean in the Battle of Leipzig. He renounced his throne in 1814. He drank the poison but did not die.
  2. He was imprisoned in Elba and was expected to spend rest of his life here. He became Emperor of isle of Elba and regained work and action. He set up a miniature court and even a flag!
  3. He returned back and ruled France for 100 days. He was finally defeated at Waterloo by a combined force of Prussia and Britain. He was captured and deported to island of St. Helena where he died in 1821.
Impact of Napolean
  1. Took the ideas of FR to different parts of Europe through his 40 wars. He gave promotion to Nationalism in these countries.
  2. Promotion to Education and Law.
  3. Defeated and wiped out smaller states which ultimately became the cause for unification of Germany and Italy.
10 Great Quotations
  1. “I found the crown of France in gutter and I picked it up”
  2. “The Man of Genius always gets back to his feet”
  3. “There is always one step between sublime and ridiculous”
  4. “My power depends on my glory and glory depends upon victory”
  5. “Everything on earth is soon forgotten except the opinion we leave imprinted in history. There is no immortality but the memory that we leave in the minds of the men”
  6. “Conquest alone made me what I am and conquest alone would keep me where I am.”
  7. “Religion is excellent stuff for keeping people quiet.”
  8. “It is better to Eat than being Eaten.”
  9. “Liberty can not be secured unless criminals lose their head.”
  10. “Great men become great because they have mastered Luck.”

Discuss the significance of Vienna Congress ?

It took place in 1815 and was based on Principle of Legitimacy and Principle of Compensation.
Reasons
  1. To put the house in order and strengthen existing political system in Europe.
  2. Maintain checks on events like FR and Napolean
  3. Maintain balance of power in Europe.
Principle of Legitimacy
Return back to the old state to their original ruling houses.
  1. Louis XVIII became emperor of France.
  2. Holland was returned to Orange family.
  3. Papal states were restored back to Pope.
Principle of Compensation
Power that fought with Napolean wanted their share of profit and compensation. As a result
  1. Russia got Finland and control on Poland.
  2. Sardinia and Prussia got large share in their areas which finally compelled them for unification of Germany and Italy.
  3. Austria got Venice and Lombardy and it also became the head of German states.
Promotion to Alliance System
It was formed to handle events like FR and Napolean.
  1. Holy AllianceProposed by Czar Alexander I of Russia. Motive was to unite Christian powers of Europe on grounds of religion. It was not taken seriously
  2. Quadruple AllianceIncluded Russia, Austria, Prussia and Britain. Finally France was also admitted. It was called Concert of Europe.
Suppression of Nationalism
Nationalism was the binding force for common people so it became the main target for the reactionary forces in Europe. e.g Suppression of revolt in Naples in 1820
Vienna convention was thus the victory of reactionary forces and provided peace in Europe for next 30 years.