The French Revolution 1789-1799 is known as one of the most significant events in the world’s history. Its impact hardly can be overvalued due to globally caused implications. Therefore, it is considered as generally valid birth of civilized principles. Being assigned to find out causes and effects of French Revolution, it is quite difficult to be maximally comprehensive with answer. Appropriate analyzing requires plenty of items considering. However, there is the try to outline the most significant causes and effects of great historical event.
Let’s start with prerequisites (causes) of French Revolution. Talking about this part, there is the need to get complex look at that times. Absolutely clear that the large list of French Revolution causes can be mentioned. However, there is the attempt to organize all causes by categories.
Social injustice and class inequalities. 18th century in French history was the time of feudal abutment. Naturally that is was accompanied by different rights and duties for its members. The division of French society members was provided by Estimates. In fact, prerevolutionary France experienced three of them: first, second and third estimate respectively (Drew 2010). The contrast between them were too significant and frustrated for the lowest class. The first most privileged Estate was for about 2 percent of the entire population. At the end of scholastic influence era, the power of Church was unrestricted. Therefore, it is naturally that it took the first one. As for corresponding benefits, the Estate was out of tax duty. Moreover, the Church was authorized for income tithe claiming. Curiously enough, this minority owned more than 15% percent of France lands. The second Estate was nobility. As well as Church, this class was free from taxes. At the era of feudal relations, the power of it was gathered around lands earning. The main sources of incomes was land rent and payments for land exploitation. As the land was the basis of producing relations, it is naturally that its owners were the richest people of that times. The rest of population was the third Estate, so called bourgeoisie. Logically that this class had to take entire tax burden and its status was incredibly contrast to two previous Estates. Therefore, it is not surprising that depressed majority took actions for equality establishment.
Financial depression. Obviously, it left aside first two Estates. Actually, the unequal values distribution became one of the key factors which caused poetry of more than 95 percent of population. Except this, most of historians blame unreasonable financial policy of Louis XIV king’s policy (Delp 2008). In addition, we are capable to outline intensive wars which required embedding of financial resources. Low harvest is also worth to be considered. All these factors led to large financial crisis in the second half of 18th century. It is clear that it influenced the bourgeoisie Estate only with increased taxes and duties it had to pay. Furthermore, price rise was one more confusing economic reality. As the result, the hunger was spread among lowest class throughout the whole France. Therefore, we have two significant causes that raised French Revolution, but this list wouldn’t be full without one more.
The Spirit of Changes. No doubt that poetry and inequality were essential features, but what led to common indignation awakening? The spirit of changes is the only reasonable explanation. In fact, it includes two main points – Enlightenment and American war for Independence. The effect of first is much more significant for French Revolution considerably. The Enlightenment era is known as the kind of intellectual movement based on rationalism and free thinking. Actually, it has generated the foundation of civil society and democracy which we allowed to appreciate today. In addition, this movement is the primary source of political freedom, idea of state as a self-governing republic, religious tolerance, market-based mechanisms, capitalism, the scientific method etc.. The most influential thinkers were Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Didro. Their works were spread among bourgeoisie what led to new common mind forming. Interesting that Enlightenment’s impact to French Revolution was recognized by both sizes and it was claimed that greatest thinkers found the grains that gave the birth of fundamental changes to better life (Delp 2008). On the other hand, American Revolution wasn’t so impactful. However, the taken trend to justice establishment couldn’t leave aside depressed French bourgeoisie. In this order, humanity encouraged to assert that the spirit of changes became motive force to revolution. Enlightenment and American War for Independence assured that another society and state’s organization is not some kind of utopia.
So, the most significant causes of French Revolution were outlined. Let’s go directly to effects. It is absolutely clear that France has passed several stages while revolution: National Assembly establishment, the Reign of Terror etc.. Obviously, each of them had own unique impact. However, there is the assignment to find out key effects which summed up 12 years of revolutionary movement. Still, there are several points incredibly valued with far-reaching significance.
Republic and nationalism establishment. After Revolution, France became the largest European republic state of that times. From that moment, the power of individuals was significantly limited as well as church was prohibited with its influence. In this order, secular society was found, free from church’s intervention. Instead of monarch ruling, France experienced three branches of power establishment, which was promoted by Montesquieu before. Global influence of France republic is found out through democratic institutions establishment: elections, constitutions, representative authorities etc. for this reason, we are all encouraged to talk about France Republic as the fundamental birth of democracy and political freedoms. The Nationalism is another far-reaching effect. The Declaration of Rights proclaimed that the France belongs to its citizens. This gave the birth of common strong proud of French history, language, culture, heritage among its citizens (Padbury 2007, 2). From that times country is represented by the monarch no more, as this authority belonged to each state’s citizen. It is important that Nationalism was widely adopted all around the world as well as republic state establishments.
Law effects. The greatest value of new society fundamentals was in theirs law protection. While and after the revolution, several world influential laws were enacted. The primary document to pay attention to is The Declaration of Rights of Man, dated by 1789. Adopted by National Assembly (Assemblee nationale constituante) it began the base of all revolutionary movement and became the foundation of modern law. This Declaration is grounded on Enlightenment concepts about civil equality and liberty that are inherent from birth. Natural rights of man and citizen declared with personal freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of belief, the right to resist oppression. It is absolutely clear that these fundamentals are well adopted in precedent and traditional law systems nowadays. The Declaration of Rights of Man generated next slogan – “libert, egalit, fraternit” (Padbury 2007, 2). The next is Constitution, adopted in 1791. The main impact of this document is in claimed before Republic establishment and monarchy prohibition. Actually, it became the grain for new, equal and feudal free society birth. Described before three power branches system takes its legal consolidation in the Constitution. The last law to talk about is The Napoleonic Code. Its impactful nature is also defined by several points. Adopted in 1804 Napoleonic Civil Code became the kind of combination of other revolutionary ideas. This code is still valued for inherent rights and freedoms proclamation. The Civil Code is often called the book of Revolution ideas. Among the most significant impacts, the secular society proclamation takes special place. From that time, church is legally separated from the state. In addition, Napoleonic Civil Code gave the fundamentals for property law and its protection. The gender equality was declared as well. In respect to credible facts, French law is known as procreator of civilized legal foundation. Call to your mind, freedoms and rights proclaimed in mentioned documents are the bases of USA Constitution. Moreover, Napoleonic Civil Code became the primary source for all non-English speaking countries laws development.
Napoleonic wars. This French Revolutionary cannot be left aside with its impact to Revolutionary ideas spreading. Actually, the Napoleonic wars are often called Revolution wars due to appropriate intentions. The Great French War listed even longer than the Revolution itself (1792-1815). At first, it was the war between Revolution Army and Austria. Then, plenty of other countries were involved and military action reached the Egypt even. The importance of Napoleonic wars effect is determined by Revolution ideas global spreading. They became the tool to bring established freedoms and rights to oppressed nations. The genius of great military General allowed to get large achievements in this field. The year of 1810 became apogee of Revolution triumph, as French Empire reached from Poland to Spain (Padbury 2007, 2).
Being clear with cause and effects of French Revolution, we have the ability to claim that this is history event is the turning point for civilized society establishment. Speaking Frankly, today virtues are the derivative products of that era. French Revolution gave the start point for modern freedoms, rights, values and principals. As it was clarified, the French Revolution is the multi-faceted phenomenon which was caused by numerous factors and produced large far-reaching effects. In this order, it is interesting how did all conditions and circumstances took place in the way that raised French Revolution? What if some was out? Seemingly, answers to these questions are the greatest mystery of history.
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