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Source: safalta.comSo, here we go. Scroll down to understand the CBSE Social Science History Chapter 1 French Revolution.
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Timeline and Events
- 1774: Louis XVI became the King in the most unstable time for the economy, and discontent rises. It led to the French Revolution.
- 1789: Convection of Estate Generals, rejection and revolt at the National Assembly, the storming of the Bastille, and revolts in the countryside.
- 1791: The Constitution was drafted. It helped limit the powers of the Monarch and guarantee rights for everyone.
- 1793-94: France became Republic; the king was guillotined; the Jacobin republic got squashed. Additionally, a Directory started ruling France.
- 1804-1815: Bonaparte rose as a dictator, annexing kingdoms around. At the end, was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo.
What is the French Revolution?The French Revolution began in 1789. It dethroned the then-existing political institutions, removing the French Monarchy and structuring a just, responsible government. The war of Bastille on 14 July 1789, led to the French revolution. It ended with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte.
French Society during the late 18th Century
- Right after the war in 1774, with Louis XVI sitting on the throne, these were the main points shaping French Society during the 18th century.
- Continuing the traditional and hierarchical values, French society was divided into three estates. The first and the highest form of estates comprised Clergymen, the second was the Nobles, and the third consisted of commoners, including peasants.
- Around 60% of French land was owned by a group of clergymen and nobles. On the other side, the peasants, who were 90% of the entire French population, rarely owned any means, depicting a vast difference in the living standards of all these three societies.
- Although the clergymen and nobles sowed 60% of French land, they were relieved of paying taxes by the King. Only one-third of the entire French population, which consisted of the peasant class, was required to pay taxes.
- Other than paying land tax to the King, the peasant community also had to pay feudal taxes to the higher class officials, which added extra weight to their financial situation. Many people eventually sold their lands to the upper classes.
- The church was considered the highest institution after the King. They also levied religious taxes called ‘Tithes’ on the French population. Moreover, the third estate was also charged with direct taxes called ‘Taille’ and indirect taxes on commodities like tobacco, salt, and other such essential pieces of stuff.
What were the Causes of the French Revolution?Understanding the causes of the rebellion is the first step in understanding French Revolution chapter. The following are the causes of the French Revolution-
- French society was divided into 3 different states: Clergy, the Noble class, and peasants and laborers.
- The first estate consisted of the clergy class. These people were excluded from paying any taxes.
- The second estate consisted of the noble. Besides being exempted from taxes, they were also enjoying favorable feudal laws and privileges. Feudal dues were one of the rights that were taken from the peasants.
- The vast majority of people belonged to the third estate. It comprised businessmen, merchants, lawyers, peasants, servants, and laborers. The third estate was oppressed with 'Taille' taxes, levied on essential daily commodities like salt and tobacco.
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- A highly increasing population in France was one of the major causes of the French Revolution. The population grew from 23 million to 28 million in the year 1789. The need for daily essential services and commodities was not met, breaking society.
- The labor class was employed on fixed wages, which remained the same through the inflation of prices. In addition, the third estate had to meet three different taxes and feudal dues.
- All of this resulted in a subsistence crisis where individuals were unable to satisfy their basic needs.
- Other than a failing political administration that focused on levying numerous taxes, these were the major political causes behind the French Revolution:
- 1774 saw the ascension of Louis XVI as the monarch king of France, also known as the 'Puppet king'. He saw his empty treasury, drained through years of wars. He was manipulated by the queen- Marie Antoniette.
- He was helping his foreign allies gain victory over Britain, their common enemy. But this drained their resources in an uncontrollable manner.
- The heightened money demand to keep up necessities from the government caused a significant increment in taxes levied upon them.
The Role of Middle ClassThe French Revolution took place in major parts due to the rise of another social class, the middle class. The 18th century witnessed the rise of educated men who had the means to bring about huge changes and get their voices heard. The middle class consisted of foreign tradesmen, manufacturers, and large-scale business owners.
They vigorously promoted the notion of freedom and beliefs against oppression. There are several political leaders in the French Revolution. Some of them have been listed below:
Charles Montesquieu – A noble by the birth, Charles Montesquieu was outspoken against the oppressive policies of the monarchy. He was a lawyer and stood stiff for the division of power inside the government against the very absolute power
of the regiment.
Jean Jacques Rousseau – Another moniker for him is "the architect of the French Revolution." Jean Jacques Rousseau proposed a social contract between people and their representatives. It stated that If the government is found in violation of this contract, people had the right to take action against it.
John Locke – A political thinker who opposed the divine doctrine and worked in empowering the people.
The Outbreak of the French Revolution
The Struggle to Survive (1780-90)
- These were the actions that sparked indignation among the French people immediately following the war.
- There was a sudden increase in the French population which led to rapid demand for food consumption. This started to cause food shortages in society.
- The production amount of essential grains was comparatively less than the growing population required. Due to this, there was a sudden increase in food prices, and the peasant class could hardly make ends meet.
- Natural calamities such as drought or hail were also considered major factors that affected the already declining food production level of France.
- Because laborers and peasants were getting paid very low wages during that point in time, the standard of living gap between the rich and the poor grew intensely.
The Outbreak of the UprisingThe commencement of French Revolution started as mentioned:
- On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI called an assembly to pass proposals for a new form of taxes, which were strictly boycotted by the third estate.
- They found the voting system to be very unfair and took an oath not to attend any assembly unless a constitution is drafted, limiting the power of the monarchy.
- On the other side, rumors started spreading amongst the peasant community that the nobles were hiring brigades to destroy ripe crops in order to increase the shortage of food production in the market.
- The peasants were revenged by looting stored grains and burning down records of mortgage payments while the nobilities fled.
- Louis XVI had to give recognition to the National Assembly to bring an end to these uprisings.
- On 14th August 1789, the National Assembly passed the order, abolishing the feudal system and the unequal tax system among the French population.
France becomes a Constitutional Monarchy
- After the National Assembly gained recognition and power, the administrative body in France started to change as mentioned:
- The constitution was written by the national legislature in 1791. It divided the powers to the judiciary, executive, and legislature, taking away powers from just one institution.
- The national assembly made legislation using an indirect election process.
- Citizens above 25 years of age and tax payees of at least three days of laborer’s wage were termed active citizens and allowed to cast votes.
- Basic rights were introduced in the constitution. Freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, equality of law, etc. were some of those mentioned rights.
France abolishes Monarchy and becomes a Republic (1792)
- Other than France going on a war with Prussia and Austria, being initiated by the National Assembly, these were the main rulings while abolishing the monarchy.
- Louis XVI secretly started negotiations with the king of Prussia.
- Neighboring countries wanted to make the opportunities for the revolutionary events ongoing due to the French Revolution. The National assembly declares a war on Prussia and Austria.
- Rich people were granted political rights under the 1791 constitution. As a result, this sparked a populist uprising in Paris. Later, the Royal families were held prisoners, and elections were held.
- The newly elected assembly was termed the Convection. It abolished the Monarchy in 1792 and made France a republic.
The Reign of Terror
- From 1793 to 1794, Robespierre Convection used very strict policies and brutal punishments to gain effective and strong control in France.
- All opponents were silenced, jailed, or otherwise detained.
- If found guilty, they were mercilessly and brutally guillotined in public settings to send a message against the opposition.
- Meat and bread were being rationed, and peasants suffered losses due to selling at fixed prices set by the government.
Directory starts Ruling France
- Voting rights for non-property groups in society were eliminated by a new constitution.
- It established the concept of a directory chosen by two legislative bodies.
- The clashing of the directory with the legislative body made way for the rise of the infamous Military dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Rise and Fall in the power of Napoleon Bonaparte
- In the year 1804, Napoleon seized France and declared himself Emperor. He started conquering neighboring nations and established his dominance by making kingdoms ruling through his family members.
- The feudal system was abolished. Bonaparte, who viewed himself as a modernizer, instituted equal weight and measure systems in decimals as well as regulations protecting private property.
- Mainly hailed as a liberator, his military tactics were soon termed crude, invading, and violent.
- The battle of Waterloo in 1815 witnessed his defeat.
What is French Revolution?
When was the French Constitution drafted?
What were the causes of French Revolution?
- Social Causes
- Economic Cause
- Political Causes
Name the philosophers who played a vital role in French Revolution.
- Charles Montesquieu
- Jean Jacques Rousseau
- John Locke