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French Revolution and Napoleonic Era Essay

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The French Revolution (1789-1815) came a time when the political systems and structures were in great disfavor of the general population. This essay explores some of the factors that spurred the revolution from different perspectives.

Fiscal irresponsibility

The constant state of financial crisis in France when King Louis XVI was in power was a sour taste in the mouth of many. To make matters worse, the Seven Year’s war that was financed by the Kingdom drained the regime financially leading to a state of desperation among the citizens.

The relationship between the aristocracy and the King grew tense. As a result, publishing of the royal decrees by magistrates deployed at the parlements was constrained by the very magistrates as a way of showing their discontent. The fiscal irresponsibility was aggravated when the King commissioned France to yet another war (Dwyer & McPhee, 2002). Subsequently, rebellion and a spirit of revolution began to ferment among the commoners, the nobility and the clergy as well as the wider French society.

Democracy and brotherhood

Real democracy in France came at a time when elections were permitted for all groups of citizens, drawn from different classes and estates. Indeed, the spirit of brotherhood was visible in the wake of democracy as Estates General announced elections that almost immediately, sparked vicious rounds of political debate and wrangling (Dwyer & McPhee, 2002).

Needless to say, the spirit of brotherhood was heavily demonstrated by the members of the Third Estate who organized various public forums to demand for a wider democratic space than they had been allotted before.

Later, the Estates general gathered a host of grievances in note books as a show of solidarity wit the cry of the people in terms of political dissatisfaction. The universality of unhappiness was vividly demonstrated in this collection, a real display of brotherhood towards a common foe-unpopular regime (Kishlansky, Geary & O’Brien, 2008).

Hubris

The high state of arrogance, self confidence as well as excessive pride among the autocratic rulers played a key role in the French Revolution. It is understood that at one point in time, the noble existence of the National Assembly was arrogantly refuted by King Louis XVI.

As much as the National Assembly was a constitutionally structured organ, he did disregard in totality and instead started marshaling troops in order to forcibly fix his will against the people. This did not go down well with the French public. They took to arms and stormed the royal armory (Dwyer & McPhee, 2002). The National Assembly was thereafter supported by the citizen militia that was formed to counter the King’s unilateral decision.

Liberty and equality

The Declaration of equal rights of men and women by the French National Assembly in 1789 was indeed a wake up call for the French citizenry to not only be aware of the basic human rights and equity, but also fight for it passionately.

Although the constitution that was enacted three years later lacked much of the ideals of democracy, it provided a broad platform through reformers and other French citizens could air their opinions as well as champion for their rights. In fact, the new constitutional dispensation gave some room to pin-hole liberty in France amid co0nstraints in some clauses.

Unfortunately, the fact that the very constitution acted a springboard for good governance in future did not imply that it would not encounter resistance. For example, voting rights were only reserved to those who owned property or were wealthy.

Besides, the political elite were those who controlled wealth (Kishlansky, Geary & O’Brien, 2008). Such disparity between the have and the have-nots sparked anger and discontent on the basis of lack of equality and liberty to all and sundry. The end result of such an undmo0cratic system was definitely incessant rebellion.

Technology

Massive human suffering and subsequent loss of life during the historical French revolution was mainly aggravated by the state of technology at that time. For instance, the invention of guillotine machine led to mass killing whereby those who participated in the revolution were captured and victimized by chopping off the head.

On one end, it was used as a vital tool for suppressing the revolution (Dwyer & McPhee, 2002). On the other hand, the use of the device in committing mass murders heightened the anger of reformers and consequently acted as an impetus in worsening the revolution through counter attacks to the unpopular regime.

References

Dwyer, G. P. & McPhee, P. (2002). The French Revolution and Napoleon: a sourcebook, New York: Routledge.

Kishlansky, M., Geary, P. & O’Brien, P. (2008). Civilization in the West (7th ed.), New York: Longman Pearson Education, Inc.

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