The social structure: The French society was divided into three Estates. The First Estate included the clergy who enjoyed lavish lifestyles. The Second Estate consisted of the nobility, another privileged group which held the highest positions in the government, the Church and the army. The Third Estate consisting of peasants and the bourgeoisie felt aggrieved and resented the aristocracy which members were hell-bent on making sure everyone maintained their social statuses.
Finances: Due to the major losses incurred during the wars which France had been involved in prior to the French Revolution, the country experienced a financial crisis. Despite going through such a situation, the peasants still continued to be heavily taxed while the earnings of the aristocracy did not change. This made the majority of peasants add more to their resentment of members of the higher social class.
The trajectory of the French Revolution
By 1614, the majority of non-aristocrats limited voting power since voting rights favored those of the higher class. The members of the Third Estate thus raise a revolution in Versailles. In April 1792, the newly elected Legislative Assembly declared war on neighboring Austria and Russia.
One of the extremists, the Jacobins, went ahead and ordered the execution of King Louise XVI (Chapman 2). On November 9, 1979, Napoleon Bonaparte staged a coup d’état against the current regime. This marked the end of the French Revolution and the beginning of the Napoleonic era.
Napoleon played a vital role in quelling the French Revolution. He was responsible for ending the Jacobins regime of terror. However, his era was marked by increased warfare across Europe as he attempted to dominate much of the continent.
The Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was formed as a military coalition of the countries which were against Napoleon’s rule (Chapman 1). These were Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia (Merriman 569). Their main objective was to oust Napoleon from power and restore peace in Europe. After these nations had succeeded in ousting Napoleon as the ruler of France, the country joined the Congress, and the four nations later formed the Concert of Europe.
The Concert was mostly successful in promoting an ideology of conservatism in Europe. However, the group faced challenges in its quest to promote conservatism. Such revolts as the Decembrist Revolt of 1825 posed a major threat. However, the Concert did not succeed in performing its mission when the revolt led by more than 3,000 of Russian soldiers was suppressed by the Russian ruler Nicholas I.
The French Revolution of 1830
In some cases, however, the Congress seemed to fail in its mandate of maintaining the ideology of conservatism in Europe. By signing the Congress of Vienna’s “Final Act”, the four countries had agreed to end warfare in the continent. However, the French Revolution of 1830 defied this agreement. Also known as the July Revolution, this revolt saw the Duke of Orleans, Louise-Philippe, turn against the current regime of King Charles X (Merriman 444).
This marked the transition of the monarch proposed by the Concert of Europe members, the Bourbon Restoration, and the start of another regime called the July Monarchy. This was a major blow to the terms set during signing the “Final Act” at the Congress of Vienna since the Bourbon Restoration was formed after the ousting of Napoleon as the ruler of France. The ideology of nationalism and liberalism reared its ugly head again as far as the rest of the Concert of Europe’s members were concerned.
Chapman, Tim. The Congress of Vienna: Origins, Processes and Results. London: Routledge, 1998. Print.
Merriman, John M. A History of Modern Europe: From the Renaissance to the Present. New York: W.W. Norton, 2010. Print.