French Revolution recalled. Part 1.

GV Rama RaoStarred Page By GV Rama Rao, 29th Oct 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2nft3rqx/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Any account of French Revolution makes exciting reading. It was the forerunner of many revolutions in the world.

Introduction.

The modern history starts with the French Revolution 1789-99. It was a major revolution in which the divine right to rule of the kings and monarchs was questioned, and liberty, equality and fraternity were demanded the first time. It was also a forerunner of several revolutions. Here is a brief account of the events of that period.

Background.
France during the 1780s was a prosperous and the second populous nation in Europe with a population of 28 million next only to imperial Russia with 31 million and was also an urban country.

Economy.
Karl Marx who advocated a major revolution later said, "All problems in the world are economic.” A look at French economy at the time would be pertinent. The French economy was robust, and France was the premiere economic powerhouse of Europe. However, the loss of the seven year war with Britain left the country in deep debt. Its help to America in the latter’s War of Independence against the British added to its debt. The desire to build a strong navy and wage a war of revenge against the British worsened the financial crisis. On the eve of the revolution, the country was virtually bankrupt.

Famine.

The economic problems of France were compounded by drought and series of crop failures. The production of grain fell badly, and prices of bread soared steeply. The impoverished farmers cried for bread.

Taxation.
The nobility imposed additional taxes to clear the debt, and the corrupt contractors employed to collect taxes collected more than what was due. The impoverished farmers survived on charity and formed long lines before the bakers’ shops for their daily bread. Because of the shortage of the bread women also played a major role in the revolution. They were also infuriated by the fact the nobility and the clergy were not required to pay any taxes.

Exodus to cities.
Mass urbanization and the beginning of Industrial revolution had resulted in a mass exodus of poor farmers to the cities. As a result, the cities were overcrowded with destitute, hungry and disaffected people.

Class structure.

At that time, the populace was divided into three estates, the nobility, the clergy and the third estate which also included the professionals and business people. The rest were required to pay taxes to the church and the crown run by the nobility. The country had absolute monarchy and a feudalistic society. People of the third estate irrespective of their knowledge were denied any positions in the hierarchy. This caused untold resentment. The rest construed famine as an evil deed of the nobility and circulated theories of conspiracy of the nobility.

Philosophers.

Several philosophers of the period: Voltaire, Denis Diderot and Tugot, to name a few, wrote about equality and freedom of the individual. These ideas were largely accepted by the middle class. The American Revolution had brought in Enlightenment ideas and challenged the role of the church in the government and the prerogatives of the nobility. People questioned the divine right to rule of the monarchs and spoke of liberty, equality and fraternity which later became the main slogan of the revolutionaries and the cornerstones of several revolutions that followed.

Scandals about the nobility.

A scandal fabricated about Marie Antoinette, a diamond necklace worth quarter million pounds she ordered and her secret tryst with a clergyman vitiated the ambiance.
France had played a deciding role in the American Revolutionary War, (1775-1783) sending its navy and troops to aid the rebelling colonists. During this time there was much contact between the Americans and the French, and revolutionary ideals spread between the groups.

Thus, the situation in 1789 was ripe for a major, social, political upheaval- a revolution. The third estate wanted to overthrow the burdensome nobility and clergy. They were prepared to go to any lengths to achieve their aim.
More in my next post.
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Tags

Church, Class, Classes, Divine Right Of Kings, Economic, Economics, Economy, Enlightenment, Equal Rights, Equality, Estate, Famine, France, Fraternity, French, French Politics, French Revolution, Kingdom, Kings, Kings And Queens Of Old, Liberty, Liberty And Equality, Liberty Of Speech, Nobility, Peasantry, Peasants, Taxation

Meet the author

author avatar GV Rama Rao
I am a retired naval officer and a published author with three books to my credit. I am a winner of nanowrimo competition for 2008,9, &10. I like humor best..

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Comments

author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
29th Oct 2012 (#)

A post that carries real lessons even now, in fact, at all times. The few privileged got delusional that they are entitled to a life of luxury. Times have not changed much! Thanks for the share, GVR - siva

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
31st Oct 2012 (#)

My dear Siva,
Thanks for your wonderful comment. Time has changed, but things have not changed.

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author avatar Buzz
30th Oct 2012 (#)

The uprising in the Philippines against the dictator Marcos was a legacy from the French.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
31st Oct 2012 (#)

Thanks Buzz for your comment.

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author avatar M G Singh
31st Oct 2012 (#)

Well written. Excellent account of a great event in French history

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
31st Oct 2012 (#)

Madan, Thanks for your appreciation.

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author avatar vpaulose
2nd Nov 2012 (#)

Interesting. Thank you dear brother GVR.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
2nd Nov 2012 (#)

vpaulose garu,
Thanks for your comment.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
2nd Nov 2012 (#)

this is great GV thank you...

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
2nd Nov 2012 (#)

My dear crwriter,
Many thanks for your comment.

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author avatar Ptrikha
2nd Jan 2015 (#)

A rewind down the history lessons- a memorable one and makes one understand the significance of this historic event.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
2nd Jan 2015 (#)

My dear Ptrikha,
Many thanks for your comment.

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