Correlation Between the Objectives and Achievements of the French Revolution

Correlation Between the Objectives and Achievements of the French Revolution:

It is worth remembering that neither the French people wanted revolution nor there was a solid background for it in 1789. Unexpectedly, the convention of Estates General which was called to seek a solution for the economic crisis fomented the cause of the French Revolution. In this way, the French Revolution exploded spontaneously. Objectives and attainments of the French Revolution underwent continuous changes in proportion to the changing circumstances and leadership. It is the reason why to seek a direct correlation between the aims and the achievements of the French Revolution is neither feasible nor rational. For want of specific aim, leadership, and advanced planning, there was a constant change in the form and attainment of the French Revolution.

On the strength of memoirs, the aims of the early phase of the French Revolution may be traced out. The majority of people wanted to eliminate the feudal system. The bourgeoisie (the middle class) wanted to remove all economic reservations- particularly feudal restrictions. Further, it craved social prestige and participation in administration. Farmers wished to get rid of feudal taxes and liabilities. Besides, the public was eager to have social equality, equal opportunity, and uniformity of law. It wanted to establish a qualified and constitutional monarchy. It is true that most of the ambitions of the middle class were fulfilled by the functions of the legislative council but the principle of equality was broken. Farmers were deprived of political and economic equality. They had to satisfy themselves with social equality only.

In the second phase of the French Revolution, the monarchy declined and the king was assassinated. But we should remember that the Revolution did not aim at eliminating the monarchy. People were discontent with the tyranny of the King and his autocratic rule.

In its third phase, the French Revolution assumed an international dimension, although it was not intended by the revolutionaries. In the beginning, the revolutionaries did not want to have an aggressive attitude towards the reactionary European countries. But the criticism of the French Revolution as well as threats given by European countries and the Girondist ideology of international Revolution- all sparked off a war between France and other European countries. At the same time, a terrorist government was established by the Jacobin leaders, although the revolutionaries had not intended it. However, the National Convention was constrained to take drastic measures in order to end the civil war, maintain national security, establish the rule of law and order, and to salvage the nation from economic crises. People were compelled to become patriotic. Radical steps were taken for the good of the poor, but the opponents were crushed severely.

In its last phase, the French Revolution was again dominated by the bourgeoisie. It made the common people helpless though the French Revolution did not aim at it. The weak and corrupt rule of the Directory gave a chance to Napoleon to hold the reins of government and it benefited the bourgeoisie.

Important Links:

Intellectual Enlightenment
Economic Causes of the French Revolution
Beginning of the French Revolution
Phases of the French Revolution