Why Revolution in France?

Why Revolution in France?

It is intriguing to note the apparent similarity of circumstances between France and other European states of the day. (Exploitation of people and arbitrariness of power). Nevertheless, the revolution was Sue generis to France partly because France offered a state of predicament when the revolution came and partly because of the fact that it was not the context of hunger and deprivation alone that caused the revolution. There is also needed revolutionary psychology and a language of hope and protest to articulate their aspirations and grievances. The singularity of the revolution in France can be ascribed to a broad set of different causes:

(1) The non-privileged classes in France towards the close of the 18th century were on the whole better treated than their counterparts in some neighbouring states. Ironically, this made them less disposed to tolerate abuse of power.

(2) The French peasantry, in the short run, was affected by natural calamities, harvest failures, and economic depression which 1787, was serious and rapidly worsening. In the long run, the limited penetration of capitalist tendencies into agriculture led to the revival of old dues and taxes and the imposition of new ones. It was possible because agriculture was overall guided by feudal relations and for the extraction of the maximum possible surplus, the seignorial revival took place.

(3) The bourgeoisie faced with a vast incompatibility between their economic and socio-legal status.

(4) The revolution in France was set in motion by the reactionary aspiration of the aristocracy which had for long outlawed its efficacy but had retained all ancient privileges and immunities.

(5) Existence and dissemination of the Enlightened ideas.

(6) Geographically vicinity to Britain. So France was influenced deeply by the British liberal ideas particularly those of Locke. The Frenchmen were aware of the British historical developments like the Civil War and the Glorious Revolution.

(7) The American Revolution and the French support for it profoundly affected France economically and more importantly by stirring the people’s minds to aspire for a new social order.

(8) Essential interlocking link between the above-mentioned factors backed up the Enlightenment ideas.

Thus the revolutionary singularity to France is explicable in terms of the apparently similar but inherently distinct circumstances obtained in France. There was a context of strong disenchantment and also palpably discernible links between different factors this was what formed the “revolutionary situation”. The philosophers rendered a language of hope and protest to articulate their aspirations and grievances. Eventually however the key to the revolutionary unfolding lies in the peculiarity of the immediate background of the revolution. For instance, a king torn between his class interests privileges, and his desire to redress socioeconomic imbalances: aristocratic revolution as a prelude to the French Revolution, gravity of natural calamities, importance of the Estates General, role of rumor, etc.

This is why although there was something like a nationalist revolution in Belgium against the Austrians and in Poland against the Russians in the united provinces. But these were not comparable to the French Revolution in scale and magnitude.

Important Links:

Intellectual Enlightenment
Political Causes of the French Revolution
Economic Causes of the French Revolution
Beginning of the French Revolution
Functions of the Constituent Assembly
Unsuccessful Attempt of the Royal Family to Flee the Country
Phases of the French Revolution
Role of Philosophers in the French Revolution
Nature of the French Revolution
Correlation Between the Objectives and Achievements of the French Revolution
Do you agree that the French Revolution achieved far less than what it intended to achieve?
Triumph of Jacobinism
Transformation of the Republic into a Military Dictatorship
Importance of the French Revolution
The Course of the French Revolution
French Revolution of 1848
The Foreign Policy of Louis Philippe
Causes of the Revolution of February 1848
Short Note on the French Revolution of 1848
Bonaparte Napoleon
Napoleon Ascendency
Consulate Rule and Constitution of 1799
Reforms of Napoleon
Napoleon Concord With Pope
Napoleonic Code
Continental System
Causes of the Failure of the Continental System
Napoleonic Imperialism
Napoleonic War
Short Note on Napoleon Bonaparte
Decline of the Napoleonic Empire
Spread of Revolutionary Principles
Popular Movement
Metternich and the Vienna Peace Settlement