Causes and Effects of the French Revolution

The French Revolution was one of the most significant, radical revolutions of all time. Before the revolution, France was broken up into three social classes. The First estate was the clergy, the Second Estate was the nobility, and the Third Estate was everyone else(Bourgeoise, peasants, small business owners, doctors, lawyers, and more). The First and Second Estates combined made up roughly three percent of France’s population, but paid little to no taxes. The Third Estate made up the remaining ninety-seven percent of the population and paid the majority of the taxes (The French Revolution 1). This tax inequality help to ignite the beginning of the French Revolution. The combination of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette’s spending issues, and the famine in France was not good for the country. France was in great debt, and her people were starving. A French citizens writing was uncovered and it explains the hardships of the times, “I have seen eighty, ninety, a hundred pieces of cotton or woollen stuff cut up, and completely destroyed. I have witnessed similar scenes every week for a number of years. I have seen manufactured goods confiscated; heavy fines laid on the manufacturers;”(Roland 1). Eventually, with some help, the French people were able to overthrow the monarchy, although there was not much of an immediate improvement. France had come to the point where citizens could not speak up for what they believed in without being guillotined. There did not seem to be much hope for France until Napoleon Bonaparte stepped in as emperor, and although France conquered many lands under his rule, he was eventually defeated, and France was once again a monarchy.

The September Massacres in France had a great impact on England. Prisoners that were held in the Bastille were being executed due to paranoia in the French citizens caused by Jean-Paul Marat’s writings. Based on only suspicion of royalist armies attacking Paris, hundreds of men died, some of which were English. On the first page of “The London Times,” the article discusses the importance of the public understanding the situation. “As the affairs of France very naturally engross the whole of the public attention, we have made it our business to collect the occurrences that have happened with as much precision as circumstances would admit. In the history of mankind, we have no precedent of of such wanton and disgraceful excesses.”(Liu 1). It was not only the September Massacres that impacted England, France had a lasting effect on the English lifestyle. Emigrants from France began to settle in England, changing the character of society where they settled. Art, literature, poems, and music were deeply influenced by the terror and violence of the French Revolution(Norman 1-9).

Spain was one of the many countries influenced by France, or more specifically in this scenario, Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon was determined to conquer all of Europe and even more if it was possible. He had already taken a good chunk of Europe when he took Spain as well. After Napoleon took Spain, he sent his brother, Joseph to rule in his place. Joseph ruled under the orders of his brother, and was considered a “puppet ruler.” In Napoleon’s private letters to Joseph, he told him where to position his military, what laws he should pass, who he could and could not trust, who he should promote, and how to run his country(Napoleon I 320). The Spanish people were less than thrilled that their king had been replaced by the French. Certain areas of Spain continued their loyalty to Ferdinand VII, and decided to align with Britain to defeat Napoleon. The Spanish people fought extremely hard to put their true king back on the throne, and in 1814 when Napoleon was finally defeated, King Ferdinand VII, the rightful king of spain was returned to his throne.

Napoleon attempted to seize power in many European countries. He replaced monarchs left and right and placed his family members as rulers. Napoleon tried to justify his actions by offering the old monarchs positions in court, but thy refused them. Napoleon was quoted saying, “they didn’t want them. I offered them posts from the administration; they turned them down. But I opened my antechambers to them, and they came running in.”(Herold 143). Throughout the revolution, France had significant impacts on other countries in Europe. “French armies invaded and reformed some parts of Europe but not others,”(Robinson, et. al. 2). Western Europe seemed the most impacted by French invasions. European countries such as Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Spain, Prussia, and Italy were all affected by the French Revolution. France also had a large impact on North and Latin America. England was one of the few countries that Napoleon did not seize, though they were forced to spend millions to keep him out. England was able to convince Austria, Prussia, and Russia to join in their efforts to defeat Napoleon. Napoleon attempted to offer peace to England, but they would not accept unless there was a balance of powers throughout Europe(Herold 241).

The French Revolution relates to the global context globalization and sustainability. The entire revolution was based off of inequalities and peoples rights. Throughout the revolution, France dealt with famine, economic issues, unfit rulers, and because of all this, France became stronger as a country. France was eventually able to sustain itself while controlling other nations. France achieved globalization by influencing countries everywhere, and human life was changed forever by the French Revolution.

Works Cited

  1. British Newspaper Coverage of the French Revolution: the September Massacres. Translated by Alan Liu, 2 Feb. 2000. Web. 11 Dec. 2018.(P)
  2. “Consequences of Radical Reform: The French Revolution.”Web. 4 Dec. 2018.(S)
  3. ‘How Did the French Revolution Affect England?’ National Trust. Web. 12 Dec. 2018.(S)
  4. “Internet History” Web. 4 Dec. 2018.(P)
  5. “The French Revolution A Brief Outline – Florida Gulf Coast…” Web. 7 Dec. 2018(S)
  6. Horizon, Magazine. The Horizon Book of the Age of Napoleon. American Heritage; Book Trade Distribution by Harper and Row, 1963. Print.(P)
  7. I, Napoleon. ‘The Confidential Correspondence of Napoleon Bonaparte with His Brother Joseph … Selected and Translated, with Explanatory Notes, from the ‘Mémoires … V.1.’ HathiTrust. Boston :Ginn,c1938. Web. 06 Dec. 2018.(P)