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French Revolution Outcomes Essay

1814 words - 8 pages

The French Revolution, occurring during the years 1789 -1799 in France, was a time of much change in the country and was a rather decisive period in the shaping of the modern Western world. Needless to say, times of great change and brand new ideas will never be accepted by everyone involved. Whether it is ideological changes in politics, religion, or general theories and ideas, much change at that period of time is bound to bring about serious turmoil and uncertainty, and The French Revolution was no different. The Reign of Terror was a tumultuous time during France that took place during September 5, 1793 - July 28, 1794 – a literally deadly span of 15 months for tens of thousands of ...view middle of the document...

No one seems to have considered the possibility of an economic or social upheaval that might transform the shape of society.”[1] This statement is one that foreshadows the tremendous upheavals of The French Revolution, and specifically, the Reign of Terror. This statement also shows the naiveté caused by all the brand new theories and ideals taken from the Enlightenment. Women also became much more visible, and had more say than they ever had before, even though this did have its pros and cons. As Dena Goodman writes in the chapter of her book, titled Women and the Enlightenment, “A new, modern woman surely emerged in the eighteenth century who would soon find herself in a new world in which the complex legacy of the Enlightenment would both help and hinder her.”[2]It is quite clear that the theories and ideals of the Enlightenment had a tremendous impact on the outbreak of the Reign of Terror in France.
While the Reign of Terror was an absolutely horrific period in French history, “The Radical Stage”[3] of the French Revolution began one year earlier, in 1792. A group of small shopkeepers, artisans and wage earners, known as the sans-culottes, shifted the Revolution to a much more radical stage than its first few years. The sans-culottes really hated the upper class, and insisted that it was the government’s duty to guarantee them the “right of existence”. By doing so, they demanded that the government increase wages, set price controls on food supplies, end food shortages, punish food speculators and profiteers, and deal with the existence of counterrevolutionaries.[4] The bourgeoisie were those French citizens in the middle-upper class: merchants, master craftsmen, doctors, lawyers, intellectuals, and government officials.[5] In 1789, the bourgeois were demanding equality with the Aristocrats, and by the end of 1792, the sans-culottes were demanding equality with the bourgeois and wanted political reforms that would give the poor a say in the government. However, while this heavy political pressure was a substantial development in the Revolution, the Reign of Terror probably would not have occurred had it not been for the war that was about to break out in the country.
A war broke out with Austria and Prussia in April 1792, and acted as a definite aid towards radicalism and violence in the country. The war, along with worsening the economic conditions in the county, also threatened to undo the reforms of the Revolution and thus truly began the radical stage of the Revolution. French forces, short of arms to begin with, were quite poorly led in the war, and could not stop the enemy. There were also food shortages and counterrevolutions going on in the West at the time, and needless to say, there was plenty of tension in the country. On August 10, 1792, infuriated Parisian men and women attacked the Tuileries Palace and several hundred Swiss guards. The royal family was placed under house arrest, and the monarch at...

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