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Was The French Revolution Worth The Blood Shed

997 words - 4 pages

The French Revolution began due to unrest and tension between the different social and economic classes in France. The confirmed beginning of the Revolution was on July 14, 1789, with the storming of the Bastille.("French Revolution timeline") The Revolution went on to see many bloody battles and the eventual passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, the execution of the King, and the formation of French First Republic. The French Revolution evokes complex emotions and perspectives depending on who is speaking about it, and it's significance on France and the entire world is undeniable. Simultaneously, the French gained freedom and experienced a dramatic revolution, ...view middle of the document...

.." (Kropotkin 23) Kropotkin also stressed the importance of the fact that serfdom and absolutism were abolished in France during the Revolution. (Kropotkin 26) He wanted us to understand, "These two achievements represent the principle work of the nineteenth century…" (Kropotkin 26) He described how the tables had turned in favor of the middle class, and more power was put into the hands of the everyday man, and why this is extremely important for civilization. In his conclusion, Kropotkin summarizes exactly how he feels about the human costs of the French Revolution. He states, "The blood they shed was shed for humanity-the sufferings they endured were borne for the entire human race…liberty, equality, fraternity." (Kropotkin 28) Kropotkin believed that despite the human casualties, the advancements the Revolution brought about in France and the rest of the world, were well worth it.

Simon Schama, a history professor, held a totally different viewpoint than that of Kropotkin. His argument stemmed from his belief that the French Revolution was less necessary and produced less results than Kropotkin would have us believe. He states, in direct opposition of Kropotkin, that "The revolution delayed, rather than accelerated, the rise of an industrial middle class in France." (Schama 29) Schama attacks the Marxist view of the Revolution and denies that it helped to break down France's class system. Schama detailed historians misguided attempts to make the French Revolution sound as if it carried more of a worldwide impact than it actually did. "In a recent survey of the important of the revolution the president of the official 1789 committee admitted that 1789 has meaning for other countries today only where a link is discerned with their own history." (Schama 30) Schama says that in order to see just how insignificant the Revolution was, we need only to turn to the literature (or lack thereof) that was produced around that time. In fact, he says, French literature was more abundant before the Revolution....

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