French Revolution Discussion Questions Essay.
1. After the Sun King died in 1715, France’s financial status was bad. As the 18th century progressed these problems were never fixed and the problems continued to worsen. The Bourbons faced a variety of socio-political problems during the 18th century. After supporting the American Revolution and getting nothing in return because of the Treaty of Paris, France was left with insurmountable amounts of debt. To try to decrease the amount of debt facing France, Louis XVI tried to raise taxes but was met with a resounding protest throughout the country.
The government could not inflate their currency because they did not have a central bank or paper currency. It seemed this financial situation was next to impossible to overcome. The general population was upset because the cost of living was skyrocketing; they were unable to provide for their daily needs and the monarchy was wasting money on unnecessary luxuries. 2. When the French Revolution began the French people were divided into three estates.
The first estate consisted of the clergy, the second the nobility, and the third estate was the rest of France. Each estate had problems with the monarchy and wanted reform. The clergy was upset that the church’s income was being depleted from the local parishes to political appointees and worldly aristocrats the sat at the top of church hierarchy. Because of this, the economic position of local parishes were poor. The rest of the French population had simple problems but for some reason were not being solved. The third estate wanted bread to be attainable for all so they could feed their families. The price of bread was very high and the economic position of the country was terrible because of the debt caused by their support of the American Revolution, which caused widespread hunger.
The three estates blamed the monarchy for their problems because no one else had enough power to come up with a solution. Unfortunately, the King couldn’t make decisions and was influenced by the people around him in his decision making. Marie Antoinette and the court nobles did not care about the third estate, they just wanted to be able to maintain their frivolous lifestyle of luxury and ease. 3. The main goal of the Revolutionaries was to create a new constitution which they did in August 1789 when they issued the declaration of the rights of man. This stated that mankind’s natural rights are liberty, property, security, resistance to oppression and that every man is innocent until proven guilty. It also stated that the law would express the feelings and the opinions of the general will. The Revolutionaries in 1789 attempted to create a constitutional monarchy.
The Enlightenment philosophers, especially Montesquieu, influenced the type of government the French would become. Montesquieu believed in a separation of powers or a series of checks and balances so that there would not be tyranny. France wanted their government to follow that example. 4. The goal of the revolution was to reform France’s government and bring equality to all people. The revolution took such a radical turn because of political and social factors. People knew that the National Assembly was working on reforming the government and the economic situation of France. They started to become impatient and decided to take matters into their own hands. The Great Fear is one of the ways the peasants tried to free themselves from manorial rights and peasants invaded the palace as an attempt to be heard by the monarchy.
The inter-conflict of the National Assembly caused the revolution to take a radical turn as well. Some people believed bloodshed was the only way to solve the problems of the revolution. They believed the monarchy needed to be disposed of which resulted of the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Some revolutionaries were determined to put an end to tyranny throughout Europe and declared war against Britain, Holland, Spain in addition to Austria and Prussia whom they were already at war with.
5. One of the most controversial phases of the French Revolution, the Reign of Terror, was a step backwards in terms of the ideals developed during the Revolution. During the Reign of Terror, the Constitution previously implemented was suspended and the rights of sovereignty that the Revolutionaries had fought for all was revoked. The Reign of Terror was a political tool to scare all who might oppose the new revolutionary government. The goal was to initiate an ideal democratic republic where justice would reign supreme and there would be no differentiation between the rich and the poor. 6. Robespierre was one of the main leaders of the revolution and considered himself a disciple of Rousseau.
I believe this is true because he follows the same beliefs about the general will as Rousseau does. Rousseau believes that in society everyone should be dependant of each other in all aspects of life. This dependency would prevent individual achievement, and everyone would be equal. Robespierre wanted there to be no difference between rich and poor. Rousseau also believed that nothing could be done without the consent of all people. One person could not make decisions independently and could not be without the consent of all.