The French Revolution





There have been many revolutions in the past which have changed the futures of entire nations. The French Revolution was one of the most well-known revolutions due to its effects both inside and outside France. The revolution brought a major transformation in both the political system and the society. France went from a monarchy to a republic of free and equal citizens. Crane Briton observed the stages of a major revolution. The French Revolution conforms to Crane Britonís analysis.


The French society matched Crane Britonís pre-revolutionary society that was full of societal and political tensions. Before the revolution, the Third estate had always lived under the First and Second Estates. All the power was concentrated in the hands of the Second Estate as they controlled the parliament. The Bourgeoisie had money but they didnít have any status or power. The lower classes were discontent due to the unfair unequal tax policies that caused them to become poorer while the aristocrats grew richer. The economic depression worsened conditions for the proletariats. The food shortage and the rise in prices added to the displeasure of the lower classes. Thus the discontent, that Briton said was necessary to spark a revolution, was present in the hearts of the people.


Just as in Britonís analysis, the oppressed people of the Third Estate ultimately banded together to overthrow the authority. The members of the Third Estate and a few members of the First and Second Estates united to form a National Assembly (Constituent Assembly). This Assembly abolished feudalism and issued the ďDeclaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.Ē The lower classes also assaulted the Bastilles Fort and killed the fortís general and the town mayor to show that the Third Estate was finally sovereign. Hence these steps taken by the Third Estate was the beginning of a major political revolution.


In compliance with Crane Briton, there was a split in the revolutionary leadership and the more radical of the revolutionaries defeated the moderates. Some wanted a strong veto power for the king and a two house legislature. These were the conservative revolutionaries who didnít want fast changes and agreed to a monarchy. Others were in favour of a one chamber legislature with a weak veto for the king. Having only one legislature would mean that the members of the three estates would be merged in it. These revolutionaries called themselves the ďpatriotsĒ and were the radicals according to Briton. Briton described the radicals overthrowing the moderates and likewise the patriots took control and instated a one chamber legislature with a weak veto for the king. The conservative revolutionaries fled away from France and the King was arrested in an attempt to flee. A year later when unhappiness still prevailed among the sans-culottes (common people), they stormed into the parliament and overthrew the Girondin leaders as they wanted more far-reaching changes. The power now shifted to the extremists, whose leader was Robespierre. Thus, just as Briton stated, there was a rift between the radicals and moderates of the French Revolution, and the radicals emerged victorious.


Robespierre and his men then used force to stay in power, as Briton describes in his analysis but gradually the dynamism of the revolution fades and a totalitarian regime takes command. Robespierre was afraid of a counter-revolution and therefore took extreme steps in order to prevent it. A Committee for Public Safety was created in which there were 12 members. Robespierre was part of this Committee. This Committee created the Committee for General Security, which was the start of the Terror. This political police killed anyone suspected of hostile activities against the republic. This Committee slowly killed Girondin Leaders, suspected revolutionaries and even some people who started the Committee for General Security itself. 40, 000 people were killed by this Committee. However there were many positive changes brought during this time by the Committee for Public Safety. There were many developments in the economy, science, army and laws. France achieved military success due all of its developments. Now the Committee for Public Safety realized that of all the changes that happened during its reign, the numerous deaths were the most atrocious. They held Robespierre responsible and executed him. After the fall of Robespierre, the goals of the revolution faded