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The French Revolution Chapter 21
Learning Objectives for Chapter 21 • After reading and studying this chapter, students should be able to • distinguish between the causes of the American and French revolutions. • explain what eighteenth century liberals meant by the words “liberty” and “equality.” • recognize that the commitment to “equality” was to equality under the law, not to economic equality. • explain the effects of the French Revolution on the common people of France and of areas of Europe incorporated into the French Empire. • discuss the impact of the French Revolution on the status of women.
Liberty and Equality • Revolutionary Goals • Revolutions came in the wake of Enlightenment ideas. • The Judeo-Christian tradition of individualism supported the liberalism of the Enlightenment. • Liberalism was attractive to both the aristocracy and the middle class. • Liberty meant human rights and freedoms and the sovereignty of the people. • Equality meant equal rights under the law and equality of opportunity, rather than economic equality.
The American Revolutionary Era, 17751789 • The Origins of the Revolution • Conflict between British government and the American colonies escalated after the mid-eighteenth century. • The American colonists believed they had the right to make their own laws. • The conflict over increased taxation following the Seven Years’ War increased the discontent of the colonists. • The British wanted the Americans to pay their share of imperial expenses. • Americans actually paid very low taxes. • Parliament passed the Stamp Act to raise revenue. • Colonial protests forced the ultimate repeal of the Stamp Act. • Conflict broadened to include questions about control over colonial legislatures, representation, and the right to legislate. • The British refused to compromise and lost the support of many colonists.
Independence • Revolutionary fervor moved the crisis from debate to open hostilities. • Armed conflict erupted in April 1775. • The Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. • Assistance from France contributed to the eventual American victory. • After eight years of fighting, Britain recognized the independence of the thirteen colonies (1783). • Framing the Constitution • The United States was formed and defined by its Constitution (1787). • Under a federal system the central government was given important powers such as the right to tax and to regulate trade. • Representative self-government reflected the colonists’ antagonism to British authority. • A system of checks and balances was designed to balance governmental powers. • The Revolution’s Impact on Europe • The American Revolution strongly influenced Europe and especially France. • Europeans were deeply interested in the political lessons of the American Revolution.
THE IMPACT OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION • French support for the colonists • Men – including the Marquis de Lafayette • Military materials • Formal alliance • Money • Spain & Holland sided with Americans • Catherine the Great • Organized a league to protect neutral shipping rights
The Breakdown of the Old Order • Many French soldiers served in America during the American Revolution and were inspired by it. • After the Seven Years’ War and the American War of Independence the French government was nearly bankrupt. • King Louis XVI was unwilling or unable to cancel government debt. • He would have to reform the tax-collection system and raise taxes. This precipitated the revolutionary crisis.
Legal Orders and Social Realities: Origins of the French Revolution • Most historians saw the Revolution’s origins in growing tension between bourgeoisie and nobility. • Recently many “revisionists” have challenged this view with the following arguments. • The nobility remained an open order. It was possible to buy entrance. • Many nobles endorsed liberal views. • The nobility and the bourgeoisie had similar interests and pursued similar goals in the economic sphere. • French society was still legally organized according to the medieval system of “three orders,” but in reality France was a country where elite status was based on wealth and education, not the medieval caste system.
THE CRISIS OF POLITICAL LEGITIMACY • Louis XV • Reinstated councils of state instead of ruling personally • Restored the right of parlements – the high courts – to evaluate royal edicts • The magistrates (judges) • usually nobles of the robe • inherited these positions • unlikely to allow the basic reform need for France’s finances • unlikely to allow the landed property of the nobles to be taxed • Louis XV (later Louis XVI) fought with parlement over taxation • Each time the king tried to solve financial crisis – parlement refused • Wars created such financial crisis that Louis XV tried to institute taxes but failed • War of Austrian Succession - 5% income tax • Seven Years War – emergency tax • 1768 Maupeou parlements – to replace the Parlement of Paris • More workable people • Raised cries of royal absolutism • Louis XV private life damaged reputation • Affairs with Madame du Pompadour & Madame du Barry (a prostitute)
AP TIP The Declaration of Independence shows the direct influence of John Locke & Montesquieu. Enlightenment ideas inspired the Americans, and in turn, seeing them come to fruition inspired many Europeans.
FINACIAL CRISIS • French financial crisis • Support for America’s war sparked the revolution • The king financed the war by borrowing • By 1780s, ½ of the government’s budget went to pay off debt • The king tried to raise taxes • For support he called an assembly of notables • Resisted tax • Insisted that Estates General be called into session • The king tried a decree for new taxes • Parlement of Paris resisted • The king reluctantly called the Estates General into session
AP TIP • One might say that the nobility caused the Revolution, in their refusal to compromise on the tax issue. Because of their inflexibility, they soon lost all traditional rights and privileges. It is useful to remember that the American slogan “no taxation without representation” is true, at least in democratic states, in reverse: “no representation without taxation.”
REVOLUTION IN METROPOLE AND COLONY, 1789-1791 • Estates General • Last time called – 1614 • Louis XVI decision to call opened the door for a fury of political discussion • Traditions • Vote for representatives • Prepare lists of grievances • Dissatisfaction with the church hierarchy • Dissatisfaction with the monarchy • Desire of the people • Estates General to meet regularly • Estates General to approve legislation • Econ. Liberalization • Legal guarantees of civil liberties
Question over how the Estates General should be organized • 1614 model • 3 estates each having 1 vote - meet separately • More democratic way – the votes of the estates reflecting its proportion in the population • Parlement of Paris ruled in favor of democracy • Prompted agitation • Abbe Sieyes – pamphlet What Is the Third Estate? • The Third Estate was France • The concession of increasing the number of representatives for the Third Estate was thought to be meaningless – proved to be crucial!
Tennis Court Oath • Estate General convened • 3rd Estate delegates insisted that the three estates sit together as a single body • Deadlock • June 17 – 3rd Estate declared itself the National Assembly • Joined by a few members of the 1st Estate – clergy • June 20 – swore the Tennis Court Oath • Not to disband until they had a written constitution • Louis XVI contradictory response • Ordered the 3 estates to sit as a single body • Ordered troops to Versailles • Planned to dissolve the Estates General
The Formation of the National Assembly • To make tax reforms, Louis XVI was forced to call the Estates General into session for the first time since 1614 (May 1789). • After intense debate over voting procedure, the Third Estate left the meeting of the Estates General and declared itself the National Assembly (June 1789). • The Revolt of the Poor and Oppressed • In Paris common people who were hungry and facing unemployment due to harvest failure organized to prevent dismissal of the king’s finance minister. • On July 13, 1789, an angry crowd stormed the Bastille and seized weapons stored there. • Peasant uprisings in the countryside led the National Assembly to abolish feudal dues and other peasant obligations to the nobility (August 1789).
Video clip link • www.history.com/videos/origins-of-the-french-revolution