French Revolution and its European Repercussions

By: Aishi Mitra

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The time takes us back to two centuries earlier when neither the word revolution wasn’t familiar nor it’s vast impact. It was during the late eighteen centuries 1789 when the world witnessed its largest revolution ever in history – THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. The revolution having it’s vast effect not only changed the lives & fates of the people but the entire edifice or structure of France.  The revolution was a result of accumulate grievances of the people of the France especially who belonged to the lower estate. Thus the continuous struggles & pain of discrimination of the people resulted in the French Revolution. Today France stands as one of the most well developed & well settled country in respect of liberty & financial developments. However the scenario was quite different prior to the revolution.

 The main idea of the French Revolution

The main idea of the French Revolution was : Liberty Equality & Fraternity. The country was on the  verge of bankruptcy being one of the many reasons. This was due to extremely bad administration of the then prevailing King Louis XV(15) . France at point worsened so much so that any unfavorable comment on the government or opponent of some noble was liable to be arrested arbitrarily and was even put to trial . The situation in political respect became so awful that it came to be called as ‘FRANCE THE POLITICAL PRISON’.  On the other hand the economical situation detoriated further due to the serious faulty revenue system. The irresponsible behaviour of the king & queen drained the treasury further , their expensive l& lavish lifestyles caused the poor peasants of the country suffer . Hence they had to pay extra taxes. According to a historian of the king’s court reveals that almost ¾ th of the income of a peasant was spent paying the taxes. However this effort of them bear no fruits as one of the main reason being this faulty tax system was the corrupt revenue system & it’s dishonest officers. More than half of the heavy taxes paid by the poor farmers  went to the pockets of the corrupted officers.

The French Society

The French Society was divided into three estates (parts) – the First estate which had the priest or the church officials or the clergy men the second estate had the aristocrats or the nobles who had a  quite good influence on the king  & the third estate consisted the rest of the country including the educated doctors lawyers to the urban workers & San cullotes ( wage earners). However this hurt the sentiments of the educated people who felt that their worth was suppressed by keeping them in the third estate. Also the third estate was deprived of all the privileges which were enjoyed by the the first & the second estate people. Every privilege & facilities were only availed to the the people of the first & second estate. Thus this unjust system fueled the anger of the third estate people who paid all the taxes but remained deprived of all the privileges. On the other hand the king while trying to maintain his supremacy started stating he was god’s representative & hence people should obey him. Thus condition of France was critical at that time. At this time some philosophers who also happened to be writers appeared in France & started popularizing the idea of revolution & helped prepare France to receive the shock or setback eventually when it came.

Montesquieu, Jean Jaques Rousseau & Voltaire were the main names. Montesquieu stated that a law & rule  prevailing in a country should be for everyone & should not maintained with any kind of partial behavior. Rousseau even went on to say that that the king was people’s representative & hence he could be also brought down by them. Vauban, a French military officer too expressed his disappointment on this prevailing unjust tax system.

On the while trying to cover up the loss  the French finance minister set a form of reform measures & presented it before the The states general only to get refused. They further insisted on the summoning of the states general. However this brought a new phase in the history of French Revolution as the summoning of the states general brought only troubles as the first two estates tried to outvote 2 against 3 the third estate  by carrying on the long prevailing system of  counting the whole estate’s vote as one. Thus began the problem, finally the king closed the gates of the states general. The people on finding the gates of the hall closed met in the adjacent tennis court & vowed to work untiringly till they get a constitution which would prevail justice. This was the famous ‘OATH OF TENNIS COURT’ on 20th June 1789. One of the other notable events of the French Revolution was ‘ The Fall of Bastille’ on 14 th June 1789 as it was the first ever expression of non-violence in the history of French Revolution. The incident had such far reaching effects that the whole world rejoiced even there was a dance on the St. Petersburg street in Russia.


Thus we see the French Revolution not only had a mere impact on the French history but had an everlasting effect on the World History. Thus it made  striking historical facts that made a long impact on the upcoming generations.

By: Aishi Mitra

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