The Importance Of The French Revolution To Spread Ideas
During a revolution, all constructs of society are questioned, from the morals which the public have built their lives upon, from the ethics which law is created. The French Revolution is arguably one of the most influential transformations of a country of all time. The French Revolution started in 1789 because of the angst of the majority of the county about unfair laws, as the Clergy, who made up one percent of France’s population owned ten percent of its land. This led to an uprising, which led to a spew of implementing new radical ideas that were meant to change France for the better. Despite the cruelty and bloodshed of the French Revolution, it was so revolutionary because of how it was able to spread the questioning of prior social constructs such as, who should make the laws and who should rule a country.
In a society, should the rich be required to pay taxes the poor do, and who should decide who pays? In 1789, the two highest estates in France, Nobles, and Clergy, never paid taxes. During this, the country was also in massive amounts of debt, partly due to the country’s financial backing of the American Revolution. King Louis XVI, the king of France at the time, was spending half of the federal budget to service this debt, he tried to reform this system under several financial ministers yet it never worked. During this very hard time for the French government, there were constant hail storms that ruined a year’s harvest, which increased the price of food and led to widespread hunger and death. While the people were suffering, the king and his wife, Marie Antoinette, lived very lavishly wearing fancy clothes and were able to live in the Palace of Versailles. The argument for saying that the king was justified to rule was made by God’s Mandates saying you must follow god, and since the king was chosen by God, you must follow the king. Since this was during the enlightenment era of history, philosophers started to question whether they should follow God’s Mandate in selecting a king. The frustration of the people led King Louis XVI to call together a meeting of the Estates-General, which was a form of the national parliament. This was the first meeting in over a hundred years, showing how the king and kings prior did not consider the rest of the public’s will to be too important in deciding the law. Franc was separated into three parliaments, the First Estate, which was the nobles, the Second Estate, which was the clergy, and the Third Estate which was practically everyone else which made up a majority of the county. During the national assembly, the Third Estate left because they decided that wanted to form their national assembly. They left and went to a nearby tennis court where they took the tennis court oath where they agreed to not stop fighting until a French constitution was established. The majority of France questioned why they had little to no say in their country after their government had just gone into debt funding America’s Revolution.
Tensions started to rise in France, as both King Louis and the new national assembly took action. When King Louis sent troops to France to contain riots about food shortages, revolutionaries saw this as a direct attack, and so they seized the Bastille Prison to get guns and free prisoners. Soon After, on August fourth, the new National Assembly abolished most of the past regime which included unequal rights for nobles, unequal taxation, and other rules which were uneven in helping only the upper class. Then on August twenty-sixth, the national assembly put forth the declaration of man and citizen, which claimed that everybody had the right to liberty, property, and security. While all this was happening the royal family was still at Versailles and Louis was still king of France and it was looking like France was bound to be a constitutional monarchy, however, this was soon to be disrupted as a rumor started that Marie Antoinette was hoarding grains somewhere inside the palace. Because of this a bunch of armed women stormed the palace, in what was known as the women’s march, and demanded that they move from Versailles to Paris, which they did. The women’s march is important because it shows how although the French Revolution was useful in spreading enlightenment ideals, the people of France were primarily motivated by a lack of food, resources, and power for the lower class.
During a revolution many new ideas become normal, making way for even more radical ones. This is very apparent with the Jacobins, as while they were protesting for a new republic, the new national assembly sent troops that shot and killed fifty people. This is a turning point as the national assembly where at first the radical group with new ideas but now as more new ideas are embraced the national assembly is now the new oppressors. From this, spawned the Terror followed by the end of the Revolution, where France would be ruled shortly by an emperor-type figure, Napoleon, and then going back to a monarchy.
Through the aggressive push for new ideas, the French Revolution was able to become one of the most influential revolutions in history. Although France did go back to a monarch, its effects are still being felt today when people question authority. The French Revolution teaches us how the ideological repression of a majority can lead to the advancement of new ideas.