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French Revolution Of 1789 Slogan Of Change In Europe

French Revolution Of 1789 Slogan Of Change In Europe


The French revolution of 1789 remains an important aspect of not only history but in literature as well. The events that constitute the whole scenario of the revolution have separate values in the course. However, we would discuss today the revolution and how it was a slogan of change not only in France but in the whole of Europe. But before analyzing the outside effects, it is necessary for us population of France to stick to it.

Such events and situations brought about a revolution and a new chapter in history came into existence.

What Causes Led To The Revolution:

  1. Financial Causes

King Louis had brought France to the brink of bankruptcy. France suffered a 7-year war between 1756-1763 and no doubt, war is a major setback to a country’s economy. Other than that, the colonial trade was destabilized causing France to lose over 8% of the economy. With consistent foolish decisions by the king, France had to acquire debts and a time had come when France was heavily burdened by debts. The price of bread and products of basic need went so high that only the nobles or clergy could afford it leaving the third estate to survive on its own.

  • Social Inequality

France was ruled by a monarch and the general public or society of France was oddly divided into three categories which were together known as the state general. After the king came to the Clergy who were the religious class of the society. These people were linked with religion either through churches or some other way but whatever the case may be, these people were very rich and it was mandatory for everyone to respect them. Similarly, the second were the nobles who were feudal lords and very extremely rich. Even the King had to ask for their consent before making a decision. The third and the majority of the population belonged to the third estate. These people were poor and were ruled by the upper classes. They mostly consisted of peasants and laborers. They had to pay heavy taxes to the king as well as the nobles and clergy and lived a miserable life. The third estate used to do all the work while the upper classes enjoyed the fruits.

  • Political Causes:

The parlement used to be composed of nobles only and thus they would favor each other in every matter. The lower class had no value and their consent on national affairs was given no heed. The parlement rejected the third estate’s reform to involve the nobles in the tax system. The king also appointed the judges out of the nobles. The nobles would disapprove of anything that went against their favor.

So as a whole, the whole situation was very unjust. This clarifies the misery of the French common class.

Slogans Of Change:

During the age of enlightenment, as many scholars and thinkers put forward their ideas and contributions towards the revolution, a slogan was introduced by François Fénelon at the end of the 17th century. François Fénelon was a French Roman Catholic archbishop, theologian, poet, and writer. He introduced the slogan “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”(liberty, equality, and fraternity). These slogans were the main focus of the whole of the revolution.

The oppression of the French people by the superior classes was a pity to humanity but the French third estate was quite used to this misery and perhaps none of them actually believed how ruthlessly they were being treated. The third estate was dependent upon the upper classes, they were considered poor and inferior and they were disheveled.

Considering the situation of the people, the most important requirement for them was liberty, equality, and fraternity. Later on, it was the French people or more specifically, the bourgeoisie class who considered themselves responsible for executing the slogans and converting them into a reality. 

How The Slogans Were Expressed And Executed:

During the initial stages, the third estate formed a national assembly of their own. Philosophers believe that this national assembly held power because of the majority of the population that consisted of it. The third estate called upon the nobles and the clergy to discuss matters. The nobles and the clergy joined them to foresee the agenda of the third estate. On 14 July, the people of Paris came out on the streets radically to take down the fortress so they could secure guns and ammunition. Talks with the king and the upper classes did not turn out successful which is why the third estate bombarded the streets and shed blood violently. A long-term clash between the nobles and the clergy continued.

In August 1789, a declaration was formulated in the national assembly known as the “declaration of the rights of man and citizen”. This document highlighted universal human rights regardless of class. In the same way, the legislation kept working in the national assembly when finally in 1791, a written constitution was formed in France making France a constitutional monarchy.

In 1792, a war broke out against France and a coalition of other countries including Britain and Austria. By that, the government was being strongly influenced by “Jacobins”. These were a radical sort of a political wing that was bent on purging France from conservative elements. In September 1792, the First French Republic was established by Jacobins through a newly formed assembly known as the national convention. King Louis XVI was imprisoned after failed negotiations. The third estate had decided to give very limited powers to the king but the foolish king considered it as a threat to his dignity. He was imprisoned and executed by guillotine in 1793. The king’s wife was an Austrian princess and thus a wave of anger spread across Europe. This action was highly condemned throughout Europe. After 9 months, his wife Marie Antoinette was guillotined as well. From this perspective as we analyze it, the Austrian princess being killed would have obviously left an intensely horrifying impact on Europe. How Europe responded to all of this scenario and what other changes were to occur are now clear and obvious with their background and reasons.

From 1793 to 1794, a terrible time initiated in France which is often known as the reign of terror. During this time, approximately 40000 people were rounded up and executed by guillotine in cases of anti-revolutionary activities.

Another group known as the Girondins was fed up with the violence of the Jacobins and they decided to hold power. Their executive was based on 5 people only who were known as the directory.

In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte established a final government which was later on shifted to dictatorship.

French Revolution Impacts within France:

The French revolution was a critical event in modern history. It helped promote the modern notions and ideas of democracy and individual liberty while eroding the long-standing monarchial government and aristocracy. However, these effects just don’t end here. The French Revolution also eroded religion and its implementations in state affairs. In fact, the revolution promoted secularism. It also showed that enlightening ideas can take practical forms. Due to this reason, the French revolution has been used as a role model for many other revolutions as well and has continuously reminded the people that oppression and individual liberty cannot be suppressed for a long period of time. The revolution, however, has a dark side as well which is filled with murders and violence. Several historians believe that freedom cannot be achieved without sacrifices and violence while others perceive the revolution as a radical and violent rebellion against the rulers.

Impacts OF The French Revolution on Europe:

If one puts it in simple terms, the French revolution leads to a disaster in Europe. Many of these events turned against human interests and peace and overall transformed the whole condition of Europe in a very negative way.

  • 20 years of war in Europe:

The revolution lead the whole of Europe in a clash with each other. Several nations initiated serious wars against each other. These wars were deadly as approximately one million people lost their lives during these wars in Europe. Other than the lives lost, these wars were so expensive that the citizens of every country had to suffer huge heavy taxes. The prices of bread rose to high limit and not everybody remained able to afford a two time meal. The combatant nations suffered devastating blow to their economies due to which they had to ask for financial helps leaving the countries in heavy debts.

  • Congress of Vienna:

During 1814-1815, after a long term war the countries of Europe decided to call off the matter and a congress was held which is known as the congress of Vienna. This meeting was held between Europe’s biggest military powers that were Russia, Prussia, Britain, France and Austria. Even though France was on the losing side of it was still allowed to come. Smaller nations also attended the meeting but the bigger 5 decided the matters. The main purpose of the congress of Vienna was to reorganize Europe in order to prevent another major war and maintain the current social order. The meeting also decided to maintain a balance of power between the nations that they decided to do by forming allies with each other against that one country that acts like France did by attacking other countries and initiating a war.

The congress had another main issue to handle which needed attention and that was the question of what and how to deal with France currently and if France will be able to cope up with the new policies. The congress decided to treat France lightly and not punish it for initiating wars. So France was allowed to keep some of the land that it captured during the revolution by paying a sufficient amount of indemnity. France also became a constitutional monarchy under Louis XVIII. The bigger powers were lenient on France because they wanted France to participate in the “balance of powers”. Secondly, they also wanted to prevent any further revolutionary activity in France as well.

After dealing with France, the congress of Vienna decided to deal with the territorial changes in Europe since Napoleon was defeated. A new map of Europe was drawn and several territories were submerged in other nations. Russia gained control over most of Poland, Prussia also gained some parts of Poland and some German states as well, Austria was given control of Northern Italy, and The Netherlands gained some French lands as well. However, these territorial changes also left its effects on Europe. First of all, France was weakened in order to prevent any further revolutions. Secondly, Russia, Prussia and Austria gained the most strength. Thirdly, Britain was given the opportunity to expand its global empire. Fourthly and the most importantly, a hundred years were spent peacefully without any war till World War 1 in 1914. But on the downside, the territories that were distributed were distributed without the consent of the people who lived there. This could have led to another revolution in Europe.

  • The Holy Alliance:

France and the Great Britain were fine and in a positive view of some of the aspects of the French Revolution. Both the nations considered that the representative form of government was an optimistic approach to modern government. In the same way, Constitutional monarchy, according to France and Britain was better than the previous monarchial system. Also the way how gradually the French society reformed could lead to a better governance system and progress of the country. But, the other three nations, Austria, Prussia and Russia were absolutely and critically against every single aspect of the French revolution. These nations held firmly on the idea of the 17th century absolutism of power, they did not believe in any representation but divine rights provided by the absolute government. The three nations strongly opposed and resisted by force any sort of revolutionary practices or ideas.

Due to these three nations having similar ideas and agendas, they decided to work with each other by forming an alliance known as the holy alliance. The main purpose of this holy alliance was to support and maintain their old school absolutist regimes and critically resist any movement against them. For instance if we suppose a revolutionary movement being initiated in Austria, the allies, Russia and Prussia would send in immediate help to oppose the movement and stop it at all costs.

  • French Emigration:

Due to all the revolutionary activities in France, many French people who did not wish to be a part of the chaos, flew to different European countries like Germany, Austria and Britain. A few migrated to the United States as well. Europe was over burdened by migrants as the government had to compensate them, provide food and shelter. Simply, these French migrants were caused economic imbalance in Europe. Also, the locals were afraid of the French migrants as they were unaware of their political background and thought that they would cause disturbance to their peace as well.

  • French Conquests:

France conquered most of the European lands and considered it as a part of its revolution. Many states of Italy, Netherlands, Austria and Dutch republics were submerged in France. The people living under these states were obviously furious and being treated violently. Food resources were less and the societies were disrupted fully. The whole mechanism of Europe was changed. Stability lacked in every aspect while the countries who’s lands were taken away retaliated back causing France to lose the war. During this whole period no development in Europe was made whatsoever.

  • Nationalism:

The French revolution gave many philosophers and historians a subject of nationalism to think over. As mentioned in the holy alliance that France and Britain had an optimistic view of certain events of the French revolution, many European thinkers also discussed and analyzed the accounts of the revolution and perceived it as a role model for nationalism. According to them, the French people made it clear that the right to liberty and freedom could not be oppressed for a long time and that any nation with a living spirit would not tolerate absolutism and would fight for their rights by all means. For many people, Napoleon became a heroic leader who fought in order to preserve the revolution and help his people regain a status in the world.

According to Otto Dann and John Dinwiddy report:

“It has long been almost a truism of European history that the French Revolution gave a great stimulus to the growth of modern nationalism.”

  • Britain:

During the initial stages of the revolution, Britain strongly opposed the revolution and tried to resist it at different levels. The whole of the British administration turned severely against the revolution as they believed absolutist monarchy was better for the French people. However, as conditions changed on later, Britain start to speak out in favor of the revolution and strongly appreciated the idea of a constitutional monarchy. British authors wrote books over the French revolution where most of them could be seen speaking in favor of certain events.

  • Germany:

Germany was quite favorable of the revolution during the beginning but as the king was executed, German people began to change views over the revolution. Napoleon and his decisions to forcefully occupy the whole of Europe turned out against his will and by the time France decided to occupy German and Prussian lands, strong opposition was faced by France. However, Germany did implement some aspects of the revolution such as the reduction of taxes and ending the privileges being enjoyed by the upper classes.

But the point to be noted is that Germany and Italy did not exist as a unified empire at that time. Camillo Di Cavour like Napoleon III emerged out as an economic modernizer, set up steam ship companies and planned to unify Italy. The northern part of Italy was occupied by Austria and so being an enemy to Austria, France signed itself as an ally to Italy and decided to help Camillo in unifying Italy. In 1859 Di Cavour decided to attack the northern occupied sides of Italy and surprisingly he gained victories. The Italian people were ready to support him and so occupied lands on the south of Italy were also taken down by Italian Forces when finally in 1861, a unified kingdom of Italy came into existence.

In 1871, Otto von Bismarck a conservative German statesman masterminded the unification of Germany. Even though Bismarck had strange political views and was not appreciated by most of conciliates of Europe, he was still encouraged by someone who’s decision made a lot of importance; the Prussian king. Bismarck initiated three wars to expand the German empires, the first of all with Denmark, then with Austria and finally with France.  Germany played a wicked role and created a sort of a political warfare which indulged Prussia to defeat France and in the same way defeating German rivals to clear its way. The German princes from Northern and southern states urged William I to take the title of Kaiser or emperor and so two house legislature was made named Bundesrat and Reichstag where the German empire was given its structure and by 1871, the German empire was officially created.


So in the end, if we conclude the French Revolution, it is clear that a major event in history initiates or inspires its surroundings to a huge extent just like an Earthquake. France was obviously the most affected by the revolution but other European states like Britain were either inspired and ready to bring about a change towards modernism in government or completely horrified by states involving the holy alliance. Even the states against the revolutions started to take steps to prevent it, the views about the French people changed during the time in other states or even wars broke out. The whole scenario of the French revolution had left such a deep effect on Europe that no peace was seen for a long time. Educational, business, economic, and other sectors were deeply affected and so no progress could be seen during the time. The whole world still remembers the time of the revolution and holds different views over it but whatever the case may be, it was one of the most tragic as well as glorious revolutions in history. Many people died and many discovered new lives. The concept of absolutism was severely challenged and old-school ways of social functioning were questioned. Europe did evolve with time and especially after the world wars thus leading the events to new changes and development.

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