NARENDRAN SARIAM YALE FRENCH PROJECT

THE F RE NCH REVOLUTION
April 9 , 2008
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The French Revolution was a period in time during which France, previously an absolute monarchy, under went radical changes and became a republic. During

this time many men sacrificed their time and effort to make this a possibility. People like Robespierre gave their lives in order for the French Republic to be born. Another cause of the French Revolution is the Enlightenment. The enlightenment gave the common people a sense of support and reinforced the belief that kings were not chosen by God but by the people. The women at this time also played a very important role. One of the causes of the French Revolution was the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a period in history during which people began thinking out of the box. Up till this point people believed that everything happened according to the will of God alone. Now people had begun experimenting with chemistry, biology, mathematics and physics. Until this point people also believed in the Divine Rights of Kings which says that the king is chosen by God and has absolute power. People now, began to believe this to be false. This supported them to raise a revolution against King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. King Louis was a very kind man but he was raised in the confines of the palace and knew very little about the common people when he ascended the throne. When he married to Marie Antoinette in the April of 1770, he was clueless as to how to run the country and as to how to use the money he had just received from Marie's family. So he decided to use it to patronize art. This was not taken well by the people. In 1789 King Louis really went over the line. He had begun inviting his aristocratic friends and having parties while outside the peasants were facing the harsh effects of a terrible winter that had ruined all their crops. At one point there was no bread in Paris and the commoners complained. The attendant told the queen about the complains and she said, “If they have no bread then let

them eat cake.” She never really said this but this is a dialog that shows how ignorant she was. Meanwhile Maximilien Robespierre, born 7th May, 1758, was giving speeches in the assemblies representing the People. He wanted the aristocratic people to be beheaded by the guillotine. Once the had been gotten rid of he moved on to killing anyone who went against his policies. He believed himself to be unstoppable and people in turn believed him to be incorruptible. But unfortunately he was corrupted. In fact when King Louis was tried for treason Robespierre argued for the king to be a thrown to the guillotines. He had it his way in the end. It is because of his accomplishments as an orator that this period is called the Terror because of the number of people it killed. Robespierre added to the Terror by executing 600 people in a month within Pairs alone. With this bloodshed the Great Terror was born and Robespierre would end it by literally paying the price of his head. Once the King lost his head to the guillotines, the People formed something called the National Constituent. This was like a parliament where the people had the representatives debate on stuff. Originally this was under Robespierre before his death. All these representatives wrote the first constitution called 'le droit de l'homme' . It was signed by all the representatives under Robespierre. Another important figure in the French Revolution was Jean-Paul Marat, a significant figure. He was a scientist, philosopher and political theorist. He is best know as the radical journalist that printed a free newspaper outlining the present situation of the government. He was in fact a supporter of Robespierre. He said, "To ensure public tranquility, two hundred and seventy thousand heads more

should fall." This was one of the reason he was assassinated. But overall he was the main source of political information available to the People. At this time there were two sides in the National Conventional, the Girondins led by Danton and the Jacobins led by Jean-Pierre Brissot. When the Convention found out about the paper the Marat was publishing, they called him in for trial and the Jacobins wanted his head while the Girondins defended him. Some historians describe Danton as the 'chief force that led to the overthrow of the Monarchy.' Another factor of the French Revolution were the women. Women participated in virtually every aspect of the French Revolution, but their participation almost always proved controversial. Women's status in the family, society, and politics had long been a subject of polemics. In the eighteenth century, those who favored improving the status of women insisted primarily on women's right to an education (rather than on the right to vote, for instance, which few men enjoyed). The writers of the Enlightenment most often took a traditional stance on "the women question"; they viewed women as biologically and therefore socially different from men, destined to play domestic roles inside the family rather than public, political ones. Among the many writers of the Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau published the most influential works on the subject of women's role in society. In his book Emile, he described his vision of an ideal education for women. Women should take an active role in the family, Rousseau insisted, by breast-feeding and educating their children, but they should not venture to take active positions outside the home. Rousseau's writings on education electrified his audience, both male and female. He advocated greater

independence and autonomy for male children and emphasized the importance of mothers in bringing up children. But many women objected to his insistence that women did not need serious intellectual preparation for life. Some women took their pleas for education into the press. Overall I think that the French Revolution was a total failure because one person. After shedding the blood of nearly 16000 people to get rid of the monarchy, the French ended up having a king anyways. Napoleon Bonaparte was a General during the French Revolution. After he was crowned king of France, he made many successful campaigns and regained the glory France had lost under King Louis XVI.