French Revolution Analysis
|Topics:||French Revolution, International Relations, Napoleon Bonaparte|
Effects of French Revolution
Ideally, French Revolution is one of the most documented upheavals in human history. Historically, the revolution began in 1789 and ended in 1799, immediately after Napoleon Bonaparte took power. French Revolution was associated with increased enlightenment, which emerged in France after being introduced by various scholars. At the same time, French people had the benefits of American Revolution, as it led to increased powers in the hands of the people and destroyed the monarchy or kinship that was mainly associated with bad governance. Notably, the revolution aimed at doing away with the old institutions such as monarchy and the feudal system that were suppressing the people. Therefore, the essay will analyze how the French Revolution helped in shaping France and the modern day European nations.
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There is a controversial debate about the consequences of the French Revolution, particularly when considering the economic and political effects. Scholars have divergent views about the economic impact of the revolution with one side arguing that it led to better economic trajectories. Moreover, another side maintains that it reduced the industrial capacity. Here, it is also argued that the revolution contributed to agricultural backwardness. However, both sides of the debate agree that the revolution caused lackluster economic performance due to the high rate of political upheavals as well as post-revolutionary violence (Franck & Michalopoulos, 2016). Before the revolution, France was the largest economy in the whole of Europe. Nevertheless, the country started lagging behind other European countries like the UK regarding economic growth and performance after the revolution. Therefore, the revolution had a long-term adverse effect on the economic performance of the country.
The revolution also led to a significant political change in France. Here, the revolutionaries managed to achieve one of their primary objectives of removing monarchy from power, resulting in the introduction of a new form of government in the country (Franck & Michalopoulos, 2016). The revolutionaries went ahead to execute both the king and the queen during the revolution. Despite the fact that there was an attempt to reintroduce monarch in 1814, the system was operating under elected legislature. Consequently, the French government was led by favorite people through their representatives in the legislature, leading to improvement in human rights and reduction in the suppression of the ordinary people.
Importantly, the French revolution led to the emergence of nationalism and the idea of the nation-state (Acemoglu et al., 2009). Due to the transformation of the society after the industrial revolution, particularly the removal of monarchy and feudalism, people of various social classes started to emerge in France. Specifically, there was the emergence of middle-class people who comprised of business people, professionals, and industrialists. Nationalism and the idea of nation-state emerged when educated individuals started uniting the culturally and regionally diverse persons who were staying in France (Duiker & Spielvogel, 2016). The emergence of nationalism was also associated with enhanced industrialization, and improved economic performance, particularly after Napoleon came to power with radical reforms that reshaped France. Therefore, French revolution led to the emergence of nationalism, which was lacking during the monarchy system of government.
Additionally, French Revolution resulted in liberal nationalism in the country. Liberal nationalism, also known as civil nationalism, refers to a system that embraces the freedom of individuals as well as the equality before the law. In association with French Revolution, liberal nationalism meant the end of monarchy system and clerical and aristocratic privileges that were only available for a few people in power (Acemoglu et al., 2009). Liberal nationalism also mean the achievement of popular sovereignty through the representation of individuals in the parliaments. In addition, the term “liberal nationalism” was associated with economic freedom during the revolution, as the people were championing for the free markets and the removal of the restriction on the movement of goods, including the capital. As a result, the revolution led to the emergence of liberal revolution in France, which enhanced the equality and freedom of the people.
At the same time, studies reveal that French Revolution made Napoleon emerge as the leader of France in 1804 after the destruction of monarchy system. Unlike the previous governments that had ruled France under the monarchy system, Napoleon came up with new reforms that substantially changed the lives of ordinary people, not only a few elites and rulers (O’Rourke, 2006). Importantly, Napoleon introduced many reforms on laws that were used in France. Historically, before Napoleon came to power, the systems of laws in France were in chaos, as they were based on the Roman laws and monarchial paternalism. Nevertheless, Napoleon ensured that all laws were codified and written clearly in a way that common people could be understood. The new legislation were based on the principle that all men were equal. Besides, the laws respected human rights and individual properties. Therefore, it is worth arguing that Napoleon created a lot of reforms in laws.
The enhancement of efficiency in government also rose from Napoleon leadership due to the centralization of the government. In such instances, government appointments were based on merits while at the same time taxation was equally applied to all people regardless of their status in the society (O’Rourke, 2006). Besides, Napoleon is commended for the reforms that he brought in the education sector. Indeed, the impacts of his education reform were immense because it made mass education available to both the people of lower and middle class. Notably, the leader built up many schools for boys aged between 10 and 16 in the country. As a result, many reforms are attributed to Napoleon from the time he officially took office in 1804.
However, the defeat of Napoleon had some effects. Notably, his defeat led to increasing on conservatism in Europe. Conservatism refers to the political philosophy or ideology that pays much attention to traditional intuitions and practices (Dagger et al., 2015). Therefore, after the defeat of Napoleon, the victorious allies such as Russia, Britain, and Austria came together to settle issues that had emerged during the Napoleon aggressive policies. The primary objective of these groups coming together was to bring back the traditional balance of power that disappeared during Napoleon reign (Duiker & Spielvogel, 2016). Therefore, conservatism started emerging again after the defeat of Napoleon.
In conclusion, French Revolution led to some consequences that did not only affected France alone but also other countries, particularly in europe. It resulted in increased freedom of common people as well as the emergence of nationalism. Notably, monarchy and feudalism systems were destroyed in the country, paving the way to the appearance of a leader like Napoleon who came up with many reforms.
- Acemoglu, D., Cantoni, D., Johnson, S., & Robinson, J. A. (2009). The consequences of radical reform: The French Revolution (No. w14831). National Bureau of Economic Research.
- Dagger, R. et al,. (2015). Conservatism.
- Duiker, W., and Spielvogel, J. (2016). Essential world history (8th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.
- Franck, R., & Michalopoulos, S. (2016). The Consequences of the French Revolution in the Short and Longue Durée. Working Paper.
- O’Rourke, K. H. (2006). The worldwide economic impact of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793-1815. Journal of Global History, 1(1), 123.