Chapter 19 - French Revolution


The French Revolution is one of the more important units in our course. Within a rather short time span we are treated to almost all of the major themes of history.

Remember, REVOLUTION, as a word, just means a sudden change. It doesn't have to mean a bloody struggle between two different sides (though it certainly can mean that).

In France, we are focused on 3 key elements that start the Revolution.
1) The inequalities in French society. The presence of an educated middle class that had the same rights as an uneducated peasantry made the middle class jealous of the nobles and clergy (the 2nd and 1st estate)
2) The Ideas of the Enlightment - The middle class bourgeoisie were educated in the ideas of Locke, Montesque and Russeau. They believed that an absolute monarchy was among the worst forms of government.
3) Widespread Government Debt -Thanks to the spending of Louis XIV, France had suffered under two generations of terrible economic troubles.

Another important idea of the French Revolution is the theme of hypocrisy. Everyone who will 'claim' to be 'fighting for the people' are really just fighting for themselves. This will show up alot as we go on.

HOMEWORK QUESTION - Which Enlightenment thinker do you think most influenced the French Revolution?