Causes and Effects of the French Revolution of 1789

Dr.Santosh Kumar Sain
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 Causes and Effects of the French Revolution of 1789-Due to the French Revolution, the archaic system of France was rooted in the 'Asian Regime'. The incompetent rulers of France, resentment towards the privileges enjoyed by the feudal and aristocracy, the pathetic economic condition of the state, increasing consciousness among the middle class, the effect of intellectual awakening, etc. were many reasons; that gave birth to the revolution.

Causes and Effects of the French Revolution of 1789

Causes and Effects of the French Revolution of 1789

The main reasons for the revolution are as follows-

  •     Social cause
  •     Political reasons
  •     Commercial purpose
  •     Intellectual and other reasons
  •     Immediate cause

1. Social Causes of the French Revolution

French society was uneven and disintegrated. It was based on the principle of feudalistic tendencies and privileges. This society was divided into three categories

  •  First Estate - Pastor
  •  Second Estate-noble and feudal and
  •  Third Estate-Public Ordinary.

On the basis of social status and rights, the high clergy and the nobility came under the privileged class and all the people - farmers, laborers, job and business people, etc. came under the marginalized class.

The high clergy and the nobility were tax-free, despite being wealthy and owning most of the land; Their posts could be bought, due to which the high officials and clergy became inept, corrupt, and sycophantic.

The feudal class lived a life of luxury and had the privilege of collecting various types of taxes from the peasants and forced labor.

The middle class, despite being rich in wealth and ability, was disadvantaged, due to which there was great dissatisfaction among them.

The most pitiable condition was that of the peasants and laborers; Those who were 80 percent of the population and who had to pay half of their income in the form of feudal, religious, and state taxes.

This dual system of society gradually became the cause of mutual tension.

2. Political Causes of the French Revolution

There was complete centralization of power in France at the time of Louis 14th. He ruled with complete autocracy and glory. Despite many wars and spending a lot on the establishment of the new capital, Versailles, he advised his successor not to go to war and to work for the public good.

But his successor Louis the 15th was weak and luxurious. He fought many unsuccessful wars with his neighbors. When Louis the 16th ascended the throne, the situation in France was hopeless. He had no ability to rectify the situation. Louis 16th was neither able to take decisions on his own nor could he act on the proper advice of his ministers.

He was influenced by his queen Marie Antoinette. She constantly intervened in politics and administration. She was the princess of Austria and the people of France did not like her. At the time of the revolution, he increased the difficulties of the king.

  • The House of Representatives of France, the Status General, had not met since 1614.
  • The central control over the provinces had weakened.
  • The whole country was divided into many types of units and different laws were prevalent from place to place.
  • The judicial system was complex and expensive. Anyone could be arrested at any time by a type of warrant 'Letra de Kashe'.
  • From the point of view of trade also, the country was divided into many parts and there were limits of octroi from place to place.
  • The employees were unruly and corrupt.

Thus in France, the political system was weakened by autocratic and incompetent rulers, a lack of representative assemblies, an inefficient administrative system, corrupt justice, and law and order.

3. Economic Causes of the French Revolution

The fiscal policy of France was flawed. There was no state budget. There was no difference between the personal property of the king and the treasury. The royal family wasted heavily on luxuries and wars. The French economy had become debt-based due to more spending than income.

  • France was becoming increasingly indebted to middle-class merchants.
  • No attention was paid to the development of agriculture and industry by the rulers here.
  • The tax system was also faulty. Despite belonging to the privileged class, no tax was collected.
  • The burden of all taxes was to be borne by the farmers, laborers, and the general public.
  • Contract system was prevalent to collect indirect taxes like salt tax etc.
  • The contractors used to torture poor farmers while collecting taxes.

The recession and famine of 1778 made the situation worse. There was a situation of hunger among the farmers and laborers. The merchants also refused to give loans to the state. But there was no dearth of luxury in the royal family and aristocracy. Ultimately, France faced a financial crisis.

 4. Intellectual and other causes of the French Revolution

Philosophers and writers in France inspired the public to change by criticizing the inequality, corruption, religious superstitions etc. prevailing in the French society. In many seminars (Salo) and institutions (Kardiliye etc.), these philosophers used to discuss the evils of the present system. They had an impact on the middle class. He cannot be called the father of revolution; These writers did the work of providing the ideological basis for change in France.

  • Montesquieu presented the principle of separation of power in his book 'The Spirit of Laws'.
  • He was in favor of the constitutional system of governance.
  • Voltaire opposed ancient stereotypes, malpractices and superstitions.
  • Especially the Catholic Church and the luxurious life of the clergy were placed before the public.
  • Rousseau made it clear in the book 'Social Contract' that the ruler should be accountable to the people.

Apart from these, Didero, Quesne, Holbach, Helveticus etc., with their writings, made people aware of inequality, exploitation, religious intolerance, corrupt and autocratic monarchy, administrative faults etc. The French Revolution was also influenced by the contemporary world. After the independence of America and the glorious revolution of England, the constitutional governance system implemented there inspired the educated middle class of France to change the system.

5. Immediate Causes of the French Revolution

Appropriately we have clarified that there was a financial crisis in France. Louis XVI, on the advice of his ministers of economy, Turgo, Neckar, Colon, and Brien, made several efforts to overcome this crisis. All the efforts were unsuccessful due to the conspiracies and non-cooperation of the queen and court feudal lords.

Ultimately, Louis 16th sought to tax the feudal class through ordinances; The Mother of Parl of Paris made it clear that the king did not have the authority to impose a new tax; Only the state has the right to levy taxes through the 'Status General'.

Thus the privileged feudal class opposed the king and pushed France towards revolution.

Effects of the French Revolution

On the one hand some scholars have called the French Revolution a destructive, progressive and anarchist movement; On the other hand scholars have called it the greatest event of the world. It was the world revolution; Which left a deep imprint on the history of the entire human race.

1. Political Effects of the French Revolution

  •     End of autocracy and establishment of republic
  •     Written constitution
  •     Doctrine of popular sovereignty
  •     Declaration of human rights
  •     Improvement in administration
  •     Similar laws and collections of laws

1. End of autocracy and establishment of republic

This revolution ended the era of old autocracy and dictatorship in France. Monarchy based on the principle of divine rights was abolished and was replaced by a constitutional monarchy and later a republic.

2. Written Constitution

After the revolution, a written constitution was made for France, in which the rights and duties of the legislature, executive, and judiciary were clarified and citizens got the right to vote. This constitution was the first written constitution not only of France but also of Europe.

3. Theory of Popular Sovereignty

The revolution gave birth to a new concept in relation to the state and propounded new principles in politics. Popularity lies with the public. This revolution proved that the subjects are really the masters of political rights and the sovereign or public power is with them.

4. Declaration of Human Rights

The fundamental rights of human beings were declared during the revolution. In it, the fundamental rights necessary for the all-round development of man were expressed in clear words. Equality was given to all citizens in the eyes of law. This expanded the hopes and aspirations of the common man and a democratic society was created in France.

5. Reforms in Administration

After the revolution the administration was reorganized. France was divided into 83 equal parts and divided them into cantons and communes. Suitable and competent officers were appointed on the posts. In place of partisan tax system and disorderly wasteful expenditure, uniform tax system and regular budgeting system were established.

The courts were freed from the influence and control of the executive and the legislature. The Jury system was started for the Fazadari Makudams. In place of hereditary and corrupt judges, newly elected judges were arranged.

6. Uniform Laws and Collection of Laws

Variety of laws were abolished. Napoleon made a systematic collection of civil, criminal and other laws by uniting various laws, due to which a uniform law system was established in France. This law-collection is called the "Code of Napoleon". Later, in countries like Austria, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Hollande and America etc., it was implemented by making partial changes in the Code of Napoleon as per the requirement.

 6. Uniform Laws and Collection of Laws

A variety of laws were abolished. Napoleon made a systematic collection of civil, criminal, and other laws by uniting various laws, due to which a uniform law system was established in France. This law collection is called the "Code of Napoleon". Later, in countries like Austria, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Hollande, America, etc., it was implemented by making partial changes in the Code of Napoleon as per the requirement.

2. Religious and Social Effects of the French Revolution

  •     Church reorganization
  •     The era of social equality
  •     Improvement in the condition of the farmers
  •     Progress in Education and Literature
  •     Development of the national spirit

1. Reorganization of the Church-

The Catholic Church of France was reorganized after the revolution. The land, power, and property of the church were put in the hands of the government and a new constitution was implemented for the clergy and they were to be paid the same salary as the government employees. Under this new constitution, relations with the Pope were severed and now the supremacy of the Pope ended. This led to the emergence of more differences between Catholics and their opponents.

2. Era of Social Equality

The end of the ancient feudal system was an important effect of this revolution. The system of noble feudal lords, their tax system, and their special rights were abolished. The taxes imposed by him were also abolished. The feudal system and the slave system were abolished. The ancient institutions based on blind beliefs and stereotypes were destroyed. Social equality and order were established. All citizens were given equal civil rights; They were given equality and freedom without any discrimination.

3. Improvement in the condition of the farmers

Before the revolution the condition of the farmers was pathetic. The feudal lords and clergy exploited them with various taxes. Due to this, the farmers had become poor, and the revolution proved to be a boon for them. The peasants got rid of the atrocities, taxes, exploitation, and slavery of the ruthless feudal lords and vassals. With great diligence and dedication to the land acquired from the nobles, he increased the yield of agriculture.

4. Progress in Education and Literature

During the revolution, education was removed from the hegemony and management of the Catholic Church and placed under the republican government. Thus education was nationalized. The revolution laid the foundation of the national education system of modern France. Many schools, colleges, technical institutes, training institutes, and the University of Paris were established for the enhancement of knowledge. Writing, giving speeches and liberal progressive ideas began.

5. Development of national spirit-

When foreign armies invaded France for the protection of the monarchy, different classes of people enlisted in the army and faced the foreign armies with great valor and courage and won. Thus a sense of nationalism arose among the French for the security of the country. This national spirit and victories further increased the military pride of France.

3. Economic Effects of the French Revolution

  • The revolution was started in France only to solve the economic crisis.
  • Church lands were nationalized to improve the economic situation; The land of the feudatories was divided among the cultivators.
  • The middle-class people also bought property and land.
  • After the end of the feudal system, the burden of taxes was made equal for all classes.
  • It became necessary for everyone to pay taxes.
  • Unjust unjust taxes were abolished.
  • Imperial expenditure was abolished.
  • Thus economic stability came into the administration system due to the budget system and savings.

4. New Commerce Policy of the French Revolution

Restrictions on trade were abolished, and the decimal system was introduced in measurement. The defective guild system for workers and artisans was abolished. The Bank of France was established for capital and credit. Roads, bridges, and ports were built during Napoleon's reign, which led to great progress in trade and industry.

5. Effects of the French Revolution on Europe

  •     The spirit of liberty, equality, and fraternity
  •     New Age of Uprisings and Revolutions
  •     The far-reaching consequences of the revolution in Europe
  •     Spread of internationalism
  •     Literature creation of high quality in Europe

1. Sense of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity

The French Revolution provided the eternal elements of liberty, equality, and fraternity not only to Europe but also to human society. He has always been an inspiration to the people. The revolution spread the spirit of economic and social equality in society, promoted religious freedom and tolerance, and provided civil liberties. Individual rights recognized.

The French revolutionaries considered the suffering people of other countries as their brothers. The ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity, and democracy soon spread to other countries of Europe; The struggle for these ideas started in the world since then.

2. New Age of Uprisings and Revolutions-

The principle of individual liberty of man was accepted forever in France and later in all the countries of Europe. This inspired the people to fight for freedom and end the tyrannical rule. The French Revolution inspired democracy, equality, liberty, and nationalism. To give practical shape to these principles, revolutions took place in Europe in 1830 AD and 1848 AD.

Perhaps the revolution of 1917 AD in Russia and the propagation of the theory of the communist social organization by Karl Marx took place on the ideals of the French Revolution. These revolutions brought an end to the autocratic kings, and dictators, their tyrannical rule in Europe, and the victory of the people.

3. The far-reaching consequences of the revolution in Europe

The French Revolution was a rapid movement of international importance; The wide spread of which changed the history of France. Napoleon, the national leader of France, became the decisive authority in Europe. The history of Napoleon became the history of Europe.

4. Spread of Internationalism-

The wars against France after the revolution and the feeling of defeating France brought the countries of Europe closer to each other. After defeating Napoleon at Waterloo, the European monarchies established the Holy Union, and the European United System, to maintain peace and security in Europe.

These international associations held conferences in various places in Europe. Although this international union could not solve the political problems of Europe, it encouraged the international spirit and functioning in Europe. International institutions like the League of Nations and the United Nations of the 20th century are also a result of this internationalism.

5. Literature Creation of High Quality in Europe

Inspired by the principles and ideals of the French Revolution, many scholars, poets, writers, and litterateurs of European countries in the 19th century made freedom, equality, human rights, the Laque system, socialism, public welfare, etc. the main subjects of their works.

Examples, are the poet Wordsworth's 'Prelude', Southgate's John of Arc, Victor Hugo's 'La Miserable', the poet Chalet's 'Mistake of Anarchy' Gote's 'Fast' etc.

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