The French Revolution
1) Intro – Significance
End of Old Regime
o It had a monarch, not elected or approved by people, ruled by
grace of God, privileged role designated for catholic church,
social order determined by birth rather than birth and
remnants of ancient medieval type economic structures.
Destroyed in 1789 over the course of a few months.
Absolute to constitutional monarchy to republic
o Transformed France’s type of government, introduced
legislation and a political framework, which responded to
social, political and ideological changes.
10-year experiment in popular sovereignty – series of experiments
with political models with the scope of rights that it assigns two
people, in terms of social and political movements and all this
happening in the midst of war.
New political vocabulary
European and global influence
o From 1792 when France was in war and would stay in war
with the rest of Europe, experiments spread across Europe.
o Napoleon 1799, crowned himself in 1804. By the time of
Napoleon’s fall, his wars and treaties made along the way
transformed all the old empires of Europe and unleashed two
ideologies: nationalism and liberalism, which would shape
political life until after WW1
Background – Long-term and short-term causes
o Erosion of Old Regime society
o Loss of political legitimacy of monarchy
Not regarded/kept in the same esteem or hold the same
respect for people as it had before. Derived from ideas of the
o Influence of American Revolution (ideological and financial)
France’s involvement provides more than just undermining of
the political system – the provided guns and gunpowder to the
Deep financial hole France managed to dig itself
Long and Short term
o Financial crisis but refusal of nobles to reform
By 1780s, half the national budget went to interest payments
Went to military
6% of the court/King’s household
19% left to spend on the civil service, transportation, roads
Necker, Callone – important finance ministers