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Lecture 10

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HIS244H1: Lecture #10 Monday June 18 /2012 The Crisis of the Old Regime Exam Review: 1. 8 People/Projects/Concepts: Who what where when and why (significance) 2. 3 pictures from lecture/tutorial choose 1 page description 1 page 3. 2 Essay Questions: the more specific the better, need to have an argument, intro and conclusion (about 5 pages in the booklet) The Setting at the end of the 18 Century By the end of the 18 century, the political regimes of Europe were increasingly coming under the scrutiny of the public. The emergence of the public sphere came to full force in the 18 century. The Enlightenment can be seen as a movement that contributed to the idea that political reforms were possible. Even though the enlightenment thinkers were concerned with practical and limited reforms (such as religious toleration, freedom of expression), they did not advocate for a revolution, but their writings did point out the flaws of the old system, and their writings contributed to a growing sense that the Old regime was inefficient at best. Thus, the Enlightenment provided the tools for the critical evaluation of European monarchies, and the French monarchy in particular. It brought along new ideas of political systems, but not enough to cause the French Revolution. th In 1771, Louis 15 had appointed a new chancellor Maupeou. He decided to replace his Parliament with new law courts that he thought would favour his own views. This causes an outrage and the King was accused of being a despot. It also launched a wider debate about the extent and nature of royal power in the public sphere. From 1771-1774 Parliament was abolished, and was only to be restored by Louis 16 when he th came to the throne. It can be said that reformers and inspiring revolutionaries got inspiration from the American Revolution in 1783. The American Revolution was a powerful example because it was successful, and provided an alternative vision and alternative political system. It was also justified by using Lockes theory of universal natural rights. The theory could be used to validate the demands of political reforms across the western world at the time. By the late 18 century, the monarchy in France was facing crisis. This was believed to be brought about by the weakness of the last 2 bourbon kings (Louis 15 /16 ). These th th Kings did not have charisma like Louis 14 , were not great public figures, and were seen as determined. In France, political power is a very personal affair the King exercises power as a person, and he represents political power and if he doesnt look that great there is a problem in the political system. LOUIS 15 :h o Secretive, indecisive o Public standing is at a low point o 1774 death was mostly welcome by his subjects who were happy to start over with a new king o Problem with him is that he seems to be acting in accordance with his mistress wishes, and not in the need/best interest of his subjects o Had a very active sexual life this is something coming constantly under scrutiny political and public virtue associated with your private virtue (problematic for monarchy) LOUIS 16 :h o At first he is quite popular, but this fades away o Socially awkward, slow-witted, timid not something you want in a King hes supposed to be leading the political system o He doesnt put on a very good show for his subjects he prefers to lead a more private life o Attempts to remove himself and his family from the public eye o Physical deformation which prevented him from consummating the marriage no male heir to the throne for the first 7 years, makes the Queen unpopular also o Appears to be a weak man, dominated by his much more determined wife, shes a foreigner (Austrian) and a women (unpopular with public) Absolutist Regime King symbol of entire state o Seemed to be dominated by the women of their entourage o Appeared that France was falling into despotism easily manipulated by interest groups seeking to advance their own agenda at the expense of the nation o For absolutism to work King needs to be able to make decisions according to the needs of his people, not those of self-interested individuals o By late 18 century monarch has a serious image problem o Publications and Pamphlets discussing/criticizing problems of the monarch In the 18 century, France has lost some international prestige o 7 Years War: lost most of their influence in India, Canada It was a complete defeat for France, and often blamed on the alliance that France had just formed with Austria (which becomes really unpopular in 1760s). o Louis 15 refuses to reconsider the alliance, fixes the marriage between th Louis 16 /Marie Antoinette implying that the alliance is there to stay, and also that an Austrian women is going to be a queen of France Some military successes during American war of Independenceo France wouldnt have been so successful if they hadnt given so much support to the American revolutionaries, however, it cost them a lot of money o In the end it increases the French national debt of 1 billion livres (currency at the time), they couldnt afford to spend that much money o Finances were not yet recovered from the 7 Years War o Example: Not able to support the Dutch patriots that revolted in 1787 no resources able to be sent rebellion is shut down o Overall Frances inability and its failures to support its allies demonstrate a diplomatic weakness in the 18 century o France should be a first rate power, one of the most powerful European th states, but overall its foreign policy in the late 18 century does reveal the diplomatic decline of France o In theory, the social order is supposed to be static, but in reality thats not the case 15 years before the F.R, about 2500 families had bought their way into the nobility o By the sale of Offices to raise badly needed revenues monarchy diminished the status attached to the nobility not about merit anymore, now open to those who have enough money within the nobility class th o Wealthy commoners/nobility in 19 century lines are blurred between
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