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Was the French Revolution a success or a failure for France?

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  • Essay length: 1045 words
  • Submitted: 28/08/2009
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AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945

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Was the French Revolution a success or a failure for France?

To answer this question, we must first define the revolution itself. French Revolution (1789-1799) is traditionally known as the long struggle of the French public against the pre-existing Ancien Regime and all injustices associated with it. It is also described as the battle between the new ideals of enlightenment and democracy against the old authority of the divine right of the king.

In my view, these definitions are at once inadequate and misleading. For one thing, while the ideals of enlightenment and the teachings of the 'philosophes' gave impetus to the cause, the ideals were certainly never the actual triggerant of the revolution. The French middleclass and peasantry were hardly politically involved enough to wage a decade-long struggle against mere ideals. What brought in the entire public an unquenchable anger at the Bourbons was not their absolute monarchy or even the blatant exploitation of the power. All that was always there before, yet the French Revolution never occurred at the times of Louis XIV or Louis XV.

What pushed the subjects to that violent display of force were ontological crises...shortage of bread, increase

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