• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Was the French revolution a Bourgeoisie revolution?

Extracts from this document...


Was the French revolution a Bourgeoisie revolution? This essay will consider both Marxist and revisionist viewpoints on whether the French revolution was a Bourgeois one. In order to do this I will look at both perspectives separately. Marxism is a clear-cut view of the French revolution. It gives a central role to the Bourgeoisie for being the main inspirators for its cause. This is due to the fact that it was widely believed to be them who stood to gain the most. Lefebvre was the main and most revered of all Marxist historians. His belief is that the year 1789 was the one in which the Bourgeoisie took power. They had been waiting for centuries in order to do this, according to Lefebvre, and when they had finally reached sufficient numbers and wealth they took the initiative. They owed most of their success to a shift of what was considered important in society. In medieval society, the landed Aristocracy had dominated. They owed much of their success and wealth to the land. This is not the case in the eighteenth century when the impetus changed and economic power, personal abilities and confidence became more desirable than land.1Although the Bourgeoisie was growing in vast numbers, the Nobility had one thing over on them, Social Status. This leads on to the main crux of the Marxist argument, that there was a class struggle between the Nobles and the Bourgeois. ...read more.


The reality is, that the percentage of Bourgeoisie in the Estates-General who was involved in Commerce and Industry was only 13%, whilst the rest were minor government office holders and lawyers of some sort.5 This certainly does not tally with the Marxists view that a Revolutionary Bourgeoisie overthrew an outdated feudal system. The Marxists also stereotyped the Nobility. They are far from being the feudal, outdated, impoverished and debt laden they have been shown to be by the Marxists. They are in fact astute, meticulous managers of their estates and also adhered to the Bourgeois believed virtues of thrift, discipline and strict management to family fortune. A Revisionist historian Robert Foster discovered this crack in the traditional view of the Nobility when he studied the Nobility in Toulouse. Far from enjoying the fiscal privileges many Marxist have liked to claim, the Nobility were in fact highly taxed - it was the Commercial Bourgeois who really benefited from the important tax exemptions, so Revisionist Betty Behrens believes. Another interesting fact about the Nobility was that they too, were involved in Commerce and Industry. Nogaret found that more and more Nobles were investing in Industry and that they behaved more like the Bourgeoisie. In fact there appears to be no clear contrast between the Nobility and the Bourgeoisie. Not many can deny that the Bourgeoisie holds the main bulk of the wealth in Commerce and Industry, yet so have the nobles invested and gained a large profit from this trade as-well. ...read more.


His theme is that the revolutionary Bourgeois was mainly a declining class of Lawyers, Professional men, and Officers, not the businessmen of Commerce and Industry. In Conclusion to this essay, the question, "Was the French revolution a Bourgeoisie revolution" has been fully explored. It has been established that many Marxist viewpoints did not tally with the actual evidence later presented by the Revisionists. The Marxists straightforward, simple analysis of the Bourgeois role in the French Revolution was not correct. Cobban believes that the term "Bourgeoisie" is ambiguous. The Bourgeois theory is that they are a class of capitalists, yet those of the Revolution were Landowners, Rentiers, and Officials. Lefebvre said that the Revolution marked the end of the struggle of the Aristocracy against the Monarchy and the rise of the Bourgeoisie to triumph over both. It is true that the abolition of privilege and noble status meant the destruction of the last holy relics of a vanquished social order, yet Lefebvre was wrong when he said Feudalism was replaced by Capitalism. Instead, France was to be ruled by men of property, not men of birth. Notables rather than Nobles. . 1 Doyle, W Origins of the French Revolution (Historical Association London 1980) P7-8 2 Murphy, D Europe 1760-1871 (HarperCollinspublisher 2000) p74 3 Murphy, D Europe 1760-1871 p75 4 Cobban, A Historians and the Cause of the French revolution (Oxford university press 1946) p37 5 Doyle, W Origins of the French Revolution p12 6 Doyle, W Origins of the French Revolution p21 7 Murphy, D Europe 1760-1871 p76 8 Doyle, W Origins of the French Revolution p21 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1700-1799 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1700-1799 essays

  1. “The French Revolution was simply a product of Enlightenment thought.” How accurate is this ...

    "Rousseau's Contract Social had no ascertainable influence before the revolution and only a very debatable one during its course. True, there is the oft-repeated story of Marat reading it to enthralled crowds at street corners, but anyone who could believe this could believe anything."8 Cobban does not offer any explanation

  2. Through examining the historians Georges Lefebvre and Alfred Cobban, what are the underlying factors ...

    Lefebvre is a leading figure in the establishment of the Orthodox interpretation of the French Revolution. His writing is evidently influenced by his political affiliation with Marxism. After WWII he joined the French Communist Party, whom he credited with for defeating the Germans and preserving the Republican tradition.

  1. THe industrial revolution case study

    The enclose system only benefited large land owners and made the poor poorer and the rich richer. It destroyed the unity and tradition of rural society and forced many to large cities to seek jobs as they could no longer survive from the domestic system if they had no land.

  2. Stalin's rise to power

    Stalin's position as general secretary was vital to him and he used it to great effect to gain power. The ability to appoint new members was crucial, because Stalin was able to out vote his rivals.

  1. Was the industrial Revolution a good thing?

    The Domestic System gave people more free time to enjoy themselves and work together in close and friendly communities and in harmony with nature, instead of with complete strangers and cruel employers who were obsessed with time and profit and exploited their workers, especially the women and young children which is what happened in the mills, mines and factories.

  2. Is the Cultural Revolution best characterised as a top-level power struggle or a mass ...

    itself were unprecedentedly trampled....the whole of China tumbled into insanity' (Yan and Gao, 1996, 529). Years of work and progress were sacrificed: a whole generation of youth went without education; factories and farms lay idle. China fell even further behind the industrialised powers of the world.

  1. It is true that Comrade Mao Tse-tung made gross mistakes during the 'Cultural Revolution', ...

    From 1949 to 1959, he was the Chairman of the People's Republic of China and remained Chairman of the Communist Party until his death in 1976 (Spence 1999:P100-108). I will give some details of his brilliant life as follows: Mao could be viewed as a philosopher .Mao had envisioned a wealthy, powerful, socialist China (Wilson 1977:P72).

  2. Why did the Industrial Revolution Occur in Britain First?

    and canals, these infrastructure improvements not only connected major urban centers with each other, but also extended into the most rural territories.26 The entire British island was effectively linked together. As a result of the transportation revolution, Great Britain was tied together allowing more efficient trading to occur.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work