Chapter Notes and Summary
• French Society During Late 18th Century French society was divided into three Estates. First Estate consisted of clergy, Second Estate consisted of nobility and Third Estate consisted of common people.
1. first two estates, i.e., clergy and nobility were called privileged classes because they enjoyed certain rights and privileges by birth. They were exempted from paying taxes to state.
2. Only Third Estate paid taxes. They also had to render services to landowners.
3. Church also collected taxes called tithes from peasants.
4. When Louis XVI ascended throne he found an empty treasury.
5. Long years of war had drained financial resources of country.
6. France helped thirteen American colonies to gain independence from Britain; this added to economic problems of France.
7. Louis XVI wanted to raise taxes to meet expenses and increase income of government.
• A Growing Middle Class Envisages an End to Privileges
1. In 18th century, a new social group emerged who were known as middle class. They had become rich through expansion of overseas trade.
2. In addition to merchants and manufactureres there were lawyers and administrative officials who were educated and believed that no group of society should be privileged by birth but their position should depend on merit. They demanded an end to privileges.
3. Philosophers like Locke, Rousseau and Montesquieu believed in a society based on freedom, equal law and opportunities for all Rousseau proposed a government based on a social contract between people and their representatives.
• Outbreak of Revolution
1. On 5th May, 1789 Louis XVI called together an assembly of three Estates to pass proposals for new taxes.
2. Each Estate had one vote. Third Estate demanded one vote for each member of assembly. They demanded that voting should now be conducted by assembly as a whole.
3. When king rejected proposals of Third Estate, they walked out of assembly in protest and held their meeting in hall of an indoor tennis court and declared themselves National Assembly.
4. Meanwhile rest of France was seething with turmoil because a bad harvest led of increase in bread prices and hoarding. Crowds of angry women stormed shops.
5. On 14th July, 1789, an agitated crowd stormed and destroyed Bastille, a prison just outside Paris, freeing all its prisoners.
6. Due to rumours spreading about nobles trying to destroy crops, peasants attacked them, booting and destroying records of manorial duces.
7. Finally, king agreed to a Constitutional Monarchy rule.
On 4th August, 1789, Assembly abolished taxes and tithes and lands owned by Church were confiscated.
• France Becomes a Constitutional Monarchy
1. National Assembly completed draft of Constitution in 1791. Power was assigned to different institutions, Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. This made France a Constitutional Monarchy.
2. Only men who paid taxes equal to 3 days wages of a labourer were entitled to vote.
3. remaining men and all women were classed as passive citizens.
• Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen
1. Constitution began with a declaration of rights of man and citizen. Rights such as right to live. freedom of speech, freedom of opinion and equality before law as were established as ‘natural and inalienable’ rights.
2. Each right belonged to each human being by birth and could not be taken away.
3. It became duty of state to protect each citizen’s natural rights.
1. people who were poor were not her given political rights. So, they formed clubs to discuss government policies and plan their actions.
2. most popular club was that of Jacobins. This club included small shopkeepers, artisans such as shoemakers, pastry cooks, printers, servants and daily-wage workers.
3. Their leader was Maximilian Robespierre.
4. Jacobins wore striped trousers to set themselves apart from fashionable sections of society who wore knee breeches.
• Reign of Terror
1. period from 1793 to 1794 is referred to as Reign of Terror.
2. Robespierre followed a policy of severe control and punishment.
3. All those whom he saw as being ‘enemies’ of republic, ex-nobles and clergy, members of other political parties and even members of his own party who did not agree with his methods were arrested, imprisoned and tried by a revolutionary tribunal.
4. If court found them guilty they were guillotined.
5. This government placed a maximum ceiling on wages and prices. Meat and bread were rationed. Use of expensive white bread was forbidden.
6. All Frech men and women were now called citoyen and citoyenne (citizens). Churches were closed.
7. Even supporters of Robespierre demanded moderation.
Finally, he was convicted by a court in, July 1794, arrested and on next day sent to guillotine.
• Directory Rules France
1. fall of Jacobins allowed wealthier middle class to seize power. A new Constitution provided for two councils which elected a Directory made up of five members.
2. directors often clashed with Legislative Councils who then sought to dismiss them.
3. political instability of directory paved way for rise of military dictator Napoleon Bonaparte.
• Revolution and Women
1. Most of women of Third Estate had to work hard for a living. They worked as seamstresses, sold flowers, fruits and vegetables or worked as domestic servants. They had no access to education or job training.
2. Their wages were lower then men.
3. They started their own newspapers and political clubs.
4. One of their main demands was equal political rights; they demanded right to vote, to be elected to Assembly and to hold political office.
5. revolutionary government did introduce laws that helped to improve lives of women.
6. Schooling for girls was made compulsory.
7. Their fathers could not force them into marriage against their will. Marriage was made into a contract entered into freely and registered under civil law.
8. Divorce was made legal and could be applied for by both women and men.
9. Women too could now train for jobs, could become artists or run small businesses.
10. It was finally in 1946 that women in France won right to vote.
11. Olympe de Gouges was one of most important politically active women in revolutinary France.
• Abolition of Slavery
1. One of most revolutionary reforms of Jacobin regime was abolition of slavery in French colonies in Caribbean.
2. slaves were brought from Africa by European traders and sold in Europe and America to work in sugar, coffee and Indigo plantations.
3. National Assembly did not pass laws to abolish slavery, as they feared opposition from businessmen whose income depended on slave trade.
4. Finally, Convention in 1794 made laws to free all slaves in French overseas possessions.
5. After 10 years, Napoleon reintroduced slavery.
6. Slavery was finally abolished in French colonies in 1848.
• Revolution and Everyday Life or Effect of Revolution on People of France
1. years following 1789 in France saw many changes in lives of women and children.
2. One important law was abolition of censorship on books, newspapers, plays, etc.
3. Now Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen proclaimed freedom of speech and expression to be a natural right.
4. Newspapers, pamphlets, books and printed pictures flooded towns of France from where they travelled rapidly to countryside.
5. Freedom of Press meant that opposing views of events could be expressed.
• Legacy of French Revolution
1. ideas of liberty, equality, and democratic rights were most important legacy of French revolution.
2. These spread from France to rest of Europe during the
19th century where feudalism was abolished.
3. Colonised people reworked idea of freedom from bondage into their movements to create a sovereign state.
4. Tipu Sultan and Ram Mohan Roy are two examples of individuals who responded to ideas coming from revolutionary France.
Chapter Notes and Summary