The French Revolution was an unstable, blood-filled time. With 20, 000 sent to the guillotine and an equal number to prison, it is not hard to find importance but rather to find meaning. The most crucial thing to look for in the revolution is justification, reasons that excuse or bring significance to the deaths of many. John Locke, a philosophe of the time, may have argued that a leader who does not provide his people with inalienable rights is grounds for dismissal in the form of regicide 1. On the other hand Thomas Hobbes, also a philosopher, may have taken a different argument. It was his belief that ” man is a brute’, therefore he needs a dictator to keep the peace.
John Locke’s idealistic view point if practiced properly could have provided the lower class of France with equality, something the were desperately in need of. The Thomas Hobbes approach which advocates control, could not have provided the people with such liberation, but in theory should be able to maintain the peace among the people, the peace that seemed so lacking during the French Revolution. The French Revolution was a disaster for the following reasons: it happened too fast, it went too far, and it achieved too little. Thomas Paine a radical thinker of the era once said ‘Time makes more converts than reason’. With this quote we can see why revolution was successful in England, but not France. England slowly used the Magna Carta (1213), Petition of Rights (1628), and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679) to limit it’s monarch.
Political, social, and economic conditions have often led to revolutions that have changed the course of history for nations and peoples. These revolutions had such a significant impact that they can fittingly be labeled turning points. Two of these turning points, the Neolithic and French Revolutions, have drastically altered the world today. During the Paleolithic Period, which lasted from the ...
It was a long road that was by no means perfect. With monarchs who paid little attention to the act (s) in place during their reign and parliament, like James (1603-1625) and Charles I (1625-1649) it was hard to see progress quickly. These acts played a vital role in Britain’s journey to democracy, through them came proper representation of the people, equality, and what is now known as the ‘Glorious Revolution’. France seemed to be on it’s way to a similar fate.
In 1789, the Estates-General 2 had now received a promise of a head count from Louis XVI. Prior to this time the very large third estate 3 (26 million) had the same number of representatives in the Estates-General as the first estate 4 (100, 000) and the second estate 5 (400, 000) combined. Once the Estates-General had been renamed the National Assembly by the third estate a constitution was in the works. During this time the people of France became restless, food shortages plagued the country side. It also appeared that Louis XVI might dissolve the National Assembly. Desperate times called for desperate measures and the people of France stormed Bastille on July 14, 1789, as a symbol of the king’s oppression.
Theking’s power had weakened, very quickly and a group called the Commune took charge under Lafayette. The National Assembly now made a Declaration of the Rights of M anand the Citizen. This act underlined John Locke’s perspective of inalienable rights and the equality of man. Had this act have been followed the French Revolution may have ended without the bloodshed, but stable change is not going to happen over night. As quickly as things appeared to improve, the French would venture into a period of chaos. The Radical Phase is a perfect example of Thomas Hobbes theory that if individuals live by their own self-interests they will carry on a cycle of hurting one another.
In turn they will be in a continuous state of war. It was a group called the Jacobins that took control. During this time thousands of nobles and clergy were sent to the guillotine. On September of 1792 the September Massacre broke out.
A prison filled with mainly clergy was ambushed by a group of people determined to maintain the newly formed Republic, causing the deaths of 1100 people. It was tragic and by this time many scholars denounced the revolution. Edmund Burke once said, “Nobody makes a mistake greater than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” He would later go onto condemn the revolution. If regicide was the answer to the oppression of the old regime in France, so would it be in the new regime, under John Locke’s system. All were not equal, inalienable right were not preserved.
Louis XIV Louis XIV was a good leader for many reasons, some of which will come out in this essay. Louis ruled with an iron fist, he didn't let anyone mess with France, and if they did, he made them suffer. Second, Louis had mercy on those who betrayed him, a trait rarely seen in his day and age. Third most he did his best to bring down the nobles of France, particularly the more richer ones who ...
The Reign of Terror would end with the death of Robespierre. A Jacobin leader who also met the guillotine. It becomes an issue of when it would end. How many rulers would have to die? How many people would have to die? The revolution fell under false pretenses. It was not freedom and did not support the political thinkers of the time. Simply put, it was a contradiction because the very thing the people were fighting against seemed to be what they were fighting for.
In their hypocrisy the people of France would see the formation of a thing called the Directory. It would eventually become corrupt. Next to follow would be Napoleon who like Louis XVI was also a dictator. The people truly achieved very little, they left a monarch only to find a dictator. In conclusion the people of France should not have revolted. Man needs positive leadership if he is to be able to reach a state of inalienable rights and equality.
The Jacobins were not that leadership, nor was the Directory that would follow. Many would argue that they had the ‘right’ to revolt against an oppressive king, but did they have the right to revolt against their fellow man? The French Revolution served the bloodthirsty and power hungry, but not the people.