World History/Napoleonic Europe and Reactionism
French Revolutionary Wars[edit | edit source]
Unlike in America, the French Revolution (1789-99) did not go well, for either side of the revolution. It was a time of great political upheaval and radical change. At the time of the revolution France was still firmly under a class system consisting of three states or etats, the aristocracy, the clergy and everybody else. This system meant that farming was still run on feudal lines, peasants work the land but ceased to be given any amount of protection from their overlords. This lead to major unhappiness and eventually a republic, a constitutional monarchy and finally an Empire the likes Europe would not see in terms of conquering power until the Second World War.
Historians agree that a major cause of the revolution was economic. The struggle to match the economic power of other European power such as England caused massive famine and malnutrition due to rapid industrial expansion. Another major cause was the Seven Years War, which saw France booted out of both India and Quebec by the English. The French also supported the Americans in their revolution, pushing them further into bankruptcy. Despite the failing economy the nobility continued to consume high level goods, especially Marie-Antionette.("They can't afford bread? Let them eat cake!") The final reason was the enlightenment fever. After watching other countries change into constitutional monarchies or republics, peasants felt resentment towards their own absolute monarchy. They were not alone. A large percentage of rural clergymen hated their aristocratic biships, Protestent minorities yearned for freedom from persecution, and the enlightenment thinkers who so longed for a democratic state which they could call their own
Early Wars France broke into revolution against the king, starting with the storming of the Bastaille. The leaders of the rebellion quickly started to gain control of the government. That control was lost later