We explain what the French Revolution was, its causes and consequences. Its social organization and revolutionary groups.
The French Revolution of 1789 was a violent conflict between two socio-political systems, the absolutist monarchy and the bourgeois class that took power . The ideological and political impact that the revolution unleashed influenced the rest of the countries of Europe and it was considered the beginning of a new era: the Contemporary Age .
The absolute monarchy was a system in which all powers were controlled by one king, and it had prevailed in many of the European countries for centuries. After the French Revolution the powers were divided: the legislative in charge of a parliament, the executive in charge of the highest representative and the judicial in charge of a court. They were the foundations of the democratic system that exists today, in many countries of the world.
The French Revolution was one of the most violent armed outbreaks in history . It broke with the traditional monarchical system and allowed a new society to emerge whose ideals were based on reason, equality before the law and freedom . However, those ideals could not be implemented in practice.
The causes that detonated the French Revolution were multiple, among the main ones, the following stand out:
The reduction in the death rate and the improvement in the quality of life of the commoners generated an increase in the population that doubled in less than a century. In 1789 France was the most populous country in Europe, with 26 million inhabitants, which generated a growing demand for food, difficult to satisfy.
France was under the rule of an absolute monarchy reigned by Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, a government that did not adapt to the crisis situation. The French State had a precarious economy as a result of bad harvests and great military spending, while the nobility continued to squander in luxuries, indebting the State even more .
The economic depression and the social discontent of a hungry people, added to the new enlightened mentality, ignited the engine of a violent social confrontation. The fact that determined the outbreak was the suspicion that Louis XVI wanted to dissolve the National Assembly, the one in charge of writing a Constitution.
On July 14, 1789, the people of Paris took to the streets to support the National Assembly and took by force the Bastille fortress, a prison considered a symbol of the absolutist monarchy. The revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat founded a renowned newspaper and became the spokesman for a part of the people.
French society was made up of three main groups called states:
Both groups clashed, in part, because the bloodthirsty Jacobin Jean-Paul Marat published in his newspaper supposed traitors of the republic (those Girondins who aspired to moderate and non-radical changes like the Jacobins). Marat was assassinated, but he ended up becoming a legend of the radical Jacobins.
Between 1793 and 1794 the Jacobins unleashed the reign of terror through a tyranny in which 40,000 people were assassinated at the guillotine after being accused of practicing counter-revolutionary activities, for being priests or members of the nobility.
A civil war broke out between revolutionaries and anti-revolutionaries called the Vendée War, which unleashed even greater terror. Danton promoted the end of the terror and was executed, reason why many considered that, to end this tyranny, Robespierre had to be annihilated. That's how it went. The terror ceased, but the revolution continued.
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