Discuss the effects (results) of the French Revolution and the Age of Napoleon on government, business, warfare and religion.
Several important landmark changes took place during the French Revolution. One of the main results was the abolition of absolutism and absolute monarchy. The upper class got the power. Fundamental human rights were proclaimed in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and guaranteed by the constitution. Feudalism was abolished and more people were allowed to participate in elections.
Abolition of absolutism and proclamation of basic human and civil rights had significant influence on social changes in the entire Europe and on our modern understanding of democracy. The French Revolution helped to shape ideas of liberalism. Modern French republic as a liberal-democratic constitutional state has its roots in the achievements of the French Revolution.
Liberty, equality and Fraternity were the main ideological principles of the revolution. The French National Assembly implemented ideas of equality of the citizens under the law. People in other European countries started demanding their rights.
The French Revolution gave birth to the ideas of nationalism. It started in France and spread with the army to other European countries. Other countries adopted nationalism as a way to protect themselves from the French rule.
The people were officially recognized as a source of political power. Before the revolution in France existed census suffrage. During the revolution universal (male) suffrage system was established. In was not effective during the revolutionary years, but it was a shift to more equality and democracy in the society. Both representative government and authoritarianism of Napoleon were two new forms of government.
After the revolution free market economy was established and facilitated transition from the agricultural to industrial state, which would not be possible during the absolutism.
After the revolution people were able to choose their professions freely, and those who were talented and skillful were able to achieve more – “All the citizens, being equal …, are equally admissible to all public dignities, places, and employments, according to their capacity and without distinction other than that of their virtues and of their talents” (Article VI, The Declaration of the Rights of Man). The revolution gave people the ability to choose career based on talent and not on their birth. Of course those who had more possessions had more opportunities, but at least the French Revolution gave the society the right impulse.
The rights of property was also listed in The Declaration of the Rights of Man – “Property being an inviolable and sacred right, no one can be deprived of private usage, if it is not when the public necessity, legally noted, evidently requires it, and under the condition of a just and prior indemnity [that is, compensation]” (Article XVII, The Declaration of the Rights of Man).
The revolution abolished unequal taxation, fiscal privileges and the tithes gathered b the Catholic Church. Business was increasingly being seen as a respected occupation. Workers gained right to organize in “unions.” More peasants were able to buy land. Bourgeoisie acquired more lands and wealth and became more influential.
Before the revolution, wars were occupation predominantly of the noble ruling class, which hired soldiers. The armies were relatively small and consisted of many professional soldiers and when needed also other recruited people. During the revolution compulsory military service was introduced and war became each citizen’s duty. During Napoleon’s ruling the war was nationalized and turned it from war between rulers to “people’s war.”
After the French Revolution church’s authority has significantly declined. It was seen as a part of the old system and an enemy of the revolution and of course needed to be reformed. As a result of the revolution the church could gain some of its privileges back, but the society became more secular.
Before the revolution ninety five percent of the French population belonged to the Catholic Church. Church played a major role in lives of all citizens and influenced public institutions. It was the largest landowner, provided hospitals and school education. In 1789 all the possessions of Catholic churches, including lands, were nationalized and became “national property.” After 1789 church could not collect taxes any longer, clergy lost their privileges and many priests were imprisoned.
In 1793 after Robespierre’s proposal the Convention issued a decree proclaiming right of free religious practices, nonetheless, de-christianization campaign had significant influence on the French society. The main purpose of the de-christianization campaign was to destroy Catholic religion. It was not completely successful, but did achieve decline in religiosity. French population was still predominantly Catholic at the end of the eighteenth century and de-christianization created many enemies of revolution. Because of that some revolutionary achievements were lost.
Later in 1801 Catholicism was recognized as a religion of majority in France, however, not as a state religion. Free religious practices on Sundays and religious holidays were again officially allowed. At the same time, separation between state and church as well as expropriation of Church’s possessions were not overturned.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man symbolized that the human rights and not granted by church, but rather by the state.
In your opinion, was the Concert of Europe (the major powers after the fall of Napoleon) successful in achieving their objectives?
The Concert of Europe was established in 1815 after the Napoleonic wars in order to preserve peace, existing boundaries and monarchism in Europe and prevent restoration of Bonapartist power. Already in 1830s-1840s it became clear that ideologies of liberalism and nationalism did not die and a wave of revolutions spread over Europe.
The Concert of Europe was successful in the beginning, especially considering the Congress of Berlin, but then its power started to weaken. The Crimean War basically destroyed the Concert of Europe. Russia and Austria became enemies. Italy and Germany established national states, which significantly transformed the balance of powers in Europe.
Are you looking for a top-notch custom research paper on French Revolution topics? Is confidentiality as important to you as the high quality of the product?
Try our writing service at EssayLib.com! We can offer you professional assistance at affordable rates. Our experienced PhD and Master’s writers are ready to take into account your smallest demands. We guarantee you 100% authenticity of your paper and assure you of dead on time delivery. Proceed with the order form:
Please, feel free to visit us at EssayLib.com and learn more about our service!
Perry, Marvin et al. Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, 9th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.