What were the causes of the French Revolution?
Though the Revolution had some negative outcomes, overall it was a success. After about 10 years (1789-1799) of conflict and wars, new rights were created, a more equal government was formed, and the tension between the people of France was somewhat at rest. The French Revolution was fueled by angry peasants wanting equality, new ideas that struck interest, and economical issues. Having an unfit ruler did not help these problems at all, in fact it made them worse. King Louis XVI was a very inadequate ruler and only made matters worse. Louis XVI stirred up even more a conflict in France, being a major factor in beginning of the French Revolution.
Inequality in France was the largest component in the Revolution. One major key in this inequality was the Old Order structure. The Old Order had three estates below the king. The First Estate did not have to pay taxes and had many privileges. The Second Estate had to pay very little taxes and were extremely wealthy. Many peasants worked for the Second Estate. Then at the very bottom was the Third Estate which consisted of the bourgeoisie, san culottes, and peasants. The peasants were treated the worst. With little pay they had to pay rent, fees to the landowners, and a tenth of their income to the church. In addition to unequal treatment, France was in debt. Instead of trying to get out of debt, King Louis XVI spent an abundant amount of money on ridiculous things. One last key in the Revolution were the Enlightenment ideas. Many members of the bourgeoisie had learned about the Enlightenment philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, and Baron de Montesquieu. They also knew that the government of Great Britain limited the power of the king. In similarity to them, the American colonists had successfully rebelled against Britain's king and that gave them hope that they could follow in their steps using the Enlightenment ideas. This was just the beginning of the French Revolution.
Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror took place during the French Revolution. This all started due to the fact that some of the revolutionary leaders were worried that they would lose control and that counterrevolutions would occur. Maximilien Robespierre was the main leader in the Reign of Terror. This time period was full of chaos. Many people were imprisoned, died from the guillotine, and purely just scared out of their minds. Even though this did not favor any class more than others, numerous common people died rather than the nobility.
The most common way for the people the people to be killed was by the guillotine. The guillotine was a contraption that held a sharp, large heavy blade at the top, then once release the blade dropped and would lacerate directly into the back of the victims neck and decapitate them. The Reign of Terror was full of multiple ridiculous accusations and trials. Robespierre believed that fear was the only thing needed to keep the revolution going. As he said in a speech, "virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless." His way of pursuing the Revolution was absurd and uncalled for. The people who started the Reign of Terror eventually were found victims themselves. Though this spread of fear was supposed to protect the Revolution, it had actually weakened it. After the Terror came to an end, a governing board called the Directory was created. The Directory was a huge step backwards as it looked very familiar to the Old Order. They had high prices, claimed bankruptcy yet again, and citizens were unrest. The Reign or Terror was a terrifying time and had no good outcomes.
Reactions from Other Countries
Map of Europe after The Congress of Vienna
Many countries surrounding France had been impacted from The French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte. Many countries did not like Napoleon because he started plentiful wars called the Napoleonic Wars. Great Britain was France's greatest enemy under Bonaparte's rule. Napoleon created a blockade called the Continental System which prohibited ships allied with France from trading with Britain, causing much conflict between the two countries. Congress from Prussia, Austria, Great Britain and Russia got together to redraw the map of Europe to attempt to gain stability after the Napoleonic Wars. After changing the borders, France lost all conquered territory and its boundaries were pulled back to its original position in 1792. The French Revolution influenced many countries all across the world and many of those took action and started their own revolutions. The Revolution had countless good and bad outcomes, but over all multiple of countries had learned either from the mistakes made or heroic actions that took place in that time period.