Q. Describe the circumstances leading to the outbreak of revolutionary protest in France.
Answer. The circumstances which led to the outbreak of revolutionary protest in France were a combination of social, economic, political and intellectual circumstances. These are discussed below:
Social: The social order consisted of many inequalities. The privileged classeswere the clergy and noblemen, the First and Second Estate respectively. They were exempt from paying taxes. The rest of the Citizens belonged to the Third Estate and constituted the majority of the population. They did not have any political rights or social status but paid all the taxes. So, they were very discontented.
The social order consisted of many inequalities. The privileged classes were the clergy and noblemen, the First and Second Estate respectively. They were exempt from paying taxes. The rest of the Citizens belonged to the Third Estate and constituted the majority of the population. They did not have any political rights or social status but paid all the taxes. So, they were very discontented.
Economic: There was a financial crisis as the king’s treasury was empty. The king’s luxurious style of living and involvement in wars had made France very poor. There was no money to feed the poor when there was a bad crop.
Political: The king ruled like an autocrat and the people had no voice in any decisions. The Estates-General (French Parliament) had not been convened since 1614. The administration was inefficient, corrupt and disorganised.
Intellectual: At that time a number of philosophers refuted the theory of the divine right of kings to rule. They proclaimed a doctrine of the sovereignty of the people and equality of all men. They stoked the fires of discontent by exposing the evil actions of the king and nobility.
Q.2 Which groups of French society benefited from the revolution? Which groups were forced to relinquish power? Which sections of society would have been disappointed with the outcome of the revolution?
Answer. The middle class or the richer members of the Third Estate consisting of merchants, traders, lawyers and rich peasants benefited the most from the French Revolution; feudal obligations were no longer to be honoured by the Third Estate. Tithes, the tax given to the Church, were abolished. The clergy and the nobility were the groups which were forced to relinquish power, how they were forced to give up their privilege e.g., how could not collect taxes and its lands were confiscated. The poorer sections of the third estate and women were disappointed with the outcome of the French Revolution because their aspirations were not properly fulfilled, e.g., women were not given voting rights. Poor men who did not have fulfilled property or who did not pay taxes were not allowed to vote.
Q.3. Describe the legacy of the French Revolution for the peoples of the world during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Answer. The legacy of the French Revolution for the peoples of the world during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was as follows.
i. Ideas of equality and democratic spread from France to other European countries and feudalism was abolished. ii. Colonial people reworked the idea of freedom from bondage into their movements to create sovereign nation-states.
It was the first movement to adopt the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity. The declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen gave rights such as right to life, freedom of speech, equality before the law, etc. Women were given many rights. They could not be forced to marry against their will, divorce was made legal, schooling was made compulsory and they could train for jobs.
Q.4. Draw a list of democratic rights we enjoy today whose origins could be traced to the French Revolution.
Answer. Democratic rights that we enjoy today whose origins can be traced to the French Revolution are:
i. Right to Equality
ii. Right to Freedom
iii. Right to Assemble and Form Unions
iv. Right to Freedom of Expression
Q. 5.Would you agree with the view that the message of universal rights was beset with contradictions? Explain.
Answer The message of universal rights was beset with contradictions. Many ideals in the “Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen” were not clear in their meanings e.g. the law has the right to forbid only actions injurious to society” did not mention about criminal offences against other individuals.
The declaration stated that “law is the expression of the general will All citizens have the right to participate in its formation. All citizens are equal before it”. However, France became a constitutional Monarchy, but still, millions of citizens (men under the age of 25 and women) were not allowed to vote at all. This was In striking contrast to the ideals that the revolution espoused. When the Jacobins assumed power, they had very harsh policies and so the wealthier middle classes became powerful. The political Instability of such regimes ultimately made Napoleon the Monarch of France.
Q. 6. How would you explain the rise of Napoleon?
Answer. France was ruled by the Directory an executive made up of five members.
i. However, the Directors often clashed with the Legislative Councils, who then sought to dismiss them.
ii. The political instability of the Directory paved the way for the rise of a military dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte.
iii. After crowning himself as Emperor of France In 1804. He went out to conquer the neighbouring European countries, dispossess dynasties and creating kingdoms where he placed members of his family.
iv. Initially, he was viewed as a liberator who would bring freedom to the people. But soon the Napoleonic armies came to be Viewed everywhere as an invading force.