French Society During The Late 18th Century

Chapter 01: The French Revolution from Class 9 History Social Science. Here you will learn all the important notes of class 9 CBSE history chapter 1 the French Revolution, this page has been organised in a way where important notes, video lectures, previous year question bank and important questions have been provided for easy preparation for CBSE class 9 social science

French Society During The Late 18th Century

In 1774, Louis XVI, a 20-year-old member of the Bourbon family, became King of France. He was married to Marie Antoinette, an Austrian princess.

He possessed an empty treasury as a result of long years of war and the maintenance of an extravagant court at the location.

Additionally, Louis XVI helped thirteen American colonies in achieving independence from Britain. The war added more than a billion livres to the country’s already massive debt of more than two billion livres.

The lenders then began charging a ten per cent interest rate on loans.

To cover costs such as keeping army courts, the state was forced to increase taxes.

However, this measure was insufficient because only third estate members paid taxes.

At the time, France had three estates:

  • First Estate  (The Clergy)
    1. Clergy are a group of individuals invested with special responsibilities within the church.
    2. They were born with certain privileges, such as exemption from state paving taxes.
    3.  Additionally, the church levied a tax on peasants called the ‘Tithe,’ which comprised one-tenth of agricultural produce.
  • Second Estate (The Nobility)
    1. It was composed of wealthy, royal members of the state. Additionally, they were exempt from state taxes.
    2. Additionally, they profited from feudal privileges, i.e., feudal dues extracted from peasants
  • Third Estate
    1. It was made up of the remainder of the population, which included businessmen, merchants, court officials, lawyers, peasants, artisans, and landless labourers.
    2. They had no rights; they were required to pay direct taxes to the state known as Taille, as well as a wide range of indirect taxes on items of daily consumption such as salt, tobacco, and so on.
    3. Around 90% of France’s population were peasants.

The Struggle To Survive in French Society During The Late 18th Century

Between 1715 and 1789, France’s population increased rapidly, resulting in a rapid increase in demand for food grains. Bread prices increased as a result of insufficient production.

However, wages did not keep pace with the increase in prices. The economy slowed further when adverse weather conditions harmed the harvest.

This situation resulted in a subsistence crisis.

The Emergence Of Middle Class

In the 18th century, a new social group known as the middle class emerged.

They had accrued wealth through international trade and manufacturing goods.

Along with merchants and manufacturers, there were educated lawyers and administrative officials.

They believed that no group in society should be born with extra rights.

Philosophers such as John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Montesquieu believed that revolution was solely the fault of the middle class.

They promoted the concepts of liberty, equal protection under the law, and equal opportunity for all.

Ideas Of Philosophers

In his Two Treatises of Government, John Locke criticised the monarch’s divine and absolute right (king).

Rousseau proposed a form of government based on a social contract between citizens and their representatives in his book The Social Contract.

Rousseau shows us that there is a way to break the chains – from within | Anne Deneys-Tunney | The Guardian

Montesquieu promoted the concept of separation of powers between the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary in his The Spirit of the Laws. His concept of separation of powers was a powerful weapon against the French Emperor’s despotic autocratic rule.

The American Constitution and its guarantee of individual rights served as a model for French political thinkers.

These ideas were distributed to the citizenry via books and newspapers. The news that Louis XVI intended to increase taxes in order to fund the state’s expenses sparked outrage and protests against the privileges system among the populace.

The Outbreak Of The Revolution

On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI agreed to meet the Estates-General to consider new tax proposals. Representatives from the first, second, and third estates were present.
The first and second estates each sent 300 representatives, who were seated in rows on two sides, facing each other.
Third estate members who were more prosperous and educated were represented, but they faced discrimination and were forced to stand in the back.

Although peasants, artisans, and women were denied access to the assembly, they communicated their demands and grievances via representatives.

The members of the third estate demanded that voting be conducted in the presence of the entire assembly.

However, the king rejected this proposal, and members of the third estate protested by walking out of the assembly

National Assembly Of Third Estate

On 20 June 1789, representatives of the third estate gathered in the hall of a Versailles indoor tennis court. They set up The National Assembly.

Additionally, they swore to a new constitution for France that would limit the monarch’s powers. Mirabeau and Abbé Sieyès led the third estate’s representatives

Mirabeau was born into a noble family but evicted himself of his feudal privileges. Abbe Sieyes began his career as a priest. He authored a seminal pamphlet entitled What is the Third Estate?

Revolt Starts At The Bastille

Due to the harsh winter, France’s harvest was severely impacted, resulting in an increase in the prices of essential commodities. Crowds of angry women raid the shops after spending hours in long queues at the bakery.

On 14 July 1789, an enraged mob demolished the Bastille. The Bastille was despised by the entire French population because it symbolised the king’s hegemonic power. Rumours spread through the countryside that the lords of the manor had hired bands of brigands to destroy the ripe crops.

Peasants attacked castles across France in response to this rumour. The peasants pillaged hoarded grain and set fire to documents containing manorial dues records. As a result of these factors, a large number of nobles relocated to neighbouring countries.

End Of Special Privileges

Seeing the possibility of revolt, Louis XVI accepted the National Assembly’s proposal that his powers be limited by a Constitution. France passed a law abolishing the feudal system of obligations and taxes on the night of 4 August 1789.

Members of the clergy were also compelled to surrender their privileges. Tithes were abolished, and the Church’s lands were seized by authority. The government acquired assets worth at least 2 billion livres in this manner.

France Becomes A Constitutional Monarchy

In 1791, the National Assembly completed the Constitution’s draft.
Its primary objective was to constrain the monarch’s powers; those powers were divided and assigned to different institutions such as the Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary.

France became a constitutional monarchy as a result of this power shift.

The Laws Made By The National Assembly

The National Assembly was to make the laws under the new Constitution.
The assembly was indirectly elected, with active citizens voting for a group of electors who selected assembly members.

The modified system’s highlights included the following:

Men over the age of 25 who paid taxes equivalent to at least three days of a laborer’s wage were granted the status of active citizens, which included the right to vote. The remaining men were classified as passive citizens, as were all women.
To become an elector and then a member of the assembly, a man had to be in the highest tax bracket.
The Constitution began with a Declaration of Man’s and Citizen’s Rights, which included the right to life, freedom of expression, and opinion, as well as equality before the law.
These were established as natural rights, and it was the state’s responsibility to safeguard them.

France Abolishes Monarchy And Becomes A Republic

The rulers of France’s neighbouring countries were alarmed by the country’s developments. They planned to send troops to put an end to the events that had occurred since 1789.

However, the National Assembly declared war on Prussia and Austria in April 1792.
Thousands of volunteers decided to volunteer to join the army.

Among the patriotic songs they sang was Roget de L’Isle’s Marseillaise, which later became France’s National Anthem. It was first sung by volunteers from Marseilles marching into Paris.

While men were fighting at the front, women were responsible for earning a living and caring for their families.

A sizable segment of the population was persuaded to continue the revolution, as the 1791 Constitution granted political rights only to the wealthy.

People used to meet in political clubs to discuss government policies and their own course of action. The most successful club was the Jacobins, which took its name from the Paris convent of St Jacob.

The Jacobin Club

Members of the Jacobins club were primarily from lower social backgrounds.
Shopkeepers, artisans, cooks, shoemakers, watchmakers, printers, servants, and daily-wage workers were among them. Maximilien Robesperre was their leader.
They wore long striped trousers similar to those worn by dockworkers.

It was a way of declaring the demise of the power wielded by knee-breeches wearers.

They became known as sans-culottes,’ which translates as ‘without knee-breeches.’ Sans-culottes men wore a red cap symbolising liberty.

The Convention in france

On 10 August 1792, with the assistance of a large number of Parisians, the Jacobins attacked the Tuileries Palace.

They assassinated the king’s guards and held the king for several hours as a hostage. Later that year, the assembly passed a resolution imprisoning the royal family.

Elections were held in August 1917, and all men over the age of 21 were now eligible to vote. The newly elected body was referred to as the Convention.

On 21 September 1792, it abolished monarchy and declared France a “Republic”.
Louis XVI was sentenced to death by a court for treason. He was publicly executed on 21 January 1793 at the Place de la Concorde.

After a time, Queen Marie Antoinette was sentenced to death as well.

The Reign Of Terror in france

In France, the years 1793–1794 are referred to as the Reign of Terror. Robespierre instituted a strict policy of control and punishment.Numerous individuals were arrested by police and tried before a revolutionary tribunal.

They included all those considered enemies by Robespierre, including ex-nobles, clergy, and members of republican political parties. They were guillotined if found guilty by the court.

Peasants were compelled to transport their grain to cities and sell it at government-set prices. The use of costly white flour was prohibited. Individuals were compelled to consume pain d’egalite (equality bread), a whole wheat loaf.

In place of Monsieur and Madame, all French men and women were referred to as Citoyen and Citoyenne (citizen). Churches were taken out of service and their structures converted into barracks or offices.

Robespierre ascended to the position of virtual dictator of France. Due to his harsh policies, his supporters eventually deserted him.In July 1794, he was finally convicted by a court and executed by guillotine.

A Directory Rules France

Following the Jacobins’ defeat, the wealthier middle classes seized power.
A new Constitution was enacted, denying non-propertied societies the right to vote.Learn A Directory Rule in France in 2 minutes.

It established two legislative councils elected by the people. These councils appointed a Directory and a five-member Executive.
It was intended to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of a single executive.

Political instability paved the way for Napoleon Bonaparte’s ascension.
The ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity continued to inspire political movements in France and throughout Europe.

Role Of Women In Revolution in france

Women were pivotal in the French Revolution. The majority of women from the third estate were employed. Only daughters of nobles and the third estate’s wealthier people were allowed to study in convents.

Women In The French Revolution: How They Fought For Equality | HistoryExtra

Apart from caring for their families, French women were required to cook, fetch
water, queue for bread, and look after the children. Their wages have always been less than those of men.

Women in France were dissatisfied with the 1791 Constitution.It relegated them to the status of passive citizens with no political rights. They demanded political rights, including the right to vote, election to the assembly, and the right to hold public office.

Women founded political clubs and newspapers to express their own views and demands. Among them, the most well-known was “The Society of Revolutionary and Republican Women.”

Laws Passed To Improve Women Lives

Women’s rights legislation was enacted in the early years. Those were the modifications.

They gained access to education as a result of the establishment of state schools and a compulsory education system for girls.
Women could no longer be compelled by their fathers to marry; they could marry as they pleased.

Women In The French Revolution: How They Fought For Equality | HistoryExtra

Marriage was now a contract governed by civil law that could be registered.
Divorce was legalised. It is open to both men and women. Women can train for jobs, pursue artistic careers, or start their own businesses.

French Women Got The Right To Vote

During Terro’s reign, the government closed women’s clubs and prohibited their political activities. Numerous prominent women have been apprehended and executed.

Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, women’s struggle for voting and equal political rights was sustained by an international suffrage movement.
Finally, in 1946, women in France gained the right to vote.

The Abolition Of Slavery

The Jacobin government’s most significant social change was the abolition of slavery in French colonies. Martinique, Guadeloupe, and San Domingo were significant providers of tobacco, indigo, sugar, and coffee, among other things.

The French needed labourers for their colonies, but Europeans were unwilling to work in far, unfamiliar countries.

As a result, three-way traffic in slaves began between and. In the seventeenth century, Europe, Africa, and America. This was referred to as the triangle slave trade.

From the ports of Bordeaux or Nantes, French merchants travelled to the African coast, where they purchased slaves from local chieftains.

Slavery received little criticism in France during the 18th century. — In 1794, after lengthy discussions, the National Convention approved legislation.

It abolished slavery and liberated all slaves held in France’s foreign regions.
Napoleon restored slavery 10 years later to appease the plantation. proprietors who saw slavery African slaves as a natural right.

Slaves were referred to as African blacks. Slavery was finally abolished in 1848 throughout the French colonies.

The Revolution And Everyday Life

Following 1789, a number of changes happened in the lives of women, men, and children in France.
The removal of censorship was significant legislation that took effect after the storming of the Bastille in the summer of 1789.

According to censorship, all written material and cultural activities were prohibited from being performed or published unless they were authorised by the king’s censors.

With the elimination of censorship and the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, man acquired a natural right to freedom of speech and expression.

As a result, newspapers, pamphlets, books, and printed images developed. Press freedom allowed for the expression of alternative opinions

Conclusion of french revolution

Napoleon Bonaparte, a leading French general, was crowned Emperor of France in 1804. He captured neighbouring European nations, removed emperors, and established kingdoms in which his family members were put.

He created laws, including those protecting private property and establishing a formal system of weights and measures via the decimal system. Many people saw Napoleon as a liberator who would bring about a new age of liberty.

However, his army quickly gained a reputation as an occupying force. Napoleon was finally defeated at Waterloo in 1815. Even after Napoleon’s defeat, his ideals about liberty and modern law survived in other areas of Europe. Liberty and democratic rights were the primary legacies of the French Revolution, which expanded across Europe.

This resulted in the elimination of feudal systems and the liberation of colonised peoples. Tipu Sultan and Raja Rammohan Roy are two Indians who were motivated by the French Revolution’s ideals.

Questions & answers from chapter 1 – the French revolution

Describe The Circumstances Leading To The Outbreak Of the Revolutionary Protest In France.

In France, the following events precipitated the eruption of revolutionary protest:

  • Louis XVI was an authoritarian monarch incapable of renouncing his opulent lifestyle. Furthermore, he lacked foresight.
  • When he assumed the throne, the royal treasury was depleted. Years of war had depleted France’s financial resources. Additionally, there was the cost of maintaining a costly court at the colossal Versailles chateau.
  • France aided the thirteen American colonies in achieving independence from Britain during the reign of Louis XVI; the war added over a billion livres to a debt credit, which now charged 10% interest on loans.
  • As a result, France’s government has been forced to spend an increasing portion of its budget on interest payments alone.
  • The state eventually increased taxes to cover routine expenditures such as army maintenance, government operations, and college funding.
  • Although the French society was divided into three estates, only the clergy and nobles were exempt from taxes. They belonged to the affluent classes.
  • Thus, the third estate bore the entire burden of funding the state’s operations through taxes.
  • In 18th-century France, the emerging middle class was highly educated. They were opposed to monarchs exercising divine rights and to absolute monarchy.
  • They believed that an individual’s social status should be determined solely on the basis of his merit. They are familiar with the numerous theories of equality and liberty advanced by thinkers like John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Montesquieu.
  • Their beliefs gained widespread acceptance among the populace as a result of heated debates and debates in saloons and coffee shops, as well as through books and newspapers.
  • The French government was tainted with corruption. It accorded no weight to the French people as a whole.
  • The state eventually increased taxes to cover routine expenditures such as army maintenance, government office operations, and university operations.

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?

  1. The third estate’s wealthy class, dubbed the “new middle class of France,” reaped the greatest benefits from the revolution.
  2. This group included prominent businessmen, petty officers, educators, physicians, and traders. These individuals were previously required to pay state taxes and lacked equal status.
  3. However, following the revolution, they began to be treated on an equal footing with society’s upper classes.
  4. With the abolition of the feudal system of obligations and taxes, the clergy and nobles were placed on an equal footing with the middle class.
  5. They were coerced into relinquishing their rights. Their executive authority was also revoked.
  6. The working class, which includes small peasants, landless labourers, servants, and daily wage workers, would have been dissatisfied with the revolution’s outcome.
  7. Women would have been dissatisfied in a similar manner.

Q3. Describe the legacy of the French Revolution for the peoples of the world during the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.

Answer: The French Revolution established itself as the most significant event in global history.

  • The principles of liberty and democratic rights were the most significant legacy of the French Revolution.
  • In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, these ideals served as a unifying factor for the world’s political movements.
  • From France to the rest of Europe, the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity aided in the abolition of the feudal system.
  • Colonized people incorporated the concept of freedom from slavery into their daily lives in order to establish a sovereign nation state.
  • Following the French Revolution, nationalism evolved into global mass movements. People are beginning to question ultimate authority at the moment.
  • India would also be influenced by the French Revolution.
  • Tipu Sultan and Raja Rammohan Roy were profoundly influenced by the principles of the revolution.
  • Finally, we can assert that people worldwide developed an awareness of their rights following the French Revolution.

Q4. Draw up a list of democratic rights we enjoy today whose origins could be traced to the French Revolution.

Answer: Several democratic liberties that we have now may be traced back to the French Revolution:

  1. The right to equality includes the right to a fair trial, the prohibition of discrimination, and equal employment opportunities.
  2. The right to freedom of expression and association, as well as the right to pursue any profession or activity, are all guaranteed.
  3. Right to be exploited-free.
  4. Each individual has the right to life.
  5. The right to vote.

Q5. Would you agree with the view that the message of universal rights was beset with contradictions? Explain.

  1. Answer :
    Without a doubt, the message of universal rights was riddled with inconsistencies. Numerous principles in the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen” were ambiguous. They might have had dubious connotations.
  2. The French Revolution failed to achieve economic equality, and it is a fact that no other form of equality can be achieved without economic equality.
    While the Declaration of Human and Citizen Rights emphasised equality, it was denied to a sizable segment of society.
  3. The poor man’s confusion was not resolved by the right to vote and to elect representatives.
    Women were still viewed as passive citizens.
  4. They lacked the political rights that men enjoyed, such as the right to vote and hold public office. As a result, their struggle for political equality has not been resolved.
  5. France retained and expanded its colonial holdings. As a result, its image as a liberator could not last in perpetuity.
  6. Slavery persisted in France until the early nineteenth century.

Q6. How Would You Explain The Rise Of Napoleon?

  1. Answer :
    Political instability within the Directory laid the groundwork for Napoleon Bonaparte’s entry. Napoleon amassed magnificent victories in battle.
  2. This demonstrated to France that only a military ruler, such as Napoleon, could restore government stability.
  3. In 1804, he declared himself Emperor of France. He set out to conquer neighbouring European nations, deposing monarchies and establishing kingdoms for himself and his family members.
  4. Napoleon viewed himself as the moderniser of Europe.
  5. He enacted a number of laws, including those safeguarding private property and establishing a standard system of weights and measures based on the decimal system.
  6. His ascension to power, on the other hand, was brief. He was eventually defeated at Waterloo in 1815.
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