The French Revolution: Causes, Outcomes, Conflicting Interpretations
Causes of the French Revolution:-
1. International: struggle for hegemony and Empire outstrips the fiscal resources of the state
2. Political conflict: conflict between the Monarchy and the nobility over the "reform" of the
tax system led to paralysis and bankruptcy.
3. The Enlightenment: impulse for reform intensifies political conflicts; reinforces traditional
aristocratic constitutionalism, one variant of which was laid out in Montequieu's Spirit
of the Laws; introduces new notions of good government, the most radical being
popular sovereignty, as in Rousseau's Social Contract ; the attack on the
regime and privileged class by the Literary Underground of "Grub Street;" the
broadening influence of public opinion.
4. Social antagonisms between two rising groups: the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie
5. Ineffective ruler: Louis XVI
6. Economic hardship, especially the agrarian crisis of 1788-89 generates popular discontent
and disorders caused by food shortages.
Revolutionary situation: when the government's monopoly of power is effectively
challenged by some groups who no longer recognize its legitimate authority, no
longer grant it loyalty, and no longer obey its commands.
Dual or multiple sovereignty
is the identifying feature of a revolutionary situation - the fragmentation of an existing
polity into two or more blocs, each of which exercises control over some part of the
government and lays claim to its exclusive control over the government. A
revolutionary situation continues until a single, sovereign polity is reconstituted. The
Third Estate's Oath of the Tennis Court in June 1789 and its claim of representing the
sovereignty of the nation creates a revolutionary situation in France.
Revolutionary Process or Stages:
Ã¯ÂÂ·Ã¯Â One interpretation from this definition is that a revolution will continue until a single
sovereign order has been restored either by agreement or force. As the French Revolution
demonstrated, the level of...