Effects of the French Revolution on British Politics.

Essay by flaminsUniversity, Bachelor'sA, April 2003

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What were the effects of the French Revolution on British Politics?

As a stubborn opponent of French ideas, and a persistent foe of French arms during the Revolutionary period, Britain was bound to be influenced, both directly and indirectly by the momentous events in France. The French Revolution stimulated new developments in Britain, as well as perpetuating old trends, sometimes even providing an obstacle to reform. The complexity of the French Revolution makes an assessment of its impact upon British politics very difficult, a challenge exacerbated by the profound changes - economic, demographic and social - that were occurring in Britain at the time. It thus becomes difficult, perhaps impossible, to clearly differentiate between those events and changes in Britain that came about as a direct result of the French Revolution and those which occurred as part of an continuing and inexorable process of industrialisation already under way in the United Kingdom.

It is clear that the French revolution and the wars that accompanied it were events of great significance for Britain. Even if we only take these events to have stimulated Britain to reject and resist French ideas, the great import of the French Revolution is apparent. However, events on the continent must have also had a deeper and more far reaching impact upon Britain, although it is extremely difficult to gauge this effect with any accuracy. The immediate constitutional implications of the Revolution are of immediate interest to us. George III regarded war with France, as did Burke, as essential to the preservation of decent society, and he drove his ministers to pursue policies which would rally the British propertied classes to the defence of the British constitution. The King's stance stiffened the resolve of the government, and won him the admiration of the majority of his...