The French Revolution and the Terror

Essay by ivzivkovicUniversity, Bachelor's March 2006

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The Revolution that France went through in the 18th century proved to the world that even wealthy nations with historically strong monarchies can be influenced and threatened by the lower classes. This topic, although concerning the late 18th century, has tremendous relevance even today for we live in an age where sometimes a minority still rules over a majority. The differences between the two might be political, social or economic and in some cases all three combined. This is crucial because revolutions are not foreign even in today's political era. As a student of history one must asses to the best of one's ability as to why the revolution, which embraced personal and political liberty and judicial and social equality suddenly became violent and extremely bloody towards those whose opinions differed from the revolutionary leaders. If the revolution protected the fundamental rights as laid out in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen how could it end up killing so many innocent citizens, without due process, for crimes that are essentially not crimes as laid out in the afore mentioned document.

There are several different opinions among scholars as to why exactly the French Revolution suddenly became an ideological monstrosity that astounds scholars even today. Some intellectuals believe that the revolution became violent due to circumstances France found itself in and which were beyond its control. Others believe that violence was a natural progression of a group that firmly believed in the ideas of absolute "free will" and man's right to not be ruled by anyone or, rather, to be free. The reasons behind the uprising against the French Monarchy are not foreign to us at this point but in order to correctly asses and expose the latter consequences of the revolution one must show how deep...