Like many radical disruptions, the French Revolution had as a result; the abolishment of serfdom and absolutism; however, it also had some failure. Even the outcomes that nowadays are viewed as positive, however, came at a very high price as a consequence of it we still questioning ourselves; It was worth its human cost? Peter Alexeievich Kropotkin (1842-1921) was an earlier historical defender of the French Revolution influenced by his radical, anarchists background. He argues that the French Revolution abolished both serfdom and absolutism and it contributed to the democratization of France.
On the other hand. Marisa Linton, a professor, and writer argues about the terror and real human cost of the French Revolution that Robespierre was responsible for. I agree with Peter Kropotkin for the following reason: It successfully achieved the goal of abolishing serfdom, absolutism and it contributes to establishing a new government.
There was absolute monarchy reigning in France. Between 1786 and 1788 Louis XVI (r. 1774–1792) appointed several different ministers to deal with the financial crisis.
They failed to persuade the aristocracy and the church to pay more taxes, and as negotiations dragged on, the parliament of Paris declared that only the Estates-General, which had not met since 1614, could institute new taxes. In July 1788, Louis XVI agreed to arrange the Estates-General the next year. The power was concentrated in the First and Second Estate, while the Third Estate did not have enough participation in governing the country. Such a situation led to the rise of middle, lower, and working-class voices that wanted to be heard.
Different groups in France by that time had different ideas of what the Revolution should accomplish. The rural peasants and urban sans-culottes were fighting for not having enough food to eat than the reforming ideals of revolutionary leaders. Many representatives to the first National Assembly agreed that instead of having an absolute monarchy they should replace it with a constitutional monarchy. They believed the system of taxation should be revised and that they should be treated equally. With these and other competing interests all playing significant roles, especially as the Revolution became more radical.
There were two of the main characteristics of the Revolution: Violence and chaos. Besides the Reign of Terror, France was at war with most of Europe for all but the early years of the Revolution. In France there were revolts by rural peasants against their lords; They were fighting for bread in a bread riot by the sans-culottes in the cities; the September Massacres which was a wave of killing that erupted in Paris and the reign of terror. The Reign of terror was seemingly a way to provide for the security of the Republic by exposing traitors to the people. The French revolutionary state used extensive executions and violence to defend the revolution and suppress its internal enemies. Instead of putting into practice the equality and democratic ideals of liberty that Robespierre spoke of in public, he used the Terror to execute or imprison thousands of people who he viewed as a threat as a means to consolidate and strengthen his hold on power. Marisa Linton mentioned in her writing that according to Robespierre, to establish an ideal republic, one had to be prepared to eliminate their enemies who were against to the revolution. When the Reign of Terror ended, in July 1794, some 17,000 people had been officially executed, and as many as 10,000 had died in prison or without trial. As Marisa Linton states, Robespierre took his power far away from its limit for no good and the society also failed to reject his action.
Women played a meaningful role in The French revolution. It started with the women march in Versailles because of the high price and the lack of bread. The march grew up into a thousand people restacking all the city weapons and then marched to the Palace of Versailles. The next day of the movement, the march affected King Louis XVI, and most of the French assembled back to France. The march made a massive contribution to the whole French Revolution ending the independent authority of the king. However, women were excluded from both voting and holding office which did not pass unnoticed. In 1791 Olympe de Gouges (d. 1793), a butcher’s daughter who became a major radical voice in Paris, composed the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, this was a way of demanding that women be regarded as citizens and not merely as daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers of citizens. Olympe de Gouges further outlined rights that would permit women to own property and require men to recognize the paternity of their children. Three years later, Olympe de Gouges opposed the terror and accused certain Jacobins of corruption. She was tried and guillotined in November 1793. Women were formally excluded from the French army and from attending the galleries of the Convention.
There were some achievements made by the Revolution in France. At the end of 1799, the peasants of rural France had made some improvements. In 1789 the old feudal rights of the lords were abolished, and much of the church land seized by the government eventually ended up in the hands of the peasants. The taxation system had also been revised, so the burden did not fall on the Third Estate. The National Assembly also issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which said that men are born free and are equal before the law which Peter Kropotkin supported and mentioned in his writing. However, as Marisa Linton states, Robespierre took his power far away from its limit for no good and the society also failed to reject his action.
The primary outcomes of the French Revolution gave many citizens a taste of equality, power, and liberty, however temporarily it lasted. It also encouraged spirits of national pride which did not exist at that time. This Revolution also saw the beginnings of the socialist theory, such as equality between the rich and the poor and the need for economic planning. These theories, along with growing nationalism, would play a significant role in European politics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The French Revolution used many of the Enlightenment ideals of the period and promoted a democratic form of government. Although equality, liberty, and citizens’ rights were sought, they were not achieved in the short-term. What makes the French Revolution worth it is the long-term effects. By promoting Enlightenment and democratic ideals, the Revolution inspired other countries to act and reform the territories of Europe. It provided a robust historical model for revolutions, governments, and the fight for the rights of man, such as their Declaration of the Rights of Man, and moves towards a government of the people. The 17,000 lives lost serve as a greater lesson for the world to learn from that in a country a man cannot have absolute power. The French Revolution was worth its human cost because it helped to establish a country that was suffering from the selfishness of those who have the power.