Saturday, April 3, 2010

French Revolution Essay

French Revolution Essay


The ideals of the French Revolution continued to inspire demands for reform in France. Instigated by the middle and working class, a new era of revolutions arose throughout Europe. The united front pushed forward by the middle and working disrupted the status quo created by the Congress of Vienna. Metternich the presiding leader of the Congress of Vienna said, “ When France sneezes, Europe catches cold.” That was the case, for the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 in France ignited forces of liberalism and nationalism in other parts of Europe.

One of the many revolutions that transpired in France from 1830-1848 was the July Revolution. At this time Charles X ruled France. Charles a tactless obdurate man abused his power and called for a new election in 1830 after the legislature refused to pass laws restricting individual freedom. The result of the election was quite surprising for it favored the middle class liberals and not Charles. In trepidation Charles passed the July Ordinances, which dissolved the legislature, ended freedom of press, and restricted voting rights. Irate workers, university students, and middle class liberals stirred a massive revolt that drove Charles out of France.

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Nonetheless the outcome of this revolution proved to be a failure when the middle class liberals ignored the protests of the everyday citizen. Preceding the abdication of Charles the middle class liberals formed a constitutional monarchy ruled by Louis Philippe the cousin of Charles X. Louis Philippe was known as the “bourgeois monarch” and stood for the image of the middle class. Even though the monarchy prospered many citizens felt betrayed by the July Revolution because they had not received the right to vote. This middle class’ unwitting attitude caused a series of grievances that would ultimately led to the revolution of 1848.

During Louis Philippe’s reign an innovative political theory called socialism was rapidly growing. Under Socialism, society as whole rather than private individuals would own all property and all businesses, therefore protecting the interests of the working class. When Louis Philippe rejected the demands of the socialists the revolution of 1848 arose. Francois Guizot the king’s chief minister exacerbated the problem when he cancelled a public banquet in fear of an uprising. Thousands fled to the streets and began to shout “Down with Guizot.” Louis quickly responded and dismissed Guizot. Even so the workers did not relent and in time drove Louis Philippe out of France. The result of this revolution proved to be a success for it established the Second Republic. The Second Republic led by the stout socialist Louis Blanc established national workshops, which provided jobs for the unemployed.

The Second Republic also created a constitution that guaranteed liberty and established an elected legislature and president. The constitution also provided for universal male suffrage that assured all adult men the right to vote. The president elect of the Second Republic was Louis Napoleon who can be considered another success of the revolution of 1848 because as leader he encouraged trade, promised jobs, defended property rights, and supported the Roman Catholic Church. By gratifying the populace of France Louis Napoleon established a dictatorship. A year later he assumed the title Napoleon III and established the Second Empire. At the same time the revolution of 1848 can be considered a failure. When taxes were increased to fund the national workshops the middle class and peasants became infuriated. Because the middle class controlled the National Assembly the national workshops were abolished. This caused a clash between workers and French troops that left 10,000 people dead.

The revolution of 1848 in France inspired German liberals to demand reform. The middle class and workers ignited the revolution of 1848, which arose in Berlin after a demonstration was provoked into a noxious riot. The result of this revolution created tension between the Fredrick William and the National Assembly who had opposing ideas on the constitution. Fredrick William ended up eliminating the National Assembly replacing its constitution with his own. This revolution can be considered a failure because the goal of the revolution, which was to unify Germany, failed. Another example of this revolution’s failure was when Frederick William IV refused the crown given to him by the Frankfurt Parliament. Frederick William IV disbanded the Frankfurt Parliament ending any attempt of unification.

For the most part the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 had few successes. The reasons for failure were that many movements lacked unity and clear goals. There was also a deep division between the middle class liberals, who wanted moderate change, and the working class, who demanded radical change causing a difference of belief. Along with this, the conservatives held a well-built position that was strong enough to withstand revolutionary movements, therefore creating a loss cause. Revolutions may have valid means but what they accomplish is somewhat of a mystery.



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