please respond to the following 3 post in 100 words each.
Edmond Burke (1729-1797) was a member of the British Parliament and author of the Reflection on the Revolution in France. He explained the errors of French Revolution:
“You had all these advantages in your ancient states, but you chose to act as if you had never been molded into civil society and had everything to begin anew. You began ill, because you began by despising everything that belonged to you. You set up your trade without a capital. If the last generations of your country appeared without much luster in your eyes, you might have passed them by and derived your claims from a more early race of ancestors. Under a pious predilection for those ancestors, your imaginations would have realized in them a standard of virtue and wisdom beyond the vulgar practice of the hour; and you would have risen with the example to whose imitation you aspired. Respecting your forefathers, you would have been taught to respect yourselves. You would not have chosen to consider the French as a people of yesterday, as a nation of lowborn servile wretches until the emancipating year of 1789” (Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmond Burke). He went on to say that “Their cruelty has not even been the base result of fear. It has been the effect of their sense of perfect safety, in authorizing treasons, robberies, rapes, assassinations, slaughters, and burnings throughout their harassed land. But the cause of all was plain from the beginning” (Burke).
This violent turn or terror it was not unusual, a betrayal of the principles of liberté, egalité,or fraternité instead the early revolution ignores the fact that violence was always under its surface.
“The fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 (now the French equivalent of our Independence Day) may not have had many victims but it showed the extremes to which the ordinary Parisian was willing to go to assert himself. Similarly, the march on Versailles could have easily ended with the deaths of the royal family had it not been for the prompt action of the Marquis de Lafayette”. (Burke)
Hunt, Lynn, Thomas R, Martin, Barbara H. Rosenstein, and Bonnie G. Smith. 2012. The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures. 4rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins.
For most historians, there is little doubt that the French revolutionaries took inspiration from the language and ideas of the philosophes of the Enlightenment. Aside from direct claims from the revolutionaries themselves, this inspiration can be seen in the way that rights and reason—prominent principles of the Enlightenment—influenced law under the new government. However, this does not necessarily mean that the philosophes would have approved of the Revolution, especially since only a few of them were even political theorists. Moreover, most of the philosophes cared little for the lower classes, and they believed in stimulating reform through criticism rather than through a violent revolution (Hunt et al. 2012, 592). There may have been some goals of the revolutionaries that a few of the philosophes approved of, but it is highly unlikely that they would have advocated for the Revolution or the direction it took if for no other reason than that most of them supported a monarchical government.
Still, that is not to say that all of the philosophes would have been entirely against every aspect of the Revolution. As one of the few political theorists of the Enlightenment, Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron of Montesquieu did believe that a constitutional monarchy would be the best political system, which is what the revolutionaries initially tried to form (Hunt et al. 2012, 581). While he likely would not have approved of the methods of the revolutionaries, Montesquieu might have supported their choice of political system before it changed to a republic. On the other hand, the other notable political theorist of the Enlightenment, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, was one of the few philosophes who believed that a republic could effectively work. He believed that people could only be “truly moral and free” under a government based on popular sovereignty and the consent of the people (Hunt et al. 2012, 595). Seeing as how the Terror of the 1790s forced people to accept and obey laws of the Revolution, though, it is doubtful that Rousseau would have supported how the republic developed.
Hunt, Lynn, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, and Bonnie G. Smith. The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures, Volume 2: since 1500. 4th ed., Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.
The Philosophes such as Diderot, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau were certainly the inspiration for intellectual enlightenment. They pressed for people to examine and question things rather than just accepting them as truth. In this sense, one could assume that the Philosophes would have supported the reason behind the Revolution because the people finally began to think about important things and then question the current structure of their government. That is what the Philosophes desired all people to do. Diderot explained that the Philosophes would “speak against senseless laws until they are reformed; and, while we wait, we will abide by them.” This is an indication that the Philosophes would have supported a peaceful Revolution, one where people press for change while continuing to follow the current laws, which is how the French Revolution began. Things seemed to be falling in line with the ideals of the Philosophes when the Estates General gathered, and the third estate formed the “tennis court oath” which was their vow to create a constitution for France that allotted them authority. However, as the Revolution progressed through the 1790’s, and changes were not being made, the revolutionaries began to take more drastic measures. This is where the mentality of the Philosophes diverges from that of the revolutionaries. The revolutionaries were prepared to use any means necessary to produce their desired outcome, which was a fairness and balance in the power of the government. The Philosophies on the other hand found moral obligation in following the present laws while they attempted to change them.
Hunt, Lynn, Thomas Martin, Barbara Rosenwein, Bonnie G. Smith. Making of the West, Volume II: Since 1500, 4th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin's, 01/2012. VitalSource Bookshelf Online.
- 6 years ago