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Class: IXth

Subject: History

Title: French Revolution

Chapter: 01

Overview:

Today we often take the ideas of liberty, freedom and equality for granted. But we need to remind

ourselves that these ideas also have a history. By looking at the French revolution you will read a

small part of that history. The French revolution led to the end of monarchy in France. A society

based on privileges gave way to a new system of governance. The declaration of the rights of man

during the revolution, announced the coming of a new time. The idea that all individuals had rights

and could claim equality became part of a new language of politics. These motions of equality and

freedom emerged as the centre ideas of a new age; but in different countries they were

reinterpreted and rethought in many different ways.

Q1. What do you understand by the word Revolution? What was French Revolution?

Ans: A recognised momentous change in any situation. A revolution may result in sudden overthrow

of an established govt or system by force and bloodshed, e.g., French Revolution. It can also be a

great change that comes slowly and peacefully, e.g., Industrial Revolution.

French Revolution was the mass uprising of the people against the dictatorial and anti-people

policies of the monarch. It took place in the last quarter of the 19th century.

Q2. Describe the circumstances (causes) leading to the outbreak of revolutionary protest in France.

Ans.

1. The French govt was am absolute monarchy whose ruler Louis XVI was pleasstre loving and
extravagant. He was devoted to his wife who constantly interfered with the administration.
Louis XVI drove france into useless wars bringing the country to the verge of bankruptcy.
2. French society was divided into 3 main classes called estates. The first estate constituted
the clergy, the nobility constituted the second estate and rest of the population constituted
the third estate. The first two estates were the privileged ones, exempted from all taxes
while the third estate shouldered the burden of taxation and had few privileges.
3. In france people had no share in decision making. The french parliament known as the
estates General had not been called for the last 175 years. Administration was corrupt,
disorganised and inefficient.
4. The economic bankruptcy of the French govt aggravated the crisis and hastened the
revolution. The defective system of tax collection and oppression created discontentment.
5. During the 18th century France produced great philosophers who exposed the ills of
administration, which caused a sense of hatred against the crown, the nobles and the
clergy. Voltaire awakened the people of France by his critical writings. He exposed the high
handedness of the nobles and the clergy. Rousseau on the other hand believed that govt
should be based on the consent of the governed. Montesquieu explained that the king
should be chosen by the will of the people. He popularised the theory of separation of
powers between legislature, executive and judiciary.

Q3. Why did French debt rise from 2 billion livre to 3 billion? Why did the Louis regime decide to

raise taxes?

Ans: Under Louis, France helped the 13 American colonies to gain their independence from the

common enemy, Britain. The war added more than a billion livres. Lenders, who gave the state

credit, now began to charge 10 percent interest on loans. So the French govt was obliged to spend

an increasing percentage of its budget on interest payments alone. To meet its regular expenses,

such as the cost of maintaining an army, the court, running govt officer or universities, the state was

forced to increase taxes.

Q4. What do you mean by subsistence crisis? Why did it occur frequently in france?

Ans: An extreme situation where the basic means of livelihood are endangered.

The population of France rose from about 23 million in 1715 to 28 million in 1789. This led to a rapid

increase in the demand for domestic production of grains could not keep race with the demand. So

the price of bread which was the staple done of the majority rose rapidly. Most workers were

employee as labourers in workshops whose owner fixed their wages. But wages didn't keep race

with the rise in prices. So the has between the poor and the rich widened. Things became worse

whenever drought or hail reduced the harvest. This led to a subsistence crisis, something that

occurred frequently in France during old regime.

Q5. List the event leading to the formation of national assembly in France.

Ans: The national assembly was formed on June 20, 1789 by representatives of the third estate. To

raise new taxes Louis XVI had convened the estate general on may 5 1789 at Versailles. There had

been no such meeting since 1614. All the three Estates were represented. Voting was to be

conducted on the old principle- each estate having one vote. The third estate represented by its 600

educated and prosperous members demanded voting be conducted by the assembly as a whole

where each member would have one vote. Louis XVI's rejection of the proposal led to a walk out by
the third estate. The representatives regarded themselves as spokesmen for the whole of france. On

20 June 1789, in the hall of the tennis court, members of the third estate declared themselves the

National Assembly and swore not to disperse till they had drafted a constitution for france that

would limit the powers of the monarch.

Class: IXth

Subject: History

Title: French Revolution

Chapter: 01

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Q6. Describe the event leading to the outbreak of the revolution in France.

Ans. King Louis XVI's refusal to accord recognition to the National Assembly led to nationwide

protests. This coupled with severe winter, rising prices, long queues for bread, the staple food of

majority of parisians and exploitation of the bakers, frustrated and tormented the people. The king

annoyed of the circumstances, made preparations to break up the National Assembly. Troops were

called and ordered to move into the city. Rumours spread that leading members of the assembly

Would soon be arrested and that he would soon order the army to open fire upon the citizens. This

enraged the people. Some seven thousand men and women gathered in front of the town hall and

decided to form a people's militia. They broke into a number of govt buildings in search of arms.

Finally a group of several hundred poems marched towards the eastern part of the city and stormed

the fortress prison, the Bastille, where they hoped to fine inbred ammunition. In the armed eight

that followed, the commander of the Bastille was killed and prisoners were released. This was the

outbreak of revolution. And is known as stormng of Bastille.

Q7. Describe how france became a constitutional monarchy.

Ans. Faced with the power of his revolving subjects, Louis XVI finally accorded recognition to the

national assembly and accepted the principle that his powers would from now on be checked by a

constitution. On the night of 4 august 1789, the assembly passed a decree abolishing the feudal

system of obligations and taxes. The national assembly completed the draft of the constitution in

1791. Its main object was to limit the powers of the monarch. These powers instead of being
concentrated in the hands of one person, were now separated and assigned to different institutions-

the legislature, executive and judiciary. This made france a constitutional monarchy.

Q8. Describe the election process for National Assembly in France in 1791.

Ans. The constitution of 1791 tested the power to make laws in the national assembly, which was

indirectly elected. That is, citizens voted for a group of electors, who in turn choose the assembly.

Not all citizens, however, had the right to vote. Only men above 25years of age who paid taxes

equal to at least 3 days of a labourer's wage were given the status of active citizens that is they

were entitled to vote. The remaining men and women were classed as passive citizens. To qualify as

an elector and then as a member of the assembly, a man had to belong to the highest bracket of

taxpayer.

Q9. Write a note on the document 'DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF MAN AND CITIZEN.

Ans. Declaration of the rights of man and citizen was adopted by the national assembly on 26

august, 1789. It declared that all men are born equal. It specified the equality of all men before the

law. It asserted that every citizen has the right to aspire for the highest office of the govt. It declared

freedom from arrested or punishment without proven cause, freedom of speech and freedom of the

press. It further stressed on the equitable distribution of the burden of taxation. It hit the prevailing

European system which was based on privilege. It declared faith in equality, liberty and fraternity.

Q10. Why was king Louis XVI executed in France?

Ans. The situation in France continued to be tense during the following years. Although Louis XVI

had signed the constitution in 1791 but he entered into secret negotiations with the king of Prussia.

He also encouraged the countries that were worried by the developments in france and made plans

to send troops to put down the events that had been taking place there. But before this could

happen, the national assembly voted in April 1792 to declare was against Prussia and Austria. In

September the convention voted to imprison the royal family. On 21 January 1793 King Louis XVI

was sentenced to death by a court on the charge of treason. He was publicly executed at the place

da la Concorde.

Q11. How did France turn into a republic from a monarchy.

Ans. The revolutionary wars brought losses and economic difficulties to the people. Large sections

of the population were convinced that the revolution had to be carried further, as the constitution of

1791 gave political rights only to the riches sections of society. Political clubs became an important
rallying point for people who wished to discuss govt policies and plan their own forms of action. The

most successful of these clubs was that of the Jacobins. The members of this club belonged mainly

to the less prosperous sections of society. Their leader was maximilian Robespierre. In the summer

of 1792 the Jacobins planned a revolt of a large number of Parisians who were angered by the short

supplies and high prices of food. On the morning of august 10 vthey stormed the palace of the

Tuileries, massacred the kings guards and held the king himself as hostage for several hours. Later

the assembly voted to imprison the royal family. Elections were held. From now on all men of 21

years and above, regardless of wealth, got the right to vote. The newly elected assembly was called

the convention. On 21 September 1792 it abolished the monarchy and declared France a republic. A

newly elected govt under maximilian Robespierre came into being.

Q12. Describe a reign of Terror in France.

Ans. The period from 1793 to 1794 is refered to as the reign of terror. Robespierre followed a policy

of severe control and punishment. The reign of terror became possible because of the overthrow of

all familiar established forms of govt in France. Moreover, France at this time was faced with the

double menace of counter revolution at home and invasion from abroad. All those whom

Robespierre saw as being enemies of the republics were arrested, imprisoned and then tried by a

revolutionary tribunal. If the court found them guilty they were beheaded. He pursued his policies so

relentlessly that even his supporters began to demand moderation. Finally he was convicted by a

court in July 1794, arrested and on the next day sent to the guillotine.

Class: IXth

Subject: History

Title: French Revolution

Chapter: 01

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Q13. What measures were taken by Robespierre govt.

Ans. Robespierre govt apart from being remembered for the reign of terror undertook many laws

similar to present day socialist policies and welfare state.

1. Laws were issued placing a maximum ceiling on wages and prices.

2. Slavery was abolished in French colonies.

3. Churches were shutdown and buildings converted to barracks or offices.

4. Meat and bread were rationed.


5. Peasants were forced to sell grain at fixed prices by the govt.

6. Equality was practised by forms of speech and address.

Q14. Describe the rule of directory in France.

Ans. The fall of the Jacobin govt allowed the wealthier middle classes to seize power. A new

constitution was introduced which denied the vote to non propertied sections of society. It provided

for two elected legislative councils. These then appointed a directory, an executive made up of five

members. This was meant to safeguard against the concentration of power in a one man executive

as under the Jacobins. However, the directors often clashed with the legislative councils, who then

sought to dismiss them. The political instability of the directory paved the way for the rise of a

military dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Q15. Did women have a revolution in France in 1789 and after it?

Ans:

1. From the very beginning women were active participants in the events which brought about
so many important changes in French society. They hoped that their involvement would
pressurize the revolutionary govt to introduce measures to improve their lives.
2. In order to discuss and voice their interest’s women started their own sixty political clubs
and newspapers.
3. From the very beginning they demanded the right to vote to be elected to the assembly and
to hold political offices.
4. As a result, the govt made schooling compulsory for all girls. Their fathers could no longer
force them into marriages against their will. Divorce was made legal.
5. It was finally in 1946 that women in France won the right to vote.

Q16. Write a short note on French slave trade and its abolition.

Ans: Acute shortage of labour in the French Caribbean colonies led to a triangular slave trade

between Europe, America and Africa in the 17th century. French merchants sailed from Bordeaux or

Nantes to the Africa coasts where they bought slaves from local chiefs. These slaves were then sold

to plantation owners in the Caribbean.

Throughout the 18th century there was little criticism of slavery in France. The national assembly

held long debate. But it did not pass any laws, fearing opposition from businessmen. It was finally

the convention in 1794 legislated to free all slaves. But ten years later Napoleon reintroduced

slavery. It was finally in 1848 that slavery was once for all abolished in France and overseas.

Q17. Write a note on Napoleon Bonaparte.

Ans:

1. In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte the French army chief crowned himself the emperor of france.
2. He set out to conquer neighbouring European countries. Napoleon saw his role as a
moderniser of Europe.
3. He introduced many laws such as the protection of private property and a uniform system of
weights and measures provided by the decimal system.
4. Initially, many saw him as a liberator but soon his armies came to be viewed as an invading
force. He was finally defeated at waterloo in 1815.
5. Many of his ideas and policies had a long impact on the coming generations of Europe.

Q18. What was the impact of the events in france on Europe, especially the neighbouring

countries such as Prussia, Austria and Spain?

Ans:

Initially, Europe watched the developments in France with great interest because these threatened

their position.

The manifesto of the declaration of the rights of man and citizen aimed at the very foundation of the

old order of society and distributed state everywhere. It had a fair reaching appeal and the

neighbours realized it was something that would not let them alone and therefore they could not

ignore.

Austria, Prussia and Spain stiffened in their existing tendencies of conservatism. They made plans to

send troops to put down the events which they called anarchy and to restore French monarchy. But

before this could happen, the France declared war against them. While the monarchs tried to

preserve the old order radical elements and democrats everywhere welcomed the revolution as a

war of people against kings, aristocrats and privileges