Crane Brinton's famous work entitled "Anatomy of Revolution"
published in 1965, is comparative history of the English, American,
French and Russian revolutions. Crane looks at the similarities and
differences between these revolutions in order to come up with what
he titles "The Anatomy of Revolution." The following is a summary of
Causes of RevolutionCauses of Revolution
Conditions that must be present in the outset of a revolution:
1. There is discontent amongst the people of all the
2. People feel restless and held down by unacceptable
restrictions in society, religion, the economy or the
3. People are hopeful about the future, but they are
being forced to accept less than they had hoped for.
4. People are beginning to think of themselves as
belonging to a social class, and there is a growing
bitterness between social classes.
5. The social classes closest to one another are the most
6. The scholars and thinkers give up on the way
their society operates.
7. The government does not respond to the
needs of its society.
8. The leaders of the government and the ruling
class begin to doubt themselves. Some join with
the opposition groups.
9. The government is unable to get enough
support from any group to save itself.
10. The government cannot organize its finances
correctly and is either going bankrupt or trying to
tax heavily and unjustly.
The Stages of Revolution
The Course that Revolution seems to take:
1. Impossible demands made of government which,
if granted, would mean its end.
2. Unsuccessful government attempts to suppress
3. Revolutionaries gain power and seem united.
4. Once in power, revolutionaries begin to quarrel
among themselves, and unity begins to dissolve.
5. The moderates gain the leadership but fail to
satisfy those who insist on further changes.
6. Power is gained by progressively more radical
groups until finally a lunatic fringe gains almost
7. A strong man emerges and assumes great power.
8. The extremists try to create a "heaven on earth"
by introducing their whole program and by
punishing all their opponents.
9. A period of terror occurs.
10. Moderate groups regain power. The revolution
Was it a Revolution?
Examine the results of the revolution with these questions
1. Did the ideals of the revolution change as its leadership
2. Were the original goals of the revolution achieved? At
what point? Were these achievements conserved?
3. Which social classes gained most from the revolution?
Which lost? Did the original ruling group or individuals from
this group return to power?
4. How was the old political, social, and economic order of
society [Ancient Regime] changed as a result of the
Enlightenment philosophy brought about
lasting changes in western political ideology
• People who supported this philosophy at first
advocated return to absolute monarchy, but
came to accept constitutional monarchy by the
• Generally, conservatives disapproved of the
revolutions of the era, particularly the French
Revolution with all the violence and chaos that it
• Liberals supported a republican democracy, or a
government with an elected legislature who
represented the people in political decision-making.
• These representative were generally from the elite,
but were selected (usually by vote) from a popular
base of citizens.
• Emphasis was generally on liberty or freedom from
oppression rather than on equality.
• Radicals advocated drastic changes in
government and emphasized equality more than
• Their philosophies varied, but they were most
concerned with narrowing the gap between
elites and the general population.
• The Jacobins during the French Revolution, and
Marxism that appeared in the mid 19th
were variations of radicalism.
Revolutions in the Atlantic World
Glorious to Latin American Independence
The revolutions that occurred in the 100 yrs.
Between 1688 and 1789
Situated the authority of government on earth rather
than in heaven and thus increased the influence of the
secular over the religious.
Rejected the theory that governments were based on
divine rights in favor for a theory that governments derive
their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Saw the development of constitutional government.
The revolutions that occurred in the 100
yrs. Between 1688 and 1789 – con’t.
Emphasized equality of opportunity over
positions based on class or heredity.
• Promoted the idea of the nation-state.
• Extended power to the bourgeoisie classes.
• Encouraged the growth of capitalism
• Ironically coexisted with continued slavery,
political inequalities, colonialism and warfare.
The Nature of
1. Read the “Jamaican Letter” by Simon Bolivar and the
introduction describing him.
a. What class is this revolutionary leader from?
b. Read the highlights from his letter and paraphrase each quote.
c. What are Bolivar’s attitudes about tyranny, mercantilism and his
position as a Spanish colonial? What kind of government does
he favor for South America?
What did they want?
Was it a revolution?