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THE GREAT FRENCH REVOLUTION THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

Today the French Revolution is commemorated, which was a dividing mark in the history of humanity, starting the contemporary age. It was such an important event that its ideals influenced many movements around the world.

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THE GREAT FRENCH REVOLUTION THAT CHANGED THE WORLD
Fernando Alcoforado*
Today the French Revolution is commemorated, which was a dividing mark in the history
of humanity, starting the contemporary age. It was such an important event that its ideals
influenced many movements around the world. The French Revolution had a large
participation of the marginalized population (bankers, big businessmen, merchants,
liberal professionals, artisans, merchants, apprentices in trades, wage earners,
unemployed and peasants). One of the main causes of the French Revolution was the
financial crisis that hit the country as a result of the expenses that France assumed with
its participation (and defeat) in the Seven Years' War and the War of Independence of the
United States of America, in addition to the high costs of the Court of Louis XVI that left
France's finances in a state of bankruptcy.
In 1789, the population of France was divided into three states: clergy (1st state), nobility
(2nd state) and people (3rd state). The clergy and the nobility had various privileges such
as not paying taxes, receiving state pensions and being able to hold public office. In turn,
the people had to bear all the expenses of the 1st and 2nd state. In order to get around the
crisis, King Louis XVI decided to charge taxes to the people (3rd state), instead of
charging the clergy (1st state) and the nobility (2nd state). Sensing that their privileges
could also be threatened, the clergy and nobility pressured the king to convene the
Assembly of the States General, which was made up of members of the three states that
had not met for 175 years, to force the people to assume the taxes.
In May 1789, after the meeting of the Assembly of the States General in the Palace of
Versailles, a conflict between the privileged (clergy and nobility) and the people broke
out. The nobility and the clergy realized that the people had more deputies than the first
two states put together, so they wanted anyway to enforce the vote by social order
because, that way, they would win by 2 to 1. The people's representatives wanted the vote
individual. For that to happen, it would be necessary to make an amendment to the
Constitution, but the nobility and clergy did not agree with such an attitude. This impasse
caused the 3rd state to revolt and leave the States General. Outside the States General,
they met and formed the National Constituent Assembly.
Over time and influenced by the ideals of the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement
that emerged during the 18th century in Europe, which defended the use of reason against
the old regime and preached greater economic and political freedom, the people began to
revolt and fight for the equality of all before the law. They fought, among other things,
monarchical absolutism and the privileges of the nobility and the clergy. Meanwhile, the
French economy was undergoing an unprecedented crisis. King Louis XVI tried to react,
but the people remained united, taking over the streets. The slogan of the revolutionaries
was “Freedom, Equality and Fraternity”.
2
The French Revolution was mainly motivated by growing social inequality, the
devastating economic crisis and the endemic hunger suffered by the vast majority of the
population. The French Revolution was a social and political movement whose main
objective was to overthrow the Ancien Régime and establish a democratic state that
represented and ensured the rights of all citizens. In 1788 and 1789, France had bad
harvests, the price of food increased, and many peasants could not afford it. Result:
hunger increased. The Parisian population took to the streets of the city to fight this
situation on July 12, 1789. The popular unrest did not subside and, on July 14, the people
continued with their uprising, attacking first the Arsenal of the Invalids and then promoted
the fall of the Bastille, which was an ancient fortress that had been turned into a prison
for political opponents of the French kings.
With the news of the fall of the Bastille, the revolution spread throughout France,
precipitating transformations in the country and causing thousands of people, in the cities
and in the countryside, to rebel against the French aristocracy and against the Ancien
Regime. The French Revolution also caused profound changes and marked the beginning
of the fall of absolutism in Europe. The king could no longer control the popular fury and
took some precautions to calm the people who invaded, killed and took the goods of the
nobility. With the revolution, the feudal regime over the peasants was abolished and the
tributary privileges of the clergy and nobility ended. On August 26, 1789, the National
Constituent Assembly proclaimed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen,
whose main points were: 1) respect for the dignity of people; 2) freedom and equality of
citizens before the law; 3) right to individual property; 4) right to resist political
oppression; and, 5) freedom of thought and opinion. In 1790, the Constituent Assembly
reduced the clergy's power by confiscating several Church lands and placed the clergy
under state authority. This measure was made through a document called “Civil
Constitution of the Clergy”. However, the Pope did not accept this determination. There
were two alternatives for priests faithful to the king: leaving France or fighting the
revolution. Many agreed to this law in order to remain in the country, but the disaffected
fled France and abroad decided to unite and form an army to fight the revolution.
In 1791, the Constitution made by the members of the Constituent Assembly was
completed. The main topics of this Constitution were as follows: 1) Legal equality
between individuals; 2) End of privileges of the clergy and nobility; 3) Freedom of
production and trade (without state interference); 4) Prohibition of strikes; 5) Freedom of
belief; 6) Separation of State from the Church; 7) Nationalization of clergy assets; and,
8) Three created powers (Legislative, Executive and Judiciary). King Louis XVI did not
accept the loss of power and began to conspire against the revolution. For this he
contacted emigre nobles and monarchs from Austria and Prussia (who also felt
threatened). The objective of the counterrevolutionaries was to organize an army that
would invade France and re-establish absolute monarchy. In 1791, Louis XVI wanted to
join the counterrevolutionaries and tried to flee France, but was recognized and
imprisoned in Varennes.
In 1792, the Austro-Prussian army invaded France, but was defeated by French troops at
the Battle of Valmy. This victory gave new strength to the French revolutionaries and this
fact led the leaders of the revolution to decide to proclaim the Republic on September 22,
1792. With the proclamation of the Republic, the Constituent Assembly was replaced by
the National Convention, which had as one of its missions to draw up a new constitution
for France. At that time, the main political forces that stood out the most were the
following: 1) Girondins composed of the upper bourgeoisie were moderated and led by
Danton; and, 2) Jacobins constituted by the bourgeoisie (small and medium) and the Paris
3
proletariat were radical and defended the interests of the people and were led by
Robespierre and Saint-Just who preached the king's death sentence. Even against the will
of the Girondins, Louis XVI was tried and guillotined in January 1793.
The king's death brought a series of problems such as internal revolts and a reorganization
of foreign absolutist forces. To deal with these problems, the Committee for Public Safety
and the Revolutionary Tribunal (responsible for the guillotine killing of many people who
were considered traitors to the revolutionary cause) were created. This period was known
as “Terror”. A Jacobin dictatorship begins, led by Robespierre. During his government,
he tried to balance himself between various political trends, some more identified with
the upper bourgeoisie and others closer to the aspirations of the popular classes.
Robespierre achieved some significant achievements, mainly in the military sector: the
French army managed to repel the attack of foreign forces. During Robespierre's
government, the new Constitution of the Republic (1793) was in force, which assured the
people: 1) the right to vote; 2) right of rebellion; 3) right to work and livelihood; and 4)
contained a statement that the purpose of government was the common good and
happiness of all.
After the period designated by historians as the Reign of Terror in which citizens'
guarantees were suspended and the Mountain faction of the Jacobin party, murdered and
persecuted their opponents, some Girondins survived and organized a coup. On July 27,
1794, the date known as 9 Thermidor by the calendar of the French Revolution,
Robespierre and his party were overthrown in an agile maneuver of the National
Convention. The Jacobin party leaders and Robespierre were guillotined. In this way,
representatives of the upper bourgeoisie took power, initiating a reflux of the
revolutionary movement. This episode is called Thermidorian reaction representing one
of the final phases of the French Revolution.
After Robespierre's death, the National Convention decided to draw up another
Constitution for France when the census vote in elections was rescued, universal suffrage
was annulled and the majority of the population was once again politically marginalized.
With this, several uprisings in France emerged that were severely fought. With the
succession of popular conflicts, the way was opened for the generals to assume power. In
1793, the French army was considered the largest in all of Europe, in which General
Napoleon Bonaparte stood out. During this period, France again received threats from
neighboring absolutist nations, aggravating the situation. After a respectable victory
against Austria, Napoleon gained notorious prestige in French society. Then, when he
returned to France, Napoleon was the protagonist in a coup d'état that lasted between 1799
and 1802. With this, a period of dictatorial political order in France began. On
11/10/1799, Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the Directory and established a new
government called the Consulate. With this he consolidated the achievements of the
bourgeoisie, putting an end to the initial aims of the revolution.
It appears, from the above, that the ideals of the French Revolution came to an end with
the overthrow by the bourgeoisie of the Jacobin government under the leadership of
Robespierre, which radicalized in the fight against the enemies of the revolution and in
the defense of the country's interests against external aggression and culminated in the
establishment of the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. Despite this political setback
with the Bonapartist dictatorship, the ideals of the French revolution proliferated around
the world, constituting the flag of countless revolutionary movements that took place in
4
several countries that even culminated with the independence of several countries in
South America. Its ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity among human beings still
mobilize many peoples around the world, especially in the contemporary era, with the
resurgence of fascism, including in Brazil.Longue vie à la France. Vive la Révolution
française. .
REFERENCES
ALCOFORADO, FERNANDO. As Grandes Revoluções Científicas, Econômicas e
Sociais que Mudaram o Mundo. Curitiba: Editora CRV, 2016.
GAXOTTE, Pierre. La Révolution Française. Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 1957.
* Fernando Alcoforado, 81, awarded the medal of Engineering Merit of the CONFEA / CREA System,
member of the Bahia Academy of Education, engineer and doctor in Territorial Planning and Regional
Development by the University of Barcelona, university professor and consultant in the areas of
strategic planning, business planning, regional planning and planning of energy systems, is author of the
books Globalização (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova (Des)ordem
Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2000), Os
condicionantes do desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado. Universidade de
Barcelona,http://www.tesisenred.net/handle/10803/1944, 2003), Globalização e Desenvolvimento (Editora
Nobel, São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XX e Objetivos Estratégicos
na Era Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of the Economic and Social
Development- The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG,
Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe Planetária (Viena- Editora e Gráfica,
Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e combate
ao aquecimento global (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011), Os Fatores
Condicionantes do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), Energia no
Mundo e no Brasil- Energia e Mudança Climática Catastrófica no Século XXI (Editora CRV, Curitiba,
2015), As Grandes Revoluções Científicas, Econômicas e Sociais que Mudaram o Mundo (Editora CRV,
Curitiba, 2016), A Invenção de um novo Brasil (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2017), Esquerda x Direita e a sua
convergência (Associação Baiana de Imprensa, Salvador, 2018), Como inventar o futuro para mudar o
mundo (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2019) and A humanidade ameaçada e as estratégias para sua sobrevivência
(Editora Dialética, São Paulo, 2021) .

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THE GREAT FRENCH REVOLUTION THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

  • 1. 1 THE GREAT FRENCH REVOLUTION THAT CHANGED THE WORLD Fernando Alcoforado* Today the French Revolution is commemorated, which was a dividing mark in the history of humanity, starting the contemporary age. It was such an important event that its ideals influenced many movements around the world. The French Revolution had a large participation of the marginalized population (bankers, big businessmen, merchants, liberal professionals, artisans, merchants, apprentices in trades, wage earners, unemployed and peasants). One of the main causes of the French Revolution was the financial crisis that hit the country as a result of the expenses that France assumed with its participation (and defeat) in the Seven Years' War and the War of Independence of the United States of America, in addition to the high costs of the Court of Louis XVI that left France's finances in a state of bankruptcy. In 1789, the population of France was divided into three states: clergy (1st state), nobility (2nd state) and people (3rd state). The clergy and the nobility had various privileges such as not paying taxes, receiving state pensions and being able to hold public office. In turn, the people had to bear all the expenses of the 1st and 2nd state. In order to get around the crisis, King Louis XVI decided to charge taxes to the people (3rd state), instead of charging the clergy (1st state) and the nobility (2nd state). Sensing that their privileges could also be threatened, the clergy and nobility pressured the king to convene the Assembly of the States General, which was made up of members of the three states that had not met for 175 years, to force the people to assume the taxes. In May 1789, after the meeting of the Assembly of the States General in the Palace of Versailles, a conflict between the privileged (clergy and nobility) and the people broke out. The nobility and the clergy realized that the people had more deputies than the first two states put together, so they wanted anyway to enforce the vote by social order because, that way, they would win by 2 to 1. The people's representatives wanted the vote individual. For that to happen, it would be necessary to make an amendment to the Constitution, but the nobility and clergy did not agree with such an attitude. This impasse caused the 3rd state to revolt and leave the States General. Outside the States General, they met and formed the National Constituent Assembly. Over time and influenced by the ideals of the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement that emerged during the 18th century in Europe, which defended the use of reason against the old regime and preached greater economic and political freedom, the people began to revolt and fight for the equality of all before the law. They fought, among other things, monarchical absolutism and the privileges of the nobility and the clergy. Meanwhile, the French economy was undergoing an unprecedented crisis. King Louis XVI tried to react, but the people remained united, taking over the streets. The slogan of the revolutionaries was “Freedom, Equality and Fraternity”.
  • 2. 2 The French Revolution was mainly motivated by growing social inequality, the devastating economic crisis and the endemic hunger suffered by the vast majority of the population. The French Revolution was a social and political movement whose main objective was to overthrow the Ancien Régime and establish a democratic state that represented and ensured the rights of all citizens. In 1788 and 1789, France had bad harvests, the price of food increased, and many peasants could not afford it. Result: hunger increased. The Parisian population took to the streets of the city to fight this situation on July 12, 1789. The popular unrest did not subside and, on July 14, the people continued with their uprising, attacking first the Arsenal of the Invalids and then promoted the fall of the Bastille, which was an ancient fortress that had been turned into a prison for political opponents of the French kings. With the news of the fall of the Bastille, the revolution spread throughout France, precipitating transformations in the country and causing thousands of people, in the cities and in the countryside, to rebel against the French aristocracy and against the Ancien Regime. The French Revolution also caused profound changes and marked the beginning of the fall of absolutism in Europe. The king could no longer control the popular fury and took some precautions to calm the people who invaded, killed and took the goods of the nobility. With the revolution, the feudal regime over the peasants was abolished and the tributary privileges of the clergy and nobility ended. On August 26, 1789, the National Constituent Assembly proclaimed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, whose main points were: 1) respect for the dignity of people; 2) freedom and equality of citizens before the law; 3) right to individual property; 4) right to resist political oppression; and, 5) freedom of thought and opinion. In 1790, the Constituent Assembly reduced the clergy's power by confiscating several Church lands and placed the clergy under state authority. This measure was made through a document called “Civil Constitution of the Clergy”. However, the Pope did not accept this determination. There were two alternatives for priests faithful to the king: leaving France or fighting the revolution. Many agreed to this law in order to remain in the country, but the disaffected fled France and abroad decided to unite and form an army to fight the revolution. In 1791, the Constitution made by the members of the Constituent Assembly was completed. The main topics of this Constitution were as follows: 1) Legal equality between individuals; 2) End of privileges of the clergy and nobility; 3) Freedom of production and trade (without state interference); 4) Prohibition of strikes; 5) Freedom of belief; 6) Separation of State from the Church; 7) Nationalization of clergy assets; and, 8) Three created powers (Legislative, Executive and Judiciary). King Louis XVI did not accept the loss of power and began to conspire against the revolution. For this he contacted emigre nobles and monarchs from Austria and Prussia (who also felt threatened). The objective of the counterrevolutionaries was to organize an army that would invade France and re-establish absolute monarchy. In 1791, Louis XVI wanted to join the counterrevolutionaries and tried to flee France, but was recognized and imprisoned in Varennes. In 1792, the Austro-Prussian army invaded France, but was defeated by French troops at the Battle of Valmy. This victory gave new strength to the French revolutionaries and this fact led the leaders of the revolution to decide to proclaim the Republic on September 22, 1792. With the proclamation of the Republic, the Constituent Assembly was replaced by the National Convention, which had as one of its missions to draw up a new constitution for France. At that time, the main political forces that stood out the most were the following: 1) Girondins composed of the upper bourgeoisie were moderated and led by Danton; and, 2) Jacobins constituted by the bourgeoisie (small and medium) and the Paris
  • 3. 3 proletariat were radical and defended the interests of the people and were led by Robespierre and Saint-Just who preached the king's death sentence. Even against the will of the Girondins, Louis XVI was tried and guillotined in January 1793. The king's death brought a series of problems such as internal revolts and a reorganization of foreign absolutist forces. To deal with these problems, the Committee for Public Safety and the Revolutionary Tribunal (responsible for the guillotine killing of many people who were considered traitors to the revolutionary cause) were created. This period was known as “Terror”. A Jacobin dictatorship begins, led by Robespierre. During his government, he tried to balance himself between various political trends, some more identified with the upper bourgeoisie and others closer to the aspirations of the popular classes. Robespierre achieved some significant achievements, mainly in the military sector: the French army managed to repel the attack of foreign forces. During Robespierre's government, the new Constitution of the Republic (1793) was in force, which assured the people: 1) the right to vote; 2) right of rebellion; 3) right to work and livelihood; and 4) contained a statement that the purpose of government was the common good and happiness of all. After the period designated by historians as the Reign of Terror in which citizens' guarantees were suspended and the Mountain faction of the Jacobin party, murdered and persecuted their opponents, some Girondins survived and organized a coup. On July 27, 1794, the date known as 9 Thermidor by the calendar of the French Revolution, Robespierre and his party were overthrown in an agile maneuver of the National Convention. The Jacobin party leaders and Robespierre were guillotined. In this way, representatives of the upper bourgeoisie took power, initiating a reflux of the revolutionary movement. This episode is called Thermidorian reaction representing one of the final phases of the French Revolution. After Robespierre's death, the National Convention decided to draw up another Constitution for France when the census vote in elections was rescued, universal suffrage was annulled and the majority of the population was once again politically marginalized. With this, several uprisings in France emerged that were severely fought. With the succession of popular conflicts, the way was opened for the generals to assume power. In 1793, the French army was considered the largest in all of Europe, in which General Napoleon Bonaparte stood out. During this period, France again received threats from neighboring absolutist nations, aggravating the situation. After a respectable victory against Austria, Napoleon gained notorious prestige in French society. Then, when he returned to France, Napoleon was the protagonist in a coup d'état that lasted between 1799 and 1802. With this, a period of dictatorial political order in France began. On 11/10/1799, Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the Directory and established a new government called the Consulate. With this he consolidated the achievements of the bourgeoisie, putting an end to the initial aims of the revolution. It appears, from the above, that the ideals of the French Revolution came to an end with the overthrow by the bourgeoisie of the Jacobin government under the leadership of Robespierre, which radicalized in the fight against the enemies of the revolution and in the defense of the country's interests against external aggression and culminated in the establishment of the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. Despite this political setback with the Bonapartist dictatorship, the ideals of the French revolution proliferated around the world, constituting the flag of countless revolutionary movements that took place in
  • 4. 4 several countries that even culminated with the independence of several countries in South America. Its ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity among human beings still mobilize many peoples around the world, especially in the contemporary era, with the resurgence of fascism, including in Brazil.Longue vie à la France. Vive la Révolution française. . REFERENCES ALCOFORADO, FERNANDO. As Grandes Revoluções Científicas, Econômicas e Sociais que Mudaram o Mundo. Curitiba: Editora CRV, 2016. GAXOTTE, Pierre. La Révolution Française. Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 1957. * Fernando Alcoforado, 81, awarded the medal of Engineering Merit of the CONFEA / CREA System, member of the Bahia Academy of Education, engineer and doctor in Territorial Planning and Regional Development by the University of Barcelona, university professor and consultant in the areas of strategic planning, business planning, regional planning and planning of energy systems, is author of the books Globalização (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1997), De Collor a FHC- O Brasil e a Nova (Des)ordem Mundial (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 1998), Um Projeto para o Brasil (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2000), Os condicionantes do desenvolvimento do Estado da Bahia (Tese de doutorado. Universidade de Barcelona,http://www.tesisenred.net/handle/10803/1944, 2003), Globalização e Desenvolvimento (Editora Nobel, São Paulo, 2006), Bahia- Desenvolvimento do Século XVI ao Século XX e Objetivos Estratégicos na Era Contemporânea (EGBA, Salvador, 2008), The Necessary Conditions of the Economic and Social Development- The Case of the State of Bahia (VDM Verlag Dr. Müller Aktiengesellschaft & Co. KG, Saarbrücken, Germany, 2010), Aquecimento Global e Catástrofe Planetária (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2010), Amazônia Sustentável- Para o progresso do Brasil e combate ao aquecimento global (Viena- Editora e Gráfica, Santa Cruz do Rio Pardo, São Paulo, 2011), Os Fatores Condicionantes do Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2012), Energia no Mundo e no Brasil- Energia e Mudança Climática Catastrófica no Século XXI (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2015), As Grandes Revoluções Científicas, Econômicas e Sociais que Mudaram o Mundo (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2016), A Invenção de um novo Brasil (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2017), Esquerda x Direita e a sua convergência (Associação Baiana de Imprensa, Salvador, 2018), Como inventar o futuro para mudar o mundo (Editora CRV, Curitiba, 2019) and A humanidade ameaçada e as estratégias para sua sobrevivência (Editora Dialética, São Paulo, 2021) .