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The French Revolution

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The French Revolution

The French Revolution was an unstable, blood-filled time. With 20,000 sent to the

guillotine and an equal number to prison, it is not hard to find importance but rather to

find meaning. The most crucial thing to look for in the revolution is justification, reasons

that excuse or bring significance to the deaths of many. John Locke, a philosophe of the

time, may have argued that a leader who does not provide his people with inalienable

rights is grounds for dismissal in the form of regicide1. On the other hand Thomas

Hobbes, also a philosopher, may have taken a different argument. It was his belief that

'man is a brute', therefore he needs a dictator to keep the peace. John Locke's idealistic

view point if practiced properly could have provided the lower class of France with

equality, something the were desperately in need of. The Thomas Hobbes approach

which advocates control, could not have provided the people with such liberation, but in

theory should be able to maintain the peace among the people, the peace that seemed so

lacking during the French Revolution. The French Revolution was a disaster for the

following reasons: it happened too fast, it went too far, and it achieved too little.

Thomas Paine a radical thinker of the era once said 'Time makes more converts

than reason'. With this quote we can see why revolution was successful in England, but

not France. England slowly used the Magna Carta (1213), Petition of Rights (1628), and

the Habeas Corpus Act (1679) to limit it's monarch. It was a long road that was by no

means perfect. With monarchs who paid little attention to the act(s) in place during their

reign and parliament, like James (1603-1625) and Charles I (1625-1649) it was hard to

see progress quickly. These acts played a vital role in Britain's journey to democracy,

through them came proper representation of the people, equality, and what is now known

as the 'Glorious Revolution'.

France seemed to be on it's way to a similar fate. In 1789, the Estates-General2

had now received a promise of a head count from Louis XVI. Prior to this time the very

large third estate3 (26 million) had the same number of representatives in the

Estates-General as the first estate4 (100,000) and the second estate5 (400,000) combined.

Once the Estates-General had been renamed the National Assembly by the third estate a

constitution was in the works. During this time the people ...

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