The French revolution was a violent and political revolution which bought, sudden, dramatic, fundamental social, political and economic change in France that took place from 5 May 1789–9 November 1799. The French Revolution had major impacts not only immediately afterwards but long after the revolution and taught us “the rights of man” (Thomas Sankara). Key factors to look at are the short and long term effects. Firstly it is necessary to look at the short term effects of the French revolution.  The French Revolution led to the decline of The Church’s power. Before the French Revolution, Catholicism had been the main religion in France. Many people used to worship God or go to church, and the Church exploited their influence over people to gain power over them. However, during the French Revolution, and after the execution of many 1st estate clergymen and bishops, the Church had significantly less power. During the Reign of Terror, the movement for abolition of the church was heavily supported by 3rd estate ‘commoners’. So, the Committee changed the calendars, renamed religious landmarks, and plundered religious buildings to emphasise their new power over the Church. 1st estate clergy men were also executed, churches were closed, and the worship of Catholicism was banned in France. This ‘anti-religious campaign’ was also known as ‘dechristianisation’. Reign of terror was was a period from 5th September 1793 until the fall of Robespierre in 1794. Its purpose was to purge France of enemies of the Revolution and protect the country from foreign invaders as “Society was cut in two: those who had nothing united in common envy; those who had anything united in common terror.”( Alexis de Tocqueville). Many 1st and 2nd estate citizens were beheaded by guillotine as the new revolutionary French government, The Committee of Public Safety (led by Maximilien de Robespierre), decided to make ‘terror the order of the day’. This was because they faced open threats from the Vendée. Vendée were religious counterrevolutionary people. They consisted mainly of 1st estate clergies, who felt threatened by the new opposition to their social class. They were primarily based in the west of France, and became prominent in 1793. France was also surrounded by extremely hostile armies who were influenced by the Vendée’s philosophy. To intimidate these opposing forces, the revolutionary government decreed all resistance of the revolution criminals, and this included the 2nd-estate nobles and the 1st-estate clergy men. The Committee exercised virtual and ironical dictatorship over France, and they introduced a law that imposed the ability for these criminals to be executed without trial. However this is ironically similar to Louis XVI’s letter de cachet, supporting Charles Caleb Colton’s quote “The consequences of things are not always proportionate to the apparent magnitude of those events that have produced them.  French Revolution, from which much was expected, produced little.” There was a mass loss of lives. 300,000 suspects were arrested, 17,000 were officially executed, and 10,000 died whilst incarcerated or without trial. The dubious government that ruled during this time was weak, which allowed Napoleon to come to power. It is clear that the French revolution had major short-term impact on France. It is also necessary to look at long-term effects.  There was the destruction of social classes: Before the French Revolution, the people were divided into 3 social classes: The 1st estate were the clergy, who governed the Church and its proceedings. The 2nd estate were nobles, who were often close friends with the king. They therefore received lots of money by just being his acquaintance and making the 3rd estate work on their land. The 3rd estate where everyone else. These included people in the upper-middle class, like doctors and lawyers and peasants and farmers. These people were disrespected by the 1st and 2nd estates and were the revolutionaries in the French Revolution. They were frustrated because of how they were treated, like having to pay all the taxes and work for the 1st and 2nd estates for very little to no pay.  The destruction of this eccentric social system therefore meant that France became fairer and positions of responsibility in society became more based on actual ability of the people, rather than birth, leading rise to talented peasants such as Napoleon. France became more unified as a result. The French Revolution introduced the Rule of Law into France. Before 1789, when Louis XVI was still in power, no efforts had been made to protect the people’s rights or freedom. The Rule of Law safeguarded people’s ideas and allowed for freedom of expression to play a part in how people thought this country should be run. This Rule of Law emphasised that the country could no longer be run by a single figurehead such as Louis 16th, but only by laws. It showed that no-one was above the law, and everyone had to abide by the laws of France and were obliged to. The Bourbon Monarchy subsequently ended. The House of Bourbon rule over France before the French Revolution. This was a family of Monarchs that were autocratic and had absolute power over France, which was greatly characterised by Louis XIV’s quote ‘l’etat, c’est moi’. The Bourbon Monarch was extravagant and arrogant and Louis XVI was executed in 1792. This resulted in the termination of Monarchy and the Bourbon Monarch. It was reintroduced again after the death of Napoleon, but only remained until 1830, as the monarchs were deeply impacted by the effects of the French Revolution. The French revolution therefore had a  psychological influence on future monarchs. The execution of Louis 16th psychologically influenced future monarchs. The French Revolution showed that kings and queens were not infallible, but they were normal people who could be beaten. They were not the ‘Gloriana’ that certain previous monarchs had been depicted as, but people who just happened to be of noble descent. Therefore, the French Revolution lowered the almighty status of monarchs such as Louis XVI, and nobility with the fact that they could be murdered, impeached or replaced. It is clear the French revolution had effects long after the revolution itself. In conclusion, the French had a major effect both short-term and long-term. The destruction of social class and the loss of army generals during reign of terror led to the rise of Napoleon as well giving ending the monarchy in France. “The French Revolution is the ultimate modernist statement. Destroy everything. Don’t build on the past. There is no past.”  (John Corigliano)

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