Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Revolution Question
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Author:  Pimprenelle [ Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:50 pm ]
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:shock: That's a difficult question, Cry ! However, I meant that Pierre Belaiche-Daninos' conclusion is in agreement with our discussion here, especially with Therese's so interesting comment.

Author:  Merteuil [ Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:20 pm ]
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I agree, the Terror was a bloodbath, and the people who were the "motors" of the movement were ambitious, self-centered, and totally indifferent to liberte, egalite or fraternite. I even doubt very much that they understood the deep meaning of these words.
I'm also convinced that a good number of the most excessive Revolutionaries were dysfunctional individuals and that Robespierre in particular, like most better known tyrants (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao) was psychotic and History happened to place him in a position where his mental illness shaped the fate of hundreds. To the disastrous results we all know.

I have been brought up in France and, like Pimpernelle, been taught that the French Revolution was a wonderful thing through and through, that all the men and women who played a role in it were all admirable and that any controversial opinion on the matter was sacrilege: in the totally non religious state, the Republic had become the new cult, and the Revolutionaries the new saints. And schools, as we all know, do not only aim at teaching historical facts. They teach the facts in a certain way, the idea being to make good citizens of the pupils.
I suppose - more exactly, I HOPE - that the Revolution is now tought in a more objective way. My hopes are based on the fact that my mother's generation were tought in a way that was even more pro-revolution than I was.

To answer the initial question "why did it all turn into a bloodbath": The context in which it all happened provides the answer. Picture this: crowds maddened by economic hardship and ignorance (most couldnt read) and manipulated by a group of dysfunctional individuals with various often contradictory agendas. All that set against a background of political structures in tatters, the Revolutionaries having been unable to replace the Old Regime with any solid political system. Perfect context for an uncontrolable downward spiral into bloodshed, don't you think?

That said, the Revolution produced one of the most wonderful texts ever written, the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which contains ideals I totally suscribe to.

It's just high time that school programs acknowledge the fact that most of what was done during the Revolution totally contradicted the ideals of the Declaration and that the Revolution, far from solving France's problems, propelled the country into a full century of political unstability. The 19th century was a succession of attempts at various forms of government: Empire, Restoration, 2nd Republic, Empire again, and 3rd Republic. In fact, the political system only really stabilised when General de Gaulle introduced the first constitution of the 5th Republic in 1958.
Ironically, that constitution was a very monarchic construct (it was entirely organised around the central figure of the President), and many observers and Historians have pointed out that the General's behaviour as President was often close to that of a King.

I wonder what Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette would think... :D

Author:  Therese [ Thu Jan 18, 2007 9:35 pm ]
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Well said, Madame Meurteuil! I think that when the new Constitution was passed, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, aware of its flaws but powerless to make any corrections, just hoped that the people would see in time the weaknesses of the new system. The people very soon wanted a monarchy again.....

Author:  Louis XVI [ Sat Jan 20, 2007 1:53 am ]
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Yes it is ironic isn't it, Therese! The revolutionaries took over, decimated the aristocracy, create some strange form of 'government' based on the Enlightenment, and then it all comes toppling down on them. Then Napoleon comes along when the French were vulnerable, and took over, and they were pretty much in the same situation as before, and worse! And if I'm not mistaken, didn't the French have two other Revolutions in the 19th century as well? :? As they say, "History repeats itself..."

Author:  Therese [ Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:03 am ]
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Author:  doritmi [ Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:03 pm ]
Post subject:  revolution was not an atrocity

Ok, I disagree. remember, for over 15 years Louis XVI has been trying to reform the monarchy. he has been blocked again and again. everyone agreed that strong reforms were necessary to the French financial system, especially the king. that is why the estates generals were called. and then Necker suggested a very limited set of reforms.
France was stuck in a political system that wasn't working, and needed extreme reform; the same political system blocked all serious reform. The revolution was a response to the grid lock.
I also disagree that most revolutionaries were selfish opportunists. yes, there was definitely a lot of big egos there; but someone can have a big ego and also believe in ideals. certainly the authors of the 1791 constitution believed in their ideals. And as for the republicans, I see no reason to doubt the sincerity of many of their writings. why see them as more hypocrites than the immigrants or the queen, for that matter? MA and Louis were the ones expressing loyalty to a constitution they did not intend to keep.
As for the terror, you may want to remember that the real terror started in late 1792, when there was an army marching into France - there was a real enough feeling of threat and panic. And the question the revolutionaries raised was, how can we send our protectors, the armed men, out to the front when we have enemies in our midst? it's too risky. Many atrocities were committed under the terror, once it started. As Therese pointed out, many of the victims were not noble and many of them were innocent bystanders. for example, in the September massacres, the mob simply killed everyone in the prisons; including many poor people arrested for poverty related offenses, for example, women arrested for prostitution and men, including young boys, arrested for stealing. but the reason it started was a real feeling of threat.

Author:  Therese [ Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:09 pm ]
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I believe that were many truly idealistic people among the Revolutionaries. In fact, most were idealistic. So idealistic as to be unrealistic. That is why the Revolution failed. It was too utopian, and expected changes to happen overnight. It was grounded in fantasy which quickly turned to frustration and then to bloodshed.

Author:  alisa [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:19 pm ]
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There is no such thing as democracy, only the illusion of it.
People have never experienced it, not even today.

Revolutions are not always a bad thing.
But the way Marie was treated and killed was unfair.

Author:  doritmi [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:24 pm ]
Post subject:  no such thing as democracy?

in what sense are you saying that? we have countries that have regular and anonymous elections today.
and what are you saying about the French revolution? why was Marie Antoinette's treatment unfair? compared to what and who?

I'd really like you to go into more detail on these views.

Author:  alisa [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: no such thing as democracy?

doritmi wrote:
in what sense are you saying that? we have countries that have regular and anonymous elections today.
and what are you saying about the French revolution? why was Marie Antoinette's treatment unfair? compared to what and who?

I'd really like you to go into more detail on these views.

It's all an illusion, because...
The war in Iraq is supposedly because of "terrorism" and "freedom for the people" but I think it's simply because of oil.
Oil prices are back up again because oil is "scarce" but I really think it's just reason to pump up the prices so the gov't gets richer.
Genetically modified foods are every where and people don't know about it because big companies pay lots of money to shush it up. When you read food labels most of them don't say "Genetically modified".
Even the news, they twist stories and don't talk about certain things because rich individuals that want to keep their money pay up.

Everything is twisted around, it's ridiculous.

I don't think all revolutions are for bad reasons and I'm just saying the Marie was killed for things that she didn't even comit and she was disliked and blamed because she was Austrian.

Author:  Louis-Charles [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:45 pm ]
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I'm just saying the Marie was killed for things that she didn't even comit and she was disliked and blamed because she was Austrian

Yes you're completely right :wink:
She was killed because she was Austrian, and Queen of France in the bad moment...

Author:  baron de batz [ Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:09 pm ]
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I fully agree with Thérèse that the French revolution was a blueprint for totalitarian behaviour and terrorism, at least in its first years. And for that reason it died a death and was replaced by a pseudo military monarchy and then by two brief new monarchies. I disagree with Dorit when she says that real terror began when the foreign armies marched on France in 1791. Look at the death of Lamballe. However she is right when she says that the system wasn't working, the taxes imposed on the peasants and common citizens and the priviliges of the clergy and nobility had to be amended, and Louis XVI had to be firmer in that respect in seeing that that change was needed. His practically inaudible speech at the vital Estates General meeting of the Assemblée nationale where Mirabeau gave a three hour speech left a very poor impression. I feel that he was already feeling the effects of all that had already happened. The wrong message was passed to the people. Look how often he and MA repeat "the people are much mistaken if they think that we feel that about them". Communication was absent and this led to confusion and then violence of the most mindless variety. Louis XVI could have saved the day and a constitutional monarchy would have worked in France, even if he may have insisted in tolerance regarding the new religious decrees, but he was unable to see this through and his poor wife found herself fighting for a cause she never had been trained to defend.

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