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 Who really started the French Revolution? 
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Duc/Duchesse
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
Mothers-in-law aren't family? Awe, harsh. :wink:

I know de Sade's mother-in-law was the one who kept getting him thrown into prison. Were you referring to him specifically, or Random Pervy Noble Guy in the Bastille?


Tue Aug 26, 2008 5:04 am
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
Marquis de Sade. Not just any pervert sadly.

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Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:52 am
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
I read a biography of de Sade and every time his mother-in-law would get him thrown in jail I would be like "Woo hoo! Go La Présidente!" What was really weird was how attached his wife was to him and how she kept trying to free him. You'd think she'd be happy not to have to deal with him.


Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:04 pm
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
I have opened a topic on him, let's discuss about him, shall we? :)

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Tue Aug 26, 2008 8:58 pm
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
Sorry, where did you open the topic? I can't find it!


Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:12 pm
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
It in Louis XVI: Louis XVI and Marquis de Sade.

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Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:34 pm
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
I don't think anyone really started the Revolution, it was a clash of two conflicting ideas about life, the world, and particuarly government. In short, philosophy started the Revolution. The ideas of the Revolution have been endlessly discussed, but I haven't seen anyone put forth the ideas of the Monarchy.

It's difficult for us to understand today, because we are so far removed from these ideas. The Monarchial view of the Ancien Regime went something like this: All authority comes from God. God directly chose the King to rule and enforce His will. Hence, one of Louis' offical titles was His Most Christian Majesty. The French people, therefore, could not rule themselves because they did not have God's Will. Only the King did, and it was his (the king's) job to make sure all of the French followed God's Will. Louis & Antoinette firmly believed in this view. They were taught from birth to believe it, and it explains why they reacted as they did to the Revolution. They could not imagine the people trying to govern themselves because people were by nature sinners and needed a specific person, the King, to guide them according to God's wishes. They saw the Revolution in terms of a collective of spoiled children acting out against their royal parents.

This idea was not unique to France. In one form or another, and under many different religions, most of the world had suscribed to these principles since the beginning of civilization: with a few notable exceptions---such as the Athenian Democracy, and the Roman Republic. But back to France....

This is why Protestants were persecuted (because they were going against God by denying Church Law, and thus the King's validity), why the Church itself had so much power and influence, why a woman could not rule (directly, at least), and why the King was not seen as just a political office, but a sacred duty.

As I said, Louis XVI believed in this view, and never really understood the views of the Enlightenment. I know everybody here is familiar with that philosophical movement, but for purposes of conversation I should review it. The Englightenment held almost the exact opposite view of the Monarchy. Authority did not come from God, but resided in the individual, by way of their own good logic. If authority did not come from God, than the King's rule was no longer a sacred duty, merely a tyrannical position. Hence the people should be able to govern themselves.

These two concepts clashed head-on at the Estates General in 1789. I suspect that the majority of France still bought into the Monarchial philosophy at that time. But a very powerful and vocal minority were steeped in the Enlightenment and it was this group (principally from the middle and upper classes), encouraged by the crisis in France at that time, and the successes of the American Revolution, who saw an opportunity to act. Thus the Revolution was born.

Others have argued that the Terror phase of the Revolution was brought on as a necessary reaction to all the obstacles the revolutionary movement faced (i.e. the monarchist opposition, external war, etc.). I don't buy this at all. The obstacles the Revolution faced were mainly self-inflicted. What those who took the Tennis Court Oath did not realize at the time, is that when you remove a long-standing authority, and replace it with a newly invented one, you create a power vacuum and all the worst elements of society come out and run wild. Within a month of the Tennis Court Oath, the Revolution was already spinning out of control. Hence, the mob in Paris, the random looting and murdering; much of it being done in the name of the Revolution, but with no real purpose other than criminality. Those early Revolutionists were as alarmed by this as the Royalists were. One of the reasons they created the National Guard was to try and bring some order to the chaos they had created.

The seeds of the Terror were planted on July 14th, when they (the Revolutionists) learned that they could use the mob to their own benefit---in the taking of Les Invalides and the Bastille. Since they could not really control it, they found they could at least steer it in a beneficial direction: against the King.

***I have much more to say about the Terror, but will reserve that for a seperate topic****


Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:18 am
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
Though one must remember that the Terror did not begin till well after the execution of Louis XVI. Also, the Terror began as a result of, of course, pressure by the Parisian mob after the journée of September 5. It seems every group in the Revolution initially began by embracing mob force as "the will of the people" and then finding themselves constricted, and eventually betrayed, by it. It happened to the Robespierrists, the Dantonists, the Hébertists, the Girondins, and even the constitutional monarchists and the royalists. After all, it was first the nobles who began the attack on the power of the monarchy even before the Estates General. There were mob demonstrations in favor of the parlements and the Assembly of Notables, which were definitely not acting in the interest of the people, simply because they were opposing the king.

Also, I agree with you that the Revolution's problems were mostly self-made. But one cannot really have expected the revolutionaries to just give up by the time it reached utter defeat or the Terror. They were motivated by a nationalist and revolutionary fervor similar to religious devotion and giving up was not an option. So they tried to solve the problems by the only way people could think of doing it, the Terror. At the point when the Terror began, I really don't think France could have survived without it, as the Terror was not simply arrests and executions, it involved a whole economic and political program to organize the country. Also, it's worth remembering that the people who had to find solutions to France's problems were often not those who started them. The National Assembly passed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, that caused huge problems later, particularly in the Vendée (though the actual revolt was sparked by the levé en masse). The foreign wars with Austria and Prussia were the result of the Girondins during the Constituent Assembly (Robespierre stood almost alone in his criticism of the wars, actually) and it was a stupid stupid decision, probably the most destructive for the Revolution as a whole. And although the Girondins started the war, they couldn't handle a wartime government and were overthrown by the Mountain, which then had to deal the foreign wars, as well as the multitude of other problems facing France at the time.

I guess it all comes down to the question of when you think the Revolution should have stopped, or even more where it went wrong. That is difficult to say, unless you want to say that everything in France should remain way it was before the Revolution. Obviously people living through it had very different opinions about when the Revolution should finish (as Mirabeau said, "The hard thing isn't starting a Revolution- it's ending one.") and, even with the benefit of hindsight I would find it impossible to say where it should have stopped and I can only make a guess where it went wrong.

My personal opinion is that the flight to Varennes is the moment the Revolution "went wrong." It destroyed the constitutional monarchy before it even began and it gave a great deal of support to the people who wanted a republic. Although Louis was not popular, I think it took the flight to Varennes to really turn the people against him. Perhaps if the constitutional monarchy had actually lasted longer, things would have settled down and even if Louis XVI was never popular again, perhaps his son would have been. However, do I think the Revolution should have stopped at where it was in 1791? No. There was still the distinction between passive and active citizens which prevented the poor from participation in the political process. Other gains during the Revolution, such as women gaining the right to divorce and the abolition of slavery, had not yet occurred. Given the nature of the Constitutional Monarchy, I doubt they were likely to.


Sat Aug 30, 2008 7:33 pm
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
Dear Christophe and dreamoutloud,

Your remarks are absolutely brilliant and I commend you for sharing them with us. Thank you so much and I anxiously await more from such sensible and informed persons as yourselves.

Thanks again,
Ray

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Last edited by Ray on Wed Sep 03, 2008 3:27 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Aug 31, 2008 5:18 am
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
dreamoutloud wrote:
I guess it all comes down to the question of when you think the Revolution should have stopped, or even more where it went wrong. That is difficult to say, unless you want to say that everything in France should remain way it was before the Revolution.


Dear dreamoutloud, I suppose that is what I want to say: everything in France should have remained the way it was before the Revolution, allowing for time and the industrial revolution to---gradually---bring about the necessary social and economic changes that were already beginning. I fear that you and I will never agree on this subject, but that does not lessen my respect for your knowledge and insight. :wink:


Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:32 am
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
We shall simply agree to disagree. :) I'm certainly not going to try to debate you on that point, as that's a matter of opinion and would require a far more extensive analysis of world history than I suspect either of us would have the energy for. I'm fine with that.

Thank you, though. I know my opinions are probably not the most popular on this board, but they're what I've come up with after years of reading about the Revolution. My first interest in history is always with individuals, so I don't believe it is incompatible to sympathize with both Marie Antoinette and Robespierre, and anyone in between... But here's one point we can all agree on: We can all hate Hébert! Nobody likes him. :wink:


Sun Aug 31, 2008 10:04 am
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
Both of you are such a delight! Thank you both again, Christophe and dreamoutloud, for your profound and enchanting contributions. Bravo! :) (Just for the record, I have to agree with Christophe regarding the last debate...)

Most appreciatively,
Ray

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"...little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her...I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult."
Edmund Burke, (1790)


Wed Sep 03, 2008 3:30 am
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
yes the storming of the bastille was so the mob could get their hands
on the massive supplies of gunpowder stored in there.
They had earlier stormed an armoury and got hold of a ton
of guns etc.

But are you missing a trick ?
I ve heard no one mention the riots of the fauberg st antoine
in april 1789 , long before the bastille storming.
The fact that 300 died in those riots tells us just how
serious they were and how much the people were taking on the powers that be.

quote,,,,,,,
Hanriot, the owner of a saltpetre works, lived in la rue Cotte and his house was also attacked and destroyed. When the cavalry arrived to disperse the crowd the rioters climbed on to the roofs and hurled down tiles at the soldiers.
In retaliation the Garde Française fired on the rioters and 300 people were killed in the rue Montreuil. There was widespread looting, cellars were ransacked and there was much drunkenness. The affray was thought to have been started by just a few agitators — many of the dead and wounded were found with six-franc pieces on them, indicating they had been bought.
There was some speculation as to whether the riot had been incited by the Duc d’Orléans, the English or possibly both. Certainly it was a foretaste of things to come.
On 23 April 1789 the king held a council meeting to discuss the economic crisis and the necessity of recalling the Estates General. Large detachments of soldiers were moved into positions around Paris to quell possible riots.
Almost one-third of the troops were foreign, including many Swiss and German regiments.

The previous September the Paris parlement had urged that the Estates General be summoned in the old 1614 format with one vote per deputy. This would have ensured the defeat of the Third Estate as the nobles and clergy voted together, thus considerably outnumbering the Third Estate.
But on this occasion, mainly owing to Necker’s influence, the Third Estate was granted double representation, which gave them an equal voice in the votes.
In the spring of 1789 representatives began to gather in Versailles. Chamfort commented: ‘Nobility, say the Nobles, is a medium between the King and the People. Yes — as a hound is the medium between the Hunter and the Hare.’


Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:40 am
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
It seems that the Duc d'Orleans was a very evil man indeed.

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"...little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her...I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult."
Edmund Burke, (1790)


Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:40 pm
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Post Re: Who really started the French Revolution?
Ray wrote:
It seems that the Duc d'Orleans was a very evil man indeed.


Definitely!!! He incited a lot of the troubles and I don't think his contribution to the Revolution should be underestimated. A nasty piece of work in my opinion :twisted:

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Thu Sep 04, 2008 8:46 pm
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