The 1789 French revolution, as well as other violent regime changes, have gradually received lots of attention in various academic environments. This is because such events are perceived as points of inflection in the economic and political status of the nation’s citizens. The French revolution was an ideal lens to analyze these issues because they hold plenty of archival information and the fact that they occurred at an extended period, thus allows to assess the medium and long-term effect of radical policies.
The London Chronicle in July 1789 reported that France had undergone the revolution and this news received a mixture of responses from the natives. The same article warned that France would have to shed blood before they could accomplish their mission and Edward Burke pointed out the probability of the situation turning violent although many British people perceived his opinion as a false alarm. (Blakemore, 2017) The French revolution was visualized as a similar establishment of their version of the constitutional monarch employed by England’s Glorious Revolution. These events in France were depicted as an inspiration and the English Chronicles sensationally acclaimed that the hand of justice had been brought upon France some valiant men had achieved this goal.
Impacts of the French Revolution
The economic legacy of the French revolution is divided into two parts. First, there are research highlights which explain the development of the French economy to its current status, as evident in the destruction of the feudal system, fiscal hindrances to industry and commerce, reduction of traditional calls and simplification of the legal system. Some of the 19th-century thinkers such as Thiers, Guizot, Marx, Soboul, and Hobsbawm viewed the French revolution as the victory of bureaucracy for primarily industrial and commercial purposes over aristocracy.
Other classical conservative intellectuals like Schama, Furet, Cobban, and Taine viewed the regime as an advancement towards industrialized countries like Germany and England. France was agriculturally productive until 1914, and these intellects presume that the French revolution was not stimulated by economic differences between the bourgeoisie and the nobility, instead was a political movement that had both economic and social ramifications. The French revolution was termed as anti-capitalist because France was agriculturally productive in the 19th century. According to (Fuller, 2015) some radical policies brought about differential impacts in the French capital especially the creation of administrative posts similar to the United States. Empirical studies depict exploitation of confiscation and auctioning of Church Property at the beginning of the regime, while others illustrate the plight of emigrants which catapulted after the summer of 1792.
Redistribution of Church property
The French Constituent Assembly passed a law on November 2, 1789, to impound all church property and sell it via auction. Approximately 6.5% of the French colony that contained more than 700,000 ecclesiastical properties were sold in five years ascertaining it to be the most critical part of the revolution. The French authorities then tracked agricultural outputs from the properties and also an investment that had irrigation infrastructure before the coup took place. There was also inequality in the size of the farms because of the previously consolidated land that was located in areas of sparse population.
Before the revolution, large farm holders like the church used to rent out their pieces of land to small-holders though such small plots would not bring in substantial investment especially in large-scale irrigation schemes or other improvements because the feudal system would collect much of the output. Moreover, the system had placed numerous cost requirements on smart investments as well as landholders would meet up with several legal obstacles when trying to sell their land to an investor.
After the revolution, the system of feudalism was ejected, and Napoleon Bonaparte implemented a new civil code in 1804. Though it was not efficient inland reallocation, local bureaucracy and ownership claims by feudal lords it was poised to change only when the existing power structure underwent a different management style.
Not only did the French revolution did inspire scholarly debate, but also began to reveal the political corruption as well as the economic struggles that citizens were facing. Ordinary people started forming political groups, and they called on for reforms which would enable them to participate in decision-making processes of how the country would be governed. In 1792 the London Corresponding Society was established to inform the people of violation of their constitutional rights and unite them as an attempt to recover their rights. The town was sooner in communication with other reformist groups located in the northern cities of Manchester and Sheffield. The LCS official Francis Place was credited with the ability to improve education and morals of its born-members. However, the government viewed such radical societies as dangerous especially those with the national association and unlimited membership.
Their suspicion was exacerbated through the great trajectory the revolution took, and once the war began in 1793, authorities restricted activities of reformist groups under the veil of national security. British reformers were similar to the French Jacobins who were very powerful and had an extreme revolutionary faction. Journalists sponsored by the government published the message in press outlets while informers on the ground provided reports of treasonous plots that were false.
Most antiradical activities were not government initiated because the association for Preservation of Liberty and Property against Levelers and Republicans had been established by John Reeves to counter the threat of the British constitution. Barrister Reeves was able to communicate to over 200 regional administrators and helped to spread viral information via Hannah More. Her second repository tracts were mainly designed for the poor because they would hopefully absorb the messages of Christian morality, hard work, and collaboration instead of revolutionary ideas. Reeves published benefits of the existing system and was rewarded by the government for his plaudits though some ministers were ambivalent towards the simplified approach of the conservative movement which had initially raised the spectrum of violence that it was trying to avoid. (Popkin, 2016)
Some supporters participated in writing pamphlets and loyal addresses to the kings while others resorted to violent ways to intimidate their suspected radicals. When some LCS leaders were imprisoned together with Hardy awaiting trial for the crime of treason in 1794, a loyalist mob attacked his house and resulted in his wife suffering a stillbirth and eventually succumbing to death. British natives were encouraged to form associations that would defend against any possible French invasion. Moreover, anyone found not being loyal to the British King and constitution would face a great deal of physical threat.
The effect of emigration
The French revolution brought about the demise of the feudal system and the flight of emigrants. Over 100,000 people who were supporters of the Old Regime fled away from France to escape the revolutionary war. There was the spatial distribution of émigrés between1789 to 1799. In the summer of 1792, a wave of extremist violence described as the Second Revolution cropped up due to the imprisonment of King Louis XVI, and also a proclamation of the first French Republic on September 21st, 1792. During that specified time, economic conditions, as well as the opportunity cost for violence activities, culminated in an imbalance of wealth between the rich and émigrés. Temperature shocks reduced the yield of agriculture, and there would be a significant increase in the price of wheat which is the primary staple food for the Frenchmen in the 18th century. This would unequivocally result in distress among the sparse population and magnify the emigration gap among the wealthy individuals.
Inequality and Growth
Some theoretical studies are similar to practical information which argue on how the French revolution brought about inequality and growth. Growth that was driven by imperfect capital markets and physical accumulation of capital in the 19th century resulted in the more extensive collection of wealth and property into the hands of a few people which is eventually beneficial for development. In the presence of imperfect capital markets, human capital becomes the lead associate or distributor of growth, and lower rates of wealth inequality allow broader pools of opportunities for educated workers. The economic legacy of 1789 France Revolution is based on the structural transformation between France and redistribution of church land with the intensity of emigration. (Linton, 2016)
The French revolution helped spread the ideas of democracy because France traded King Louis XVI for Napoleon Bonaparte but still questioned slavery, rights of a man and also the monarch’s system of rule. This regime was able to cultivate notions of equality, liberty, and fundamentally democracy. French people were questioning the law and the divine rights of the monarch though because they felt oppressed and it is through this that Haiti and Latin revolution also began. (Hunt, 2005)
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Palmer, R. R. (2016). The world of the French Revolution. Routledge.
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Fuller, J. F. C. (2015). The Conduct of War 1789-1961: A Study of the Impact of the French, Industrial and Russian Revolutions on War and Its Conduct. Routledge.
Popkin, J. D. (2016). A Short History of the French Revolution (Subscription). Routledge.
Lucas, C. (2002). Nobles, bourgeois, and the origins of the French Revolution. In The French Revolution (pp. 56-80). Routledge.
Hunt, J. (2005). The French Revolution. Routledge.