Levin, Elizabeth Midterm

Levin, Elizabeth Midterm - HIST 1020 The Natural World and...

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HIST 1020 The Natural World and the French Revolution Throughout history the environment or the natural world has always played an integral part in human life. The effects of the natural world during the late 17 th century gave rise to what later became known as the French Revolution. Events such as the Little Ice Age, bad weather, and sudden cold fronts led to famine and scares which sparked the events that marked the French Revolution and led to changes in French culture, politics, economy, and society. The Little Ice Age, lasting from 1350-1850 (S. Kent), allowed for longer winters and significantly shorter warmer periods, which drastically decreased the growing season for French peasants. Due to landowner refusal to implement “new crop choices, land organization, or methods of farming or fertilization” (S. K. Kent Ch. 3), French farming technique and knowledge had “not changed since medieval times.” (S. K. Kent Ch. 3). Due to this lack of farming knowledge new crops such as potatoes were not a part of French diets and the ability to implement new farming techniques during hard times could not take place. The effects of the natural world largely affected those who lived off of it. Famine occurred and it became difficult for peasants to produce enough food to feed their families. The “dynamics between land shortage, population growth, bad harvests, and dramatic climate changes created a heightened sense of insecurity in the rural areas” (S. K. Kent Ch. 3), these insecurities amongst the peasantry were seen in the numerous riots that erupted throughout the countryside. Many of these factors such as “rise and fall of population and the conflict between landlord and peasant over control of natural resources” were great cultural changes (Merchant 43). While population had always been dependent on natural resources, the current natural
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conditions caused peasants to riot and take actions not seen before against the ruling landlords and elites. After 1750 (S. K. Kent Ch. 3), floods and other natural misfortunes caused crop failures that accounted for the price of bread rising dramatically. This rise in the price of bread greatly affected the economy as peasants and other workers could not purchase goods, hindering much of the cottage industry (S. K. Kent Ch. 3). This increase in the price of bread had many serious effects on economy. Since people were spending most of their income on bread they were not putting their money back into the economy through textiles, which in turn led to layoffs. Though many were not aware, this natural force was greatly affecting the state of French economics by driving up prices and decreasing the labor force, in turn stimulating cultural changes as the peasants reacted to their current circumstances. The “Bread Riots,” as they became called, set the stage for the “Great Fear” where the peasants were convinced that the aristocracy was taking part in a conspiracy to starve them (S. K. Kent Ch. 3).
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Levin, Elizabeth Midterm - HIST 1020 The Natural World and...

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