french rev - Francis Ramoin THE FRENCH REVOLUTION A...

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Francis Ramoin THE FRENCH REVOLUTION A Historic and Statistical Analysis Was the French Revolution necessary or even inevitable? To what extent was brutality and cruelty a factor during the Reign of Terror? In this paper I present a quantitative analysis of the French Revolution as a way to better understand its reasons, as well as measure the intensity of its social, political, and economic affects. Rather than focus on the international military campaigns that France fought as a republic (The French Revolutionary Wars), I will focus on the internal revolutionary conflict that took place domestically between the years 1789 and 1794. For a more detailed analysis of the intensity of the popular struggle, I will focus a significant amount of attention to The Reign of Terror (1793-1794). This short campaign of only 10 months is commonly thought to be one of the bloodiest and cruelest periods of European governmental suppression – can this be confirmed through statistical examination? What accounts for the discrepancies in the numbers between different historians? REASONS Reasons for the French Revolution are as numerous as they are varied; often they start with an account of ideological influences that were brought on by both Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire and Montesquieu, as well as with the advent of the American Revolution. However empowering these thoughts may have been to the masses when they were introduced to the ideas of individual liberties, the impetus behind the French Revolution overwhelming lies in the political, economic, and social conditions that were a result of the French feudal system that was in place at the time. These issues ranged from malnutrition and famine due to wheat shortages, to a government that was effectively bankrupt by 1789. Economic By 1771 France’s trade had increased eight-fold in a mere half- century. Its commerce was second only to Great Britain (Vovelle 281). The Caribbean Colonies it had acquired provided them with rich exports. Furthermore, the first period of modernization of transportation had occurred. For example, in the 1780s, the 600 miles between Paris and Toulouse was only an eight-day journey, rather than the fifteen days it had taken in the 1760s (Vovelle 334). Despite all this, the advance in trade did little
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Francis Ramoin THE FRENCH REVOLUTION A Historic and Statistical Analysis good for the common people who were largely left out of its benefits. With food production levels at a constant, the population of France exploded from 19 million in 1700 up to 24 million (Vovelle 52). Farmers around Paris consumed over 80 percent of what they grew, so if a harvest fell by around 10 percent, which was common, people went hungry (Vovelle 299). Insufficient government planning for the storage of grain led to perpetual emergency food shortages. France’s agricultural system at the time made up 75% of its economy, yet it still rested on a regressive and debt burdening feudalistic arrangement (Vovelle 296). At the same time, France’s other major economic bloc,
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This note was uploaded on 12/26/2010 for the course SIS 310 taught by Professor Kazimierzz.poznanski during the Fall '10 term at University of Washington.

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french rev - Francis Ramoin THE FRENCH REVOLUTION A...

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