French Revolution:-

  • It gave birth to ideas of liberty, freedom and equality
  • It led to the end of monarchy in France
  • A society based on privileges gave way to a new system of governance
  • The Declarations of the Rights of Man during the revolution, announced the coming of a new time.
  • The idea that all individuals had rights and could claim equality became part of a new language of politics.
  • These notions of equality and freedom emerged as the central ideas of a new age; but in different countries they were reinterpreted and rethought in many different ways

Ideals of Revolution

  • The collapse of the old regime was the consequence of many factors – economic problems, social unrest, conflicting ambitions of groups and individuals.
  • In the unfolding of the Revolution, what was thought, what was said, and what was advocated, was expressed in terms categories that came from political theorists of the Enlightenment such as Montesquieu, Locke and Rousseau.
  • Montesquieu, the most important political philosopher of the French revolution claimed that a liberal constitutional monarchy was the best system of government for a people who prized freedom, on the grounds that by dividing the sovereignty of the nation between several centres of power, it provided a permanent check on any one of t hem becoming despotic.
  • Mirabeau, the leading orator among the revolutionists of this early phase, was very much the disciple of Montesquieu in his demand for a constitutional monarchy. Mirabeau was born in a noble family but was convinced of the need to do away with a society of feudal privilege. He brought out a journal and delivered powerful speeches to the crowds assembled at Versailles.
  • Then, there was Locke’s theory of the natural rights of man to life, liberty and property. The French revolutionists were influenced by Locke’s theory as  merican revolutionist had done so in 1776
  • Where Montesquieu had understood freedom as being unconstrained and unimpeded in doing what one chooses to do so as long as it is lawful, Rousseau defined freedom as ruling oneself, living only under a law which one has oneself enacted.
  • On Rousseau’s philosophy of freedom “The Social Contract” there was no question of the people dividing and diminishing  sovereignty, because the people were to keep sovereignty in their own hands. In Rousseau’s conception of a constitution, the nation became sovereign over itself.
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