"The French Revolution was a radical political revolution with conservative social consequences". Do you agree? Why?

Essay by GobboCollege, UndergraduateB, October 2006

download word file, 7 pages 4.7

Downloaded 76 times

The French Revolution was indeed a radical political revolution which forged our modern liberal views; however the revolution also had many drastic and lasting social changes. The revolution created, as Peter McPhee states, "Twenty-five years of political upheaval and division {leaving} a legacy of memories, both bitter and sweet, and of conflicting ideologies which has lasted until our own time" and these political ideas ranged from communism to democracy and constitutional monarchy. Not only was the revolution radical in its political theories and debates but also in its social changes from overturning the noblesse d'oblige to liberating slaves and searching for equality between the sexes. This argument corresponds with the Maximalist line of thought, subscribed to by historians such as Albert Soboul, who give emphasis to the power of the French Revolution at creating a social paradigm in France and the world. However the minimalist line of thought, supported by Francois Furet contests this idea and suggests that much stayed the same throughout and after the revolution, leading to the recreation of the total supremacy of Napoleon.

The revolution was not beneficial to every party who witnessed its passing, it did leave many already suffering classes in an even worse state; however it also created many social equalities, and urged the people to fill their desires in finding their freedom. There can be no doubt that the French revolution had many political transformations, however the social changes were far from conservative as the revolution battled for a radical social upheaval that was unprecedented.

The French Revolution was a very politically active process which created a standard of political practice and theory which is not only discussed today, but is also very contentious. The use of propaganda throughout the revolution and the extent to which it was used is testament to...