Ans. The revolutionary wars brought losses and economic difficulties to the people. Large sections of the population were convinced that the revolution had to be carried further, as the Constitution of 1791 gave political rights only to the richer sections of society. Political clubs became an important rallying point for people who wished to discuss government policies and plan their own forms of action. The most successful of these clubs was that of the Jacobins, which got its name from the former convent of St Jacob in Paris.
Ans. The church was responsible for the French Revolution in the following ways:
i. The Church too extracted its share of taxes called tithes from the peasants.
ii. The members of the church, clergy belonged to the First Estate. The clergy enjoyed certain privileges by birth. The most important of these was exemption from paying taxes to the state.
iii. About 60 per cent of the land was owned by nobles, the Church and other richer members of the third estate.
Ans. The National Assembly completed the draft of the constitution in 1791. Its main object was to limit the powers of the monarch. These powers instead of being concentrated in the hands of one person, were now separated and assigned to different institutions the legislature, executive and judiciary. This made France a constitutional monarchy. The Constitution of 1791 vested the power to make laws in the National Assembly, which was indirectly elected. That is, citizens voted for a group of electors, who in turn chose the Assembly.
Ans. Status of women in France before the revolution
i. Most women of the third estate had to work for a living. They worked as seamstresses or laundresses, sold flowers, fruits and vegetables at the market, or were employed as domestic servants.
ii. Most women did not have access to education or job training. Only daughters of nobles or wealthier members of the third estate could study at a convent.
iii. Working women had also to care for their families. Their wages were lower than those of men.
Ans. Subsistence crisis is an extreme situation where the basic means of livelihood are endangered.
The population of France rose from about 23 million in 1715 to 28 million in 1789. This led to a rapid increase in the demand for food grains. Production of grains could not keep pace with the demand. So the price of bread which was the staple diet of the majority rose rapidly. But wages did not keep pace with the rise in prices. So the gap between the poor and the rich widened. Things became worse whenever drought or hail reduced the harvest. This led to a subsistence crisis.
Ans. The representatives of the third estate viewed themselves as spokesmen for the whole French nation. On 20 June they assembled in the hall of an indoor tennis court in the grounds of Versailles. They declared themselves a National Assembly and swore not to disperse till they had drafted a constitution for France that would limit the powers of the monarch.
The Tennis Court Oath was significant because it showed the growing unrest against Louis XVI and laid the foundation for later events, including: the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and the storming of the Bastille.
Ans. The countryside condition during French Revolution
i. In the countryside, rumours spread from village to village that the lords of the manor had hired bands of brigands who were on their way to destroy the ripe crops.
ii. Caught in a frenzy of fear, peasants in several districts seized hoes and pitchforks and attacked chateaux.
iii. They looted hoarded grain and burnt down documents containing records of manorial dues.
iv. A large number of nobles fled from their homes, many of them migrating to neighbouring countries.
Ans. The following reasons compelled Louis XVI to raise taxes in France.
1. Long years of war had drained the financial resources of France.
2. Added to this was the cost of maintaining an extravagant court at the immense palace of Versailles.
3. Under Louis XVI, France helped the thirteen American colonies to gain their independence from the common enemy, Britain.
4. Lenders, who gave the state credit, now began to charge 10 per cent interest on loans.
5. Regular expenses, such as the cost of maintaining an army, the court, running government offices or universities could not be avoided.
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