Topic outline

    • The French Revolution

      Q79. What measures had been taken by Robespierre to remove discrimination in French society?
      Describe any 5 efforts made by Robespierre to bring equality in French Society.
      Who was Robespierre? Describe any four steps taken by him to bring equality?

      Ans. Maximilian Robespierre was the leader of Jacobin club.

      Measures taken

                             i.        Robespierres government issued laws placing a maximum ceiling on wages and prices.

                            ii.        Meat and bread were rationed. Peasants were forced to transport their grain to the cities and sell it at prices fixed by the government.

                           iii.        The use of more expensive white flour was forbidden; all citizens were required to eat the pain dégalité (equality bread), a loaf made of whole wheat.

                           iv.        Equality was also sought to be practised through forms of speech and address.

                            v.        Instead of the traditional Monsieur (Sir) and Madame (Madam) all French men and women were henceforth Citoyen and Citoyenne (Citizen).

                           vi.        Churches were shut down and their buildings converted into barracks or offices.


      Q80. Which section of society did belong to the Jacobin club?
      What was the role of Jacobins during the French Revolution? What were they known as?
      What was Jacobins Club? Who were its members? How did Jacobins contribute to carrying the French Revolution further?
      Describe the main features of Jacobins Club in France during the French Revolution.

      Ans. Role of Jacobins during the French Revolution

                              i.        The most successful of these clubs was that of the Jacobins, which got its name from the former convent of St Jacob in Paris.

                             ii.        The members of the Jacobin club belonged mainly to the less prosperous sections of society. They included small shopkeepers and artisans.

                            iii.        Their leader was Maximilian Robespierre.

                            iv.        A large group among the Jacobins decided to start wearing long striped trousers to set themselves apart from the fashionable sections of society, especially nobles, who wore knee breeches.

                             v.        These Jacobins came to be known as the sans-culottes, literally meaning those without knee breeches. Sansculottes men wore in addition the red cap that symbolised liberty.

                            vi.        On the morning of August 10 they stormed the Palace of the Tuileries, massacred the kings guards and held the king himself as hostage for several hours.

               vii.        Elections were held. The newly elected assembly was called the Convention. On 21 September 1792 it abolished the monarchy and declared France a republic.


      Q81. Describe the circumstances leading to the outbreak of revolutionary protest in France.
      Describe any social and political factors that led to the outbreak of the revolutionary protest in France.

      Ans. The circumstances leading to the outbreak of revolutionary protest in France:

      Social Inequality - French society in the eighteenth century was divided into three estates, and only members of the third estate paid taxes. The members of the first two estates, that is, the clergy and the nobility, enjoyed certain privileges by birth. The most important of these was exemption from paying taxes to the state.

      Political Causes - Long years of war had drained the financial resources of France. The war added more than a billion livres to a debt that had already risen to more than 2 billion livres. To meet its regular expenses, such as the cost of maintaining an army, the court, running government offices or universities, the state was forced to increase taxes.

      Economic Problems - 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 rose rapidly. But wages did not keep pace with the rise in prices. This led to a subsistence crisis.

      Emergence of middle class - The eighteenth century witnessed the emergence of social groups, termed the middle class. All of these were educated and believed that no group in society should be privileged by birth. Rather, a person’s social position must depend on his merit. These ideas envisaging a society based on freedom and equal laws and opportunities for all.

      Other causes - On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI called together an assembly of the Estates General to pass proposals for new taxes. Voting in the Estates General in the past had been conducted according to the principle that each estate had one vote. But members of the third estate demanded that voting now be conducted by the assembly as a whole, where each member would have one vote. When the king rejected this proposal, members of the third estate walked out of the assembly in protest.

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