French revolution and russian revolution essay

The Directory’s four years in power were riddled with financial crises, popular discontent, inefficiency and, above all, political corruption. By the late 1790s, the directors relied almost entirely on the military to maintain their authority and had ceded much of their power to the generals in the field. On November 9, 1799, as frustration with their leadership reached a fever pitch, Bonaparte staged a coup d’état, abolishing the Directory and appointing himself France’s “first consul.” The event marked the end of the French Revolution and the beginning of the Napoleonic era, in which France would come to dominate much of continental Europe.

One of the medieval precedents that persisted in the 18th century was brutal execution. Criminals were burned, drowned, tortured and maimed -- all under the consenting eyes of the Old Regime. However, the French nobility were entitled to execution by decapitation. While it seems a particularly grisly way to die, decapitation is relatively swift and straightforward, a real gentleman's death. When Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin joined France's Constituent Assembly in 1789, he proposed that all capital criminals sentenced to death be decapitated [source: Hibbert ]. Guillotin advocated for the creation of a decapitation device like the ones used in England, Germany, Italy and Scotland. The device was prototyped in Germany by the secretary of the Academy of Surgeons, who ensured that it was humane. By 1791, after a trial period during which the device sliced through countless cadavers, it was appointed France's national death-sentence machine. It was called the guillotine .

Although the Constitutional Church had been permitted to continue its work, the Convention now considered Catholicism in any form suspicious. Its association with ancien régime France, its adherence to values not of the Revolution’s making, and the private nature of worship seemed incompatible with the values of the Republic. From here sprung a movement referred to as ‘dechristianisation’, which aimed to excise religion from French society. Constitutional priests were advised to abandon the priesthood and were encouraged – or in some cases forced – to marry. Any priest that continued to practise, whether constitutional or refractory, now faced arrest and deportation. In October 1793, public worship was forbidden and over the next few months all visible signs of Christianity were removed, a policy pursued with particular enthusiasm by revolutionary armies eager to seek revenge on the institution that harboured so many counter-revolutionaries. Church bells were pulled down and melted, ostensibly to help the war effort, crosses were taken from churches and cemeteries, and statues, relics and works of art were seized and sometimes destroyed. Such iconoclasm caused considerable concern at official levels, not least because of the destruction wrought on France’s artistic and cultural heritage. On 23 November 1793, churches were closed, to be converted into warehouses, manufacturing works or even stables. Streets and other public places bearing the names of saints were given new, often Republicanthemed names, and time itself was recast to further repudiate France’s Christian past. The Revolutionary calendar started with the advent of the French Republic (Year 1). The names of its months reflected the seasons and its ten-day week eliminated Sunday as a day of rest and worship. Although such measures were unevenly applied, and in many cases met with considerable local opposition, they reinforced the message that Christianity had no place in the Republic.

The new government, the Directory, proved unable to meet the problems within disorganized France. The glory of foreign victories won under the Directory was due to Bonaparte. On Nov. 9, 1799, he helped overthrow the Directory and replaced it with a Consulate of three members. He was the first consul and actual ruler of France. In 1804 he discarded pretense and called himself "Napoleon I, Emperor of the French." Liberty was gone. Napoleon himself declared: "Liberty is a necessity felt only by a not very numerous class. It can therefore be restricted with impunity. Equality on the other hand pleases the multitude." Few events have so powerfully influenced the political and economic development of the modern world as the French Revolution.

French revolution and russian revolution essay

french revolution and russian revolution essay

The new government, the Directory, proved unable to meet the problems within disorganized France. The glory of foreign victories won under the Directory was due to Bonaparte. On Nov. 9, 1799, he helped overthrow the Directory and replaced it with a Consulate of three members. He was the first consul and actual ruler of France. In 1804 he discarded pretense and called himself "Napoleon I, Emperor of the French." Liberty was gone. Napoleon himself declared: "Liberty is a necessity felt only by a not very numerous class. It can therefore be restricted with impunity. Equality on the other hand pleases the multitude." Few events have so powerfully influenced the political and economic development of the modern world as the French Revolution.

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