Chapter 2.1 t/m 2.10

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AN: When I made this summary, I used some abbreviations. These are their meanings:

SR: Scientific Revolution

HFoR: Historical Frame of Reference (Standplaatsgebondenheid)

I may have used some others. If something is unclear, please ask in the comment section.

Summary chapter 2, section 1/10

Section 1: The Scientific Revolution

The SR ushered in new methods of investigation. These methods were based on:

  • Observation
  • Experimentation
  • Rationalization

Scholars in Ancient Greece also used observations in order to draw conclusions but there were still some differences with the way in which science was conducted.

  • A lot more experiments were conducted by scientists;
  • There were a lot more scientists;
  • The scientists worked together in societies;
  • These societies funded their experiments;
  • These societies were supported by the government.

We usually associate technology with the way in which (scientific) knowledge is used in industry.

The very first scientists were not supported by the government.

Section 2: Consequences of the Scientific Revolution

In 1600, the monk Giordano Bruno was condemned to death because he made claims about the universe that were not confirmed in the Bible. In 1633, Galileo was threatened with torture when he said that he Earth revolved around the sun, so that the sun was in the middle instead of the Earth. He was forced to say he was wrong.

Nothing like that ever happened to Isaac Newton. In fact, the people loved him. His work awakened considerable interest across Europe. He discovered gravity.

People started realizing that a lot could be gained by increasing their knowledge of the world around them.

Governments started setting up scientific societies.

The SR enabled the Western Europeans to control the world for several centuries. Western science and technology have made a deep impression on the other nations of the world.

The scholars of the SR showed that many things were not as people down the ages had believed them to be. This made people wonder if there could be a better world. And that is how the SR led to the Enlightenment.

Section 3: Characteristics of the Enlightenment

In the 18th century, scholars thought that people were living in a state of mental darkness brought about by superstition and ignorance. These scholars wrote books, hoping to improve their knowledge (to lighten the darkness).

The main characteristics of the Enlightenment are:

  1. Scientific analysis of society. Society should be studied in the same way as nature.
  2. Equality and human dignity for everyone. The Enlightenment thinkers stressed that people had the right to happiness while they were alive, so they aimed to improve the conditions of life. The most important concept in their eyes was freedom.
  3. The power in the state should be in the hands of the people (democracy). This started a development that was unique to the Western world.
  4. Worship of Nature. The Enlightenment thinker believed that a lot of things were wrong in society and that people should follow the example set by Nature.
  5. Doubts about the correct view of the world (being aware of your own HFoR).

Section 4: The spreading of enlightened ideas

The ideas of the Enlightenment thinkers were spread in many different ways.

The most important publication in the Enlightenment was the Encyclopédie (1751) written by the Frenchman Denis Diderot and several others. Diderot wanted to record all this knowledge in artivles and drawings in the Encyclopédie.  This book also featured a lot of criticism of the French society and was therefore considered dangerous by the French government. The Enlightenment thinkers were totally opposed to censorship because they said society could only improve if people became familiar with new ideas. Many Enlightenment thinkers disguised their criticism of their own society by applying it in their writings to other societies.

Sometimes the censorship in France was fairly mild, so the salons were allowed to continue and some of the books and plays were not banned.

Any books that were banned could always be printed abroad, often in the Netherlands.

One of the places where Enlightenment ideas were spread were the salons. That was a get-together at the home of a lady from the upper layer of society. Anything could be said in these salons of France. Similar meetings were held in coffee houses in England.

Thanks to the invention of the printing press, books could easily be printed. Large libraries were built.

Travelling companies of players brought the ideas of the Enlightenment to all layers of society.

There were a few monarchs who were already willing to try out some enlightened ideas in the 18th century. There were called enlightened despots. They kept all the power in their own hands but more than other monarchs, they were willing to take the interests of the population into account.

The Enlightenment thinkers had more success with some of their ideas at the royal courts in Prussia, Austria and Russia.

The French Revolution contributed more to the spreading of Enlightenment ideas than any other event.

The rulers of Prussia and Austria forged a military alliance and invaded France, but the revolutionaries defeated them. They failed to bring an end to the revolution.

Section 5: The cause of the French Revolution

After the French Revolution, the rule of the French kings in the 18th century became known as the Ancien Regime. It was characterized by:

  • Autocracy
  • Political, economic and social inequality of the people

 

 

Society was made up of three estates, this has been this way since the MA:

  1. Clergy                   | NO TAXES
  2. Nobility                 | NO TAXES
  3. Common people              A. peasants

             B. city dwellers                 

-poor (handwork)

                                            - best educated bourgeoisie

Clergy

The clergy had some privileges that none of the other groups in society had:

  • The Church owned about 10% of all the land in France
  • The Church could levy taxes on all people in France, but did not have to pay any themselves. In exchange, they made regular gifts of money to the State, but they could decide on the amount itself.

Nobles

The nobles also had privileges:

  • Around 1.5% of the population were nobles. They owned around 20% of all the land.
  • The high-placed nobles were appointed to the important positions in the Church, the government and the army.

The high-placed nobles were very wealthy. Many low-placed nobles could barely live off the yield from their land.

Peasants

The peasants were very dissatisfied. They wanted more land and a fairer system of taxation. They also wanted to be freed from their obligations to the nobles.

The peasants had to give a part of their harvest to the nobles in exchange for protection. If the harvest was good, the peasants could make ends meet. But if the harvest was poor, they still had to pay their dues to the lord first. The harvest of 1787-1788 was disastrous.

City dwellers/workers

This bad harvest also had a bad influence on the city dwellers. The price of the bread became insanely high so they couldn’t afford to buy food. They also had other serious grievances:

  • They had to work hard for long hours, often in unhealthy and unsafe conditions.
  • They received very little wages, often not enough to buy food, clothing and shelter.

Bourgeoisie

The bourgeoisie formed the small upper layer of the population in the cities. They were not allowed to hold any important positions in the government, the army or the church. These were reserved for the nobles.

Some rich citizens could buy a title from the king, though. The established nobility was against this practice and persuaded the king to raise the price of the titles dramatically. The bourgeoisie became more and more critical of the nobility. They had other grievances as well:

  • They paid a lot of tax while the nobles and clergy scarcely paid any;
  • There was no freedom of expression or the printed word;
  • The merchants were hampered in their work by all sorts of government regulations.

There were other serious problems besides the extreme inequality in society.

  • The government was almost unable to pay the country’s debts.
  • The administrative system worked badly. Many officials did a bad job.
  • The judicial system was unjust.
  • The king did not run the country well. He often took the wrong decisions.

Section 6: After the bourgeoisie the poor Parisians and the peasants rebel as well

In 1789, one of the king’s ministers had suggested that the nobles should pay much more taxes. Louis XVI agreed, but the nobles protested and said that any new tax needed the approval of the Estates-General. That was a meeting of the three estates, presided over by the king. Each Estate had one vote. The king opened the meeting on 5 May 1789. No one knew exactly the correct procedures.

The king did not dare to go against the nobles, so he decided that the voting procedure would be per Estate, as before. But the representatives of the Third Estate did not like this at all. They believed that every individual who was present at the meeting should have the right to vote. They hoped that this would enable them to go ahead with their plans. They also wanted to discuss other issues besides finances but the king refused to allow this.

The representatives of the Third Estate then decided to hold their own meeting. They declared themselves the National Assembly (the Parliament). During this meeting, it was decided that France would get a constitution, which would limit the power of the king and set out the rights and duties of all French citizens. They soon gained the support of the lower members of the clergy and some of the nobles joined as well.

Louis XVI was furious with them. He realized that the bourgeoisie wanted to make radical changes, much more radical than the nobles had in mind. He prohibited the Third Estate from holding any more meetings and he locked them out of the assembly room. But that did not stop them. They met in a tennis court. The oath of the Tennis Court (de eed van de kaatsbaan): We will not leave until we have a constitution for France.

When it became clear that no one would listen to him, the king backed down and ordered the nobles and the high clerics to participate in the National Assembly. Though it may have looked like the Third Estate had won, they hadn’t – yet. Persuaded by the nobles, the king sent troops to the outskirts of Paris.

The situation in France was changing fast. The king and the nobles were no longer fighting for control. Instead, the fight was between the Third Estate on the one side and the king and the nobles on the other.

The poor Parisians were afraid of the soldiers on the outskirts of Paris, so they stormed the Bastille to get weapons (14 July 1789). The king decided to disperse the soldiers whereupon many of the nobles left France.

The hatred towards the nobles was so intense that the peasants started plundering the nobles’ estates. The members of the National Assembly started to fear the peasants. No one stood to benefit if the country descended into chaos.

In the night of 4-5 August, the members of the Third Estate and a few nobles managed to persuade the other nobles in the National Assembly to lend their support to a law that stripped them of their privileges (give away their feudal rights). The king would not approve this decision at first, but new developments left him no choice and he had to withdraw his opposition.

In October 1789, a mob, dressed as women, marched to Versailles. They forced their way into the palace, shouting that the king had to move to Paris. They got their wish. The king and the National Assembly both moved to Paris. The King went to live in the palace of Les Tuileries.

The Parisians could now meddle more effectively in the government of France. The National Assembly met in a large hall in the city.

Louis was afraid that new problems would arise if he refused to comply, so he approved everything he had previously opposed.

Section 7: The National Assembly continues with reforms (1789-1791)

The nobility and the clergy were no longer allowed to pass judgement on their estates, levy taxes or demand special services. All posts in the government, the Church and the army were open to everyone. All members of the Church had to take an oath of allegiance to the government. All the land belonging to the Church was confiscated. The bourgeoisie and the rich peasants could buy this land. The clergy were paid by the government.  The businessmen gained more freedom to trade. Labourers were forbidden to strike or to set up trade unions.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and a constitution were drawn up, which set out in separate ideas of freedom and equality. However, true equality was not established. The constitution was ready in 1791.

Section 8: Different groups battle it out for control (1791-1793)

The bourgeoisie seemed to have won, but there were two groups that did not agree with them.

  • The reactionaries. They were nobles and high clerics who thought that the reforms had gone way too far. There were not many of them, but they were supported by many rulers outside France.
  • The radicals. They were bourgeoisie and wanted even more reforms. They were supported by the less rich citizens, especially in Paris.

On the night of 20 June 1791, Louis XVI attempted to flee with his family. He intended to join some French noblemen who had assembled troops abroad. He also hoped to win support from other kings to end the French Revolution. The king and his family crept out of the palace in disguise, but they were recognized on the way and sent back.

They arrived back in France on 25 June.

The failed escape had two important consequences:

  • It turned most of the people against the king
  • The people’s fear of a foreign invasion to help the king grew.

The French Revolutionary government decided to start a war in the hope that a war would reunite the French people. In April 1792, France declared war on Austria. Prussia came to Austria’s aid and invaded France. That invasion would cost Louis and Marie Antoinette their thrones and, eventually, their lives. The royal palace was stormed and soon afterwards, in September 1792, the king was dethroned and France was declared a republic.

In January 1793, Louis appeared before the Parliament to defend himself. He was accused of high treason and was sentenced to death by a very small majority in the Parliament.

Austria and Prussia were aided by England, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands, Spain, Portugal and Sweden. In 1793, France was invaded on all sides.

The French government thought it could count on the support of the French people, but many peasants chose the side of the reactionaries. These peasants had no desire to fight abroad. They thought the Parisians had too much to say in matters and that the government had taken too many measures against the Church.

Section 9: Radicals defeat their enemies (1793-1794)

The struggle between the moderate revolutionaries and the radicals came to a head in 1793. The radicals, led by Robespierre (first dictator), won the support of the poor Parisians. He called this movement the Jacobin Movement (Jacobijnen). In June 1793, around 80,000 armed Parisians surrounded the Parliament building. They wanted 29 moderates. Eight escaped and the others were arrested and executed several months later. From that moment on, the radicals were in the majority in the National Assembly.

The radicals announced that enemies of the revolution should be executed. Anyone who did not share their views was an enemy of the revolution. The accused had to appear before special courts with the death sentence almost always awaiting them. One of the first victims was Marie Antoinette. This practice was responsible for sending no fewer than 13,216 people to the guillotine. Another 22,000 were killed without any sort of judicial procedure. This period of mass executions is known as the Terror.

The radicals enjoyed the support of most of the French population. Not only because of the Terror, but also because of the de well-organized state of the French government and army:

  • Delegates were sent to all parts of France to ensure that the government decrees were properly enforced.
  • France was the first country in history to introduce compulsory military service. This gave the French a bigger army than their enemies.
  • The French army was better organized. You could only become an officer if you had the right skills.

The French army was successful. The foreign armies and their French allies were driven out of the country.

The radicals felt that the Terror was necessary to save France and the ideas of the revolution.

However, during the Terror, people were randomly accused of offences. A few radicals were sent to the guillotine as well. By then, not only moderates but many radicals as well thought it was time to put an end to the Terror.

In a tense meeting in the Parliament, the majority managed to declare Robespierre and his followers outlaws.

Section 10: Napoleon, the new ruler of France

The bourgeoisie managed to regain power but they were not open to democratic ideas. You could only vote if you paid a certain amount of tax. Very little was done for the poor. The government found itself in serious difficulties in 1795-1799:

  • Other countries continued to wage war against France;
  • The new governing class was often more interested in looking after itself than in what was best for France;
  • The French nobility tried to bring down the government with violence.

The uprising of the nobles was suppressed by troops commanded by a young officer called Napoleon Bonaparte. He rose to the rank of general in just a few years. In 1799, he decided, with the support of his troops, to seize power for himself.

The country was ruled by Le Directoire at that moment. Napoleon offered his services to them and told them he was their servant. In the period 1794-1799, Napoleon made the government depend on him. He realized that Public Relations (PR) are important. He confirmed what people already had to win their hearts. He asked the nobles who had fled to come back to France and he gave them some land back. He formed the Napoleonic nobility, where he only gave the people a title, the honour, but nothing real. Bourgeoisie became nobility.

He gave the clergy their monasteries back and he also made a deal with the Pope. By accepting the Roman Catholic faith, he also won the hearts of the Roman Catholics. Napoleon adjusted himself to the political system, just like a chameleon.

In 1799, he made himself first consul (leader of politics and army). In 1804, he asked the Pope to come and declare him the emperor of France. He came, so everyone in Europe had to accept Napoleon as emperor.

He married the daughter of the king of Austria, so that he would become royal. However, no other emperor accepted him as royal.

Napoleon spread some of the ideas of the French Revolution across a large part of Europe. He changed the legal system in the countries he had occupied.  This new system became known as the Code Napoléon (the Legislation of Napoleon).

He wanted nothing to do with other ideals from the French Revolution. People who criticized Napoleon’s regime were severely punished. And despite the Code Napoléon, there was still a lot of inequality.

Napoleon was at first given an enthusiastic welcome. But Napoleon placed family members and friends on the throne everywhere in Europe. He also imposed heavy taxes on the people of the defeated nations. They had to provide troops for his wars. People were happy with the Code Napoléon but apart from that, they wanted to get rid of him.

In 1814, Napoleon and his troops were defeated by the allied armies of many countries in Leipzig. He was “imprisoned” on an island called Elba but he managed to escape and was in control of France again. However, he was defeated at Waterloo once and for all because he wanted to conquer the Austrian Netherlands (Belgium).He was then sent to the remote island St. Helena. He died there in 1821. In 1840, the French government asked the English if they could please bury Napoleon in Paris. The English agreed.

The rulers that had been in power before the French Revolution, or their heirs, were now back on the throne in most countries.  However, things were not the same as before:

  • Some reforms continued to exist.
  • In most European countries, constitutions were introduced which limited the power of the kings. 

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