Presentation on theme: "THE FRENCH REVOLUTION EXAMINATION PREPARATION SESSION SESSION 1 FRANCE IN SECTION A."— Presentation transcript:
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION EXAMINATION PREPARATION SESSION SESSION 1 FRANCE IN SECTION A
WHAT MIGHT BE THE MOST HELPFUL REVISION FOR YOU AT THIS POINT? Contents of today’s presentation: Brief comments about the examination in general. Very obvious, but clearly still very necessary. Be patient … Two sample answers to an extended response question from AOS 1: Revolutionary Ideas, Leaders, Movements and Events. One sample answer for a document (visual) for AOS 2. Revision of the key leaders, ideas, movements and events covered by AOS 1 and of Creating a New Society AOS 2.
First, let’s cover the basics of coping with the examination …
Obvious but necessary (Please forgive me …) Some golden clues for the examination: Make absolutely sure you have read the examiner’s report on the 2008 examination. It is on the VCAA website. It reveals many of the errors that students make each year. Make sure you have a time strategy for the examination. The ‘official advice’ is 4 x 30 minute equal sessions, but … Make sure you have chosen which will be your Revolution A and B, and prepare your notes accordingly.
GENERAL EXAMINATION CLUES THE FOUR BASES OF AN EXCELLENT ANSWER As you prepare to make your study notes, it will be helpful if you remember the components that will make up a good answer: BASE 1 IS FACTUAL KNOWLEDGE: You will get your first marks simply by getting names, dates, events and sequences of events right! BASE 2 IS THE STUDY DESIGN: You will get further marks if you understand the issues raised in the Study Design, and if you can conduct your discussion using its terms.
GENERAL EXAMINATION CLUES THE FOUR BASES OF AN EXCELLENT ANSWER BASE 3 IS ANALYSIS BACKED BY EVIDENCE: You will get significant marks by conducting analysis, that is, breaking something down into its parts, explaining why something happened, what its effects were. BASE 4 IS RELEVANT HISTORIOGRAPHY: You will get top marks if you can quote a range of historians’ opinions about an event or the document. Many examiners regard historiography as the ‘discriminator’, that is, the sign of an excellent answer. (And let us not forget clear expression and clear presentation!)
GENERAL EXAMINATION CLUES “Does my writing really matter?” Short answer: Yes, it is crucial! The examiners regard it as your responsibility to communicate what you know clearly. They do not have the time or the responsibility to decipher illegible scripts. Refer to the Examiner’s report, One of the first points it makes is about students who either cannot, or will not, write on a page in an orderly way. Set yourself these goals: Write in full sentences, never use dot points. Write names fully, don’t use abbreviations (you lose marks).
GENERAL EXAMINATION CLUES “Does my writing really matter?” Make sure that you can spell key names, events and documents correctly. Errors can make you lose marks directly (under the criterion of knowledge) but, worse than that, they create the impression that you don’t know what you are talking about. This is unfair, but it is so. To avoid this problem, make up a glossary page of all key names, especially terms in French (eg philosophes, parlements), and get their spelling correct from the start. Investigate the options for good pens. You should write in black or blue (not pencil!!). Have a look at the so-called ink- gel pens, which write much more smoothly.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION: VISUAL LEARNING Your revision notes will be more effective if you set them up with different colours. The notes in this presentation have been coloured in this way: Blue puts the focus on the Study Design. Purple puts the focus on historiography. Red puts the focus on analytical statements. Green puts the focus on key terms and names.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION: VISUAL LEARNING Brown puts the focus on factual evidence. Important note: This presentation will often use abbreviations (for example, DORMAC for The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen). This can be a useful technique in your own personal study notes, providing you remember NOT to use them in formal writing such as SACs and the examination. While DORMAC is a useful way of remembering the full title of the document, it will mean nothing to an examiner. They may with-hold marks, or even take marks off.
PRACTICAL HINTS FOR SECTION A, PART 1 Section A part 1 should be written in 30 minutes; some students aim for less. Because it contains two questions, you should try to write about 15 minutes on each. Section A part 1 can test you on any aspect of Revolutionary Ideas, Leaders, Movements and Events. In some papers, one set of questions has been focused on revolutionary events, and the other on revolutionary ideas. To be fully prepared, you could make up four lists of all the key ideas, leaders, movements and events that fit into the time frame for your ‘first’ revolution. Be careful to list only items that fit exactly in the limited time frame of this AOS. For example, for France as Revolution One, you should make up four lists of items from 1781 until 4 August 1789 ONLY.
PRACTICAL HINTS FOR SECTION A, PART 1 The questions can also be about some quite specific aspect or event of AOS 1, such as the Assembly of Notables. Note that each question is a paragraph answer: you have twenty lines to score ten marks. This is not an essay. You are not expected to write an introduction or conclusion. How many points should you try to make? It would be wise to try to make three or four main points, and to first make a general statement, backed up by a fact or piece of evidence. Avoid just giving one point and writing lots of detail about it.
PRACTICAL HINTS FOR SECTION A, PART 1 How can I meet the ‘knowledge’ criterion? Because the emphasis is on factual knowledge, many students compile a ‘hit-list’ of good pieces of evidence such as statistics, documents etc, for each idea, leader, movement or event that you identify. Should you modify or disagree with the question? Probably not. If the question asks you about the impact of debt, just answer the question directly and efficiently, and don’t digress into other speculations. How should I write these answers? Think of these questions as a ‘sprint’: you will need to be very economical, and just write very directly and very factually, giving one piece of evidence and then moving on.
PRACTICAL HINTS FOR SECTION A, PART 1 Be prepared for the fact that the examination will never ask you to describe the event. Instead, it will ask you to explain how it contributed to a revolutionary situation, or how it helped cause the revolution, or how it contributed to the development of the revolution. “Students are advised to use information to show how events caused revolution to develop.” (2008 report) This means that you are running an argument, and you need to work forward from one point to the next explaining your interpretation.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN IDEAS EXTENDED RESPONSE - 1 Because the examination is made up of pre-determined tasks, you can actually prepare revision notes that are designed for each assessment. For Section A, Part 1, a brief ‘shopping list’ of key points should be sufficient. A predictable question might be: “How did the ideas of abbé Sieyès contribute to the development of a revolutionary situation in France in 1789?” [VCAA sample, 2009]
A.T.B.Q The examiners report that weaker students will probably read this only as: “How did the ideas of abbé Sieyès contribute to the development of a revolutionary situation in France in 1789?” [VCAA sample, 2009] Stronger students will read it as: “How did the ideas of abbé Sieyès contribute to the development of a revolutionary situation in France in 1789?” [VCAA sample, 2009]
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN IDEAS EXTENDED RESPONSE - 2 Your ‘shopping list’ could contain these points. “The ideas of abbé Sieyès contributed to the development of a revolutionary situation first by stating the political theory of a representative national assembly (January 1789) and then by guiding the deputies of the Third Estate to the reality of declaring themselves a national assembly (June 1789).” Mention background of debate over voting order at EG, and mention pamphlet war - a circular debate Mention WITE (Jan 1789) and explain why it was a quantum leap in political thought: it short-tracked debate.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN IDEAS EXTENDED RESPONSE - 3 Mention the content of WITE briefly: savage attack on privileged classes (more nobility than clergy) and explain why he believed that the deputies of the 3E virtually were he representatives of the whole nation. Provide a quote from WITE. Mention that by June 1789 deputies of 3E were considering called themselves a NA, but were hesitant and divided. At this point, Sieyès guided them forward. Mention key stages of 10 June, 15 June and 17 June. Mention TCO (20 June), which bound all deputies to a common path of action, by oath.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN IDEAS EXTENDED RESPONSE - 4 Mention that the events of June already constituted a revolutionary event in purely political or constitutional terms: Sieyès’s ideas had led the deputies to redefine sovereignty. This ‘constitutional revolution’ also directly provoked the popular revolution of July 1789, in so far as the formation of the NA led the king to move troops into Paris so he could close the assembly by force. This, together with the dismissal of Necker, prompted the revolutionary action of the Parisian crowd, who attacked the Hotel des Invalides and captured the royal prison of the Bastille.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN EVENT EXTENDED RESPONSE - 1 Because the examination is made up of pre-determined tasks, you can actually prepare revision notes that are designed for each assessment. For Section A, Part 1, a brief ‘shopping list’ of key points should be sufficient. A predictable question might be: ”Explain the importance of the storming of the Bastille in the development of the French Revolution between July and August 1789.”
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN EVENT EXTENDED RESPONSE - 2 The examiners report that weaker students will probably read this only as: “Explain the importance of the storming of the Bastille in the development of the French Revolution between July and August 1789.” Stronger students will read it as: “Explain the importance of the storming of the Bastille in the development of the French Revolution between July and August 1789.”
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN EVENT EXTENDED RESPONSE - 3 Opening sentence: “The significance of the capture of the Bastille to the development of the revolution was that it demonstrated the importance of popular action to consolidate the constitutional actions of the new national assembly. In doing so, it forced the King to make concessions and apparently to accept the new revolutionary order.” Mention very briefly what happened: the Bastille was a symbol of royal power, and its capture had real strategic and symbolic importance. Mention that between July the King made concessions, agreeing to Bailly as Mayor of Paris, Lafayette as Commander of NG King came to Town Hall (centre of popular action) to concede.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN EVENT EXTENDED RESPONSE - 4 Now look at date indicators: If they only said ‘July 1789’, you might add that the action gave the Parisian working people the sense that they had saved the revolution, and therefore ‘owned’ it. Mention that this set the precedent for violent crowd action. Look at the dates again: they include ‘August 1789’. This is a pointer to mention how news of the capture of the Bastille provoked further peasant rebellion in rural areas (it had already started earlier), which led to the broad insurrection of the Great Fear, thus to the Night of Patriotic Delirium. Synthesis: “Thus by August 1789 the capture of the Bastille had directly caused the revolutionary action of the urban crowd and of rural crowds, resulting in a challenge to both absolute royal authority and to the feudal system.
PRACTICAL HINTS FOR SECTION A, PART 2 Section A part 2 will test you on AOS 2 Creating a New Society. Before writing, check that you are still writing on THE SAME REVOLUTION as in Section A part 1. You cannot change revolutions here. This part should be written in 30 minutes. The task will require you to change gear. You will have to read and analyse an image or a quite a long extract, then answer four questions about it. The document could be a primary source (such as a speech by Robespierre), a commentary (such as a diary or a letter by a witness such as an ambassador), an image or an interpretation (such as an historian’s opinion).
PRACTICAL HINTS FOR SECTION A, PART 2 Note that the chief examiner has stated that it is in this section that you would be expected to show your knowledge of historiography. The first two questions (a,b) are short, and test your comprehension of the document. Look at how few marks and lines there are, and be guided by that: even if you know much more, just write enough to guarantee the couple of marks, and then move on promptly. Question ‘c’ then asks you to explain the context of the document in the revolution as a whole, using your own knowledge. You have 12 lines to score 6 marks, and you will get these marks by going straight to the time frame relevant to the document, and straight to the exact aspect of the revolution that is relevant.
PRACTICAL HINTS FOR SECTION A, PART 2 If, for example, your document was a talking about Terror in France, you would need to identify that this was the period of emergency for the revolution, and you would need to explain that the revolutionary government was forced to used exceptional measures simply to guarantee the survival of the revolution, which it eventually did. Look out for commands, such as “Using your own knowledge and the representation, explain...”. If it asks you to do both, you must do both. You should signpost this: “The representation clearly shows …”
PRACTICAL HINTS FOR SECTION A, PART 2 Question ‘d’ goes to the next level of difficulty, asking you to ‘explain the usefulness/reliability of this extract’ in understanding an aspect of the revolution. This time, you have 20 lines to score 10 marks. This longer answer is the discriminator that will allow good students to show their knowledge and gain marks. Your answer should say how it is reliable, and how it is not. The question may or may not mention historians’ opinions or other views, but this is where you should do so. If this is an extract from an historian, you could try to identify which group the historian belongs to, then state what other historians have said about the revolution.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN IMAGE DOCUMENT ANALYSIS - 1 The VCAA sample examination paper provided an image analysis on the Women’s March to Versailles, similar to this one, depicting the crowd on the march. The caption identified this as ‘The March to Versailles’, and dated it only to October 1789.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN IMAGE DOCUMENT ANALYSIS - 2 a. Identify two social groups depicted in the representation. i. Market women of Paris, important in the radical popular movement. ii. A soldier who is sympathetic to the Third Estate. b. Identify two features in the representation that show how the new society was created. i. The cannon refers to the role of revolutionary violence. ii. The branches (symbolic of regeneration) refer to the role of cultural forms and symbols.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN IMAGE DOCUMENT ANALYSIS - 3 c. Using your own knowledge and the representation, explain why the march to Versailles was important. Signpost: “This representation accurately depicts three aspects of the March to Versailles …”: Mention: Size and determination of the crowd of market women. Mention: Crowd was armed and was ready to use violence to achieve goals. Mention: Women, concerned about subsistence issues, were present and often dominant in revolutionary crowd action.
EXAMINATION PREPARATION AN IMAGE DOCUMENT ANALYSIS - 4 c. Using your own knowledge and the representation, explain why the march to Versailles was important. “The March to Versailles was important because.…” It completed the revolutionary process begun in 1789, b bringing royal family and assembly back to Paris. The old political power (King) and new political power (assembly) were now under direct surveillance and pressure from the Parisian crowd. Crowd action would later alarm the King (Saint-Cloud incident). Popular clubs (eg Cordeliers) would challenge the assembly’s decisions (eg Constitution of 1791)
Now let’s go back and revise some of the main concepts of the course …
What should I revise for AOS 1? What was ‘the old regime’? The role of radical ideas The role of leaders The role of revolutionary events The role of popular movements
PART ONE: WHAT WAS THE ‘OLD REGIME’? In this part of the presentation, we want to find out: What were the elements of the power of an absolute monarch? What is meant by a corporate society? What is meant by privilege? What is meant by a ‘culture of deference’?
PART TWO: TENSIONS AND CONFLICTS IN THE OLD REGIME OUR CONTRACT: In this part of the presentation, we need to discover: What were the rising and unfulfilled class expectations in 18th C France? Why was there a perceived lack of equality or lack of political voice? What was the nature and effect of the economic crisis and the harvest crisis?
READING OUR CONTRACT CAUSES OF TENSIONS AND CONFLICTS Your Revolutions course asks you simply to study the tensions and conflicts within that regime which caused its downfall. The emphasis is on the origins of the revolution. We are not looking simply at the system of power, but at the moment when its starts to crumble. First, notice the plural: the examiners do look for a number of inter-related problems. Second, you are looking for two things, which are slightly different: tensions, which might be very general problems, and conflicts, which are more specific.
TENSIONS AND CONFLICTS, cont’d Third, they want different types of problems, which can broadly be described as political, social, economic and cultural.
ANALYSIS vs STORYTELLING: CAUSALITY - 1 The emphasis of AOS 1 is on “tensions and conflicts which CAUSED its downfall.” One useful form of analysis is to evaluate CAUSES and CAUSALITY. Step 1: Look for LONG-TERM CAUSES that is, problems that have been present for some decades, even centuries. Acknowledge that they create a situation in which revolution becomes possible, but they do not actually cause the revolution.
ANALYSIS vs STORYTELLING: CAUSALITY - 2 Step 2: Look for SHORT-TERM CAUSES That is, a specific crisis that extends over some years. Acknowledge that a specific, large problem creates a general sense that the nation is in a critical state, and that serious changes have to be made. Step 3: Look for IMMEDIATE CAUSES That is, a specific events that ‘triggers’ off a train of events, leading to the sequence of changes which we know as ‘revolution’. Step 4: Look for A MODEL OF INTERACTION That is, try to explain how, and why, all these forces worked together to create a revolution. Try to explain their relationship and their relative importance.
ANALYSIS vs STORYTELLING: CAUSALITY - 3 Step 5: Don’t forget to EVALUATE, that is, state the importance or value of one cause over another. Don’t forget to use ANALYTICAL LANGUAGE; train yourself to use phrases such as “The primary cause of tension and conflict in the long term was …”
Tensions and conflicts in the old regime 2.1: Rising and unfulfilled class expectations? While ‘IDEALIST’ historians emphasise the power of ideas, SOCIAL historians emphasise the power of new social forces, especially wealth. Many social historians would point out that during the 18th century, the French bourgeoisie grew in number, wealth and influence, and began to feel that they should play a political role in the life of the nation. Social historians who follow Karl Marx’s explanation of history take this further, and argue that a ‘revolutionary bourgeoisie’ began a class struggle against the existing feudal order.
PART THREE IDEAS/IDEOLOGIES UTILISED IN THE REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE Historiography: Many historians, such as Norman Hampson, believe that ideas are the main force driving a revolution, rather than simply social problems like poverty. In historiography, they are referred to as ‘idealists’ (concentrating on the power of ideas to cause change). These historians believe that the material problems of working people might continue for decades without causing a revolution, until radical ideas transform individual problems into universal grievances.
THE ROLE OF IDEAS 3.1: THE ENLIGHTENMENT Historians such as Hampson argue that between the 1730s and the 1780s, intellectuals criticised the old regime, and as a result the regime crumbled in the late 1780s. The Study Design specifically instructs us to consider the role of Enlightenment ideas, even though most of these come from before our opening date of 1781.
WHAT IS A ‘PHILOSOPHE’? The ‘philosophes’ were ‘critical thinkers’ who taught people to criticise their government and society, but who did not plan to start a revolution. Although the word ‘philosophe’ can be translated as ‘philosopher’, we do not do so because they themselves did not like to be thought of as abstract theorists They criticised philosophers such as Descartes for wasting their time on very abstract questions (How do I know I exist?”), when there were more urgent problems to be solved with their intelligence.
EVALUATING THE ROLE OF IDEAS Analysis: It was once very common to argue that the ideas of the Enlightenment ‘caused’ the French Revolution, but this argument is now seen as being too simple. Most of the philosophes were dead before the revolution, and they would not have wanted what then took place. Their ‘enlightened public’ was a very small urban elite made up of liberal nobles, clergy and rich bourgeois. Many of these were just ‘playing’ with ideas and science. Their ideas probably did not reach the vast mass of 20 million peasants, who still took action.
EVALUATING THE ROLE OF IDEAS: “THE IDEAS USED IN THE REVOLUTIONARY STRUGGLE” Our contract: “analyse the ideas and ideologies utilised in the revolutionary struggle”. Analysis: It is significant that the Study Design asks us to analyse ‘ideas used in the revolutionary struggle’. This is an important clue, because it is not suggesting that the philosophes themselves were part of the revolutionary struggle, just that their ideas were used by others. Evidence: Here, for example, is a revolutionary painting depicting Reason, a key Enlightenment idea that was much used once the revolution broke out.
THE ROLE OF IDEAS 3.2: THE AMERICAN SPIRIT One of the great political ‘causes’ of the 1770s was the struggle by the thirteen American colonies to win independence from Britain. The main cause of the struggle, for the colonists, was the issue of taxation without representation. Their main political concept was the eternal struggle between Power (tyranny) and Liberty.
OUR CONTRACT: The “loss of authority and erosion of public confidence” p. 131 The introduction to the Study Design mentions the loss of authority and the erosion of confidence. For France, this means that you have to explain how people moved from assuming that the king knew how to rule, to making the mental leap to conclude that he was not ruling properly. How did people begin to lose faith in the absolute monarch’s ability to rule? Because this is a matter of public perception, this pushes us towards cultural history. In France, this also points us towards another key idea, desacralisation, that is, that the monarchy began to lose its sacred, almost unquestionable status. So we have to identify the actual events that caused this loss of confidence.
THE ROLE OF IDEAS 3.3: SCANDAL The power of scandal proved to be devastating to royal authority in France. Historian Sara Maza has traced how rumour and scandal did a great deal to discredit authority figures in the 1780s. Foremost amongst these scandals was the Diamond Necklace Affair, in which Marie-Antoinette was completely blameless. When all of Paris took the side of the shady characters who had pulled off the confidence trick, and the law courts were lenient, the city erupted into celebrations. Marie-Antoinette commented at the time that this moment was the end of the monarchy.
THE ROLE OF IDEAS 3.3: POLITICAL PORNOGRAPHY Historiography: Recent cultural historians, such as Robert Darnton, have proved that, apart from the Enlightenment, there were other critiques of the monarchy that did a great deal to erode respect and confidence. Foremost amongst these was ‘political pornography’, that is, sexual images depicting the King, Queen, high clergy or nobles in an obscene manner. Darnton argues that these lurid stories, though absurd, caused a loss of respect for the monarchy (‘desacralisation’)
THE ROLE OF IDEAS 3.4: THE ‘PATRIOT’ POLITICAL IDEAS OF THE 1780s In this part of the presentation, we need to ensure we understand key ideas such as: LIBERTY REPRESENTATION ACCOUNTABILITY EQUALITY [FRATERNITY] was only added later, in about 1792.
THE ROLE OF IDEAS 3.5: THE BIRTH OF PUBLIC OPINION Whether we are talking about the advanced, reformist thinking of the Enlightenment, or popular scandals, or interest in America’s struggle, the main concept is what historians call ‘the birth of public opinion’. We live in a society in which people naturally take an interest in national affairs, and we are surrounded by discussion and commentary every day in the press. In France, however, people had previously known little about national issues. During the 18th century, members of the nobility, clergy and the bourgeoisie became concerned about the state of the country, and met to discuss reforms.
OUR CONTRACT: ‘What circumstances weakened the capacity of the ruling class to meet challenges to its authority?’ - 1 In France, the traditional order could not contain or constrain conflicts because it was in the process of losing faith in itself. Revolutions often begin with the crisis at the top, that is, people at the top of the power structure losing faith in the system. Much of the criticism actually came from the nobility – who are known as liberal nobles - and so did many of the early leaders of the revolution. Evidence: the comte de Mirabeau and of Philippe, duc d’Orleans. According to historian Daniel Wick, the Marxists forgot that liberal nobles were also prominent in the pre-revolutionary and first revolutionary period. The influence of liberal nobles - men like Condorcet, Lafayette, Liancourt, Talleyrand and Mirabeau - was considerable.
PART FOUR: THE ROLE OF LEADERS In this part of the presentation, we need to question and evaluate the actual role of leaders in helping to create a revolutionary situation: Who were some of the key leaders of the early stages of the revolution? How much impact does a leader have in a revolutionary situation? What special skill or quality does a leader bring to a given stage in a revolution?
The role of leaders and ideas: 4.1: The Society of Thirty Typical of these ‘liberal’ nobles were the men of the Society of Thirty: of their 60 members, 55 were from the nobility, and some from the high nobility of the sword. The group was formed in 1788, and became a prominent club by It included members of the parlement (eg. Adrian Duport), members of the clergy (eg. Talleyrand, Sieyès), members of the nobility (eg. Mirabeau, Lafayette).
The role of leaders: 4.2: Philippe, duc d’Orléans Philippe is an example of a leader who contributed to the development of the revolution by proposing new political ideas and played host to radical speakers. Early revolutionary leaders often came from the upper ranks of society, not from the lower ranks. Philippe, duc d’Orléans was a royal prince who was out of favour with Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.
A royal cousin, enemy of the King When refused appointment as admiral, he turned against the monarchy. He joined the Society of Thirty, and suggested a constitutional monarchy like that of England.
Philippe’s Palais-Royal, a hotbed of patriot ideas His second contribution was to open up his buildings of the Palais-Royal to radical speakers, who were then free of police interference, because the police were not allowed to enter a royal property. Much of the ‘patriot’ agitation occurred here, culminating in Desmoulin’s call to arms on 12 July Philippe also caused a scandal at the opening of the Estates-General, when he broke ranks with the nobles and tried to march with the Third Estate. This symbolic act gave the impression that even the powerful no longer agreed with the monarchy.
PART FIVE: THE ROLE OF REVOLUTIONARY EVENTS THE IMPORTANCE OF EVENTS IN HISTORICAL WRITING Area of Study 1 was initially only known as Revolutionary Ideas, Leaders and Movements. ‘Events’ have now been added, because examiners noticed that students had little grasp of key events and key dates, least of all sequences of events. OUR CONTRACT: We are required to show that we know “the chronology of key events and factors which contributed to the revolution”.
PART FIVE: THE ROLE OF REVOLUTIONARY EVENTS THE IMPORTANCE OF EVENTS IN HISTORICAL WRITING, cont’d As you write your examination, you need to keep two things in mind: your answer should not JUST consist of a narrative of events, and MUST contain effective analysis. However, as you conduct your argument, you need to remember to show that you KNOW the key events of the revolution, including their name, their date and the order in which they happened. You will gain your first marks by being able to confidently handle events.
THE ROLE OF EVENTS 5.1: FAILED ATTEMPTS AT REFORM The Study Design mentions failed attempts at political, economic or social reform. The French historian, Alexis de Tocqueville, first made the comment that the most dangerous time for any regime is not the centuries when it stood strong and resisted all change and reform, but the moment at which it tries to introduce reform. He believed that the very act of introducing even cautious and partial reform can unleash a flood of new demands.
TENSIONS AND CONFLICTS Our contract: “failed attempts at reform” - 2 Analysis: Eighteenth-century France actually had two major issues demanding reform. One was institutional, with political overtones: this was the status of the high law courts known as parlements, and by the 1780s this had not been settled; it was still a contested matter. Analysis: The second was the matter of the taxation system, and this too could not easily be settled, because the wealthy people who paid very little tax did so because of privilege, which was a legal right. To change the taxes, you would have to change the laws.
TENSIONS AND CONFLICTS Our contract: “failed attempts at reform” - 3 What made the situation explosive was that the two problems – the role of the parlements and the issue of taxation – joined together. The first problem was a financial crisis, which expanded into a debate about structural changes to the taxation system, and then to the issue of both taxation and representation, which became a questioning of the political system itself. We need to understand how a specific financial crisis - of the sort the monarchy had frequently had before - escalated into general crisis which questioned the King's ability to administer the nation's finances. The problem of excessive spending would not have been so serious had the taxation system been efficient, or open to reform. It was not.
THE ROLE OF EVENTS 5.2: THE FINANCIAL CRISIS The financial crisis in France was the direct result of France’s involvement in four costly wars during the 18th century. The most recent was the American War of Independence, for which the main motive was merely revenge for the loss of French territories in America to the British.
THE ROLE OF EVENTS 5.3: THE FISCAL CRISIS The crisis of France’s taxation system occurred because all the expedients previously available to the King had already been used. INDIRECT TAXES (on food and other goods) were already as high as they could go. The addition of a tax wall around Paris in the 1780s had already caused discontent. DIRECT TAXES were fixed, because PRIVILEGE (private deals) gave clergy, nobles and some bourgeois a legal exemption from paying tax. To change these taxes, the king would first have to change the legal agreements he had made.
THE ROLE OF EVENTS 5.4: THE POLITICAL CRISIS WHO CAN APPROVE NEW TAXES? The emerging political idea of REPRESENTATION created the expectation within France that the King would consult with the nation before changing the taxes. The great financiers in Holland and England were waiting to see whether reforms could be made before they lent more money to the French monarchy. Analysis: Mention the problem that France did not have a truly representative body (like the English parliament), just three bodies that were only imperfectly representative.
The first attempt: The Assembly of the Notables The first of these was the Assembly of Notables, made up largely of upper clergy (eg archbishops) and nobles. The King hoped that he could gain approval from this elite body.
What was the significance of the Assembly of Notables to the development of the revolutionary situation? First, the AoN confirmed that there was a serious financial crisis. Second, the conflict between Calonne and his enemies at court suggested that the regime could not resolve its own problems. Third, the AoN’s admission of taxation equality in principle was an important blow to tax privilege. Fourth, Calonne’s PUBLICATION of his protest made the problem clear to all, linking with THE BIRTH OF PUBLIC OPINION
The second attempt: The battle with the parlements The parlements were not originally political bodies, but legal institutions: they were high law courts. Some members of the law courts, such as Montesquieu, had proposed that they could serve as a representative political body between people and king. You could say that the parlements were not actually a parliament, but aspired to become one. During the reign of Louis XV, they had tried to play this political role, and had been shut down.
The third attempt: The Estates-General - 1 The third attempt to gain approval was from the Estates- General. The main problem was that this body had not met since 1614, and since then French society had changed considerably, notably with the growth of a large, wealthy and ambitious bourgeoisie in the 18th C. The old system of VOTING BY ORDER would normally allow the 1E + 2E to outvote the 3E.
The third attempt: The Estates-General - 2 The 3E deputies were interested by a newer way of voting, as seen in provincial assemblies such as Vizille, where voting was by head, and the representation of the 3E was doubled.
PART SIX: THE ROLE OF REVOLUTIONARY LEADERS
6.1: THE ABBÉ SIEYÈS AND THE ‘CONSTITUTIONAL’ REVOLUTION Analysis: In revolutions, leaders often come to the front just when they have a particular skill that is required at that moment. In , the ‘revolution’ was mainly a political or ‘constitutional’ one, because the deputies of the 3E at the EG were trying to solve the problem of the system of voting (ie by order or by head). The abbé Sieyès was a member of the 1E who had experienced personally how the privilege of the OR could block capable people from promotion. He was therefore sympathetic to the ‘patriot’ ideas of the 3E.
THE ABBÉ SIEYÈS AND THE ‘CONSTITUTIONAL’ REVOLUTION THE THEORY: “What is the Third Estate?” (Jan 1789) As the debate about voting erupted in , he catapulted the debate forward by redefining it. In ‘WITE’ (Jan 1789), he argued that there was no need to haggle over voting by order or by head: because the 3E deputies represented more than 90% of the nation, they virtually were a ‘national assembly’. (note that others had suggested this too; his pamphlet was just very powerful). Evidence: Offer a suitable quote from WITE
THE ABBÉ SIEYÈS AND THE ‘CONSTITUTIONAL’ REVOLUTION FROM THEORY TO ACTION (June 1789) Unlike other leaders, the abbé Sieyès not only proposed new political ideas, he guided them through into reality. In June 1789, as the deputies of the 3E began to hesitantly consider a ‘constitutional’ rebellion, it was abbé Sieyès who gave them the name of a national assembly, and who then led them slowly to the point that they dared to assume the name. He did so in stages: 10 June: His strategy was to ‘invite’ the other deputies to join the 3E deputies. 15 June: his strategy was to challenge the 3E to choose a name for the new assembly.
THE ABBÉ SIEYÈS AND THE ‘CONSTITUTIONAL’ REVOLUTION FROM THEORY TO ACTION (June 1789) 17 June: He writes a political/theoretical explanation as to why the 3E could consider itself a ‘national assembly’. 20 June: He takes part in TCO (but note he did not actually write the TCO).
THE ROLE OF REVOLUTIONARY LEADERS 6.2: BAILLY AND THE TENNIS COURT OATH Jean-Sylvain Bailly was a scientist and astronomer who had cautiously refused to contribute to The Encyclopaedia because he believed it was ‘too political’. In 1789 he was elected to the EG, but did not consider himself a politician or statesman. The EG elected him spokesman, a moderate who could represent them to the King. Nonetheless, he was firm in his principle that “the Nation when assembled cannot be given orders”, and for this reason was willing to lead the TCO. He was later elected first president of the NA and also Mayor of Paris.
THE ROLE OF REVOLUTIONARY LEADERS: 6.3: THE COMTE DE MIRABEAU ‘DEFENDER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’ Analysis: Each stage of a revolution has particular needs, and leaders who have the necessary skills tend to come to the fore. Analysis: Compared with the quiet, intellectual Sieyès, Mirabeau was a classic revolutionary leader by virtue of his imposing person and his passionate rhetoric. His main contribution was to defend the national assembly against royal authority. He first demonstrated his charisma by a successful political campaign in the region of Provence, where he enjoyed massive popularity. The writers of the BoG for his area called him “the friend of the people”.
“Our little mother Mirabeau”, the darling of the Parisian crowd By the time he got to Paris in 1789, he had made a name for himself defending ordinary people (eg. defending the interests of the water carriers against a water company). “In Paris it was the people again who took him to their hearts with a warmth they would show to none of the other revolutionary figures.” (Barbara Luttrell, p. 109) The people of Paris believed in him not for abstract political ideas, but because they felt he took practical action for reform.
MIRABEAU The champion of the Estates-General Of all the revolutionary leaders, Mirabeau was probably the earliest to realise how important the EG would be, and the most vocal in defending it. Mirabeau condemned the ‘humiliation’ of the opening of the EG: Necker had suggested that there be no social distinctions, but Louis XVI had insisted on them.
MIRABEAU “The deputy from hell” The champion of freedom of speech and of the press Understanding the issue of voting by order or by head, he publicised it, and the subsequent battle, in his Journal of the Estates-General. This was a defiance of royal censorship ( = principle of freedom of the press). Mirabeau criticised Necker’s opening speech; Necker banned his Journal; the 3E deputies rose in protest. The opposition was now terrified of him, and called him the deputy for hell. Mirabeau simply renamed his paper Letters of Mirabeau to his Constituents - not illegal to report back to supporters.
MIRABEAU, CHAMPION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY The challenge to royal military force In the debate of 15 June, Mirabeau rejected all the cautious titles for the NA, and suggested “representatives of he French people”. He was unpopular when he opposed the name ‘National Assembly’, suggested by Legrand and proposed by Sieyès, because it might anger nobles. Mirabeau also proposed that they declare all taxes illegal, and the NA agreed to do so. After the King ordered the NA to disperse, first Bailly and then Mirabeau refused to do so (“We shall not leave except by force of bayonets”) This galvanised the assembly.
MIRABEAU, CHAMPION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY The challenge to royal military force The men of 1789 defined ‘Liberty’ as freedom from royal oppression, and were suspicious of royal armies, especially mercenaries. By 10 July, the King had moved ten regiments of mercenary troops into Paris. Mirabeau led a deputation to Louis and ‘demanded’ the withdrawal of troops from Paris. The King refused, and suggested that if the deputies were frightened by the military presence they could withdraw to a provincial city.
MIRABEAU, CHAMPION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY The royal response, July 1789 The King showed force by dismissing Necker (11 July) and ordering the arrest of Mirabeau and others (13 July); the King also held a banquet at Versailles for some of his troops (14 July). After the fall of the Bastille, the King came to the NA and agreed to withdraw the troops. Conclusion/synthesis: Mirabeau had been instrumental in standing up to royal oppression, until popular intervention occurred.
PART SEVEN THE ROLE OF REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENTS By definition, all revolutions must have some form of mass following (otherwise just a coup d’etat) The French Revolution did involve ‘the crowd’ in 1) Paris 2) provincial cities 3) country areas.
THE ROLE OF REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENTS 7.1: THE CROWD AND THE PARLEMENTS In the battle with the parlements (August 1787), urban crowds demonstrated in favour of the law courts, and later rebelled (evidence: ‘The Day of the Tiles’, Grenoble, when the crowd took over the whole town).
THE ROLE OF REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENTS 7.2: THE ACTION OF THE PARISIAN CROWD ON 14 JULY 1789 While the bourgeois deputies of the 3E had the skills to make a ‘constitutional’ revolution against absolutism, their new institution, the national assembly, could still be closed by force by the King. In early July 1789, the King started moving thousands of troops from the frontiers to Paris, the only possible purpose being to disband the assembly. By 12 July, the fear of royal troops, combined with anger at the news of the dismissal of Necker, --> rebellion.
The historiography of the Bastille Gwynne Lewis, The French Revolution. Rethinking he Debate, (1993), pp “[The Bastille] resolved the impasse between the Court and the National Assembly, but it did so at a price. From now on, the Parisian crowd would haunt the battlements of bourgeois Revolution, reminding deputies that, in revolutions, the bullet is as important as the ballot.”
REVIEWING THE CRISIS OF ROYAL POWER The weakening of the 'strands' of royal power in eighteenth-century France THE POLITICAL THEORY OF ABSOLUTE POWER vs. The new political theory of representation 2. THE COMMAND OF ARMED FORCE vs. Discontent in the army, sympathy for Third Estate 3. THE BELIEF IN THE KING'S COMPETENCE vs. Financial/fiscal crisis becomes public, erodes confidence 4. THE BELIEF IN THE KING'S BENEVOLENCE vs. A late realisation ( ) that he was not benevolent
REVIEWING THE CRISIS OF ROYAL POWER The weakening of the 'strands' of royal power in eighteenth-century France UNQUESTIONABILITY vs The Enlightenment challenges unquestionability 6. THE AURA OF MAJESTY, DIGNITY AND IMAGES OF LEGITIMACY AND VIRILITY vs. Political pornography challenges dignity, virility
PART EIGHT: The historiography of the causes of the French Revolution The Study Design asks us to understand that different historians have proposed varying explanations of what caused the FR. OUR CONTRACT: “Historians place differing emphasis on the role of leaders, movements and ideas in the development of the revolution.” We must “consider a range of historians’ opinions.” In the examination, we will have to be able to meaningfully quote a number of opinions with reference to the event or document we are studying. It will not be sufficient to have a pre-prepared standard explanation about the different schools of thought.
8.1: THE FRENCH MARXIST ORTHODOXY First, the French Marxist historians (Soboul, Lefebvre), and George Rudé, argued that the FR was not just a rebellion, but an epochal event marking France’s transition from what Marx had called the ‘feudal’ stage to the ‘capitalist’ stage. Specifically, they argued: 1. It was a SOCIAL revolution, based on a CLASS STRUGGLE between the new bourgeoisie challenging the old nobility.
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY A CLASSIC BOURGEOIS REVOLUTION? The classic Marxist point of view: a class struggle of bourgeoisie vs nobles Albert Soboul, The French Revolution, p. 3. “The revolution of marked the arrival of modern bourgeois capitalist society in the history of France. Its essential feature was the establishment of national unity through the destruction of the feudal (‘seigneurial) regime and the privileged feudal orders. Its culmination in the establishment of liberal democracy adds a further dimension to its historical significance. From this double point of view, it deserves to be considered a classic model of bourgeois revolution.”
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY 8.2: THE REVISIONIST CHALLENGE At the outset, the Revisionists aimed to do what their name suggests, to ‘revise’ the dominant Marxist orthodoxy. Their great pioneer was ALFRED COBBAN who, in the 1950s, published a provocative challenge to the Marxist interpretation. The Revisionist attack reached its peak in 1989, the bi-centenary of the FR. WILLIAM DOYLE (The Oxford History of the FR, 1989) dismissed all the main points of the Marxist orthodoxy, arguing in favour of the theory of ‘accident’: the FR was simply a financial crisis that got out of hand.
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY 8.2: THE CLASSIC REVISIONIST VIEWPOINT The revolutionaries were not from a capitalist bourgeoisie “The vast majority of the deputies of the Third Estate (87%) had nothing to do with commerce and industry, being mostly lawyers, government servants and petty office- holders […] The bourgeois revolutionaries of 1789 were not hostile to feudalism, since they were property owners and many of them actually held feudal rights. (About 15% of feudal owners were bourgeois, not nobles). Those members of the bourgeoisie who were industrialists, traders and financiers were usually quite uninterested in politics. They were actually hostile to the lawyers and officials who, together with the liberal minority of the nobility, actually spearheaded the revolution.” D. G. Wright, Revolution and Terror in France, pp
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY: A FRENCH REVISIONIST POINT OF VIEW - 1 The revolution was not a social one but a political one, based on new ideas of political life Historian François Furet challenged the Marxist explanation of the French Revolution in ‘The Catechism of the French Revolution’ (1971) and continued his critique in Interpreting the French Revolution, whose original French title was Thinking the French Revolution (1981). He disagreed with the Marxist idea of class conflict, and argued that the French Revolution was mainly driven by changing political ideas and by the political conflicts they caused. He also argued that absolutism’s stripping of power from corporate structures of society gave credibility to writers and intellectuals who propagated abstract ideas of democracy and representation.
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY: A FRENCH REVISIONIST POINT OF VIEW - 2 He examined the channels (“centres of democratic sociability”) by which these ideas spread to the general public. He argued that, because holding power was seen to be ‘despotic’, the revolutionaries got locked into a discourse of ‘the people’ or ‘the Nation’ holding power, and so revolutionary politics became a game of claiming to represent the people. This “ushered in a world where mental representations of power governed all actions, and where a network of signs completely dominated political life.”
The second problem: Many ‘liberal nobles’ supported reform and the ‘patriot’ movement The second reason why there cannot have been a simple, black-and-white class struggle between the feudal nobility and the new bourgeoisie was that many ‘liberal’ nobles actually supported the ‘patriot’ ideas of reform.
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY 8.3: AFTER REVISIONISM, NO ORTHODOXY Since the triumph of revisionism in about , historians have been free to pursue many different aspects of the FR. For the moment (1990s-2000s), there is no need to form one dominant explanation of the revolution. The only orthodoxy, now, is that there is no orthodoxy.
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY THE EMERGING CONSENSUS - 1 A general consensus about 1789 By the 1990s-early 2000s, historians had tended towards a conclusion that the crisis of 1789 was PRIMARILY CAUSED by a severe national financial crisis (of the sort the monarchy had had before), COMPOUNDED BY new social conditions (the birth of public opinion) and by new political ideas (representation, accountability, equality vs privilege, liberty of the person) and AGGRAVATED BY an economic crisis created by bad harvests, the worst being the disastrous harvest of July 1788, causing bread prices to peak in July 1789.
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY THE EMERGING CONSENSUS - 2 Alan Forrest (The French Revolution, 1995, p. 13) argues that, while there was long-term political discontent, the prime moving cause of the crisis was the financial problem: “During the last years of the old regime there was widespread dissatisfaction, at many different levels of society, with the manner in which France was governed. But that dissatisfaction did not of itself cause the overthrow of the absolute monarchy. Rather it was the severity of the financial crisis of the 1780s, triggered by France’s costly participation in the American War of Independence, which made the continuance of the status quo an unattainable aim. By the later 1780s even many of the privileged members of society were prepared to concede that they must sacrifice some of their privileges if the monarchy and the social system were to survive.”
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY THE EMERGING CONSENSUS - 3 Gwynne Lewis (The French Revolution. Rethinking the debate 1993, p. 23) concentrates on the rapid slippage from a financial crisis to a political one, again noting that it was aggravated by economic crisis: “No wonder that during the summer of 1788 the political crisis which had broken out with the closure of the first Assembly of the Notables in May of the previous year began to assume revolutionary proportions. Public opinion was on the march. During the next twelve months, hundreds of thousands of starving and unemployed French men and women would be recruited to its colours as economic recession and harvest failure transformed a political crisis into a political and social revolution.”
HANDLING HISTORIOGRAPHY NEW VIEWPOINTS CULTURAL HISTORY Approach 2: The study of culture and art Alan Forrest, The French Revolution, p. 8. “The emphasis on culture has largely squeezed out the concern for class. New cultural assumptions had to be transmitted, new values inculcated if the revolution were to succeed. Artists – not just the greatest of them, Jacques- Louis David, but the thousand or so artists who worked during the revolution, and who came to terms with the new rhetoric of the period – are given a new importance.”