Essays on the French Revolution
THEMATIC ESSAY QUESTIONS FOR FRENCH REVOLUTION
1. How did the French Revolution embody the ideas of the Enlightenment?
2. What grievances did the bourgeoisie, the sans culottes and the peasants have against the Ancient Regime?
3. How did the Revolution contribute to French nationalism?
4. Contrast the views of Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke on the French Revolution.
5. Choose two or more modern historians and show how their views on the causes and events of the Revolution differ.
6. Discuss the role of women in the French Revolution?
7. Did the French Revolution retard the economic development ofFrance?
8. During the 18th Century, conditions in Eastern Europe were far worse for most people than they were inFranceduring the same period. Yet the Revolution broke out inFranceand not inEastern Europe. How do you account for this?
9. At the very moment feudal privileges were being abolished inFrance, Leopold II was
reestablishing serfdom inAustria. How can these movements in opposite directions be accounted for?
10. Describe the opposition, French and non-French, to the French Revolution. How did the Revolutionary government(s) deal with enemies?
11."The French Revolution, in both its causes and its course, can no longer be thought of as simple a struggle between the bourgeoisie and the nobility. It was much more complicated than that." Discuss the validity of this statement citing relevant historiographical studies.
12. "Robespierre symbolized all that was good and all that was tragic in the French Revolution." Evaluate this statement.
13. To what extent and in what ways was the French Revolution during the period 1789 through the Reign of Terror (1794) an attempt to create a government based on Enlightenment ideals?
14. "The essential cause of the French Revolution was the collision between a powerful rising bourgeoisie and an entrenched aristocracy defending its privileges." Assess the validity of this statement as an explanation of the events leading up to the French Revolution of 1789.
15. "Political leaders committed to radical or extremist goals often exert authoritarian control in the name of higher values." Support or refute this statement with reference to the political and cultural policies of Robespierrre during the French Revolution.
16. Identify the major social groups inFranceon the eve of the 1789 Revolution. Assess the extent to which their aspirations were achieved in the period from the meeting of the Estates-General (May 1789) to the declaration of the republic (September 1792).
17. Contrast and compare the stages of the French Revolution
18. Analyze the way Louis XVI's attempt to raise taxes to pay off his government's debts
precipitated the French Revolution.
19. "The accomplishments of the French Revolution were not worth the violence, instability and war it led to." Defend or refute this statement.
20. In what ways did international diplomatic, military and political events affect domestic policy inFrancefrom 1789-1804?
21. Discuss legislation enacted by the different governments ofFrancefrom 1789-1815. How does it reflect ideological or political changes?
22. Discuss the changing roles of and support for the RCC inFrancefrom 1789-1804.
23. Discuss the participation of women in various Revolutionary activities and events, and relate this participation to the different ideologies about women prevalent at that time.
24. Discuss and analyze the ideological legacy of the French Revolution of 1789.
25. Discuss the complaints and aspirations of the various social classes inFranceon the eve of the French Revolution.
26. Discuss the social, ideological and economic causes of the French Revolution
27. How did the changes in political power in the French Revolution from 1789-1799 reflect the social, political and economic aspirations of the bourgeoisie?
28. Analyze the class conflicts that precipitated the French Revolution, the subsequent changes in political power and the resulting governments from 1789-1799.
29 . “Enlightened ideas were more expressed in the French Revolution from 1789-1792 than from 1792-1795.” Assess the validity of this statement.
30. “What is the Third Estate? It is the Whole!” ---Sieyes Assess the validity of this statement in reference to all the stages of the French Revolution.
31. What social and economic factors precipitated and prolonged the French Revolution?
32. To what extent were the discontents of the lower classes addressed in the French Revolution?
33. According to Crane Brinton “...power [during a Revolution] passes on from right to left until it reaches a limit usually short of the most extreme or lunatic left.” Evaluate the validity of this statement.
34. How were the values of the Enlightenment reflected in the different stages of the French Revolution?
35. What reasons did members of different social and economic classes have to support or not support the French Revolution between 1789-1799?
36. “The French Revolution lived up to its motto of ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’.” Assess the validity of this statement.
37. How and to what extent did Enlightenment ideas about religion and society shape the
policies of the French Revolution in the period 1789 to 1799?
38. How did Enlightenment ideas that fueled the French Revolution conflict with the religious and economic needs of the people?
39. To what extent did the French Revolution reflect Enlightenment ideas in practice and in theory?
40. How did the various governments during the French Revolution address the political and economic needs of different groups of people and to what extent where these problems resolved?
41. Analyze various ways in which government policies during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era contributed to a greater sense of French national identity in the period 1789 to 1815.
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