Class 9, The French Revolution
Solutions of CBSE (NCERT) History Textbook
Chapter Exercise Questions
Q.1: Describe the circumstances leading to outbreak of revolutionary protest in France.
Solution: On the eve of the French Revolution, that is in 1789 A.D. France presented a dismal look. Following were the conditions on the eve of the French Revolution. In other words we can say that following were the chief causes of the French Revolution:
(a) Social Causes - On the eve of the revolution, the French society was ridden with several inequalities. The clergy and the nobles led a life of luxury and enjoyed numerous privileges. On the other hand, the peasants and workers lived a wretched life. They groaned under heavy taxes and forced labour. The middle-class comprising of lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc also suffered humiliation at the hands of the clergy and the nobles. This state of social inequality was the chief cause of the French Revolution.
(b) Political Causes - Emperor Louis XVI of France was an empty headed despot. He and his queen, Marie Antoinette, squandered money on their luxurious living and wasteful festivities. The high posts were often auctioned, so inefficiency reigned supreme. The whole administration was corrupt and each department had its own laws. In the absence of any uniform system there was confusion all around. The people were tired of such a rotten system of administration and wanted a change.
(c) Economic Causes - France had been continually involved in wars which had broken her economy. The luxurious life led by the French King Louis XVI and his queen had made the matter still worse. The people groaned under heavy taxes. The system was so faulty that only a fraction of the taxes could be realized as the people were too poor to pay the taxes while nobles and the clergy who could pay, were completely exempted from all the taxes. The economy became so bad that the French Government had almost reached a state of bankruptcy. Thus the shattered economy of France proved a major cause of the Revolution.
(d) Immediate Cause - Forced by financial bankruptcy, Emperor Louis XVI was compelled to call a meeting of the Estates General in 1789 A.D. after a lapse of 175 years. It generated much excitement as the members of the Third Estate were determined to put forth their problems. But when the first two Estates i.e. the Clergy and the Nobility refused to have a common meeting with the Third Estate, the people lost their temper. They had already suffered much in the severe famine in 1788 - 1789. In this way the calling of the Estates General in 1789 A.D. proved to be the immediate cause of the French Revolution.
Q.2: Which groups of French society benefitted from the revolution? Which groups were forced to relinquish power? Which sections of society would have been disappointed with the outcome of the revolution?
Solution: Groups of French society which benefitted from the revolution - All the groups of French society which formerly formed a part of the Third Estate were benefitted from the revolution. These groups included the peasants, workers, petty-officers, lawyers, teachers, doctors and traders. Formerly they had to pay all the taxes and they were humiliated both by the Clergy and the Nobles at every point but after the revolution they began to be treated equal with the upper sections of the society.
Groups of French society which were forced to relinquish power - People belonging to the upper classes - the First Estate and the Second Estate, which enjoyed all the privileges has to relinquish power. Such people were the Clergy and the Nobles. The special privileges of these higher sections were abolished as a result of the French Revolution. Now the French society was organized on the basis of social equality.
Sections of society which would have been disappointed with the outcome of the revolution - Naturally the erstwhile privileged classes i.e. the Clergy and the Nobles would have been disappointed with the outcome of the revolution because everybody is disappointed when privileges are taken away from them.
Q.3: Describe the legacy of the French Revolution for the people of the world during the 19th and the 20th centuries.
Solution: The French Revolution was one of the most significant events in the World History. It gave to the world the three main ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Its main achievements and effects on the modern world were as follows:
- The French Revolution put an end to the arbitrary rule and developed the idea of People’s Republic in Europe and subsequently in other parts of the world.
- It inspired the people throughout the world with the ideals of freedom and liberty which subsequently formed the basis of the national sovereignty.
- The French Revolution preached the concept of equal rights for all the citizens, which subsequently became the concept of equality before law for all people.
- It spread the idea of human fraternity which is one of the chief attributes for promoting the ideals of love, unity and co-operation among the different sections of the society.
- The French Revolution gave the term ‘Nation’ its modern meaning and promoted the concept of ‘nationalist’ which inspired the people in Poland, Germany, Netherlands and Italy to establish Nation-States in their countries.
- The French Revolution had a great salutary effect on the ruling monarchs who took several measures to ensure people’s welfare introducing many reforms.
Q.4: Draw up a list of democratic rights we enjoy today whose origin could be treated to the French Revolution.
Solution: We in India enjoy the following Fundamental Rights.
- Right to Equality
- Right to Freedom.
- Cultural and Educational Right
- Right to Religious Freedom
- Right against Exploitation
- Right to Constitutional Remedies.
If we closely study the impact of the French Revolution, we can easily find that many of them have their origin in the French Revolution.
- Right to Equality - The Right to Equality has its origin in the French Revolution. Equality was one of the main principles of the French Revolution, which led to special rights and privileges of the common classes and established political, economic and social equality.
- Right to Liberty or Freedom - The origin of this right can also be traced to the French Revolution. The Declaration of Rights of Man laid emphasis on the personal liberty and right of the common peoples.
- Inspiring the Spirit of Democracy - The French Revolution inspired the spirit of democracy which ensured all other rights which we enjoy today. It stressed on the principle that the government should not be only for the people but also by the people.
- Encouraging the Spirit of Fraternity - By breaking all shackles of high and low the French Revolution helped in the growth of the spirit of Fraternity and Social Welfare.
Directly or indirectly the origin of all Fundamental Rights can be traced to the French Revolution.
Q.5: Would you agree with the view that the message of universal rights was beset with contradictions. Explain.
Solution: There are two opinions on this point whether the message of universal rights was beset with concentrations or not. Most of the authors feel that the message of universal rights, as explained in the last question was quite clear and there should be no contradiction to such principles. The Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen was perhaps the first attempt in the world to draw an outline of the universal rights on such a wider scale. It was a laudable attempt. It laid emphasis on the three fundamental principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Such principles have been adopted by all the democratic countries. Contradictions, if any, are only vague and need not be taken so seriously. Some criticize only for the sake of criticism and so they should be ignored. The French Revolutionaries must be congratulated for heralding the great principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
Q.6: Explain the rise of Napoleon. Or
Mention some role (importance) of Napoleon in the history of France.
Mention some role (importance) of Napoleon in the history of France.
|Arc de Triomphe, Paris|
Solution: Napoleon, born in 1769 A.D. in Ajacio, the capital of Corsica, was emperor of the French, who consolidated and institutionalized many reforms of the French Revolution. One of the greatest military commanders of all time, he conquered the larger part of Europe and did much to modernize the nations he ruled.
Napoleon was a man of miraculous talents. He was educated in military schools of Brienne and Paris. He joined the army and because of his exemplary heroism, immense courage and ability, in 1796 he was made commander of the French Army in Italy.
Also in 1796 he married Joséphine de Beauharnais, the widow of an aristocrat guillotined in the Revolution and the mother of two children.
Napoleon won many battles for the revolutionary France and raised his nation’s prestige. He defeated Britain in 1793 A.D., Sardinia in 1796 A.D. He defeated four Austrian generals in succession, each with superior numbers, and forced Austria and its allies to make peace.
Napoleon was a driven man, never secure, never satisfied. He played an important role in the history of France, Europe and the world. His life was work-centered; he could bear amusements or vacations only briefly. He had intense loyalties—to his family and old associates. Nothing and no one, however, were allowed to interfere with his work. Napoleon was a great writer and orator.
Napoleon was not only a great conqueror, but also an able administrator who believed in ruling by mandate of the people. He followed the policy of religious toleration and granted religious freedom to all. He set up a classless society by abolishing feudalism and serfdom and regenerated France on the basis of the principle of equality.
Napoleon was also a great enlightened monarch—a civil executive of enormous capacity who changed French institutions and tried to reform the institutions of Europe and give the Continent a common law.Napoleon’s influence is evident in France even today. Reminders of him dot Paris—the most obvious being the Arc de Triomphe, the centerpiece of the city, which was built to commemorate his victories.
The French Revolution (India and the Contemporary World I) – further study