The French Revolution had a major impact on Europe and the New World. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.In the short-term, France lost thousands of its countrymen in the form of émigrés, or emigrants who wished to escape political tensions and save their lives. A number of individuals settled in the neighboring countries (chiefly Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and Prussia), however quite a few also went to the United States. The displacement of these Frenchmen led to a spread of French culture, policies regulating immigration, and a safe haven for Royalists and other counterrevolutionaries to outlast the violence of the French Revolution. The long-term impact on France was profound, shaping politics, society, religion and ideas, and polarizing politics for more than a century. The closer other countries were, the greater and deeper was the French impact, bringing liberalism and the end of many feudal or traditional laws and practices. However, there was also a conservative counter-reaction that defeated Napoleon, reinstalled the Bourbon kings, and in some ways reversed the new reforms.
Most of the new nations created by the French were abolished and returned to prewar owners in 1814. However, Frederick Artz emphasizes the benefits the Italians gained from the French Revolution:
Likewise in Switzerland the long-term impact of the French Revolution has been assessed by Martin:
The greatest impact came in France itself. In addition to effects similar to those in Italy and Switzerland, France saw the introduction of the principle of legal equality, and the downgrading of the once powerful and rich Catholic Church to just a bureau controlled by the government. Power became centralized in Paris, with its strong bureaucracy and an army supplied by conscripting all young men. French politics were permanently polarized—new names were given, 'left' and 'right' for the supporters and opponents of the principles of the Revolution.[ citation needed ]
The changes in France were enormous; some were widely accepted and others were bitterly contested into the late 20th century.Before the Revolution, the people had little power or voice. The kings had so thoroughly centralized the system that most nobles spent their time at Versailles, and played only a small direct role in their home districts. Thompson says that the kings had:
After the first year of revolution, this power had been stripped away. The king was a figurehead, the nobility had lost all their titles and most of their land, the Church lost its monasteries and farmlands, bishops, judges and magistrates were elected by the people, the army was almost helpless, with military power in the hands of the new revolutionary National Guard. The central elements of 1789 were the slogan " Liberté, égalité, fraternité " and "The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen", which Lefebvre calls "the incarnation of the Revolution as a whole."
The long-term impact on France was profound, shaping politics, society, religion and ideas, and polarizing politics for more than a century. Historian François Aulard writes:
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Europe was wracked by two decades of war revolving around France's efforts to spread its revolutionary ideals, and the opposition of reactionary royalty, led by Britain and Austria. War broke out in 1792 as Austria and Prussia invaded France, but were defeated at the Battle of Valmy (1792).
To escape political tensions and save their lives, a number of individuals, mostly men, emigrated from France. Many settled in neighboring countries (chiefly Great Britain, Germany, Austria, and Prussia), and quite a few went to the United States. The presence of these thousands of Frenchmen of varying socioeconomic backgrounds who had just fled a hotbed of revolutionary activity posed a problem for the nations that extended refuge to the migrants. The fear was that they brought with them a plot to disrupt the political order, which did lead to increased regulation and documentation of the influx of immigrants in neighboring countries. Still, most nations such as Britain remained magnanimous and welcomed the French.
In foreign affairs, the French Army at first was quite successful. It conquered the Austrian Netherlands (approximately modern-day Belgium) and turned it into another province of France. It conquered the Dutch Republic (the present Netherlands), and made it a puppet state. It took control of the German areas on the left bank of the Rhine River and set up a puppet regime. It conquered Switzerland and most of Italy, setting up a series of puppet states. The result was glory for France, and an infusion of much needed money from the conquered lands, which also provided direct support to the French Army. However the enemies of France, led by Britain and funded by the inexhaustible British Treasury, formed a Second Coalition in 1799 (with Britain joined by Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and Austria). It scored a series of victories that rolled back French successes, and The French Army trapped in Egypt. Napoleon himself slipped through the British blockade in October 1799, returning to Paris.
Napoleon conquered most of Italy in the name of the French Revolution in 1797–99. He consolidated old units and split up Austria's holdings. He set up a series of new republics, complete with new codes of law and abolition of old feudal privileges. Napoleon's Cisalpine Republic was centered on Milan. Genoa the city became a republic while its hinterland became the Ligurian Republic. The Roman Republic was formed out of the papal holdings while the pope himself was sent to France. The Neapolitan Republic was formed around Naples, but it lasted only five months before the enemy forces of the Coalition recaptured it.[ citation needed ]
In 1805 he formed the Kingdom of Italy, with himself as king and his stepson as viceroy. In addition, France turned the Netherlands into the Batavian Republic, and Switzerland into the Helvetic Republic. All these new countries where satellites of France, and had to pay large subsidies to Paris, as well as provide military support for Napoleon's wars. Their political and administrative systems were modernized, the metric system introduced, and trade barriers reduced. Jewish ghettos were abolished. Belgium and Piedmont became integral parts of France.
The new nations were abolished and returned to prewar owners in 1814. However, Artz emphasizes the benefits the Italians gained from the French Revolution:
Otto Dann and John Dinwiddy report, "It has long been almost a truism of European history that the French Revolution gave a great stimulus to the growth of modern nationalism."Nationalism was emphasized by historian Carlton J.H. Hayes as a major result of the French Revolution across Europe. The impact on French nationalism was profound. Napoleon became such a heroic symbol of the nation that the glory was easily picked up by his nephew, who was overwhelmingly elected president (and later became Emperor Napoleon III). The influence was great in the hundreds of small German states and elsewhere, where it was either inspired by the French example or in reaction against it.
At the beginning of the Revolution, Britain supported the constitutional monarchy, up until the regicide of Louis XVI. The majority of the British establishment were strongly opposed to the revolution. Britain, guided by Pitt the Younger, led and funded the series of coalitions that fought France from 1793 to 1815, and with the deposition of Napoleon Bonaparte culminated with the (temporary) restoration of the Bourbons. Edmund Burke wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France , a pamphlet notable for its defence of the principle of constitutional monarchy; the events surrounding the London Corresponding Society were an example of the fevered times.
In Ireland, the effect was to transform what had been an attempt by Protestant settlers to gain some autonomy into a mass movement led by the Society of United Irishmen involving Catholics and Protestants. It stimulated the demand for further reform throughout Ireland, especially in Ulster. The upshot was a revolt in 1798, led by Wolfe Tone, that was crushed by Britain.This revolt is seen as the foundation for modern Irish republicanism, which eventually led to the partition of Ireland and independence for 26 of its 32 counties.
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German reaction to the Revolution swung from favorable at first to antagonistic. At first it brought liberal and democratic ideas, the end of guilds, of serfdom and of the Jewish ghetto. It brought economic freedoms and agrarian and legal reform. German intellectuals celebrated the outbreak, hoping to see the triumph of Reason and The Enlightenment. There were enemies as well, as the royal courts in Vienna and Berlin denounced the overthrow of the king and the threatened spread of notions of liberty, equality, and fraternity.
By 1793, the execution of the French king and the onset of the Terror disillusioned the "Bildungsbürgertum" (educated middle classes). Reformers said the solution was to have faith in the ability of Germans to reform their laws and institutions in peaceful fashion.
After Prussia was humiliated by Napoleon opinion swung against France and stimulated and shaped German nationalism.
France took direct control of the Rhineland 1794–1814 and radically and permanently liberalized the government, society and economy.
The French swept away centuries worth of outmoded restrictions and introduced unprecedented levels of efficiency. The chaos and barriers in a land divided and subdivided among many different petty principalities gave way to a rational, simplified, centralized system controlled by Paris and run by Napoleon's relatives. The most important impact came from the abolition of all feudal privileges and historic taxes, the introduction of legal reforms of the Napoleonic Code, and the reorganization of the judicial and local administrative systems. The economic integration of the Rhineland with France increased prosperity, especially in industrial production, while business accelerated with the new efficiency and lowered trade barriers. The Jews were liberated from the ghetto. One sour point was the hostility of the French officials toward the Roman Catholic Church, the choice of most of the residents. Much of South Germany felt a similar but more muted influence of the French Revolution, while in Prussia and areas to the east there was far less impact.The reforms were permanent. Decades later workers and peasants in the Rhineland often appealed to Jacobinism to oppose unpopular government programs, while the intelligentsia demanded the maintenance of the Napoleonic Code (which was stayed in effect for a century).
When the French invaded Russia, Prussia and Austria, Napoleon carved out a Polish state allied to the French known as The Duchy of Warsaw, the Polish had had their first glimpse of independence for 200 years since the partitions of Poland by Russia Austria and Prussia. This also led to an increase in Polish nationalism that would persist throughout the 19th and 20th century.
The French invaded Switzerland and turned it into an ally known as the "Helvetic Republic" (1798–1803). The interference with localism and traditional liberties was deeply resented, although some modernizing reforms took place.Resistance was strongest in the more traditional Catholic bastions, with armed uprisings breaking out in spring 1798 in the central part of Switzerland. Alois Von Reding, a powerful Swiss general, led an army of 10,000 men from the Cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden against the French. This resulted in the Swiss regaining control of Lucerne, however due to the sheer greatness in size of the French army, Von Reding's movement was eventually suppressed. The French Army suppressed the uprisings but support for revolutionary ideals steadily declined, as the Swiss resented their loss of local democracy, the new taxes, the centralization, and the hostility to religion.
The instability of France resulted in the creation of two different revolutionary groups with different ideologies of revolt: The aristocrats, seeking the restoration of the Old Swiss Confederacy and a section of the population wanting a coup. Furthermore, Switzerland became a battleground between the armies of France, Austria and Russia. Ultimately, this instability, frequent coups within the government and the eventual Bourla-papey forced Napoleon to sign the Act of Medallion which led to the fall of the Helvetic Republic and the restoration of the Confederacy.
The long-term impact of the French Revolution has been assessed by Martin:
French invaded the territory of modern-day Belgium and controlled it between 1794–1814. The French imposed reforms and incorporated the territory into France. New rulers were sent in by Paris. Belgian men were drafted into the French wars and heavily taxed. Nearly everyone was Catholic, but the Church was repressed. Resistance was strong in every sector, as Belgian nationalism emerged to oppose French rule. The French legal system, however, was adopted, with its equal legal rights, and abolition of class distinctions. Belgium now had a government bureaucracy selected by merit.
Antwerp regained access to the sea and grew quickly as a major port and business center. France promoted commerce and capitalism, paving the way for the ascent of the bourgeoisie and the rapid growth of manufacturing and mining. In economics, therefore, the nobility declined while the middle class Belgian entrepreneurs flourished because of their inclusion in a large market, paving the way for Belgium's leadership role after 1815 in the Industrial Revolution on the Continent.
France turned the Netherlands into a puppet state that had to pay large indemnities.
The Kingdom of Denmark adopted liberalizing reforms in line with those of the French Revolution, with no direct contact. Danes were aware of French ideas and agreed with them, as it moved from Danish absolutism to a liberal constitutional system between 1750–1850. The change of government in 1784 was caused by a power vacuum created when King Christian VII took ill, and power shifted to the crown prince (who later became King Frederik VI) and reform-oriented landowners. In contrast to Old Regime France, agricultural reform was intensified in Denmark, serfdom was abolished and civil rights were extended to the peasants, the finances of the Danish state were healthy, and there were no external or internal crises. That is, reform was gradual and the regime itself carried out agrarian reforms that had the effect of weakening absolutism by creating a class of independent peasant freeholders. Much of the initiative came from well-organized liberals who directed political change in the first half of the 19th century.
In Sweden, King Gustav III (reigned 1771–92) was an enlightened despot, who weakened the nobility and promoted numerous major social reforms. He felt the Swedish monarchy could survive and flourish by achieving a coalition with the newly emerged middle classes against the nobility. He was close to King Louis XVI so he was disgusted with French radicalism. Nevertheless, he decided to promote additional antifeudal reforms to strengthen his hand among the middle classes.When the king was assassinated in 1792 his brother Charles became regent, but real power was with Gustaf Adolf Reuterholm, who bitterly opposed the French Revolution and all its supporters. Under King Gustav IV Adolf, Sweden joined various coalitions against Napoleon, but was badly defeated and lost much of its territory, especially Finland and Pomerania. The king was overthrown by the army, which in 1810 decided to bring in one of Napoleon's marshals, Bernadotte, as the heir apparent and army commander. He had a Jacobin background and was well-grounded in revolutionary principles, but put Sweden in the coalition that opposed Napoleon. Bernadotte served as a quite conservative king Charles XIV John of Sweden (1818–44).
The French Revolution fished widespread American support in its early phase, but when the king was executed it polarized American opinion and played a major role in shaping American politics.President George Washington declared neutrality in the European wars, but the polarization shaped the First Party System. In 1793, the first "Democratic societies" were formed. They supported the French Revolution in the wake of the execution of the king. The word "democrat" was proposed by French Ambassador Citizen Genet for the societies, which he was secretly subsidizing. The emerging Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton began to ridicule the supporters of Thomas Jefferson as "democrats". Genet now began mobilizing American voters using French money, for which he was expelled by President Washington.
After President Washington denounced the societies as unrepublican, they faded away. In 1793, as war broke out in Europe, the Jeffersonian Republican Party favored France and pointed to the 1778 treaty that was still in effect. Washington and his unanimous cabinet (including Jefferson) decided the treaty did not bind the U.S. to enter the war, since they stopped being in favor of the Revolution after they executed the King; instead Washington proclaimed neutrality.Under President Adams, a Federalist, an undeclared naval war took place with France in 1798–99, called the "Quasi War". Jefferson became president in 1801, but was hostile to Napoleon as a dictator and emperor. Nevertheless, he did seize the opportunity to purchase Louisiana in 1803.
The broad similarities but different experiences between the French and American revolutions lead to a certain kinship between France and the United States, with both countries seeing themselves as pioneers of liberty and promoting republican ideals.This bond manifested itself in such exchanges as the gift of the Statue of Liberty by France.
The call for modification of society was influenced by the revolution in France, and once the hope for change found a place in the hearts of the Haitian people, there was no stopping the radical reformation that was occurring.The Enlightenment ideals and the initiation of the French Revolution were enough to inspire the Haitian Revolution, which evolved into the most successful and comprehensive slave rebellion. Just as the French were successful in transforming their society, so were the Haitians. On April 4, 1792, The French National Assembly granted freedom to slaves in Haiti and the revolution culminated in 1804; Haiti was an independent nation solely of freed peoples. The activities of the revolutions sparked change across the world. France's transformation was most influential in Europe, and Haiti's influence spanned across every location that continued to practice slavery. John E. Baur honors Haiti as home of the most influential Revolution in history.
As early as 1810, the term "liberal" was coined in Spanish politics to indicate supporters of the French Revolution. This usage passed to Latin America and animated the independence movement against Spain. In the nineteenth century "Liberalism" was the dominant element in Latin American political thought. French liberal ideas were especially influential in Mexico, particularly as seen through the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, Benjamin Constant and Édouard René de Laboulaye. The Latin American political culture oscillated between two opposite poles: the traditional, as based on highly specific personal and family ties to kin groups, communities, and religious identity; and the modern, based on impersonal ideals of individualism, equality, legal rights, and secularism or anti-clericalism. The French Revolutionary model was the basis for the modern viewpoint, as explicated in Mexico in the writings of José María Luis Mora (1794–1850).
In Mexico, modern liberalism was best expressed in the Liberal Party, the Constitution of 1857, the policies of Benito Juárez, and finally by Francisco I. Madero's democratic movement leading to the Revolution of 1911.
The impact of the French Revolution on the Middle East came in terms of the political and military impact of Napoleon's invasion; and in the eventual influence of revolutionary and liberal ideas and revolutionary movements or rebellions. In terms of Napoleon's invasion in 1798, the response by Ottoman officials was highly negative. They warned that traditional religion would be overthrown. Long-standing Ottoman friendship with France ended. Sultan Selim III immediately realized how far behind his empire was, and started to modernize both his army and his governmental system. In Egypt itself, the ruling elite of Mamluks was permanently displaced, speeding the reforms. In intellectual terms, the immediate impact of the French Revolutionary ideas was nearly invisible, but there was a long-range influence on liberal ideas and the ideal of legal equality, as well as the notion of opposition to a tyrannical government. In this regard, the French Revolution brought such influential themes as constitutionalism, parliamentarianism, individual liberty, legal equality, and the sense of ethnic nationalism. These came to fruition about 1876.
The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution made a profound impression on the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.
The history of Europe covers the people inhabiting Europe from prehistory to the present. During the Neolithic era and the time of the Indo-European migrations Europe saw human inflows from east and southeast and subsequent important cultural and material exchange. The period known as classical antiquity began with the emergence of the city-states of ancient Greece. Later, the Roman Empire came to dominate the entire Mediterranean basin. The fall of the Roman Empire in AD 476 traditionally marks the start of the Middle Ages. Beginning in the 14th century a Renaissance of knowledge challenged traditional doctrines in science and theology. Simultaneously, the Protestant Reformation set up Protestant churches primarily in Germany, Scandinavia and England. After 1800, the Industrial Revolution brought prosperity to Britain and Western Europe. The main powers set up colonies in most of the Americas and Africa, and parts of Asia. In the 20th century, World War I and World War II resulted in massive numbers of deaths. The Cold War dominated European geo-politics from 1947 to 1989.
The first written records for the history of France appeared in the Iron Age. What is now France made up the bulk of the region known to the Romans as Gaul. Roman writers noted the presence of three main ethno-linguistic groups in the area: the Gauls, the Aquitani, and the Belgae. The Gauls, the largest and best attested group, were Celtic people speaking what is known as the Gaulish language.
The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).
The German Confederation was an association of 39 German-speaking states in Central Europe, created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries and to replace the former Holy Roman Empire, which had been dissolved in 1806. The German Confederation excluded German-speaking lands in the eastern portion of the Kingdom of Prussia, the German cantons of Switzerland, and the French region of Alsace, which was predominantly German speaking.
The Hundred Days War, also known as the War of the Seventh Coalition, marked the period between Napoleon's return from exile on the island of Elba to Paris on 20 March 1815 and the second restoration of King Louis XVIII on 8 July 1815. This period saw the War of the Seventh Coalition, and includes the Waterloo Campaign, the Neapolitan War as well as several other minor campaigns. The phrase les Cent Jours was first used by the prefect of Paris, Gaspard, comte de Chabrol, in his speech welcoming the king back to Paris on 8 July.
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.
The Concert of Europe represented the European balance of power in two phases, the first from 1815 to the early 1860s, and the second from the early 1880s to 1914.
The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.
The German revolutions of 1848–49, the opening phase of which was also called the March Revolution, were initially part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many European countries. They were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire. The revolutions, which stressed pan-Germanism, demonstrated popular discontent with the traditional, largely autocratic political structure of the thirty-nine independent states of the Confederation that inherited the German territory of the former Holy Roman Empire.
The War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802) was the second war on revolutionary France by most of the European monarchies, led by Britain, Austria and Russia, and including the Ottoman Empire, Portugal, Naples, various German monarchies and Sweden, though Prussia did not join this coalition and Spain supported France.
The Belgian Revolution was the conflict which led to the secession of the southern provinces from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the establishment of an independent Kingdom of Belgium.
The Atlantic Revolutions were a revolutionary wave in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It was associated with the Atlantic World during the era from the 1770s to the 1870s.
The Revolutions of 1830 were a revolutionary wave in Europe which took place in 1830. It included two "romantic nationalist" revolutions, the Belgian Revolution in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the July Revolution in France along with revolutions in Congress Poland, Italian states, Portugal and Switzerland. It was followed eighteen years later, by another and possibly even stronger wave of revolutions known as the Revolutions of 1848.
The Age of Revolution is the period from approximately 1774 to 1849 in which a number of significant revolutionary movements occurred in most of Europe and the Americas. The period is noted for the change from absolutist monarchies to representative governments with a written constitution, and the creation of nation states.
The Brabant Revolution or Brabantine Revolution, sometimes referred to as the Belgian Revolution of 1789–90 in older writing, was an armed insurrection that occurred in the Austrian Netherlands between October 1789 and December 1790. The revolution, which occurred at the same time as revolutions in France and Liège, led to the brief overthrow of Habsburg rule and the proclamation of a short-lived polity, the United Belgian States.
The Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, People's Spring, Springtime of the Peoples, or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It remains the most widespread revolutionary wave in European history.
The rise of nationalism in Europe initiated with the Spring of Nations in 1848. According to Leon- Baradat, nationalism calls on people to identify with the interests of their national group and to support the creation of a state – a nation-state – to support those interests. Nationalism was the ideological impetus that, in a few decades, transformed Europe. Rule by monarchies and foreign control of territory was replaced by self-determination and newly formed national governments. Some countries, such as Germany and Italy were formed by uniting various regional states with a common "national identity". Others, such as Greece, Serbia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, were formed by uprisings against the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire.
The history of Belgium from 1789 to 1914, the period dubbed the "long 19th century" by the historian Eric Hobsbawm, includes the end of Austrian rule and periods of French and Dutch occupation of the region, leading to the creation of the first independent Belgian state in 1830.
International relations from 1648–1814 covers the major interactions of the nations of Europe, as well as the other continents, with emphasis on diplomacy, warfare, migration, and cultural interactions, from the Peace of Westphalia to the Congress of Vienna. It is followed by International relations of the Great Powers (1814–1919).