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I'm trying to improve my essay writing skills (key word: trying) by, uh, writing essays. Since I studied the French Revolution this year, the topic was rather interesting: compare this 4 stage model of a revolution--a "classic revolution"--to the French Revolution. Here's the essay, if you're interested.

Also, holy cow, it's summer. It's so warm, and the little grey fleas are jumping all over the lawn, the roses are blooming, and the unripe strawberries are--as of yet--uneaten by the rabbits. I don't think we're going to get them, though. The rabbits always see them first.

Third of all: the brigits_flame prompt, symbiosis, only brings up memories of biology class. Mullerian and Batesian mimicry, mutualism/commensalism/parasitism/predation. And it's due on Saturday.

Essay. Length: approx 700 words.


One model of a political revolution follows a four-stage pattern: a financial crisis prompts the change, attempts are made to initiate change in the original system, the changes instead bring about a new system, and then a stable period consolidates the changes made by the revolution. This is a very imperfect model when compared to the revolution; major differences lie between the model and actual events.

            The first stage, a financial crisis prompting the change, fits the French Revolution partially. The long-term build-up was certainly financial: the price of the Seven Years’ War was laid on the poorest population and the spending was profligate. The tax system was old and unable to handle the massive debt, while the tax exemption for the nobility and clergy seemed unfair to the growing bourgeoisie. However, the weak leadership of LouisXVI, his unpopular and flighty Austrian wife Marie



, and a famine followed by a cold winter contributed heavily to discontent. Moreover, the ideals of the Enlightenment made divine right to rule unappealing.  





The spark for the first act of the revolution, the Tennis Court Oath, was not from financial causes. The Estates-General had been called by the king, who wanted to raise taxes. However, the Third Estate—the bourgeoisie, the poor, the working-class—the Second Estate—the nobility—and the First Estate—the clergy—had equal representation. The Second Estate and First Estate could and did team up to overpower the Third Estate’s vote, despite the percentage of the population each estate represented: 97% in the Third Estate, 2% in the Second Estate, and 1% in the First Estate. After protesting the unfair distribution of votes, the Third Estate delegates found that the door to the Estates-General had been barred; furious, they met instead on an empty tennis court and swore that they would write a constitution for France before leaving.

            The second stage of this model describes the attempts to change the prevailing system. This fits very well for the French Revolution. The moderates—in real terms, the liberals—advocated for slow change through legal channels. They were the Girondists, and they were for a constitutional monarchy. They were matched against the Jacobins, who wanted radical change, and quickly. This was the National Convention, where the Girondists controlled much of the legislature.

            The third stage, the changes bringing about an entirely new system, is only superficially applicable to the French Revolution. The Girondists were unable to satisfy the first pledged aims of the revolution and the anger from the beginning of the revolution had not subsided. Food was still scarce and riots were still occurring. The Jacobins, led by the powerful orator Maximilien Robespierre, succeeded the Girondists by promising swift change, radical change. The war with the other European countries, namely Austria, who was advancing through France towards Paris, provided Robespierre the excuse to execute any “counter revolutionaries”. In addition to this, however, Robespierre also fixed the price of bread, a staple food, to prevent the prices rising again and declared France to be a republic. LouisXVI was stripped of his title and executed, and MarieAntoinette soon followed. In the meantime, the peasants in the provinces were rioting, often burning the chateaux and churches. The Jacobins remade the calendar to remove the Roman Catholic Church, declaring that a week was ten days, and changing the names of the months—meaning that the Sundays and the holy days were now difficult to find.

            The fourth stage, where a peaceful period consolidates the change made by the revolution, is partially true. Napoleon implemented changes of his own, as well as solidifying certain “gains” of the revolution: he made the Napoleonic code, specifying that merit should be rewarded, not birth, and reorganized the legal system into a single code, instead of many conflicting laws. However, as he made his own changes and consolidated the revolution’s changes, he was also at war for almost the whole time. For the French people at home, though, it was mainly peaceful. The constant wars with Austria, Prussia, Great Britain, Russia, and other European powers is in conflict with the statement about peace.

            The four stage model for the French Revolution is very imperfect and often fits only superficially. This model does not fit the French Revolution, but should also be examined in the context of other revolutions.

If you find factual errors, wildly gross generalizations, or any other advice/criticism/things you want to tell me, feel free to do so. If you make it through. :)




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