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French Revolution Good or Bad watch

  • View Poll Results: What the French Revolution a positive or negative development?
    Positive
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    68.75%
    Negative
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    25.00%
    Neither
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    6.25%

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    Was the French Revolution of 1789- 1799 overall a negative development (with factors such as the large death toll ) or a positive development (established the move towards human rights)

    Personally I don't think the Revolution itself was particularly effective in the short and medium run judging by its aims (as the Monarchy were restored in 1814) however in the long run there was ramifications such as the fact that it set down the path for human rights (at an embryonic stage though).
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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUrEJBsWLfA

    I think this is a quite good documentary, although it does perhaps misrepresent Robespierre.
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    A bloodbath to move from one form of dictatorship to another.
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    (Original post by wildrover)
    A bloodbath to move from one form of dictatorship to another.
    Perhaps, however it did not start out as a bloodbath and I think some such as Robespierre have been unfairly demonised. Nonetheless I see your point, perhaps it was the nature of the revolution as we must remember it was not really planned by the workers but very much another form of ruling class. The problems it faced were ones I believe all revolutions face and a nice juxtaposition can be made between the French and Russian revolutions.
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    Just about everything that happened in the French Revolution was awful and terrible - from the Reign of Terror, to the war in the Vendee, to French aggression against the rest of Europe. Ultimately however the backlash made possible the more liberal regime of Napoleon, and of similar regimes in France and elsewhere later in the century, so in hindsight I think we can consider it a good thing overall that the French Revolution did happen.
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    The ideas it produced and spread are the foundations of almost everything I value.

    And Napoleon was badass.
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    (Original post by Arbolus)
    Just about everything that happened in the French Revolution was awful and terrible - from the Reign of Terror, to the war in the Vendee, to French aggression against the rest of Europe. Ultimately however the backlash made possible the more liberal regime of Napoleon, and of similar regimes in France and elsewhere later in the century, so in hindsight I think we can consider it a good thing overall that the French Revolution did happen.
    You might be in danger of seeing Napoleon with sentimentality, he did for instance reinstate slavery in 1802 after it had previously been banned under the Revolutionary government in 1794, so it might not be wise to call Napoleon necessarily "liberal". However I agree it had to happen really, the Monarchy was intransigent. I mean you can't expect people to work on the roads for free and have no backlash. I think the great thing about the French Revolution was it established the road towards human rights which can only be positive.
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    (Original post by Jacob :))
    The ideas it produced and spread are the foundations of almost everything I value.

    And Napoleon was badass.
    I agree with you over the first statement. As for Napoleon he was a good commander but not on the scale of say John Churchill, Frederick the Great and Oliver Cromwell.
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    There are quite different aspects which I have to consider to give an answer. From historic aspect, I would say that the French Revolution was a good thing, as it caused changes in society and initiated the thought of democracy in whole Europe. From this perspective the French Revolution was an important contribution in terms of development of democracy. But if I consider what a form of government came into being after that, namely a terrible dictatorship (well-known as 'la grande terreur'), so I would say the French Revolution was a bad thing.
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    (Original post by Kallisto)
    There are quite different aspects which I have to consider to give an answer. From historic aspect, I would say that the French Revolution was a good thing, as it caused changes in society and initiated the thought of democracy in the whole world. From this perspective the French Revolution was an important contribution in terms of development of democracy. But if I consider what a form of government came into being after that, namely a terrible dictatorship (well-known as 'la grande terreur'), so I would say the French Revolution was a bad thing.
    That's a very good point. The French Revolution was important and the role of the Monarchy has often been sentimentalised. For instance it is well known that Marie Antoinette did not proclaim "let them eat cake". However she was guilty of ignoring their problems and so like her husband could expect to die when facing severely malnourished peasants as they became a figurehead for inequality. I agree that the Dictatorship the Revolution established was no more democratic than the one it replaced. Overall perhaps it was negative in the short term but had important long term effects.
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    (Original post by Rational Thinker)
    I agree with you over the first statement. As for Napoleon he was a good commander but not on the scale of say John Churchill, Frederick the Great and Oliver Cromwell.
    I don't know he was pretty fantastic. It was only his over ambition that led to his defeat. Plus the fact Napoleon was a consummate politician, lawmaker and governor as well as a top general makes him amazing.

    Austerlitz was amazing, so was Ulm. His leadership in Italy, especially considering the state of the army to he took over, was awesome.

    I don't think the effect he had on his troop's morals can be compared to any other general.

    Not that Marlborough and the others weren't great though.
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    (Original post by Jacob :))
    I don't know he was pretty fantastic. It was only his over ambition that led to his defeat. Plus the fact Napoleon was a consummate politician, lawmaker and governor as well as a top general makes him amazing.

    Austerlitz was amazing, so was Ulm. His leadership in Italy, especially considering the state of the army to he took over, was awesome.

    I don't think the effect he had on his troop's morals can be compared to any other general.

    Not that Marlborough and the others weren't great though.
    He made considerable mistakes, he sold Louisiana at the low price of $16,000,000 which by limiting French territory thus limited French influence. Napoleon further got involved in a guerrilla war against Toussaint L'Ouverture and wars such as these are incredibly costly haemorrhaging money. His initial defeat of Prussia only made it more determined and it eventually played a considerable role in his defeat. Prussia then went on to have one of the greatest armies ever and caused France trouble years after his death, such as in 1870 for example. However, his biggest failure is the invasion of Russia at a premature time leading to massive loses. I wonder what must troop moral be like when you know that while you're suffering hypothermia and having to fight of Cossacks, your leader is in a fur lined sledge with supplies aplenty, not really mucking in. However you make some good points and Napoleon must not be completely condemned he took France away from the rampart violence of the revolution and did have some successes. Although he did reinstitute slavery in 1802 which is reprehensible from a modern viewpoint.
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    (Original post by Rational Thinker)
    He made considerable mistakes, he sold Louisiana at the low price of $16,000,000 which by limiting French territory thus limited French influence. Napoleon further got involved in a guerrilla war against Toussaint L'Ouverture and wars such as these are incredibly costly haemorrhaging money. His initial defeat of Prussia only made it more determined and it eventually played a considerable role in his defeat. Prussia then went on to have one of the greatest armies ever and caused France trouble years after his death, such as in 1870 for example. However, his biggest failure is the invasion of Russia at a premature time leading to massive loses. I wonder what must troop moral be like when you know that while you're suffering hypothermia and having to fight of Cossacks your leader is in a fur lined sledge with supplies aplenty, not really mucking in. However you make some good points and Napoleon must not be completely condemned he took France away from the rampart violence of the revolution and did have some successes.
    To be fair he managed to conquer almost all of Europe. He was bound to make some mistakes. His accomplishments dwarf everyone since Augustus. It took the efforts of every power in Europe to put him down and even then he came back!

    Regardless of his mistakes he was certainly astounding. Shame about Russia.
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    (Original post by Rational Thinker)
    (...) Overall perhaps it was negative in the short term but had important long term effects.
    Nevertheless it lasted a long time until democratic governments came into being in whole Europe. Germany for instance needed more than a century when the first democratic government, Weimar Republic, was founded, although there were a lot demonstrations which were striking for human rights and the abolition of monarchy.
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    (Original post by Rational Thinker)
    You might be in danger of seeing Napoleon with sentimentality, he did for instance reinstate slavery in 1802 after it had previously been banned under the Revolutionary government in 1794, so it might not be wise to call Napoleon necessarily "liberal". However I agree it had to happen really, the Monarchy was intransigent. I mean you can't expect people to work on the roads for free and have no backlash. I think the great thing about the French Revolution was it established the road towards human rights which can only be positive.
    People suffered under the Ancien Régime and took steps to overthrow the monarchy, and then discovered that the Convention and Directorate of the First Republic were just as bad. It's the reactionary sentiment which brought Napoleon to power as a partial compromise, and while his regime was by no means up to the standards of any modern Western country it proved to be far better than any of its predecessors.
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    One of the greatest if not the greatest event in recent human history. It showed what ordinary people can do when they put their mind to it, and it opened the floodgates of rebellion all over the world. And these huge social upheavals are often violent, yes. The Terror, however, was the result of the Jacobins trying to stop the revolution going further. Unfortunately, unlike all of the previous attempts by others, they succeeded in their aims.
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    (Original post by Jacob :))
    To be fair he managed to conquer almost all of Europe. He was bound to make some mistakes. His accomplishments dwarf everyone since Augustus. It took the efforts of every power in Europe to put him down and even then he came back!

    Regardless of his mistakes he was certainly astounding. Shame about Russia.
    Being able to conquer almost all of Europe is an achievement that can be attributed to many dictators some of them particularly unpleasant. As for accomplishments dwarfing everyone since Augustus. Others it could be argued had greater achievements, for instance Frederick the Great was a better military leader. Even Napoleon would have admitted it and referred to Frederick's Battle of Leuthen as a "masterpiece". Whereas it eventually became painfully obvious that the French army was a "paper tiger". Frederick's administrative achievements were also more impressive it could be argued whereas Napoleon reinstated slavery, Frederick banned torture and oversaw the construction of alms-houses as well as allowed canal and road building. Compare their legacy, Napoleon tried to take Europe and overextended himself, he was responsible for unnecessary causalities, Frederick by contrast built one of the greatest armies ever witnessed, probably the best since Cromwell's New model army . I won't deny that Napoleon had some successes but Frederick's impact was ultimately far greater.
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    (Original post by Rational Thinker)
    Being able to conquer almost all of Europe is an achievement that can be attributed to many dictators so of them particularly unpleasant. As for accomplishments dwarfing everyone since Augustus. Others it could be argued had greater achievements, for instance Frederick the Great was a better military leader. Even Napoleon would have admitted it and referred to Frederick's Battle of Leuthen as a "masterpiece". Whereas it eventually became painfully obvious that the French army was a "paper tiger". Frederick's administrative achievements were also more impressive it could be argued whereas Napoleon reinstated slavery, Frederick banned torture and oversaw the construction of alms-houses as well as allowed canal and road building. Compare their legacy Napoleon tried to take Europe and overextended himself, he was responsible for unnecessary causalities, Frederick by contrast built one of the greatest armies ever witnessed, probably the best since Cromwell's New model army . I won't deny that Napoleon had some successes but Frederick's impact was ultimately far greater.
    I'm sure the Napoleonic Code had as much influence as all Fred's work put together. It's still the basis of law in most European countries.
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    (Original post by Arbolus)
    People suffered under the Ancien Régime and took steps to overthrow the monarchy, and then discovered that the Convention and Directorate of the First Republic were just as bad. It's the reactionary sentiment which brought Napoleon to power as a partial compromise, and while his regime was by no means up to the standards of any modern Western country it proved to be far better than any of its predecessors.
    I do not deny that the Ancien Régime was undemocratic. As the First republic was not perfect however it outlawed the slavery which Napoleon later reinstated. Napoleon has been sentimentalised when in fact he left the country in a poor state. This eventually meant the restoration of the Monarchy in 1814. Yes compared to his predecessors he was good but compared to them anyone would look positive. Napoleon was neither a particularly good administrator and wasted money on pointless adventures. He was also an overrated general nowhere near as good as Frederick the Great, Napoleon himself would admit it.
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    (Original post by Jacob :))
    I'm sure the Napoleonic Code had as much influence as all Fred's work put together. It's still the basis of law in most European countries.
    Well slavery is not the basis of law In many European countries is it? No Frederick the Great left Prussia in a very good state, Napoleon did not do the same with France. Frederick the Great was so enlightened he received Voltaire's "stamp of approval", allowing greater press freedom. Frederick the Great was a general who could easily win battles as he revealed in his famous victory over Austria. However, he wanted to leave more than just the legacy of war that Napoleon would later bequeath to France.
 
 
 

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