25 Mar 2022


Modern Patterns in World History

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Causes and Results of the French Revolution


Contemporary histology has narrowed down the main causes of the French Revolution to include indecisive handling of myriad calamities by the King Louis VI which exacerbated an already poor reputation on his part. As an absolute monarch, a position created by Louis the Great, much was expected of Louis VI but unfortunately, he did not meet the expectations. The popular dislike for his Austrian wife Queen Marie Antoinette and her delay to deliver an heir made it worse (Popkin, 2014). 

Secondly, the food shortage in France caused by famine and the overbearing debts emanating from the American Revolutionary War and kindred fights with the Royal Navy of Britain became a big problem to the nation. This shortage was made worse by the detachment of the Royal family which moved from Paris to the palace in Versailles (Popkin, 2014). Finally, there was a lot of enlightenment in Europe in general and specifically France with the advent of media freedom. The politicization of Freemasonry is also said to have made a significant contribution (Popkin, 2014). It is, therefore, the totality of all these that triggered the revolution.

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Short term local results

The immediate results were an empowered populace who could determine their destiny. The storming of the Bastille and the return of the King to the palace were all evidences of a populace in charge. The second immediate impact was the Declaration of Man, which for the first time in history considered all men equal including slaves and women as well as the recognition of same sex unions (Popkin, 2014). However, there then arose the Jacobins led by fiery lawyer Maximilien Robespierre and the revolution turned murderous. The King and Queen and many of the nobles were killed. This killing spree only ended with the killing of its architect Maximilien Robespierre (Popkin, 2014). 

International impact 

The initial international result was Total War which transformed the entire French kingdom turned empire, into a singular war machine led by Napoleon Bonaparte. From Italy through Germany to Russia, Napoleon caused great carnage, creating both kingdoms and kings in his wake. This continued until he was checked through the scotched earth policy and extreme cold in Russia and he retreated. The long term effect was the creation of the concept of freedom, civil rights and the republic. Almost all free societies whether communist, socialist or capitalist today owe the concept of freedom to the French Revolution (Popkin, 2014).

The Development of Socialism

Traditional Socialism

The start of the proletariat is indirectly associated with French Revolution. French revolution brought about capitalism and democracy as recipes for socialism. Socialism refers to a variety of political, economic and/or social systems whose fundamental prerequisite is the social ownership and communal control of the economic systems and instruments. Under socialism, all the wealth and means of production belong to the entire society singularly and severally, either directly or through equity. Communism can be traced back to the days of Plato, Aristotle and Mazdak (Von Mises, 2015). 

There were two forms of socialism; common wealth and common good form of socialism referred to as Persian socialism, and the Islamic socialism, credited to Prophet Muhammad’s friend Abū Dharr al-Ghifārī. The term socialism and its current concept were however, developed by the French count Claude Henri de Rouvroy. His ideology was a society where everyone was considered according to their individual talent and capabilities. 

The Paris Communal

It is also in France that the initial absolutely socialist society was found, termed as the Paris Commune in March 1871 in the uncertain times following the loss of the Prussian War. The fundamental characteristic of socialism was the control of economic systems by a representative body of the people. Unfortunately, the Paris Commune did not last long enough to be of major impact but the seed had been sown (Von Mises, 2015).

Communism and Social Democracy 

After the French revolution, communism came up under the inspiration of the writings of Karl Marx who saw socialism as an opposing force to capitalism. This concept was then developed into communism and became a means of achieving socialism through a brief period of acute dictatorship. Social democracy pursued socialism through democratic means after the fashion of the Paris Commune (Von Mises, 2015). Communism thrived briefly then failed catastrophically in all the places that it was attempted including the USSR. Social democracy has continued to thrive to date and is credited for some of the best societies in the world including the Nordic Republics of Northern Europe. Similarly, social democratic parties including in the United States continue to flourish the world (Von Mises, 2015).

Three consequences of Industrialization in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Social Consequences to the Family

With the advent of industrialization, families moved to smaller apartments near the industries and basic amenities became expensive. This changed the definition of family from the extended setting to a mother, a father and the children. With only two adults in the house, one was compelled to take care of the children while the other worked. This was the start of working fathers and stay home mums (Collingwood, 1993). Whereas the lower wages of the 19th century forced the women to combine working and taking care of the children, that changed in the 20th century with higher wages and women were mostly relegated to the home as men worked (Collingwood, 1993). 

Economic Consequences

From a microeconomic perspective, industrialization created an economic boom with massive wealth creation. From a macroeconomic perspective however, industrialization is credited with creating massive inequalities in individual wealth creation resulting in the creation of social classes from the working poor through the working middle class and the high income society who made the most wealth (Collingwood, 1993). These classes were in a pyramid system with the working poor forming the majority of the society with a considerably smaller middle class and very few in the high income class. 

Cultural Consequences on Entertainment

Initially, cultural entertainment was generally based on seasons, it was also communal and mostly free of charge except for the roaming circus and shows. People would meet to celebrate occasions such as Christmas, Easter and May Day with great pomp. Industrialization which brought about the advent of town life changed all these. First, there were the new time-controlled busy schedules coupled with the crumpled towns with no room for pleasure. The church and the social leadership all preached against leisure and implored people to work (Collingwood, 1993). This completely exterminated the old cultural entertainment. In the 20th century however, entertainment became an industry by itself with the advent of social clubs, bars, discotheques and shows (Collingwood, 1993). The cultural aspect of entertainment was replaced with a completely commercial entertainment industry.


Collingwood, R. G. (1993).  Idea of history: Social impact of industrial revolution. Retrieved from <http://idea-of-history.blogspot.co.ke/2012/12/social-impact-of-industrial-revolution.html/> 

Popkin, J. D. (2014).  A short history of the French Revolution . New York: Pearson Higher Education publishers. 

Von Mises, L. (2015).  Socialism: An economic and sociological analysis . New Haven: Yale University press.

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Modern Patterns in World History.


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