Effects of the Revolution
The French Revolution, though it seemed a failure in 1799 and appeared nullified by 1815, had far-reaching results. In France the bourgeois and landowning classes emerged as the dominant power. Feudalism was dead; social order and contractual relations were consolidated by the Code Napoléon. The Revolution unified France and enhanced the power of the national state. The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars tore down the ancient structure of Europe, hastened the advent of nationalism, and inaugurated the era of modern, total warfare.
Although some historians view the Reign of Terror as an ominous precursor of modern totalitarianism, others argue that this ignores the vital role the Revolution played in establishing the precedents of such democratic institutions as elections, representative government, and constitutions. The failed attempts of the urban lower middle classes to secure economic and political gains foreshadowed the class conflicts of the 19th cent. While major historical interpretations of the French Revolution differ greatly, nearly all agree that it had an extraordinary influence on the making of the modern world.
Sections in this article:
- Origins of the Revolution
- The Estates-General and the National Assembly
- The Revolution of 1789
- Factionalism and War
- The Revolution of 1792
- The Republic
- The Reign of Terror
- The Directory and the Coming of Napoleon
- Effects of the Revolution
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: French History