Assess the French Revolution and how it led to the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
The French Revolution was a widespread socio-political movement that swept France during the late 18th century that altered not only the future of the Nation but of the entirety of Western Civilisation. The revolution established the concept of citizen sovereignty and rebelled against the archaic notion of monarchism in Europe. It ended the last vestiges of feudalism and spread the ideals of the enlightenment from which contemporary society owes it roots. One of the most significant and nuanced events in modern history, many brilliant minds were forged within the fires of the Revolution, none more influential and accomplished as Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte was a child of the revolution, a strategic genius and political revolutionary whose rise to prominence drastically altered the European landscape. Known as one of the greatest conquerors to walk the Earth, Napoleon forged his reputation on the battlefield. Although perhaps his greatest battle was fought not in the theatres of war but the political bedlam of the great French Revolution. During the revolution Napoleon not only participated in the anti-monarchist movement but utilised it as a stepping stone to seize power.
The French Revolution began in 1789 when economic and socio-political tension reached boiling point. The incompetent and pampered Monarch, King Louis XVI, had driven France to bankruptcy, and the newly emerging ideas from the Enlightenment imbedded the seed of dissidence within the French populace. Prior to the Revolution France was governed and exploited by the nobles and clergy. Fiscal policies were heavily biased in favour of the upper class and bureaucratic positions were awarded entirely to those of noble lineage. Symbolic of the time, it was an elitist society yet to completely emerge from the feudalistic structures that burdened Europe’s past. “There was too much of inequality in France on the eve of the Revolution. French society was divided in two, the privileged and the unprivileged. An impossible reconcile.” (Lloyd C. Blankfein, Professor of History; Harvard University- 1928) The social inequality and indignity of late 18th century France was profound, though it was not until the introduction of a heavily regressive taxation increase to meet Frances debt requirements did the revolution truly begin. Years of bad harvests intensified by the de-regulation of the grain industry had left France stricken with famine. When King Louis XVI levied the blatantly skewed taxation scheme, French commoners were virtually left to starve. Empowered by the recent success of the American Revolution and led by the libertarian beliefs of the bourgeoise intellectuals, a call for governmental reform began. “Little by little, the old world crumbled, and not once did the king imagine that some of the pieces might fall on him.” (Jennifer Donnelly, Historical narrator-2014) The despotic and ignor...