Q.1. What was the subsistence crisis? Why did it occur in France during the Old Regime?
Ans. The population of France was on the rise. It rose from 23 million in 1715 to 28 million in 1789.
Fig: Subsistence crisisThis led to increase in the demand for food grains. The production of food grains could not keep pace with the demand and the price of bread which was the staple diet of the majority rose rapidly. The wages also did not keep pace with the rise in prices. The gap between the rich and the poor widened. This led to the subsistence crisis.
Q.2. What was the system of voting in the Estates General? What change did the Third Estate want in this system?
Ans. Voting in the Estates General in the past had been conducted according to the principle that each estate had one vote. Members of the Third Estate demanded that voting must now be conducted by the assembly as a whole, where each member would have one vote.
This was according to the democratic principles put forward by philosophers like Rousseau in his book, The Social Contract.
Q.3. Describe the incidents that led to the storming of the Bastille.
Ans. While the National Assembly was busy at Versailles drafting a constitution, the rest of France was seething with turmoil. A severe winter had meant a bad harvest, the price of bread rose. Often bakers exploited the situation and hoarded supplies.
After spending hours in long queues at the bakery, crowds of angry women stormed into the shops. At the same time, the king ordered troops to move into Paris. On 14 July, the agitated crowd stormed and destroyed Bastille.
Q.4. Describe how the new political system of constitutional monarchy worked in France.
The Constitution of 1791
The constitution of 1791 vested the power to make laws in the National Assembly, which was indirectly elected. That is, citizens voted for a group of electors, who in turn chose the Assembly.
Not all citizens, however, had the right to vote. Only men above 25 years of age who paid taxes equal to at least 3 days of a labourer’s wage were given the status of active citizens, that is, they were entitled to vote.
The remaining men and all women were classed as passive citizens. To qualify as an elector and then as a member of the Assembly, a man had to belong to the highest bracket of taxpayers.
Q.5. What were ‘natural and inalienable rights’?
Ans. The constitution began with a Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizens. Rights such as the right to life, freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, equality before law were established as ‘natural and inalienable rights’, i.e., they belonged to each human being by birth and could not be taken away. It was the duty of the state to protect each citizen’s
Q.6. Why did slavery begin and why was it abolished in French colonies?
Ans. Fig. Abolition of slaveryThe slave trade began in the 17th century. The colonies in the Caribbean- Martinique, Guadeloupe and San Domingo- were important suppliers of commodities such as tobacco, indigo, sugar and coffee. But the reluctance of Europeans to go and work in distant and unfamiliar lands meant a shortage of labour on the plantations. So this was met by a triangular slave trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas. Throughout the eighteenth century there was little criticism of slavery in France.
The National Assembly did not pass any laws, fearing opposition from businessmen whose incomes depended on the slave trade. It was the Convention which in 1794 legislated to free all slaves in the French overseas possessions. This, however, turned out to be a short-term measure.
Ten years later, Napoleon reintroduced slavery. Plantation owners understood their freedom as including the right to enslave African Negroes in pursuit of their economic interests. Slavery was finally abolished in French colonies in 1848.
Q.7. Explain what is a revolution. In what way did the French Revolution mean different things to different people?
Ans. It is an attempt by a large number of people to change the government of a country, especially by violent action. The Third Estate comprising the common men benefited from the Revolution. The clergy and nobility had to relinquish power. Their land was confiscated.
Their privileges were finished. The people of lower middle class also benefited. Position of artisans and workers improved. Clergy, feudal lords, nobles and even women were disappointed. The revolution did not bring real equality as everyone was not given the right to vote meaning women who got it finally in 1946.
Q.8. What was the importance of the Declaration of the Rights of Man?
Ans. The document ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man hit the prevailing European system which was based on privileges. It declared faith in equality, liberty and fraternity. It was a remarkable declaration and is regarded as ‘‘gospel of modern time’’.
Q.9. Discuss the role of women in the French Revolution.
Ans. Women were active participants in the events related with the French Revolution of 1789. Most women of the Third Estate had to work for a living as seamstresses, flower-sellers, vegetable and fruit sellers. They led a hard life, and were paid lower wages. So to discuss and voice their interests they began their own newspapers and political clubs. They put forward their political and economic demands.
Q.10. Who were the people who comprised the Third Estate? Who paid the taxes and to whom?
Ans. The people who comprised the Third Estate were big businessmen, merchants, lawyers, peasants, artisans, small peasants, landless labour and servants. These were 95 percent of the population. They had to pay taxes to the state. Taxes included taille, tithes and a number of indirect taxes. Fig. Third Estate
Q.11. Who formed the National Assembly? On what date is ‘Bastille Day’ celebrated and why?
Ans. The representatives of the Third Estate assembled at Versailles on 20 June and declared themselves a National Assembly and swore not to disperse till they had drafted a constitution for France. The Bastille Day is celebrated on 14th July every year because on this day the unruly Paris mob stormed and attacked the prison of Bastille which was considered a symbol of terror and despotism.
Q.12. Name three famous writers and philosophers who influenced the French Revolution. What were their ideas?
Ans. Jean Jacques Rousseau - A French Swiss philosopher. His main idea was - man is naturally good and that society of civilisation makes man anxious and unhappy.
Mirabeau-He brought about a journal and delivered powerful speeches to the crowds at Versailles.
Voltaire - A famous French writer. He exposed the evils prevailing in the Church and administration.
Q.13. Who were the sans culottes? Who were able to control them in the end
Ans. A large among the Jacobins decided to start wearing long striped trousers similar to those worn by dock workers. To set themselves apart from the fashionable sections of the society, especially nobles, who wore knee breeches.
It was a way of proclaiming the end of the power wielded by wearers of knee breeches. These Jacobins came to be known as the sans culottes, literally meaning ‘those without knee breeches’. After the fall of Jacobins, power was seized by the wealthier middle class. Fig. Sans Culottes
Q.14. Which single event turned the revolution into a Reign of Terror? Describe the role of Robespierre in it.
Ans. The period from 1793 to 1794 is referred to as the ‘‘Reign of Terror’’. Robespierre followed a policy of severe control and punishment. All these he saw as enemies of the republic.
Examples: Nobles, clergymen and other party members, with whom he did not agree were arrested, imprisoned, tried and guillotined if found guilty. He pursued his policies relentlessly that even his supporters began to demand moderation.
Q.15. Describe the role of the Bourbon kings in the French Revolution.
Ans. The Bourbon kings maintained an extravagant court. They lived and spent lavishly. The many wars and their lavish style of living had drained the financial resources of France. The treasury was empty. France was under a debt of more than 2 billion livres.
To meet expenses the state under Louis XVI, who was only 20 years of age when he ascended, increased taxes. There was a steep rise in prices, extreme shortage of food, low wages, the gap between the rich and the poor widened. All this finally led to the French Revolution.
Q.16. How was French Society organised? What privileges did certain sections of society enjoy?
How far was the French society responsible for the drastic changes brought about by the revolution?
Ans. French society in the eighteenth century was divided into three Estates-two privileged estates, i.e. the clergy and the nobility, and the Third Estate comprising businessmen, traders, lawyers, peasants, workers, poor people. Out of these, only the members of the Third Estate paid taxes.
The maximum burden of taxes was borne by the common people, which gave rise to the ‘subsistence crisis’. The growth of an enlightened, educated middle class plus the role of philosophers like Locke and Rousseau, together brought about the changes caused by the revolution.
Q.17. Write the importance of Napolean Bonaparte in the History of France and the world.
Ans. Napoleon saw himself as a moderniser of Europe. He introduced many laws such as protection of private properly and uniform system of weights and measures provided by the decimal system. He carried out the revolutionary ideas of liberty and modern laws to other parts of Europe which he conquered. They had a great impact on people. He was a great general too.
Q.18. How did Robespierre propose to bring about equality in the French society?
Ans. Fig. Maximilien RobespierreRobespierre followed a policy of severe control and punishment to bring about equality in the French society. He put a maximum ceiling on wages and prices. Meat and bread were rationed. Peasants were forced to transport their gain to the cities and sell it at prices fixed by the government. The use of expensive white flour was prohibited.
All citizens were required to eat the equality bread made of whole wheat. Equality was also practised through forms of speech and address. All French men and women were called Citoyen and Citoyenne respectively (citizen). Churches were shut down and converted into barracks or offices (the church buildings).
Q.19. What was the Estates General? Which demand of the Third Estate did Louis XVI reject?
Ans. The Estates General was the division of French society in the 18th century into three estates. The numbers of the first two estates were the (i) Clergy and (ii) Nobility respectively. The Third estate comprised big businessmen, merchants, court officials, lawyers, peasants and artisans and small peasants, landless, labour, servants only the members of the Third Estate paid taxes.
The members of the first two estates enjoyed privileges because of birth. The nobility had feudal privileges too. The Third Estate demanded that voting in the assembly should be conducted as a whole and each member should have one vote. This was rejected by King Louis XVI.
Q.20. What are the three important ideas of the French Revolution? How were they guaranteed under the constitution of 1791?
Ans. Main idea of the French revolutionaries was to limit the powers of the monarch. These powers were not to remain concentrated in the hands of one person but now separated and assigned to different institutions- legislature, executive and judiciary. France was to become a constitutional monarchy. The feudal system of obligation and laws were to be abolished.
The constitution of 1791 vested power in the legends of the National Assembly. Citizens voted for a group of electors, who in turn choose the assembly. All citizens did not give the right to vote, only men above 25 years of age who paid taxes (equal to at least 3 days of a labourer's wage) were entitled to vote. Rest of the men and women were passive citizens.
The constitution passed the right of man and citizen and the following rights were established as 'natural and unalienable' rights :
(i) Right to life,
(ii) Freedom of speech,
(iii) Freedom of opinion,
(iv) Equality before law
Rights were given by birth and could not be taken away. The duty of the state was to protect each citizen's natural rights.
Q.21. What were the causes for the empty treasure of France under Louis XIV? Assess any three causes.
(i) Long years of war had drained the financial resources of France. Under Louis XIV, France helped the thirteen American colonies to gain their independence from the common enemy, British. The war added more than a billion lives to a debt that had already risen to more than 2 billion lives.
(ii) Lenders who gave the state credit begun to change 10 per cent interests on loans. So the French government was obliged to spend on increasing percentage of its budget on interest payments alone.
(iii) The cost of maintaining army, the court, government officials and universities was very high.
Q.22. What is the significance of ‘The Tennis Court Oath’ in the French Revolution?
Ans. Fig. Tennis Court oathThe representatives of the Third Estate viewed themselves as spokesmen for the whole French nation. On 20th June, 1789, they assembled in the hall of on indoor tennis court in the grommets of versailles. They declared themselves a national assembly and score not the disperse till they had drafted a constitution for France that would limit the powers of the monarch. They were led by Mirabeau and Abbe Sieyes.
Q.23. Write three main features of the French constitution of 1791.
(i) The National Assembly completed the draft of the constitution in 1791. Its main objective was to limit the powers of the monarch.
(ii) The power to make laws was vested in the National Assembly. Citizens voted for a group of electors, who in turn chose the assembly.
(iii) Rights like the right to life, freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, equality before law were established as 'natural and inalienable' rights. It as the duty of the state to protect each citizen’s natural rights.
Q.24. ‘‘The inequality that existed in the French society in the Old Regime became the cause of French Revolution.’’ Justify the statement by giving three suitable examples.
(i) Peasants constituted about 90 per cent of the population but about 60 per cent of the land was owned by nobles, the church and richer members of the Third Estate.
(ii) The members of the First Estate and the Second Estate, that is the clergy and the nobility, enjoyed certain privileges by birth. The most important of these was exemption from paying taxes to the state.
The nobles further enjoyed feudal privileges. These included feudal dues, which they extracted from the peasants, peasants were obliged to render services to the lord–to work in his house and fields, to serve in the army or to participate in building roads.
(iii) The burden of financing activities of the state through taxes was borne by the Third Estate alone. Taxes included tithes collected by the church from the peasants and taille, a direct tax, and a number of indirect taxes which were levied on activities of everyday consumption like salt and tobacco.
Thus the members of the Third Estate groaned under heavy taxation with no privileges whatever. This led to a deep sense of resentment among the members of the Third Estate who galvanised and led the revolution.
Q.25. Why did King Louis XIV conclude to increase taxes? Assess any three points.
(i) Upon his accession, Louis XIV found the treasury empty. Long years of war had drained the financial resources of France. France had helped the thirteen American colonies to gain their independence. Total debt rose to more than 2 billion livres. Lenders began to charge 10 per cent or more as interest.
(ii) Added to this financial burden was the huge cost of maintaining an extravagant court at the immerse of Versailles.
(iii) The French government was obliged to spend an increasing percentage of its budget on interest payments alone. To meet its regular expenses, such as the cost of maintaining an army, the court, running government offices or universities, the state was forced to increase taxes.
Q.26. Explain the condition which led to the rise of Jacobins.
(i) The revolutionary wars brought losses and economic difficulties to the people. Huge sections of the population were convinced that the revolution had to be carried further, as the constitution of 1791 gave political rights only to the richer sections of society.
(ii) Political clubs became an important rallying point for people who wished to discuss government policies and plan their own forms of action. The most successful of these clubs was that of the Jacobins which got its name from the former convent of St. Jacob in Paris
(iii) In the summer of 1792, the Jacobins planned an insurrection of a large number of Parisians who were angered by the short supplies and high prices of food. On August 10, they stormed the palace of the Tuileries, massacred the king's guards and held the king himself hostage for several hours. Later the Assembly voted to imprison the royal family. The Jacobin regime from 1793 to 1794 is referred to as the Reign of Terror.
Q.27. What was the contribution of Mirabeau and Abbe Sieyes to the French Revolution?
Ans. On 20 June, 1789, the representatives of the Third Estate had assembled in the hall of an indoor tennis court in the grounds of Versailles. They declared themselves a National Assembly and did not disperse till they had drafted a constitution for France. They were led by Mirabeau and Abbe Sieyes.
Himself from a noble family, Mirabeau was convinced of the need to do away with a society of feudal privileges. He brought out a journal and delivered powerful speeches to the crowds assembled at Versailles. Abbe Sieyes, originally a priest, wrote an influential pamphlet called 'What is the Third Estate'?
Q.28. How was the Church responsible for the French Revolution? Mention three points.
(i) The members of the church, clergy belonged to the First Estate. The clergy enjoyed all privileges with no obligations. They lived in pomp and extravagance which led to resentment among the members of the Third Estate.
(ii) The church was owner of a big chunk of land in France. It maintained a federal set up.
(iii) The church too extracted its share of taxes called tithes from the peasants. Apart from this, the church also collected several other dues.
Q.29. How did the peasants contribute to the outbreak of the French Revolution? Explain.
Ans. The peasants constituted the majority of the Third Estate which led the revolution. Peasants made up about 90 per cent of the population. However, only a small number of them owned the land they cultivated. They had to bear the burden of taxation. The nobles extracted feudal dues from the peasants.
Peasants were obliged to render services to the lord–to work in his house and fields and to serve in the army or to participate in building roads. The exploitation of peasantry and their misery led the peasants to revolt.
They became the most vociferous section of the Third Estate which led the revolution. Moreover, the peasants were the worst victims of the Subsistence Crisis which occurred frequently in France during the Old Regime.