FRENCH REVOLUTION (1789-1799)

France was for years ruled by the spots like Louis XIV. The kings ruled the country as they like without caring for the good of the common people. As a result of this indifference of the autocratic monarchs. There was famine and suffering all over the country the popular upsurge against the tyranny of kings culminated in the abolition of monarchy and their establishment of the French public.

CAUSES FOR THE REVOLUTION:

The French revolution started with the breaking open of the state prison “Bastille” on 14 July 1789 their reign of terror that followed their beheading of King Louis XVI and his Queen ended only when Napoleon became Emperor in May 1804. In 1793 England was forced to declare war against French Revolution because the French Revolutionary rules offered to help all nations who wished to follow the example of the French and overthrow their kings. The war continued up to the “Battle of Waterloo” in 1815 when Lord Wellington inflicted a crushing defeat on Napoleon.

EFFECTS OF REVOLUTION:

NATIONAL DEBT: This prolonged war of twenty years had lasting effects on England. The most important and immediate effect was the huge National Debt. It has been estimated that the cost of the war from the beginning to the end was nearly £1,000,000,000. The nation which consisted of nineteen million people had to pay annually a large amount by way of interest. In 1815 the country had to raise £ 74,000,000 by taxation alone.

UNEMPLOYMENT: The peace that followed the war was the cause of a fall in the prices of coal and iron. Many men employed in the industry was thrown out of their jobs. alAfter the signing of the peace treaty nearly half a million of soldiers sailors and others who had been engage directly in the war were dismissed from active service. They added to the already swelling army of the unemployed. Thus the problem of unemployment become much more accurate than before.

CORN LAW: During the twenty years of War there was no import of European corn into England. This caused the price of corn to go high. But the agricultural lords stood to the benefit by this. However after the Restoration of peace the free flow of European corn was resumed which brought down the price of English corn. This was resented by the English agriculturist. The corn law was passed in 1816 and this have disastrous effect on the poor and especially in the time of famine. Their sufferings led to the formation of Anti-corn law League. It was this association that was ultimately responsible for the repeal of the corn law in 1846 by the then Prime Minister of Robert Peel.

THE BATTLE OF PETERLOO: In 1819 the magistrates of Manchester foolishly attempted to arrest a radical leader known as Orator Hunt at a large gathering in St. Peter’s field. On meeting with resistance from the crowd the government officer order the cavalry charge upon the unarmed mob. Eleven persons were killed and 600 wounded. The even popularly was called the battle of peetalu or the Manchester massacre was used by agitators to embarrass the government. To get their grievances redressed the poor agitated for parliamentary reform and after much opposition from the lords the first reform bill was passed in 1832.

Battle of Trafalgar

THE ARMY AND NAVY BECOME THE NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: Another effect of the French revolution was that both navy and army recognized as national institutions. The battle of Trafalgar won by Lord Nelson during the Revolutionary war in 1805 highlighted the greatness of the English navy. Their victory was commemorated renaming a part of London as Trafalgar square where the statue of Nelson stands on a lofty column. Trafalgar square with its 1.5 metre column top by the statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson looking out to the River Thames, is one of the favourite tourist spots in London. It is the traditional end of most protest marches and rallies in the capital. With the victories of Lord Wellington at Waterloo in 1815 on land the army became popular as it had never been before. Barracks were built to house the troops and the haphazard billeting of soldiers in public houses came to an end. This was done to the great relief of both the civilian population and the soldiers themselves.

INFLUENCE IN ENGLISH LITERATURE: The French revolution ushered in a new era in the history of English literature. Coming when it did, English romanticism should be considered as a byproduct of the great political event. Romanticism or the romantic movement started when Wordsworth and Coleridge together published the Lyrical ballads in 1798. Wordsworth discarded the artificial style and showed by practice that beautiful poems could be written on ordinary subjects and in ordinary language. The movement was completed by younger poets like Byron, Shelley and keats.