The French revolutionary is a historical landmark that really shook France over the period between 1777-1799, reaching its peak in 1789. It signified the end of the ancient regime in France. The revolution was fuelled by several reasons: the peasants who were aware of their situation and were unwilling to bear the burden and anarchy that were embodied in the feudal system, extensive awareness about the political and social reforms in the country, the bourgeoisie resented the exclusion from power and leadership, the French participation in the American revolution, and the crop failure in the country in 1788 bred restlessness in the entire country.
Before the revolution, the peasants were observed as less human creatures in their own land and were even not in a position to embrace any social advancement. The peasants were not allowed even to hunt for food or own land. They lived on land owned by the noble men. They were also subjected to heavy taxation by the king to sustain the city workers.
This really compelled the peasants into a mental stagnation. During the revolution period, the lives of the peasants were really transformed to a large extend towards the recognition and appreciation of them as human beings. The transformation included changes such as freedom of speech and trade, end of discriminatory compulsory tax, freedom in farming and equal education access for all. For the peasant, the most significant change was the respect for basic human rights such as freedom, liberty, and equality. The peasants could now access education, own land, practice farming and trade, and above all they were no longer subjected to the discriminatory taxation. Everybody became an equal subject before the law and they had the right to a fair trial. The peasants could now enjoy a sense of humanity because they were now equal to everyone else and the king had lost his absolute power. It was a real turning point for the lives of the peasants.
Reactions to changes such as those in taxes and government policies and trade were highly welcomed by the peasants who had waited for so long to gain such privileges. The peasants grasped the new changes so fast and with a lot of vigor as it was an end to undue suffering. The changes can be cumulatively referred to as good news for the peasants who could now feel appreciated as citizens. The reactions of the peasant towards the changes occurring at this particular time would also develop some intimidatory attitude towards the former bourgeoisie. This would be aggravated by the belief that the upper class had been responsible for the atrocities committed against the peasants before the revolution. Such a feeling would develop in any conscious and radical human mind: and so the peasants.
A significant change which occurred during the revolution was the end of the feudal system in which the peasants had suffered for long without rights. The end of the feudal regime signified a new dawn for the peasants because equality was the new atmosphere in France. The peasants were at all costs aggressive to launch a real transformation of the old regime within the shortest time possible without any mishap so as to prevent a reoccurrence of what had befallen them before the revolution.
The peasants affirmed to the fact that the king had no absolute powers and the political system was in the process of changing to a more equitable system. The advent of equality for all citizens seemed the necessary as well as the sufficient condition for the success and wellbeing of the peasants’ apriori.
The revolution can be viewed as a historical turning point for the French political system and mores so for the peasants who had lived being slaves in their own land. Equality was founded and bred by the revolution: the base and foundation of today’s stability in France.
S. Neely, (2008), A concise history of the French revolution, Rowman & Littlefield publishers Inc, USA.