French Revolution -- was it democratic?Did rule by the people lead to democracy in France during the period 1789-1799? Why or why not?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shortly after the French Revolution, a Reign of Terror began--this name certainly rules out any democracy. During this period under Robespierre, any one suspected of opposing the Revolution were guillotined.  After the radical Robespierre died, a moderate phase in which the French people revolted against the Reign of Terror’s excesses began; this period witnessed the emergence of a more republican governement.

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Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It started out as such. Its motto was "brotherhood, freedom, equality." Initially, the French Revolution was all about overthrowing the royal hierarchy and creating a better life for the everyday peasant. But that idealism was overshadowed by militancy and the quest for power. Eventually the Revolution ended up mimicking the very strategies of oppression it had denounced. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't really think that it did.  Sure, the people got to have more of a say in government, but that's not all there is to democracy.  The early revolutionary government abused people's rights quite badly.  A government that is that abusive and capricious is not a true democracy.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

No.  The revolutionaries were in some ways just as cruel as their predecessors.  Where the nobility persecuted and neglected the poor, the new government persecuted and murdered the nobility, even those who were innocent.  If you ended up in their way, you lost your head.

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