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The French Revolution can be seen as the European response to the American Revolution -- both these called into question the relationship of individuals to government, including the right of the people to alter or abolish it should they see fit. Unfortunately for the French, after deposing the monarchy, theirrevolution created enough political chaos to allow Napoleon to become emperor ! By conquering most of continental Europe, he did indeed spread French concepts, and France remained the primary cultural force in Europe for a century. After Napoleon was deposed, the remaining governments of Europe devised the Concert of Vienna in 1815 tostabilize political power in Europe. Throughout the 19th century, the monarchies of Europe , fearing what had happened in France at the end of the 18th century, became more and more suppressive of any political innovation. Most of these monarchies held sway until the 20th century, when World War I finally broke apart old political systems, and created conditions for democracy to expand somewhat throughout Europe.
It's hard to separate the impacts of the French and American revolutions in some ways because both happened close to each other and their motivations were similar. Some major impacts:
- Spread of the idea of individual rights. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man was very influential in countries around the world.
- The spread of the Napoleonic code of law. Both this and the previous effect were helped by the fact that Napoleon conquered a lot of territory and brought the new French system to those places.
- Rise of nationalism -- before this, there was supposed to be less of attachment to your country and more to the person of your monarch. Nationalism would become a huge force in later times (and now).
- Finally, many historians credit the French Revolution for the rise of the idea of Romanticism.
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