Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of a Revolution Every revolution begins with the problems of the Old Regime




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Stages of a Revolution

Examples from French Revolution

Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of a Revolution

  • Every revolution begins with the problems of the Old Regime

  • 1st stage = increasing dissatisfaction with the Old regime, spontaneous acts of protest and violence, overthrow

  • 2nd stage = honeymoon with moderate new government

  • 3rd stage = takeover of the extremists, loss of individualism, the government becomes violent and excessive

  • 4th stage = reestablishment of some sort of equilibrium, rights, etc., usually under a “strongman”





French Revolution





Conditions for a Revolution

---wealth and power are distributed unequally

---severe economic problems

---a group of intellectuals criticizes the government

---the government uses it power to maintain the status quo and repress dissents

---the classes of people are in conflict, and the most ambitious are blocked from gaining power

---different groups want different changes

---people obtain weapons in a fairly large amounts

---ideals are easy for people to believe in and become the slogan/war cry

The French Revolution





Conditions---Government under the Old Regime: The Divine Right of Kings

  • Monarch ruled by divine right

    • God put the world in motion
    • God put some people in positions of power
    • Power is given by God
    • No one can question God
    • No one can question someone put in power by God
    • Questioning the monarchy was blasphemy because it meant questioning God


What the King Did



  • Conditions of a Revolution---Economic Problems



The Financial Crisis

  • The government of France, however, was bankrupt and was facing a serious financial crisis.

  • The crisis resulted from:

    • An inefficient and unfair tax structure, which placed the burden of taxation on those least able to pay, the third estate
    • Outdated medieval bureaucratic institutions
    • A drained treasury which was the result of:
    • Aiding the Americans during the American Revolution
    • Long wars with England
    • Overspending


Economic Conditions under the Old Regime

  • France’s economy was based primarily on agriculture

  • Peasant farmers of France bore the burden of taxation

  • Poor harvests meant that peasants had trouble paying their regular taxes

    • Certainly could not afford to have their taxes raised
  • Bourgeoisie often managed to gather wealth

    • But were upset that they paid taxes while nobles did not


Conditions: France Is Bankrupt

  • The king (Louis XVI) lavished money on himself and residences like Versailles

  • Queen Marie Antoinette was seen as a wasteful spender

  • Government found its funds depleted as a result of wars

    • Including the funding of the American Revolution
  • Deficit spending – a government spending more money than it takes in from tax revenues

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