National Identity During The French Revolution

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“Arise children of the fatherland // The day of glory has arrived […] To arms, citizens // Form you battalions // March, march!” Sung by provincial troops, from Marseillais, as they marched into Paris during the French Revolution, the Marseillaise was a nationalistic rallying call against tyranny and foreign invasion for all citizens. Although there was great variety to French culture before the revolution, and French was not even the language every Frenchman spoke, from the Revolutionary era onward, the inhabitants of France somehow achieved a spirit unity beyond political or administrative structure. Informed by the Enlightenment ideals, French masses were united to bring freedom and equality to their country. From 1789 to 1815, during the …show more content…
Through transforming the social structure in France, various government policies during the revolutionary era contributed to a greater sense of French national identity. Prior to the French Revolution, remnants of feudalism were still prevalent across regions. Society was divided into orders; feudal rights were owed to lords of the manor. The nobles enjoyed aristocratic privilege such as exemptions from taxes, noble hunting rights and exclusive access to the top jobs in the government, army and church. Yet, on the famous night of August 4, 1789, the National Assembly announced the feudal system entirely abolished. Then, in August 26, 1789, the National Assembly proceeded to promulgate the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, an expression of the Enlightenment …show more content…
“With about half the population illiterate, Napoleon believed that schools could develop patriotic and obedient citizens by teaching secular values that would ultimately link education to nationalism. Therefore, in 1802, to increase French citizens’ attachment to the nation, Napoleon established state-run schools, lycees, thirty-seven of which were operating six years later.” These schools used textbooks that were approved only by Napoleon. Then, in 1808, Napoleon also established France's first public university system, charging it with the duty of directing political and moral opinions. Prior to the French Revolution, only the sons of nobles enjoyed such educational privileges. Yet owing to Napoleon’s intention to “create a new social hierarchy based not on blood but on service to the state, particularly in the army and the bureaucracy”, the common people had more opportunities to improve their social statuses by receiving education in such schools and working in the bureaucracy. Moreover, due to the establishment of the French nation, a standard French language spread throughout the country during the Napoleonic era, which overtook and replaced many regional dialects in France. Having a common language facilitated the spread of ideas

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