The Significance of the French Revolution and the Ensuing Napoleonic State on the Formation of Nation States in the Late Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.

2292 Words Jun 21st, 2013 10 Pages
Discuss the significance of the French Revolution and the ensuing Napoleonic State on the formation of nation states in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

The French revolution was an event of epic proportions. At the outset, alike the English Civil Wars, an autocratic monarch (Louis XVI) summoned Parliament, in France Estates General, in order to demand funds and prerogatives. The outcome became very similar to the English Civil Wars; the Third Estate rebelled (in England it was Parliament though), overthrew the monarchy, the King was executed, a republic was founded and kingship outlawed in the process. Nevertheless, even though the English Civil Wars and the French Revolution bear resemblances, they are very separate
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During the Napoleonic era, the Kingdom of Prussia called upon the ‘Prussians’ and ‘Germans’ as a whole to be inspired by the ideals of patriotism and nationalism, called upon a war to liberate the ‘Fatherland’ (Gibbons, p. 326 - 328, 2007). Paradoxically the Kingdom of Prussia had been fighting the revolutionary French for several years. The French revolution inspired emerging states nations to embrace a fraternal common identity.

Before the French revolution, the whole of Europe was a patchwork of nations, grouped under few governments that would not necessarily represent their national ideas. Republican France did not waged a defensive war all the time, the ‘French declared war on sovereigns, not on people’ (Emsley et al, p. 18, 2011), and went on the offensive; their aim was to spread the revolution and allow all nations to rule themselves as free individuals.
The successes in the field were bought with foreign and French blood. In the beginning, the aim of the revolutionary leadership was to decentralise government; however, because of national emergency, the government was centralised again and the ‘Great Terror’ took hold in 1794. This went against the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen as proclaimed by the Assembly in 1971. Under the justification of national crisis, the National Convention ordered mass murders the commitment of all available resources towards war. This way, the French Revolution…

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