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SECTION IEVENTS AND PROCESSESRevolutionChapter I is on the French Revolution. Today we often take the ideas of liberty,freedom and equality for granted. But we need to remind ourselves that these ideasalso have a history. By looking at the French Revolution you will read a small partof that history. The French Revolution led to the end of monarchy in France. Asociety based on privileges gave way to a new system of governance. The Declarationof the Rights of Man during the revolution, announced the coming of a new time.The idea that all individuals had rights and could claim equality became part of anew language of politics. These notions of equality and freedom emerged as the centralideas of a new age; but in different countries they were reinterpreted and rethoughtin many different ways. The anti-colonial movements in India and China, Africa andSouth America, produced ideas that were innovative and original, but they spoke ina language that gained currency only from the late eighteenth century.FrenchIn Chapter II, you will read about the coming of socialism in Europe, and the dramaticevents that forced the ruling monarch, Tsar Nicholas II, to give up power. The RussianRevolution sought to change society in a different way. It raised the question ofeconomic equality and the well-being of workers and peasants. The chapter will tellyou about the changes that were initiated by the new Soviet government, the problemsit faced and the measures it undertook. While Soviet Russia pushed ahead withindustrialisation and mechanisation of agriculture, it denied the rights of citizensthat were essential to the working of a democratic society. The ideals of socialism,TheEVENTS AND PROCESSESIn Section I, you will read about the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution,and the rise of Nazism. In different ways all these events were important in themaking of the modern world.1

however, became part of the anti-colonial movements in different countries. Todaythe Soviet Union has broken up and socialism is in crisis but through the twentiethcentury it has been a powerful force in the shaping of the contemporary world.Chapter III will take you to Germany. It will discuss the rise of Hitler and thepolitics of Nazism. You will read about the children and women in Nazi Germany,about schools and concentration camps. You will see how Nazism denied variousminorities a right to live, how it drew upon a long tradition of anti-Jewish feelingsto persecute the Jews, and how it waged a relentless battle against democracy andsocialism. But the story of Nazism’s rise is not only about a few specific events,about massacres and killings. It is about the working of an elaborate and frighteningsystem which operated at different levels. Some in India were impressed with theideas of Hitler but most watched the rise of Nazism with horror.India and the Contemporary WorldThe history of the modern world is not simply a story of the unfolding of freedomand democracy. It has also been a story of violence and tyranny, death and destruction.2

Chapter IThe French RevolutionOn the morning of 14 July 1789, the city of Paris was in a state ofalarm. The king had commanded troops to move into the city. Rumoursspread that he would soon order the army to open fire upon the citizens.Some 7,000 men and women gathered in front of the town hall anddecided to form a peoples’ militia. They broke into a number ofgovernment buildings in search of arms.R e v o l u t i o nFinally, a group of several hundred people marched towards the easternpart of the city and stormed the fortress-prison, the Bastille, where theyhoped to find hoarded ammunition. In the armed fight that followed,the commander of the Bastille was killed and the prisoners released –though there were only seven of them. Yet the Bastille was hated by all,because it stood for the despotic power of the king. The fortress wasdemolished and its stone fragments were sold in the markets to allthose who wished to keep a souvenir of its destruction.T h T eh eFrenchF rR e ev o l unt i ocn hThe days that followed saw more rioting both in Paris and thecountryside. Most people were protesting against the high price of bread.Much later, when historians looked back upon this time, they saw it asthe beginning of a chain of events that ultimately led to the executionof the king in France, though most people at the time did not anticipatethis outcome. How and why did this happen?Fig.1 – Storming of the Bastille.Soon after the demolition of the Bastille,artists made prints commemorating the event.3

1 French Society During the Late Eighteenth CenturyIn 1774, Louis XVI of the Bourbon family of kings ascended thethrone of France. He was 20 years old and married to the Austrianprincess Marie Antoinette. Upon his accession the new king foundan empty treasury. Long years of war had drained the financialresources of France. Added to this was the cost of maintaining anextravagant court at the immense palace of Versailles. Under LouisXVI, France helped the thirteen American colonies to gain theirindependence from the common enemy, Britain. The war added morethan a billion livres to a debt that had already risen to more than 2billion livres. Lenders who gave the state credit, now began to charge10 per cent interest on loans. So the French government was obligedto spend an increasing percentage of its budget on interest paymentsalone. To meet its regular expenses, such as the cost of maintainingan army, the court, running government offices or universities, thestate was forced to increase taxes. Yet even this measure would nothave sufficed. French society in the eighteenth century was dividedinto three estates, and only members of the third estate paid taxes.India and the Contemporary WorldThe society of estates was part of the feudal system that dated back tothe middle ages. The term Old Regime is usually used to describe thesociety and institutions of France before 1789.Fig. 2 shows how the system of estates in French society was organised.Peasants made up about 90 per cent of the population. However,only a small number of them owned the land they cultivated. About60 per cent of the land was owned by nobles, the Church and otherricher members of the third estate. The members of the first twoestates, that is, the clergy and the nobility, enjoyed certain privileges bybirth. The most important of these was exemption from paying taxes tothe state. The nobles further enjoyed feudal privileges. These includedfeudal dues, which they extracted from the peasants. Peasants were obligedto render services to the lord – to work in his house and fields – to servein the army or to participate in building roads.The Church too extracted its share of taxes called tithes from the peasants,and finally, all members of the third estate had to pay taxes to the state.These included a direct tax, called taille, and a number of indirect taxeswhich were levied on articles of everyday consumption like salt or tobacco.The burden of financing activities of the state through taxes was borneby the third estate alone.41st estateClergy2nd estateNobility3rd estateBig businessmen,merchants, courtofficials, lawyers etc.Peasants andartisansSmall peasants,landless labour,servantsFig.2 – A Society of Estates.Note that within the Third Estate some wererich and others poor.New wordsLivre – Unit of currency in France,discontinued in 1794Clergy – Group of persons invested withspecial functions in the churchTithe – A tax levied by the church, comprisingone-tenth of the agricultural produceTaille – Tax to be paid directly to the state

‘This poor fellow brings everything,grain, fruits, money, salad. The fat lordsits there, ready to accept it all. He doesnot even care to grace him with a look.’ActivityExplain why the artist has portrayed thenobleman as the spider and the peasantas the fly .‘The more the devil has, the more he wants.’RevolutionFig.3 – The Spider and the Fly.An anonymous etching.Th poleon defeated at Waterloo.ActivityRepresentatives of the Third Estate take theoath raising their arms in the direction ofBailly, the President of the Assembly,standing on a table in the centre. Do youthink that during the actual event Baillywould have stood with his back to theassembled deputies? What could havebeen David’s intention in placing Bailly(Fig.5) the way he has done?

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Fig.5 – The Tennis Court Oath.Preparatory sketch for a large painting by Jacques-Louis David. The painting was intended to be hung in the National Assembly.Abbé Sieyès, originally a priest, wrote an influential pamphlet called‘What is the Third Estate’?Fig.6 – The spread of the Great Fear.The map shows how bands of peasants spreadfrom one point to another.New wordsChateau (pl. chateaux) – Castle or statelyresidence belonging to a king or a noblemanManor – An estate consisting of the lord’slands and his mansion9FrenchFaced with the power of his revolting subjects, Louis XVI finallyaccorded recognition to the National Assembly and accepted theprinciple that his powers would from now on be checked by aconstitution. On the night of 4 August 1789, the Assembly passed adecree abolishing the feudal system of obligations and taxes. Membersof the clergy too were forced to give up their privileges. Tithes wereabolished and lands owned by the Church were confiscated. As aresult, the government acquired assets worth at least 2 billion livres.Regions not affected by the Great FearAreas of agrarian revolt early 1789Epicentres of main panic movementsThe spread of the Great FearTheIn the countryside rumours spread from village to village that thelords of the manor had hired bands of brigands who were on theirway to destroy the ripe crops. Caught in a frenzy of fear, peasants inseveral districts seized hoes and pitchforks and attacked chateaux.They looted hoarded grain and burnt down documents containingrecords of manorial dues. A large number of nobles fled from theirhomes, many of them migrating to neighbouring countries.RevolutionWhile the National Assembly was busy at Versailles drafting aconstitution, the rest of France seethed with turmoil. A severe winterhad meant a bad harvest; the price of bread rose, often bakers exploitedthe situation and hoarded supplies. After spending hours in longqueues at the bakery, crowds of angry women stormed into theshops. At the same time, the king ordered troops to move into Paris.On 14 July, the agitated crowd stormed and destroyed the Bastille.

2.1 France Becomes a Constitutional MonarchyThe National Assembly completed the draft of the constitution in1791. Its main object was to limit the powers of the monarch. Thesepowers instead of being concentrated in the hands of one person,were now separated and assigned to different institutions – thelegislature, executive and judiciary. This made France a constitutionalmonarchy. Fig. 7 explains how the new political system OLNational Assembly (745 members)VETOMinistersLRONTOCVOTEElectors (50,000 men)VOTEVOTEActive citizens: entitled to vote. About 4 million of apopulation of 28 millionPassive citizens: no voting rights. About 3 million menWomen, children and youth below 25.India and the Contemporary WorldFig.7 – The Political sytstem under the Constitution of 1791.The Constitution of 1791 vested the power to make laws in theNational Assembly, which was indirectly elected. That is, citizensvoted for a group of electors, who in turn chose the Assembly. Notall citizens, however, had the right to vote. Only men above 25 yearsof age who paid taxes equal to at least 3 days of a labourer’s wagewere given the status of active citizens, that is, they were entitled tovote. The remaining men and all women were classed as passivecitizens. To qualify as an elector and then as a member of the Assembly,a man had to belong to the highest bracket of taxpayers.10

Fig.8 – The Declaration of the Rights of Manand Citizen, painted by the artist Le Barbier in1790. The figure on the right represents France.The figure on the left symbolises the law.Source CThe Declaration of Rights of Man andCitizen1. Men are born and remain free and equalin rights.2. The aim of every political association isthe preservation of the natural andinalienable rights of man; these are liberty,pr operty, securi ty and r esistance tooppression.‘The task of representing the peoplehas been given to the rich the lot ofthe poor and oppressed will never beimproved by peaceful means alone. Herewe have absolute proof of how wealthinfluences the law. Yet la ws wi ll last only as long as the peopleagree to obey them. And when they have managed to cast offthe yoke of the aristocrats, they will do the same to the otherowners of wealth.’Source: An extract from the newspaper L’Ami du peuple .6. Law is the expression of the generalwill. All citizens have the right to participatein its formation, personally or through theirrepresentatives. All citizens are equalbefore it.7. No man ma y be accused, arrested ordetained, except in cases determined bythe law.RevolutionThe revolutionary journalist Jean-PaulMarat commented in his newspaperL’Ami du peuple ( The friend of thepeople) on the Constitution drafted bythe National Assembly:5. The law has the right to forbid onlyactions that are injurious to societ y.11. Every citizen may speak, write and printfreely; he must take responsibility for theabuse of such liberty in cases determinedby the law.12. For the maintenance of the publicforce and for the expenses ofadministration a common tax isindispensable; it must be assessed equallyon all citizens in proportion to their means.FrenchSource B4. Liberty consists of the power to dowhatever is not injurious to others.17. Since pr operty is a sacred and inviolableright, no one may be deprived of it, unlessa legally established public necessityrequires it. In that case a justcompensation must be given in advance.TheThe Constitution began with a Declaration of the Rights of Manand Citizen. Rights such as the right to life, freedom of speech,freedom of opinion, equality before law, were established as ‘naturaland inalienable’ rights, that is, they belonged to each human beingby birth and could not be taken away. It was the duty of the state toprotect each citizen’s natural rights.3. The source of all sovereignty resides inthe nation; no group or individual mayexercise authority that does not comefrom the people.11

Box 1Reading political symbolsThe majority of men and women in the eighteenth century could not read or write. So images and symbolswere frequently used instead of printed words to communicate important ideas. The painting by Le Barbier(Fig. 8) uses many such symbols to convey the content of the Declaration of Rights. Let us try to readthese symbols.The broken chain: Chains were used to fetter slaves.A broken chain stands for the act of becoming free.The bundle of rods or fasces: One rodcan be easily broken, but not an entirebundle. Strength lies in unity.India and the Contemporary WorldThe eye within a triangle radiating light: The allseeing eye stands for knowledge. The rays of the sunwill drive away the clouds of ignorance.Sceptre: Symbol of royal power.Snake biting its tail to form a ring: Symbol ofEternity. A ring has neither beginning nor end.12

Red Phrygian cap: Cap worn by a slaveupon becoming free.Blue-white-red: Thenational colours of France.Activity1. Identify the symbols in Box 1 which standfor liberty, equality and fraternity.2. Explain the meaning of the painting of theDeclaration of Rights of Man and Citizen(Fig. 8) by reading only the symbols.3. Compare the political rights which theConstitution of 1791 gave to the citizenswith Articles 1 and 6 of the Declaration(Source C). Are the two document sconsistent? Do the two documents conveythe same idea?RevolutionThe winged woman:Personification of the law.4

part of the city and stormed the fort ress-prison, the Bastille, where they hoped to find hoarded ammunition. In the ar med fight that f ollowed, the commander of the Bastille was killed and the prisoners released Πthough there were only seven of them. Y et the Bastille was ha ted by