Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Revolutions - Causes and Types


A revolution (from the Latin revolutio, "a turn around") is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time. 
There are several kinds of revolution:
Political revolutions (American Revolution)
Great revolutions which are sudden and violent and seek not only to establish a new political system but to transform an entire society (French and Russian Revolutions)
Social revolutions which are slow but sweeping transformations of the entire society that take several generations to bring about (Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions)

There are a number of things that can cause the kind of unrest that leads to revolution: poverty and a lack of power amongst the masses, d
iscontent with the way things are and a desire to create change, and a
 feeling of personal powerlessness 

Political Revolution (American Revolution)

Britain imposed a series of arbitrary taxes on the colonists.
The colonists had no vote in the British parliamentary system so they had no recourse when they were unhappy – they felt powerless.
When the British dissolved local governments and sent troops, the colonists created their own militia to fight for their rights.  Fighting broke out in 1775.

Great Revolution (French Revolution)

The French Revolution (1789-1799) brought the end of the monarchy in just three years. These are the causes:
There was widespread famine, malnutrition, disease and death amongst the peasantry.
France was nearly bankrupt for two reasons – Louis XV had involved France directly in many wars and France had provided the Americans with support for their own Revolutionary War.
France had lost many of its military battles and did not provide services for its veterans.
The nobility continued to openly live lives of conspicuous consumption.
The Catholic church began to tax crops.
The cost of bread rose astronomically and many people were unemployed.
The peasant class was angry and felt powerless to change things in a peaceful way.
The French Revolution did not just change the political situation in the country – it brought a complete political and social change including attitudes towards the peasantry and the role of women.  The cry of the French Revolution was Liberté, égalité, fraternité.  This represented a shocking (for the nobility) change in philosophy and attitude.

Social Revolution (Industrial Revolution)

The Industrial Revolution actually began with the Agricultural Revolution.  Both the Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions happened without war but we cannot say without bloodshed.  These revolutions were spurred on by discoveries made by explorers and scientists.  The changes began in Britain but spread throughout the world and the scientific and social changes have ramifications still today.


  1. how were the monarch so oblivious to the poverty of their country?


  2. That is a good question Josie. If you remember the section of the DVD in which they showed Versailles, it was a huge castle 17 miles from Paris. Seventeen miles may not seem like much to us, but when you are travelling by horse and carriage over dirt roads, it is a very long way. Also, they remained isolated from the peasantry not just by distance, but by attitude too. They believe that they were different and better than the peasants and so the felt that they were entitled to a better lifestyle. This is one of the things that lead to such a total revolution.

  3. I think one of the causes of the revolution was when King Louis XVI invested in the American Revolution. He did it to defeat Britain, his grandfather's enemy, but France lost a lot of money, men, and supplies in the war and I can't see what they gained.

  4. I think that the causes of the revolution, involved king Louis being a bad leader for the time. France was in a time of crisis and the king could not pull them up. Instead he just ignored the people and did his own thing. This is why the people wanted revolution. If Louis would have given the people a say in the matter, he would have gained respect from the lower classes.

    Kane O

  5. Kelsey must be the most genius kid on this planet. I could not agree more with everything she said. Penguin KAK. I love Louis! Long live the kinG!

  6. i believe one of the main causes of the revoloution were how horrible king louis was at being a leader and how many people were getting fed up with such horrible leadership.

  7. The main causes of the Fench Revolution are originated from poverty, famine, unemployment, raise of bread prices and the extravagent life of nobility. Then in the winter of 1788 they had one of the coldest winters in 90 years....I think :)

  8. The cause of the revolution was that King louis wanted revenge and thought of himself before his people. It ended with a lose of men and money.


  9. i think the cause was king louis and his wife were spending to much money and did not help there people when they were starving. He sent his money and troops to aid the battle to defeat his grandfathers enemy.

  10. This post is from Lisa:
    Causes: no food and poverty; famine; higher prize for food --> rising
    bread prices; extravagand life & nobility; winter of 1778 was the
    coldest winter in 90 years --> poor people were hungry and died; people
    were not pleased with the monarchy; repetation of being wick; idea of
    people: équality, freedom, fraternité (didn't know the word in english)

    Results: land was freed from customary burdens; old society was
    destroyed; invididualism and egalitarianism
    (équality;freedom;fraternité); feudalism was destroyed; King Louis XVI &
    the Queen Marie Antoinette were killed/beheaded; books like nobles lost
    special privileges; persons who were seen as counter-revolutionaries
    were beheaded --> lots of blood and dead people; a constitutional
    monarchy!!; declaration of rights of man and citizen (1789)

  11. I think one of the causes of the French Revolution was that the monarchy lived in luxury. They didn't care enough for their people and they were oblivious to their country's needs.

  12. The cause was that King Louis XVI didn't care that his country was in poverty. He lived a fabulous life and didn't care about the fact that everyone was poor. Yet, he still fought and ended up losing respect and men and money.

  13. I think one of the causes of the French revolution was the ignorance of the King and Queen. The king always thought of himself before his people.

    -Nathan Illsley.

  14. The revolution was due to King Louis XVI extravagant lifestyle, the peasants poverty and hunger, and the angry words of Maximilien Robespierre and many others who drove the revolution.

  15. The main causes of the French revolution was higher bread prices, poverty, and the royalties were living in luxury not knowing that the people we starved to death. With the Catholic church taxing peoples crops bread prices raised significantly, causing a large famine. The French people were fed up and ousted the king and queen and started a revolution.

    Jake N.

  16. i think the causes of the revolushion was the king. well people were hungry and had no home he was at home eating and drinking what ever. i also think that it was all the blood sheed and people getting killed. they got killed cause they had food and stuff the others did not and they needed it. also they killed the king and marie antojinette there queen to get freed from all of this

  17. I think the main cause of the revolution was King louis and his plans for France, but France lost more then they gained, supplies, money,slodiers, and just regular citizens.

  18. one of the main causes in the revolution was the queen how she spent all her money on clothes and jewelry when she could of fed the pesants also the king helping amercia and trying to avange his grandpa was a big mistake because that just made France weaker and poorer.

  19. Well..I think that one cause of the French revolution would be the Political and Social bias. France still practised feudalism in the 18th century and the nobles and clergy enjoyed special privileges ( did not have to pay taxes). The common people did not have power and freedom in politics, and became very discontent. Other causes would be bankruptcy and influence of the American Revolution. Socialism, nationalism, and liberalism are all results of the French Revolution. This gave people the idea that they could reorganize a society if they really tried- with words, laws, and political ideas.

    Ling :)

  20. Adherents of most historical models identify many of the same features of the Ancien Régime as being among the causes of the Revolution. Economic factors included widespread famine and malnutrition, due to rising bread prices (from a normal 8 sous for a 4-pound loaf to 12 sous by the end of 1789),which increased the likelihood of disease and death, and intentional starvation in the most destitute segments of the population in the months immediately before the Revolution. The famine extended even to other parts of Europe, and was not helped by a poor transportation infrastructure for bulk foods.

    Another cause may have been France's near bankruptcy as a result of the many wars fought by Louis XV as well as financial strain caused by French participation in the American Revolutionary War. The national debt amounted to almost two billion livres. The social burdens caused by war included the huge war debt, made worse by the monarchy's military failures and ineptitude, and the lack of social services for war veterans. The inefficient and antiquated financial system was unable to manage the national debt, something which was both partially caused and exacerbated by the burden of a grossly inequitable (and inadequate) system of taxation. To obtain new money to head off default the government called an Assembly of Notables in (1787).

    Meanwhile the conspicuous consumption of the noble class, especially the court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette at Versailles continued despite the financial burden on the populace. High unemployment and high bread prices caused more money to be spent on food and less in other areas of the economy. The Roman Catholic Church, the largest landowner in the country, levied a tax on crops known as the dîme or tithe. While the dîme lessened the severity of the monarchy's tax increases, it worsened the plight of the poorest who faced a daily struggle with malnutrition. Internal customs barriers caused serious problems for internal trade,as well as periodic grain shortages.

    Many other factors involved resentments and aspirations given focus by the rise of Enlightenment ideals. These included resentment of royal absolutism; resentment by the ambitious professional and mercantile classes towards noble privileges and dominance in public life, as many of these classes were familiar with the lives of their peers in commercial cities in the Netherlands and Great Britain; resentment by peasants, wage-earners, and the bourgeoisie toward the traditional seigneurial privileges possessed by nobles; resentment of clerical advantage (anti-clericalism) and aspirations for freedom of religion, resentment of aristocratic bishops by the poorer rural clergy, continued hatred for Catholic control, and influence on institutions of all kinds by the large Protestant minorities; aspirations for liberty and (especially as the Revolution progressed) republicanism; and anger toward the King for firing Jacques Necker and A.R.J. Turgot (among other financial advisors), who were popularly seen as representatives of the people.

  21. I think what caused the monarchy to collapse so quickly was the amount of money Louis and Marie Antoinette spent, and the state of which the people were in.

  22. I believe the French revolution started because of many things, the monarchy, religion, social status, poverty, etc. Many people believe that it is due to Marie Antoinette and King Louis spending money on things for themselves and not on the people of France.
    -Mariah :)

  23. i think what started the revolution was the king and queens attitude in general. the king was shy and kept his feelings to himself. also being in power, you get that attitude that everything works around you. because of this he almost didn't care enough to do something about the peasants and their lifestyle. The queen was an outgoing person who was to young to run a country. Being so young she didn't look out for her country as well. All she did was spent hours getting her hair done or buying shoes, this costing money too. So if you put these two together to Run a country its not going to end well. And i think that France needed the revolution because their way of life prier to the revolution was very poor