Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Societal Change and French Revolution

Academic journal article Pakistan Historical Society. Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society

Societal Change and French Revolution

Article excerpt

The classical theory of equality, liberty and fraternity by Jean Jacques Rousseau was eventually put into operation by the audacity of Maximillian Robespierre. At the initial stages of French Revolution, a 'reign of terror' was let loose by Robespierre; however, subsequently that wave was moderated by Napoleon Bonaparte by a counter revolution. The counter revolution, in fact, brought Napoleon into the forefront of French affairs, since he proclaimed himself as the first Counsel of the Directory composed of three Counsels. Once, on the tomb of great theorist and philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Napoleon said to one of his generals that he wished that this man would have never been born; the general inquired why he said so, to which Napoleon replied that he is the man who has paved the way for Revolution. The political philosophy of Rousseau enacted through the French Revolution has virtually transformed the French monarchical state into a republic.

At the initial stages until counter revolution, the French Revolution was carried out as a surgery on French body politics, a surgery that is needed when all possible means of healing fail. During such period of social and political surgery which is historically remembered as 'reign of terror' Maximilian Robespierre rose as a surgeon. Although Robespierre is blamed for unleashing a reign of terror but it was inevitable due to the nature of things. Robespierre was the right man, at the right place and on the right time. The master surgeon achieved his task of purging rotten aristocracy by putting them on the guillotine, whereby sharp razors were suspended from the top which upon release chopped off the heads. The king of France Louis XVI, along with his unscrupulous wife, Marie Antoinette, was guillotined, and so were thousands of aristocrats on Revolution Square; hence, monarchy and nobility were guillotined.

With the shouts raised on Revolution Square - 'viva la republique' instead 'viva la king' - the birth of a new republic took place in France. History may record Robespierre as a man of apathetic disposition or devoid of human sentiments but his place as the precipitator of the French Revolution cannot be questioned. …

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