The Causes of the French Revolution (1789)

According to Stephen Walt, a Professor at Harvard University, the main cause of the French Revolution was the French fiscal collapse, which was due France’s financial and military support to the war of the American Independence against the British (1775-1783). See “Revolution and War”, chapter “The French Revolution”.

The American colonies believed that it was unconstitutional to pay taxes to Britain, and in 1778 the Americans signed an alliance with the French King Luis XVI, according to which France would offer financial and military aid to the American rebels, in order to hurt her great enemy i.e. England, and to take revenge for her defeat in 1764 (Seven Years War).

The British were finally tired by the American War of Independence, and the British Parliament voted for abandoning military operations in America in 1782.

The French support to the American Revolution economically exhausted France, and the French King had to increase taxes, something that exhausted the French people and led to the French Revolution of 1789.

Napoleon the Great, an army officer, was one of the heroes of the French Revolution, and he became the new dictator of France. Napoleon the Great was for the 18th Century what Hitler was for the 19th Century. Like Hitler, Napoleon almost conquered all Europe.

Image 1

Napolon the Great.JPG

seehttp://www.beyond.fr/picssite/bonaparte-st-bernard01b.jpg

On June 24th 1812 Napoleon started his campaign to Russia. On June 22nd 1941 Hitler started his campaign to Russia. Both dictators were hoping to conquer Russia before the Russian winter, and that’s why the started their campaigns on June, but both were defeated by the Russians.

Image 2

Hitler.JPG

seehttp://www.mixanitouxronou.gr/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/images8.jpg

In both cases the Russians initially allied with the dictators against the British, but in the end they changed sides and allied with the British against the dictators.

In the first case, Tsar Alexander signed with Napoleon the Treaties of Tilsit in 1807. However Napoleon did not allow the Russians to import goods from England, and England was the great industrial and economic power of the time. The Russians were at some point tired from Napoleon’s restrictions and they broke the alliance with France by starting again to import goods from England, and Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812.
In the second case the Russian Communists allied themselves with the Nazis and Hitler in 1939 (“Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact”). But the oil that the Communists were shipping to the Nazis was not enough for Hitler’s army. Therefore Hitler broke the alliance with the Communists in 1941, and invaded Russia, in order to get hold of the oil of Azerbaijan, which at the time was a communist colony.

Articles
“Treaty of Alliance (1778)”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Alliance_(1778)

“Seven Years’ War”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Years%27_War
“American Revolutionary War”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Revolutionary_War

“Treaties of Tilsit”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaties_of_Tilsit

“Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molotov%E2%80%93Ribbentrop_Pact

11 thoughts on “The Causes of the French Revolution (1789)”

  1. Don’t exaggerate, Napoleon is not comparable with Hitler!
    Both of them were dictators, but while the former wanted to reform the world, somehow like Julius Caesar in the Roman era, the latter just wanted to destroy it. And in fact the reason why Hitler decided to invade Russia was not mainly for getting the Russian natural resources, but rather for “ideological coherence”, since the Russian Communism was the antithetical enemy of the German Nazism.

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    1. You are wrong. For the period 1939-1941 the communists proved to be a very reliable ally for the Nazis. The whole invasion was aiming at the oil of Baku. The Nazis were fighting all over the world. They could not count on the generosity of the communists

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  2. In 1939-1941 the communists basically hoped that the war between UK/France and Germany could weaken both parties and so strengthen their own position, since they envisaged a new Great War stuck in the trenches of the Franco-German border….So they supported Hitler’s purpose of having no trouble on the Eastern front, unlike what Germany had to deal with during the Great War, which was alleged by the Germans the main reason for their defeat in that war.
    Invading Russia was just the biggest strategical error of Hitler, who, frustrated by the unsuccessful war against the Britons, hoped to get a new and psychological important victory against that melting pot of Nazism ideological enemies represented by Russia: Slavic + Communism + Jewish. Seizing Baku’s oilfields was a secondary target that came up only later, when Germany’s war effort started to become heavy, in fact in the start the German invasion of Russia was headed towards Moscow and only in 1942 it was diverted towards the Caucasus mountains….

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    1. Wop

      What you say makes sense regarding the Soviets hope for a war between Germany and Britain/France, and they could come in later and sweep the field.

      Victor Suvarov, a former Soviet intel analyst wrote in Icebreaker ( http://www.jrbooksonline.com/pdf_books/icebreaker.pdf ) that Stalin planned to get Germany and the Allies involved in war. He also states that the Soviet Union was poised to invade westwards when preempted by Germany. This helps explain why the Germans has such initial great success as the Soviet forces were preparing to invade and had limited defensive capabilities. If this is in fact true then the invasion of the Soviet Union was a defensive measure forced on Germany and not some impulsive blunder by Hitler as is often stated.
      If the Germans had not invaded the Soviet Union, outnumbered as they were, then eventually the Soviets would have invaded westwards, and they would not have stopped at the Channel.

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  3. Dear Alhadeff,

    I think your interpretation of the History is too much marxist and materialist. 😄
    Not everything in History happens because of oil and trade in general!

    Bye

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  4. Dear Alhadeff,

    I think your interpretation of History is too marxist and materialist!

    Not everything in History happens because of oil and trade in general!

    P.S. don’t call silly who has ideas different than yours! 😉

    Bye

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    1. I never said that oil determined human history. On the contrary, oil only had a minor impact on human history. Oil only shaped the 20th centrury, and it keeps shaping the 21st century. But if you exclude the 20th and 21st centuries, oil had no impact on human history.

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  5. Dear ronster12012,

    I find an alleged plan of invasion of Europe by URSS in 1930-40’s quite unlikely. The URSS was not that strong industrially at that time (infact even during the WW2 it had to rely on Anglo-American aids sent through Iran) and its army was still recovering from Stalin’s purges.

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    1. Hi Wop

      Thanks for that response. Have a look at his book at the link I posted…it’s only 300 pages…lol, (but is hard to put down).

      He basically lays out his thesis that:

      1/ The Soviet Union under Stalin was expansionist, with global ambitions.

      2/ As you alluded to above…”In 1939-1941 the communists basically hoped that the war between UK/France and Germany could weaken both parties and so strengthen their own position, since they envisaged a new Great War stuck in the trenches of the Franco-German border….” though I don’t know why they would expect it to have been a rerun of WW1. They could hardly have missed the development in technology and tactics(ie. dive bombing demonstrated in the Spanish civil war).

      As you say, strengthen their own position… what could be more strengthening of one’s own position that to successfully invade another? In this case the prize was the whole of Europe(then the world), as Stalin has stated many times. If one can envisage a war between others to strengthen one’s own position then why not fully capitalize on it and take the lot while they have exhausted themselves fighting each other. Why give them time to recuperate and be a threat to oneself??

      3/ Stalin had described Hitler and the Nazis as their ‘Icebreaker’, one who gets the ball rolling.

      4/ When the communist uprisings in Germany (and elsewhere) of the early 20’s failed, another way was sought.Stalin needed the chaos of war to move. This was why the Soviet Union supported the Nazis during the 1930’s with military training, then banned under the Treaty of Versaille. Nurturing the “Icebreaker’…

      5/ Stalin needed a common border with Germany. The joint invasion of Poland accomplished this…yet only Germany was blamed. Stalin postponed his involvement for two weeks and avoided blame…though the decision to go to war with Germany had already been taken by Britain and France(and most likely the US) long before.

      6/ Stalin had ordered the removal of thousands of square kilometers of defenses in preparation of an attack westwards…which was why the Germans did so well initially despite being outnumbered and out gunned.

      7/ Stalin was much more cunning and perfidious than Hitler.

      And many other interesting points…..

      I do place a certain amount of credibility on what he says as I find it hard to believe that any country would remove defenses against an ideological foe unless they were planning to attack them, as the USSR did. There is no other explanation other than preparations for attack.

      You suggest that Hitler became frustrated with the war against Britain and so turned east. I would suggest that Hitler never wanted a war against Britain in the first place, hence the ‘ Phony War’ period. Also letting 300k enemy soldiers escape at Dunkirk is not consistent with a country intent on attacking an enemy. Nor is the many peace offers that Germany made to Britain including the peace offer delivered in person by the second in command, Rudolf Hess.

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