French Revolution Class 9
French Society During the Late Eighteenth Century
I. Very Short Answer Type Questions.
1. When did the French Revolution begin?
Ans. 14 July 1789.
2. Which fortress-prison was destroyed by the French people on 14 July 1789?
Ans. The Bastille
3. When did Louis XVI ascend the throne of France?
Ans. In 1774
4. Which war led to huge indebtedness of France?
Ans. The war involving Britain and thirteen American Colonies.
5. Into how many estates were the French society divided?
Ans. Three estates
6. Who comprised the first two estates?
Ans. Nobility and clergy
7. Who comprised the third estates?
Ans. Peasants, merchants, artisans and professional class
8. Which estate paid all the taxes?
Ans. Third Estate
9. What was tithe?
Ans. It was a tax levied by the church and paid by the peasants, like one-tenth of the agricultural produce.
10. Which tax was paid by all members of the Third Estate directly to the state?
11. What is a subsistence crisis?
Ans. An extreme situation where the basic means of livelihood are endangered.
12. What were the causes of the subsistence crisis?
Ans. (i) Scarcity of food grains
(ii) Low wages
(iii) Rising food prices
13. Which philosopher put forward the ideas based on freedom and equality?
Ans. John Locke, J.J. Rousseau and Montesquieu
14. Which philosopher proposed a division of power within the government between the legislative, executive and judiciary?
Short Answer Type Questions.
1. Who were the people who comprised the Third Estate? Who paid the taxes and to whom?
Ans. The people who comprised the Third Estate were big businessmen, merchants, lawyers, peasants, artisans, small peasants, landless labour and servants. These were 95 per cent of the population. They had to pay taxes to the state. Taxes included taille, tithes and a number of indirect taxes.
2. Who formed the National Assembly? On what date is ‘Bastille Day’ celebrated and why?
Ans. The representatives of the Third Estate assembled at Versailles on 20 June and declared themselves a National Assembly and swore not to disperse till they had drafted a constitution for France. The Bastille Day is celebrated on 14th July every year because on this day the unruly Paris mob stormed and attacked the prison of Bastille which was considered a symbol of terror and despotism.
3. Name three famous writers and philosophers who influenced the French Revolution. What were their ideas?
Ans. These were John Locke, J.J. Rousseau and Montesquieu. John Locke refuted the doctrine of the divine and absolute right of the monarch.
Rousseau proposed a form of government based on a social contract between people and government. Montesquieu proposed a division of power among the legislative, executive and the judiciary.
4. How was the French Society organised? What privileges did certain sections of society enjoy?
How far was the French society responsible for the drastic changes brought about by the revolution?
Ans. French society in the eighteenth century was divided into three Estates–two privileged estates–the clergy and the nobility, and the Third Estate comprising businessmen, traders, lawyers, peasants, workers, poor people. Out of these, only the members of the Third Estate paid taxes. The maximum burden of taxes was borne by the common people, which gave rise to the ‘subsistence crisis’. The growth of an enlightened, educated middle class and the role of philosophers like Locke and Rousseau, together brought about the changes caused by the revolution.
5. What were the causes of the empty treasure of France under Louis XVI? Assess any three causes.
Ans. (i) Long years of war had drained the financial resources of France. Under Louis XVI, France helped the thirteen American colonies to gain their independence from the common enemy. The war added more than a billion livres to a debt that had already risen to more than 2 billion livres.
(ii) Lenders who gave the state credit began to charge 10 per cent interests on loans. So the French government was obliged to spend an increasing percentage of its budget on interest payments alone.
(iii) The cost of maintaining the army, the court, government officials and universities was very high.
6. How was the Church responsible for the French Revolution? Mention three points.
Ans. (i) The members of the church, clergy belonged to the First Estate. The clergy enjoyed all privileges with no obligations. They lived in pomp and extravagance which led to resentment among the members of the Third Estate.
(ii) The church was the owner of a big chunk of land in France. It maintained a feudal setup.
(iii) The church too extracted its share of taxes called tithes from the peasants. Apart from this, the church also collected several other dues..
Long Answer Type Questions.
1. ‘‘The inequality that existed in the French society in the Old Regime became the cause of French Revolution.’’ Justify the statement by giving three suitable examples.
Ans. (i) Peasants constituted about 90 per cent of the population but about 60 per cent of the land was owned by nobles, the church and richer members of the Third Estate.
(ii) The members of the First Estate and the Second Estate, that is the clergy and the nobility, enjoyed certain privileges by birth. The most important of these was an exemption from paying taxes to the state. The nobles further enjoyed feudal privileges. These included feudal dues, which they extracted from the peasants, peasants were obliged to render services to the lord–to work in his house and fields, to serve in the army and to participate in building roads.
(iii) The burden of financing activities of the state through taxes was borne by the Third Estate alone. Taxes included tithes collected by the church from the peasants and taille, a direct tax, and a number of indirect taxes which were levied on items of everyday consumption like salt and tobacco.
Thus the members of the Third Estate groaned under heavy taxation with no privileges this led to a deep sense of resentment among the members of the Third Estate who galvanised and led the revolution.
2. Why did King Louis XVI conclude to increase taxes? Assess any three points.
Ans. (i) Upon his accession, Louis XVI found the treasury empty. Long years of war had drained the financial resources of France. France had helped the thirteen American colonies to gain their independence. Total debt rose to more than 2 billion livres. Lenders began to charge 10 per cent or more as interest.
(ii) Added to this financial burden was the huge cost of maintaining an extravagant court at Versailles.
(iii) The French government was obliged to spend an increasing percentage of its budget on interest payments alone. To meet its regular expenses, such as the cost of maintaining an army, the court, running government offices and universities, the state was forced to increase taxes.
3. ”The French philosophers of the 18th century greatly influenced the people and it led to the French Revolution”. Comment on this statement.
Ans. Philosophers such as Montesquieu and Rousseau put forward ideas envisaging a society based on freedom and equal laws and opportunities for all. In his Two Treatises of Government, John Locke sought to refute the doctrine of the divine and absolute right of the monarch. Rousseau carried the idea forward, proposing a form of government based on ‘social contract’ between people and their representatives. In the Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu proposed a division of power within the government between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. This form of government was put into force in the USA. It was an important example for political thinkers in France.