Sample History Discussion Questions on French Revolution

Robespierre was extremely committed to the ideas of the French Revolution. How did his power over others corrupt him? How did this corruption prevent France from achieving the equality they strived for through the French Revolution? What are other examples in history of leaders becoming corrupted by their power?

History records Robespierre as a complicated and misunderstood leader who substantially influenced the French revolution. Robespierre exhibited political sympathy to the French citizen’s especially the ones with low social status and was against the idea of death penalties. When the French revolution began, Robespierre was eager to join, and he managed to rise to power and gain significant recognition. However, his rise to power made him corrupt, and Robespierre went against his temporaries of being incorruptible. The authority made him get rid of his old ideologies and he supported violence, for instance, he executed Louis XVI. Over two thousand individuals was executed after Robespierre was elected as the chairman of the Committee of Public Safety. His acts of violence as a leader negatively impacted the French revolution and made it impossible for the objectives regarding equality to be achieved. Robespierre’s name was symbolic during the French revolution period referred to as the reign of terror, and he is believed to have created a significant impact and authority over the events that happened during that time. While some individuals perceive him as the devil, others hailed him and branded him a champion of freedom and a leader that enhanced the protection of the democracy. Robespierre’s leadership style was characterized by dictatorship, similar to that of Hitler and this further hindered the revolution from effectively achieving its set goals. Although the revolution failed to achieve its goals, it shaped the nation and revealed that there is power in the citizen’s will. Examples of other corrupt leaders in history include President Ferdinand Marcos, Zaires president Mobutu Sese Seko and Mohamed Suharto.

When the reign of terror ended, France was not stable enough to form the republic the people wanted. What were the consequences of the French Revolution? Do you think that the social and political changes that take place during revolutions are worth the violence that transpires?

The French revolution resulted in a significant impact on France and its neighboring nations. The revolution played a primary role in eradicating the economic and legal barriers as well as eradicating the monarchies that ruled Europe. The revolution allowed the establishment of liberated and enlightened ideals of separating the state and the church, together with the inviolable rights and liberties for the citizens. However, the change came with negative implications, for instance, consistent warfare and violence that shed a lot of blood, executions, economic challenges, and invasion by forcing nations. These hardships made it impossible for France to set up the republic that the citizens desired.  However, the political and social changes that were conceived by the French revolution were worth the warfare and violence. Achievement of any social and political development is hard, and violence plays a significant role in enhancing transformations. Without the use of force, France would not have dominated and would not have overcome the superior troops they were fighting. Use of violence made it easy to threaten the ruling classes, and this made it easy for the will of the citizens to be heard and their goals to be achieved. Violence, therefore, served as a significant tool of achieving economic, social and political changes during the French revolution.

Before the French Revolution, France was divided into three estates based on social status. How did the differences in social status cause problems in France? Do you think there are similar differences concerning social status among different groups of people in the United States today? How does this create political and economic inequalities?

French was divided into three estates named the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. The differences in the social classes were evident as the clergy and nobility estates entailed individuals with high social ranks, who exploited the commoners. The commoners included poor citizens, for instance, peasants and beggars who in most cases were the urban laborers. Despite the commoner’s significant contribution to the economic development in France, they were not involved in any political systems or any leadership decisions, and their sufferings, frustrations, and grievances as a result of the different social classes were the central cause of the French revolution. The clergy and nobility, on the other hand, were the ruling classes and had high levels of income and wealth and thus thy dominated over the commoners and this fueled grievances and eventually led to the revolution. Similar inequalities in the social structures are also evident in the American society where the individuals with high social status occupy the best professions, access political positions and have a high level of income. Such differences in the social classes trigger a social and political crisis for instance when people from the lower classes cannot access job opportunities or equal resources with those in high social ranks, they tend to be dissatisfied. The dissatisfaction triggers social and political disputes, and this results in underdevelopment.