The French and Russian revolutions had some very similar characteristics that created drastic unrest from the people. The two countries both faced an extremely harsh economy that was leaving citizens impoverished. In an article on the Princeton University Press titled The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions written by author Arno J. Mayer, it describes the revolutions similarities “ Both revolutions began as revolts vowed to fight unreason, injustice, and inequality; both swept away old regimes and defied established religions in societies that were 85% peasant and illiterate…” Both countries were not acting responsibly, and the leadership taking place left much to be desired. The biggest difference was the prior attempt at a revolution by the Russians in 1905. The Czar response to this revolution was not promising. No new policies were put in place to appease the people which would lead to a real, intense, and bigger revolution in 1917. Protest, demonstrations, and chaos would ensue because of the hardship going on. The masses demanded reforms and had been ignored so things got worse. The outcomes for these two nations after their revolution were ultimately very opposite of each other. The French turned towards western democracy and shaped their country that way; whereas, the Russians went head long into communism.
The French Revolution took place in 1787 and was drastically caused by the over lavish spending of the French monarchy. The people were broke and hungry. The understood the situation and became wary and unwilling to support the rich. They no longer wanted the feudal system that was in place. Something had to give. In an article written by the Britannica called French Revolution 1787-1789, the authors write “The peasants … had attained an improved standard of living… and wanted to get rid of … feudalism so as to acquire the full rights of landowners and to be free to increase their holdings.” This illuminates what the people were feeling and why the revolution occurred in the first place. The French masses deserved the chance to prosper in their life and the only way to achieve this was by forcing the greedy nobility to make reforms. The very standard of living had been consecutively decreasing which was bringing an higher increase in death. The French life span had dropped significantly during this time. Which caused the situation to further implode. Another great factor that made conditions lacking in this nation was the previous wars they had been in earlier in the decade. These wars ended up being very costly and bad for the French.
There are many benefits that did come about from the French Revolution despite it being declared a dismal success. One of the biggest aftermaths that occurred was the ending of the feudal systems and its policies. The country became united and a very powerful country that for a time was prospering. Unfortunately, despite the revolution nothing was changing for every day people. The French tried to implement democratic policies and reforms such as a representative government fully equipped with elections. This would have been a great thing for a rising country; however, it would not last. Napoleon Bonaparte would seize control of France. This many would argue was the platform for totalitarian type dictatorships that would occur in the future through Hitler and Stalin. Despite this style of leadership that had forced itself onto the French population their would be policies that allowed good things. An example of this would be making the legal system equal for everyone and that all received justice; furthermore, the middle class was allowed to rise and gain a bit of wealth for themselves.
The causes for the Russian Revolution of 1917 were very similar to that of the 18th century revolution that took place in France. Horrible leadership and involvement in World War One or what is now as The Great War had left Russia destitute, impoverished, and riddled with corruption. The Russian people were very much as unhappy as the French had been even though they were a century apart. In an article on the Academica.mu.eud titled The Russian Revolution of 1917, the author says “ the government tried to help by passing factory acts to restrict the amount of hours one could work. However, their efforts were at too small a scale to have any real effect. As a result, there were many strikes and constant conflicts between the workers and the police…” This shows that there was a desperate need of the people for a better standard of living. They deserved better from those in leadership. The people began to support the Bolshevik party and agree with their campaign. The ideals expressed by the Bolsheviks was equality, peace, property, and food. This was refreshing and the masses in Russia revolted and allowed the Bolsheviks to seize power and crush leadership in control of the Russian people. Luckily, the operation for power proceeded with nearly no lose or violence. Bolshevik forces quickly and silently took over. They seized governmental and public buildings. It was very fast and efficient. The current leadership fled for safety and the Bolsheviks were effectively put into power. The Revolution was over.
The Bolsheviks leader Lenin’s first goal for the Russian people was to cease the nations participation to World War One. This Lenin felt was top number one priority for the people. He immediately sent out request for a seize fire pact from all countries participating in World War One. Quite obviously this was not heeded by any other countries such as the U.S, Britain, and other Allied Nations. The next move made was a peace deal with the Germans. The Russians were no longer involved in the war that was dominating the world stage during that time. The heavy price for walking away was felt by the entire masses of Russia. The nation had lost tons of money, lives, and lands. As part of leaving, Russia, had to give up many profitable territories such as Poland and Finland. As it was the Bolsheviks led the country further into communism. This is considered one of the biggest negatives to hit the world. The aftermath of the Russian Revolution of 1917 would allow communism to be unfortunately spread across the globe from this new government that was now in place in Russia. Due to the Bolsheviks tyrannical leadership the masses rights to freedom were taken away and education began to fail; furthermore, there was no longer a freedom to religions. People watched as churches and religious leaders were devastated. It was very harsh and would lead only further downhill. It would be the Bolsheviks administration that Joseph Stalin would be allowed to rule as one of the most notorious and tyrannical leaders in the world. He was Adolf Hitler’s equal if not better when it came to genocide, communism, and tyrannical leadership. The aftermath of the Russian Revolution would forever be felt throughout the world. Russia still feels the effects of that leadership even today.
- “The Furies:Violence and Terror in the French and Russian RevolutionsArno J. Mayer.” Mayer, A.J.: The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions. (eBook and Paperback). Accessed May 01, 2016. http://press.princeton.edu/titles/6786.html.
- The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “French Revolution.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Accessed May 01, 2016. http://www.britannica.com/event/French-Revolution.
- “The Russian Revolution of 1917.” The Russian Revolution of 1917. Accessed May 01, 2016. http://academic.mu.edu/meissnerd/russian-rev.htm.