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The French Revolution and What People Thought

  • From the beginning, the revolution was not universally accepted in France or in Europe.
  • Throughout France many who disagreed with the innovations of the Revolution were aristocrats whose privileges were threatened.
  • Intellectuals and common people who supported the monarchy also opposed the Revolution
  • Most Europeans, were repulsed by the revolution and sympathized with the plight of Louis XVI and his family.
  • At the same time a number of Europeans declared the revolution to be the future of Europe, and revolutionary talk became the rage among Europeans schooled in the thought of the philosophes.
  • The most famous counter-revolutionary theoretical work was written by Edmund Burke in 1790: Reflections on the Revolution in France . In this work, he declared that human beings were not abstract entitites, but products of tradition and history. Therefore, one could not throw out centuries of history and remake government from the ground up based on abstract principles such as "rights." Failure to take account of history, in Burke's view, would end up tearing French society into pieces.
  • Until 1792, however, this counter-revolutionary sentiment was just that—sentiment.

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