Flashcards in Chapter 5: French Revolution Deck (33):
What happened in the years immediately following the French Revolution?
There was a revival of political activity in Britain from middle class radicals, and it appeared that British politics was moving swiftly towards reform at the 'base of society'.
What was the main effect of the French Revolution on the government?
Despite the energy expended by the radical element, the main effect of the French Revolution was for the government to take a step backwards from reform towards repression.
Why does Briggs believe those appealing for reform failed to make any headway?
The feelings of the majority outweighed the influence of the radical societies; 'supporters of the established order' were well organised, and, working through their societies they were able to convince the public that radical activities were against the interests of the country; and the ugly events in France upset most decent-minded people and made them fear reform.
What did those against radical activity convince the of?
Persuaded the government that the dominant mood in the country wanted repressive policies and persuaded Pitt to take the lead from the prevailing anti-French sentiment in the country, rather than his own views, which until that time had appeared to be more geared to reform than repression.
What was the initial reaction of Pitt towards the French Revolution?
Believed that internal strife would preoccupy the French government to the extent that France would not disturb either Britain or European peace. His response was cautious but there was no sense of alarm.
What was the reaction of the opposition Whigs, led by Charles Fox, towards the Revolution?
Hailed it as a victory for democracy and freedom, viewing it as the French version of Britain's Glorious Revolution of 1688, curbing the power of an autocratic monarch and holding the Catholic Church to account.
What was the reaction of Protestant Dissenters to the Revolution?
Welcomed the revolution, believing it might open the way to more religious tolerance and end the discrimination against them.
What did Edmund Burke believe regarding the French Revolution?
1790, Reflections on the Revolution. Warned the revolution would end in bitter bloodshed. Some members of the aristocracy agreed with Burke, feeling threatened by the possibility of an uprising from the 'mob' but they were in the minority and Burke was mocked for what was regarded as extreme overreaction. His views put him at odds with his friend and Whig leader in the Commons, Charles Fox.
What did Tom Paine believe regarding the French Revolution?
1791, The Rights of Man. He made it clear that he viewed the Revolution as a triumph for the ordinary man. Called for political reform including universal male suffrage and reduction in the influence and privileges of the aristocracy. Envisagd a society in which advancement would be based on merit and government would take responsibility for welfare.
Who made up the audience of Tom Paine?
Self-educated, skilled artisan class, who were eager to better themselves. They formed Corresponding Societies in most large towns and cities.
What was the most influential Corresponding Society?
The London Corresponding Society set up by shoemaker, Thomas Hardy. The members wanted political reform and lower taxes and they exchanged ideas through 'corresponding' with each other and like-minded men in France, through meetings and distribution of pamphlets.
What attack happened in July 1791?
There was an attack on a group in Birmingham, who called themselves the Friends of France. July 1971 they were at a dinner to celebrate the fall of the Bastille anniversary when they were attacked by a local mob. The mob got out of control and attacked the homes of any known Dissenters.
Who was behind the attack on the Friends of France in Birmingham?
Possible that it was government agents. If government agents were involved, it suggests there was a move towards repression by the government, before the ugly events of late 1792 ever took place in France.
What was the reaction to the September Massacres, 1792 in Britain?
The September Massacres were met by general revulsion in Britain, except among radicals and convinced reformers.
What happened in France January 1793? What was the effect of this?
The French King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were executed. Pitt began to fear a threat to British interests and declared War. Many liberal thinkers in Britain who hailed the revolution as a success for freedom and democracy began to turn against it as they witnessed the extremes of French politics.
What was the Edict of Fraternity?
November 1792. Promised assistance to any nations rising against their sovereign, was followed by tthe French invasion of the Austrian Netherlands.
When was Pitt's first act of repression?
May 1792 as the Revolution became more radical. Order against Seditious Writings. Rapid spread of corresponding societies an various anti-government publications made Pitt nervous and so ordered against the writings to curb radical influence.
What acts of repression followed the order against Seditious Writings May 1792?
Magistrates' powers were extended and reformers were arrested, prosecuted and given severe sentences.
What happened May 1794?
Most prominent leaders of radical reform societies including Thomas Hardy were tried for treason, but were acquitted.
When was habeas corpus suspended?
1794. This enabled authorities to arrest and dettain a person without a trial. This was justified on the grounds that firm measures had to be taken to guarantee safety of the King.
What was the Treasonable Practices Act?
1795, made it an offence to speak against the King.
When was the Seditious Meetings Act?
1795, passed to curb large gatherings, in order to avoid potential riots.
When was the Aliens Act passed?
1793, passed to prevent French agents coming to Britain. Agent provocateurs went among working men deliberately stirring up trouble, in order to fush out radical ring leaders.
What happened to the press, regarding repression in the 1790s?
Censored, forbidden to report on riots and unrest.
When were Corresponding Societies and the Society of Unitred Irishmen banned?
1799. Pitt also took action to ban trade associations or unions, for fear that they were simply a cover for political action, by passing the Combination Act.
Why was 1797 a particular bad year?
Poor harvest, which spelled potential unrest; the Government, facing a financial crisis suspended cash payments and introduced a paper currency, and most crucially, the navy, upon whom Britain's security depdned, mutinied.
Why did the navy mutiny in 1797? What was Pitt's reaction?
The conditions for able seamen (non officers) were appalling, the pay was often months in arrears and punishments for minor offences were harsh. In the end, Pitt resorted to severe measures, hanging the ring leaders, to regain control of a basically loyal but undervalued and essential workforce.
What is the attitude to Pitt's repressive measures?
At the time, people thought he overreacted to the threat of incitement to revolution in Britain- British republicans were more noisy than dangerous. If Pitt genuinely feared revolution then it could be argued that it was a sensible precaution to extend the powers of the magistrates. If he was interested in reform before, he certainly laid it aside after 1792.
Were Pitt's measures effective?
Pitt's measures were ineffective in curtailing the activities of the reform movement and led to the restriction of political freedom in Britain.
How did Pit's perspective on the revolution change?
He had been positive about the revolution, but it had got out of hand and he felt it was his duty to safeguard Britain from the possibility of revolution.
Why was Pitt so repressive when he previously advocated reform?
Was encouraged by the support he received in Parliament, and many of his measures were in step with public opinion.
Why was there unrest at home?
A lot of the unrest at home was because of a spate of bad harvests, high bread prices and a slump in trade, but due to a desire to overthrow the British monarchy, though because the government feared the unrest was caused by radical agitators, the poor hungry worker got little sympathy or understanding of his plight.