The French monarchy in 1789 crumbled down under the blows of the revolutionary movement of the French people.
The hatred against the corrupt regime found expression in the storming of the century old prison — the Bastille on July 14, 1789 which marked the beginning of the French bourgeois revolution of the eighteenth century.
All Europe was deeply affected by the revolutionary events in France.
The Tories and right Whigs in Britain were hostile to the revolution because they understood that the popular masses in England could take similar action against the privileged classes. Moreover, the ruling elite feared that revolutionary France could England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 enhance its international position which was detrimental to British interests. This explains why William Pitt the Younger entered the first coalition against France in 1792 together with Austria, Prussia and Spain.
The left Whigs who represented the middle class were initially sympathetic to the revolutionary events in France and their leader Fox hailed the storming of the Bastille as 'the greatest event in the world'. However, with the spread of the revolutionary developments they became scared by their scope and confined their agitation to parliamentary reform as a means of preventing a revolution in England.
The popular masses of England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 England wholeheartedly sympathized with the French Revolution. The social upheaval in France galvanized groups of working men to organize political Corresponding Societies in London in 1792 and the main provincial towns. The London Society was headed by Thomas Hardy, a former cobbler and its radical programme was for full political reform: universal male suffrage, annual parliaments, secret ballot, as well as freedom of speech, unions, press, meetings and a single income tax. Some societies went as far as to proclaim England a republic.
Most radical and influential were the Corresponding Societies. Politically-minded workers, artisans, journeymen and shopkeepers met in England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 their Jacobin clubs, addressed each other as 'citizen' and debated the issues of the people versus the privileged. In 1793 the Congress of the Corresponding Societies hailed the Jacobin Convention. A spate of radical pamphlets poured out together with cheap editions of the works of Thomas Paine and other progressives. The government became alarmed with such developments and instituted a policy of repression. Radicals were put on trial. Hardy was arrested. Paine had to immigrate to France, where he became a French citizen and an active participant of the revolution. The members of the Societies were driven underground.
In 1795 in connection with the England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 war against France and the difficulties in transporting products, there was a famine in England. In a number of places food riots broke out. William Pitt took harsh measures. England was divided into military areas headed by generals. Habeas Corpus Act was suspended. This gave the authorities a free hand to arrest and detain anyone they found necessary.
However, revolutionary events continued to spread. Most dangerous of all for the government and the ruling oligarchy was the mutiny in the fleet in 1797. The events in England at the end of the 18th century vividly show the degree of England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 social tension in the country. The French Revolution galvanized the struggle of the popular masses in the country. However, no revolution took place. This can be accounted for three reasons. In the first place, a bourgeois revolution had already taken place in England in the 17th century, which on the whole removed the most serious obstacles on the way of capitalist development. Secondly, the ruling classes in England held the power firmly in their hands, because of the close alliance between the bourgeoisie and the gentry. Thirdly, the independent peasantry had been destroyed almost entirely as a result England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 of the enclosures, and it could not be a fighting force in a revolution. The working class on the other hand was just emerging as a basic class of capitalist society. It was still weak and politically immature.
Unit 6. England in the 19th century
6.1. England at the beginning of the 19th century. The period of Napoleonic wars.
6.2. England in the first half of the 19th century. The economic and political development of Britain after the Napoleonic Wars. The Period of Reaction.
6.3. The struggle for Parliamentary Reform. The Reform Act of 1832.
6.4. Post-Reform England.
6.5. Chartism and its main trends. The historical England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 significance of Chartism.
6.6. Britain in the fifties of the 19th century. Britain the 'workshop of the world'.
6.1. England at the beginning of the 19th century. The period of Napoleonic wars
The growing hostility of England towards the development of the revolution in France finally led to war between the two countries. In 1793 using the execution of the French king as a pretext England severed diplomatic relations with France and declared war. England together with Austria, Prussia and Spain already at war with France formed the first coalition which lasted four years up to 1797. In the course of the war Prussia England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 and Spain withdrew from the conflict while the defeat of Austria put an end to the first coalition.
During the second coalition (1799 – 1801) the allies attempted to undo the gains made by Napoleon previously. The Russian army in severe conditions under the command of Suvorov defeated the French in north Italy and was approaching French territory while admiral Ushakov dealt severe blows to the French fleet.
However, Napoleon managed to defeat Austria in 1800 and Russia formed armed neutrality with Denmark and Sweden. Soon England made peace with France. In 1804 Napoleon consolidated his autocratic power being declared emperor. Tension between England and France England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 broke into open war and a third coalition of England, Russia, Austria and Sweden was formed in 1805.
At this stage of the war Napoleon was determined to invade England and thus conquer his main rival. He gathered a large army at the French channel port of Boulogne. In this tense period a march of Russian and Austrian troops under the command of Kutuzov to the Bavarian border frustrated Napoleon's plans. He had to direct his army to repulse Britain's allies. The immediate danger to Britain was past. Moreover, Napoleon was eventually compelled to abandon England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 his invasion plans. The emperor decided to confine his military operations on the mainland. Late in the same year he seized Vienna and won a crushing victory over Austria at Austerlitz. This meant a collapse of the third coalition. Russia and France negotiated the Peace of Tilsit.
Of all those nations that fought Napoleon, England alone seemed unconquerable. Safe from invasions by an expanse of sea and a powerful navy, she headed every coalition against France. The English, however, had one weak spot in their armour – their commercial dependence upon Europe. Without the European market the British economy would England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 collapse. Therefore Napoleon imposed a continental blockade of the British Isles: no French trader or trader of the occupied countries was allowed to deal commercially with Britain and British traders. Britain did the same for France. It was hoped that a British blockade might starve Napoleon into terms.
The British lost no time in making friends with the Portuguese, who welcomed assistance. It became necessary, therefore, for the French to reach Portugal, and to do so they had to go through Spain. Napoleon sent an army into Spain in 1808. Moreover he forced the Spanish ruler and his son to abdicate. The English England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 sent the Duke of Wellington, into Portugal. He recovered that territory from French control, extended his operations to Spain. In England itself two leaders Canning and Castlereagh were in deep conflict: Canning urged action in alliance with the Spanish guerrillas, Castlereagh was against such democratic contacts. This confusion over policy put the British army in a difficult position and it was only the Russian campaign that finally made it possible for the English in alliance with the Spanish guerrillas to oust the French from Spain.
Meanwhile, the bourgeoisie of the United States decided to take advantage of the England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 war between England and France and seized Canada. The English blockade against France affected American trading interests. Moreover, the British held up American ships and seized some British naval deserters and many Americans. They extended the list of contraband goods, forbade trade with the French West Indies. War between England and the USA became imminent and it lasted from 1812 to 1814.
The fate of Napoleon's empire was decided in Russia. It was the heroic resistance of the Russian people and the army in 1812 that led Napoleon to his final downfall. The Allies assembled at the Congress of Vienna England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789. Napoleon's return caused the allies to bury all differences for the time being and to make one more grand coalition against him.
The allied powers at the Vienna Congress formed the so-called Holy Alliance which was set to establish a regime of reaction all throughout Europe, to suppress progressive liberation movements, revolutionary ideas. The Congress of Vienna boosted English colonial interests. Moreover, favourable conditions were created for the expansion of British trade. However, the country suffered a severe economic crisis. Many industries and agriculture had been hard hit by the continental blockade and the war with America. Inevitably prices England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 went up, what was coupled with mass unemployment.
6.2. England in the first half of the 19th century. The economic and political development of Britain after the Napoleonic Wars. The Period of Reaction
England had suffered many hardships during the Napoleonic wars, followed by a period of a severe economic and political crisis. For one thing, industry was considerably upset by the sudden change from a war time to a peace time basis. The heavy industries were the first to experience the effects of the economic crisis. This in its turn increased mass unemployment. High bread prices meant hungry England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 workers and constant opposition in the form of disturbances. The government responded by ruthless suppression. The prisons of which most horrible was Newgate in London were overcrowded.
All these things attracted a lot of public attention. But the prime minister, Lord Liverpool, and his government did nothing about them. Discontent and opposition grew in the country. The Luddite movement continued. Workers in many towns marched with flags calling for 'bread, or blood'.
Despite the suppressive acts of the Government social discontent was growing in the country. It found expression in the movement of radicalism which was gaining momentum in England. There England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789 were two wings in this movement: the moderate right wing led by such philosophers like Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill and the other Philosophic Radicals and the left wing. Especially influential among the moderate right was Jeremy Bentham and his basic concept 'Utility'. His ideas had an almost incalculable effect on the minds of the bourgeoisie.
The left wing was headed by Henry Hunt (he was known as Orator Hunt), Richard Garlyle and William Cobbett. The latter was most radical in his outlook. He appealed to the workers for political action, persistent parliamentary reform and extension of the franchise England and the French Bourgeois Revolution of 1789.
The Tories were in power and they were firm in their desire to crush the movement for any reform in the country. Both Castlereagh and the Duke of Wellington — the leading figures in the Tory cabinet — dealt with the opposition movement severely and brutally.