Comparing and Contrasting the French and Industrial Revolutions The French Revolution and Industrial Revolution were both times of great change. The Industrial Revolution lasted over 100 years while the French Revolution lasted just over fifteen. Even though the two revolutions are very different in length, they have many similarities. In this paper I’m going to tell you four them and four differences.
These two revolutions were the same in that both allowed for social mobility; both left behind new ideas, inventions, and political ideas when they finished; both gave more rights to the commoners by the time they ended; and both had an impact on Great Britain. Before the French Revolution, France had a very rigid social structure. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Estates made up the classes. The 1st Estate was the clergy, or church. It was divided into the upper clergy – bishops, archbishops, and the like, and the lower clergy – priests and monks who actually taught God’s word out in the country.
This class made up 1% of France’s population. The 2nd Estate was the nobility, the people of title. They made up 2% of France’s population. The 3rd Estate was the lower class who constituted 97% of the population. It was made up of the burgeois – merchants, skilled and educated laborers; the Proletariat – workers who were skilled or unskilled; and the Peasants, who were tied to the land like indentured servants.
The upper two classes had all the wealth and rights, while the 3rd Estate had no money or rights and they couldn’t get them no matter what they did or how hard they tried. After the Revolution the French had laws from the Napoleonic Code like the abolishment of an absolute monarchy and the placement of all men as equals before the law. These reforms helped allow social mobility. Before the Industrial Revolution people were born into their social position. As the Industrial Revolution progressed people became able to move up the social ladder through their skills and through opportunities that arose.
For example, Richard Arkwright went from being a barber to being knighted by George III and having a vast fortune. Both revolutions left behind new ideas, inventions, and organizations. The French Revolution gave France the end of all absolute monarchies, a public school system, the Bank of France, the required payment of taxes by all French, and new clear and consistent laws which replaced the old Feudal Laws.
All these things were new to the French. In the Industrial Revolution many things were invented like the flying shuttle, the spinning jenny, the waterframe, the spinning mule, the power loom, the cotton gin, the steam engine, the discovery of steel, the paving of roads, the first modern canals, the steamboat, interchangable parts, the first use of division of labor, the assembly line, the car, the telegraph, the wirless telegraph, the oil – powered internal combustion engine, the zepplin, and the airplane. The middle class also developed through this revolution. Due to bad working conditions, workers also united to form unions that would strike if something needed to be changed.
Unions are still around today and are used all the time. In France, the 3rd Estate had no rights before the revolution. They also had to pay many taxes. One family had a small piece of land, one cow, and a small horse but they had to pay 42 pounds of wheat and three chickens as rent to one lord and four pounds of oats, one chicken, and one shilling to another lord, plus very heavy tailles and other taxes.
They also lacked a voice in government. By the end of the revolution monarchs had been done away with which lowered taxes, the amount of taxes had been lowered and spread to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Estates, and inflation had gone down. The 3rd Estate also had social mobility, their natural rights like life, liberty, and property, and they were considered equal to nobles and everyone else when in court. Before the Industrial Revolution conditions in which the workers lived were extremely bad.
They had shoddy housing, children and women were forced to work due to low pay, there were long, strenuous hours, and the machinery was very dangerous. To try to improve conditions the workers formed unions. The unions organized mass strikes, when they refused to work, to get the owners’ attention and then they would begin to negotiate. Unions were a huge sucess and working conditions improved immensely. Both of these revolutions had a big impact on Great Britian.
During the French revolution Great Britian was cut off from trade with many European countries. The revolution also strenghtened Britian’s navy at the Battle of Trafalgar. When the British won there they removed the threat of one more naval power they had to compete with. The Industrial Revolution started off in Great Britian so they reaped many of its benefits. One was the doubling of their population from 1700 – 1800. It also led the textile industry with new inventions like the spinning jenny and the power loom. Great Britian also organized the factory system.
The differences between these revolutions are many, but here are just four of them. The French Revolution was easy on the working class, while the Industrial Revolution was hard on it. The Fench Revolution was bad for economies, while the Industrial Revolution was good for them. The French Revolution changed political powers, while the Industrial Revolution changed economic powers. And, finally, the French Revolution made farmers rich, while the Industrial Revolution made them poor. The French Revolution gave the working class the rights they had longed for for a long time like equality, voice, and fewer taxes.
The Industrial Revolution was hard on the working class because it made the workers work near dangerous machines that were unpredictable and often severed limbs or decapitated people. The houses they lived in were often owned by the owners of the industries so they were usually as bad as the factories. The streets were narrow, the framework wasn’t strong, and the neighborhood was filthy. It wasn’t the kind of place you’d want to live. The French Revolution made many economies suffer under Napolean’s Continental System.
Britian’s economy suffered because its trade was cut off. America’s suffered because it was forced to cut off trade with Great Britian. France’s suffered because nobody wanted to trade with them. Many of Europe’s other economies suffered since they couldn’t trade with Great Britian. The Industrial Revolution was good for economies because it gave them a chance to start anew with all the new companies. These new companies would make a new framework for a country’s economy. It also helped economies by giving them new inventions to trade with other countries.
During the French Revolution the German States were practically nonexistent, Prussia was a very small country, and the Italian States were separated from Rome. Afterwards the Italian States united, Switzerland was reborn, Prussia grew in size, the German States united, the Netherlands grew and the Austrian Empire expanded.
Before the Industrial Revolution Britian, Spain, and France were the major economic powers. Afterwards the U.S. became a major power also. The French Revolution was good for farmers because France needed grains for famine and an army. This was a lot of grain.
The Industrial Revolution was bad for farmers because it took resources away from agricultural business, with the exception of cotton, and put those resources into industrial inventions, factories, and products. You’d have wanted to be a cotton farmer back then. I hope this paper has showed you that two seemingly different revolutions were different in many ways, but they were very much alike in other ways.