the French Revolution
 

The French Revoution
- a backdrop of blood

 


The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of literature's great romantic figures, playing out his heroic role against a backdrop of aristocratic finery and a brutal new reality as France struggles to come to terms with life immediately following the French Revolution.

The Pimpernel is not alone, however, in being impossibly romantic. The entire French Revolution has been romanticised to the max and its three central tenets - Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité - may have become a slogan for all that the French like to say is what makes France great, but history suggests that the French Revolution was essentially a failure.

From the time that social unrest started to bubble over in 1789 until the ultimate rise to power of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804, those three maxims were oft-heard, but the fact remains that the French Revolution ultimately succeeded only in displacing a distant monarchy, nobility and clergy with a bourgeous clique surrounding a self-ascribed Emperor.

However, the French Revolution did succeed in changing that country forever. After the fall of Napoleon, it was clear that France would never again return to being ruled by an unworkable alliance of The Nobility (the First Estate), the Clergy (The Second Estate) and the Commons (the Third Estate).

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