A. Regime

Na call the Old Regime prevailing organizational form in Europe and its colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The term was invented by the revolutionaries of the late eighteenth century who wanted to end this system.

At this time the map of Europe was very different from today. Areas dominated by the Habsburg family, in Spanish and Austrian branch, occupied most of the territory, although the kingdom of France eventually became the great power of the continent in the late seventeenth century.

As to the form of government, in the Old Regime dominated the absolute monarchies, where the person of the king controlled all the branches of government and authority was limitless. This system was justified, according to its advocates, because it was desired by God.

The Ancien Regime was organized estates, three groups with different rights and obligations. The nobility and clergy were the estates privivlegiados. Do not pay taxes, manning the affairs of state with the king and some even had rights over the peasants of their land, inherited from the Middle Ages. The rest of the population belonged to the third state, which also can call people. Although this group had wealthy (the bourgeoisie) its members had no right to participate in state affairs, were subject to heavy taxes and living conditions for most were very poor.

The economy of the Old Regime had changed very little from the Middle Ages. Agriculture was the mainstay of the economy and occupied the majority of the population. Still, the production was irregular and regularly lost crops and produce food crisis (famine and death). The craft had not evolved much. The guilds imposed strict rules and avoid competition and the development of new techniques. The trade, meanwhile, was hampered by poor communications by land and sea trade only began to develop a large scale with the colonies and could provide substantial benefits.

In the eighteenth century appeared in Europe, centered in France, a philosophical movement that began to criticize the form of organization typical of the old regime. We know the name of Enlightenment. It is based on human reason and proposes changes in form of government, and in the way of organizing society and the economy. Its most famous representatives are Voltaire, Montesquieu and Roussea. They spread their ideas through a critical publication, The Encyclopedia, which attempted to collect the wisdom of the time.

Based on the ideas illustrated in the second half of the eighteenth century English settlers in North America revolted against their king and began a war of independence. The triumph of the settlers led to the birth of the United States the first country in the world in which enlightened ideas were put into practice to organize the state, society and economy.

The French Revolution is a major event in the history of mankind because it marks the end of an era (the Old Regime) and open the start of a new era, the contemporary world. Many of its basic principles are now in force in democratic societies , so that our time is undoubtedly heir to his ideas.

The French Revolution did not put an end to the ancien regime so explosive, butopened a process of new revolutions throughout the nineteenth century would end with the old system of organization.

The causes of the French Revolution are numerous. Perhaps the most important was the great economic crisis in 1789, living France, who was in the majority of the population mired in abject poverty and hunger, and therefore unhappy. However, this would not have been sufficient had there not been an ideology which proposed the change of system, and that it provided the Enlightenment, the late nineteenth century had become popular among the French bourgeoisie, which was the social group that led the revolutionary process .

The revolutionary process was developed in several stages.

1. 1789-1791. The call of the States General by the king to seek advice from representatives of the estates led to the creation of a Constituent Assembly, which forced the king to agree to share his absolute power. When the king tried to react by sending the army, the people of Paris took up arms and started the real revolution. The Constituent Assembly, for its part, through a series of decrees ended the Old Regime in the social (and not have privileges for the nobility and clergy) and political (state powers are divided between the king and the representatives of the nation).

2. 1791-1792. The attempt to implement a constitutional monarchy failed when the king tried to flee France to seek foreign support and end the revolutionary process. His arrest warmed the spirits of the people, asking more drastic reforms. To calm the election was called for universal suffrage (male), which voted for the first time all men regardless of their wealth.

3. 1792-1795. Monarchy abolished, France became a republic. The highest authority fell to a new assembly elected by universal suffrage (National Convention), one of whose first acts was to judge and condemn to death the king. In the National Convention two political groups vied for power: the Girondins, moderate bourgeois ideas off of, and the Jacobins, representatives of the middle classes and allies with the most radical of the people, the sans-culottes. During the term Jacobin, the government of the Convention became a tyranny of their leader, Robespierre, and many revolutionaries were sentenced to death for not sharing their ideas. Finally, a coup ended the Jacobin government and put back power in the hands of more moderate sectors of the bourgeoisie.

4.1795-1799. After the fall of the Convention, it tries to establish a new more moderate regime, supported a new constitution. Now the power would be shared between two houses of representatives, elected based on census (only people voted with a minimum income). At the head of government would be a group of five people elected by those cameras, the Board. This regime had no popular support, and also had to face a war against all absolutist powers of Europe.

Amid a landscape of crisis, and amid fears that supporters of the old regime to regain power again, the French people and much of the revolutionary bourgeoisie supported a coup by Napoleon Bonaparte, who established a personal rule but maintaining the basic principles of the revolution.