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French Revolution (class 9th)


Q1. Read the extract given below and answer the questions that follow:

(3 marks)


Robespierre followed a policy of severe control and punishment. All those whom he saw as being enemies of the republic - ex-nobles and clergy, members of other political parties, even members of his own party who did not agree with his methods - were arrested, imprisoned and then tried by a revolutionary tribunal. If the court found them guilty they were guillotined. Robespierre’s government issued laws placing a maximum ceiling on wages and prices. Meat and bread were rationed. Peasants were forced to transport their grain to the cities and sell it at prices fixed by the government. The use of more expensive white flour was forbidden; all citizens were required to eat the equality bread. Equality was also sought to be practiced through forms of speech and address. Instead of the traditional Monsieur (Sir) and Madame (Madam), all French men and women were henceforth Citoyen and Citoyenne (Citizen). Churches were shut down and their buildings converted into barracks or offices.


Questions:

i. Which period was called the Reign of Terror?

ii. What was equality bread?

iii. Mention any one provision made by Robespierre.


Q2 Read the sources given below and answer the questions that follow:

(3 marks)


Source A: The Reign of Terror Robespierre’s government issued laws placing a maximum ceiling on wages and prices. Meat and bread were rationed. Peasants were forced to transport their grain to the cities and sell it at prices fixed by the government. The use of more expensive white flour was forbidden; all citizens were required to eat the equality bread, a loaf made of whole-wheat. Equality was also sought to be practised through forms of speech and address. Instead of the traditional Monsieur (Sir) and Madame (Madam) all French men and women were henceforth Citoyen and Citoyenne (Citizen). Churches were shut down and their buildings converted into barracks or offices.


Source B: A Directory Rules France The fall of the Jacobin government allowed the wealthier middle classes to seize power. A new constitution was introduced which denied the vote to non-propertied sections of society. It provided for two elected legislative councils. These then appointed a Directory, an executive made up of five members. This was meant as a safeguard against the concentration of power in a one-man executive as under the Jacobins. However, the Directors often clashed with the legislative councils, who then sought to dismiss them. The political instability of the Directory paved the way for the rise of a military dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte.


Source C: France Abolishes Monarchy and Becomes a Republic The revolutionary wars brought losses and economic difficulties to the people. While the men were away fighting at the front, women were left to cope with the tasks of earning a living and looking after their families. Large sections of the population were convinced that the revolution had to be carried further, as the Constitution of 1791 gave political rights only to the richer sections of society. Political clubs became an important rallying point for people who wished to discuss government policies and plan their own forms of action. The most successful of these clubs was that of the Jacobins, which got its name from the former convent of St Jacob in Paris. Women too, who had been active throughout this period, formed their own clubs.


Questions:

i. Source A: How equality was sought to be practised through forms of speech and address?

ii. Source B: Name the dictator who took advantage of the political instability of the Directory.

iii. Source C: The most successful of these clubs was that of the Jacobins, which got its name from the former convent of St Jacob in Paris. With respect to this, explain what is convent?


Q3. Read the sources given below and answer the questions that follow:

(3 marks)


Source A: The Struggle to Survive The population of France rose from about 23 million in 1715 to 28 million in 1789. This led to a rapid increase in the demand for food grains. Production of grains could not keep pace with the demand. So the price of bread which was the staple diet of the majority rose rapidly. Most workers were employed as labourers in workshops whose owner fixed their wages. But wages did not keep pace with the rise in prices. So the gap between the poor and the rich widened. Things became worse whenever drought or hail reduced the harvest. This led to a subsistence crisis.


Source B: A Growing Middle Class Envisages an End to Privileges The eighteenth-century witnessed the emergence of social groups, termed the middle class, who earned their wealth through expanding overseas trade and from the manufacture of goods such as woollen and silk textiles that were either exported or bought by the richer members of society. In addition to merchants and manufacturers, the third estate included professions such as lawyers or administrative officials. All of these were educated and believed that no group in society should be privileged by birth. Rather, a person’s social position must depend on his merit.


Source C: French Society During the Late Eighteenth Century In 1774, Louis XVI of the Bourbon family of kings ascended the throne of France. He was 20 years old and married to the Austrian princess Marie Antoinette. Upon his accession, the new king found an empty treasury. Long years of war had drained the financial resources of France. Added to this was the cost of maintaining an extravagant court at the immense palace of Versailles. Under Louis XVI, France helped the thirteen American colonies to gain their independence from the common enemy, Britain. The war added more than a billion lives to a debt that had already risen to more than 2 billion lives. Lenders who gave the state credit now began to charge 10 percent interest on loans.


Questions:

i. Source A: Enlist any one factor leading to a subsistence crisis.

ii. Source B: How the new middle class earned wealth?

iii. Source C: What is livre?

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