The revolution is defined by the events of 17 alone.The founding principles and morals of the revolution were that of the bourgeoisie, and these can best been seen by such documents as the declaration of the rights of man, the decree abolishing the feudal system, the Cashier de Doleances referring to the middle classes, and the actions and constitution of the revolutionary government up until 1793 and the beginning of the terror.
The declaration of the rights of man on the 24th August 1789 and the abolishing of the feudal system are often pointed out as them most important evidence that the revolution was a bourgeois one, overthrowing the feudal Ancien regime after a power struggle.
The degree to, and speed with which French society changed after this has been much debated among historians.
Having done this I will then move on to examine the reign of Napoleon.
By doing this I hope to prove my view that, whilst Napoleon may be considered an inevitable consequence of the revolution, he was not its heir.
The most recent historical study on the subject is known as post revisionism and this tends to place more emphasis on matters such as chance than previous approaches whilst also stressing the importance played by the aspects such as popular culture and the psyche of the days society and influential groups and people.
Of these approaches I find the Marxist interpretation most convincing and therefore I will now move on to briefly explore this, in order to portray my definition of the French Revolution.
Having established my definition of the French Revolution, it is first important not to gloss over without mention to the years 1793 – 1799, before going on to look at the nature of the Napoleonic regime itself.
Inmy view these years can in essence be described as a crisis created by panic and a power vacuum.
This was essentially a critique of the Marxist interpretation.
This was followed up in the 1960’s and 1970’s by what is often called second generation revisionism, as historians such as Blanning and Doyle began to look more closely at the Nobility as a social group and found new definitions for the events in the years after 1789 up to when Napoleon took power.