Think you’ve got trouble? Today is a public holiday in France. It marks the occasion when the mob rose up and broke into the Bastille, liberating a couple of half-wits and social deviants. It was only a small chimney fire in historical terms. But soon, the whole country was on fire.
The French should have realized right away that the Revolution would be more trouble than it was worth. A few years later, France was broke…at war…and her leading citizens were siding with the enemy. Not only that, hundreds of thousands were dying from small pox.
But that is the trouble with hisory; there’s no way to back up. And you never end up where you expected to go.
*** “The French Revolution didn’t change things as much as people thought,” said our historian friend. “It replaced one authoritarian, centralized government in Paris with another.”
There is no stopping history. There’s no backing up. Once the wings begin to fall off, the plane is going to crash; there’s not much you can do about it.
The French Revolution began calmly enough. “Reform” was everybody seemed to want. Meetings were called. Various reforms were discussed and implemented. For a while, it looked as though France might make a transition in a civilized way. But things inevitably heated up. A small number of aristocrats fled to England, Austria and Germany. There, they stirred up trouble. Soon France was at war with almost all its neighbours. Even the king tried to flee. And then, feeling themselves surrounded by enemies on their borders…and saturated with traitors, saboteurs and terrorists at home…the Terror began to squeeze the whole country. Scores were settled. Vengeance was meted out. By the time it was over 30,000 citoyens had lost their heads.
And when the butchery, the wars, the epidemics, and the mobs were finally cleared away…France was back in the hands of a monarch, one more powerful than Louis 16th.
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