French Revolution Source Analysis

For my source, I chose a series of three written lectures. The three divide the origin of the Revolution, the moderate stage of the Revolution, and the radical stage of the Revolution. The first section starts with the initial problems with the ancien regime and its basic structure, including a discussion of the three estates and their grievances. It then talks about the surrounding context, like the enlightenment and American Revolution. The second section starts with the Estates General and how it had not met since 1614, leading into the meeting on the 1788. The discussion on the meeting includes the national debt, conflict between Estates for power, and the formation of the National Assembly by the third estate. The section is finished with the revolution becoming more radical. The final section starts with the formation of the Sans-Culottes. It highlights the major power shifts between opposing factions within the revolution and the liberal use of the guillotine.

Overall the lectures are comprehensive and well written. It is well organized, dividing the different stages of the Revolution and the important events in each. The first section gives a good understanding of the Revolution’s context with the inclusion of the enlightenment philosophies and the example of the American Revolution. Leading into the second section, it connects this context to the revolutionary attitude in France. Also, the transition from the moderate to radical stage is fluid. It shows the separating factions within the Revolution and their discontents well. An additional touch that helps reinforce his points and add context is the primary source quotation at the beginning of each section and at certain points in the lecture.  Although the lectures are not directly affiliated with any college or university, the author, Steven Kreis, has a Ph.D. indicating that he has a thorough understanding of the topic area. Reinforcing his credibility, none of the documents are written for profit.

There are few problems with the documents. One problem is the detail regarding individuals involved in the Revolution. He mentions the enlightenment thinkers who indirectly cause the Revolution but uses only generic terms for those directly involved, naming political factions but rarely any individual leader. Also, though it was rare, there were a few areas where a sentence was unclear due to wording.

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