The collapse of the existing power structure followed by lengthy struggles over the shape of a new one in England, North America, and France.
The Jewish revolts against ancient Rome and the Hussite wars were examples of earlier revolutions.
Massive shifts in civilization have produced deep conflicts within the West and across the world, which have become more common in modern times.
The revolutions of the 17th and 18th century were followed by many more in the 19th and 20th century.
The English, North American, and French revolutions were the result of shifts in civilization that began in the late Middle Ages.
English country gentlemen, American merchants, and French aristocracy were some of the people who resisted increases in central government power.
The king of England, the Parliament, American colonists, the British government, French nobles, and the peasants who worked their lands had to pay taxes because of the growing cost of warfare.
Powerful governments were at risk of collapse because of the discontents among both the elite and the mass.
The Enlightenment made governments illegiti mate in the eyes of those who did not share the religious beliefs or ideological views of their rulers.
Military strongmen used their armies to uphold their own visions of a new order, and counterrevolutionary regimes staged would-be restorations of the old order, as they claimed to build a new heaven and a new earth.
The turmoil of England's revolution ended in a compro mise that led to a new power structure that would eventually replace the old one.
The rulers of England were backed by a powerful class of landowning nobles and country gentlemen and were able to tax their subjects so as to fight worldwide wars.
They were limited monarchs who were bound to respect their subjects' rights, and Parliament allowed them to collect taxes in return for constant legislative oversight.
The Enlightenment thought that society was an arrangement among individuals to secure the earthly goals of life, liberty, and property and that rulers were agents of society who could be resisted if they overstepped their limits.
The American Revolution put these ideas into effect in a more far-reaching way than before.
It was the first democratic republic to govern a large territory and the first community that did not practice a specific form of religious worship.
The British constitutional monarchy was a compromise designed to uphold the country's existing society and values, as well as its commercial interests.
Europe's most powerful absolute monarchy collapsed in France at the end of the 18th century and the turmoil of revolution spread through much of the mainland of Europe.
The French Revolution ended in defeat, unlike the revolutions of England and North America, which ended in compromise.
The partnership of king, nobles, and Church in France could not be turned back because of the shifts in civilization that had undermined it.
After the merging of Greco-Roman civilization and the warrior societies of barbarian Europe, the traditional order was coming to an end, but the struggles over a new order were just beginning.
The English Revolution began as a religious and political struggle in the wake of the Reformation.
The power of the ruler and the Parliament was at stake in the political disputes.
This one ended in compromise like other seventeenth-century religious and political struggles.
The power of the ruler and the official Church diminished and the power of Parliament and the rights of subjects increased, yet the government was more stable and stronger in both war and peace than before.
The English Revolution was a precedent for change in the traditional power structure in many lands of Western civilization.
The Tudor rulers of England built a form of government that relied on the cooperation of the Parliament.
The relationship between the ruler and Parliament deteriorated after the death of Elizabeth I. James I of the Stuart family succeeded Elizabeth as king of Scotland.
The House of Commons was made up of elected representatives of the gentry and middle-class townsmen.
Most of them were Puritans, English supporters of the international Calvinist Reformation, and they had no affection for the religious compromises of the Church of England as reorganized by Queen Elizabeth I.
They didn't like James's foreign policies and extravagance.
They refused to approve new taxes when he asked them to.
James didn't have Parliament during most of his reign.
Charles I was worse off than James's son.
Unable to get Parliament to do his bidding on new taxes, he had to resort to forced loans and increases of established taxes.
The House of Commons considered Charles' violation of English constitutional traditions to be a serious offense.
The feudal principle that kings should rule according to law and respect the rights of their vassals was proclaimed by the Magna Carta.
There was a tradition of cooperation between ruler and Parliament that existed from the late Middle Ages.
When Charles summoned a Parliament in 1640 after a decade of rule without it, the stage was set for an open clash between the king and his opponents.
The measures against the king's ministers were taken by the Long Parliament.
The House of Commons raised a citizens' army to protect it after Charles tried to arrest the parliamentary leaders.
The first modern London revolutions were prepared for by the rest of the Commons and most of the House of Lords.
In the test of arms, the parliamentary forces kept control of the chief cities and seaports and the Civil War in England prosperous country districts of southern and eastern England, and they enjoyed the support of the navy.
Oliver Cromwell, a member of Parliament, organized a new model army to fight their campaigns on land.
The first citizen army to be recruited in the era of revolutions was made up of volunteer yeomen who disliked the established Church.
Cromwell's army defeated Charles's forces in 1646.
The coalition could not agree on what to do next.
Cromwell and his army fell out with the majority of Parliament over questions of religion and the future of the king.
Calvinism replaced Anglicanism as the state religion in 1649.
Cromwell was the leader of the revolution.
He decided that Charles should be executed because he was "ungodly" and attracted "ungodly" people to his cause.
Cromwell drove out the members who were against him.
The title and office of the king were abolished and England became a republic.
The majority of the subjects recoiled from the execution, which was the work of a determined minority.
Cromwell was able to maintain an orderly government through strong personal rule because the revolutionaries were divided.
His government was called a "Protectorate" in one of the written constitutions he sought to institutionalize.
He advanced the interests of the business class by encouraging trade and shipping, and he conducted foreign affairs to the satisfaction of his subjects.
This was not the kind of state that the Puritans wanted.
The first freely elected Parliament in twenty years was assembled after Cromwell's death.
The dead king's son, who was exiled in France, was invited to return as Charles II.
The nightmare of regicide (king-killing) and Puritan tyranny faded into the English past due to his arrival in 1660, but the image is not available due to copyright restrictions.
Parliament didn't intend to restore divine right.
The Anglican Church was once again the established church, but it did not uphold political absolutism.
The bloody revolution and Cromwellism were viewed as mistakes, but few wanted to return to 1600.
Charles II was suspected of having reservations, but he accepted all this on the surface.
He avoided extreme policies because he could not forget the shadow of exile.
James II cannot be compared to his brother.
James fears that "popery" might return to England after converting to Roman Catholicism.
After James's death, his critics expected mat ters to improve.
Mary was the wife of William III of Holland.
The middle-aged English king had a son born to him in 1688.
The leaders of Parliament secretly invited William to land military forces in England as they faced the prospect of continued political reaction and Romanization.
James sailed for France after William's landing.
The throne was declared vacant and offered to William and Mary.
The Revolution of 1688 wasglorious because it was decisive and bloodless.
The Bill of Rights was passed in 1689 in order to keep the new rulers in check.
The revolution started in 1642.
The Bill of Rights gave every citizen the right to petition the monarch, to keep arms, and to enjoy due process of law.
This was a restatement of the guarantees, but they were in a different language.
The triumph of Parliament was important for two reasons.
At the same time, it established a governing aristocracy of property owners and strengthened individual freedom.
The demand for more sharing of political power as a result of the wider enjoyment of civil rights eventually came about.
The way for a representative government in England was prepared by the Glorious Revolution.
Locke is what we have seen.
He was familiar with the scientific, philosophical, and political ideas of his day.
He thought that the Puritan Revolution and the Glorious Revolution were justified.
The first study rejected the theory of divine right and the second defended the right of rebellion and became an ideological handbook for revolutionists everywhere.
Locke denied that the state was founded by God.
The miserable condition of people in the state of nature gave rise to an agreement to establish civil government according to both.
Locke disagreed with Hobbes about the terms of the social contract.
Locke held that all people have certain natural rights, just as physical objects have certain natural properties.
Locke said that a society has power as long as it lasts, but that it delegates it to political agents.
The society is free, legally and morally, to resist any agent who pushes beyond set limits.
The ancient Roman ideas of natural rights and natural law were built upon.
Locke used the seventeenth-century style of reasoning and appeals to common sense to create a universal political theory.
It was a fiction to justify the actions of the parliamentary side in England's civil war.
The Lockean "myth" was embraced by Thomas Jefferson and many other revolutionary leaders as a "self-evident" truth.
The political thought of the following period would be influenced by a French Enlightenment thinker who lived later than Locke.
He was the Baron de Montesquieu.
He was involved in political affairs of the nobility and deeply concerned about the dangers of dictatorship.
The United States Constitution was influenced by these ideas.
The English and American revolutions were connected by Thomas Jefferson, who expressed many of the ideas of Locke and the Enlightenment in the Declaration of Independence.
This was only one part of the American Revolution.
The first expulsion of a European colonial power, replaced monarchical government with a republic, and established the principle and practice of popular sovereignty were all brought about by that rebellion.
The American Revolution was a model for other revolutions around the world.
English settlers came to the North American continent in the 17th century because of the overseas expansion of Europe.
The first modern revolutions were freedom from the strictures of the established Anglican Church.
The thirteen colonies of the Atlantic seaboard between Nova Scotia and Florida were inhabited by most of them after driving back the Native Americans.
The white population of these colonies grew to two million by the year 1750.
Some thirty colonies and companies in America and Asia were controlled by the king and Parliament after they were founded.
Colonies were seen as valuable mainly as a source of raw materials and as a market for exports, which would be dominated by Britain.
The costs to the mother country for defense and administration were heavy, the colonists broke through trading restrictions by means of wholesale smuggling, and they showed little desire to provide for their own military defense.
The collection of taxes and the regulation of trade were tightened after 1750.
British efforts to collect taxes were resented by the colonists.
The American theater of the French and Indian War brought victory to Britain.
There was no longer a serious foreign threat to the thirteen colonies because of the broken French power on the North American continent.
The Americans were defiant toward their rulers because they felt more secure.
The Americans refused to admit that they had the right to send no members to the British Parliament.
English leaders argued that the colonies had virtual representation since members of Parliament represented national and imperial interests as a whole.
Actions and counteractions were building to more entrenched positions.
Most of the colonists were moving toward the point of no return, even though a minority remained loyal to the British flag and British law.
The British king and Parliament were seen by them as tyrants who went beyond their legal limits.
The Americans began to think of seizing control of their own destiny after initially seeking help with their grievances.
The middle class in the city took the lead.
They realized that British mercantilism would check their own economic development and that their general well-being would always be subservient to imperial aims.
In a geographical perspective, Thomas Paine described the situation.
He said that it was absurd for a continent to be governed by an island.
The common order of nature makes it clear that they belong to different systems.
The cause of rebellion in America was helped by Paine.
The first international revolutionist of modern times, he aided the radicals in France and England.
The port of Boston was closed and the charter of Massachusetts was almost canceled because of the Intolerable Acts.
The British may have thought that the hardline policy would bring the colonists to their senses, but it didn't.
Representatives from all the colonies gathered at a Continental Congress in Philadelphia after protests and opposition grew in Massachusetts.
They formed an association to cut off trade with Britain after drawing up a statement of grievances.
Direct action was the result of the conflict of words.
The illegal step brought about a condition of armed rebellion.
In April 1775, British troops set out from Boston to destroy a rebel supply of weapons.
They suffered heavy losses on their return march.
There was a war going on for independence.
The Continental Congress reassembled after the skirmish.
George Washington, a distinguished officer of the Virginia colonial militia, was appointed the commanding general of the Continental Army after the Minutemen around Boston were enlisted.
The war lasted six years.
Britain, a leading European power, was hampered by long lines of communication.
The Continental Congress was unable to provide enough troops, supplies, or money because of internal differences that usually divide revolutionists.
Although the rebels fought bravely, they could not have won without the help of foreign powers.
After the humiliation of 1763, the French monarchy decided to aid the rebels.
The first significant American victory was won with French weapons.
The French declared war on Britain after watching the American success in that battle.
The Europeans swung the balance in the Americans' favor.
The surrender of the encircled troops of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown in Virginia in 1781 was forced by a French fleet controlling the waters offshore.
The United States of America was recognized as a nation stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River by the Treaty of Paris.
The independence of the new government as well as its bid for allies was proclaimed in 1776.
The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress.
It was drafted by Jefferson to justify the resort to force against Britain.
The preamble gives a reason for publishing the document, "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind."
The influence of foreign opinion on the outcome of a struggle for independence could not be ignored.
The Declaration of Independence is a masterpiece of revolutionary literature.
Jefferson didn't mention the colonists' reluctance to pay their share of defense costs, overlooked the long story of civil disobedience and provocative acts, and gave no hint at the deeper motives of the rebel leaders.
In an era of absolute monarchs, the king could be painted as a tyrant more easily.
Jefferson's version is marked by greater simplicity, clarity, and power, while Locke's version is marked by greater simplicity, clarity, and power.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and that there is a pursuit of Happiness.
Jefferson's view of humanity, government, and revolution remains an inspiration to believers in human dignity, liberal principles, and progressive social change.
There were serious divisions within the colonies, but they were moderate compared to other revolutions.
There was a minority of loyalists who opposed the revolutionaries.
Sixty thousand fled to Canada because of the rough treatment they received.
Most of the emigres did not return to stir up trouble after they left the colonies.
The former colonies needed to agree on a plan for self-government after independence.
There was disagreement over what form the union of the states should take after each new state drew up a constitution.
Many citizens who had previously lived in separate colonies preferred complete independence for their states but grudgingly accepted the idea of a loose union as provided by the Articles of Confederation.
The states sent delegates to Philadelphia to revise the Articles after the Confederation proved unable to meet the needs of commerce and defense.
The new constitution was drafted to form a closer union.
Europeans were fired up by the act of Americans framing their own basic law.
The new doctrine of popular sovereignty was explained here.
The Americans rejected the idea of any privileged persons or bodies.
The sole source of civil authority is identified in the opening words of the foreword.
A successful experiment in federalism was launched by the new document, in which individuals hold citizenship both in their state and nation.
The authors of the Constitution tried to balance the powers given to the central government with those given to the states.
The balance had to be adjusted through constitutional interpretation.
federalism is a noble endeavor to harmonize the requirements of centralized planning and power with the desire for local control.
The Constitution followed Jefferson's maxim, which became the founda tion of nineteenth-century liberalism.
They thought that the best way to protect against the human urge to power was to establish separate political authorities.
A division of executive, legislative, and judicial powers was established as a result of the states keeping a watch on the national power.
The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution at the insistence of many citizens.
The first ten amendments clarify and extend the principles of the English Bill of Rights.
Freedom of worship and freedom from an established church are supported by church leaders.
Every person has the right to freedom of expression, petition, and assembly, as well as the right to keep and bear arms.
The liberal principles embodied in the Constitution were well suited to the self-reliant temper of the American people and to the conditions of life during the republic's first hundred years.
With no strong enemies on their borders, Americans were free to use their creativity and talents.
During the Civil War, the federal power survived.
Great forces were not needed for external defense.
The closing of the frontier, the swelling of the population, and the rise of giant industry made conditions less suitable to limited government.
The French Revolution was sparked by the American Revolution and was the most violent and far-reaching upheaval so far.
France, the largest and most populous country in western Europe, saw drastic changes in its legal, social, and economic order after the French Revolution.
The struggle was intensified by passionate opposition at home.
It was a major turning point in the flow of Western history.
The French Revolution had no territory of its own and its effect was to face all older frontiers.
In spite of law, traditions, character, and language, it brought men together and divided them.
The impact on the Western world was not until the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The rulers, the nobles, and the Church shared power over a society where the land was the main source of wealth and most people were peasants.
The nobility and clergy of the catholic church were superior to the rest of the king's subjects.
The First Estate, made up of 100,000 Catholic clergy, the Second Estate, consisting of 400,000 nobles, and the Third Estate, made up of 400,000 people, are the three "estates" that determine the status of French people in the eyes of the law.
As lords of manors held rights of government and justice, they were able to extract much of the wealth they needed from the peasants who paid the largest share of taxes.
The legal division of society felt that nobles stood far above the rest of the king's subjects, even if they were just commoners.
Two things kept the system from being so unfair in practice as it was in principle.
Most members of the privileged orders did not live in splendid isolation above the rest of society.
There were tens of thousands of parish priests and nuns who worked devotedly among the peasants and townspeople, even though they were too busy at court to visit their dioceses or live in their monasteries.
Farm- and factory-managing nobles, shipowning nobles, and even poverty- stricken nobles were included in the list of courtier-nobles who scrambled for access to the king so as to win positions as ambassadors, bishops, and generals.
"nobles of the sword" who prided themselves on their own or their forebears' prowess, were joined by "nobles of the gown" who earned law degrees and worked as judges and administrators.
At all levels of society, inequality was accepted.
Younger children were not supposed to marry before older ones in high and low-income families.
In the villages, peasants with larger holdings intermarried to form hereditary "dynasties" that looked down on families with smaller holdings.
The traditional order had to at least partially satisfy the hope of most people that they would be treated better than everyone else.
Wealthy people could buy official positions from the king that turned them into tax-exempt "nobles of the hat" and look down upon taxpaying commoners who were still despised by nobles of the sword and gown.
Over many centuries, these safety valves failed to work, and force had been used to uphold the existing order against peasant revolts, religious dissidents, and discontented nobles.
The rebels turned to violence to make the existing order better serve their interests, but not to destroy it.
In the 18th century, France was feeling the effect of gradual changes, some of them under way since the Middle Ages and others more recent, that were causing pressures to build up and safety valves to become blocked.
An explosion of suddenness and violence would occur.
The increase in the power of rulers brought with it problems.
Like all systems of rule by one person, absolute monarchy depended on the character of the monarch, and France's eighteenth-century kings were not as dominating as Louis XIV.
The Sun King's grandson, Louis XV, grew up to be a capable but pleasure-loving ruler, while his own successor, Louis XIV, was indecisive.
Both kings were guided by powerful courtier-nobles and courtier-clergy.
The court of Versailles was designed by Louis XIV to keep the nobles out of government.
The absolute monarchy continued to fight wars, even though there were many victories but also many defeats, because of the enlightened despotism of Prussia and the constitutional monarchy of Britain.
These defeats made rulers, clergy, nobles, and commoners alike feel the need to restructure the French version of absolute monarchy at the same time as the government faced an increasingly urgent short-term problem that of paying for its wars.
The cost of war in France was met by increasing taxes and borrowing, but by the middle of the 18th century both sources had reached their limit.
The burden on the peasants had been growing for more than a century.
Many lords of manors had recently been using their power as lords of manors to extract every penny that the peasants owed them, because they were worried that the peasants might skimp on payments to them.
As the monarchy's debts mounted, so did the cost of repaying them, which had to be met by the taxpayers.
Government debts, oppressive taxation, and shifts in power within the partnership of ruler, nobles, and Church were nothing new, but this time the traditional order was under pressure in other ways as well.
The Third Estate's wealthy and well-educated business and professional people were outgrowing their humble position in the government and social order.
Many traditional beliefs and values were thrown into doubt by the new ideology of the Enlightenment.
The growth of the business and professional classes was related to many other de velopments that had been under way since the late Middle Ages.
The growth of trade within Europe and across the world increased the opportunities for manufacturers and merchants.
The absolute monarchy maintained price controls and guild rules to keep the poor from rioting.
Goods passing from one province to another inside France were an important source of government revenue.
nobles tried to prevent the sons of the bourgeoisie from entering military academies and began to resent the long-standing royal practice of creating nobles of the hat even while impoverished nobles sold their manors to wealthy townspeople or "manured their land"
The literate public, high and low, were reading the books of the sophes and being inspired both to idealistic hopes for future change and to cynicism and resentment at existing realities.
Many royal advisers were envious of Prussia.
Under the influence of the "cult of nature", Marie Antoinette built a village at Versailles where she and her ladies frolicked as milkmaids.
More than a few nobles began to believe that their privileges had become a bar to progress, and sought to lead France toward the British model of constitutional monarchy with a dominant but taxpaying aristocracy and an honored place for other social groups.
Some of the clergy, mostly the offspring of noble families, holding high Church positions, were no longer Christian believers, a development that inspired fury among humble parish priests while only increasing contempt for religion among less privileged unbelievers.
Growing fear and resentment from nobles, as well as the increasingly irksome restrictions of absolute monarchy, were liable to console bourgeois with the unaccustomed thought that all people were endowed with natural rights to freedom and equality.
The hopes, fears, and resentments came to a head in the second half of the teenth century, when the ruling partnership of king, nobles, and Church was strained to the breaking point over the question of what to do about the government's debts.
In 1763, King Louis XV and his advisers were faced with the problem of paying for a worldwide war that had ended badly for France.
They didn't think that the problem could be solved at the expense of the peasants, bankers or the government.
The solution would have to come at the expense of the privileged orders, and as a first step the government announced a tax on land belonging to nobles.
This was a language that had been used by English gentry and Puritans and would soon be used by North American colonists.
The people using it now were members of the privileged orders of France.