I don't wholly agree about the low quality of the leaders. The variety of leaders was as 'unsimple' as you rightly say the events were. There were others better than the leaders of the Terror, but, as is often the case in times of chaos and upset, the most ruthless prevailed (as with Stalin, even Cromwell in a way).At one time during my college years, I was under the impression that the French Revolution was a single, singular event. That shows you how little attention I paid in that course. Over the ensuing years, I gradually became aware through various readings on the subject that the reality was quite different. Like a coat of many colors, the French Revolution turned out to be a rather complex event that took decades to come to fruition. Oh yeah, there were some kings and an emperor that stood in the way of its realization. That, and heads that rolled into bushel baskets, but we don’t need to sensationalize this, do we?
So, it was a “revolution” that, well, that failed and it wasn’t until, literally, decades later, it finally succeeded. I’m wondering why so many posters in here lionize this revolution so much considering what a bloody botch it really was. Understand, I fully believe that France needed a revolution, just not one that was so throughly botched in its execution and the apparently low quality of the revolution’s leaders. The whole ”Napoleon thing” wound up costing the French nation around a million of their citizens’ lives. Great job.
The French Revolution was certainly an earthquake in the European landscape and it’s easy to see why monarchies next to France experienced feelings of existential angst which, following the advent of Napoleon was well and fully justified.
With higher quality and thoughtful leadership it might have gone differently. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.