Why was France more susceptible to revolutionary sentiment in the 18th and 19th centuries than other countries were?


Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
I would ignore the 1848 revolution. Virtually all of Europe burned that year, so France was definitely nothing special
The reason to not ignore France in 1848 is that unlike almost everywhere else, the French revolutionaries in 1848 were successful. That alone sets it apart and merits closer scrutiny. The Reactionary forces were still stronger elsewhere in continental Europe than in France.
Likes: Ichon


Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
Didn't these revolutions begin in France, though?
More like it began in Germany, and then it spread, not least to all kinds of places either like Germany still not unified, or under direct foreign domination.

Germany was the Big Stakes in the revolutionary year of 1848. The defeat of it postponed German unification by decades. And if a massive The United States of Germany had appeared right in the middle of Europe in 1849 or so, the really would have put European 19th c. history on a different tangent.
Likes: Futurist
Apr 2015
It was not just those four years mentioned by the original poster, or the other few years mentioned by a subsequent poster. French people revolt/strike/protest all the time. And it's not "peaceful demonstrations" - it usually involves significant property damage if not bodily injury. Even several times in the 20th century. They even did it this year.

It's not because of certain leaders, philosophical ideas, or economic developments. The French are just a revolting lot. It's in their blood, like wine and cheese.
Likes: Futurist


Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
Lorraine tudesque
Why was France more susceptible to revolutionary sentiment in the 18th and 19th centuries than other countries were? I mean, France had four revolutions between 1789 and 1900 (specifically 1789, 1830, 1848, and 1870) whereas other countries had either one or zero revolutions during this time. France was also the first large European country other than Switzerland (which wasn't that large in comparison to France) to become a republic--with it becoming a republic in 1792, 1848, and again in 1870--with France almost permanently keeping its republican form of government since 1870 (there were several years during WWII when France had to endure Vichy rule, but then republicanism was restored in France). The only other large European country to become a republic in the 19th century was Spain--and its republican experiment quickly fizzled out (just like it did during a second attempt in the 1930s).

Why exactly was France more susceptible to revolutionary sentiment and republicanism in the 18th and 19th centuries than other countries were? By the late 1870s, republicanism was the dominant position in France while the idea of republican government elsewhere in Europe at that point in time still seemed like an extremely long way off.

Any thoughts on this?
Because of Axterix

Likes: Futurist
Feb 2019
I think it's partially a cultural thing, they revolt and protest all the time. In the ear of the French Revolution (I:E the 18th century.) the instability was hardly exclusive to France. We had the American Revolution, the several uprisings in Spanish colonies both before and after the Peninsular War. The Batavian Revolution in the Dutch Republic, the Brabant Revolution in the Austrian Netherlands, many revolts in the Ottoman Empire etc.

In the 19th century there was a split between the Republicans, Bonapartists, Bourbon Royalists and Orleanists so this played a part. However Spain also had some uprisings and civil wars, Austria too experienced much instability and so did Russia. Netherlands had the Belgian Revolution, even the British Empire had to fight some revolts in India and elsewhere. The Ottomans are self explanatory. France was hardly the only country to experience revolutions and instability.
Likes: Futurist


Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
Probably we can say that, not being on the other side of the Ocean [like the United States], France, after the end of the absolutism and the French Revolution, had to deal with external influences as well, influences which wanted a "safe" restoration of the Ancient Regime. But the Third State had obtained some freedom and social importance. France was a very populous country [France counted about 26,500,000 inhabitants, Great Britain about 10,500,000 around 1800CE], this means that the Third State had numbers to "moderate" any attempt of restoration.

We could say [about the matter of strikes] that the Third State is still there and still well active against the establishment, overall when the establishment doesn't seem to represent that very large part of the French population.
Jan 2017
France had the highest standards of living. In addition France also had the most freedoms of any country in Europe outside of England. And one of the highest literate rates among the general populace of Europe. With the added problems of family structure and regional loyalties breaking down (thanks to urbanization and other events for the last few centuries).

As many sociologists say, these four factors lead to instability more than anything else is what leads to social discontent, eventually revolutions, and later social instability.
I don't think this is necessarily true. The nation with the most freedoms in Europe was the United Provinces, now known as The Netherlands and Belgium.

One big problem in France during the 18th century was the state syphoning revenue through comparatively higher taxation. French goods were highly prized in other nations and French exports were comparatively high, but the state was all over it in terms of tax.

I think I agree with your general argument, though, too much state interference in a population that had the will and understanding to do something about it.


Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
Welsh Marches
Louis XVI:incompetent.
Charles X and Polignac:the worse,the top,the hit parade of the nullity.
Louis Philippe:to reactionar.
Napoleon III:the man of the peace with 6 wars…..
France could have made the transition to a constitutional monarchy on British lines, but the kings were too reactionary, especially Charles X - it is funny to think that he lived in England for so many years.