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

Feb 2019
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
The United Provinces was just the Netherlands, Flanders and most of Wallonia were under Spain until 1714, after which they were a part of Austria. Central Belgium was under the Bisphoric of Liege and was independent. I would also nominate the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for the candidate with most freedoms. I doubt France had one of the highest living standards through most of the 18th century.


Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
Look at how much the French strike these days. Or riot. It's clearly genetic. Must be something the Romans introduced to the Gauls, and topped off by those pesky Franks. It's all Clovis's fault...

in seriousness, French thinkers were at the forefront of the Enlightenment. And France's position as the dominant European power, and amidst weaker Catholic powers like Spain, and strong Protestant rivals like Britain, the Netherlands and the HRE, led to it spending monies on wars to contain their enemies. This in part led to the French Revolution, as King Louis had to borrow money to defeat the British in America and support the Founding Fathers/rebels.

I think also, other countries had by that time sorted their issues. England, and later the UK post-1707, had finalised its own tensions between the Crown and Parliament and had resolved itself being a Protestant country. The monarchy also wasn't absolutist, and the role of Parliament was more secure which wasn't the case in the Ancien Regime.
It was all a mix of these factors which imho led to France being volatile.
Dec 2017
Regnum Teutonicum
It began in France with the February Revolution 1848 and this was the spark for the German revolution in March of 1848.
Of course a United States of Germany didn't appear, but the German Reich of 1848/49 was existing. For several different reasons it ended de facto at the end of 1849 and de jure in 1851, when the German Federation, which had been dissolved, was resurrected. So the German Revolution of 1848 was short- and long-term success and a mid-term failure.
Oct 2009
Behind a screen
Look at how much the French strike these days. Or riot. It's clearly genetic. Must be something the Romans introduced to the Gauls, and topped off by those pesky Franks. It's all Clovis's fault...
I know you're joking, but France (especially Paris) has a long history of riots and internal strife.
So, I would say that all those revolutions are just an extension and more extreme form of something that was already familiar in some ways.


Ad Honorem
Mar 2013

Really I do think it is something along this line where France had the largest population of something like a middle class who were literate and had spare time when worker protests were first en vogue. Also France seemed to organize mass protests much more effectively than other places where the bourgeoise not only went on strike themselves but made sure to organize many others. Talking to some French people the idea of protest as a social value is actually quite high, not sure why it developed that way and also France has had varied amounts of strikes over the years- only in the last 20 years has France experienced more strikes than any other developed nation and I would guess that largely is related to the fact French workers in some sectors had previously won the most protections and guarantees- as those are chipped away by the government and business French unions try to fight back via strikes but it seems they have worn down public sentiment by striking so often as well less than 20% of French workers are unionized and people seem less empathetic when union workers strike to preserve benefits no other workers have. Macron has probably won this round but I'd guess France is still likely to have more strikes than most areas due to cultural attitudes and provisions of French law and traditions about work rights different from other nations.
May 2017
After the Restauration,the intelectual counter attack of the monarquists wasn t enough strong:Maistre and de Bonald were second knives in front of Montesquieu,Diderot,Rousseau,Voltaire.The legitimist popaganda could only play on the remember of the red terror of 1793 and the errors of Napoleon,Spain,Russia …...
Jun 2017
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?
In the 18th and 19th century. The Protestant nations had a bunch of revolutions in earlier centuries, the Swiss like you mentioned might have been the only official Republic but England was mostly a republic after Charles I lost his head, King or no King and this applied to the Dutch even more so. You had the Poles too(don't know much about Poland/Lithuania, it's my blind spot in Euro history but it sure wasn't a monarchy), the idea that France was the first major republic is a narrative that inflates the importance of the American and French revolutions. Don't confuse countries not becoming formal republics and retaining their monarchy like England and the Netherlands as a substantial difference from republicanism.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
the revolution and the glory of the generation of 1793 was a strong fire in the heart of many of the best
the people had risen and swept all kings and their lackey from the battlefields
any soldier could become a general , slavery was abolished , universal vote for all ( males)
this was a political pattern which ignited many others ,
from France all over Europe and later all over Asia south america and Africa
the people power unleashed , totally , against its would be masters