Lesson 1 - Could the French Revolution been predicted (and prevented)?
The Seven Years' War was, in many ways, the last of the wars of religion. The Protestant nations of Britain and Prussia defeated the largely Catholic forces led by France. The economic consequences of French defeat and her subsequent successful, though expensive, support of the American revolutionaries, almost bankrupted the French state. But above all, it was the example of the American revolt, an ordinary people overthrowing a 'tyrannical monarchy', that was was most important about 1776. The Marquis de Lafayette the young French noble who went to fight with the Americans against the British at the age of 19, 'returned home to his native land full of ideas about liberty and republics.' The radical ideas of Tom Paine's Common Sense and Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal', provided a rational but revolutionary basis for the legitimating the power of the state. Democracy was to be the future.