Huberman French revolution

  • Issue: July 1989
  • Designer: A. Vanooijen
  • Sheet size: 120 x 80 mm
  • Sheet of 1 stamp (44.075 x 44.057 mm)
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

The French Revolution was a major turning point in the history of France, and the starting point for a new era in the history of the world. It began in 1789 and ended with the fall of Napoleon and the return of the monarchy in 1814.

The principal cause of the Revolution was the clash between the country's feudal social and economic system and the changes that occurred in the economy and power structure of French society in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In addition, new concepts of natural justice and the power of human reason, that proliferated in Western Europe from the middle of the 18th century, undermined the ideology and social frameworks previously regarded as eternal. The success of the American Revolution - with the help of French Army units - bolstered the emerging belief that man could control his own destiny.

The refusal of the aristocracy and the high echelons of the Catholic priesthood to accept the centralization of government in the hands of the monarch or to share the burden of public expenditure led to a serious financial crisis, and forced the King to call for a "Conference of Estates", consisting of separate representations of the aristocracy, the priesthood and the "Third Estate" (the great majority of the French people, led by the bourgoisie, whose true strength had no commensurate political expression). From the day the Conference was first convened, the situation in France became out of control. The storming of the Bastille - the fortified prison in the heart of Paris - on the 14th July 1789, was a symbol of the move to topple the old regime, and to this day is celebrated as the national holiday of France. Internal problems, as well as the co-ordinated opposition of European monarchs, fanned the fires of the Revolution, leading to the deposition of the King, his subsequent execution and the death of thousands. The bourgeoisie strove to capitalize on its new political gains and brought up from its ranks a talented young army officer, who, within a short time, crowned himself Emperor of France -Napoleon the First. After ten years of endless wars against a united front of monarchist Europe, Napoleon himself fell and the royal family returned to power in France.

Until the Revolution, the Jews in France lived on the periphery of society, as lower class citizens who were tolerated but no more than that. The Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern France were particularly oppressed. The decision of the National Assembly of September 27th, 1791 to allow the Jews full and equal rights and obligations (the "Emancipation") opened up French society to the Jewish community of the country for the first time. Among the reasons behind this decision were faithfulness to the basic concepts of the Revolution and a desire to see the Jews assimilate once and for all into French society. This was given succinct expression in the saying "For the Jew as an individual - everything; for the Jews as a nation - nothing". The French Revolution inaugurated a new era in Jewish history, a period when the Jewish people faced the challenge of retaining their Jewishness in a tree and open society, far from the contains of the ghetto.

The effects of the Revolution did not disappear with the return of the monarchy. Its influence in shaping society grew over the years, and the ideas contained in the "Declaration of the Rights of Man" remained in the hearts of the citizenry and radiated their effects on the world. The slogan of the Revolution - Liberty, Equality, Fraternity - is emblazoned on the banners of all democratic movements throughout the world.

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Bicentenary of the French revolution 1789 - 1989