‘French Revolution watershed of struggles’

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: Prof. Emeritus Aslam Syed has said that the French Revolution was a watershed event in modern European history that began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte
He was speaking as guest speaker at a Webinar on Discourse of History on European History from Antiquity to Modernity XII here on Tuesday.
Prof. Emeritus Aslam Syed has been serving the Centre for Religious Studies, Ruhr Universität, Bochum, Germany. He remained Chairman, Department of History, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and served the NIHCR as its Director.
The Webinar arranged online by the National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research (NIHCR), Centre of Excellence, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, was attended by many participants from all across the world ranging from students, teachers and researchers to have greater insights into the valuable views of the guest speaker.
It was the 46th consecutive session on the Discourse of History, a brainchild of the NIHCR Director Dr Sajid Mahmood Awan.

Prof. Emeritus Aslam Syed said that during the revolution period, French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape, uprooting centuries-old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system.

Responding to a question, Prof Syed said that in 1789, France was a powerful monarchy, and its society was divided into three unequal groups: the nobility, the clergy and the ‘third state’. The ‘third state’ formed the majority who were often mistreated and paid more and more taxes, he said.

Replying a question, Prof Syed said crises affected the country, prices rose sharply and the poorest did not have enough to eat. In the face of these injustices, demonstrations and riots broke out across France, he said.

Prof Syed recalled that on 14th July the revolution started when an angry crowd attacked the Bastille prison in Paris; the nobility and the clergy abandoned their privileges. In 1792, the monarchy was abolished and replaced by the republic. It was also when one of the symbols of the French Republic, the blue-white-and red flag, appeared, he said.

Responding to a question, Prof Syed observed that although it failed to achieve all its goals and at times degenerated into a chaotic bloodbath, the French Revolution played a critical role in shaping modern France by showing the world the power inherent in the will of the people.

The NIHCR Director Dr Awan conducted the Webinar by triggering a dialogue with Dr Syed for substantiating this discourse. This inclusive activity has been taken up every week for the benefit of students in general and capacity-building of the teachers and researchers. This programme is also broadcasted twice a week on Radio channel FM Power 99 routinely.