Throughout class this week, we have looked the French Revolution and how the revolution shaped French culture and politics. Yet before looking at how the revolution shaped this new France, one must understand the reasons why people started to believe in the revolution in the first place. One of these reasons was Maximilien Robespierre, author of The Cult of the Supreme Being. In this piece, Robespierre justifies the revolution for he claims that the Supreme Being “did not create kings to devour the human race” (Robespierre 1), which was what the Crown was doing to the native French people. Furthermore, Robespierre claims, “O generous People, would you triumph over all your enemies? Practice justice, and render the Divinity the only worship worthy of Him,” (Robespierre 1) and “Frenchmen, you war against kings; you are therefore worthy to honor Divinity,” (Robespierre 1). Here, Robespierre is trying to fire up the native peoples and explain to them that the Supreme Being would want them to overthrow the King, for if they did they would be found “worthy to honor divinity.” Lastly, Robespierre does a tremendous job because he is purposefully ambiguous by never mentioning God; for he appeals to both believers (for they think the Supreme being is God) and atheists (for he claims that all people are meant to help one another). By appealing to both believers and non-believers, Robespierre is able to unite the people of France through his work, firing everyone up about fighting back against the Crown.
Once the revolution was under way, the French experienced many changes involving their culture and politics. In order to change their culture, frenchmen and women deemed it necessary to eliminate their past and start over. In order to eliminate their past, one can argue that they took extreme measures. For instance, children would not be named Louis, Henry or Francis, for those represented old France and the evil rule known as the Crown (this can be seen as both cultural and political change). Continuing this pattern, the French eliminated bishops, kings and queens as chess pieces and playing cards; for it brought them back to the Crown and their rule. Furthermore, the French changed their salutations all together and vowed to never say the words, “obedient and humble servant,” for the believed that they were not subject to the King and his rule anymore. While these actions may be considered somewhat radical of the French, it was deemed necessary for the fact that they have lived under the Crown for so long and this was a way in which they could start over, forgetting about their troubled past with the Crown.