After the French Revolution ended in 1799, the battle for European supremacy between France and England escalated exponentially. Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power in France essentially ended the French Revolution and established France as a world power. The English, aware of France’s growing power and influence in Europe, signed a truce with France in 1802, which allowed artists, politicians and authors to resume traveling freely over the English Channel to France to cultivate their professions in a different environment. However, when Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804, tensions rose between the two countries and war resumed.

The British government’s hostile attitude toward the French Revolution perpetuated the conflict between the countries, and many of the conservative English nobles despised “the notion of domestic radicalism” (Dickinson 30). The English government, aware of the radical ideas that perpetuated the French Revolution, “clamped down on any form of political expression that hinted as French ideas” (Damrosch 13). For England, the war’s objective involved “directing, distorting, and dominating the whole of [France’s] economic life” (Briggs 146). However, England did not view the war with France to be totally encompassing—England developed an increase in employment and productivity and appeared to operate the war on an auxiliary agenda behind its own economic growth.

By 1807, England absorbed Scotland and Ireland to become Great Britain, and France had invaded Spain and Portugal. Under Napoleon’s strict rule, which essentially negated the desires of the French Revolution, France spread its empire to Eastern Europe, and it was not until 1815 that the French Monarchy was restored to the throne. Once the monarchy was restored, France’s political agenda became more conservative, following in Great Britain’s footsteps. Under the oppressive rule of George III (1760-1820), Great Britain taxed its citizens with an iron fist in an attempt recover the 339,000 pounds he spent for his extravagant lifestyle (Damrosch 16). Nearly half of the British government’s revenues came from taxes and affected the middle and industrial classes the most with this burden (Briggs 147-148). Because of the increase in taxes, which were used to pay off both the war and George III’s lifestyle, the lower classes suffered tremendous debt. The income tax was abolished in 1816, and as a result, the majority of the tax burden was forced on the lower classes, further separating the aristocracy from the other classes.

Tell me more about the history!

Take me back home!

Please visit the Links page for a list of all the cited works

Current Selection:

Frederic Chopin - Ballade No. 1 in G, Op. 23