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The French Revolution


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Title: The French Revolution

The French Revolution
Consider the Following
  • Questions to Consider
  • What is a just and fair society?
  • How much violence is justified in achieving a
    just society?
  • Do people have the right to overthrow what they
    see as an unjust system? To replace it with what
    people are convinced is a more just system.

On the Eve of Revolution
  • Under Frances ancien regime, there were three
    social classes, or estates. The First Estate was
    the clergy, who enjoyed great wealth and
    privilege. The Second Estate was the titled
    nobility. They held top jobs in government, the
    army, and the courts. The vast majority of the
    population, including the bourgeoisie, formed the
    Third Estate. The bulk of the Third Estate
    consisted of rural peasants. The poorest members
    of the Third Estate were urban workers. Members
    of the Third Estate resented the privileges
    enjoyed by their social betters. The First and
    Second Estates were exempt from most taxes, while
    peasants paid taxes on many things, including
    necessities. The Enlightenment ideas led people
    to question the inequalities of the old social
    structure. The Third Estate demanded that the
    privileged classes pay their share. Economic
    troubles added to the social unrest. Deficit
    spending had left France deeply in debt. In the
    1780s, bad harvests sent food prices soaring.
    Louis XVI chose Jacques Necker as an economic
    advisor. Later, the king was forced to dismiss
    Necker for proposing to tax the First and Second
    Estates. The crisis deepened. Powerful nobles and
    clergy called for a meeting of the
    Estates-General to try to control reform. Louis
    XVI finally set a meeting at Versailles.
    Beforehand, the king asked all three estates to
    prepare cahiers listing their grievances. Some
    lists demonstrated the high level of resentment
    among the classes. The Estates-General met in May
    1789. After weeks of stalemate, delegates of the
    Third Estate abandoned the Estates-General and
    formed the National Assembly. Later, when they
    were locked out of their meeting place, the
    members took the Tennis Court Oath which desired
    a constitution. On July 14th, 1789, 800 Parisians
    assembled outside the Bastille, demanding
    weaponry. When the commander refused, the enraged
    mob stormed the Bastille, sparking the French

3 Estates (Classes) in France
  • First Estate--Roman Catholic Clergy 1
  • Do not pay taxes
  • Second Estate--Nobility 2
  • Do not pay taxes
  • Third Estate--The Rest (bourgeoisie and the poor)
  • Pay taxes

  • Financial
  • Debt from American Revolution
  • Seven years war
  • Soaring food prices
  • Deficit spending
  • Nobles refused to pay taxes
  • Banks refuse to loan France money

Phase 1
  • 1789 With the nobles still refusing to pay
    taxes, Louis calls an Estates General meeting
  • 1) Each of the three estates attend and get one
  • 2) The 3rd estate fears that the first two
    estates will gang up on them and control the
    vote in their favor.
  • 3) The 3rd estate decides to meet on their own
    The National Assembly, where they attempt to
    voice some of their complaints

National Assembly is Created
  • Abolished feudal dues
  • Nobles agree to pay taxes
  • ALL male citizens would hold government, army, or
    church positions

  • Reasons
  • Taxes
  • High food prices
  • Low wages
  • Reaction
  • Storm the Bastillesymbol of royal power
  • Looking for weapons but find nothing
  • The 3rd Estate
  • Response, Reasons, Reaction

  • July 14th 1789
  • Storming of the Bastille (medieval fortress)
  • The storming and subsequent fall of the Bastille
    was a wake-up call to Louis XVI.
  • This event challenged the existence of Louis XVI
  • Since 1880, the French have celebrated Bastille
    Day annually as their National Independence Day.

Review Questions
  • How was society structured under Frances ancien
  • What economic troubles did France face in the

The French Revolution Unfolds
  • In France, the political crisis of 1789 coincided
    with a terrible famine. Peasants were starving
    and unemployed. In such desperate times, rumors
    ran wild. Inflamed by famine and fear, peasants
    unleashed their fury on the nobles. Meanwhile, a
    variety of factions in Paris competed to gain
    power. Moderates looked to the Marquis de
    Lafayette for leadership. However, a more radical
    group, the Paris Commune, replaced the citys
    royalist government. The Storming of the Bastille
    and the peasant uprisings pushed the National
    Assembly into action. In late August, the
    Assembly proclaimed all male citizens were equal
    before the law. Upset that women did not have
    equal rights, journalist Olympe de Gouges wrote a
    declaration that provided for this. The Assembly
    did not adopt it. Nor was King Louis XVI willing
    to accept reforms. Much anger was directed at the
    queen, Marie Antoinette, who lived a life of
    great extravagance. The National Assembly
    produced the Constitution of 1791. This document
    reflected Enlightenment goals, set up a limited
    monarchy, ensured equality before the law for all
    male citizens, and ended Church interference in
    government. Events in France stirred debate all
    over Europe. Some applauded the reforms of the
    National Assembly. Rulers of other nations,
    however, denounced the French Revolution. Horror
    stories were told by emigres who had fled France.
    Rulers of neighboring monarchies increased border
    patrols to stop the spread of the French Plague
    of revolution. In 1791, the newly elected
    Legislative Assembly took office, but falling
    currency values, rising prices, and food
    shortages renewed turmoil. Working-class men and
    women, called sans-culottes, pushed the
    revolution in a more radical direction, and
    demanded a republic. The sans-culottes found
    support among other radicals, especially the
    Jacobins. The radicals soon held the upper hand
    in the Legislative Assembly. Eager to spread the
    revolution, they declared war on Austria and
    other European monarchies.

New Political Field
  • The political field now consisted of
  • Those wanting a new French government
  • Those supporting Louis XVI and his God-given
    right to rule (Royalists)
  • Nobles still refusing to give up rights

Declaration of the Rights of Man
  • August 1789 Inspired by
  • The American Revolution
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The English Bill of Rights
  • All people are equal before the law
  • Guaranteed freedom of speech, press, religion,
    and arbitrary arrest and punishment.
  • These principles did not include women

Women March on Versailles
  • Marie Antoinette flaunts her lavish lifestyle in
    front of the French people
  • The French people are starving
  • French women stormed the palace demanding to see
    the King
  • Women refused to leave Versailles until the King
    agreed to return to Paris
  • Massacre of Guards
  • 60,000 Return King to Paris

New Constitution
  • 1791 the National Assembly presented a new
    constitution to the people.
  • Kept the monarchy, but limited its role
  • Set up a unicameral legislature (one house
  • members chosen by voters (men paying taxes)

Radical Days of the French Revolution
  • Monarchy is abolished
  • King Louis VXI is executed by the guillotine
  • RobespierreCommittee of Public Safety

  • Lawyer politician
  • Promoted religious tolerance
  • Wanted to abolish slavery
  • Hated the old regime
  • Used terror and fear to achieve the goals of the

Reign of Terror
  • Used the guillotine to execute anyone who went
    against the ideas of the revolution
  • Quick trials
  • Death to traitors
  • Who determines?

Outcomes of the French Revolution
  • Nationalism spreads throughout Europe
  • 2 House Legislature created
  • Monarchy is abolished
  • Old social order is gone
  • State controlled the church

The Age of Napoleon
Rise to Power
  • Ambitious Captain in the French Army
  • Victories in the French port of Toulon
  • Captured most of northern Italy against Austrians
  • Egyptian expedition Success? Napoleon controls
    the message back to France.
  • Used popularity to go from Military General to
    political leader
  • Overthrows Directory to set up a Consulate
  • Named himself first consul for life.

  • Popularity Napoleons rise to power came by
    successes culminating in the title Emperor of the
  • Plebiscite popular vote by ballot.
  • Democratic Despotismvoting gave people a say in
    government, but Napoleon had absolute power.
    Napoleon valued Order and Authority over
    Individual Rights.
  • Enlightenment principlesequality of all
    citizens, religious tolerance, abolition of
  • Women lost rights of citizenship.

Napoleons Empire
  • Napoleon ANNEXED much of Europe
  • Netherlands, Belgium, parts of Italy and Germany,
    Holy Roman Empire, Prussia.
  • Napoleon vs Great Britain
  • Continental System closed European ports to
    English trade. Britain responded with its own
    blockade. This would eventually lead to conflict
    involving the United States and triggered the War
    of 1812.
  • From Rome to Madrid to the Netherlands,
    NATIONALISM unleashed revolts against the France.

Russian Disaster
  • Napoleons Grand Army is outwitted
  • Scorched-earth policy tactic to avoid
    battlesRussians retreated eastward, burning
    crops and villages. This left the French hungry
    and cold as winter came.

Napoleons Fall From Power
  • Napoleon abdicated (stepped down) power and Louis
    XVIII was recognized as king of France.
  • Napoleon returns to challenge and again abdicates
    after a brief 100 day reign after the Battle of
  • Legacy Spread the ideas of the revolution and
    sparked nationalist feelings across Europe.
  • Sold Louisiana Territory to US bringing in the
    age of American Expansion. (1803)

Congress of Vienna
  • 1814 Europe's leaders met to settle differences,
    re-establish alliances, and work towards a
    peaceful Europe.
  • Emperor Frances I of Austria, Prince Clemens von
    Metternich of Austria, Tsar Alexander I of
    Russia, and Lord Robert Castlereagh of Britain,
    Prince Charles Maurice de Talleyrand.
  • Principal of legitimacyrestoring hereditary
    monarchies that the French Revolution or Napoleon
    had unseated. This occurred in France, Portugal,
    Spain, and Italian states.