Louis XVI and the French Revolution

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Louis XVI was one of the rulers during the French Revolution. He was not an impactful leader for the people. He wanted to run from issues instead of facing them head on and he made some promises that could not be kept and had poor decisions. In time of crisis he could not take charge. The rebellion of the Third Estate showed that they felt unrepresented and did not have equal rights as the other estates did, and Louis XVI felt he could make it better for them during the Estates General. When the Third Estate stormed the Bastille they were on a mission to get ammunition and make a statement to Louis XVI that they were going to get answers and solution to their problems (Ockerman). The women's march and revolt showed that all genders were going to show that they would fight for what they wanted. They wanted a better chance of surviving and being able to provide for their family. Due to the way Louis XVI handled the rebellion of the Third Estate, the storming of the bastille, and the women's revolt, Louis XVI was an insufficient ruler during the time of the French Revolution.

The rebellion of the Third Estate was a long coming process. The first event that had happened was Louis XVI had called together the Estates General (Cole and Symes 479). This was a group of 3 people from each social class, the First Estate was the nobles, the Second Estate was the clergy, and the Third Estate everyone else (Cole and Symes 479). The First and Second Estate was the highest classes and they used their power to their advantage. The nobles were the ones that were the closest to Louis XVI, this also included the assembly, the clergy were the religious that were affiliated with the church, and the Third Estate was the peasants, lawyers, anyone who was not part of the clergy or a noble (Cole and Symes 479). Louis XVI had called together this meeting because he did not know what he should do about all of the terrible weather and the food issues and crisis that was happening with the people. This lead to other issues when he had called the meeting, the Third Estate believed that they were not getting equal representation like the other estates considering they were the majority of the population (Cole and Symes 479). No matter what the Third Estate tried to get equal representation they would always get out voted by the First and Second Estates, because Louis XVI would not give the Third Estate equal representation they decided to take matters into their own hands. (Cole and Symes 479).

They decided to meet on their own and take matters into their own hands because they were done with the way they were being treated and represented. They were locked out of their original meeting place by Louis XVI so they found tennis courts and met there from then on (Cole and Symes 482). They wrote an oath for anyone to sign that was part of the Third Estate to be a part of the National Assembly, which they also created (Cole and Symes 483). The National Assembly would be soon be the highest power in their government (Cole and Symes 483). A lot of other people from other estates supported the Third Estate because they saw that their points for separation were valid and realized that Louis XVI could not do anything by himself and needed advice from others which we will see again from him. The Third Estate also demanded that Louis XVI write a written constitution and give the Third Estate equal representation and the power to vote on matters that would affected them (Cole and Symes 484). The demand for the written constitution lead into the storming of the Bastille.

The Third Estate attacked the Bastille because of the need of ammunition because they had been able to acquire firearms and canons, this lead to other events and symbolism of the storming. (Ockerman) The Bastille was a prison that had ammunition (Cole and Symes 483). The Third Estate knew that the Bastille would have ammunition and this would be a warning to Louis XVI that they wanted change and they were willing to make that happen. After they had stormed the Bastille the rest of the prisoners that had not escaped when they fired at it were let go (Ockerman). They guillotined the prisoner governor and his officers for the way they had treated the prisoners (Ockerman). The symbolism was different for all parties that were involved in it and knew about the storming. The royalty was confused by the meaning of the storming, they did not initially think that it was a storming. Louis XVI was the most confused because he first thought that is was a revolt but he was then corrected and that it was a revolution (Ockerman). Louis XVI also thought that it was a revolt against the government and not a violent event (Ockerman). Others saw this as the beginning of the French Revolution. This was the first major public event the Third Estate had put together. The storming of the Bastille soon became a national celebration to celebrate the constitutional monarchy and the unity of the people of France (Ockerman). The storming of the Bastille inspired the women that had been struggling for a long time an idea to make it better for the women during the time of Louis XVI reign.

The women's march and revolt had a lot of back story leading up to it and the effects of the women's march showed that some of the major events of the French Revolution had a good impact of the people but it was all done by the people. There was a lack of food supply because it had been the coldest winter that they had seen in years (Connelly and Hembree 46). This made it so they weren't able to get the basic necessities of food, especially bread which was a staple of their diet because it was the cheapest before the winter. The canal that let them get supplies from outside of Paris had been frozen over so the supplies were not able to be brought in. (Book) Since there was a lack of supplies the price of bread rose which made it very difficult for the people in the Third Estate to pay all of the taxes to the First and Second Estate and then they were not able to even get bread to feed the family (Connelly and Hembree 46).

The women in the market had enough with the way that Louis XVI was not sympathizing with them and wanted for them to be heard. The women started at Les Halles and they marched to Hotel de Ville, when they reached the hotel they were redirected by Stanislas Maillard to go to Versailles because they would find Louis XVI there (Connelly and Hembree 47). They were on a journey to persuade Louis XVI to help them out and lower the price of bread or not have to pay the ridiculous taxes to the other estates. It was a 12 mile voyage from the hotel to Versailles (Connelly and Hembree 47). As they walked to Versailles they smashed shop windows, took whatever they wanted, seized carriages, the national guard's caissons, and other means of transportation to get to Versaille quicker (Connelly and Hembree 47). Once they had gotten Versaille they interrupted the assembly and Mirabeau treated them as they were important and took care of them (Connelly and Hembree 47). Millard spoke for everyone about the lack of the food and the Archbishop starving the Parisians (Connelly and Hembree 47). A few of the women were then able to meet with Louis XVI because they wanted him to know that they wanted answers and solutions to these issues (Connelly and Hembree 48). Louis XVI at the time sympathized for the women and promised them bread and to the sign the bill of rights and veto bill, for Louis XVI to sign the bill of rights the Third Estate would be able to vote and have a voice for them (Connelly and Hembree 48). Other people encouraged Louis XVI to flee from France but Lafayette thought that Louis XVI should please the people and make them happy because then all of these issues would be able to be solved (Connelly and Hembree 48). The people thought he should flee because they thought he shouldn't face the people and their rebellion. This is a good example of why Louis XVI could not be able to take charge during the French Revolution and make his own choice of what to do.

The events that followed women's march and meeting with Louis XVI would be a chain reaction in the rest of the French Revolution. The next morning screaming Parisians stormed Versailles planning on eating the queen's liver, but the queen heard of this and was able to escape to the king's apartment so her liver would not be eaten (Connelly and Hembree 48). They then decided to take the body guards that had been protecting the queen and they had them killed, they cut off their heads and carried it around for all to see and send a message to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette that this could be them if they do not make changes and take charge (Connelly and Hembree 48). The people also demanded that they return to Paris. Once they returned to Paris they were put on house arrest because they wanted them to always be present and take charge of issues they had formed (Cole and Symes 486). The nobles decided to flee because they thought Louis XVI was finally going to have to answer to the people and the assembly that there were major issues that needed to be taken care of(Connelly and Hembree 48). All of the events that happened that day lead to important things and are important to the way women are treated in society and how it made a difference.

The importance of the women's march and revolt lead many chain reactions that were good to the people of the Third Estate and the royals who did not understand what had been happening to them for years. They made Louis XVI and the assembly face issues that had been rising up and what had started some of the events of the French Revolution. The rest of the French Revolution was mainly led by the people of Paris for the rest of the French Revolution (Connelly and Hembree 49). Some of the people included the people of the Third Estate and they were also other people that joined them in making Louis XVI to take action and progress was finally made and the French Revolution continued on.

In conclusion, Louis XVI was a terrible king. He was given only given the power as king because it was passed down to him by blood he was the next in line. This shows that it should not always be just the next person that is line that it should be someone that is qualified for the position. In the storming of the Bastille he did not completely understand that it meant the people were angry and getting ready to rebel against him and the way they had been treated at the Estates General. He realized that even the women were going to make a change for themselves even if they may not get support from him. He did sympathize for them but is it wondered if he actually did. When Louis XVI was trapped in Paris and had to face peoples issues that was the first time that he took charge for what he need to and showed that he would do something for the people of the Third Estate, the ideas he had taken from them to eventually make the government a republic and to right a constitution. Louis XVI was enlightened by all of these events and saw that he was not a good king during his rule.

Works Cited

Cole, Joshua and Symes, Carol. Western Civilizations Their History and Their Culture. W.W.

Norton, 2005.

Connelly, Owen and Hembree Fred. The French Revolution. Harlan Davidson, Inc, 1993.

Ockerman, Emma. What Actually Happened on the Original Bastille Day. 13 July 2016,


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Louis XVI and the French Revolution. (2019, Jun 26). Retrieved February 26, 2024 , from

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