The start of the French Revolution was regarded by many as a new beginning and full of hope.
- People felt that it represented an age of equality and freedom.
However, this event was actually marked by violent events and injustice.
- Rise of a new dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte
- Those who took part this event only expected a moderate change
- Their attempts actually lead to a severe and dramatic conclusion with the king’s execution and France’s formation of a republic.
Changes were to occur within the revolution and within the life of France altogether.
- The overthrowing of the government leads to a decline of upper classes
- Middle classacquired wealth and influence
- PeasantsFreed from troubles
- During this time, the Roman Catholic Church lost most of its power
This event was commonly divided into three stages
- First stage (1789-1795)Rapid development from mediu2m to severe conflict to the ruling classes
- Second stage (1795-1799)return to caution and conservatism
- Final stage (1799)Napoleon takes the title of ‘first consul’
II.The Aims and Domestic problems of French politicians (1789-91)
Long Term Causes of the French Revolution
- Before the Revolution, Louis XIV also known as the Sun King” (1638-1715) and Louis XV (1710-74) had ruled the country for over 130 years.
- France had been a monarchy for most of its time
The Power of the King, the Nobles and the Church
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Regional Divisions and Financial Troubles
- Power of the throne was passed to King Louis XVI who happened to be more enlightened than previous generations
- King kept his authority with few limitations
- Certain classes had more privilege than others
- Nobles had considerable privileges which included low taxes
- Middle classes only existed in small percentages and had some privileges
- Peasants suffered the most as the burden of taxes mainly fell upon them
- Church supported the monarchy using its power and defy anyone that would go against and challenge them
The most serious problem, however, was the country’s financial debt.
- Diverse regions made France a challenging country to rule and govern
- This created distinction between the north and south of France as these regions differed in language, culture, and law.
- Some places strongly guarded their traditional rights
- Local institutions had to record issued laws by the king
To make situations worse, France depended hugely on agriculture.
The ongoing wars were proven to be expensive to pay off
High taxes were imposed upon the rich
Was defeated by the upper class and the Church who used their privileges to defend against the reform
In the end, tradition prevented the king’s taxation
- Poor harvests over time impacted the country greatly resulting in food shortages and inflation.
- This resulted in many falling into poverty and starvation
- The particular situation influenced and contributed significantly to the outbreak of the French Revolution
- The queen who disfavored at that time, was accused and viewed as uncaring for the people suffering.
Short-term Causes of the French Revolution
- The Age of Enlightenment was a philosophical movement in the 17th and 18th centuries
- This influential movement supported many new ideas about the government and the people
- Lead by intellectuals and philosophers
- Challenged and questioned the idea of monarchy and motivated the revolution
Finally the King decides to take action by calling upon a meeting in attempt to fix the country’s economic problems
The assembly was composed of three estates;
The First Estate: 10,000
the clergy, high leveled in Church hierarchy, chosen informally by other clergy (1%)
The Second Estate: 400,000
the nobility, informally elected, some chose to support the third estate, however most refused (2%)
The Third Estate: 500,000,000
everyone else, (also known as Bourgeoisie), Ideas represented concerns of the middle classes, hoped that their demands would change the ways of how the tax system worked
Each estate had an even amount of votes
They could join together to outvote the other estate
The Start of the Revolution
- During the meeting, King Louis XVI suggested each Estate to compose a list of their grievances
- All agreed upon a need for a constitution, liberty of the press, and an end to internal trade barriers
- However, the upper classes refused to give up their tax privileges due to tradition
- The King himself was hesitant to act leading to indecisiveness
- The meeting ended in a failure due to the issues that occurred
The National Assembly and the Tennis Court Oath
As a result of the king’s lack of leadership and the refusal of the upper classes to give in their privileges, the Third Estate decides to leave the Estate Generals.
- They decide to go independent and leave from the Estates General to form their own assembly.
- Some upper classes that agreed with reform had joined the assembly as well
- This independent group was called the ‘National Constituent Assembly.’
This angered the King where he took it as a challenge to his powers
- He had commanded that the assembly was to be shut down and locked away
- He ended up using his powers to repeal all the acts and decisions made in the Assembly
- First major rebellion against the king
Honore Gabriel Riquetti, Count of Mirabeau was an example to this.
Was a nobleman who decided to join the Third Estate and agreed with them
- Locked out of their own assembly, members instead, turn over to a new place at a tennis court to further uphold their meetings.
- There, 576 participants had sworn an oath stating that they will never separate until a new France constitution had been established.
- This was known as the ‘Tennis Court Oath’
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