The French Revolution and Napoleon

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People believed that the French Revolution will start an age of freedom and equality. In the end, it only caused death and the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte They ended up killing the king and making a republic. The influence of the nobility died out, the middle class became wealthy. and influential, the peasants became more civilized, and also during that time, the Roman Catholic Church most lost its religious monopoly. There are 3 sections in the French Revolution. First: from 1789 to 1795, everyone pretty much hated the ruling class (nobility). Second: from 1795 to 1799 everyone was still cautious, yet started to move on. Third: Around 1799 Napoleon Bonaparte becomes the ?first consul', then becomes the emperor in 1804.

The aims and domestic problems of French politicians 1789-91

  • Long-term causes of the French Revolution

France was governed by a monarch for most of its existence. Louis XIV, also known as the ?Sun King' (1638-1715). Louis XV, who didn't support reform (1710-74).

  • The power of the king, the nobles and the Church

After Louis XV died in 1774 he passed the throne to his grandson. Even though new king, Louis XVI (1754-93), was more enlightened about society, the same social construct was still in place. Nobles had many privileges like paying lower taxes. Although the middle class was well educated, they weren't included in politics (the middle class was also small). The peasants were the ones that were primarily taxed. -Regional divisions and financial troubles One of the main issues with France was that it had many regions with diverse costume. There were important cultural and language differences between the North and the South. Some towns and cities would have different laws like voting for officials while some other towns and cities wouldn't. There were even some differences in the laws between the North and the South. Around 1789, Louis XVI had a problem with the country's debt. Ministers like Viscount Calonne and Jacques Necker recommend putting taxes on the wealthy, however, they were brought down by the church and powerful nobles. Bad harvests over many years caused the price of food to rise; many people couldn't afford the food so they ended up starving. The gigantic difference between the nobles and the common folk caused the citizens to rebel. They also disliked the queen, Marie Antoinette, because she was Austrian and unsympathetic.

  • The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment gave way to new ideas about social structure, government, and civil rights. Many historians believe that the enlightenment was the main driving force behind the French Revolution, however other historians believe that poor conditions of the economy and heavy taxation due to battles were the biggest causes of the revolution.

  • Short-term causes of the French Revolution

Probably one of the biggest causations of the French Revolution was the fact that nobles didn't want to lose the privileges that they had before. The French were getting closer and closer to bankruptcy due to constant wars. Because of the country's debt, Louis XVI called for a meeting of the general estates. The Estates General was consisted of representatives from three classes (Estates). First Estate: Clergy (Church) -- 10,000 These Clergy (Church members) ended up coming from the higher levels of the hierarchy, and were those who were informally chosen by other clergy instead of elected officially. Second Estate: The Nobility -- 400,000 Those who took part were informally elected. Not many nobles liked reform at all, and the majority of nobles flat out wouldn't accept it. Third Estate: Bourgeoisie -- 50 mil Even though the third estate was primarily made up of peasants, the members of the General Estates were, for the most part, middle class.

  • The start of the revolution

Louis XVI told the Estates to create lists of stuff that they wanted to be changed called cahiers. They all agreed that they should add a constitution, give people liberty of the press, and end international trade barriers, but, the nobles and clergy refused to change their tax privileges. Things would get out of hands at some points because the king was week in terms of leadership. The king didn't really strongly support the First or Second Estates, but also did not show his imut on most of the topics.

  • The National Assembly and the Tennis Court Oath

People from the Third Estate started to break apart from the General Estates, and then created the National Assembly (or Constitutional Assembly) so they could address the demands of the lower class better. Also a few clergies and nobles who supported what the bourgeoisie joined in too. The king was influenced by the nobles to shut down what the middle class was doing. On June 19, 1789, the king ordered the hall which the middle class held the assemblies to be locked with armed guards standing outside preventing entrance. Louis decided to overturn any decisions that the Third Estate made, and also dictated any of the reforms the he would implement. After their previous meet up area was shut down, the next day, the Third Estate moved to a tennis court in the Saint-Louis district in Versailles. There were 576 members who took place in the oath not to disperse until there was a new constitution was made. This was called the Tennis Court Oath (because they did it in the tennis court) This was the first time the people made a decision about the government. Mirabeau (Honore Gabriel Riqueti,Count of Mirabeau) served as one of the noblemen who backed the National Assembly, and he mentions: ?We shall not stir from our places save at the point of a bayonet.'

  • The storming of the Bastille

On July 14, 1789, a lot of french citizens attacked the Bastille (fortress) in Paris. This was primarily to get guns, and ammo for their guns because they had none. However it was also for the growing fear that the king would destroy the national assembly with the army. Almost everyone defending the building died. As the Bastille fell, the governor was captured, beheaded, put on a pike, and then was displayed around town. Sans-Culottes were one of the revolutionaries that wanted democracy and equality, and were even willing to resort to violence to achieve it. They took property from landlords. Some nobles fled to other countries to try to convince them to help them stop what the sans culottes were doing.

  • The August Decrees and the Declaration of the Rights of Man

The National Assembly created the August Decrees, which were a bunch of laws that sought to end feudalism\ The decrees got rid of compulsory services by peasants such as repairing roads while not being paid. They got rid of law courts run by the nobility. Churches also gave up taking payments from the rest of the population. The National Assembly also made the ?Declaration of the Rights of Man. This was based off of the Declaration of Independence and was one of the first steps to establishing the constitution of France. IT STATES: All men were born free, and had the right of equality, liberty, and ability to own property. Imprisonment without trials would be banned. Taxation should be fairly applied to everyone based on their wealth. No individual or group should be allowed to make any decisions that conflicts what the people want. October 5-6, 1789, the March of the Women took place. Out of nowhere (cough cough), the peasants run out of bread, and the women get angry. The women, who are in the fishing business, carry many weapons, and even bring a cannon to Versailles. They storm the castle, and force King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, to move to Paris. Once there, the king formally acknowledged the reforms made by the Assembly compared to when he informally acknowledged them before.

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The French Revolution and Napoleon. (2019, Oct 30). Retrieved May 29, 2024 , from

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