French Revolution

french Revolution causes

  *Political factors: +Absolutism: -Lovis XVI ruled France between 1774-1789 -He is absolute monarch -People complained about how France was governed: King had unlimited power/ No parliament power. +Voting system in the Etats- Generaux: -one vote per Estete: This system was disliked by the bourgeoisie /they argued for voting per person.

*Social factors: – Stratified society and the rise of bourgeoisie: Bourgeoise were rapidly growing in wealth and number/They complained of the privileges of the nobility and clergy/Lacked political influence.

*Economic factors:-Increasing poverty: It was a time of economic crisis: bad harvests, rising unemployment, rising prices, poverty and hunger.

-Growing government debt and expenditure: notable deficit: expensive external policy/large royal court/debt’s interest.

-Growing tax burden on the third estate: the third estate (peasant and bourgeoisie) had to pay more taxes to the king to finance the country’s high expenses and debts.

-Extravagant and luxurious lifestyle of royalty: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and nobility entertained extravagantly at the Court of Versailles at the taxpayer’s expense/Contrast between the opulent lifestyle of the French aristocracy and the struggles of the common citizens.

-Attemp to implement a tax reform: given desperate situation of France’s finances/ the king tried to make the privileged classes pay taxes/ nobility and clergy refused to do so.

*Ideological factors: -spread of enlightenment ideas: -criticsm of the Ancien Regime -spread of new ideas: separation of powers/ freedom and equality of all the people/ freedom of speech and separation of church and state/ create a better social and improve people’s life by means of reason and scientific advancements. -American war of independence: american declaration of independence: everyone was born equal/ every man had rights that could not be taken away/ the government should act in the interests of the people. A country should be run by the government chosen by the people.

The beginning of revolution 1789

May 5th 1789 Louis XVI summoned the estates general Versailles to find a solution to the financial problems

May-June 1789 first discussion:whether they should vote by estate or by person 

June 1789 third estate formed a revolutionary independent assembly/ Louis XVI moved their deliberations to a nearby tennis court

Phases of the French revolution 1789-1799

1-moderate phase 1789-1792

-July 1789: created national constitutional assembly, draw up a constitution for france

-July 14th 1789: -storming of bastille: people attacked the fortress and prison of the bastille (symbol of the old Regime)/riots and chaos spread across france.

-measures taken by the national constitutional assembly: abolishment of feudalism/church’s property was nationalized and guilds were banned/declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen 1789→equal taxes and laws for everyone/freedom and property rights. /Constitution of 1791: 1st french constitution→established political liberalism, constitutional monarchy, popular sovereignty, separation of powers, censitary suffrage (only the wealthiest men had right to vote),the representative of the new parliament (legislative assembly) were elected with new laws for france (legislative power),in this assembly 2 main political blocs confronted→girondins and jacobins

Girondins: majority, moderate revolutionaries, represented the high bourgeoisie. Jacobins: minority, radical revolutionaries,led by Robespierre, represented the petite bourgeoisie

-1791 legislative assembly some problems: april→attack of austria and prussia,who wanted stop revolution. June→ Louis XVI tried to flee france but he was cought

2-radical phase 1792-1799 1st french republic

-the sans culottes increased their violence

 -in August they assaulted the tuileries palace

 -new elections were called to form a new assembly: national convention that would held both, legislative and executive powers.

-measures taken by this assembly: 1792→monarchy was abolished, republic was established. 1793→louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were sentenced and guillotined.

-these events intensified the war against an alliance of European absolutist monarchies that wanted to reverse the revolution: 1793→the war threaten the revolution, Robespierre is the leader of the radical bloc(jacobins) seized the power of the national convention:-most radical and bloodiest period (“reign of terror” thousand nobles were guillotined).-new constitution 1793→more radical→universal male suffrage -economic reforms to favour the sans culottes.    1794→moderate bourgeoisie (girondins) shocked by jacobin radicalism:-deposed and guillotined Robespierre and his supporters. -established a more moderate government. -the enacted a new constitution 1795.    1795-1799→the girondins left the executive power in the hands of a 5 member directory. -very unstable and difficult situation, doble opposition:nobles→wanted to restore absolutism, lowest classes→supported  jacobins. – numerous military campaigns against the foreign enemies of the revolution (austria, prussia…).   

-in this context of crisis and war,a young and outstanding general, napoleon bonaparte,seized power in 1799.   

-It was the beginning of the napoleonic era

Napoleonic era 1799-1815

1-the consulate 1799-1804

Main achievements: *peace in france: allowed exiled nobility to return back to France/he reconciled with the catholic church by signing a concordate 1801

*Internal reforms:-concordate1801 french government recognized Catholicism as the religion of the majority, catholic church recognized the new french government

-civil code(napoleonic code) equality upon the law, freedom, individual rights, separation of church and state.

-public education system (lycees) schools for boys age 10 to 16, education was essential to produce citizens capable of filling positions in his bureaucracy and military. 

2-the empire 1804-1815

Battles: battles of austerlitz 1805 greatest victory of napoleon,he defeated russian-austrian army 

Battle of trafalgar 1805 france-spain vs uk victory only defeated, tried an economic block-trade but it failed 

Russian campaign 1812 napoleon began to suffer important refracts 

Battle of leipzig 1813 the allied countries entered Paris

1814 napoleon was exiled to the island of elbe and french monarchy was restored

Battle of waterloo 1815 he escaped from the island, recaptured the throne for 100days ,finally defeated and exiled to saint helens,he died 1821

The restoration (1815-1848)

*After the defeat of napoleon the powers who had defeated met at the congress of vienna (1814-1815)

*Led europe new period→ absolutism was restored

Congress of vienna: participants→uk,austria,prussia,Russia

agreements→restore the old Regime,redraw political map of europe (new boundaries), periodic congresses, right to intervene in another country

Liberal revolutions 1820-1830-1848

After restoration of absolutism 3 ways of liberal revolutions took place all across europe

*revolutions of 1820: liberals in spain,italy,portugal and Russia rise up against absolute monarchs,the bourgeoisie and common people established constitutions 

*Revolutions of 1830: france established a constitutional monarchy,the trend spread belgium,germany,italy and poland, bourgeoisie leaders established censitary voting rights 

*Revolutions of 1848: france established a republic, other European nations were inspired to create constitutional monarchies, commoners demanded popular sovereignty


More fair society: kings,nobles and clergy lost power and peivileges

Third estate a gap was opened: -bourgeoisie:gained political power and economic liberalism (free trade)

-commoners: failed to achieve deeper transformations/ develop class consciousness and began to organized themselves/create the liberal state (future”labour movement”)


Plebiscite: 1804 a direct vote of the people of a court in regard to some important public question

Tennis court oath: the third estate and Louis XVI moved their deliberations to the tennis court oath,an agreement to not separate until they had established a constitution

Storming bastille: people attacked the fortress and prison of the bastille (symbol of the old Regime)

Sans culottes: lowest urban classes who’s problems hadn’t been solved by the new revolutionary system

Directory: 5 members that have the executive power during the radical phase of the French revolution (1795-1799)

Nation-state: ideology based on the idea that each nation should have its own state 

Lycees: is a public education system.are schools for boys age 10 to 16, education was essential to produce citizens capable of filling positions in his bureaucracy and military.