The French Revolution, 1789-1799

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What Started the French Revolution? A mob stormed the Bastille prison in Paris and demanded from the guards to hand over the arms and ammunition that were stored there.

French Revolution

The guards refused, the mob wouldn't take a no for an answer and captured the prison, thus proving that power resided with the people. He was the last governor of the Bastille. The mob had him lynched later that day.

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Here is more on the Bastille , its history, its prisoners, and what it stood for. The Great Fear of July Rumors of a conspiracy by the king and the aristocracy prompted peasants to pillage and burn the houses of nobles and to destroy feudal records. This became known as the Great Fear of July These developments led to the abolishment of the feudal regime and the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. One of the new laws of this declaration seized lands from the Roman Catholic Church in order to pay the national debt. Additionally, the church was subjected to severe reorganization.

Pope Pius VI was not amused. King Louis didn't show himself cooperative and the people of Paris decided to pay him a visit at his castle at Versailles, forcing the royal family to relocate to the Tuileries Palace at Paris. These were the October Days October 5 and 6, But in , Louis XVI made a big mistake when he tried to flee the country.

A Short History of the French Revolution 1789 1799

This act showed everyone who still had doubts, that Louis secretly desired that the Austrian and Prussian armies would help him restore absolutism. He was caught, forced to return, and the little credibility that he had left was gone for good. Meanwhile, the monarchies of neighboring nations were alarmed by the French Revolution.

In France, war was desired by royalists and revolutionists alike because they believed it would rally the nation to their respective causes. Originally, France experienced reverses, and these made the French population susceptible to the ideas of extremists. The revolution turned radical. The French Republic was proclaimed. The king was tried for treason and executed. Countless arrests of royalist and supposed sympathizers followed. The news of the advance of the Coalition added panic to radical. This painting was created by Delacroix in The July Revolution was fought for three days — from July 27 to July 29, How does this painting relate to the French Revolution?

Let the smart people from the Louvre explain:. The allegory of Liberty is personified by a young woman of the people wearing the Phrygian cap, her curls escaping onto her neck. Vibrant, fiery, rebellious, and victorious, she evokes the Revolution of , the sans-culotte, and popular sovereignty.

In her raised right hand is the red, white, and blue flag, a symbol of struggle that unfurls toward the light like a flame. The towers of Notre Dame represent liberty and Romanticism — as they did for Victor Hugo — and situate the action in Paris. Their position on the left bank of the Seine is inexact, and the houses between the Cathedral and the river are pure products of the painter's imagination.

This realistic and innovative work, a symbol of Liberty and the pictorial revolution, was rejected by the critics, who were used to more classical representations of reality. It is now perceived as a universal work — a representation of romantic and revolutionary fervor, heir to the historical painting of the 18th century and forerunner of Picasso's Guernica in the 20th.

Back to the French Revolution of The Reign of Terror. Extreme revolutionary actions triggered counterrevolutionary unrest. This, in turn, was met with even more brutality. During two years of terror July to July approx. All in all, the victims of the two years of terror were approx. Strictly speaking, the Reign of Terror refers to the phase from September 5, , to July 28, Many died in prison or were killed without trial.

The Reign of Terror, now spearheaded by Robespierre , kept gaining momentum. Between June 10 and July 21, , also called the Great Terror , the terror reached its peak. Within these six weeks, the Revolutionary Tribunal had 2, persons guillotined. Soon, Robespierre himself was guillotined. Resistance broke out in form of the White Terror led by the royalists. The Directory , notorious for its corruption, became the new revolutionary government. This government maintained power for the remaining four years of the Revolution.

What Ended the French Revolution? This also ended the Directory. And here's a map of Paris during the Revolution:. Unofficially, the Revolution has just begun.

Origins of the Revolution

The tricolour flag is derived from the cockades used in the s. Their goal was absolute equality. The Terror in the French Revolution. The Directory was a complete disaster because it was corrupt and had no teeth, i. The French Revolution has received enormous amounts of historical attention, both from the general public and from scholars and academics. The Revolution also witnessed the birth of total war by organising the resources of France and the lives of its citizens towards the objective of military conquest. Leading up to the Revolution, years of bad harvests worsened by deregulation of the grain industry also inflamed popular resentment of the privileges enjoyed by the aristocracy and the Catholic clergy of the established church.

Declared goal to switch from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy. Hence, a written constitution was needed. The Revolution officially begins. They are caught at Varennes and brought back to Paris. The next day, he signs it in front of the National Assembly. The French Revolutionary Wars begin.

Overthrow of the monarchy. France is now a republic. The First Terror begins. First day of the French Republican Calendar. It is implemented retroactively and will be used until January 1, Encouraged by Napoleon, the Directory eliminates the royalists from the government. The Directory invalidates half of all elections to eliminate the Jacobins. The Directory is replaced by the Consulate. Filtered from the list above, the following events redefined or challenged the government. September 4, Coup of 18 Fructidor, year V The Directory extracts royalists and other undesired individuals from the administration.

And here are the detailed timelines:. French Revolution timelines for the years are combined with the French Revolutionary Wars timelines:. What crimes are committed in thy name! Most of these activists were punished for their actions. Many of the women of the Revolution were even publicly executed for "conspiring against the unity and the indivisibility of the Republic". A major aspect of the French Revolution was the dechristianisation movement, a movement strongly rejected by many devout people.

Especially for women living in rural areas of France, the closing of the churches meant a loss of normalcy. When these revolutionary changes to the Church were implemented, it sparked a counter-revolutionary movement among women. Although some of these women embraced the political and social amendments of the Revolution, they opposed the dissolution of the Catholic Church and the formation of revolutionary cults like the Cult of the Supreme Being. Counter-revolutionary women resisted what they saw as the intrusion of the state into their lives.

By far the most important issue to counter-revolutionary women was the passage and the enforcement of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in In response to this measure, women in many areas began circulating anti-oath pamphlets and refused to attend masses held by priests who had sworn oaths of loyalty to the Republic. These women continued to adhere to traditional practices such as Christian burials and naming their children after saints in spite of revolutionary decrees to the contrary.

The French Revolution abolished many of the constraints on the economy that had slowed growth during the ancien regime. It abolished tithes owed to local churches as well as feudal dues owed to local landlords. The result hurt the tenants, who paid both higher rents and higher taxes. It planned to use these seized lands to finance the government by issuing assignats. It abolished the guild system as a worthless remnant of feudalism.

The government seized the foundations that had been set up starting in the 13th century to provide an annual stream of revenue for hospitals, poor relief, and education. The state sold the lands but typically local authorities did not replace the funding and so most of the nation's charitable and school systems were massively disrupted. The economy did poorly in —96 as industrial and agricultural output dropped, foreign trade plunged, and prices soared.

The government decided not to repudiate the old debts. Instead it issued more and more paper money called "assignat" that supposedly were grounded seized lands. The result was escalating inflation. The government imposed price controls and persecuted speculators and traders in the black market. The assignats were withdrawn in but the replacements also fuelled inflation. The inflation was finally ended by Napoleon in with the franc as the new currency. Napoleon after paid for his expensive wars by multiple means, starting with the modernisation of the rickety financial system.

The French Revolution had a major impact on Europe and the New World , decisively changing the course of human history. Otto Dann and John Dinwiddy report, "It has long been almost a truism of European history that the French Revolution gave a great stimulus to the growth of modern nationalism. Hayes as a major result of the French Revolution across Europe.

The impact on French nationalism was profound. For example, Napoleon became such a heroic symbol of the nation that the glory was easily picked up by his nephew, who was overwhelmingly elected president and later became Emperor Napoleon III. The changes in France were enormous; some were widely accepted and others were bitterly contested into the late 20th century. The kings had so thoroughly centralised the system that most nobles spent their time at Versailles, and thus played only a small direct role in their home districts.

Thompson says that the kings had "ruled by virtue of their personal wealth, their patronage of the nobility, their disposal of ecclesiastical offices, their provincial governors intendants their control over the judges and magistrates, and their command of the Army. After the first year of revolution, the power of the king had been stripped away, he was left a mere figurehead, the nobility had lost all their titles and most of their land, the Church lost its monasteries and farmlands, bishops, judges and magistrates were elected by the people, and the army was almost helpless, with military power in the hands of the new revolutionary National Guard.

The central elements of were the slogan "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity' and " The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen ", which Lefebvre calls "the incarnation of the Revolution as a whole. The long-term impact on France was profound, shaping politics, society, religion and ideas, and polarising politics for more than a century. From the social point of view, the Revolution consisted in the suppression of what was called the feudal system, in the emancipation of the individual, in greater division of landed property, the abolition of the privileges of noble birth, the establishment of equality, the simplification of life The French Revolution differed from other revolutions in being not merely national, for it aimed at benefiting all humanity.

The most heated controversy was over the status of the Catholic Church. The movement to dechristianise France not only failed but aroused a furious reaction among the pious. Priests and bishops were given salaries as part of a department of government controlled by Paris, not Rome. Protestants and Jews gained equal rights. They raged into the 20th century. By the 21st century, angry debates exploded over the presence of any Muslim religious symbols in schools, such as the headscarves for which Muslim girls could be expelled.

Christopher Soper and Joel S. Fetzer explicitly link the conflict over religious symbols in public to the French Revolution, when the target was Catholic rituals and symbols. The revolutionary government seized the charitable foundations that had been set up starting in the 13th century to provide an annual stream of revenue for hospitals, poor relief, and education.

In the ancien regime, new opportunities for nuns as charitable practitioners were created by devout nobles on their own estates. The nuns provided comprehensive care for the sick poor on their patrons' estates, not only acting as nurses, but taking on expanded roles as physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries. During the Revolution, most of the orders of nuns were shut down and there was no organised nursing care to replace them. They were tolerated by officials because they had widespread support and were the link between elite male physicians and distrustful peasants who needed help.

Two thirds of France was employed in agriculture, which was transformed by the Revolution. With the breakup of large estates controlled by the Church and the nobility and worked by hired hands, rural France became more a land of small independent farms. Harvest taxes were ended, such as the tithe and seigneurial dues, much to the relief of the peasants. Primogeniture was ended both for nobles and peasants, thereby weakening the family patriarch.

Because all the children had a share in the family's property, there was a declining birth rate. In the cities, entrepreneurship on a small scale flourished, as restrictive monopolies, privileges, barriers, rules, taxes and guilds gave way. However, the British blockade virtually ended overseas and colonial trade, hurting the port cities and their supply chains. Overall, the Revolution did not greatly change the French business system, and probably helped freeze in place the horizons of the small business owner. The typical businessman owned a small store, mill or shop, with family help and a few paid employees; large-scale industry was less common than in other industrialising nations.

A National Bureau of Economic Research paper found that the emigration of more than , individuals predominantly supporters of the Old Regime during the Revolution had a significant negative impact on income per capita in the 19th century due to the fragmentation of agricultural holdings but became positive in the second half of the 20th century onward because it facilitated the rise in human capital investments. The Revolution meant an end to arbitrary royal rule and held out the promise of rule by law under a constitutional order, but it did not rule out a monarch.

Napoleon as emperor set up a constitutional system although he remained in full control , and the restored Bourbons were forced to go along with one. After the abdication of Napoleon III in , the monarchists probably had a voting majority, but they were so factionalised they could not agree on who should be king, and instead the French Third Republic was launched with a deep commitment to upholding the ideals of the Revolution.

Vichy denied the principle of equality and tried to replace the Revolutionary watchwords "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" with "Work, Family, and Fatherland. France permanently became a society of equals under the law. The Jacobin cause was picked up by Marxists in the midth century and became an element of communist thought around the world. In the Soviet Union , "Gracchus" Babeuf was regarded as a hero.

Robinson the French Revolution had long-term effects in Europe. They suggest that "areas that were occupied by the French and that underwent radical institutional reform experienced more rapid urbanization and economic growth, especially after There is no evidence of a negative effect of French invasion. A study in the European Economic Review found that the areas of Germany that were occupied by France in the 19th century and in which the Code Napoleon was applied have higher levels of trust and cooperation today.

On July 16, , two days after the Storming of the Bastille , John Frederick Sackville , serving as ambassador to France, reported to Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Francis Osborne, 5th Duke of Leeds , "Thus, my Lord, the greatest revolution that we know anything of has been effected with, comparatively speaking—if the magnitude of the event is considered—the loss of very few lives.

From the SparkNotes Blog

From this moment we may consider France as a free country, the King a very limited monarch, and the nobility as reduced to a level with the rest of the nation. Britain led and funded the series of coalitions that fought France from to , and then restored the Bourbons. Philosophically, there was a significant debate internally, regarding the revolution, including the Revolution Controversy , a " pamphlet war " set off by the publication of Richard Price 's speech, A Discourse on the Love of Our Country , supporting the French Revolution as he had the American Revolution , and saying that patriotism actually centers around loving the people and principles of a nation, not its ruling class.

Edmund Burke responded with his own pamphlet, Reflections on the Revolution in France , attacking the French Revolution as a threat to the aristocracy of all countries. Conversely, two seminal political pieces of political history were written in Price's favor, supporting the general right of the French people to replace their State, Rights of Man by Thomas Paine , and A Vindication of the Rights of Men by Mary Wollstonecraft , who followed this with what is sometimes described as the first feminist text, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

In Christopher Wyvill published Defence of Dr. Price and the Reformers of England , a plea for reform and moderation. This exchange of ideas has been described as "one of the great political debates in British history". In Ireland, the effect was to transform what had been an attempt by Protestant settlers to gain some autonomy into a mass movement led by the Society of United Irishmen involving Catholics and Protestants. It stimulated the demand for further reform throughout Ireland, especially in Ulster.

The upshot was a revolt in , led by Wolfe Tone , that was crushed by Britain. German reaction to the Revolution swung from favourable to antagonistic. At first it brought liberal and democratic ideas, the end of gilds, serfdom and the Jewish ghetto. It brought economic freedoms and agrarian and legal reform.

Above all the antagonism helped stimulate and shape German nationalism. The French invaded Switzerland and turned it into an ally known as the " Helvetic Republic " — The interference with localism and traditional liberties was deeply resented, although some modernising reforms took place. The region of modern-day Belgium was divided between two polities: Both territories experienced revolutions in Both failed to attract international support.

During the Revolutionary Wars, the French invaded and occupied the region between and , a time known as the French period. The new government enforced new reforms, incorporating the region into France itself. New rulers were sent in by Paris. Belgian men were drafted into the French wars and heavily taxed. Nearly everyone was Catholic, but the Church was repressed.

Resistance was strong in every sector, as Belgian nationalism emerged to oppose French rule. The French legal system, however, was adopted, with its equal legal rights, and abolition of class distinctions. Belgium now had a government bureaucracy selected by merit. Antwerp regained access to the sea and grew quickly as a major port and business centre.

France promoted commerce and capitalism, paving the way for the ascent of the bourgeoisie and the rapid growth of manufacturing and mining.

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In economics, therefore, the nobility declined while the middle class Belgian entrepreneurs flourished because of their inclusion in a large market, paving the way for Belgium's leadership role after in the Industrial Revolution on the Continent. The Kingdom of Denmark adopted liberalising reforms in line with those of the French Revolution, with no direct contact. Reform was gradual and the regime itself carried out agrarian reforms that had the effect of weakening absolutism by creating a class of independent peasant freeholders. Much of the initiative came from well-organised liberals who directed political change in the first half of the 19th century.

The Revolution deeply polarised American politics, and this polarisation led to the creation of the First Party System. In , as war broke out in Europe, the Republican Party led by Thomas Jefferson favoured France and pointed to the treaty that was still in effect.

George Washington and his unanimous cabinet, including Jefferson, decided that the treaty did not bind the United States to enter the war. Washington proclaimed neutrality instead. Jefferson became president in , but was hostile to Napoleon as a dictator and emperor. However, the two entered negotiations over the Louisiana Territory and agreed to the Louisiana Purchase in , an acquisition that substantially increased the size of the United States. The French Revolution has received enormous amounts of historical attention, both from the general public and from scholars and academics. The views of historians, in particular, have been characterised as falling along ideological lines, with disagreement over the significance and the major developments of the Revolution.

Other thinkers, like the conservative Edmund Burke , maintained that the Revolution was the product of a few conspiratorial individuals who brainwashed the masses into subverting the old order—a claim rooted in the belief that the revolutionaries had no legitimate complaints. Historians until the late 20th century emphasised class conflicts from a largely Marxist perspective as the fundamental driving cause of the Revolution. By the year many historians were saying that the field of the French Revolution was in intellectual disarray.

The old model or paradigm focusing on class conflict has been discredited, and no new explanatory model had gained widespread support. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in history. It marks the end of the early modern period , which started around and is often seen as marking the "dawn of the modern era ". After the collapse of the First Empire in , the French public lost the rights and privileges earned since the Revolution, but they remembered the participatory politics that characterised the period, with one historian commenting: Revolution became a tradition, and republicanism an enduring option.

Some historians argue that the French people underwent a fundamental transformation in self-identity, evidenced by the elimination of privileges and their replacement by rights as well as the growing decline in social deference that highlighted the principle of equality throughout the Revolution. This, combined with the egalitarian values introduced by the revolution, gave rise to a classless and co-operative model for society called " socialism " which profoundly influenced future revolutions in France and around the world.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see French Revolution disambiguation. The Storming of the Bastille , 14 July Part of a series on the. Direct Capetians — Valois — Causes of the French Revolution. Estates General of in France. National Assembly French Revolution.

National Constituent Assembly France. Storming of the Bastille. Abolition of feudalism in France. Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. French Constitution of Women's March on Versailles. Divine right of kings Mandate of Heaven. Trienio Liberal First French Empire. Liberal Wars Second French Empire. Italian unification Meiji Restoration. Xinhai Revolution Russian Revolution. Iranian Revolution Modern Cambodia. French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. Execution of Louis XVI. Symbolism in the French Revolution. The French national anthem La Marseillaise ; text in French.

Influence of the French Revolution. Historiography of the French Revolution. List of political groups in the French Revolution. Making Democracy in the French Revolution p. This was the truly original contribution of the Revolution to modern political culture. Frey and Marsha L. Frey, The French Revolution , Foreword. Motivation, Communication, and Behavior , p. A History of the Modern World , pp. A History of the Modern World , p. Transaction Publishers, , pp. Aulard in Arthur Tilley, ed. A Companion to French Studies. The First Total War: The French Revolution in Global Perspective , pp.

Citizenship and social class. Equality and sociability in French thought , — Princeton University Press, The Journal of Modern History Jordan 1 January The French Revolution Vs. University of California Press.

History - The French Revolution: 1789-1799

The origins of the French revolution. Class War or Culture Clash? Revolution and Political Conflict in the French Navy — Cambridge University Press, Notes on the French Revolution and Napoleon. University of Chicago Press, Journal of Interdisciplinary History Journal of interdisciplinary history Retrieved 26 October A very short introduction , p. A Documentary Survey of the French Revolution.

From its Origins to pp. Bert Bakker, Amsterdam, Chapter 4 pages 49— Revolutie en Keizerrijk Revolution and Empire. Veen Media, Amsterdam, Faith, Desire, and Politics. The Civil Constitution of the Clergy summer —spring A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution pp.

Past and Present Thompson, The French Revolution , pp. Exploring the French Revolution p. Exploring the French Revolution, p. Exploring the French Revolution, Routledge, London and New York, Exploring the French Revolution , pp. Censer, "Historians Revisit the Terror — Again". Journal of Social History 48 2 The Making of the West. Aristocracy and its Enemies in the Age of Revolution.

The flight of the king and the decline of the French monarchy summer —summer Retrieved 22 January The end of the monarchy and the September Murders The Path to Power — A Companion to the French Revolution. Retrieved 8 February The end of the monarchy and the September Murders summer—fall Sonthonax to Victor Schoelcher, , , Paris: The new French republic and its enemies fall —summer A History of Modern Britain: The Oxford History of the French Revolution. The Terror in the French Revolution. The Reign of Terror fall —summer Gottschalk, The Era of the French Revolution — p.

Carnot, Lazare Nicolas Marguerite. Retrieved 21 April Retrieved 19 April Retrieved 6 March Archived from the original PDF on 17 January A Critical Dictionary of the French Revolution , p. University of California Press, Facts on File Publications, A Chronicle of the French Revolution. Revolution in the Netherlands — HB uitgevers, Baarn, [] Ending the French Revolution: Violence, Justice, and Repression from the Terror to Napoleon. Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Ross, European Diplomatic History, — Artz, Reaction and Revolution: The International Journal of Communication Ethics 2 1 pp. Popkin, "The Press and the French revolution after two hundred years. The A to Z of the French Revolution.


The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and French Revolution, – Kingdom of France, – French Revolution, also called Revolution of , the revolutionary movement that shook France between and and reached its first climax there in.

Rosenwein, and Bonnie G. Since , 2nd ed. A Very Short Introduction. Paris, —," Eighteenth-Century Studies , , p. Cooper and John McCardell. The French Revolution and Human Rights. McMillan, France and women, — Women in Revolutionary Paris, — pp. The Case of Madame Roland," Canadian journal of history 36 2 pp. Sutherland, "Peasants, Lords, and Leviathan: Crouzet, "The role of assignats during the French Revolution: An evil or a rescuer? Palmer, The Age of the Democratic Revolution: The Struggle, Volume II: Global Ramifications of the French Revolution.

Nationalism in the Age of the French Revolution. The Paradoxes of Nationalism: Thompson, Robespierre and the French Revolution p. The Coming of the French Revolution. Muslims in Western Politics. Economies, Societes, Civilisations 32 5 pp. The Peasantry in the French Revolution.

Evidence from the French Revolution". Contesting the French Revolution. Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders, the Golden Age, the Breakdown. Evidence from the Code Napoleon in Germany". The Struggle, Volume II pp. Retrieved 16 June Reassessing the Life and Thought of Edmund Burke. University of Missouri Press. Retrieved 17 June In Cottret, Bernard; Henneton, Lauric. Presses Universitaires de Rennes. Economics and Politics in Germany, — Lerner, "The Helvetic Republic: Cook, Belgium pp. The French Revolution and the Case of Denmark".

The first of the general causes was the social structure of the West. The feudal regime had been weakened step-by-step and had already disappeared in parts of Europe. The increasingly numerous and prosperous elite of wealthy commoners—merchants, manufacturers, and professionals, often called the bourgeoisie —aspired to political power in those countries where it did not already possess it. The peasants , many of whom owned land, had attained an improved standard of living and education and wanted to get rid of the last vestiges of feudalism so as to acquire the full rights of landowners and to be free to increase their holdings.

Furthermore, from about , higher standards of living had reduced the mortality rate among adults considerably. This, together with other factors, had led to an increase in the population of Europe unprecedented for several centuries: For France, which with 26 million inhabitants in was the most populated country of Europe, the problem was most acute. A larger population created a greater demand for food and consumer goods.

The discovery of new gold mines in Brazil had led to a general rise in prices throughout the West from about , indicating a prosperous economic situation. From about , this trend slackened, and economic crises, provoking alarm and even revolt, became frequent. Arguments for social reform began to be advanced. The philosophes —intellectuals whose writings inspired these arguments—were certainly influenced by 17th-century theorists such as Descartes , Spinoza and Locke , but they came to very different conclusions about political, social, and economic matters.

A revolution seemed necessary to apply the ideas of Montesquieu , Voltaire , or Rousseau. It is uncertain, however, whether revolution would have come without the added presence of a political crisis. In North America this backlash caused the American Revolution , which began with the refusal to pay a tax imposed by the king of Great Britain. Monarchs tried to stop this reaction of the aristocracy , and both rulers and the privileged classes sought allies among the nonprivileged bourgeois and the peasants. Although scholarly debate continues about the exact causes of the Revolution, the following reasons are commonly adduced: We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles.

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