Fench Revolution, also called Revolution of 1789, the revolutionary movement that shook France between 1787 and 1799 and reached its first climax there in 1789. Hence the conventional term “Revolution of 1789,” denoting the end of the ancien régime in France and serving also to distinguish that event from the later French revolutions of 1830 and 1848.

Although historians disagree on the causes of the Revolution, the following reasons are commonly adduced: (1) the increasingly prosperous elite of wealthy commoners—merchants, manufacturers, and professionals, often called the bourgeoisie—produced by the 18th century’s economic growth resented its exclusion from political power and positions of honour; (2) the peasants were acutely aware of their situation and were less and less willing to support the anachronistic and burdensome feudal system; (3) the philosophes, who advocated social and political reform, had been read more widely in France than anywhere else; (4) French participation in the American Revolution had driven the government to the brink of bankruptcy; and (5) crop failures in much of the country in 1788, coming on top of a long period of economic difficulties, made the population particularly restless.