The French Revolution

Pertinent People

1. Charles de Calonne

(Symptoms: Financial Corruption)

Charles de Calonne was appointed by King Louis XVI to be the general of finance after Jacques Necker was forced out of office in 1781. He proposed a plan to shift the French tax burden from the poor to the wealthy nobility and businessmen. He also suggested a tax on land that would be proportional to land values. The French nobility refused to pay such taxes.

2. Napoleon Bonaparte

(Convalescence: Power after the Revolution)

Napoleon Bonaparte was a general in the French army and was the leader of the coup that overthrew the Directory in 1799. Napoleon's accession into power signified the end of the French Revolution and the start of Napoleonic France and Europe.

3. Marquis de Lafayette

(Rising Fever: Inspiration to French Revolutionaries)

Lafayette was a liberal French nobleman who was a leading force behind the assistance of the American Revolution. He was revered by the French commoner as an idealistic man who embodied the principles the French Revolution was founded on.

4. Lazare Carnot

(Crisis: Commissioned for Crisis Intervention)

Lazare Carnot was a French soldier who was commissioned by the Committee of Public Safety to aid in the reorganization of the war efforts against Austria and Prussia. His success yielded him a position as one of the first members of the Directory until it was overthrown on September 4, 1797.

5. Jacques Necker

(Convalescence: Attempted to Reform Economy)

Necker was a Swiss-born banker who served as France’s director general of finance in the late 1770s. Necker was able only to minimally eliminate some cost inefficiencies. However, he did produce a government budget for the first time in French history.

6. Maximilien Robespierre

(Rising Fever: Political Corruption that Led to Revolution)

Robespierre was a politician and leader of the radical Jacobins* in the National Assembly. As chairman of the Committee of Public Safety, he organized a planned economy and mobilization for war. He grew paranoid about counter revolutionary opposition and during the Reign of Terror of 1793–1794 attempted to silence all enemies. Once the moderates regained power and the Thermidorian Reaction was under way, Robespierre was executed on July 28, 1794.

* The radical wing of representatives in the National Convention, named for their secret meeting place in the Jacobin Club, in an abandoned Paris monastery. The Jacobins called for democratic solutions to France’s problems and spoke for the urban poor and French peasantry. The Jacobins took control of the convention, and France itself, from 1793 to 1794.

7. Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès

(Rising Fever: Motivated Revolutionaries)

A liberal member of the clergy, and supporter of the Third Estate. ** He also authored the heated 1789 pamphlet “What Is the Third Estate?”

** One of the three estates in the Estates-General, consisting of the commoners of France, whether rich merchants or poor peasants. Despite the fact that it constituted the vast majority of the French population, the Third Estate had just one vote in the Estates-General—the same vote that the much smaller First Estate (clergy) and Second Estate (nobility) each had. Frustrated with its political impotence, the Third Estate broke from the Estates-General on June 17, 1789, and declared itself the National Assembly.

8. Louis XVI

(Symptom-Crisis: Caused corrupt Monarchy, led descent into Crisis)

Louis XVI was the French king from 1774 to 1792. He inherited the heavy debt problem from his grandfather, and added to the crisis through his support of the American Revolution. Debt got so uncontrollable that he was forced to turn to the Parliament of Paris and convene the Estates-General. These actions led directly to the Revolution. He was deposed in 1792 and excited in 1793.



May 5, 1789: After bad harvests and costly wars, King Louis XVI is forced to convene this ancient assembly in order to raise taxes.

During the election process, voters traditionally draft petitions of grievance (cahiers de doléances)

June 17, 1789: Representatives of the tiers état form a National Assembly swearing not to leave until a new constitution is established.

June 23, 1789: King rejects Resolutions of the tiers etat.

Rising Fever

July 14, 1789: Bastille stormed and taken by a Paris mob

July 15, 1789: Lafayette appointed Commander of National Guard.

July 20, 1789: The Great Fear - Once the revolutionary spirit seized control of the people of Paris, people in surrounding areas began to demand cheaper bread and suspension of feudal dues. Civil unrest grew in the countryside, with many peasants attacking manor homes.

August 4, 1789: Nobles in National Assembly renounce feudal rights; Jacobin Club formed.

August 27, 1789: Assembly issues the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

October 5-6, 1789: King Louis brought from Versailles to Tuileries palace in Paris.

July 12, 1790: Assembly issues Civil Constitution of the Clergy, requiring elections and oaths

June 20, 1791: Royal family flees.


April 21, 1792: France goes to war against Austria

August 10, 1792: Storming of the Tuileries Palace. Louis XVI is arrested and taken into custody

September 11, 1792: September Massacres - An angry mob led by Jean Paul Marat stormed the prisons and killed about 1600 prisoners because of rumors circulating that the prisoners were planning to stage an uprising.

September 21, 1792: Convention abolishes monarchy and declares France a republic


January 21, 1793: Convention condemns and executes King Louis XVI.

August 23, 1793: Levee en Masse - The Committee of Public Safety made a decree that mobilized the entire French population for war. All unmarried men between the ages of 18 and 25 were conscripted.

July 28, 1794: The Execution of Robespierre

November 9, 1799: Napoleon's Coup d'etat


This was the family flag of the pre-Revolution rulers in France. It was seen as a symbol of the monarchy and the oppression that the revolutionaries faced as they fought for their rights.

(Symptoms: Symbolic of Monarchy)

The guillotine was used in the French Revolution for ceremonial and public executions. The victims head was placed in the hole as they laid or kneeled at the back. The giant blade came down and decapitated them. This was usually done in town squares.

(Rising Fever: Executions fueled revolutionary ideals)

Those who could not find or afford larger and more expensive swords armed themselves with whatever they could, including smaller axes like this. Though they were inferior to the longer reaching swords, they were brutally effective when the target got within their range.

Some smaller firearms were used in the Revolution. For those that could get them, this was a common pistol that could have been used to fight their oppressors .

(Crisis: as fighting broke out and the revolution descended into chaos, these weapons were key)

This flag represented the hopes the revolutionaries had for new freedoms and rights without the monarchy in rule. Once the revolutionaries eventually conquered the ruling family and ended the war, they used this as the national flag; and it remains the same to this day.

(Convalescence: Revolution one and this flag was the symbol of reform)

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