The French Revolution

1789-1815

The Symptom: The American Revolution

After funding and assisting the American Revolution, the French government was bankrupt. In France, the society was divided in to 3 estates and the 3rd estate was the most taxed. After seeing the ideas of republicanism in the American Revolution, the French were determined to overthrow their social hierarchy and the symptoms of the revolution began.

The Fever: The Storming of the Bastille

1789

Louis XVI called for the Estates General in which the 3rd estate, the commoners, who made up 98% of the population, took charge and became the National Assembly to make laws for the country. The National Assembly drew up the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen and restructured the old regime (ancien régime), which radicalized many members of the National Assembly, thereby fueling the fever of the revolution. Women also participated in the revolution, such as the march on Bastille in July of 1789, when the royal family was forced to return to Paris.

The Terror: The Executions

In 1793, King Louis XVI and Mary Antoinette were executed using the guillotines which marked a new stage in revolutionary violence, The Terror of 1793-1794. This Terror was lead by Maximilien Robespierre and his Committee of Public Safety and lead to the execution of tens of thousands of enemies of the revolution.

Convalesce: Napolean Takes Power

Upon Robespierre's death in 1794, Napolean Bonaparte brought France into a period of covalescence as he began to consolidate power under the Directory, France's five-person governing group until he overthrew the Directory to become France's emperor and first consul in 1799. In this period, he restored the stability from the revolutionary government and centralized the government. Ironically, the French didn't end up receiving the power and freedom they wanted through the revolution.

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