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French Revolution

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1) Causes
2) The Social Cause/Society under the Old Regime
3) I‟st Estate
4) II‟nd Estate
5) III‟rd Estate
6) The Three Estates Cont.
7) Economic Cause
8) France Is Bankrupt
9) Political Cause
10)Role of the Middle Class
11) Immediate Cause
12)Intellectual Cause
• Social Cause
 One of the main factors that led to the French Revolution was the unbalanced
social structure of society during the Old Regime.
• Economic Cause
 It was the main reason of the depletion of the treasury of the king.
• Political Cause
• King was a person of Mediocre Intelligence.
• Immediate Cause
 Formation of the Estate General.
• Intellectual Cause
 Influence from the writers.
The Social Cause/Society under
the Old Regime
– First Estate
• High-ranking members of the Church
• Privileged class
– Second Estate
• Nobility
• Privileged class
– Third Estate
• Everyone else – from peasants in the countryside to wealthy
bourgeoisie merchants in the cities
• Unprivileged class
I Estate
• The First Estate, which made up about
one percent of the total population, was
divided into two groups: upper and
lower.The upper
clergy included archbishops, bishops, and
• Due to the power of the Roman Catholic
Church, these people were exempt from
most taxes. These men of high status and
privilege enjoyed luxurious lives in their
large palaces. Meanwhile, the lower
clergy, which
II Estate
• The Second Estate was composed of about 30,000 families
who belonged to the nobility
ㅡ Duke and Duchess, count and countess, and marquis and
marquess. Like the clergy, the nobility represented another
privileged Estate.
They held the highest position in the Church, the army, and
the government. As well, they were exempt from paying taxes
of any kind.
They collected rent from the peasant population who lived on
their lands. They also collected an extreme amount of
customary dues, as
well as dues on salt, cloth, bread, and wine. Most of the
nobility was descendants from the warriors, who helped the
King conquer France
in the early days. They lived a life of lordly ease and luxury
and enjoyed great privileges.
About 26 million citizens, the Third Estate
peasantry, and the urban artisans. The
merchants, manufacturers, bankers, doctors,
lawyers, and intellectuals, were generally
prosperous and often as wealthy as nobles
Third Estate was dominated by the middle
Blending of aristocratic and bourgeois
classes by 1789
Middle class were Big Winners
Revolutionary goals of the middle class
Estates Cont.
•Circa 130,000
•Collected the tithe
•Censorship of the press
•Control of education
•Kept records of births, deaths,
marriages, etc.
•Catholic faith held honored position
of being the state religion (practiced
by monarch and nobility)
•Owned 20% of the land
•Paid no taxes
•Subject to Church
law rather than civil
•Moral obligation (rather than legal
obligation) to assist the poor and needy
•Support the monarchy and Old Regime
•Paid no taxes
•Support the monarchy and Old Regime
•Collected taxes in the form of feudal
•Monopolized military and state
•Owned 20% of the land
•Circa 25,000,000
•Paid all taxes
•Tithe (Church tax)
•Octrot (tax on goods brought into cities)
•Corvée (forced road work)
•Capitation (poll tax)
•Vingtiéme (income tax)
•Gabelle (salt tax)
•Taille (land tax)
•Feudal dues for use of local manor’s
winepress, oven, etc.
•High-ranking clergy
•Circa 110,000
•Everyone else:
bourgeoisie, city
workers, merchants,
peasants, etc.,
along with many
parish priests
 In 1774, Louis XVI of the Bourbon family of kings ascended the throne of
France. He was 20 years old and married to the Austrian princess Marie
Antoinette. Upon his accession the new king found an empty treasury. Long
years of war had drained the financial resources of France.
 Added to this was the cost of maintaining an extravagant court at the immense
palace of Versailles.
 Under Louis XVI, France helped the thirteen American colonies to gain their
independence from the common enemy, Britain. The war added more than a
billion livres to a debt that had already risen to more than 2 billion livres.
 Lenders who gave the state credit, now began to charge 10 per cent interest
on loans. So the French government was obliged to spend an increasing
percentage of its budget on interest payments alone. To meet its regular
expenses, such as the cost of maintaining an army, the court, running
government offices or universities, the state was forced to increase taxes. Yet
even this measure would not have sufficed.
 The Church too extracted its share of taxes called tithes from the peasants,
and finally, all members of the third estate had to pay taxes to the state.
These included a direct tax, called taille, and a number of indirect taxes which
were levied on articles of everyday consumption like salt or tobacco. The burden
of financing activities of the state through taxes was borne by the third estate
alone ,which angered the common People
France Is Bankrupt
 The king (Louis XVI) lavished money
on himself and residences like
 Queen Marie Antoinette
was seen as a
wasteful spender
 Government found its funds
 As a result of wars
including the funding of the
government spending
more money than it takes
in from tax revenues
 Privileged classes would not submit to
being taxed
Louis XVI attempted to tax the nobles.
The nobles forced the king to call a meeting of the Estates-General an
assembly of delegates from each of the three estates.
• Louis XVI, the king of France, was a person of mediocre
intelligence. He ruled with the help of his empty headed
wife „Marie Antoinnette‟, who appointed a number of her
friends and relatives at high posts and kept some of them
at pension. These people neither did any work nor they
contribute to the National treasury. Instead they took
salary from the Royal treasury.
• Louis XVI wanted to increase his territory. And to do
so, he had to be engaged in wars which meant that he
needed a large army for that purpose. Appointing so
many soldiers, required money to pay salaries to them. It
depleted the Royal treasury.
As a result, the king was forced to
raise the taxes with the consent of the three estates .
As the common people had to pay taxes, they became
agitated against their monarch – Louis XVI.
• The eighteenth century witnessed the
emergence of social groups, termed the middle
class, who earned their wealth through an
expanding overseas trade and from the
manufacture of goods such as woollen and silk
textiles that were either exported or bought by
the richer members of society.
• In addition to merchants and
manufacturers, the third estate included
professions such as lawyers or administrative
officials which were educated.
• Middle Class believed that no group in society
should be privileged by birth. Social position
must depend on his merit.
• Compelled by Financial bankruptcy, the
French Emperor Louis XVI called a meeting
of Estate General in 1789. It generated
much heat as the members of the 3rd Estate
were determined to put forth their demand.
However, the first two Estates i.e. „the
Clergy‟ and „ The Nobility‟ refused to have a
joint meeting with the Third Estate. The
members of the Third Estate walked of the
• Louis XVI had to call a meeting of the Estates General which would then
pass his proposals for new taxes. The Estates General was a political
body to which the three estates sent their representatives. However,
the monarch alone could decide when to call a meeting of this body. The
last time it was done was in 1614.
• On 5 May 1789, Louis XVI called together an assembly of the Estates
General to pass proposals for new taxes. A resplendent hall in Versailles
was prepared to host the delegates. The first and second estates sent
300 representatives each, who were seated in rows facing each other on
two sides, while the 600 members of the third estate had to stand at
the back. The third estate was represented by its more prosperous and
educated members. Peasants, artisans and women were denied entry to
the assembly. However, their grievances and demands were listed in
some 40,000 letters which the representatives had brought with them.
• Voting in the Estates General in the past had been conducted according
to the principle that each estate had one vote. This time too Louis XVI
was determined to continue the same practice. But members of the
third estate demanded that voting now be conducted by the assembly as
a whole, where each member would have one vote. When the king
rejected this proposal, members of the third estate walked out of the
assembly in protest.
France’s economy was based primarily on agriculture.
Peasant farmers of France bore the burden of
Poor harvests meant that peasants had trouble paying
their regular taxes.
Certainly could not afford to have their taxes raised.
Bourgeoisie often managed to gather wealth.
But were upset that they paid taxes while nobles did
government did not
mean democracy or
“mob rule”
became the National
Assembly in June of
1789 with the power
to frame a
◊Tennis Court Oath
was formed due to
the disagreement of
the 3’rd Estate and
the Monarch.
Louis XVI did not
actually want a written
When news of his plan
to use military force
against the National
Assembly reached Paris
on July 14, 1789, people
stormed the Bastille
The Tennis Court Oath
“The National Assembly, considering that it has been
summoned to establish the constitution of the
kingdom, to effect the regeneration of the public
order, and to maintain the true principles of monarchy;
that nothing can prevent it from continuing its
deliberations in whatever place it may be forced to
establish itself; and, finally, that wheresoever its
members are assembled, there is the National Assembly;
“Decrees that all members of this Assembly shall
immediately take a solemn oath not to separate, and to
reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the
constitution of the kingdom is established and
consolidated upon firm foundations; and that, the said
oath taken, all members and each one of them individually
shall ratify this steadfast resolution by signature.”
Storming the Bastille
 Events of the night of
July 13, 1789
 Reasons for the
attack on the Bastille
the next morning
 The stubbornness of
the governor of the
 Celebrations on the
night of July 14th
 Sparks tremendous
popular revolution all
over France
of the
people to
Right to a
fair trial
Madame Jeanne
Olympe de
Roland also
Gouges argued in
served as a
her Declaration
leader in the
of the Rights of
women’s rights
Woman that
movement, and
women are equal
was able to
citizens and
should benefit
influence her
husband (a
reforms just as
Women did gain some
rights during the French
Revolution, but these
were designed for
purposes other than
liberating women.
• Women could inherit
property, but only because
doing so weakened feudalism
and reduced wealth among
the upper classes.
• Divorce became easier, but
only to weaken the Church’s
control over marriage.
End of Special Privileges
After National Assembly completed
the draft of the Constitution in
1791, Church lands were
seized, divided, and sold to peasants.
2/3 of Church officials fled the country
rather than swear allegiance to this.
All feudal dues and tithes were
All special privileges of the First and
Second Estates were abolished.
Role Played by the Rulers of Austria
and Prussia
Maximillian Robespierre
 Maximilien Robespierre (Maximilien François Marie
Isidore de Robespierre) was born on May 6th, 1758, in
Arras where his father was based as an advocate.
Robespierre and his three younger siblings were brought
up by diverse relatives after their father dramatically
lost his way in life after the death of his wife in
childbirth in 1767. Robespierre was educated for a short
time at a College in Arras and then in Paris initially at
the very prestigious College of Louis-le-Grand and later
at the College of Law. Robespierre qualified as an
advocate in 1781 and sought to establish a legal practice
at his home town of Arras. He became known both as a
successful advocate and as a participant in local literary
and philosophic circles.
Around 10:00am on August 10, 1792 a mob of nearly 30,000 French citizens advanced toward the
Tuileries Palace to capture King Louis XVI. Louis had been given information that told him an angry mob
was headed for the palace, so he decided to move himself and his family to the Legislative Assembly
building. Before the king fled along with his 300 volunteer soldiers, he left no orders for the Swiss
Guard who defended the palace. The guards saw the crowds coming and counted upon an order from the
king to surrender the palace as he had in an earlier attack, but the order never came. When the mob
approached the palace, the guards scampered to the top walls and tried to fight off the attack with
single-shot muskets. After firing a few rounds into the crowd the guards realized their efforts were
worthless and quickly chose to surrender the palace in the hopes of saving their lives. The mob
searched the palace with vengeance in their hearts, leaving only 300 of the 900 Swiss guards alive. The
people found no king inside the palace, but murdered anyone within the walls that might have been
associated with the king: cooks, servants, maids, etc., no one was spared.
Many events occurred in the months prior to the Storming of the Tuileries Palace that led up to this
violent episode. As early as June 20, 1792 several crowds of French citizens traveled to the Tuileries
Palace in an attempt to convince the king that the government, economy, and society of France needed
to change. At this original meeting the king met with the people and assured them that he was on their
side. Luckily for the king, the crowd retreated without hurting anyone, having gotten the impression
that things would change. By late July however, the people of Paris began to panic as the war with
Austria and Prussia drew nearer to home. Both Austrian and Prussian troops were moving ever closer to
the city of Paris. Believing that the king or his wife was giving information to these foreign powers, the
Paris Commune, a group of local representatives, decided to lead an attack on the Tuileries Palace once
again. This decision was made on August 9, 1792 and overnight nearly 30,000 French citizens came
together and hosted the attack the very next day. After killing numerous Swiss guards and other staff
present at the Tuileries Palace, the Paris mob moved to the Legislative Assembly building and claimed
their prize. King Louis XVI and his family, who had been hiding, were found and arrested. This event
signified the end of the monarchy in France and started the official trial of the king.
France abolishes Monarchy and
Becomes a Republic
Robespierre‟s Reign of Terror, 1793-94
 Execution of 40,000
“Enemies of the Nation”
 Stress on radical
definition of equality
 Wanted a legal
maximum on personal
 Wanted a regulation of
commercial profits
 End of Robespierre‟s
dictatorship on July
28, 1794
A conspiracy overthrew Robespierre.
On July 27, 1794, he was barred
from speaking in public
and was placed
Under arrest.
An uprising
by his supporters
was thwarted, and
on July 28 Robespierre
died on the guillotine with
his other supporters. Eighty more followers
of Robespierre were executed the next day.
Role Of the Napoleon Bonaparte
The Directory
Napoleon’s Rise to
Establishment of
the Bank of France
Reconciliation with
the Catholic
 --Concordat of
Heavy Censorship
Napoleon’s “Art of
Women as Revolutionaries
 When National Assembly was busy at Versailles drafting a constitution, the rest
of France seethed with turmoil. A severe winter had meant a bad harvest; the
price of bread rose, often bakers exploited the situation and hoarded supplies.
After spending hours in long queues at the bakery, crowds of angry women
stormed into the shops.
 From the very beginning women were active participants in the events which
brought about so many important changes in French society. They hoped that
their involvement would pressurise the revolutionary government to introduce
measures to improve their lives. Most women of the third estate had to work for
a living. Most women did not have access to education or job training. Only
daughters of nobles or wealthier members of the third estate could study at a
convent, after which their families arranged a marriage for them. Working women
had also to care for their families, that is, cook, fetch water, queue up for
bread and look after the children. Their wages were lower than those of men. In
order to discuss and voice their interests women started their own political clubs
and newspapers. About sixty women’s clubs came up in different French cities.
The Society of Revolutionary and Republican Women was the most famous of
them. One of their main demands was that women enjoy the same political rights
as men. Women were disappointed that the Constitution of 1791 reduced them to
passive citizens. They demanded the right to vote, to be elected to the Assembly
and to hold political office. Only then, they felt, would their interests be
represented in the new government.
One of the most revolutionary social reforms of the Jacobin regime was the
abolition of slavery in the French colonies. The colonies in the Caribbean –
Martinique, Guadeloupe and San Domingo – were important suppliers of commodities
such as tobacco, indigo, sugar and coffee. But the reluctance of Europeans to go and
work in distant and unfamiliar lands meant a shortage of labour on the plantations.
So this was met by a triangular slave trade between Europe, Africa and the
Americas. The slave trade began in the seventeenth century. French merchants
sailed from the ports of Bordeaux or Nantes to the African coast, where they
bought slaves from local chieftains. Branded and shackled, the slaves were packed
tightly into ships for the three-month long voyage across the Atlantic to the
Caribbean. There they were sold to plantation owners. The exploitation of slave
labour made it possible to meet the growing demand in European markets for
sugar, coffee, and indigo.
Throughout the eighteenth century there was little criticism of slavery in France.
The National Assembly held long debates about whether the rights of man should be
extended to all French subjects including those in the coloniesIt was finally the
Convention which in 1794 legislated to free all slaves in the French overseas
possessions. This, however, turned out to be a short-term measure: ten years
later, Napoleon reintroduced slavery. Plantation owners understood their freedom as
including the right to enslave African Negroes in pursuit of their economic interests.
Slavery was finally abolished in French colonies in 1848.
Death of Napoleon Bonaparte