The French Revolution and Napoleon

On the Eve of Revolution
• 1789, France still clung to an outdated social
system, from the Middle Ages
• Everyone in France belonged to Three classes:
First Estate 1%
Second Estate 2%
Third Estate 97%
Majority of population:
Middle Class and Peasants
• First Estate
– During Middle Ages the Church had great influence
throughout Christian Europe
– In 1789, French Clergy, still enjoyed enormous wealth
and privilege, owned 10% of land, collected tithes and
didn’t pay taxes
• High church leaders, Bishops and abbots were usually rich
• Parish priests were humble and often poor
– Philosophers targeted the church for reform
• Church was often corrupt and interfered in politics
• Clergy condemned the Enlightenment for undermining religion
and moral order
• Second Estate
– Titled nobility of French Society
– During the Middle Ages, noble
knights defended the land, Louis
XIV, crushed nobles military
power but gave them jobs in
government, the army, courts
and the Church
– Nobles raised taxes trying to live
lavish lifestyles to keep up with
everyone else
– Feared losing traditional
privileges, especially freedom of
paying taxes
• Third Estate
– In 1789, numbered about 27 million
people, or 97% of the population.
– 10% of them were the bourgeoisie
(Middle class), included prosperous
bankers, merchants and
manufacturers, officials who staffed
royal bureaucracy, lawyers, doctors,
journalists, professors and skilled
– 9 out 10 people in Third Estate were
rural peasants
• Some were prosperous land owners,
others were tenant farmers and day
• Poorest members of the
Third Estate were the city
– Apprentices and
– Women and men earned
livings as servants, stable
hands, porters, construction
– Large number were
unemployed, to survive
many turned to begging and
• Discontent
– Members of the Third Estate resented privileges of
their social “betters”
– The wealthy, bourgeoisie could buy political office
and titles
– Urban workers couldn’t afford rising prices of bread
– Peasants burdened on taxes from land to soap to salt
– Enlightenment ideas led people to question the old
– Everyone in third estate called for other estates to
pay their share
• Financial Crisis
– Deficit spending- Government
spent more money then it takes in
– Louis XIV left France deeply in debt
• Seven Years War and American
Revolution strained the treasury
• Cost rose in 1700’s, lavish court
soaked up millions
• Government borrowed more and
more money and by 1789, half its tax
income went just to pay interest on
• Nobles and clergy still refuse to pay
• Crumbling Economy
– General economic decline in 1770’s, bad
harvest sent food prices soaring
– People rioted in towns, peasants attacked
noble’s manor houses
• Failure of Reform
– Louis XVI burdened with debt hires
Jacques Necker, finical wizard, proposes
idea to tax first and second estates, nobles
and clergy had him dismissed
– Crisis worsened, the wealthy and powerful
demand that the King call the Estates
General before making any changes
• French Kings had not summoned the Estates
General in 175 years
• Estate General meets at Versailles in May 1789
– Louis XVI had all three estates prepare cahiers,
notebooks listing their grieveneces
– Many cahiers called for reforms ( fairer taxes, freedom of
the Press, regular meetings of the Estates General)
– All three estates elect delegates to represent at Estates
– Estates General would have all estates meet separately
then vote, this allowed for Third Estate to be outvoted 2
to 1
– Third Estate wanted all three order to meet as one
Estates General then becomes deadlocked over voting
– After weeks of a stalemate, delegates of Third
Estate, transformed themselves into the National
Assembly (Stating that they represented the
people of France)
– Invited members of other Estates to help shape a
– A few days later they are locked out of the
meeting place
Tennis Court Oath
Men vow to not disband until they had drawn up
a Constitution in France
– Reformed clergy and nobles joined
National Assembly, Louis XVI had to
accept it
– Royal troops arrive in Versailles
• Storming of the Bastille
– 800 Parisians assembled outside of
Bastille (Medieval fortress used as a
– Crowd demanded weapons and gun
powder stored there, due to the
presence of the Royal Army
– Commander of Bastille opened fire,
many were killed, angry mob broke
through, killed commander and five
guards, found no weapons
– Bastille Day, July 14, French National
Creating a New France
• The Great Fear
– Peasants starved, grain
prices soared, people
spent 80% of income on
– Rumors of government
troops seizing crops,
peasants unleashed their
fury on nobles
– Stole grain and burned
down manors
• Paris in Arms
– Moderates looked to Marquis de
Lafayette, aristocrat that fought with
Gorge Washington in American
– Lafayette headed National Guard,
middle class militia, organized after
presence of royal troops
• Guard was first group to wear Red,
White and Blue
– Paris Commune
• Even more radical then Guard, could
mobilize quickly for protests or violent
• Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
– August 4, nobles in National
Assembly vote to give up rights
and privileges
– Assembly issues the Declaration
of Rights of Man and the Citizen,
document modeled after
American Declaration of
– Each French man had an equal
right to take office, freedom of
religion, taxes to be levied
according to ability to pay
– Parisians grew suspicious as
more Royal troops enter Paris
• A Time for Reform
– Reorganize the Catholic Church
• To pay off debt Assembly voted to take over and sell Church
• Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1790), Bishops and Priests
became elected and salaried officials
– Reaction was swift and angry
• Many Bishops and Priests refused to accept Civil Constitution
of the Clergy
• Pope condemned it and conservative peasants rejected
• Government punished Clergy who refused → Huge shift
opened between the revolutionaries in Paris and peasants in
• Written Constitution
– Constitution of 1791 set up a
limited Monarchy in place of
– Legislative Assembly had
power to make laws, collect
taxes, decide on issues of
war and piece
– Abolished old provincial
courts and reformed laws
• Fateful Flight
– King and Queen attempt to escape in disguise
– When stopped in town, they were recognized, brought
back to Paris, King was seen as a traitor
• Reaction Outside France
– Supporters of Enlightenment supported reforms of the
Assembly, saw French experiment as the dawn of a new
age for justice and equality
– European rulers denounced French Revolution
– Émigrés, nobles and clergy the fled France spread news
of attacks on privileges and property
– Marie Antoinette’s family in Prussia and Austria issues,
Declaration of Pilnitz, threatened to intervene to protect
French Monarchy
• Working class men and
women pushed revolution
into more radical action.
– 1791, demanded a republic
– Wanted government to
guarantee them a living wage
– Legislative Assembly began
developing factions
• Left wing, moderates, right wing
– 1792, left-wingers declare war
on Prussia and Austria
Radical Days
• French Republic- Radicals took
control of the Assembly, called
for an election
• Suffrage, the right to vote, was
extended to all male citizens
– All French men and women were
called citizen
• Convention put Louis XVI on
– January 1793 Louis XVI beheaded
– October 1793 Marie Antoinette
– Son Louis XVII died of unknown
causes in a dungeon
• 1793, France was at war with most of Europe
– Britain, Holland, Spain, Austria and Prussia
• To deal with threats to France the Convention
created the Committee of Public Safety
– 12 member committee had almost absolute power,
battled to save Revolution
– Prepared France for all out war
– Developed new war tactics to win battles with masses of
ill trained, patriotic forces
• French armies overran Holland and invaded Italy
• Robespierre
– Government battled antirevolutionaries under guided hand
of Robespierre
• Lawyer/Politician, rose to leadership
in the Committee of Public Safety
– Selfless dedication to the
Revolution, believed France could
achieve a “Republic of Virtue”,
through terror
– Reign of Terror- 1793-94Revolutionary Courts conducted
hasty trials
– 40,000 people died
– Guillotine developed as a human
method of behading
– Convention turned on itself,
leaders, including Robespierre
were tried and beheaded,
excutions then slowed
• Reaction and the Directory
– Made 3rd Constitution (1795)
• Set up of five man directory and two house legislature, elected
by male citizens with property
– Directory held power from 1795-1799
• Faced growing discontent, leaders lined their own pockets,
failed to solve problems, chaos spread
– Politicians turned to military hero, Napoleon Bonaparte,
to help them advance their goals
– BACKFIRED, Napoleon would outwit them and become
ruler of France
– Nationalism- An aggressive feeling of pride and devotion
to one’s country, developed due to the Revolution and
Age of Napoleon
• Born on French ruled
island of Corsica, in
• Came from little
money, minor
nobles, at age 9 sent
to France to be
trained in military
• Favored Republic
rule but found
revolution confusing
• Early Successes
– Rose quickly in the army, in 1793 drove British forces out
of French Ports.
– Won several victories against Austrians, capturing
Northern Italy.
– By 1799 moved from victorious general to political
– Overthrew the weak directory, set up Three man
governing board, the Consulate, made another
Constitution, Napoleon took title of First Consul
– In 1802, had himself named Consul for LIFE
• Self-Made Emperor
– 1804, Napoleon
accumulated enough
power to the title of
Emperor of France.
– Held a plebiscite, ballot
in which voters say yes
or no to an issue
• Each time the French
strongly supported him
– Consolidated power,
strengthening the
central government
• Reforms
– Modernized finance-Regulated the economy to control
prices, encourage new industry and build roads and
– Made peace with Catholic Church
– Encouraged émigrés to return, provided they took an
oath of loyalty
– Peasants were allowed to keep land purchased from
nobles during the Revolution
– Made all careers open to talent
• Napoleonic Code
– Religious toleration, equality of all citizens before law,
advancement based on merrit
• Empire
– 1804-1814, Napoleon
marched all over
Europe, victories
• Developed new battle
plans for each battle,
so opposing generals
could never anticipate
what he would do next
– Napoleon redrew the
map of Europe, he
annexed or added
outright some areas
to France, including
Holland, Belgium,
parts of Italy and
• Abolished the weak Holy
Roman Empire
• The rulers of Austria, Prussia,
and Russia reluctantly signed
treaties with Napoleon
• Put friends and family
members on thrones of
– Removed King of Spain from
throne and put in his brother
– Divorced wife, Josephine,
married princess of Austria
– Claimed Kingship to ancient
ruling families
• France vs. Britain
– Napoleon attempted to take Britain but their small naval
fleet won
– Turned to economic warfare
• Closed European ports to British goods
• Britain then set up own blockade, shutting off ports to keep
people or supplies from moving in or out
• Both Britain and France seized neutral ships, suspected of
trading with other side
– British attached America ship, caused War of 1812
– Napoleon failed to bring Britain to its knees
– Restrictions hurt Europe, created a scarcity of goods and
sent prices soaring, resentful merchants turned to
Challenges to Napoleon’s Empire
• French armies spread ideas
of Revolution across Europe
– Installed reforms in other
• Opened careers to men of
talent across Europe
(Napoleonic Code was
carried across Europe when
he took over a country)
• Nationalism in other
countries , unleashed revolts
against the French
• Resistance in Spain
– Napoleon and his brother
undermined Catholic church
– Spanish resisted French invaders
and Napoleon responded with
brutal repression
– Spanish patriots conducted,
guerilla warfare, hit and run raids,
against the French
– Attacks kept large number of
French troops tied down in Spain
– British sent troops to help Spain
• Defeat in Russia
– Despite some defeats Napoleon continued
– In 1812, Alexander I of Russia, resigned from Continental
System, Napoleon responded by making the Grand
Army, 600,000 soldiers from France and other countries
– Russians retreated eastward to avoid battles, burning
crops and villages as they retreated
• Leaving the French hungry and cold
– In September Napoleon reached Moscow, realized he
couldn’t feed and supply army through long Russian
winter, retreated in October
– 1,000 mile retreat turned into desperate battle to
survive, only 100,000 soldiers in Grand Army survived
• Downfall of Napoleon
– Russia, Britain, Austria, and
Prussia formed an alliance
to beat weakened France
– In 1813, they defeated
Napoleon at the battle of
Leipzig, the next year
Napoleon abdicated
(stepped down from power)
– He was exiled to Elba, island
on the Mediterranean
– Louis XVIII, brother of Louis
XVI becomes King of France
• Napoleon Returns!!!!
– Restoration of Louis XVIII didn’t go well
– Émigrés rushed back to France seeking revenge,
rekindling loyalty for Napoleon
– Victorious allies gathered in Vienna for peace
conference, Napoleon escapes exile and returns to
– Citizens cheered Napoleon’s advance, Louis XVIII leaves
– March 1815, Napoleon is Emperor in France again, only
lasts 100 days, until allies assemble their forces
– Opposing armies met in Waterloo, Belgium, Napoleon
was defeated, sent to exile in St. Helena, never to return
– Napoleon died in 1821
• Legacy of Napoleon
– Impact on France lived on
– Made France a centralized
state with a Constitution
– Held elections, citizens had
more rights to property
– Sparked nationalist feelings
across Europe
– Ended Holy Roman Empire,
allowing for creation of new
– Sold Louisiana territory to
American Government,
doubling size of United States,
allowing for American
• Congress of Vienna
– After Waterloo diplomats met for 10 months
• Lots of entertainment and dances
• Vienna Settlement
– Decisions of the diplomats of Europe, set the stage for
European policy for the next 100 years
– Re-drew the map of Europe, to contain French ambitions
– Ringed France with strong countries
• In North added Belgium and Luxemburg to Holland to make
Kingdom of the Netherlands
• To prevent eastward, gave Prussia land along the Rhine,
allowed Austria to control Northern Italy again
• Stability- Promoted principal of legitimacy-restoring
hereditary monarchies tat the French Revolution or
Napoleon unseated
• Leaders pledged to maintain order in Europe
• Problems with Peace
– Vienna Congress achieved immediate goals, failed to see how
nationalism would shake foundations of Europe
– They re-drew the boundaries without concern for national
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