Review: France before the Revolution French society consisted of three social classes the clergy, or First Estate the nobility, or Second Estate the rest of the population, or Third Estate In 1789, France faced unrest, financial crisis, and food shortages. food shortages
financial problems (chiefly from Louis XVI giving money to the USA to fight for their independence)
to solve the financial crisis and to stabilize his rule, King Louis XVI assembled the Estates General, which had not met since 1614, comprised of representatives from the three Estates
In June 1789 the Third Estate declared itself the National Assembly and moved from the Palace of Versailles to an indoor tennis court in town. There members swore the famous Tennis Court Oath, pledging never to disband until they had written a new constitution for France.
Hundreds of hungry people in Paris stormed the Bastille, a medieval fort and prison, to search for gunpowder on July 14, 1789, signaling the start of the French Revolution. As the news spread across France, peasants began to rise in spontaneous revolt against their lords.
The Declaration called for the equality of all men. It even ended slavery in France.
The National Assembly (controlled by Third Estate) reorganized the church.
It set up a constitutional monarchy and ended the absolute monarchy.
It also ended feudal privileges.
When the Bastille fell, the rule of the Third Estate began.
The other two estates would have to “dance” to the tune of the Third Estate.
The National Assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man .
European countries attack France.
French soldiers save the Republic and become very popular in France.
The most popular soldier is the genius general, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Frenchmen volunteer to defend the gains of their revolution.
The Committees for Public Safety send over 40,000 people to their deaths.
European monarchs and nobles are horrified at the violence in France.
The guillotine sends over 40,000 French people to their death.
Maximilien Robespierre takes over and makes the Committees of Public Safety.
King Louis XVI and his family are beheaded.
Fearing enemies inside and outside of France, Maximilien Robespierre established special revolutionary courts, responsible only to him, which tried citizens for treason against the revolution. During two years of the Reign of Terror; roughly 40,000 French men and women were executed, often by guillotine. Finally, in July 1794, Robespierre himself was taken to the guillotine by members of the National Convention.
Following the chaos of the Reign of Terror, Napoleon Bonaparte ruled France as dictator and emperor for 15 years (1799 - 1814). He stopped revolutionary reforms such as free speech and press, but also maintained moderate revolutionary’ reforms, such as the abolishment of feudal privileges.
Napoleon’s Conquests 1799-1815
Retreat from Moscow
In 1812, Napoleon miscalculated. He tried to invade Russia in the winter. The French army lost over 500,000 soldiers to the Russian winter, and this failure led to the defeat of Napoleon.
Congress of Vienna (1814-1815)
European leaders met to make a peace that would ensure future stability in Europe. It also tried to ensure that the example of the French Revolution would not be followed again.