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THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. Map of Europe 1600’s. Comparing Europe. Map of Europe 1600’s. Map of Europe 1721. Europe 2012. Enlightenment. Also known as the Age of Reason.

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Comparing europe
Comparing Europe

Map of Europe 1600’s

Map of Europe 1721


  • Also known as the Age of Reason.

  • Def. An elite cultural movement of intellects in 18th Century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge.

    • It opposed intolerance and abuse in the Church and state.

Enlightenment cont
Enlightenment (Cont.)

  • Originated about 1650 – 1700.

  • Sparked by philosophers Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, Pierre Bayle and mathematician Isaac Newton.

Four social classes 1789
Four Social Classes 1789

  • Nobility –upper class

  • Bourgeoisie – the middle class

  • Proletariat – town working class

  • Peasants –lower class

  • King was still the ruling

    class. (Louis XVI)

The three estates 1789
The Three Estates 1789

The First Estate:

  • The bishops and clergy control of the land.

  • They represented the traditional authority of the church over all secular power.

  • Consisted of the rich and poor.

  • Exempt from most taxation.

  • There were wealthy aristocrats called abbots who lived in luxury off of wealthy church lands.

  • The poor parish priests lived much like peasants.

The second estate
The Second Estate

  • The lords and nobles of France. (called the Nobility)

  • Once had considerable authority over their own regions, but the king had tried to centralize all power to himself.

  • Inherited their titles and wealth came from the land.

  • Some of the nobles had little money, but had privileges of noble rank. Most enjoyed privileges and wealth. Paid little tax.

The third estate
The Third Estate

  • The bourgeoisie, proletariat and peasants.

  • The middle class was becoming the powerful group in the sense of wealth and value.

  • Were the common people and by far, the largest group of people in France.

  • Included the wealthy merchants who rivaled the nobility, doctors, lawyers, shopkeepers, the urban poor and the peasants who worked the land. (very diverse group)

The moderate stage
The Moderate Stage

  • 1789 - 1792

The french revolution begins
The French Revolution Begins

  • Louis XVI asked the First and Second Estates to accept tax on their land, but they refused.

  • A major financial crisis followed, which touched off the French Revolution in 1789.

Causes of the french revolution
Causes of the French Revolution

  • Social Inequality (outdated ‘feudal system’ and classes)

  • Inefficient Government

    • Taxes and laws differed from province to province causing confusion and injustice.

  • Enormous Debt

    • When Louis XIV died in 1715, the treasury was drained from wars.

    • The government was poor, the clergy and nobility were not.

    • The king had no authority to tax the wealthy.

Causes of the french revolution cont
Causes of the French Revolution(Cont.)

  • Weak/unresponsive monarchy.

  • Food shortages, poor farming conditions and cold winters.

  • Ideas of the Enlightenment. (society wanting reform)

  • Growing class disparity between:

    • Old nobility vs. emerging wealthy bourgeoisie (privileges).

    • Lower classes (overtaxed) vs. landlords.

Meeting of versailles may 5 1789
Meeting of Versailles May 5, 1789


  • Estates-General met at Versailles in May, 1789.

    • Delegates could not agree on a method of voting.

    • In order for an issue to pass, two of the three estates had to agree.

      • Clergy and Nobility usually voted the same; Third Estate was thus left out.

  • The delegates of the Third Estate were mostly Bourgeoisie.

    • They wanted the 3 Estates to meet together, with each delegate having one vote.

    • Because half of the 1200 delegates were from the Third Estate, they thought they would have a chance to bring about reform.

The national assembly
The National Assembly

  • The Third Estate’s delegates forced the Estates to meet as one body.

  • On June 17, 1789, they declared themselves the National Assembly and invited the other Estates to join them.

  • On the advice of the nobles, Louis XVI ordered the three Estates to continue to meet separately.

The tennis court oath
The Tennis Court Oath

  • The delegates of the Third Estate were locked out at the meeting in Versailles, so they moved to the palace’s indoor tennis court.

  • Many of the clergy and some nobles joined them.

  • Defying the king, they demanded a constitution for France and would not leave until this goal was achieved.

  • The oath they took came to be called the Tennis Court Oath.

The results
The Results

  • Faced with solid opposition, Louis gave in.

  • After a week, he ordered all nobility and clergy to join the Third Estate in the National Assembly.

  • The king’s recognition of the National Assembly was the first victory for the Bourgeoisie.

  • Louis soon sent 18 000 soldiers to Versailles.


  • On July 14, 1789, the people of Paris massed outside the Bastille.

    They were already angry because of food shortages, unemployment and high prices.

  • This stone prison had become a hated symbol of oppression to the Parisians.

  • Seeking guns and gunpowder, the crowd charged into the courtyard.

Bastille cont
Bastille (Cont.)

  • The prison commander panicked and ordered the guards to open fire.

  • Nearly 100 people were shot dead before the crowd overwhelmed the defenders and killed the commander.

  • His head and the head of the mayor of Paris were stuck on poles and paraded through the streets of Paris.

The attack
The Attack

  • The attack on Bastille frightened the king into calling back his troops.

  • The people of Paris had won another victory.

    • Their bold action had saved the National Assembly.

  • Today, the French people mark July 14 as Bastille Day. (their day of national celebration)

The great fear
The Great Fear

  • Rumors spread that the nobles were organizing armed bands to kill peasants and seize their property.

  • A feeling of fear and desperation, called the Great Fear, took hold of the people.

  • Peasants burned the lords’ manors and destroyed records of payments due.

  • Middle-class landowners and well-to-do farmers also lost their homes and property as violence raged.

Major reforms
Major Reforms

  • The peasant uprisings convinced many nobles that they were in danger.

  • A large number fled to other parts of Europe and were known as Emigres.

  • The nobles who stayed in France realized the old regime was coming to an end.

    • They rose in the National Assembly and reluctantly agreed to give up privileges their families had held for centuries.

The end of feudalism
The End of Feudalism

  • On August 4, 1789, the National Assembly announced the end of feudalism in France.

  • The church could no longer collect taxes.

  • The nobility could not demand fees, taxes and labour from the peasants.

  • All positions in churches, government and the army were opened to all citizens.

Declaration of the rights of man
Declaration of the Rights of Man

  • This document set forth the ideals of the French Revolution.

  • It reflected people’s hopes for individual rights, freedom and equality.

  • Government now belonged to the people as a whole.

Women s march on versailles
Women’s March on Versailles

  • Many Parisian women earned a living making hats and dresses for noblewoman.

    • However, hat makers and seamstresses found less work, as aristocratic families fled France.

    • Unemployment worsened as did hunger.

  • On October 5, 1789, thousands of women marched twelve miles in the pouring rain to Versailles to protest a shortage of bread and soaring food prices.

  • They stormed the palace and forced the royal family to return to Paris.

Further reforms
Further Reforms

  • Louis had no choice but to cooperate with the National Assembly.

  • Over the next two years, the Bourgeoisie made sweeping changes.

  • The following three drastic changes were:

1 government administration
1. Government Administration

  • The country was divided into departments governed by elected officials.

  • The metric system became standard.

  • The assembly made changes in land ownership.

  • Land was seized from the Church and of nobles who had fled. Much of this land was then sold to peasants.

2 church influence
2. Church Influence

  • The National Assembly tried to bring the Church and the clergy under state control.

  • In 1790, the Civil Constitution of the Clergy was passed.

    • This law stated that bishops and priests were to be elected by popular vote and paid by the government.

3 constitutional government
3. Constitutional Government

  • Perhaps the most important act of the National Assembly, was the adoption of the Constitution in 1791.

  • This document limited the power of the king and set up an elected lawmaking body, the National Assembly.

  • To vote for representatives to the assembly, one had to be a male taxpayer.

    • This barred all women and about 30% of adult men.

Women in the revolution
Women in the Revolution

  • Women wanted better education for girls, fair laws dealing with marriage and divorce, and the right to sit on juries.

  • In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft, an English writer, published “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”.

    • She stated that the rights of man should be extended to women. Better education should achieve this goal.

The radical stage of the revolution
The Radical Stage of the Revolution

  • The Constitution of 1791 marked the end of the first stage(Moderate Stage) of the French Revolution.

  • The Bourgeoisie had made many gains:

    • Ended special privileges.

    • Limited the king’s powers.

    • Provided people a chance to take part in government.

  • Some felt the reforms had gone too far.

    • The Revolution entered the second stage marked by violence that rocked much of Europe.

The flight of the royal family
The Flight of the Royal Family

  • The nobles, the king and queen, Marie Antoinette (a member of the Hapsburg family of Austria) thought the Revolution had gone too far.

  • She made plans for the royal family’s escape to the Austrian Netherlands, where Louis could work with other European monarchs on plans to crush the Revolution.

The escape
The Escape

  • Louis and his family slipped out of the palace on the night of June 20, 1791.

  • Guards arrested them before they could reach the border and returned them to Paris.

  • This cost Louis a loss of support.

  • Many people suspected the king and queen of plotting to overturn the recent reforms.

Deepening divisions
Deepening Divisions

  • Radicals, people who favor drastic change, grew in numbers, as doubts about the king increased.

    • These included many wage earners and small shopkeepers of Paris.

    • Were called sans-culottes (men wore long pants, instead of knee-length pants of the upper classes)

  • They wanted France to become a republic.

Deepening divisions1
Deepening Divisions

  • The Parisian people gained fewer benefits than the Bourgeoisie and the peasants.

    • Wanted a greater voice in government, higher wages, lower food prices, and an end to food shortages.

  • The Bourgeoisie viewed the demands of the radicals as a threat. However, other members became leaders of the radicals.

  • They steered the Revolution in a more violent direction, bringing bloodshed to much of Europe.

War with austria and prussia
War With Austria and Prussia

  • On April 20, 1792, France declared war on Austria.

    • Was partly due to worries that the family of Marie Antoinette who ruled Austria might help the nobles in a counterrevolution.

      • A movement to restore the old way of government.

  • Prussia backed Austria and the two countries invaded France.

The invasion
The Invasion

  • Prussia and Austria threatened to destroy Paris if the king or queen were harmed.

  • Enraged, the Parisians rioted. A mob attacked the palace on Aug. 10, killing hundreds of guards and servants.

  • A radical government, the Commune, seized power and imprisoned the king.

    • They ordered elections to choose representatives for a new assembly to be called the National Convention.

    • For the first time, all adult males were granted suffrage, the right to vote.

The revolution in crisis
The Revolution in Crisis

  • The declaration of war on Austria showed that the French Revolution had moved into a radical stage.

  • Its leaders were willing to take drastic action against all enemies.

  • The following are three major events that occurred:

1 execution of the king and queen
1. Execution of the King and Queen

  • The National Convention met for the first time in September, 1792.

  • Its first act was to end the monarchy and declare France a republic.

  • The radical members decided that the royal family was a danger to the republic. They accused Louis of working with nobles and foreign agents.

Execution cont
Execution (Cont.)

  • The Convention, by one vote, sentenced Louis to death.

  • He was sent to the guillotine and beheaded on January 21, 1793.

  • Marie Antoinette met the same end later that year.

The radical stage
The Radical Stage

  • 1793 – 1794

  • Also known as the ‘Reign of Terror’.

2 expansion of the war
2. Expansion of The War

  • French armies recovered from early defeats, forcing the invading Austrians and Prussians to retreat.

    • Marched into the Austrian Netherlands.

  • Britain and Spain became allies of Austria and Prussia.

  • The once confident French Revolutionaries now found themselves at war with nearly all of Europe.

2 expansion of the war cont
2. Expansion of The War (Cont.)

  • By the spring of 1793, the new French republic was in a state of crisis.

  • Foreign troops had invaded France and were marching toward Paris.

    • Food prices soared.

    • Hungry Parisians looted stores.

  • In western France, clergy and nobles led a counterrevolutionary movement.

3 disputes among the revolutionaries
3. Disputes Among The Revolutionaries

  • Violent disagreements emerged within the National Convention.

  • The most radical groups of revolutionaries were centered in Paris and included a political club called the Jacobins.

  • George Danton and Maximilien Robespierre were both lawyers and two of the most prominent Jacobins.

3 disputes cont
3. Disputes (Cont.)

  • The more moderate members of the Convention were known as Girondists.

  • They drew most of their support from people in provinces outside of Paris.

  • Leaders of the Jacobins and Girondists came mainly from the Bourgeoisie.

  • The Jacobins joined forces with poor Parisians and arrested Girondist leaders.

    • Set up the Committee of Public Safety.

    • This group of about a dozen men held unlimited power to deal with France’s desperate situation.

Dictatorial government
Dictatorial Government

  • One of the most pressing problems for the Committee of Public Safety was to feed the hungry in Paris.

  • The government lowered the price of certain foods and rationed bread.

  • The committee also had to push back enemy troops and protect the government from its opponents within France.

A people s army
A People’s Army

  • In August, 1793, the Committee appealed to the nation to help in the war effort.

  • For the first time in European history, all able-bodied men were drafted for army service.

  • The new French army, one million strong, was the largest army in the history of the world.

  • The rallying song, Marseillaise, is now the French National Anthem.

The reign of terror
The Reign of Terror

  • Robespierre, the leading member of the Committee of Public Safety, attempted to preserve the republic.

  • He introduced a brutal program called, “The Reign of Terror”.

    • The goal was to silence critics of the government.

  • He set up a court to arrest and hear cases of accused enemies of the republic.

  • Between Sept. 1793 and July, 1794, 20 000 – 40 000 were found guilty and executed. Many others were imprisoned.


  • Included clergy, aristocrats and common people. (anyone who disagreed with the Jacobins)

  • Most trials were a mockery of justice.

    • No chance to defend themselves.

  • In Paris, carts filled with prisoners rolled through the streets to the public square, where the guillotine was set up.

    • Huge crowds came to see these executions.

Victims cont
Victims (Cont.)

  • Spiraled out of control.

    • Robespierre’s fellow leaders weren’t safe.

    • Early in 1794, Danton and other politicians were executed for trying to stop the terror.

  • Several members of the National Convention arranged for Robespierre’s arrest on July 27, 1794.

  • The next day, Robespierre and his followers met their fate and were sent to the guillotine.

Return to moderation
Return to Moderation

  • The fall of Robespierre put the reins of the government back into the hands of the moderates.

  • They wanted no more of the Jacobins.

  • They lifted price controls and limited the voting rights to taxpayers only.


  • In 1795, a group of five men called the Directory, set up a republic.

  • Only property owners were allowed to vote.

  • These five directors put down uprisings by the radical sans-culottes and the ones supporting monarchy.

  • The Directory was a very weak government. They fell from power in 1799, ending the French Revolution.


  • The French Revolution radically changed French society.

  • The Old Regime was completely overturned.

  • Absolute Monarchy came to an end.

  • The Church and the nobility lost their special privileges.

  • The decline of the nobles aided the steady rise of the Bourgeoisie, who soon dominated the government bureaucracy.


  • Were felt outside of France as well.

    • Liberty and individual rights were echoed by reformers in Latin America and other lands.

  • Introduced a new style of warfare.

    • Other European countries followed France’s idea of bringing people and resources of the entire nation to help in war efforts.

  • Promoted the spirit of nationalism, deep devotion to one’s country. It eventually spread throughout Europe and beyond.

Napoleon s conquest of europe
Napoleon’s Conquest of Europe

  • In November 1799, a group of politicians carried out a coup d’etat or “strike against the state”.

    • They overthrew the Directory and placed a popular general at the head of the government.

  • Within a decade, this leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, made France the dominant power of Europe.

  • Reforms of the Revolution spread across Europe.

  • Napoleon proved to be a military genius.

Napoleon s early career
Napoleon’s Early Career

  • In 1793, he joined the French Revolutionary forces and showed great talent for planning and leadership.

  • In 1796, he took command of the French armies fighting the Austrians in Italy.

    • Won key battles.

  • Not content to be a general. He wanted to rule France.

The consulate
The Consulate

  • Invaded Egypt in 1798, but that was a military failure.

  • In November 1799, Napoleon’s soldiers surrounded the French legislature to overthrow the Directory.

  • A new government called “The Consulate” replaced the Directory.

Napoleon s rule of france
Napoleon’s Rule of France

  • Was a remarkable politician and general.

  • Won political support by pleasing the Bourgeoisie. He promised them jobs in government and the army.

  • Promoted trade and industry.

  • Placed taxes on imports to protect French businesses.

  • Set up a national bank to provide credit to businesses and keep the economy stable.

Napoleon s rule of france cont
Napoleon’s Rule of France (Cont.)

  • At the same time, he won the support of workers and peasants.

    • Expansion of trade created many new jobs.

    • Food available at low prices to poor city dwellers.

    • Allowed peasants to keep land they had gained during the Revolution.

  • Pleased the nobles, even though Feudal privileges were not restored.

A compromise with the church
A Compromise With The Church

  • Napoleon reached an agreement with the Pope called the Concordat of 1801.

    • Balanced the rights of Church and State.

  • The Church would not get its land back.

  • Catholicism was accepted as the religion of the majority.

  • Also, the government had greater control, as Napoleon chose Bishops. It now had greater control over the Church.

The napoleonic code
The Napoleonic Code

  • In 1800, Napoleon appointed a staff of lawyers to draw up a code of laws for all of France.

  • The Napoleonic Code, established in 1804, stated that all French men were treated as equals, no matter what their birth or wealth.

  • Feudalism and class privileges were abolished.

  • People could practice the religion of their choice and protected their property rights.

Napoleonic wars
Napoleonic Wars

  • Napoleon used diplomacy and military skills to break up the alliance between Russia, Austria and Britain and sign peace treaties with all three countries.

  • However, the French expansion threatened British trade. The two went to war in 1803.

  • In 1805, Russia, Austria and Sweden formed an alliance against Napoleon, which Prussia joined the next year. The wars that followed were called the “Napoleonic Wars”.

Early victories
Early Victories

  • From 1805 – 1807, Napoleon’s armies rolled over Austria, Prussia and Russia.

  • Suddenly, France was the leading power in Europe.

  • His administrators in conquered lands reduced the privileges of the nobles and the clergy.

The continental system
The Continental System

  • In 1805, France could not defeat Britain at Trafalgar. They lost many ships, but Britain did not lose any.

  • Napoleon then developed a plan called “The Continental System”. It did not allow any countries under French control to trade with Britain.

  • Britain got around this by increasing trade with the United States and smuggling goods into Europe.

The plan backfires
The Plan Backfires

  • The British navy blockaded France and its allies.

  • Middle class merchants in Europe turned against Napoleon, because their businesses were weakened by the cutoff of British trade.

France defeated in spain
France Defeated in Spain

  • Portugal did not go along with The Continental System.

  • Napoleon invaded it and Spain.

  • In 1808, the Portuguese and Spaniards bitterly resented the takeover. They used guerrilla warfare (surprise attacks by small bands of soldiers)

  • French troops were trained for regular warfare and could not adjust to the rugged terrain and these attacks.

  • Eventually France was defeated, and in turn, Britain invaded France.

The invasion of russia
The Invasion of Russia

  • By 1812, Napoleon’s empire had reached the edge of Russia.

  • Relations between France and Russia were strained, even though they were allies.

  • Czar Alexander I angered Napoleon by trading with Britain in violation of the Continental System.

  • Napoleon decided to invade Russia.

The grand army
The Grand Army

  • Napoleon gathered about 614 000 troops from France and conquered countries.

  • The Grand Army, as it was called, invaded Russia in June 1812.

  • Russia retreated eastward, setting fires to farms and crops along the way. The French army was deprived of food.

  • The Grand Army also began to run short of supplies. Disease, hunger, exhaustion and desertion thinned the ranks.


  • The Russian retreat allowed Napoleon to reach Moscow.

  • The city was deserted, as the Russians had set fires that destroyed nearly all of it.

  • Napoleon ordered a French retreat, as he knew that his army could not survive the harsh winter. He only had about 100 000 soldiers left.

  • They began the long march westward on October 19, 1812.

Withdrawal from moscow
Withdrawal From Moscow

  • The retreat became a disaster.

  • The soldiers had little food and not enough warm clothing.

  • Russian peasants and horsemen attacked soldiers who fell behind.

  • Temperature dropped to minus 30 degrees and troops froze to death.

  • Fewer than 40 000 soldiers survived the march from Moscow.

The fall of napoleon
The Fall of Napoleon

  • In the German state of Prussia, anti-French leaders stirred up feelings of nationalism.

  • In 1813, Prussia declared war on France.

  • Allied forces from Prussia, Austria, Russia and Sweden defeated Napoleon in October 1813 at Leipzig, Germany.

    • It was called “The Battle of the Nations”.

Napoleon abdicated
Napoleon Abdicated

  • The victorious allies then invaded France.

  • When they reached Paris in March 1814, Napoleon abdicated.

  • Louis XVIII, the younger brother of the executed Louis XVI, was crowned King of France.

  • The allies exiled Napoleon to a small island called Elba, off the western coast of Italy.

Quadruple alliance
Quadruple Alliance

  • To keep France in line, Prussia, Austria, Russia and Great Britain agreed to form the Quadruple Alliance.

  • They pledged to remain united against any future attempt by France to dominate Europe.

The hundred days
The Hundred Days

  • Napoleon was only 44 years old at the time of his exile.

  • He longed for the excitement of battle, the cheers of his soldiers and the glory of victory.

    • He also knew that many French people did not like the new king.

The escape1
The Escape

  • Napoleon escaped Elba and landed on the French coast on March 1, 1815 with about 1000 soldiers.

  • King Louis XVIII sent his army to arrest Napoleon.

  • The king’s troops joined Napoleon after he won back their loyalty.

  • On March 20, 1815, Napoleon swept back into Paris and received a hero’s welcome.

The battle of waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo

  • In June 1815, the European allies and France met again in the Austrian Netherlands.

  • Napoleon’s army was soundly defeated. This was led by the British Duke of Wellington and the Prussian field marshal Gebhard von Blucher.

St helena
St. Helena

  • Napoleon surrendered to the British, who sent him to St. Helena, a lonely island a thousand miles from the Atlantic coast of Africa.

  • This is where he spent the last six years of his life.

Napoleon s mark on history
Napoleon’s Mark on History

  • His conquests radically changed Europe by spreading many of the French Revolution’s reforms and ideals.

  • Governments were reorganized, feudal ideas were rejected, freedom and equality took root.

  • Nationalist feelings grew and many European people took steps to create independent nations.