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French Revolution. Louis XVI. 1754 – 1793 Became king at 11 Inherited a France with BIG economic problems Married to Austrian princess Marie Antoinette in 1770, but failed to consummate the marriage until 1778 Too weak and indecisive to be an effective absolute monarch. Marie Antoinette.

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louis xvi
Louis XVI
  • 1754 – 1793
  • Became king at 11
  • Inherited a France with BIG economic problems
  • Married to Austrian princess Marie Antoinette in 1770, but failed to consummate the marriage until 1778
  • Too weak and indecisive to be an effective absolute monarch
marie antoinette
Marie Antoinette
  • 1755 – 1793
  • Initially a very popular queen, but she failed for years to produce an heir
  • Her political influence and stories of her spending and sexual depravities were greatly exaggerated by her enemies
the three estates
The Three Estates
  • The First Estate = clergy (priests, monks, nuns)
  • Higher ups in the Church were powerful and rich; these people were often from noble families and supported the king
  • Village priests were often as poor or even poorer than the villagers they served; they tended to support change
the three estates1
The Three Estates
  • Second Estate = nobility
  • Some nobles held important government or military positions; they were rich and powerful and supported the king
  • Many nobles were “land rich” (owned a lot of land) but “money poor” (had very little real wealth); they tended to support the movement to make reforms
the three estates2
The Three Estates
  • Third Estate = everyone else (98% of French people)
  • A very few of the wealthiest members supported the king
  • Most resented the privileges of the clergy and nobility and supported the movement to make reforms
economic issues
Economic Issues
  • France was deeply in debt from many years of heavy personal spending by the kings and fighting wars
  • Several years of poor harvests caused food prices to go up sharply; many poor could no longer afford bread, so food riots became common
  • King Louis XVI was finally forced to convene the Estates General (France’s version of Parliament) in 1789 for the first time in 175 years in order to try to raise taxes
the estates general of 1789
The Estates General of 1789
  • The representatives of the Third Estate ignored the king and declared themselves to be a new body, the National Assembly
  • They pressured the other two Estates into joining them in writing a constitution
the tennis court oath
The Tennis Court Oath
  • June 20, 1789
  • After the king attempted to block the new National Assembly from meeting, the group reconvened at a tennis court (the sport was played indoors in those days) and took an oath to complete their work
the new constitution
The New Constitution
  • The Declaration of the Rights of Man
  • Transformed France into a republic and constitutional monarchy (still have a king, but he must share power with the legislature)
  • Abolished the 3 Estates, made all men equal
  • Called for “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” (Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood)
the revolution begins
The Revolution Begins
  • Concerned, the king moved troops into Paris, causing the people of Paris to revolt
  • Parisians stormed the Bastille (a prison) on July 14, 1789 and released the political prisoners inside
  • At about the same time, starving peasants began rebelling in the countryside over food prices
royal family captured
Royal Family Captured
  • Rioting Parisian women marched to Versailles and attacked the palace
  • Cornered, King Louis XVI and his family were forced to move from Versailles back to Paris, where they were kept under house arrest for three years
  • Louis pretended to cooperate with the National Assembly in order to ensure his safety
the national assembly
The National Assembly
  • 1789-1791
        • Made many moderate reforms that mostly helped the middle class
  • Nobles agreed to give up all of their special privileges
  • To pay off the government’s debts, the Assembly seized all of the Catholic Church’s land and sold it
    • this upset the Pope
    • it also upset many peasants, who were religiously conservative, creating a rift between the urban and rural revolutionaries
war on top of revolution
War on Top of Revolution
  • In June 1791, Louis XVI and his family tried to flee to Austria, but were caught and brought back to Paris as traitors
  • Prussia and Austria, alarmed by the revolution in France, threatened to invade
  • In April 1792, the Assembly declared war on Austria, Prussia, and England
  • The war did not go well at first for France; many accused the nobles and clergy of secretly aiding France’s enemies, leading to class violence
radical takeover
Radical Takeover
  • Radicals took over the National Convention (the new name for the Assembly) and passed a series of more drastic reforms
  • Seized the estates of all of the nobles and abolished titles of nobility
  • Late in 1793 the tide of war turned in France’s favor as they overran the Netherlands and Italy
the guillotine
The Guillotine
  • Named for it’s inventor, Dr. Joseph-IgnaceGuillotin
  • Designed to sever the head cleanly, resulting in a more “humane” form of execution and immediate death
  • Remained the only legal means of execution in France until 1981! (Last used in 1977)
louis xvi s fate
Louis XVI’s Fate
  • Louis was stripped of the title of king and charged with treason against France
  • January 21, 1793: Louis was publicly executed
  • October 16, 1793: Marie Antoinette was also publicly executed for “crimes against Nature”
louis xvii
Louis XVII
  • 1785 – 1795
  • Louis & Marie’s only son
  • Kept in solitary confinement after his father’s execution
  • Beaten, tortured, forced to stay drunk, sing and curse, sleep with prostitutes, all to entertain his guards
  • Told that his parents were alive and just didn’t want him anymore
  • Died at age 10 of combined tuberculosis & malnutrition
  • His sister was exiled to Austria
the reign of terror
The Reign of Terror
  • July 1793 – July 1794
  • Government under the leadership of the charismatic Maximilien Robespierre
  • Hasty trials sentenced thousands to death for treason
  • The guillotine became the standard means of execution
  • So many were executed (about 40,000 in 1 year) that the streets of Paris actually ran red with blood
  • Eventually the people turned on even Robespierre and he himself was executed, closing out the Reign of Terror
the revolution fails
The Revolution Fails
  • After the fall of Robespierre, France passed another new constitution and reorganized the government yet again
  • The government remained unstable until 1799, when a new leader seized power in France – a successful general named Napoleon Bonaparte