The french revolution
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The French Revolution. REVIEW. Causes: Colonists did not receive rights they were entitled to; Forced to pay taxes they disagreed with Enlightenment writers spoke of equality & independence based on reason

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  • Causes: Colonists did not receive rights they were entitled to; Forced to pay taxes they disagreed with

  • Enlightenment writers spoke of equality & independence based on reason

  • Constitution created government with power divided between state & national, then further divided between branches

  • Ultimate power was with citizens

Political causes
Political Causes

  • Changes in society were needed

  • Classes divided into 3 groups called estates

    • 1st Estate: Priests & Church officials; Paid no taxes

    • 2nd Estate: Nobles; Special Privileges: Low taxes, Collected feudal dues

    • 3rd Estate: Largest; Commoners: Bourgeoise (Merchants, Professionals, Shopkeepers), Urban Workers, Peasants

Historical causes
Historical Causes

  • Tax rates based on social class & location

  • Towns taxed each others goods, which hurt trade

  • King sold rights to collect certain taxes, so government couldn’t collect taxes efficiently

  • Many saw this as unfair

  • Borrowed money to pay for wars

Historical causes1
Historical Causes

  • High cost of assisting colonists caused financial crisis

  • Government asked nobles to surrender privileges to help pay off debt

  • Nobles told government they must hold Estate General (meeting where each estate represented)


  • Many unwilling to accept divine rights, & privilege positions of clergy & nobles

  • Bourgeoise & some nobles/clergy felt this way

  • Underground press criticized king and queen

Major figures
Major Figures

  • Abbe Sieyes – Enlightenment Thinker

    • Only 3rd Estate was productive & useful

    • Called nobles & clergy parasites

  • Robespierre – Leader of Committee of Public Safety

    • Used terror to rule France

    • Executed when Convention turned on leaders

National assembly
National Assembly

  • 3rd Estate: Most representatives, largest group

  • Declared themselves a National Assembly when General Estate met

  • Abolished privileges of nobles & confiscated church land to pay off debts

National documents
National Documents

  • Declaration of Rights of Man

    • Issued by National Assembly

    • Power rested on consent of the people

    • All Frenchmen were free & equal

  • Constitution created, made France a constitutional monarchy (king’s power shared with legislature)

Poor harvest 1789
Poor Harvest (1789)

  • People of Paris starving, hold King hostage

  • Monarchy overthrown, France becomes a republic (no king, people elect representatives)

  • Convention (single chamber legislature) elected

Reign of terror
Reign of Terror

  • French Republic seen as threat by other Europeans

  • Parts of France still in open rebellion

  • Committee of Public Safety takes power

  • Used savage oppression to stop rebellion

  • Government arrested anyone they wanted

  • Executions numbered as high as 40,000

Foreign war
Foreign War

  • Introduced mass conscription (all males required to serve in army) to defend France

  • Large army was successful, threat ended

  • Convention turned against its leaders

  • Robespierre & followers executed

  • Power returns to moderates


  • Challenged idea of divine right & privileges of nobles

  • Removed feudal restrictions, cleared way for capitalism

  • Power shifted from king to bourgeois

  • Served as model for citizens in other countries seeking political change