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The French Revolution & Napoleon 1789-1815. The Old Regime. 1 st Estate. 2 nd Estate. 3 rd Estate. The Old Regime. Three Estates or Classes. < 1%. 10%. 2%. 25%. 97%. 65%. Inspiration of Amer. Rev. Causes of the French Revolution. Enlightenment Ideas. Crop failures

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The Old Regime

1st Estate

2nd Estate

3rd Estate


The Old Regime

Three Estates or Classes

< 1%







Inspiration of Amer. Rev.

Causes of the

French Revolution

Enlightenment Ideas

Crop failures

Bread Shortage

Inequalities of Estates System

Financial Crisis


Frustration with the Government

Efforts at Reform Failed

1st and 2nd Estates paid no Taxes

Louis XIV’s

War & Versailles

Louis XV’s

Lavish Royal Court

Louis XVI’s

Support for Amer. Rev.


Stages of the French Revolution

II. Initial Stages 1789-1791 moderate period

III. 1791-1794 --- radical period

IV. 1794-1799 --- period of conservative backlash


A. The Financial Crisis in France

1. Attempts at reform are suggested by royal advisors:

a. Limit royal expenses

b. Taxes on the First and the Second Estates



Advisors who suggest this are dismissed


B. Estates General

Louis XVI called for a meeting of the Estates General to deal with the crisis

Hoped to gain support for additional taxes


The Estates General was a body representing Frances’ three estates

It had not met in 175 years

Each group hoped to use the

meeting as a chance address their individual concerns.


The Estates General

What problem existed with this system?


Members of the Third Estate demanded reforms:

Want all three Estates to meet together with each delegate getting an individual vote.

However, no progress was made and frustration grew when Louis rejected these demands.


C. The National Assembly

1. Third Estate declared themselves the National Assembly.

  • Invited delegates of other estates to meet with them

b. Claimed the right to create a constitution for France.

2. Third Estate was locked out of their meeting hall.


3. The Tennis Court Oath

Members of the Third Estate along with supporter from other estates swore to continue to meet until France had a new constitution


Study the three figures in the foreground at the center.

Who do these figures represent ?

What appears to be happening among these figures?


4. Louis XVI reluctantly accepted the newly formed body.

- Louis XVI ordered all three Estates to meet together.

But food shortages and rumors of soldiers massing near Paris raised fears among citizens.


5. Storming of the Bastille July 14, 1789

The Bastille = fortress used as aprison for political opposition.

Fearing the king was going to take action against the reforms, mobs of people attacked the Bastille in Paris.

*Shows common people were willing to support revolutionary changes


6. The Great Fear

a. Peasants hungry from famine and frightened by rumors of government intervention take action:

1. Attacked nobles and burn their homes

2. Stole grain from storehouses


a. Peasant uprisings and the storming of the Bastille push the National Assembly to act:

b. Assembly ended the privileges of the nobility.

c. Assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man.


Based on Enlightenment principles the Declaration included:

  • Equality of all people before the law,

2. Guarantees of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, and protection against unfair arrest and punishment.


d. National Assembly adopts the Civil Constitution of the Clergy which:

  • Ended the popes authority over the French Church

2. Bishops and priests became elected and paid official


Louis XVI is reluctant to accept reforms.

8. People feared Louis XVI would take action to stop the reforms.


The March on Versailles

Women demanding bread march to the palace at Versailles.

Women refused to leave and demanded Louis XVI return to Paris with them.

The Royal family will remain in Paris as virtual prisoners


The Constitution of 1791

1. Made France a limited monarchy.

  • Created a lawmaking body called the Legislative Assembly.

Legislative Assembly was elected by all tax paying male citizens


Reaction to the new constitution varies.

The Middle class generally favored the new government and it reflected their desires.

Other groups felt the reforms had not gone far enough or had gone much to far.

Growing factions within France


In June 1791, Louis XVI attempted to flee France with his family.

The royal family is captured and returned to Paris.

Increased the people’s distrust of Louis XVI and the new limited monarchy.


Attempt by the royal family to escape from France:

Influenced election of the Legislative Assembly.

Delegates tended to be more radical than members of the National Assembly had been.


Reaction outside France

1. Emigres – nobles who had fled France, sought to convince other rulers to intervene and stop revolution.

2. Austria and Prussia threatened to intervene to protect French monarchy


The Legislative Assembly(1791)

Delegates were seated based on political views.






Today we include two additional groups.


The Legislative Assembly

Sans-culottes, working class men and women, pushed for radical actions.

Jacobins, revolutionary group of middle class lawyers and intellectuals.

Eventually radical views gained greater influence.


The Legislative Assembly

France goes to war

  • April 1792, declared war on Austria.

1. Feared Austria’s intervention.

2. Desired to spread revolution.

  • Prussia joined war against France.
  • War went poorly and turmoil increased within France.

End of the Monarchy

Mobs attacked the palace and the royal family is forced to flee.

Radicals voted to imprison the royal family.

September Massacre – Paris mobs attacked prisons killing many nobles.

Radicals controlled the Assembly and called for a new legislative body.


Battle of Valmy

French forces turned back foreign invasion that threatened Paris. (Sept. 20, 1792)

By 1793, French armies had taken the offensive against Austria and Prussia


The National Convention

  • Made France a republic
  • universal male suffrage
  • Louis XVI was put on trial as a traitor and convicted.

In January 1793, Louis XVI is executed by the guillotine before crowds of Parisians.

Months later Marie Antoinette was also executed by the guillotine.


Challenges to the Revolution

  • Other nations joined the war against France including Britain.
  • Food shortages and inflation cause discontent among sans-culottes.
  • Royalist and peasant rebellions occurred in countryside.

The Committee of Public Safety

  • Created by the Convention to deal with threats to the revolution.
  • Introduced conscription
  • Began the Reign of Terror to silence opposition within France.

Reign of Terror

Committee of Public Safety ruled France.

Maximilien Robespierre controlled Committee.

Believed in the use of “prompt swift and severe justice”.


Reign of Terror

  • Revolutionary courts sentenced thousands to death after hasty trials
  • As many as 40,000 died during the Terror the majority of which were peasants or sans-culottes.

End of the Terror

Robespierre had other members of the Committee arrested and executed.

Members of the Committee turned on Robespierre and he is executed.

Jacobins lost power.


The Directory

  • Constitution of 1795 created another new government.
  • Ended universal male suffrage
  • A five man executive council. The Directory controlled government.
  • The Directory was unpopular and corrupt.

Napoleon Bonaparte

What comes to mind when you think of Napoleon?


A. Rise of Napoleon

  • Napoleon gained rapid promotion to the rank of general.
  • Defeated Austrians in Italian campaign and forces Austria out of the war.

3. Napoleon launched a campaign in Egypt.

a. Egyptian campaign is a disaster.

  • French Fleet destroyed by the British.
  • French Army is left stranded in Egypt.

b. Napoleon hid information of disaster and was welcomed home as a hero.


B. Napoleon comes to power

  • In 1799, Napoleon participated in coup d’etat against the Directory.
  • In name, the new government was a republic but in reality it was a dictatorship.

Napoleon gained greater power and control over the next few years.

a. French people approved each step in a plebiscite.

4. Napoleon promised order, security and efficiency.

5. In 1804, Napoleon is crowned Emperor of France.


C. Napoleon introduced reforms:

1. Improved education establishing schools Lycees – secondary schools

2. Napoleonic Code – system of laws based in part on Enlightenment ideas.

3. Economic reforms restored prosperity.


D. Napoleon used his military skills to build an empire.

1. Napoleon will defeat most of the nations allied against France.

2. By 1812, most of Western Europe was under his control or influence.


3. Britain, with its strong navy, remained outside of Napoleon’s control.

Battle of Trafalgar – French fleet defeated by British under Admiral Nelson. (1805)


4. Resentment of France increased in countries controlled by Napoleon.

a. In Spain, Spanish forces used guerrilla warfare against the French.

Guerrilla warfare – hit and run attacks

b. Nationalism – pride in one’s own country or desire for independence.


5. The Continental System

a. Unable invade Britain, Napoleon turned to economic warfare with the Continental system.

(1) The Continental System – closed European ports under Napoleon’s control to British trade.

b. Economies in European countries suffer and resentment of France and Napoleon grows.

In 1811, Russia withdraws from Continental System


E. Napoleon’s Downfall

1. The Invasion of Russia

a. In 1812, Napoleon invadedRussia.

b. The massive Grand Army included over 500,000 men.

c. Russians withdraw to the east, avoid battle and use a “scorched earth policy”.


In September 1812, Napoleon captures Moscow but fires destroy much of city.

e. Without a decisive victory and short of supplies Napoleon is forced to retreat.


f. Harsh Russian winter and lack of supplies takes a heavy toll on French.

(1.) Harassed by Russian troops the retreat eventually became a rout.

Only a fraction of the Grand Army will survive.


2. In 1813, Napoleon is defeated by a new alliance of nations.

a. Napoleon is later forced to abdicate.

b. Louis XVIII is placed on French throne.


3.Exile and Return

a. Napoleon is exiled to island of Elba.

b. He will escape and return to France in what is known as the Hundred Days.


c. Battle of Waterloo

1. Napoleon faces an allied army of British and Prussian forces


2. The French are defeated.

3. Napoleon is forced to abdicate again and is exiled to St. Helene.


Legacy of Napoleon:

1. Spread ideas of French revolution.

  • 2. Increased nationalism. - Germany and Italy particularly