PinkMonkey Online Study Guide-World History
7.6 Points To Remember
Causes of the French Revolution
Course of the Revolution
France reached its zenith of glory under King
Louis IV. But he was involved in wasteful wars which drained
the national treasury.
Louis V was even worse as he indulged in wars
only to please his mistresses. Further, he enforced strict censorship
on any criticism of the monarchy in France.
Louis VI was well-meaning but lacking in resolve.
And he was influenced by the insensitive Queen Marie Antoinette.
There were three social classes in France:
the First, Second and the Third Estate.
Members of the first and second Estate enjoyed
a luxurious lifestyle and were completely exempt from taxes.
But members of the third Estate (the common men) had to bear
the burden of taxation and did not even enjoy the privileges
granted to the first and second Estates.
Whereas the peasants and workers were starving
for lack of means, the nobility and the clergy lived lavishly.
Besides, the national treasury was emptied
thanks to a lack of a regular budget or planning. The "philosophy
of borrowing" first by Nacker and then by Claonne emptied
the national treasury.
French thinkers brought in the international
awakening in France.
Through his work, Montesquieu introduced the
idea of a government branched into a separate legislature, executive
and judiciary. He demonstrated how a lack of this would bring
Voltaire, a famous writer, attacked conventional
institutions like the church and the state in his work.
Rousseau’s ‘social contract’ theory pointed
out the offense of the French monarchs.
Encyclopaedists also contributed in speaking
against slavery, unjust laws and incompetence of the government.
Religious intolerance (revoking of the Edict
of Nantes by Louis XIV) was an important factor.
The glorious revolution in England encouraged
French philosophers to think of economic and political reforms.
Though the Americans had overthrown a government
of a mother country, the revolution inspired the French to revolt
against a tyrannical rule.
The third Estate demands to sit with the other
Estates for the General assembly. Their request is refused.
The members of the third Estate take the famous
‘Tennis Court Oath’ and resolve to remain united until a constitution
Thanks to the influential message of Count
Mirabeau, all the three Estates could sit together in a ‘National
Assembly’ and vote ‘by head’.
There were riots in Paris followed by the ‘Fall
of the Bastille’ i.e. the triumph of liberty.
The Royal palace was invaded by the people
and the royal family was moved to Versailles and the National
Assembly was shifted from Versailles to Paris.
The National Assembly did noteworthy work:
it abolished slavery, nationalized the church and came up with
a Declaration of Rights of man and of a citizen.
A written Constitution was drawn up in 1791;
it allowed for a limited monarchy and a separation of powers.
Louis XVI took an oath to support the Constitution
and the National Assembly was dissolved and finally a Legislative
Assembly was established in its place.
The Legislative Assembly suspended the king
after he spoke against its matters.
The National Convention declared the First
French Republic in 1792.
Louis XVI was guillotined by the National Convention.
A coalition of England, Holland, Spain, Sardinia,
Austria and Prussia was formed against the First French Republic
but the French army defeated it under the leadership of Carnot.
A ‘reign of terror’ was unleashed during which
the Royalists were executed.
A new constitution called the Constitution
of the Year third was established by the National Assembly.
A decline in the state of domestic affairs
led to Napoleon Bonaparte gaining supreme control over the country.
Napoleon began his career as an artillery officer
but rose to the post of a Brigadier general.
He became the first consul after overthrowing
the Directory and thus enjoyed dictatorial powers.
He led a series of conquests and was badly
defeated by the Russians.
He centralized the whole of the administration
Napoleon introduced a number of economic and
A significant religious reform he introduced
was the Concordat which ensured freedom of religion to all.
He brought in the Code of Napoleon.
Consequences of the Revolution
It announced the destruction of the ancient
regime and a ‘Declaration of the Rights of man’ was introduced.
The fundamentals of "Liberty, Equality
and Fraternity" were secured for the people.
From therein emerged the child of the Revolution
Various economic and social reforms were brought
Thanks to Napoleon, the ideals of patriotism,
democracy and nationalism spread throughout Europe.
7.1 Causes of the French Revolution
7.2 Course of the Revolution
7.3 Napoleon Bonaparte
7.4 Consequences of the Revolution
7.5 Dates & Events
7.6 Points to Remember
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