Before the revolution, France’s society was divided into three classes:• The First Estate made up of the clergy (high ranking officials—including priests—and the wealthy)• Second Estate consisting of the nobility• the rest of the French population made up the Third Estate (more than 95% of the population)
The Three EstatesEstate Population Privileges Exemptions Burdens First •Circa 130,000 •Collected the tithe •Paid no taxes •Moral obligation (rather than legal •Censorship of the press •Subject to Church obligation) to assist the poor and •High-ranking •Control of education law rather than civil needy clergy •Kept records of births, deaths, law •Support the monarchy and Old marriages, etc. Regime •Catholic faith held honored position of being the state religion (practiced by monarch and nobility) •Owned 20% of the landSecond •Circa 110,000 •Collected taxes in the form of •Paid no taxes •Support the monarchy and Old feudal dues Regime •Nobles •Monopolized military and state appointments •Owned 20% of the landThird •Circa 25,000,000 •None •None •Paid all taxes •Tithe (Church tax) •Everyone else: •Octrot (tax on goods brought into artisans, cities) bourgeoisie, city •Corvée (forced road work) workers, •Capitation (poll tax) merchants, •Vingtiéme (income tax) peasants, etc., •Gabelle (salt tax) along with many •Taille (land tax) parish priests •Feudal dues for use of local manor’s winepress, oven, etc.
• The Estates General was first established in 1302 as a legislative body representing the three social estates of France.• This group of representatives hadn’t met in some 175 years before Louis XVI had called for it in 1789.
• Frustrated at the strong possibility of being shut out of the new constitution by the other two Estates, the Third Estate declared themselves as the National Assembly on June 17, 1789
Court Oath Tennis• The opposition of Louis XVI led to the National Assembly meeting on June 20, 1789 in a tennis court at Versailles. There, they took an oath.• In it, the majority swore “never to The King had rejected the activities and ideas of the Third Estate as the National Assembly separate, and to meet wherever circumstances demand, until the constitution of the kingdom is established and affirmed on solid foundations”.• The King was unwilling to use force and eventually ordered the first and second estates to join the new National Assembly. The Third Estate had won.
Fall of the Bastille –July 14, 1789• The dismissal of Finance Minister Jacques Necker in July 1789 sparked the violent retaliation of the third Estate.• The Bastille was targeted because of its secrecy and terror, holding prisoners considered enemies of the king without proper trial.• All 7 prisoners were freed and every guard was killed.• The fall of the Bastille became a symbol of the fight against the tyranny and injustices of France’s absolute monarchy
“The Great Fear”• After the siege of the Bastille, a series of riots continued to break out amongst the peasants in the countryside.• Targets of the riots included nobles’ châteaux, monasteries, and buildings that housed public records— especially those containing records of their feudal obligations.
Constitution of 1791• Declared France to be a constitutional monarchy• Legislative powers went to a single Legislative Assembly, which alone had the power to declare war and raise taxes.• Monarch had limited powers (could only implement a suspensive veto)• Monarch could not control the army, Legislative Assembly, or local government.• It only lasted for one year.
Committee of Public Safety & Robespierre• Maximilien Robespierre was the head of the Committee of Public Safety, the executive committee of the National Convention.• Robespierre along with the radical Jacobins was also the leader of the Reign of Terror after the death of Louis XVI in 1793.• The Reign of Terror was a period under the rule of the conventions that focused on the elimination of economic and political threats of any degree within France.• Up to 50,000 French citizens were guillotined.
The Thermidorian Reaction• After the arrest of Robespierre, moderates that were repressed under the Reign of Terror appeared back in the National Convention of 1794.• Jacobins’ prisoners were freed, the power of the Committee for Public Safety was neutralized, and Robespierre’s affiliates were executed.• In an attempt to fix the economy, the Convention printed more money and got rid of price controls—causing inflation.
• Napoleon Bonaparte overthrew the Directory and replaced it with Napoleon the Consulate in November 1799—marking the true end of the revolution• He soon assumed the position of First Consul, with near dictatorial powers.• Helped abolish the feudal system for good and established a meritocracy.• Reestablished the Church• At first brought peace to the French in domestic and foreign affairs• But would soon push France to war again in 1803
Websiteshttp://www.historyguide.org/intellect/lecture11a.htmlhttp://www.historywiz.com/oldregime.htmhttp://www.helium.com/items/1086965-what-is-the-imporance-of-bastille-dayhttp://www.sparknotes.com/history/european/frenchrev/section5.rhtmlBooks:Armstrong, Monty, Daniel David, and Kanarek Abby. Cracking theAP World History Exam. New York: Random House, Inc., 2006.