• Please get out your Revolution Comparison
Chart and something to write with.
The French Revolution (1789)
What was the government before the
• The government in France had long been an
• King Louis XVI ruled France with his young
queen, Marie Antoinette.
What was the problem?
1. King Louis XVI ruled with divine right and absolute
2. Enlightenment ideas were spreading and the
people wanted change!
3. Unequal taxation of three estates (1st and 2nd paid
NO taxes, 3rd estate paid ALL taxes)
4. France was DEEP in debt:
a. The cost of wars (Seven Years War, American Rev.) was
b. King Louis XVI and his court lived in luxury and spent
LOTS of money! (Just like his grandpa King Louis XIV)
5. French people were starving because of bad
harvests throughout the country
The Three Estates
1 – Bourgeoisie: wealthy merchants and skilled
2 –Workers: poorly-paid servants, cooks
and personal attendants (8%)
3 – Peasants (85%)
EVERYONE ELSE! 97% of
the population. Paid all
Nobility. 2% of the
population. Paid no taxes
Roman Catholic clergy.
1% of the population.
Paid no taxes.
So what happened?
• To solve the debt problem, King Louis XVI
wanted to tax the previously untaxed 2nd
• The struggle to pass taxes was unsuccessful.
So King Louis decided to call a meeting of the
Estates-General in May 1789 to resolve the
issue. (It was the first meeting of the Estates
General in 175 years!)
Other dramatic events?
• Tennis Court Oath
• Storming of the Bastille
• Women’s march on Versailles
• Reign of Terror
What new governments were formed?
1. constitutional monarchy created by National
2. (radical) republic created by Robespierre (FAILED)
3. Directory created by moderates (overthrown by
4. Napoleon created the Consulate
5. After Napoleon’s fall the constitutional monarchy
was restored under King Louis XVIII
• Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
• Constitution of 1791 (by National
Assembly), Constitution 1795 (by Directory)
Influence on individual liberty and self
• Men are equal before the law.
• All men born free have equal rights.
• Protection of liberty, property and security.
• Government exists to protect rights.
• Equal rights to holders of public office