FRANCE – A GREAT POWER When the Sun King Louis XIV died in 1715, France was the richest, most powerful nation in Europe. It remained so throughout the 1700s.
FRANCE – A GREAT POWER The French army was the most powerful in Europe, and its navy was rivalled only by that of Britain. French philosophers led the Enlightenment, and people across Europe followed French fashions in clothes, art, and even cooking.
FRANCE – A GREAT PROBLEM At the same time, France suffered from a growing economic crisis, caused primarily by France’s aristocracy. Attempts to solve the economic problems of the country were hampered by the traditional political and social system of France, which historians call the Old Regime.
FRANCE – A GREAT PROBLEM The Old Regime (l’Ancien Régime)
STRUCTURE OF THE OLD REGIME The king of France was an absolute monarch. Society was organized in a rigid social structure called the Old Regime. The people of France were divided by law into three estates: clergy, nobility, and commoners.
THE FIRST ESTATE: CLERGY The clergy administered the church, ran schools, kept birth & death records, and cared for the poor. To support these activities, the clergy collected the tithe – a tax on income. The church owned vast amounts of land and other property on which it paid no taxes.
THE FIRST ESTATE: CLERGY The First Estate included the higher clergy, who were nobles, as well as the parish priests. Some of the higher clergy lived in luxury at Versailles or in Paris. Cardinal Richelieu, Politician
THE FIRST ESTATE: CLERGY In contrast, parish priests usually lived a simple, hard-working life. Many clergy criticized social injustices in France and resented the privileges enjoyed by the higher clergy. Abbé Sieyes, Revolutionary Leader
THE SECOND ESTATE: NOBLES The Second Estate, or nobility, made up less than 2% of the French population. Many nobles enjoyed great wealth & privileges. Only nobles could become officers in the army or fill high offices of the church. In addition, nobles were exempt from most taxes. Most nobles spent their time living in luxury in their own palaces/chateaux or at the Palace of Versailles (the most luxurious of them all).
THE THIRD ESTATE: COMMONERS The vast majority of French people were commoners belonging to the Third Estate. The Third Estate included: the peasants, the city workers and the bourgeoisie, or middle class. 1st Estate 2nd Estate 3rd Estate Higher Peasants Clergy Urban Nobles Workers Lower Clergy Bourgeosie
THIRD ESTATE: THE BOURGEOISIE The bourgeoisie was small in numbers, but it was the wealthiest, most outspoken group within the Third Estate. The bourgeoisie included successful merchants and manufacturers, educated lawyers and doctors, as well as small storekeepers and artisans.
THIRD ESTATE: THE BOURGEOISIE They resented the privileges enjoyed by nobles. Many criticized the Old Regime because they believed in the Enlightenment ideas of equality and social justice. The bourgeoisie called for extensive reform of the tax system because the Third Estate carried the burden of paying most of the taxes. John Locke, An important Enlightenment Philosopher.
THIRD ESTATE: PEASANTS & CITY WORKERS Peasants made up the largest group within the Third Estate. In general, French peasants were better off than peasants in other parts of Europe.
THIRD ESTATE: CITY WORKERS Another group within the Third Estate was city workers (urban poor) – servants, apprentices and day labourers. Like the bourgeoisie and peasants, city workers also resented the privileges enjoyed by the First and Second Estates.
THE THREE ESTATES IN NUMBERS There were 130,000 people in the First Estate. There were 350,000 people in the Second Estate. There were 27,250,000 people in the Third Estate.
This cartoon illustrates some of the burdens of the Third Estate. The clergyman and nobleman represent the First and Second Estates. They are riding on the back of an aged peasant, representing the Third Estate.
THE GROWING CRISIS France was close to bankrupt because of bad economic policies Famines and natural disasters led to starvation for the peasants Families were falling apart because parents were abandoning children they couldn’t feed Improvements in industry in Britain put workers in France out of business
THE GROWING CRISIS Voltaire, King Louis XVI Philosophe seemed incapable of dealing with any of these problems The philosophers’ ideas of change were popular amongst the 3rd Estate and even Rousseau, some nobles Philosophe
THE GROWING CRISIS Involvement by soldiers in the American Revolution spread ideas of change People pushed for a republican government (no monarch) or a constitutional monarchy Marquis de Lafayette
THE GROWING CRISIS The most serious economic problem facing the French government during the 1770s and 1780s was the huge debt it owed to bankers. The government had borrowed large amounts of money to pay for the wars of Louis XIV. Louis XV and Louis XVI continued to borrow money to support the court at Versailles and to fight wars to maintain French power in Europe and over- seas.
THE GROWING CRISIS French support of the American Revolution alone nearly doubled the government’s debt. Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington
THE ESTATES-GENERAL Was a form of parliament that had to be called by the king. Hadn’t met since 1614 (175 years) Had Three Estates: Clergy, Nobles, Everyone Else.
THE ESTATES-GENERAL Each Estate would vote to determine its own opinion and then have 1 vote in the Estates General The first two Estates always voted against the 3rd 1 + 1 > 1
THE ESTATES-GENERAL After Louis XVI called the Estates General in 1789, the 3rd Estate argued for change for 6 weeks, but was ignored The delegates of the 3rd Estate walked out and started a new government called the National Assembly (this new government was formed in a Tennis Court). They promised not to disband until they had written a constitution. (The Tennis Court Oath).
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY Louis XVI was forced to give in. He ordered the other two estates to join the Third Estate in the National Assembly. Now members of all three estates were forced to work together to reform France. Significant differences prevented significant progress.
THE STORMING OF THE BASTILLE Meanwhile, bread and other food was scarce all over Paris in the early summer of 1789. Talk of revolution filled the air. The poor people of Paris did not want to wait for the National Assembly to talk out a solution. They chose action against the symbol of the tyranny of the Absolute Monarchy in France – the Bastille.
THE STORMING OF THE BASTILLE July 14, 1789 marks the date of the storming of the Bastille and the beginning of the French Revolution.
THE STORMING OF THE BASTILLE The Bastille was a huge prison fortress in Paris. Armed with axes, the crowd ran to the prison cells and freed the astonished inmates. Soldiers joined the attack, rather than defending the Bastille The mob found only seven prisoners in the entire fortress. New weapons were obtained and the people created their own army, called the National Guard.
THE GREAT FEAR July, 1789: in the countryside, the people were also impatient. Fearful that the upper class were going to squash the revolution, peasants started attacking, looting, and burning chateaux. They destroyed all of the records of their serfdom to try to guarantee their freedom.
REFORMS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY The events in Paris and the countryside forced the National Assembly into action. During a long session on the night of August 4, many delegates rose to make impassioned speeches in support of reform. By the end of the evening, the Assembly had abolished most feudal customs. It ended serfdom and the tax exempt privileges of the nobles.
THE DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTSOF MAN AND OF THE CITIZEN This Declaration was passed on August 26, 1789. It gave basic rights and freedoms to all of the men (not women yet) Rights such as liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression
THE MARCH ON VERSAILLES Neither the King nor the National Assembly had been able to deal with the problems of poverty and hunger. In October 1789, a Paris crowd led by thousands of women marched in the rain to Versailles. The women were angry about high food prices.
THE MARCH ON VERSAILLES They also suspected that the king and the queen, Marie Antoinette, were plotting against the National Assembly. They stormed the palace, trapping the royal family. They demanded that Louis XVI and his family return with them to Paris, where they could be watched. To prevent Marie Antoinette 1755 – 1793 violence, the king agreed.
THE MARCH ON VERSAILLES The king rode on horseback, escorted by a cheering crowd. He wore the tri-colore, the red, white, and blue ribbon that the revolutionaries had adopted as their symbol. By forcing the king to wear the tri-colore, the people proved that they were directing events in France.