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The French Revolution: A Brief History


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This is a brief History of how the French Revolution came to be, what happened, and what it meant for the world.

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The French Revolution: A Brief History

  1. 1. The French Revolution:A Brief History<br />Gary Brown<br />Central Michigan University<br />Technology in Education<br />
  2. 2. The World at 1788<br />The world was in a new Age after the Enlightenment.<br />People began using Enlightenment ideas like the Natural Rights of Man to question traditional/medieval authorities.<br />The U.S.A had already founded a nation with a Democratic political system.<br />
  3. 3. France in 1789: How it Began<br />In 1789 France’s people were split into three Estates:<br /> The 1st Clergy, the 2nd Nobility, and the 3rd Commoners.<br />Louis the 16th, King of France, had inherited enormous amounts of debt from his predecessors and his lavish court life at the Palace Versailles.<br />In 1789 Louis called an Estates General, a meeting of all the Estates and the 1st since 1614, to discuss the debt.<br />
  4. 4. The Estates General<br />Each Estate had 1 vote, even though the first 2 Estates only comprised 20%-25% of the population.<br />The 3rdEstate, angry at the lack of equality, demanded individual rights for equal representation. <br />Angry at the 3rdEstate for its supposed “insubordination”, King Louis the 16th locked the 3rdEstate out of the meeting chamber. <br />
  5. 5. The Start of a Revolution: The Tennis Court Oath<br />Refusing to give up, the 3rdEstate met at a tennis court close to the meeting chamber at the palace Versailles.<br />Here the 3rdEstate made an oath to form a National Assembly and a Constitution.<br />The French Revolution had begun.<br />
  6. 6. Violence and The National Assembly<br />It took two years for the Assembly to write a constitution, 1789-1791. <br />During this time many peasant mobs roamed France targeting the aristocratic class.<br />By Breaking into their houses, killing them, and running them out of the country the peasants significantly lessened the power of the 2ndEstate.<br />The time is often referred to as the Great Fear.<br />
  7. 7. The legislative Assembly and War<br />Unfortunately the Constitution and its government, the Legislative Assembly, only lasted 1 year, 1791-1792. <br />In 1792 the two great powers in Europe, Prussia and Austria, afraid of the spread of Democracy, declared war on France in order to restore the Monarchy. <br />The Legislative assembly was dissolved and a National Convention was set up by a more radical less well to do group of 3rdEstate Members, the Sans-Culottes.<br />
  8. 8. Robespierre and the Reign of Terror<br />The new Convention, in order to deal with the pressures abroad and internally, put much trust in the radically militant Robespierre and his committee for public safety. <br />Robespierre mobilized the nation, creating a great army and waged successful warfare against the European powers. Even expanding France’s Territory! <br />
  9. 9. Reign of Terror cont.<br />At home however Robespierre dealt with “Enemies of the Republic” with the guillotine.<br />It is estimated that 16,000 people were executed between 1793 and 1794, including the King Louis the 16th.<br />Though successful in defending and saving the revolution, Robespierre and the Terror was a violent and scary time.<br />
  10. 10. The Directory<br />Tired of the Committee for public safety’s brutal tactics the Convention had Robespierre himself executed in 1794!<br />To separate powers and further reform, a new constitution was written in 1795.<br />This new government had two chambers, one for proposing legislation and the other for approving it. It was called the Directory.<br />
  11. 11. The Fall of the Directory<br />This was a time of stagnation in the revolution.<br />The Directory’s representative’s where those who could afford to pay taxes many times greater than the average citizen.<br />As a result only the rich could become representative’s.<br />The Directory quickly became corrupt and little was done to improve the Nation. <br />
  12. 12. The End of the Revolution<br />The Directory came to rely too heavily on its grand army to rule the country.<br />In 1799 a Coup de ‘etate was held in Paris by the military and a talented, young military officer came out the winner.<br />His name was Napoleon Bonaparte, and he would come to dominate all of Europe for the next 16 years.<br />
  13. 13. The French Revolution’s Lasting Legacies<br />The French Revolution forever influenced the way European Nations citizens view their role in Government.<br />It was the societal manifestation of Enlightenment ideas, illustrated by the Revolution’s slogan: “liberty, Equality, Fraternity”.<br />How did the French Revolution change the world forever?<br />
  14. 14. Sources<br />First Picture:<br />Second Picture:<br />Third Picture:<br />Fourth Picture:<br />Fifth Picture:<br />Sixth Picture:<br />Seventh Picture:<br />All information used in this presentation was obtained from;<br />Spielvogel, J. (2008). Western Civilization: A Brief History. Volume 2: since 1500. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. <br />