French Revolution

French Revolution, also frequently referred to as the Revolution of 1789, represented a movement that took place in France from 1787 to 1799 and reached its first climax there in 1789. The term “Revolution of 1789,” is denoting the end of the ancien régime in France and serving as a distinguishment of an event from the later French revolutions of 1830 and 1848.


Aristocratic Revolt

The Revolution was formed in France when Charles-Alexandre de Calonne (general of finances), ordered the gathering of an assembly of “notables” (great noblemen, prelates, and several representatives of the bourgeoisie). The meeting aimed to offer reforms designed to eliminate the budget deficit by raising the taxation of the privileged classes. The assembly declined to take responsibility for the changes, so it intended to gather the Estates-General, which included the aristocracy and the clergy, and Third Estate (the commoners) and which had not assembled since 1614. The efforts made by Calonne’s followers to enforce economic changes despite resistance by the privileged groups led to the so-called Revolution of the “aristocratic bodies,” notably that of the parliament (the most important courts of justice), whose authorities were reduced by the proclamation of May 1788. In the spring and summer of 1788, there was tension among the populace in Paris, Dijon, Grenoble, Pau, Toulouse, and Rennes. The king, Louis XVI, was forced to yield. He managed to reappoint reform-minded Jacques Necker as the finance minister and assured to convene the Estates-General on May 5, 1789. He also, in practice, was given freedom of the press, and France was flooded with pamphlets approaching the reconstruction of the state. The elections to the Estates-General, which were held between January and April 1789, matched with following disturbances, as the harvest of the previous year had been a poor one. There were almo

Events Of 1789

The Estates-General gathered at Versailles on May 5, 1789. They were immediately separated over a fundamental subject: should they vote by the head, giving the power to the Third Estate, or by the estate, in which the two privileged orders of the realm could outvote the third? On June 17, the bitter conflict over this legal argument finally drove the deputies of the Third Estate to name themselves the National Assembly; they cautioned to proceed, if necessary, without the other two orders. They were supported by numerous of the parish priests, who significantly outnumbered the aristocratic upper clergy between the church’s deputies. When royal representatives locked the deputies out of their usual meeting hall on June 20, they invaded the monarch’s indoor tennis court (Jeu de Paume). They vowed an oath not to separate until they had granted France a new constitution. The king grudgingly gave in and requested the nobles and the remaining clergy to join the assembly, which received the official title of National Constituent Assembly on July 9; at the same time, however, he started assembling troops to dissolve it. These two months of prevarication, while the problem of maintaining food supplies had reached its peak, provoked the provinces and the towns. The gathering of troops around the capital and the dismissal of Necker began a rebellion in Paris. On July 14, 1789, the Parisian crowd took over the Bastille, which served as a symbol of royal despotism. Repeatedly the king had to yield; visiting Paris, he poin


The events in France granted new hope to the revolutionaries who had failed a few years previously in Belgium, the United Provinces, and Switzerland. Similarly, all those who desired changes in Ireland, England, the German states, the Austrian lands, or Italy looked upon the Revolution with sympathy. Several French counter-revolutionaries—ecclesiastics, nobles, and some bourgeois—left the struggle in their homeland and emigrated. As “émigrés,” many created armed groups close to the northeastern frontier of France and looked for help from the rulers of Europe. The rulers were at first neutral to the Revolution. Still, they started to worry when the National Constituent Assembly announced a revolutionary principle of international law — namely, that people had the right of self-determination. By this principle, the papal territory of Avignon was rejoined with France on September 13, 1791. By early 1792 both radicals, enthusiastic about spreading the laws of the Revolution, and the king, hopeful that War would either increase his authority or allow foreign soldiers to rescue him, approved an aggressive policy. France announced War against Austria on April 20, 1792. The first phase During the first phase of the War (April–September 1792), France experienced some defeats; in July, Prussia joined the War, and an Austro-Prussian army crossed the frontier and advanced quickly toward Paris. Believing that the monarchy had betrayed them—indeed, France’s Austrian-born quee

The Directory And Expansion

The constitution of the year III, approved by the National Convention granted an executive power in a Directory of five members and juridical power in two chambers, the Council of the Five Hundred the Council of Ancients (collectively called the Corps Législatif). This management, a bourgeois republic, might have achieved stability had not the conflict continued the struggle between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries everywhere Europe. The battle, moreover, embittered present antagonisms between the Directory and the legislative councils in France and often initiated new ones. These arguments were settled by coups d’état, chiefly those of 18 Fructidor, September 4, 1797, which removed the royalists from both the Directory and the councils, and of November 9, 1799, in which Bonaparte ended the Directory and became the ruler of France as its “first consul.” After the success of Fleurus, the progress of the French armies in Europe had continued. Holland and Rhineland were occupied, and in 1795 Holland, Prussia, Tuscany, and Spain negotiated for peace. When the French army under Bonaparte invaded Italy (1796), Sardinia came quickly to terms. Austria was the latest to give in (Treaty of Campo Formio, 1797). Most of the nations conquered by the French were established as “sister republics,” with institutions formed on those of Revolutionary France. End of the French Revolution Peace on the continent of Europe did not stop the revolutionary expansion. The majority of the direct

More about French Revolution

French Revolution

French Revolution, also frequently referred to as the Revolution of 1789, represented a movement that took place in France from 1787 to 1799 and reached its first climax there in 1789. The term “Revolution of 1789,” is denoting the end of the ancien régime in France and serving as a distinguishment of an event from the later French revolutions of 1830 and 1848.

Origins of the Revolution

The French Revolution had reasons that were common to all the revolutions of the West that took place at the end of the 18th century and particular purposes that describe why it is considered by far the most violent and the most significant of these revolutions. The first of the general elements was the social structure of the West. The feudal regime had been reduced step-by-step and had already passed in parts of Europe. The numerous and wealthy elite of rich commoners like manufacturers, merchants, and professionals, often referred to as the bourgeoisie—sought to increase political influence in those countries where it did not already hold it. The peasants, many of whom had land, had achieved an advanced level of living as well as education and wanted to get rid of the last vestiges of feudalism to acquire the absolute rights of landowners and to be able to increase their holdings.

Furthermore, from about 1730, raised standards of living had considerably decreased the mortality rate among adults, which, together with other factors, had led to a growth in the population of Europe unprecedented for a few centuries. In essence, it doubled between 1715 and 1800. For France, which with 26 million citizens in 1789, was the most populated country of Europe, the problem was most acute.

Increase of population

A larger population formed a higher demand for food and other consumer goods. The discovery of different gold mines in Brazil had commenced a significant rise in prices throughout the West from about 1730, showing the prosperity of the economic situation. From about 1770, this trend decreased, and financial crises, provoking alarm and even revolt, became common.

Arguments and challenges

Arguments for social reform started to advance. The philosophes—intellectuals whose works inspired these arguments—were undoubtedly affected by 17th-century theorists such as Benedict de Spinoza, René Descartes, and John Locke. Still, they came to very different conclusions about political, social, and economic matters. A revolution seemed essential to apply the ideas of Voltaire, Montesquieu, or Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This Enlightenment was spread between the educated classes by the many “societies of thought” that were established at that time: agricultural societies, masonic lodges, and reading rooms.

It is uncertain, however, whether a revolution would have come without the added presence of a political crisis. Challenged with the massive expenditure that the wars of the 18th century entailed, the leaders of Europe attempted to raise money by taxing the nobles and clergy. This method in most countries had hitherto been exempt, but to justify it, the rulers similarly invoked the arguments of radical thinkers by adopting the role of “enlightened despots.” This motivated reaction throughout Europe from privileged bodies, diets, and estates. In North America, this backlash provoked the American Revolution, which started with the refusal to pay a tax commanded by the king of Great Britain. Monarchs tried to prevent this reaction of the aristocracy, and both rulers and the privileged classes sought allies among the peasants and nonprivileged bourgeois.

Commonly named causes

Even though the scholarly debate about the exact roots of the Revolution continues, the following reasons are frequently mentioned:

  • The bourgeoisie resented its exclusion from political authority and positions of honor.
  • The peasants were keenly aware of their states and were less and less enthusiastic about supporting the burdensome and anachronistic feudal system;
  • The philosophes had been read more broadly in France than anywhere else;
  • French participation in the American Revolution had led the government to the edge of bankruptcy;
  • At the time France was the most populous country in Europe, so a long period of economic difficulties, followed by crop failures in it in 1788 combined existing restlessness;
  • The French monarchy was incapable of adapting to the political and societal pressures that were being exerted on it.