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Causes of The French Revolution

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1 Causes of The French Revolution


3 Historical interpretations of class conflict leading to the French Revolution
Traditional view: Modern: Bourgeoisie was united by economic position and class interest and frustrated by feudal laws Eventually, rose up to lead the Third Estate in the Revolution which resulted in abolition of feudal privileges and established a capitalist order based on individualism and a market economy. Revisionist historians have questioned the existence of a growing social conflict between the bourgeoisie and feudal nobility. Both groups formed two parallel social ladders, increasingly linked at the top by wealth, marriage, and Enlightenment culture.

4 Long-Term Causes – 1. Breakdown of the old order—ancien regime
The French Revolution was partly influenced by the American Revolution Increased criticism of the French gov’t was spurred by rising expectations of the Enlightenment. The Three Estates did not reflect the realities of wealth and ability in French society. Middle class resented gov’t interference in their economic activities. Criticism mounted of gov’t inefficiency, corruption, and privileges of the aristocracy. The legal system was chaotic, with no uniform or codified laws.

5 The Old Regime (Ancien Regime)
Old Regime – socio-political system which existed in most of Europe during the 18th century Countries were ruled by absolutism – the monarch had absolute control over the government Classes of people – privileged and unprivileged Unprivileged people – paid taxes and treated badly Privileged people – did not pay taxes and treated well

6 Welcome Back! Bell Ringer… What Revolution help bring about the French Revolution? Agenda and Objectives: Through notes and discussion study will identify the short term causes of the French Revolution.

7 The Three Estates Estate Population Privileges Exemptions Burdens
First Circa 130,000 High-ranking clergy Collected the tithe Censorship of the press Control of education Kept records of births, deaths, marriages, etc. Catholic faith held honored position of being the state religion (practiced by monarch and nobility) Owned 20% of the land Paid no taxes Subject to Church law rather than civil law Moral obligation (rather than legal obligation) to assist the poor and needy Support the monarchy and Old Regime Second Circa 110,000 Nobles Collected taxes in the form of feudal dues Monopolized military and state appointments Third Circa 25,000,000 Everyone else: artisans, bourgeoisie, city workers, merchants, peasants, etc., along with many parish priests None Paid all taxes Tithe (Church tax) Octrot (tax on goods brought into cities) Corvée (forced road work) Capitation (poll tax) Vingtiéme (income tax) Gabelle (salt tax) Taille (land tax) Feudal dues for use of local manor’s winepress, oven, etc.

8 What does this contemporary political cartoon say about conditions in France under the Old Regime?

9 Government under the Old Regime: 2. The Divine Right of Kings
Monarch ruled by divine right God put the world in motion God put some people in positions of power Power is given by God No one can question God No one can question someone put in power by God Questioning the monarchy was blasphemy because it meant questioning God

10 Examples of Absolutism…
Appointed the Intendants, the “petty tyrants” who governed France’s 30 districts Appointed the people who would collect his taxes and carry out his laws Controlled justice by appointing judges Controlled the military Could imprison anyone at any time for any reason (blank warrants of arrest were called lettres de cachet) Levied all taxes and decided how to spend the money Made all laws Made decisions regarding war and peace

11 3. Economic Conditions under the Old Regime
France’s economy was based primarily on agriculture Peasant farmers of France bore the burden of taxation Poor harvests meant that peasants had trouble paying their regular taxes Certainly could not afford to have their taxes raised Bourgeoisie often managed to gather wealth But were upset that they paid taxes while nobles did not

12 France Is Bankrupt The king (Louis XVI) lavished money on himself and residences like Versailles Queen Marie Antoinette was seen as a wasteful spender Government found its funds depleted as a result of wars Including the funding of the American Revolution Deficit spending – a government spending more money than it takes in from tax revenues Privileged classes would not submit to being taxed


14 Long-term Causes of the French Revolution
Everything previously discussed Absolutism Unjust socio-political system (Old Regime) Poor harvests which left peasant farmers with little money for taxes Influence of Enlightenment philosophes Also System of mercantilism which restricted trade Influence of other successful revolutions England’s Glorious Revolution ( ) American Revolution ( )

15 Short-term Causes of the French Revolution
Bankruptcy Caused by deficit spending Financial ministers (Turgot, Necker, Calonne) proposed changes But these were rejected Assembly of Notables voted down taxation for the nobility in 1787 Great Fear Worst famine in memory Hungry, impoverished peasants feared that nobles at Estates-General were seeking greater privileges Attacks on nobles occurred throughout the country in 1789 Estates-General Louis XVI had no choice but to call for a meeting of the Estates-General to find a solution to the bankruptcy problem All three estates Had not met since 1614 Set in motion a series of events which resulted in the abolition of the monarchy and a completely new socio-political system for France

16 Welcome Back! Bell Ringer…Read Primary documents and answer the question “What were the causes of the French Revolution? Agenda and Objectives: Through notes and article discussion students will identify the first stage and outcomes of the French Revolution

17 Estates General-- May, 1789 Feudal assembly that represented the Three Estates Had only met twice: 1302 (its inception) & 1614. excitement swept over France on the eve of its very first election. “Cahiers de doléances”: Each estate was instructed to compile a list of suggestions and grievances and present them to the king. Common agreement among the Three Estates: France should have a constitutional monarchy Individual liberties must be guaranteed by law. Position of parish clergy had to be improved Abolition of internal trade barriers The main issue dividing the three estates was how the Estates General should vote

18 Abbé Sieyès was the most influential writer in the 3rd Estate: wrote, “What is the Third Estate?”
Claimed the Third Estate should have the power in France. nobility should be abolished. Believed the Third Estate represented the vast majority of French society Brought the ideas of Rousseau’s Social Contract to the forefront.

19 The French Revolution and the “Age of Montesquieu”
May 5, 1789: the Estates General met and the Third Estate was furious that the voting method was by Estate and not per capita. Each estate was ordered to meet and vote separately. The Third Estate refused and insisted that the entire Estates General vote together. June 20th, the Third Estate declared itself the true National Assembly of France. When locked out of their meeting place by Louis XVI they met instead in an indoor tennis court. Tennis Court Oath: The Third Estate swore to remain together until it had given France a constitution. Third Estate thus assumed sovereign power on behalf of the nation.

20 Storming of the Bastille – July 14, 1789
“Parisian” revolution began in response to food shortages, soaring bread prices, 25% unemployment, and fear of military repression. On July 14, an angry mob stormed the Bastille in search of gunpowder and weapons. Citizens appointed Marquis de Lafayette commander of the city’s armed forces. Paris was lost to the king. The storming of the Bastille inadvertently saved the National Assembly.

21 The “Great Fear” of 1789 Spirit of rebellion spread to the French countryside, sparking a wave of violence. Peasants attacked manor houses in an effort to destroy the legal records of their feudal obligations.

22 Results… August 4, National Assembly voted to abolish feudalism in France and declared equality of taxation to all classes. Constituted one of the two great social changes of the Revolution (the other was the abolition of guilds) Amounted to a peaceful social revolution Ended serfdom (where it existed), exclusive hunting rights for nobles, fees for justice, village monopolies, the corvée, and other dues.

23 The Tennis Court Oath by Jacques Louis David

24 The Fall of the Bastille


26 Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen August 26, 1789
Became the constitutional blueprint for France. Enlightenment philosophy: classical liberalism “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.” Natural rights are “liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.” (Locke) Law is expression of the “General Will” (Rousseau) “Citizen” applied to all French people, regardless of class.

27 Rights of Women Women gained increased rights to divorce, to inherit property, and to get child support from the fathers of their illegitimate children. Drawback of Declaration of Rights: Women did not share in equal rights. Olympe de Gouges: The Rights of Woman, 1791 Mary Wollstonecraft in England published Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792.

28 Welcome Back! Agenda and Objective: Through notes and discussion, students will be able to identify the three stages of the French Revolution. Friday: French Revolution Thesis Paper DUE! Bell Ringer: 1. List three outcomes of the constitution of 1789. 2. List two characteristics from the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.” 3. What were three “rights” women gained during the Revolution?

29 Women’s march to Versailles (Oct. 1789)
Women pushed the revolution forward in October when shortages of bread persisted. Incited by Jean-Paul Marat, 7,000 women marched 12 miles from Paris to Versailles Demanded to see "the Baker," "the Baker's wife," and "the Baker's boy". The King met with some of the women and agreed to distribute all the bread in Versailles to the crowd. King and Queen forced to move to Paris to live at the Tuleries, the royal residence in Paris It was the last time the King saw Versailles. King’s power reduced to temporary veto in lawmaking process.

30 Women's march to Versailles

31 The Civil Constitution of the Clergy (1790)
In essence, secularized religion Created a national church with 83 bishops and dioceses. Convents and monasteries abolished. All clergymen would be paid by the state and elected by all citizens. Protestants, Jews, and agnostics could legally take part in the elections based on citizenship and property qualifications. Clergy forced to take a loyalty oath to the new gov’t (since the pope had condemned the Revolution). Half of French priests refused to accept it—“refactory clergy” Result: deeply divided France over the issue of religion.


33 Welcome Back! Bell Ringer: What was the Civil Constitution of the Clergy? Document packet due WEDNESDAY! Objective: Through notes and discussion, students will be able to identify the three stages of the French Revolution.

34 1791: France became a constitutional monarchy with a unicameral Legislative Assembly
Le Chapelier Law (1791) outlawed strikes, workers coalitions and assemblies Monopolies also were prohibited Assignats became new paper currency. Church land sold to pay off national debt-Much of it purchased by peasants. Half of males over 25 years eligible to vote Nobility was abolished The National Assembly divided France into 83 departments governed by elected officials. Economic reform—favored the middle rather than the lowest classes.

35 Medallion commemorating the Night of August 4, the end of feudalism in France

36 French Government Restructure
Divided into 83 districts – local elections – identical laws Trade unions abolished to spur competition (Chapelier Law) Assignats issued – government bonds backed by confiscated church lands

37 Reaction to France Many aristocrats leave - plan counter-revolution
Leopold II and Frederick the Great issue “Declaration of Pillnitz” – “If royal family harmed, Austria, Prussia, Britain & Russia will intervene” Leaders reject as dangerous & exportable

38 The Flight to Varennes Although the King reluctantly accepted the new constitution, he could not accept all the reforms (e.g., the Civil Constitution of the Clergy) and decided to leave the country. On June 20, 1791, the King and his family set out for the border in a carriage.

39 The apprehension of Louis XVI at Varennes

40 The Paris Mob The news of the King's flight destroyed the last of the King's popularity with the people of Paris. The popular press portrayed the royal family as pigs and public opinion plummeted. Increasingly there were demands for an end to the monarchy and the creation of a new kind of government, a republic. 

41 International Reaction
Edmund Burke ( ): Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) One of the great intellectual defenses of European conservatism. Defended inherited privileges, especially those of English monarchy and aristocracy. Predicted anarchy and dictatorship in France. Advised England to go slow in adapting its own liberties. Thomas Paine: Rights of Man (1791) Defending Enlightenment principles and France’s revolution. Saw triumph of liberty over despotism. Kings and nobles of Europe, some of which initially welcomed the Revolution, began to feel threatened.

42 Legislative Assembly, 1791-1792
A completely new group of legislators replaced the National Assembly in the new government. New gov’t reflected emergence of political factions Jacobins, named after their political club, came to dominate the Legislative Assembly The Girondins, a group of Jacobins, became he left or advanced party of the Revolution in the Legislative Assembly and led the country into war. Passionately committed to liberal revolution.

43 Bell Ringer Review!!!! Compare document packet with your neighbor
Agenda and Objective: Through notes and discussion, students will identify important events and outcomes of the 2nd and 3rd stages of the French Revolution.

44 War Declaration of Pillnitz issued by Prussia and Austria in August, 1791. Émigrés, French nobles who fled France beginning in 1789, influenced Prussia and Austria to declare the restoration of the French monarchy as their goal. Legislative Assembly declared war on Austria in April 1792 Girondins became the party of international revolution. Claimed the Revolution could never be secure in France until it spread throughout the world

45 War of the First Coalition
French revolutionary forces were soundly defeated by the Austrian military. Jacobins blamed their defeat on Louis XVI, believing him to be part of a conspiracy with Prussia and Austria. July 25, 1792: Brunswick Manifesto issued by Prussia and Austria and threatened to destroy Paris if the royal family was harmed. Revolutionary sentiment was stoked by Robespierre, Danton, and the journalist, Marat August 10, 1792: Tuleries (the King’s palace in Paris) was stormed and the King was taken prisoner, after fleeing to the Legislative Assembly

46 August 10, 1792, attack on the Tuileries

47 Marked the beginning of the “Second Revolution”
Mob placing the red cap of liberty on the King's head at the Tuileries Marked the beginning of the “Second Revolution”

48 2nd Phase (radical) The end of Monarchy and the rise of The Commune 1792
Revolutionary municipal gov’t set up in Paris, which effectively usurped the power of the Legislative Assembly. Led by Georges-Jacques Danton At the urging of radicals, the Legislative Assembly suspended the Constitution of Ordered new elections based on universal male suffrage to summon a new national convention to give France a republican form of gov’t.

49 September Massacres led by Paris Commune- Rumors spread that imprisoned counterrevolutionary aristocrats and priests were plotting with foreign invaders Prussia invades eastern France In response, mobs slaughtered over a thousand priests, bourgeoisie, and aristocrats who opposed their program; many were in prison.

50 The “Age of Rousseau”: 1792-1799
The National Convention, France was proclaimed a republic on Sept. 21, 1792 Based on the ideas of Equality, Liberty, Fraternity Two factions emerged among the Jacobins: The Mountain: radical republicans; urban class (Danton and Robespierre) Girondins: more moderate than the Mountain and predominantly rural

51 Welcome Back Bell Ringer….Any questions regarding your test tomorrow?
Agenda and Objective: Review and article read on Napoleon.

52 "When the tocsin sounds, it will not be a signal of alarm, but the signal to charge against the enemies of our country. . . To defeat them, gentlemen, we need boldness, and again boldness, and always boldness; and France will then be saved." Georges-Jacques Danton:  "Boldness and again boldness, and always boldness"

53 The San-Culottes Predominantly from the working-class; extremely radical. Were a separate faction from those of the National Convention and had an economic agenda. Their violence and influence kept the revolution moving forward Responsible for storming Bastille, marching to Versailles, driving the king from Tuleries, and the September Massacres. They feared the National Convention might be too moderate. Favored direct democracy in their neighborhood clubs and assemblies, together with a mass rising if necessary against the Convention itself.

54 The sans culottes The bourgeoisie

55 Revolutionary army victories
After Holding back the Prussians in a series of victories. France was able occupy of the entire Austrian Netherlands by November In February 1793, National Convention declared war on Britain, Holland and Spain, in addition to its war with Austria and Prussia—First Coalition

56 The French Flag The Marquis de Lafayette, commander of the new National Guard, combined  the colors of the King (white) and the colors of Paris (blue and red) for his guardsmen's uniforms and from this came the Tricolor, the new French flag.

57 The Execution of Louis XVI
The constitutional monarchy put in place by moderate revolutionaries gave way to a radical republic. On January 23, 1793 Louis Capet went to the guillotine in the Place de la Concorde, where a statue of his predecessor, Louis XV, once stood.  At the scaffold he said "I forgive those who are guilty of my death."

58 The execution of Louis XVI

59 The Rise of the Jacobins
When the constitutional monarchy fell and he King was put on trial for treason in December, the Girondins argued against his execution. The Jacobins thought he needed to die to ensure the safety of the revolution. The Jacobins in the National Convention had 22 Girondin leaders arrested and executed. The Jacobins had won.

60 May 1793 rise of the Enragés The “Mountain” (“Jacobins”) supported by the sans-culottes ousted the Girondins believed the Girondins would ally with conservatives and royalists to retain power. Enragés—radical working class leaders of Paris— seized & arrested 31 Girondist members of National Convention and left the Mountain in control. Even more radical than the sans-culottes Many Girondins fled Paris and worked against the Revolution. Marat was stabbed by Charlotte Corday, a supporter of the Girondist faction, in 1793.

61 The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David

62 Committee of Public Safety (1793-94)
By the summer of 1793, the Committee of Public Safety became an emergency gov’t to deal with internal and external challenges to the revolution. Led by Maximilien Robespierre Committee closely collaborated with sans- culottes. Law of Maximum: a planned economy to respond to food shortages and related economic problems. In effect, it was an early version of socialism. Slavery abolished in the French colonies New calendar

63 With the Military… Lévee en masse: the entire nation conscripted into service as war was defined as a national mission. Size of army grew to 1 million men; unprecedented in history of European warfare. The planned economy made mobilization effective. Nationalism became a strong force uniting French people.

64 The Reign of Terror ( ) Law of Suspects: Alleged enemies of the revolution were brought before Revolutionary Tribunals that were created to hear cases of treason About 40,000 people throughout France executed or died in prison; many by the guillotine. The terror became a political weapon; not directed at any class in particular. Most deaths occurred in places in open revolt against the Convention.

65 Maximilien Robespierre
"If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible.”

66 “Republic of Virtue” Eventually, no one could feel safe from Robespierre’s reign of terror as leading Jacobins who opposed Robespierre were eventually executed Cult of the Supreme Being introduced in June, 1794 Deistic natural religion, in which the Republic was declared to recognize the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. Notre Dame Cathedral was converted into the “Temple of Reason”

67 End of the Terror Opposition to Robespierre mounted in July, 1794.
was denounced in the Convention, arrested, and executed the next day, along with his close associates. Led to the Thermidorian Reaction (1794)- 3rd Stage Constituted a significant swing to the right (conservatism). Those who had led liberal Revolution of 1789 reasserted their authority. Reduced powers of the Committee of Public Safety and closed the Jacobin club. Girondins readmitted.

68 The Directory ( ) New constitution written in 1795 which set up a republican form of gov’t. A new assembly chose a five-member executive to govern France: the Directory Bicameral legislature Almost all adult males were able to vote but they only voted for “electors.” Office holding reserved to property owners.

69 Challenges of The Directory (1795-1799)
The Directory suffered from corruption and poor administration. Despite, or perhaps because of, these struggles, the French developed a strong feeling of nationalism – they were proud of their country and devoted to it. (fueled by military victories) Conspiracy of Equals led by “Gracchus” Babeuf formed to overthrow the Directory and replace it with a dictatorial “democratic” gov’t which would abolish private property and enforce equality guillotined It would be a military leader – Napoleon Bonaparte, coming to power through a coup d’état – who would end the ten-year period ( ) known as the French Revolution.

70 Change Resulting from the French Revolution
By 1799, the French Revolution had dramatically changed France. It had dislodged the old social order, overthrown the monarchy, and brought the Church under state control. Many changes occurred in everyday life: New symbols, such as the tricolor, emerged. Titles were eliminated. Elaborate fashions were replaced by practical clothes. People developed a strong sense of national identity. Nationalism, a strong feeling of pride and devotion to one’s country, spread throughout France.

71 The Age of Voltaire: Napoleon and Enlightened Despotism

72 Rise of Napoleon and end of the Directory
A conspiracy emerged to save the Revolution and prevent a royalist return to power. Abbé Sieyès, the leader of the conspiracy, invited Napoleon to join conspirators and overthrow the Directory; he did so upon returning from Egypt with his forces. Coup d’Ètat Brumaire, November, 1799 Upon returning from Egypt with his forces, Napoleon drove legislators from the Legislative Assembly. A new constitution established beginning the Consulate Era. A plebiscite (general referendum)overwhelmingly approved: 3,011,007 to 1,562.

73 Napoleon… born in Corsica, attends military school, then joins army,
appointed commander of armies by Directory, wins stunning victories in Italy, gaining popularity; news of his defeats in Egypt is suppressed in 1795, Napoleon defeats royalist rebels attacking National Convention, In 1799, carries out coup d’état (seizure of power), overthrows Directory.


75 France Under Napoleon Napoleon consolidated his power by strengthening the central government.  Order, security, and efficiency replaced liberty, equality, and fraternity as the slogans of the new regime.  To fix economy, he sets up national banking system, efficient tax collection; establishes lycées – government run public schools to train officials; signs concordat— agreement—with pope restoring Catholicism in France  Napoleon developed a new law code, the Napoleonic Code:  Equality for all citizens  Religious toleration  Advancement based on merit


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