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French Revolution.

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1 French Revolution


3 French society was divided into social classes called estates.
Since the Middle Ages, French society was divided into social classes called estates.

4 1st Estate Made up of Catholic clergy 1% of the population
Kept the 10% tithe from church members Enjoyed very wealthy lifestyle

5 2nd Estate Made up of nobility About 2% of the population
Held the highest post in government & military Income came from feudal dues they collected from peasants who lived on their land

6 3rd Estate Made up 97% of the people Had very few political privileges
Bourgeoisie – Middle Class, such as doctors & lawyers Artisans – business owners Peasants – lowest level – farmers This was the only estate that had to pay taxes.

7 Growing Unrest Peasants were unhappy with their situation
The growing population was causing the cost of living to increase People were having to pay more for products, but their wages were not increasing Nobles were also mad because they wanted more political power

8 In 1774 when Louis XVI took the throne, the country was in serious debt.
Louis XIV had been involved in many expensive wars Louis XV had wasted large amounts of money with his extravagant lifestyle Louis XVI decided to start taxing the 1st & 2nd estate


10 Estates General The Estates General was a group of representatives from each estate. The King called them to pass a law requiring all estates to pay taxes. The 3rd estate was larger than the other two combined The 1st & 2nd knew the 3rd would vote for everyone to pay taxes The 1st & 2nd Estates locked out the 3rd estate from the meeting.

11 Tennis Court Oath The members of the 3rd Estate went to the closest building, an indoor tennis court. Here they took an oath & formed the National Assembly. Because the majority of the people supported the National Assembly, the king forced the 1st & 2nd Estate to join it.


13 Call to Revolt The National Assembly called for complete social equality The Bastille – a debtors prison was a symbol of the injustices toward the 3rd estate. On July 14, 1789, a huge mob stormed the prison to try to get weapons to defend the National Assembly.

14 The storming of the Bastille started a wave of violence throughout France called the Great Fear.

15 In August 1789, nobles finally voted to end their privileges.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen became the French Constitution. It was based on the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. The new government created a uni-cameral legislature, or one house assembly.

16 Constitutional Government

17 King Louis had left Paris & went to his palace in Versailles.
He was forced by an angry mob to return to Paris. The king, his wife, and son were virtually being held prisoner.

18 Church Reforms The Catholic Church had been an important part of the old political system. The revolutionaries felt it also needed to be reformed. By seizing & selling off church lands, they could fund their revolution.

19 New Constitution The new constitution set up a limited monarchy. The new Legislative Assembly made the following reforms: Men over 25 who paid a certain amount taxes could vote. Only wealthy were elected to be deputies All government officials were elected

20 Political radicals & disadvantaged citizens wanted more reform.
The king resisted these changes. The royal family tried to escape to Austria, but was captured and returned.

21 Louis XVI would later be arrested. This led to war for France.
Other European monarchies would fear the uprising in France. The French Revolutionaries declared war on Austria.

22 Louis XVI remained on the throne for a year.
In the spring of 1792 angry citizens declared themselves a commune. They took the king captive and called the National Convention to bring about more radical changes. Many members began calling themselves the sans-culottes. They were ordinary citizens who were leading the revolution.

23 The First Republic In September 1792, the newly elected National Convention began to draft a constitution. They abolished the monarchy and established the First French Republic. Political groups began to develop. Girondins – wanted reforms, but not so radical – wanted to keep the king alive. Jacobins – radical – wanted the king to be executed.


25 On January 21, the king was beheaded on the guillotine.
After his death, Austria, Spain, Portugal, and the British declared war on France.

26 Because of domestic & internal threats, the National Convention created the Committee of Public Safety. It was to direct the war effort. Maximilien Robespierre was put in charge. This began the Reign of Terror.


28 Reign of Terror It lasted from July 1793 – July 1794.
Over 40,000 people were killed. Anyone who did not join the side of the revolutionaries was executed. A huge army was created. It was very successful against foreign invasion. After the threats were eliminated, most people wanted to stop the violence, but Robespierre refused.

29 The National Convention feared Robespierre and gathered enough votes to have him executed.
This ended the Reign of Terror.

30 The Directory With the Reign of Terror over, The National Convention restricted the power of the Committee of Public Safety. Churches were allowed to re-open. Under a new constitution, the Directory was created. It was a council of 5 men who would temporarily rule the country until a permanent government could be created.

31 In 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in a coup d’etat, quick seizure of power.
Napoleon made quick changes in the government and named himself Consul for Life.

32 Napoleon wanted to build an empire, but he could not defeat the British navy. He would try economic blockades against Britain but would fail. Many nations conquered by Napoleon began to have feelings of nationalism, yearning for self rule and began to revolt. When Russia turned against Napoleon, it would start the downfall of his empire.

33 Napoleon invaded Russia but after a brutal Russian winter, only 1/3 of his troops returned.
In 1813, Napoleon was defeated, but regained power for a “Hundred Days.” In 1815, Napoleon lost at the Battle of Waterloo and was banish to the island of Saint Helena and died in 1821.

34 In 1814, with Napoleon in exile, the Congress of Vienna was held to restore order and stabilize Europe after 25 years of war.

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