French Revolution

Submitted By kkrpan
Words: 2817
Pages: 12

Old Regime
Aristocratic, social, and political system established in France before the French Revolution
Clergy (First estate)
10% of land
“voluntary gift” instead of taxes every 5 years
Nobles (Second estate)
Descendants of “those who found” in Middle Ages
25% of land
Lightly taxed
Rights to hunt and fish
Commoners (Third estate)
Vast majority peasants, rural agricultural workers, urban artisans, unskilled day laborers
Tension between nobility and bourgeoisie (upper middle class)
Louis XVI Louis XV died in 1774, Louis XVI took over
Shy, twenty-year-old with good intentions
Weak leadership
American Revolution had impact on France in both practical and ideological terms
French supported colonists, bankrupted crown
Tax colonists? Met with anger
Estates General
The representative of all three estates
Louis XVI – impose general tax, notables insisted a meeting with Estates General
Dismissed notables and established new taxes
Parliament declared tax void
King tried to exile judges of Parliament, protest
July 1788 – listened to public and called for a spring session of Estates General
Results of election to represent estates
Clery – Parish priests (dissatisfaction with church hierarchy)
Nobility – Conservatives from provinces (less wealthy and more numerous)
Commoners – lawyers and government officials
June 17, 1789 – Third Estate declares itself to be the “National Assembly”
A few parish priests began to go over to the third estate
Tennis Court Oath
June 20, 1789
Delegates of the Third Estate excluded from their hall because of “repairs”
Moved to a large indoor tennis court
Members of Third Estate vow to meet until they have produced a French Constitution
King urged reforms and ordered the three estates to meet together yet tries to dissolve the National Assembly at the same time
Dismissed his moderate finance minister and other more liberal ministers
Use violence to restore control
Storming of the Bastille
While estates were pressing for political rights, economic hardship
Poor grain harvest in 1788, price of bread soars
Economic depression
The demand for manufactured goods collapsed
Thousands without work
Bread riots in Paris and surrounding areas
Belief that they should have steady work and enough bread at fair prices to survive
Dismissal of king’s moderate finance minister would put at the mercy of aristocratic landowners and grain speculators
Royal government prepared to use violence to impose order
Replaced governments with committees of revolutionary “patriots,” backed by new National Guard
People began to seize arms
July 14, 1789 – march to the Bastille to search for weapons and gunpowder
Once a medieval fortress, now a royal prison
Refused to hand over weapons
Guards killed 98 people attempting to enter
Prison eventually surrendered
Marquis de Lafayette appointed commander of city’s armed forces
July 17, 1789 – king reinstates finance minister and withdraws troops from Paris
National Assembly can now continue work
Great Fear
French peasants began to rise against lords
Ransacked manor houses, burned feudal documents
Some areas reinstated traditional village practices
Seized forests
Taxes unpaid
Fear of noble reprisal against peasant uprisings
Afraid to call on king to restore order
Nobles (duke of Aiguillon) urged equality in taxation and elimination of feudal dues
Old noble privileges were abolished
Peasant serfdom
Exclusive hunting rights
Fees for justice
Village monopolies
The right to make peasants work on the roads
August 7, 1989: abolish feudalism
Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen
After having granted new rights to the peasantry, National Assembly moved forward with its mission of reform
August 26, 1789
“Men are born and remain free and equal in rights”
Maintain natural rights of “liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression”
“Every man is presumed innocent until proven guilty”