French Revolution

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**Causes of the French Revolution**:
– Social, political, and economic factors led to the French Revolution.
– The Storming of the Bastille in 1789 triggered radical measures by the National Assembly.
– Monarchy was abolished in 1792, establishing the French First Republic.
– The Reign of Terror in 1793 resulted in approximately 16,000 executions.
– The Revolutionary period ended in 1799 with Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power.

**Financial and Political Crisis**:
– Budgetary crises plagued the French economy in the 18th century.
– Inefficient tax collection burdened peasants while exempting the nobility and Church.
– France’s reliance on loans to fund wars led to a debt crisis by 1788.
– Proposed tax reforms were rejected by the nobility and parlements.
– Riots erupted, leading to the summoning of the Estates-General in May 1789.

**Social and Economic Factors**:
– French population grew from 21 to 28 million between 1715 and 1789.
– Peasants constituted about 80% of the population.
– The middle class tripled by 1789, making up nearly 10% of the population.
– Rising inequality fueled social conflict.
– Economic recession and high unemployment in the late 1780s worsened the crisis.

**Enlightenment and Public Sentiment**:
– Enlightenment critiques of social institutions were widespread.
– The American Revolution and European revolts inspired debates on patriotism and equality.
– Public scandals like the Diamond Necklace Affair fueled popular anger.
– The educated French elite played a significant role in shaping public response to the crisis.
– These debates influenced the demand for reform and the course of the Revolution.

**Political Developments and Transition to the First Republic**:
– Establishment of the National Assembly and the abolition of the Ancien Régime.
– Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in 1789.
– Constitutional Monarchy from July 1789 to September 1792.
– Fall of the monarchy, Varennes incident, and subsequent events.
– Proclamation of the First Republic in 1792, leading to internal divisions and the Reign of Terror.

French Revolution (Wikipedia)

The French Revolution was a period of political and societal change in France that began with the Estates General of 1789, and ended with the coup of 18 Brumaire in November 1799 and the formation of the French Consulate. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles of liberal democracy, while its values and institutions remain central to modern French political discourse.

French Revolution
Part of the Atlantic Revolutions
The Storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789
Date5 May 1789 – 9 November 1799
(10 years, 6 months, and 4 days)
LocationKingdom of France

Its causes are generally agreed to be a combination of social, political and economic factors, which the Ancien Régime proved unable to manage. A financial crisis and widespread social distress led in May 1789 to the convocation of the Estates General, which was converted into a National Assembly in June. The Storming of the Bastille on 14 July led to a series of radical measures by the Assembly, among them the abolition of feudalism, state control over the Catholic Church in France, and a declaration of rights.

The next three years were dominated by the struggle for political control, exacerbated by economic depression. Military defeats following the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in April 1792 resulted in the insurrection of 10 August 1792. The monarchy was abolished and replaced by the French First Republic in September, while Louis XVI was executed in January 1793.

After another revolt in June 1793, the constitution was suspended and effective political power passed from the National Convention to the Committee of Public Safety. About 16,000 people were executed in a Reign of Terror, which ended in July 1794. Weakened by external threats and internal opposition, the Republic was replaced in 1795 by the Directory. Four years later in 1799, the Consulate seized power in a military coup led by Napoleon Bonaparte. This is generally seen as marking the end of the Revolutionary period.

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