- 1789 - 1794 - causes and initial phase
- 1793 - 1795
- Era of Napolean
- 1795 - 1799 - directory phase
- 1799 - 1804 - counsel phase
- 1804 - 1815 - Emperor phase
- Holy Roman empire - Present germany - German language
- Prussia overlapping with Holy roman empire - Germans
- Sovereignty -within the empire - territory was Fixed -
- Polity of each empire
- - Absolute monarchy - Emperor
- Emperor was considered representative of god / Son of god - Divine right theory of kinship.
- Society -
- Feudalism (Class division)
- Feud - land, ism - rule --- Land-based rule
- 1st Estate- Church
- 2nd Estate- Nobles/Lords
- 3rd Estate- Others
- Bourbon dynasty
- Louis 13,14, 15, - Strong - France was a powerful empire
- Louis 16 - the 1760s became king
Causes of FR (1789-1793)
- The inefficiency of Louis 16
- Absolute Monarchy - It was an ancient regime - It has outlived its time
- Marie Antoinette (nickname - Madame Deficit)(Austria) - Wife of Louis 16 - led an extravagant life
- Louis 16 policy to financially aid 13 American colonies
- Feudalism (Estate system)
- Others (Socially ignored from all privileges) - No social elevation
- Feudalism (Estate system)
- Economic (Inequality in taxation)
- Clergy + Nobles (10 %) (65 % land ) (Tax was exempted)
- Common (90 %) - Majority peasants. (35 % land) (Tax burden on Commoners)
- Immediate cause
- Famine in France (1784 - 1789)- Less Wheat - Less Bread -
- Financial crisis - Due to the Continental war (Louis 15 to 16 wars)
- Americal Revolution inspired the French people through the soldiers of France
Louis 16 didn't have money to run the govt. The only way was to tax the people. Called for Estates general (Feudal parliament) to solve the financial crisis. Estates general was divided into elites and common people. Common people demanded taxing the elites and land to be distributed to all and ending feudalism and privileges for the king to tax them.
Common people broke away from estates general and formed the National Assembly of 1789. Nation - French nation for French-speaking people.
Renaissance (14th Cent)- New monarchy, Secularism, Liberty, Constitution - These things were demanded by Middle-class intelligentsia (Educated class). They started the revolution since France was still in the ancient regime.
Role of Philosophers / Ideas
- Hobbes - State - Rules & Regulation
- John Locke -
- Man has life, liberty, property
- TO protect the good man from the bad man, the government established by the state should protect him
- Montesquieu - Separation of power of states into Leg, Exec, Judiciary with clear checks and balances
- Voltaire - Secularism - Separation of Religion and State
- Rousseau - Social Contract - People & State - People giving power to the state to protect the people - Mutual understanding between the state & People
Tennis Court incident - 1789 - framing of constitution by the commoners (Paris). There was a rumour that king is gathering the army to arrest the commons. Prison bastille - people went there freed the prisoners - symbol of fall of absolute monarchy.
Palace of Versailles -
1790 - Constitution - Constitutional monarcy - Parliament - President - Legislature - Ministers - People would elect them. The property of church belonged to the state now. Legislature would appoint church officials.
1791 - The king was removed from his position. National assembly - French state. They conducted elections. 2 party - Jacobians (Extremists - republic) & Girondists (Moderates- Gradualists). Girondists came a majority.
1792 - Palace arrest
1793- France won the war. National assembly found louis 16 guilty and was charged with death penalty from guillotine and was executed. Marie Antoinette was also executed.
Revolutionaries (Jacobians & Girondists) & Anti-Revolutionaries (Elites)
Reign of Terror (1793-1795)
- Public safety committee of the national assembly - unlimited power - Robespierre - Head - complete chaos. All Anti-Revolutionaries (Elites) were guillotined by him.
- 1795 - Robespierre was brought to trial - and he was executed.
Directory phase (1795 -1799)
A 5 member committee that run the National assembly of the French republic. during this phase, France had External danger (By neighboring countries) and Internal danger (Disorder). One man emerged successfully out of this disorder - Napolean Bonaparte. He saved France from the dangers. Became the general of the French army.
Counsel phase (1799 - 1804)
3 member committee - National assembly - 1st counsel was Napolean. In 1804 he appointed himself as the emperor.
Emperor phase (1804-1815)
People elected Napolean as the Emperor of France. Developed his Navy and attacked British & Got defeated. He introduced the continental system. to prevent the British goods to enter into the European continent. Defeated Spain, Italian states, Prussia, holy roman empire, Austra. He collapsed the sovereignty of the European continent. But he went for the Russian invasion in 1812, the French army couldn't bear the Siberian winters. The French army collapsed. In 1814, in the battle of Paris (France vs British, Russia, Prussia, Austria). France got defeated. Napolean was abdicated and was sent as a royal prisoner to Island Elba (Italy). The winning powers called for the Congress of Vienna in1814 to solve the problems created by Napolean. They appointed Louis 18, the Bro of Louis 16 as the king of France.
Napolean escaped from prison after 100 days. Louis 18th ran away. In 1815 battle of waterloo, (France vs British, Russia, Prussia, Austria). Napolean was defeated Sir Arthur Wellesley. Napolean was sent to sent to St Helena as a prisoner.
- Opened -new chapter in the history of Europe
- Turning point - history of humankind.
- End to age old absolute monarchy, feudal laws and social inequality.
- Introduced - first time idea of republicanism based on "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity".
(These ideas had influenced the entire continent of Europe and also the world.)
Causes of the French Revolution
- Social (that were prevalent in France before the outbreak of the revolution)
- Economic aspects
France was ruled by Bourbon dynasty- believed in the Divine Right theory – as they were representatives of God, they were answerable only to God.
Louis XIV was a strong and powerful ruler of the Bourbon dynasty. His wars ruined the economy of France. His successors Louis XV and Louis XVI were weak administrators. Louis XV foretold at the end of his rule: "After me the deluge". His words came to be true. Louis XVI was the most incompetent ruler. His wife and queen, Marie Antoinette interfered too much into the administration. She was thoroughly ignorant of the sufferings of the French people. But she always favored and protected the interests of the French nobles and did not allow the financial reforms to take place. Because it affected the interests of the nobles and the clergy.
The French society was based on inequality. The society consisted of three major divisions,
- Had no political power but remained loyal to the king.
- They enjoyed many privileges and led a life of luxury.
- They were exempted from taxation.
- The higher clergy owned one fifth of the lands in France and enjoyed several privileges. Their number in France was around only five thousand. They lived in palatial houses and they were exempted from taxes.
- But the lower clergy were denied all these privileges. Therefore, they turned against the higher clergy during the revolution
(Both the noble and the higher clergy led a life of ease and pleasure without bothering about the wretched condition of the masses)
- Common people
The majority of the population in France belonged to the third category. Traders, lawyers, owners of industries, government servants, peasants and workers were in this category. While the nobles and the clergy were exempted from paying taxes, the masses paid all the taxes. Hence it was said: "the nobles fight, the clergy pray and the people pay".
- Taille or land tax was entirely paid by the peasants.
- Gabelle or salt tax was a burden on the common man. (Taxes to the king)
- Head of each family had to pay the capitation tax.
- Tithe (tax) to the Church
The burden on the peasants was higher than the others because he had certain other obligations to the nobles. They were forced to use the mill, wine-press, slaughterhouse and oven of their lords after paying the usual dues. They were also compelled to render feudal services to the lords.
Financial condition of France - very critical during reign of Louis XVI. The national debt had increased beyond the limit. The national income was less than national expenditure. Hence, the king tried to mobilize national income by selling important offices of the government. At last, the king appointed financial experts Turgot and Jacques Necker as Director-General of Finances. They tried to curtail royal expenditure and improve the income to the government. But their measures did not receive the support of the nobles. On their advice the queen Marie Antoinette removed them. Later, Calonne was appointed to look into the financial crisis. But he was not able to do anything but to levy fresh taxes. Therefore, Louis XVI was forced to convene the States General after a gap of 175 years, on May 5th, 1789.
The French Philosophers
The writings and the preaching of the French philosophers prepared the common people for the revolution. The most prominent among them were Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau.
- Montesquieu in his book, The Spirit of Laws advocated the constitutionalform government. He introducedthe idea of separation of powers into executive, legislative and judiciary to ensure the effective functioning of democracy.
- Voltaire launched a crusade against superstition and attacked traditional beliefs. He wrote many essays, poems and dramas creating awareness among the masses. He advocated the supremacy of reason. He stood for religious toleration. He strongly condemned the corruptions in the church. He stood for a benevolent despotism.
- Rousseau was the author of the famous book, Social Contract, which was considered the Bible of the French Revolution. He said that the real sovereignty rests with the people. His famous statement, "Man is born free and is everywhere in chains" kindled the revolutionary spirit of the masses.
Diderot and D' Alembert published the Encyclopedia. It contained several essays and articles written by revolutionary thinkers. The revolutionary ideas of these philosophers spread throughout France and created awareness among the masses. The French intellectuals gave the motto "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" which became the watchwords of the revolution of 1789.
Impact of the American War of Independence
The independence of the thirteen American colonies from England provided a boost to the French people. The French captain Lafayette with his soldiers returned from America after helping the colonies to secure their independence. His experience in America along with the fighting spirit for the cause of democracy reached the ears of the French and inspired them. Therefore, they decided to put an end to the despotic rule of the Bourbons.
Convening of the States-General
The bankruptcy of French treasury was the starting point of the French Revolution. Louis XVI was faced with a serious financial situation. There was also no alternative but to propose new taxes So, Louis XVI summoned the States General on 5th May 1789. The main purpose for summoning the States General was to get its consent for the fresh taxes to be levied upon the people. The king also recalled Necker to head the finance ministry
The States General consisted of three Estates Chambers. Thefirst Estate was represented by the nobles, the second the clergy andthe third by the common people. Whenthe king called for its meeting, eachEstate sat separately. However, themembers of the third estate demandeda joint sitting and one vote for eachmember. As the first and secondEstates did not concede to thisdemand, there was a deadlock. On17th June 1789, the third Estate declared itself as the National Assembly. The king got alarmed and prevented them from enteringthe hall. But, the members of the National Assembly went to a nearbyTennis Court and took an oath to frame a new constitution. This isknown as Tennis Court Oath. On 23rd June 1789, a special session of States General was held. The king declared the acts of the Third Estate as illegal. Healso ordered that the three Estates should meet separately. But thethird Estate refused to accept the king's orders. Hence, Louis XVIsubmitted to the will of the third Estate, which represented thecommon people. He ordered the three Estates to sit together. Thusthe formation of National Assembly was completed.
Fall of the Bastille
Although the king recognised the National Assembly, he decided to suppress it.
- A large number of soldiers were brought to Versailles and Paris.
- Necker, the popular minister was also dismissed.
On hearing this, the mob of Paris became violent. They attacked the State prison called the Bastille, murdered the guards and freed the prisoners. The fall of the Bastille was regarded in France as a triumph of liberty. After the fall of the Bastille the peasants rose against the nobles. Riots began against the aristocrats all over France. Nobles were attacked and their castles stormed. They also destroyed the records of their feudal services. The nobles voluntarily surrendered their feudal rights and the privileges on 4th August 1789.
Feudalism and serfdom were abolished.
The principle of equality was established.
Class distinctions were abolished.
There was a shortage for bread in Paris. On 5th October, a large number of women went to the King's palace at Versailles to make a petition. They were not satisfied with the reply of the queen and hence they brought with them the king, the queen and their son to Paris.
Work of the National Assembly (1789 - 1791)
- The National Assembly styled itself the Constituent Assembly.
- It drew up the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
- Thenew constitution drafted by the Constituent Assembly provided for alimited monarchy to France.
- The titles of the nobles were abolished.
- Judiciary was remodeled. The method of torture was abolished. Newcentral and local courts were established. Judges were to be elected.
- Drastic action was also taken against the church. The monasterieswere suppressed. Absolute religious toleration was proclaimed. Thecollection of tithes by the church was abolished. Then, measureswere taken for the nationalization of church properties.
- After draftingthe new constitution, the National Assembly dissolved itself in 1791.
The political clubs sprang up in different quarters.
Jacobian Club (led by Robespierre, a radical democrat) and Cordelier Club (led by Danton)
The Girondists were a group of eloquent young men and stood for establishing a republican form of government. Madame Roland was a prominent member of the Girondists
The Legislative Assembly
According to the new constitution, the new Legislative Assembly met in 1791.
When the revolution broke out many of the nobles managed to escape from France. They carried out propaganda against the revolution in France and tried to mobilize support from other countries. Austria and Prussia came forward to help them. To curtail their activities the Legislative Assembly passed laws. The king did not approve of these laws and used his veto against them. King Leopold of Austria issued the famous Declaration of Pillnitz against the revolutionaries on 27th August 1791. War broke out between the revolutionary government and Austria in 1792. The revolutionary army was defeated. The wrath of the revolutionaries turned against the French king. On 10th August 1792 the mob attacked the King's palace at Tuileries. The king was suspended and elections were ordered for a National Convention to prepare another new constitution for the country. This was followed by the "September Massacres". The Revolutionary government at Paris led by Danton massacred 1500 suspected supporters of the French king. Then the French army defeated the Austrian army at Valmy.
The National Convention (1792 - 1795)
After the dissolution of the Legislative Assembly, the National Convention met in 1792. It abolished monarchy and declared France as a republic. The king Louis XVI after a summary trail was foundguilty of treason was guillotined (head cut off) on Sunday, 21st January1793. Three days later the queen Marie Antoinette was alsoguillotined.
Reign of Terror
The National convention divided on the issue of the execution of the king. The moderates did not agree with the Jacobians, who formed the majority in the Convention. The Jacobians had set up the Revolutionary Tribunal to deal with the moderates. It was the beginning of the Reign of Terror. It was the final phase of the Revolution. It was also the darkest period of the Revolution. Riots broke out in many places like Lyons, Marseilles and other cities. In 1793, the first coalition was formed by the European nations against the revolutionary government. The Jacobians suspended the constitution and created the
Committee of Public Safety with full powers to deal with the situation. Robespierre was the leader of this committee. It put down all the riots staged by the royalists within the country. Many people were killed on suspicion of being royalists. Soon, Robespierre became a virtual dictator of France. But, his opponents turned against him and sent him to the guillotine in 1794.
End of Revolution
With the fall of Robespeirre the Reign of Terror gradually came to an end. Moreover the public opinion was strongly against it. The Revolutionary Tribunal was suspended. The functions of Committee of Public Safety were restricted. The Jacobian Club was closed. The National Convention at last took up its long neglected task of framing of a constitution for the French Republic.
The executive was entrusted to a Directory, consisting of five members.
The legislative power was entrusted to two houses called the Council of Five Hundred and the Council of the Ancients.
Napoleon Bonaparte was then at Paris and he was entrusted with the task of defending the Convention against the Parisian mob. He dispersed the mob and saved the Convention and began his brilliant career. On October 26, 1795 the convention declared itself dissolved and the Directory took charge of the French government.
Results of the Revolution
The French Revolution of 1789 inaugurated a new era in the history of the mankind. The ideas of "liberty, equality and fraternity" spread to other parts of the world. The Bourbon monarchy was abolished. The Revolution rejected tyranny, divine right, conservatism, and feudal vestiges associated with bourbon rule in France. At the same time it failed to establish a permanent Republic in France. The French Revolution, after a violent turn led to the emergence of a great dictator, Napoleon Bonaparte.