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The Old Regime In the years before the French Revolution, the French society governed like it did in the Middle Ages. In France, the government and the military were run in the style of Feudalism which was the social system were the kings ruled, the nobles were the military force and the peasants worked the farms. The French people were divided into three group called Estates. The first estate was the Clergy (the church leaders). The second estate was the Nobles (the members of royalty) and the third estate was made of the peasants (the farmers and workers.)
Tennis Court Oath One of the critical moments early French Revolution was when the Third Estate chose to challenge the King. Also the members of the Third Estate started to call themselves the National Assembly. But when they went to a meeting at Versailles, they found that they were locked out. So they moved their meeting to a tennis court, where they took a pledge that they would not leave until a French constitution was written.
Meeting of the Estates General In May 1789, the King of France, Louis XVI called for a meeting with the three estates to address Financial Crisis. France had got into financial trouble after the many wars it fought and supporting the American’s win their independence. It was King Louis plan to tell the three estates that they would vote by their order (or their estate.) But when the third estate (the workers) understood that the first two estates would vote, the revolted.
Storming of the Bastille In the heart of Paris, there was a medieval fortress that the king used for a prison called the Bastille. On July, 14, 1789, the revolutionaries broke into the prison to free those inside and to get the weapons and gunpowder. This day was an important event in the French Revolution. Also, the revolutionaries wanted the king to know that they were serious about creating change. March on Versailles Because of the high price of bread and the difficulties of getting other food, there was rioting in Paris. A group of women frustrated by the state of living marched toward the King’s place named the Palace of Versailles. It was this angry mob that overthrew the king.
Reign of Terror The Reign of Terror marked the most violent period of the French Revolution. Robespierre a powerful politician of the period accused his enemies of treason. Many French people were put in jail or killed. The most sensational form of execution was death by the guillotine.
Rise of Napoleon From the chaos of the Reign of Terror, Napoleon Bonaparte a French military and political leader came to power in towards the end of the French Revolution. From 1804 to 1815, he was the Emperor of the French. During his rule he ended feudalism and created a new laws that brought freedom to people and more religious understanding. Also during this time, he won many important military battles that lead to control most of Europe.
Conclusion The French Revolution brought liberty and equality to many French. With the overthrow of King Louis XVI, French society was no longer governed in a feudalist way. Although the Reign of Terror was a bloody period of French history, the nation did stabilize after Napoleon took power. The French Revolution and the quest for freedom inspired other revolutions throughout the world.
The French Revolution
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