French Revolution

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The French Revolution

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  • We, the clergy, are the First Estate. We own 10% of all the land, collect tithes from the people, and pay no direct taxes to the State.
  • We, the nobility or aristocracy, are the Second Estate. We also are exempt from paying many taxes to the State. The King is in our estate, and he rules the country as an absolute monarch.
  • We the ordinary people are the Third Estate. We pay ALL the taxes to the government. Workers are not paid in wages to buy food. We are starving, and the price of bread keeps rising.
  • This is unfair! We demand a representative government. In a new National Assembly the Third Estate will have over 600 delegates, and even though the First and Second Estates say delegates should be appointed "by power" and not "by head," they will have only 300 delegates in the Assembly.
  • I do not like the idea of this... you know what? We need to keep tight control over the people in Paris with food shortages. I understand some Third Estate delegates have met already in a tennis court and sworn an oath to form their own national assembly. Worse, I hear some radicals are planning violence tomorrow.
  • We are the women of Paris and we heard a rumor that Marie Antoinette is hoarding grain in the palace of Versailles. So we have come here to take control go the palace. King Louis XVI and Marie must leave now and go to Paris... "don't try anything, we are armed..."
  • Okay, fine we are leaving. Paris may not be safe for us anymore though, we just learned that a mob stormed the Bastille, and seized it, released my prisoners and took the weapons and ammunition that was stored there.
  • We are the reformed National Assembly and its time to write some documents to make what we believe in the law of France. First, the Declararation of the Rights of Man and Citizen will establish that everyone has a right to liberty, property, and security. Sound familiar? The American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence? Some of those ideas are brilliant, and they influence what we are doing now in France!
  • Second, we will write a Constitution in this year 1791. We will let the monarchy stay, but sovereignty will reside in the Legislative Arm. Not reforming the judicial or executive branches may lead to problems in the future.
  • King Louis XVI is trying to make alliances with foreign enemies. We need to capture the enemies' resources because we are dangerously low on food and supplies. The King is a traitor and he continues to veto legislation passed by the people's national convention. We must now overthrow him?
  • King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette have been guillotined and the monarchy is gone forever. We need someone new to rule. An awful lot of people are being accused of treason and sent to the guillotine without proper trial. It is the reign of terror!
  • Do not fret! I, Maximilian Robespierre, and the Committee of Public Safety will make sure the revolution continues! All traitors, meaning the entire Second Estate, will be found and executed, even if that means killing a lot of innocent citizens.
  • That is it, Robespierre! Your time of guillotining people has come to an end! No more Committee of Public Safety! No more executions without a fair trial. Also, Napoleon Bonaparte is rising to power faster than ever! He is an amazing young general. The reign of terror is finally over.
  • Now that the reign of terror is over, we have adopted our new flag, the Tricolor. France is now united in the fight against foreign enemies. We are looking for strong military leaders who will put an end to the political instability. In the meantime, we have created a Directory of five members who act as an executive committee.
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