The French Revolution

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  • France was divided into a strict social order, determined by birth. In 1789, the ruling elite was made up only 4% of the population.
  • - 4%
  • - 96%
  • Due to the beginnings of industrialization, many people had more free time and France was becoming a center of new ideas. It was commonplace to meet and discuss things, such as liberty, freedom, and individual rights.
  • The Bourgeoisie were a group of middle class citizents who had managed to make money. They were rather well traveled, knowing how the monarchy in England was limited, and about the new independant republic of the US.
  • As the economy was in shambles constantly, considerably due to the costly and non-successful war with England, King Louis XVI felt that more taxes, even for Aristocrats, was necessary. The Aristocrats were against this, and so the King called an Estates General Meeting for the first time in 70 years.
  • 1st Estate - Clergy 2nd Estate - Aristocrats 3rd Estate - Commoners
  • }
  • Each estate has only one vote.
  • At the time of which the Estates General meeting was held, a famine had started because of years of bad crops. It is bad enought that people cannot even buy bread, a staple in the French diet. Marie Antoinette, a member of the royal family, was very lavish in their spending and out of touch with the hardships citizens go through. A commonly accepted theory on one of her most famous quotes is that she said it out of idiocy and distance from reality.
  • M'lady, the citizens have no bread!
  • Let them eat cake!
  • The Assault on Bastille, and the Women's March on Versailles, are both examples of the citizens defying the royalty of France. Bastille was a prison of which was rumored that the King imprisoned those against him, and the Women's March on Versailles was caused by an outrage of the price of bread. They besieged the palace, and forced a confrontation with the king. This ended the king's independance.
  • The members of the 3rd estate, the citizens, were determined to change the sysytem and create a constitution. They created the National Assembly, and swore the Tennis Court Oath. They were the only group created at the time that represented 96% of the nation, and they declared criteria on the rights of man.
  • Not everyone agreed with the revolution, however. A dark time ensued, known as the "Reign of Terror", which lasted 11 months. The revolutionaries killed anyone who dared oppose them.
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