French Revolution

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  • Long Term Causes of the Revolution
  • 2nd Estate
  • 3rd Estate
  • 1st Estate
  • Estates General
  • Tennis Court Oath
  • We will never separate and we will meet wherever the circumstances might require until we have established a sound and just constitution!
  • July 14th, 1789
  • French society was divided, literally, into 3 estates. The 1st estate (2-3%) consisted of the clergy. The 2nd held the nobility (2-3%), and in the 3rd sat everyone else (95%).  While the 3rd estate was the poorest, it was the only estate that had to pay taxes. This financial unfairness caused numerous problems for French society.
  • Storming of the Bastille
  • When Necker (the King's financial advisor) proposed taxing the First and Second Estates, the King dismissed him. The Estates-General was then called and asked to create cahiers. Each estate held one vote, so the third estate was outvoted on every single issue. This led to the creation of the national Assembly. 
  • Revolution Begins
  • In June 1789, delegates of the Third Estate gathered and called themselves the National Assembly. When they found their meeting place locked and guarded, they met at a nearby indoor tennis court. They swore 'never to separate and to meet wherever the circumstances might require until we have established a sound and just constitution'.
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  • 800+ Parisians gathered outside of the Bastille, a fortress used to hold prisoners. Many lives were lost. The mob only killed the commander and released a few prisoners, but the storming of the Bastille was a symbolic victory. The Bastille was a symbol of years of abuse from the monarchy, and the fall of it was a wake-up call to Louis XVI. 
  • Since 1880, the French have celebrated Bastille Day annually as their national independence day, but their revolution didn't end there. Leaders and groups such as Marquis de Lafayette and the Paris Commune paved the way for France's independence, and for the increased rights of the sans-culotte. 
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