The French Revolution
- The French revolution occurred on 14 July 1789.
- In the 18th century French society was divided into three estates.
1st estate – Clergy
2nd estate – Nobility
3rd estate – Common people
- Big businessman, merchants, court, officials, lawyers, etc.
- Peasants, labours, servant, etc
- In the third state some were rich and others poor.
- The members of the first two estates enjoyed certain privileges by birth.
- The most important of these was exemption from paying taxes to the state.
- The nobels further enjoyed feudal privileges.
- There were two types of taxes paid by the third estate, tithes and taille.
- Tithes- It is a tax levied by the church comprising one- tenth of the agricultural produce .
- Taille – tax to be paid directly to the state.
Causes of the French revolution
- Wars and economic crisis
- Excessive taxation
- Extravagance of Louis XVI
- Social disparity
- The rise of middle class
- Subsistence crisis
- Influence of philosophers and writers as Montesquieu ‘ the spirit of laws ‘
- John Locke ‘the two treatises of government’
- Jean Jacques Rousseau ‘ the social contract’
The outbreak of the Revolution 1789
- Convocation of Estate General, the third estate forms the National Assembly under the leadership of Mirabeau and Abbe Sieye’s.
- While the National Assembly was busy at Versailles drafting the constitution, the rest of France seethed with turmoil .
- A severe winter led to a bad harvest, the prices of bread rose, often bakers exploited the situation and hoarded supplies .
- On 14th July an agitated crowd stormed and destroyed the Bastille, a peasant revolt in the countryside.
- Assembly issues August 26th,1789 Declaration of the right of man.
France becomes a Constitutional monarchy
- In 1791, a constitution was framed to limit the power of the king and to guarantee the basic rights of all human beings.
- According to the new constitution, the king and the Assembly would work together to govern France .
- The people were divided into Active and Passive citizens.
France becomes a Republic
Jacobin club – it was a political club of people which formed to discuss the government policies.
- The members of the Jacobin club belonged mainly to the less prosperous sections of society.
- They included shopkeepers, pastry cooks, watch -makers, printers.
- 10 August 1792 assembly attacked the palace of the Tuileries, massacring the king’s guards.
- Later the Assembly voted to imprison the royal family.
- Elections were held, all men of 21 years got the right to vote.
- The newly elected assembly was called the National Convention.
On 21st September 1792 France became a republic, the king was beheaded.
The Reign of Terror
The period from 1793-1794 is referred as ‘the reign of terror ‘
Maximilien Robespierre follows the policy of severe control and punishment , executes many ‘enemies of the people and democracy‘ in France itself.
In 1794, Robespierre was executed. France is governed by a Directory .
Condition of women
Before the French revolution
- Most of women of third estate had to work for living
- Most women did not have an access to education or job training
- Working women also took care of their families •their wages were lower than those of men.
After the French revolution
- Schooling was made compulsory for all girls.
- Marriage was made into a contract
- Women’s struggle for equal political right
- In 1946, women in France won the right to vote.
The effects of the French Revolution
- There was a triangular slave trade among Europe Africa and America.
- In 1794 ,the Convention made it free to all slaves. Finally, slavery was abolished in French colonies in 1848.
- It ended arbitrary and despotic rule of monarchy.
- It established great ideas of Liberty, equality and fraternity.
- Trade improved greatly.
- Censorship was removed.
The rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
- Political instability was an important reason behind the rising of Napoleon.
- New constitution provided for two elected Legislative councils and a Directory( an executive made up of five members).
- The Directors often clash with the legislatures. Napoleon took advantage of the situation.
- In 1804, Napoleon declared himself emperor of France. He used his armies to conquer all the neighbouring countries except Britain and Russia. Britain, Prussia, Russia and Austria (BPRA) jointly defeated him at Waterloo in 1815.
Achievements of Napoleon Bonaparte
- Establishing new industries
- Improvement in trade
- Introducing many laws
- Introducing right to private property
- Uniform system of weights and measurement
- Framing of new constitution
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