10th Grade French Revolution Inquiry



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Supporting Question


To answer the compelling question “Was the French Revolution successful?” students will need to understand the problems that led to the Revolution. By answering this supporting question, students should be able to use their response throughout the rest of the inquiry to judge the Revolution’s success.

Formative Performance Task


The formative performance task calls on students to create a three-column chart delineating the political, social, and economic problems in prerevolutionary France (see the example on page 9). Within this task, students are working directly with the social studies practice Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence as they read three featured sources to discover examples of the problems French people faced in the period preceding the Revolution. Students could use direct quotes or ideas from the three sources to populate the chart or summarize the problems as they read and gather information from the sources. For example, under Economic Problems, students might write:

Inequitable Taxation Structure


The Third Estate pays 100 percent of the taxes collected (Source B)

Offering students opportunities to verbalize their emerging understandings in small groups will help them think about and respond to the written task. Additionally, teachers may want to construct a class list of the problems. This formative performance task is the students’ first step toward creating a summative argument. Their basic understanding of the problems in prerevolutionary France will allow them to use these issues as the starting place for evaluating the extent to which the French people were successful in addressing them.



Problems in Prerevolutionary France

Social

Economic

Political









Featured Sources


Featured Source A is a political cartoon/caricature of the Third Estate (commoners) carrying the First Estate (clergy) and the Second Estate (nobility) on its back. The description reads (translated): “You should hope this game will be over soon,” and the cartoon is dated December 30, 1788. A teacher might use this image to ground students’ understanding of the Three Estates and the social inequities in prerevolutionary France. In using this source, teachers should think about the ways they could draw out the meaning that may not be readily apparent to students. A teacher might begin with the following sequence of questions.

Who is in the image?

Whom do they represent?

How do you know? What symbols in the image provide clues to the artist’s meaning (e.g., clergy in purple with a cross)?

Why is the old man carrying the two other men on his back? Is this a literal or figurative depiction?

What does this inequity represent?

What do you suspect the annotation, “You should hope this game will be over soon,” means?

How might this image have been used in 1788? What artistic features are present (e.g., symbolism, caricature, distortion) to convey meaning?

If this is the students’ first encounter with a political cartoon/caricature, teachers might want to show a current political cartoon in a local paper or use the following resource on cartoon analysis from TeachingHistory.org to unpack the design features that intentionally convey an artist’s perspective: http://teachinghistory.org/system/files/Cartoon_Analysis_0.pdf.

Featured Source B will help students broaden their understanding of the economic inequities by providing the breakdown of the Three Estates in terms of population, land ownership, and taxation.

Featured Source C, the Cahiers de Doléances of 1789, includes a list of grievances from members of the Third Estate. It is important to note that King Louis XVI ordered the compilation of the Cahiers as an opportunity to express the hopes and grievances of each estate: the nobility, the clergy, and the commoners. For this inquiry, students will examine excerpts from the Third Estate to understand political problems the commoners faced.

This featured source may need to be modified for struggling readers or English language learners. Consider giving students highlighted versions of the documents that help focus their reading or adapted versions of the text. Additionally, the text could be shortened to help students more easily identify specific grievances of the Third Estate. The following article would be a good place to focus.



12. The due exacted from commoners holding fiefs should be abolished, and also the general or particular regulations which exclude members of the third estate from certain positions, offices, and ranks which have hitherto been bestowed on nobles either for life or hereditarily. A law should be passed declaring members of the third estate qualified to fill all such offices for which they are judged to be personally fitted.

Additional Resources


In addition, teachers may want students to consider other sources that further their understanding of the root problems the Revolution sought to address. The excerpt from Travels in France by Arthur Young allows students to examine what life was like in the countryside for the average person; students should make note of the extreme poverty and hardships of the people. Teachers could pair this first document with the 1773 letter from Marie Antoinette to her mother to have students practice corroboration skills among sources. The letter might also be introduced using a series of images depicting the palace of Versailles.

The excerpt from Thomas Carlyle’s French Revolution, 1837, examines the problems with the king and absolutism as well as the American Revolution’s influence on France. It is important to note that Carlyle provides a British perspective on the Revolution, and his work was the source of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, which provides a romanticized view of the Revolution. The excerpt from a 1789 Paris newspaper describes the Storming of the Bastille. Students should make note of the violence that occurred at the beginning of the Revolution. Teachers may wish to use the newspaper article last, explaining why it became a symbol of the Revolution.

Arthur Young, Travels in France (excerpt), 1792. (Suggested excerpts from September 1788 and July 12, 1789). https://history.hanover.edu/texts/young.html.

Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution (excerpt), 1837. http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/lecture11a.html.

Marie Antoinette, letter to her mother, 1773. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1773marieantonette.asp.

Storming of the Bastille: A Parisian newspaper article, 1789. http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/bastille.html.



Supporting Question 1

Featured Source A

Source A: Unknown artist, political cartoon about The Three Estates, You Should Hope this Game Will Be Over Soon, 1788

Reproduced with permission from the National Museum of France.



Supporting Question 1

Featured Source B

Source B: Graph, “The Three Estates in Prerevolutionary France”

The Three Estates In Prerevolutionary France

g10_barchart

Created for the New York K-12 Social Studies Toolkit by Agate Publishing, Inc. 2015.



Supporting Question

Featured Source C

Source C: The Third Estate of Carcassonne, list of grievances from the Third Estate, Cahiers de Doléances (excerpts), 1789

The third estate of the electoral district of Carcassonne very humbly petitions his Majesty to take into consideration these several matters, weigh them in his wisdom, and permit his people to enjoy, as soon as may be, fresh proofs of that benevolence which he has never ceased to exhibit toward them and which is dictated by his affection for them.

In view of the obligation imposed by his Majesty’s command that the third estate of this district should confide to his paternal ear the causes of the ills which afflict them and the means by which they may be remedied or moderated, they believe that they are fulfilling the duties of faithful subjects and zealous citizens in submitting to the consideration of the nation, and to the sentiments of justice and affection which his Majesty entertains for his subjects, the following:

Public worship should be confined to the Roman Catholic apostolic religion, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship; its extension should be promoted and the most efficient measures taken to reestablish the discipline of the Church and increase its prestige.

2. Nevertheless the civil rights of those of the king’s subjects who are not Catholics should be confirmed, and they should be admitted to positions and offices in the public administration, without however extending this privilege - which reason and humanity alike demand for them - to judicial or police functions or to those of public instruction.

3. The nation should consider some means of abolishing the annates and all other dues paid to the holy see, to the prejudice and against the protests of the whole French people.

[Pluralities should be prohibited, monasteries reduced in numbers, and holidays suppressed or decreased.]

7. The rights which have just been restored to the nation should be consecrated as fundamental principles of the monarchy, and their perpetual and unalterable enjoyment should be assured by a solemn law, which should so define the rights both of the monarch and of the people that their violation shall hereafter be impossible.

8. Among these rights the following should be especially noted: the nation should hereafter be subject only to such laws and taxes as it shall itself freely ratify.

9. The meetings of the Estates General of the kingdom should be fixed for definite periods, and the subsidies judged necessary for the support of the state and the public service should be voted for no longer a period than to the close of the year in which the next meeting of the Estates General is to occur.

10. In order to assure to the third estate the influence to which it is entitled in view of the number of its members, the amount of its contributions to the public treasury, and the manifold interests which it has to defend or promote in the national assemblies, its votes in the assembly should be taken and counted by head.

11. No order, corporation, or individual citizen may lay claim to any pecuniary exemptions. … All taxes should be assessed on the same system throughout the nation.

12. The due exacted from commoners holding fiefs should be abolished, and also the general or particular regulations which exclude members of the third estate from certain positions, offices, and ranks which have hitherto been bestowed on nobles either for life or hereditarily. A law should be passed declaring members of the third estate qualified to fill all such offices for which they are judged to be personally fitted.

13. Since individual liberty is intimately associated with national liberty, his Majesty is hereby petitioned not to permit that it be hereafter interfered with by arbitrary orders for imprisonment. …

14. Freedom should be granted also to the press, which should however be subjected, by means of strict regulations to the principles of religion, morality, and public decency. …

----------

60. The third estate of the district of Carcassonne places its trust, for the rest, in the zeal, patriotism, honor, and probity of its deputies in the National Assembly in all matters which may accord with the beneficent views of his Majesty, the welfare of the kingdom, the union of the three estates, and the public peace.



Copyright © Hanover Historical Texts Collection. Used by permission of Hanover College, Hanover, IN.

Supporting Question 2

Supporting
Question


How did the relationship between the French people and the king change in the early stages of the Revolution?

Formative Performance Task

Write one or two paragraphs explaining how the relationship between the French people and the king changed between 1789 and 1793.

Featured Source(s)

Source A: Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

Source B: Declaration of the Rights of Woman and Citizen

Source C: Decree Abolishing the Feudal System

Conceptual Understandings

(10.2c) Individuals and groups drew upon principles of the Enlightenment to spread rebellions and call for revolutions in France and the Americas.

Content Specifications

Students will examine evidence related to the preconditions of the French Revolution and the course of the revolution, noting the roles of Olympe de Gouges, Maximilien Robespierre, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Social Studies Practices

Chronological Reasoning and Causation Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence
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