|Content and Instructional Strategies:
Introduction (5 minutes)
Explain to students that today they will become historians with a mission to find out what caused the French Revolution. Summarize the activities students will be engaging in during class, as well as the assessment at the end.
Eliciting Hypotheses (10 minutes)
1. Distribute a handout that contains background information on the conditions in France that lead to the revolution.
2. Using the handout and pages 478-479 in their text, student pairs will create a list of four to six possible causes of the Revolution.
3. Ask students to think outside of the box. Students will attempt to add one or two more causes of the French Revolution to their list that may not have been suggested by the text or what they have been taught. Encourage students to explore possibilities that are less obvious and may have been overlooked by historians.
Presenting Hypotheses (10 minutes)
Each pair will present a cause that they believe contributed to the start of the French Revolution.
As a class we will create a chart of the causes of the FR
Data Gathering and Processing (50 Minutes)
1. Hand out data set number one and a scaffolding sheet to each pair.
2. Have students read the data set and discuss the impact of the new data on their causes.
3. Have pairs turn their data sets over and answer the questions on the back. Does the data support your list of causes, disprove them, modify them or suggest new causes?
4. Have pairs share their findings with the class.
5. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for the remaining three data sets.
6. Allot 12 minutes for each data set.
Display the data set using a document camera so students know which they should be analyzing.
Make timing explicit and assist students with transitions from each set and activity.
Conclusion (15 Minutes)
1. Have pairs rank their top five causes based on what they believe is the most important cause of the French Revolution and list them on their scaffolding sheet.
2. Go around the classroom and have each pair share their top cause.
3. Tally the number of times causes are ranked number one.
4. Distribute and explain assessment.
In 1789 it became increasingly apparent that King Louis XVI was not capable of solving France’s financial crisis. The streets of Paris were rife with famine, malnutrition, sickness and disease. As bread prices rose and the national debt increased, the King and Queen lived a life of luxury at Versailles amongst their courtiers, ignoring the cries of the poor. In May of that year the Third Estate demanded reform and two months later the Bastille fell to insurgents preaching reform. Violence, rioting, and looting soon spread throughout Paris and the French countryside. In a few years the King and Queen found themselves without a kingdom and without their heads. The failed constitutional monarchy brought anarchy and chaos to France. Democracy would arrive in France behind a period of great violence and war. The result was the Republic of France which would soon be in the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte. Just how this dramatic series of events began is still a question for debate among historians.
During the Eighteenth Century France participated in a number of costly wars, most recently the Seven Years War and the American Revolution. Participation resulted in deficit spending, when the government spends more money than it receives. The French government went into debt and was forced to borrow money. To solve their financial
problem they increased taxes.
Since the Middle Ages, France continued to follow a strict social system. All citizens belonged to an Estate. The First Estate was made up of the clergy who owned 10% of all land. The Second Estate was composed of nobles who controlled the top jobs in the government, army, courts, and Church. The Third Estate was made up of 98% of the entire population of France. The Third Estate was controlled by the middle class known as bourgeoisie, but 9 out of 10 members were poor peasants.
In the 1780’s several bad harvests resulted in less food. Food that was available was too expensive for many peasants to afford. This led to bread riots and violent attacks in the countryside as people demanded reform.
The Estates General was the only legislative governmental body in France. It was composed of representatives from each of the three estates. The Estates General had no real political power. Whenever the Estates were required to vote, they met separately. This resulted in the First and Second Estates banning together to outvote the Third. Whenever the King wanted, he could call a meeting of the Estates General, or send them home. Until 1789 the Estates General had not met for 175 years.
In 1789 the Third Estate created the National Assembly in order to represent the people of France. The members of the First and Second Estates soon joined them in order to work together and create a constitution.
On July 14th 1789 violence in Paris dramatically increased. Over 800 Parisian citizens surrounded the Bastille, a fortified prison, and demanded weapons, gunpowder, and the release of prisoners. A fight resulted leaving the commander, five guards and many rioters dead. When told of the attack, Louis XVI, King of France, was informed that a revolution had started.
Data Set One
Read the following secondary document by yourself. Once you are finished answer all questions together with your partner
The data set below is an excerpt taken from a secondary document. The document is part of an online resource project on the French Revolution created and maintained by George Mason University.
“At the beginning of the eighteenth century, France had 20 million people living within its borders, a number equal to nearly 20 percent of the population of non-Russian Europe. Over the course of the century, that number increased by another 8 to 10 million, as epidemic disease and acute food shortages diminished and mortality declined. By contrast, it had increased by only 1 million between 1600 and 1700. Also important, this population was concentrated in the rural countryside: of the nearly 30 million French under Louis XVI, about 80 percent lived in villages of 2,000 or less, with nearly all the rest in fairly small cities (those with fewer than 50,000
“…Amid these broad economic and population shifts, daily life in the countryside remained much the same, particularly on small family farms. Their owners and workers were known as peasants, although they differed considerably in wealth and status. A few could claim to be "living nobly," meaning they rented their land to others to work, but many were day-laborers desperate for work in exchange for a place to stay and food to eat. In the middle were others, including independent farmers, sharecroppers, and renters. Historians have estimated that in lean years 90 percent of the peasants lived at or below the subsistence level, earning only enough to feed their families. Others inhabited the countryside, most notably small numbers of noble and non-noble owners of manors, conspicuous by their dwellings, at the least. Consequently, documents on life in the countryside at this time reflect the omnipresence of poverty. One of the most well-known observers of the late-eighteenth-century French countryside, the Englishman Arthur Young, considered these small farms the great weakness of French agriculture, especially when compared with the large, commercial farms he knew at home. Others commenting on the lot of impoverished peasants before 1789 blamed the tensions between rich and poor on the country's vast social differences.”
“Social Causes of the Revolution.” Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French
Revolution. American Social History Productions, Inc.
Data Set Two
Look at the following cartoon. Try to analyze the image on your own, and then compare your thoughts with your partner. When you are done answer the questions.
The image below is a political cartoon created in the 1780’s before the French Revolution. The inscription on the rock reads “Taille Impôts et Corvées.” This roughly translates to “cut taxes and labor.”
Cobb, Richard and Jones, Colin. Voices of the French Revolution. HarperCollins. New York
Data Set Three
Read the following primary document to yourself. When you are finished reading work with your partner to answer all the questions.
The data set below is an excerpt taken from the Tennis Court Oath. The Oath was a pledge signed by the Third Estate and some members of the other Estates at a meeting of the Estates General on June 20th 1789. They met in a tennis court after being locked out of their normal meeting place. The Oath resulted in a new legislative body composed of all three Estates known as the National Assembly.
The Assembly quickly decrees the following:
The National Assembly, considering that it has been called to establish the constitution of the realm, to bring about the regeneration of public order, and to maintain the true principles of monarchy; nothing may prevent it from continuing its deliberations in any place it is forced to establish itself; and, finally, the National Assembly exists wherever its members are gathered. Decrees that all members of this assembly immediately take a solemn oath never to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the realm is established and fixed upon solid foundations; and that said oath having been sworn, all members and each one individually confirm this unwavering resolution with his signature. Bailly: I demand that the secretaries and I swear the oath first; which they do immediately according to the following formula: We swear never to separate ourselves from the National Assembly, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the realm is drawn up and fixed upon solid foundations. All the members swear the same oath between the hands of the president.
[Source: Gazette Nationale, ou Le Monituer universel, trans. Laura Mason in Laura Mason and Tracey Rizzo, eds., The French Revolution: A Document Collection (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1999), pp. 60-61.]
Data Set Four
Directions: Read the following document below on your own. Once you are finished, work together with your partner to answer all the questions.
Background: The document contains articles from The Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen approved by the National Assembly Aug. 26th 1789. The articles below were the first step taken write a French Constitution.
1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.
2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.
6. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in the law. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents.
7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the forms prescribed by law.
9. As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner's person shall be severely repressed by law.
11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
14. All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes.
17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.
Data Set Five
Directions: Read the following document below on your own. Once you are finished, work together with your partner to answer all the questions.
Background: The document below is a summary of how European monarchs responded to the French Revolution.
Monarchies at war with the French Republic
The overthrow of Louis XVI and the establishment of republican government placed France at odds with the primarily monarchical and dynastic governments of the rest of Europe. In the Declaration of Pillnitz (1791) Austria and Prussia issued a provocative general call to European rulers to assist the French king reestablishing himself in power. France declared war in April 1792. On September 20, 1792, French forces under Charles-François Dumouriez and François-Christophe Kellermann turned back an invading Prussian-Austrian force at Valmy, and by November the French had occupied all of Belgium. Early in 1793 Austria, Prussia, Spain, the United Provinces, and Great Britain formed the first of seven coalitions that would oppose France over the next 23 years. In response to reverses at the hands of the First Coalition, the Revolutionary government declared a levy en masse, by which all Frenchmen were placed at the disposal of the army. By that means unprecedentedly large armies were raised and put in the field during this period. Battles on the Continent in the mid-18th century typically had involved armies of about 60,000 to 70,000 troops, but after 1800 Napoleon routinely maneuvered armies of 250,000; and he invaded Russia in 1812 with some 600,000.
The rise of Napoleon
By early 1795 France had defeated the allies on every front and had pushed to Amsterdam, the Rhine, and the Pyrenees; more importantly, Prussia had been forced out of the coalition and had signed a separate peace that held until 1806. In May 1795 the United Provinces of the Netherlands became the French-influenced Batavian Republic. In northern Italy, a strongly positioned French army threatened Austrian-Sardinian positions, but its commander proved reluctant to move. In March 1796 he was replaced by a more dynamic general, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Napoleon executed a brilliant campaign of maneuver against Austrian and Sardinian forces in Italy and in the resultant treaty of Campo Formio forced Austria to cede the Austrian Netherlands (now Belgium and Luxembourg), which became the first territorial additions to the French Republic, and to recognize the Cisalpine and Ligurian republics established by French power in northern Italy.
Napoleon’s next campaign was a major failure. He sailed an army to Egypt in May 1798 with the idea of conquering the Ottoman Empire. The defeat of a French naval squadron by Admiral Horatio Nelson in the Battle of the Nile (August 1, 1798) left him without sufficient naval support, however, and, after failing to take Acre in 1799, Napoleon withdrew to France. His army continued to occupy Egypt until 1801. Meanwhile, other French forces had occupied new territories and established republican regimes in Rome, Switzerland (the Helvetic Republic), and the Italian Piedmont (the Parthenopean). As a result the Second Coalition formed, comprising Britain, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Naples, Portugal, and Austria. The allies’ initial successes were reversed by their inability to agree on strategy, however, and by the time Napoleon became the first consul of France by the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire, year VIII (November 9, 1799), the danger of foreign intervention against the Revolution in France was over. A victory over Austria at Marengo in 1800 and the consequent Treaty of Lunéville left France the dominant power on the Continent.
Causes of the French Revolution
List all possible Causes of the French Revolution below. These causes will come from the lecture and the various sources you will be exploring in class. Make sure you ADD to the list if you come up with new causes, or hear something different from a classmate.
When you have finished reading ALL FIVE DOCUMENTS rank the top five causes of the French Revolution. The cause that you believe is most important will be #1.
Data Set Questions
Directions: After reading each data set, there are five (5) in total, answer the following questions below on a separate sheet of paper with your partner.
1. After reading this document what cause did you add to your list? Is it related to any of the other causes you have written down? How?
2. Explain how this document demonstrates a cause of the French Revolution.
3. Does this document make you want to modify any of your original causes from your scaffolding worksheet? Which ones? Why?
4. Who is/are the author(s) of this document? How might this effect the overall message of the document?
Essay-Causes of the French Revolution
Using what you have learned from the class lecture, and from the five documents, answer the question below. Work must be completed independently. You are NOT allowed to work with your partner to complete your essay. If you and your partner turn in essays that are copies of each other you will both receive a ZERO on the assignment. You ARE allowed to use your list of causes, notes, document questions and Mr. Lyons to support your thesis. Please let me know if you have any questions about the essay.
The Big Question:
Following your rubric on how to write an essay, write a 2 to 3 paragraph essay (anything less than 2 paragraphs will only receive a maximum of 10 points) that answers the following question: What caused the French Revolution? Was there one main cause of the French Revolution, or was it the result of several causes? Why? Be sure to use evidence from the documents. You MUST include at least two examples to support your thesis.
Grading Rubric for Essay Assessment
Essay on the Causes of the French Revolution- Total 20 Points
Essay Structure- 10 Points
Essay contains two to three paragraphs- 2 points
A clear thesis statement is included at the end of the first paragraph- 2 Points
Topic sentences begin each paragraph- 2 Points
Sentence structure/fluency- 2 Points
Grammar and Spelling- 2 Points
Essay Content- 10 Points
Student argues that there was either one main cause of the French Revolution, or a multitude of causes- 2 Points
Student supports their argument with examples-3 points
Student supports their thesis with evidence presented in the data sets- 3 Points
She student acknowledges and disproves any arguments against their thesis- 2 Points