French Revolution Role Play Introduction



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French Revolution Role Play

Introduction:

For the next two days, you will re-enact parts of the French Revolution. You will

act as members of the Estates General of 1789 or the Legislative Assembly of 1791. If you

have a speaking part, you will write a speech for the day that you are assigned addressing

the question of the day.
Speaker Roles:

For your speech you should:

1) Do research on what your character’s views would be (you could even find real quotes

to use, especially for a historical figure)

2) Write a creative speech arguing your position

For Day One : Write an individual speech with your position on:

1. How should the Estates General vote?

2. What should be done to raise money?

For Day Two: Write an individual speech with your position on:

1. What should be done with Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette after they are caught trying to flee from France and plotting with the Austrians to invade and overthrow the revolution.

3) All speeches should be one page and must be historically accurate. All speeches will

be collected and scored at the end of the role play.

4) Practice giving the speech. You will be graded on the appropriateness of your speech,

your impersonation of the role and the drama that you put into your part.


Non Speaker Roles:

If you do not have a speaking part, you need to write a letter (due the day after the

reenactment is over) from the perspective of an old man or woman who lived through

the revolution, explaining it (including the meetings of the Estates General and

Convention) to your grandchildren. This should be one page, typed.
All Roles:

Please try to find some way of dressing up as your part (both days). For members of the

first estate, red robes, a cardinal’s red hat, a bishop’s mitre (tall conical hat) or a large

crucifix would be appropriate. The King and Queen would of course have crowns and the

finest clothes imaginable. Members of the second estate would wear bright colors, a long

jacket, a white lace collar or neckerchief, breeches (pants that stop at the knee) and white

stockings and a large hat with a feather. Members of the third estate had to wear black

and white, but the wealthy could still wear a neckerchief and silk stockings and a white

powdered wig. But the poorer members might wear long pants (how embarrassing!), a

cloth cap and a short jacket.



Reenactment Schedule

Day One:

Introduction: Estates General May 1789

Greetings representatives of the three Estates of France. Welcome to the palace

of Versailles. Our noble King Louis XVI has called you to appear here to solve the

desperate fiscal problems that our government faces. Due to necessary expenses and our

generosity toward our allies, the Americans, in the recent successful war against Britain,

the government is greatly in debt. The Assembly of Notables called recently advised the

King that in order to tax the nobility and church (who have until now been exempt from

most taxes), it would be necessary to gain the approval of the Estates General. The King

has graciously agreed to do so. But this representative institution has not met for 175 years, so its procedures are uncertain. You are to meet and discuss both the procedures for making decisions and make a decision on how to raise revenue. The King has advised that the Estates meet in the traditional manner, but on the advice of his advisor Monsieur Necker, the King has agreed to double the number of representatives from the Third Estate. You must decide:

• Whether to meet in separate estates (as was done when the estates met before) or all

together.

• Whether voting is to be done by estate (each estate having one vote to be determined by

its majority) or by head (each person has one vote).

• How to raise money for the government. If there are to be new taxes who is to pay

them?

Speeches: Students present their speeches on the matter to be decided. (Some are in

favor and some are against.) Then vote.



Order of speakers:

1. King Louis XVI 6. Pere Trespauvre

2. Jacques Necker 7. Baron de Montesquieu

3. Cardinal Mondieu 8. Voltaire

4. Duke of Condé 9. Jacques Paysan

5. Monsieur Bourgeois 10. Abbe Sieyes



Vote

Day Two:

Introduction: Flash Forward November, 1791

Members of the Legislative Assembly

As you all know the Revolution started over two years ago and the Estates-

General became the National Assembly and has written a constitution to guarantee

“Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité” for all Frenchmen. The constitution describes how a

new government should be formed, with several branches, as advised by Montesquieu.

The King retains power as head of the executive branch, but his power is checked by the

legislative branch of the Legislative Assembly, which is elected by the people. Over the

past few months, the people of France have elected you as representatives. The first issue at hand is what to do about the King. Several months ago, (June 1791) the King and his family tried to leave France. Fortunately they were stopped at the border and brought back to Paris. But it is clear that the King no longer supports the revolution. Some suspect that he was hoping to gain the support of Austria and other nations and to use their armies to invade our country, overthrow the revolutionary government and reinstate himself as an absolute monarch or tyrant! Today you must decide:

• Should the king retain his position as head of the executive branch of the government,

with the power to veto acts of this assembly? Should he keep all the lands, palaces and

privileges of King? If not who will head the executive branch and how should the

government be reorganized?

• Should the king be punished for his recent actions and if so how?



Speeches: Students present their speeches on the matter to be decided, and then vote.

Order of Speakers:

1. Count Mirabeau (President of the Legislative Assembly) 5. Marquis de Lafayette

2. Georges Danton 6. Jean Paul Marat

3. Marie Antoinette 7. Olympe de Gouges

4. Pierre Sansculottes 8. Maximillian Robespierre

Defense: King and Queen will be allowed to defend themselves.

Debate among the Representatives.

Vote to Deal with the King!

Assignment Pts. 100 pts. Total

Costume (both days) 30pts

Letter or Speech 30 pts.

Participation (both days) 40pts.

(Engaged, listening and in character)



Resources:

Censer, J.R., & Hunt, L. (2001). Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: Exploring the French Revolution. University Park, PA (The Pennsylvania State University Press).
http://modernworldhistory.org/unit-3/item/9-lesson-1-the-french-revolution-1789-%E2%80%93-1791.html


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