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Crisis in France in 1789. In France, ideological fervor for change had been growing from the mid-18th century. Enlightenment thinkers called for limitations upon aristocratic and church power and for an increased voice for ordinary citizens. Middle-class people wanted a greater political role, while peasants desired freedom from landlord exactions. The government and ruling elite proved incapable of reform. Louis XVI called a meeting of the long-ignored traditional parliament but lost control of events to middle-class representatives during 1789. The proclamation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen by the assembly and the storming of the Bastille were important events in the evolution of a new regime. After peasants acted on their own to redress grievances, the assembly abolished serfdom and established equality before the law. Aristocratic principles were undercut, and church privileges were attacked and its property seized. A parliament with male voting rights based on property limited royal authority.

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