Vce history The French Revolution Timeline of Key Events/People/Concepts Revolution

Area of Study 1 – Revolutionary ideas, leaders, movements and events (1781-August 1789)

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Area of Study 1 – Revolutionary ideas, leaders, movements and events (1781-August 1789)




Historical Interpretation

19 Feb 1781

Controller General Necker’s Compte Rendu

July 1782

Louis imposes an additional direct (vingtieme) tax on income for 1783-1786 to pay for American War

3 Sep 1783

Treaty of Versailles signed by France

Ending conflict with Britain over the American colonies


Calonne appointed Finance Minister

Aug 1785

Diamond Necklace Affair

20 Aug 1786

Colonne proposes financial reforms to the King

22 Feb 1787

Meeting of Assembly of Notables

8 April 1787

Calonne dismissed and replaced by Brienne (Finance Minister)


Bad harvest

3 May 1788

Paris parlement states that the King has a duty to submit new laws to the parlements and the new taxes can only be imposed by agreement with the nations, as represented by the Estates-General – 5 days later (8 May) – King tries to disempower parlements by redefining their role

June-July 1788

First phase of the revolution – the noble revolt – law courts defy the King and town populations demonstrate in favour of the parlements/judges

16 Aug 1788

Royal treasury suspends payments -Bankruptcy equivalent

24 Aug 1788

Brienne dismissed and the more popular Necker is recalled

25 Sept 1788

Paris Parlement reinstated – They demand the Estates General meet and vote by order

Oct-Dec 1788

Assembly of Notables meets again and discuss Estates General organisation. In December they agree to the doubling of representatives from the Third Estate

Feb 1789

Abbe Sieyes publication ‘What is the Third Estate?’


Feb-May 1789

Drafting of books of ‘Grievances’ (Cahier de doleances)

27/28 April 1789

Reveillon factory destroyed

5 May 1789

Estates General (King maintains honorific distinctions between orders)

6 May 1789

Voting controversy – by order or by head – Third Estate want by head

20-22 May 1789

Clergy and nobility agree to equality in taxation

17 June 1789

Declaration of National Assembly by the Third Estate

20 June 1789

Tennis Court Oath

23 June 1789

Louis orders Royal Session of estates

27 June 1789

National Assembly’s resistance to Louis’ orders – three order unite

30 June 1789

King orders troops to Paris resulting in protests (2-10 July). King refuses to withdraw them

11 July 1789

Necker dismissed

11-13 July 1789

Increasing agitation in Paris. Revolt of the urban working classes – Desmoulins exhorts the people to arm themselves

14 July 1789

Fall of Bastille

20 July – 4 Aug 1789

The Great Fear – Peasant revolt – escalation of rumour and fear in country areas leads to rural rebellions

4 Aug 1789

National Assembly - Abolition of Feudalism

Area of Study 2 – Creating a new society (Aug 1789-1795)




Historical Interpretation

26 Aug 1789

Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen

5-6 Oct 1789

March of Women to Versailles – King and Royal family then Assembly move to Paris

Nov 1789

Sale/Nationalisation of Church property/lands

12 July 1790

Civil Constitution of the Clergy decreed

  • Church and Clergy

  • Assembly

20 June 1791

Royal family flee to Varennes

  • Royal family

  • European Monarchs

17 July 1791

Champ de Mars massacre

  • Lafayette

  • Jacobins and Cordeliers

14 Sep 1791

First French Constitution

  • Assembly

  • King

Oct 1 1791

Legislative Assembly – 1791 Oct 1

April 1792 (to 1794)

France declares War on Austria

July 1792

Brunswick Manifesto

10 Aug 1792

Storming of Tuileries and massacre of Swiss Guard

2-6 Sep 1792

September prison massacres

22 Sept 1792

France becomes a Republic

21 Jan 1793

King Louis XVI executed

Feb 1793

France declares war on Britain and Holland

March 1793

Provincial revolt

April 1793

Committee of Public Safety created

June -July 1794

(Jacobin) Reign of Terror

2 June 1793

Purge of Girondin deputies from National Convention

24 June 1793

1793 Constitution accepted

July 1793

Marat assassinated

July 1793

Robespierre (Jacobin) becomes a member of the Committee of Public Safety

Sept 1793

‘Law of Suspects’ and ‘Maximum; policies introduced

Oct/Nov 1793

Guillotining of Jacobin’s (Montagnards) political opponents

Mar-April 1794

Guillotining of revolutionary leaders

June 1794

Festival of the Supreme Being

July 1794

Coup of Thermidor II

  • Robespierre’s terror continued even after the war with Austria had ended

  • Robespierre declared that the Convention needed to be purged of traitors

  • 27-28 July - Robespierre arrested and guillotined

  • A return of Girondins to Convention and moderation

July 1794-Oct 1795

  • Thermidorean Reaction - campaign to destroy the Jacobin’s control on politics and the society they had created – Men like Freron, Tallien, Vadier and Ysabeau, who led the coup against Robespierre, tried to gain power in The National Convention (after Robespierre’s fall)

  • Thermidorean Period – Period from 9 Thermidor Year 11 (27-28 July 1794) to 4 Brumaire Year IV (26 Oct, 1795), the date on which the National Convention was dissolved.

Aug-Oct 1795

Third Constitution (22 August)

  • Robespierre’s influence, instruments and policies abandoned

  • The end (dissolution) of the National Convention (26 Oct)

2 Nov 1795

The Directory established






Period of The Directory

Conservative republic destabilised by powerful political forces of both the left and the right.


Coup D’état of Napoleon

1800 to 1814/5

Napoleon Bonaparte emperor


Return of Louis XVII (brother of Louis XVI)


Charles IX (The Restoration)


July Monarchy


Revolution and a Second Republic


Conservative backlash and rise of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (Second Empire)


Another revolution (Paris Commune) – Third Republic


Rise of true republican party


Century of Bastille 1889 – ‘True republicans’ hold festival – legalisation of singing Marseillaise. Third Republic lasted until Hitler’s invasion of France in 1940

Francois Furet states ‘the French Revolution has sailed home to port’ in the sense that some of the ideals of the French Revolution had been brought into reality and within the context of the republican political system.’ (Adcock page 193)

Some Key People

  • Louis XIV (1643-1715) – ‘The Sun King’

  • Louis XV (1715-1774)

Areas of Study 1

  • Louis XVI (1754 -1793)

  • Marie Antoinette (1755 -1793)

  • Children (4) of Louis and Marie Antoinette

    • Marie-Thérèse-Charlotte: 19 December 1778 – 19 October 1851

    • Louis-Joseph-Xavier-François: 22 October 1781 – 4 June 1789

    • Louis-Charles (the future titular King Louis XVII of France): 27 March 1785 – 8 June 1795

    • Sophie-Hélène-Béatrix: 9 July 1786 – 19 June 1787

  • Jacques Necker (1732-1804)

  • Charles Alexandre de Calonne (1734-1802)

  • Abbe Sieyes (1748-1836)

  • Comte de Mirabeau (1749-1791)

Critical thinkers and writers of Enlightenment (some produced/contributed to Encyclopedie)

  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

  • Voltaire (1694-1778) (Francois-Maries d’Arouet)

  • Charles-Louis Secondat Montesquieu (1689-1755) (from Anthea) He saw despotism, as a standing danger for any government not already despotic, and argued that it could best be prevented by a system in which different bodies exercised legislative, executive, and judicial power, and in which all those bodies were bound by the rule of law. This theory of the separation of powers had an enormous impact on liberal political theory, and gave an example of a different form of government that was to be considered. (from James G) Montesquieu held a number of controversial views according to the people of France. He resolutely accepted the role of a hereditary aristocracy. He also accepted that if women would be able to head up a government, he stated that she would not be as effective as a man would, much to the angst of some people in France.

  • Denis Diderot (1713-1784) Denis Diderot Master of Arts Degree in Philosophy , Wrote a novel called La Religieuse, The editor of the Encyclopédie. Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things

  • Jean le Rond d’Alembert (1717-1783) French mathematician, physicist and philosopher. He met Denis Diderot at the salon of Julie De Lespinasse. He was abandoned a couple of days after birth, The editor of the Encyclopédie. Just go on…and faith will soon return

They believed that God was an utterly useless idea in science and philosophy and believed it was the cause of disagreement and cruelty. They regarded the church as the ‘guardian of superstition and the divinely ordained authority of the old regime.’

Diderot and d’Alembert was the editor of the Encyclopédie, which was perhaps the greatest publishing project known until this time. The aim of the publication was to classify all useful knowledge known to man. The encyclopaedia was published in illegal presses, which meant they were publishing things against the authorities and most importantly against the orders of the church. (from Em)
Diderot & d’Alembert (From Jack)

Although directly responsible for the nurturing of enlightenment through his position as editor of the ‘Encyclopedie’ Diderot held strong, anti progression views. He believed that a persons role in society was defined by hereditary means. Diderot held highly unconventional views where by he did not quite side with the church or monarchy, yet was also openly opposed to the ideas of reason brought forward by d’Alembert, instead resting on his wholly materialistic views of the universe.

d’Alembert, similarly to Diderot did not believe religion to be the omnipotent force of the world. He sought to bring forth a variety of view points, sourcing from his love of reason, carried by the mediums of mathematics and science.

Area of Study 2

  • Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1832)

  • Jean-Sylvain Bailly (1736-1793)

  • Georges-Jacques Danton (1759-1794)

  • Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793)

  • Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794)

  • Camille Desmoulins (1760-1794)

  • Jacques Hebert (1757-1794)

Some Key Historians
Marxist Historians

(Interpretation based upon Karl Marx’s view of the pattern of history – revolution not an isolated event but a sign that France was making the transition from a feudal to a capitalist system - suggests patterned - inevitability - Adcock page 2)

  • George Rude

  • George Lefebvre

  • Albert Soboul

Revisionist Historians

(Regarded revolution as an ‘accident’ in the historical sense and that, although the revolution took place, it was not ‘inevitable’ – Adcock page 2)

  • Alfred Cobban

  • William Doyle

  • Simon Schama

1 Thompson, S. vcehistory info (Internet) at 27/2/09

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