Vii. Causes of the French Revolution

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VII. Causes of the French Revolution

A. France had numerous financial problems that led to the

start of the revolt.

1. King Louis XVI was in debt due to wasteful

spending and war.

2. There was an industrial depression meaning

that almost 50% of people in urban areas were


3. Successive bad harvest created food shortages

that led to high prices and starvation.

B. Based on these conditions, France was almost


1. Bankrupt means that you do not have enough

money to pay off your debt.

C. One solution to the problem was to raise taxes.

D. The social and financial unrest caused King Louis

to call the Estates-General for the first time in

175 years.

1. This was the French legislature that had to

approve the King’s request for more money.

2. They did not meet for this long because the King

did not need them for any reason, but now he


E. Estates-General

1. Is made up of Three Estates

2. They are:

a. First Estate-Clergy

b. Second Estate-Nobles/Aristocrats

c. Third Estate-Everyone else

3. It was the Third Estate that was expected to pay

taxes since the First and Second did not.

4. Each of the Estates was asked to bring

cahiers-notebooks to the meeting.

a. Cahiers were to include complaints from

each of the Estates.

5. The Estates were to have equal representation

and voting at the meeting, but the First and

Second Estate made a rule requiring only

property owners to be able to vote at the


a. This eliminated most members of the Third


6. As a result the Third Estate walked out of the

Estates-General and form the National


a. The next day, the National Assembly’s

meeting hall was shut down by the king.

b. The new National Assembly then met on a

nearby tennis court and made the Tennis

Court Oath

1. The National Assembly would meet

regularly and at any place they had to

until they had a fair constitution for


2. They agreed to stay united, as well.

VIII. Beginning of the French Revolution

A. Storming of the Bastille

  1. Bastille was a fortress used as a prison in Paris, France

  2. The Bastille was a symbol to the people of France representing years of abuse by the monarchy.

  3. The storming happened on July 14, 1789. Now France celebrates “Bastille Day” every year as their independence day.

  4. The storming was considered the event that started the French Revolution.

  5. On July 14, 1789 an angry french mob surrounded the Bastille after finding out the king’s guards were surrounding the city.

a. This was not true, but they thought it was.

  1. In hopes of getting weapons, they surrounded the bastille and eventually attacked.

  2. They broke through their defenses and freed the handful of prisoners

  3. It turns out that at Bastille they held no weapons of the French.

  4. This event signifies the start of the French Revolution, and is celebrated in France today as Bastille Day.

a. July 14 is the equivalent in France to our

July 4.
B. National Assembly

1. One month after the Bastille the National

Assembly passed the Declaration of Rights of


2. Similar to US Declaration of Independence

3. Includes:

a. Three Estates were abolished

b. All people are equal under the law

c. Freedom of speech, religion, press

d. Separation of Power

e. Taxation only by consent

IX. Problems with Revolt

Do Not Edit

A. There were many groups fighting to gain control

of the revolution, which led to disorder and


1. One group called Jacobins gained control.

a. They changed the name of the National

Assembly to the National Convention.

2. Another group called Girondists wanted the

revolution to spread to other countries.

B. Robespierre and Reign of Terror

1. He was a key figure to the French Revolution

as well as the Reign of Terror.

a. He promoted religious toleration and

wanted slavery to be abolished.

b. Member of Committee of Public Safety

1. an elite group within the Convention

established to deal with the crisis

c. Led the Reign of Terror from

September 1793 to July 1794

d. he thought “liberty could not be secured

unless people lose their heads”

e. As leader of the Committee of Public Safety

he was placed in charge of the revolution.

f. Invented the Guillotine

2. He began his Reign of Terror by seeking out

those who were opposed to the revolt.

3. Opponents were placed on trial and thousands

were executed during this time.

4. He became too powerful and the Committee

was concerned for their own safety.

1. He was arrested and executed by the

guillotine, himself a victim of the revolt.
C. Olympe de Gouges

1. Beliefs

a. Demanded equal rights in her ‘Declaration

of Rights of Woman’ and ‘The Female


1. “Woman is born free and her rights are

the same as those of man”

2. “all citizens, be they men or women,

being equal in the state’s eyes, must be

equally eligible for all public offices,

positions, and jobs.

b. Was very upset about the Declaration of

the Rights of Man

1.It gave rights to the men but nothing to


2. in The Declaration of the Rights

of Woman and of the Female Citizen she

used the Declaration of the Rights of

Man and replaced man with women in it

3. Outcomes

a. Later in the revolution met resistance for

expressing their views and public, many

including Gouges were imprisoned and


D. Result of the Revolt

1. A spirit of nationalism began in France

a. Feeling of pride in one’s country.

b. People believe their country is the best in

the world.

2. Catholic church became less important.

D. Napoleon

1. After the Reign of Terror, The Directory was created

to rule France.

a. Made up of 5 men who ruled France

b. Over time the Directory was overthrown by

Napoleon and others.

2. Directory was replace by the Consulate

a. Run by three men with Napoleon named First


b. Napoleon tells everyone that he is going to turn

France into a republic- a form of government

where the people chose representatives to make

decisions for them

c. In reality it was more like a dictatorship- one

ruler with absolute power gained by force.

1. Usually with military help

3. Napoleon then took the title Emperor-one ruler with

absolute power who is worshipped as a god.

a. Became Emperor only after a plebiscite- ballot

where people vote on a question.

b. The question was whether Napoleon should

have the title Emperor, and the people voted


4. He was an enlightened despot

a. He created the Napoleonic Code

1. All people are equal under the law

2. Freedom of religion.

3. Law was standardized-same for everyone

4. Started public schools and built new roads.

5. Government officials were chosen based on

merit and not who they knew.

a. In other words you had to prove you

deserved the position.

5. Napoleon Falls

a. Mostly due to wars that put France back where

they started at the start of the revolution with

huge debt.

X. Industrial Revolution

A. Revolution means a quick or sudden change.

1. Therefore, this term refers to the changes that

took place with industry. Going from goods

being produced by hand to using machines in


2. Science was being used to create machines that

would meet human needs.

a. This is called technology.

3. New forms of energy rans machines and sped

up production. Leads in time to the assembly


B. Problems

1. Leads to urbanization- a mass movement of

people from rural to urban areas to find

work in factories.

2. Cities were not prepared to handle this quick

increase in population.

3. Overcrowded conditions and poor sanitation


4. Tenements appeared

a. Multi-story buildings with small

overcrowded apartments.

XI. Issues Relating to Workers

A. Poor Working Conditions

1. Worked many hours a day and were poorly


2. Women and Children were paid less than men.

3. Children worked in the mines.

B. Poor Living Conditions

1. Lived in overcrowded tenements.

2. No sanitation to speak of. Waste was thrown in


a. Resulted in disease

C. Conditions eventually led to protests.

B. John Wesley

A. Early Life

1. Father was an Anglican clergy member

2. Escaped fire thought he was destined to find a

special purpose in the world

3. Wesley tutored graduates at Lincoln College at

Oxford, Wesley’s brother and peers created a

study group which turned into the nickname

“methodists” because of the concerned

pattern which they worshipped
B. Methodism

1. Wesley was creator of Methodism

2. Anglican church would not accept him so began

field preaching - preaching in public places

3. Methodist message: poor could gain access to

God’s kingdom in heaven as easily as the upper


4. Wesley’s teachings spread through Europe;

used pamphlets and traveled to spread the


5. Followers went into urban areas to read the bible.

6. Encouraged people to have faith and live a good

moral life and eventually their lives would improve.

7. Improved literacy rates as a result and started

social reforms.

a. Improvements in the way people lived their

daily life.

C. Thomas Malthus

A. Malthusian theory of population

1. Said the world’s progress will be limited by the

inability of the global food supply to keep pace with

population growth

2. The poor should not have children because there

would not be enough food

a. If they did, they were economically irresponsible

b. Economy would be ruined

D. David Ricardo

1. Agrees with Thomas Malthus’s theory- population “is

faster” than food

2. Workers’ Children

a. Should not have children because there would not

be enough jobs for their children.

b. Would contribute to a poor economy for workers to

produce more workers(children) because it would

cause high unemployment, which is irresponsible.

E. Jeremy Bentham

1. He is known as the founder of Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism: the philosophy, where by the best actions and policies are defined as those that promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people

a. He was unhappy with the British government and

thought that the government should do things that

are in the best interest for the most people.

F. John Stuart Mill

1. Believed that the ultimate goal in the public policy

should always be general happiness

2. Utilitarian philosopher

3. Believed that women should have equal rights as men.

a. Including women’s suffrage

4. Emphasized that the government should be utilitarian in laws passed to help workers.

a. Only the owners were profiting and happy,

therefore the government should help the workers

find happiness by passing laws to help improve

their lives.

G. Robert Owen

1. socialism- people as a whole rather than private individuals (capitalism) would own and operate the means of productions, farms, factories, railways

2. New Harmony

1. A model community to practice his beliefs

a. Socialism vs. individual system/

b. Everyone shared property/no private property

c. Focused on the importance of community

d. Didn’t believe that young kids should be

working in factories

3. He was a utopian socialist

B. New Lanark

a. Helped start the community in Scotland

b. Didn’t believe that young kids should be

working in factories

H. Karl Marx and

Frederich Engels

1. Karl Marx was born in 1818 in Treves, Prussia

(now Germany).

a. Became friends with Frederick Engels who

shared his beliefs on Communism.

b. Together they wrote the Communist Manifesto,

which talked about how class struggle was the

force driving forward progress in History.

a. Important thinker of the 1800’s, len to

him being the founder of Communism

b. Believed class struggle was unavoidable

because of the situation with the “haves” and

“have nots”

2. His ideas became Marxism, and this was the model

Lenin used to bring communism to Russia in the early


B. Friedrich Engels

1. Close friend and Collaborator with Marx

2. Arguably the most important social theorist of

the 19th century

3. Engels also contributed to the Marxist Political


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