The French Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, and experienced violent periods of political turmoil. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, it profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. There are mainly three aspects of the causes of the French Revolution—political, economic and cultural. The inequality of the French government’s policies in favor of the first two estates is a main factor of the French Revolution. A chart revealing the life of Frenchmen in 1789shows the differences among the nobles, clergies and the Third Estate.
The French Revolution began in 1789. It was about words, and the great Montesquieu’s The Spirit of Laws became the bible for leaders of the French Revolution. On June 17, the Third Estate, the people, declared it is now the National Assembly (Schwartz). They were now the legislature of France. A month passed to bring the fall of the Bastille on July 14.
Similarly to the grands blancs, the petits blancs required to have equal rights as the grands blancs because of their whiteness (Klooster, 88). In April of 1790, the whites formed a General Assembly and declared their sovereign power to Sant-Domingue (Klooster, 97). After the whites, the free people of color and the slaves also required for more political rights. They sent their deputy, a white laywer to the National Assembly to call the government stop the dinstinction between different groups and abolish slavery and slave trade in Sant-Domingue (Klooster, 94-95). After the revolt of the blacks started, the freemen of color made alliance with the whites to fight against the blacks, they got full civid rights on April 4, 1792 (Klooster, 99).
Bastille The Bastille, a medieval fortress located on the east of Paris, was a known as an important trigger to the French Revolution. The Bastille went from being a source of protection to the citizens of French to fearing the Bastille due to the imprisonments from king. It developed from keeping the people alive to the death of hundreds due to a revolution. The development demonstrated the many things that led to the French Revolution and the important symbols of France. The Bastille was built on April 22, 1370, on the orders of Charles V as protection to the city of Paris against any attacks from the the opposing armies.
The National Guard was formed to try and repress the subsequent threat of pillage . The association of an aristocratic plot responsible for the break-down of the whole system in France, with nameless brigands, set a pattern over and over for what was to be a terrible revolution. It must also be noted that the Revolution was not an uprising of the beggars and poor, it was craftsmen and shopkeepers in the towns and peasant proprietors in the countryside . There were other factors involved too in bringing about the French Revolution which lasted almost 10 years from 1789 to the late 1790’s. The extravagant spending of King Louis XVI and his predecessor, France’s costly involvement in the American Revolution, poor cereal harvests for nearly two decades, drought, cattle disease and as already stated, sky rocketing bread prices .
The Stamp Act was a law passed by Parliament in 1765 that required all valid legal documents, as well as newspapers, playing cards, and various other papers, to bear a government- issued stamp. The Stamp Act was the first internal tax Parliament had imposed on the colonies. Protests arose among the colonies. "In October, nine colonies sent delegates to the Stamp Act Congress meeting in New York to coordinate the colonial response. The delegates affirmed their loyalty to the king and their due subordination to Parliament, but then adopted the Declaration of Rights and Grievances (pg 97)" This document declared that taxes imposed on the colonists without their consent were unconstitutional.
“I saw the crown of France laying on the ground, so I picked it up with my sword.” On December 2, 1804, Napoleon Bonaparte boldly crowned himself Emperor of France. He wished to show that he was taking power, not being granted it by the church. From 1804 to 1814, then again in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Napoleon ruled. Much controversy evolved during his reign over whether he was advancing or reversing the spirit of the French Revolution. However, Napoleon’s advances to the French Revolution do outweigh his drawbacks.
King Louis XVI was the ruler at the start of the revolution. The French Republic was created at the National Convention in September 1792. This eliminated the absolute monarchy but to make it official the revolutionaries decided to execute the king by guillotine. “The execution of the king created new enemies for the revolution, both at home and abroad” (Spielvogel). This quote shows the destruction this had on France.
Thus, General Napoleon, now Emperor, took control of the military and defeated Austria on his first Italian campaign. The treaty of Campo Formio was signed, resulting in a territorial gain for Napoleonic France. After The Little Corsican ended the Reign of Terror’s government based around terror itself, legal and political reforms were made to reshape and rebuild France into a new, functional empire. Napoleon overthrew the Directory with his famous Coup d'etat of 18 Brumaire, ending the previous government that revolved around terror. A Consulate was established to act as the government for the new empire.
Tackett in the middle of his book tends to observe the fact that the main reasons behind the King’ decision to flee to the Varennes was because the King was not satisfied about his current position in the country. After the 1789 Revolution and the creation of the constitution, the King’s power was limited and distributed. The King had the feeling that he has already lost his power to National Assembly and his life is in dangerous and he is not safe. As the result of creating a constitutional monarchy, the King was required to share his power. As Tackett in his book states that “the electoral system, patched together by the royal government in 1789, had brought in elites of local, regional, and national stature from every part of the kingdom.”(p. 119) In order to bring back his power, the King planned leaves the country and asks help for foreign army to regain his power and launch a counterrevolutionary against the new republic.