What were the primary complaints of the French peasantry in 1788?
French peasants had many complaints. They complained of the high cost of bread and the high taxes they bore supporting both the French Crown. A further source of irritation was that the nobles owned the land on which the peasants farmed, but didn't pay any taxes.
Although the French peasants made up 80% of the population, they had little political power.
What was the French government's financial position in 1788?
The French government was in serious financial straits. Expenses from the Seven Years' War and support for the American Revolution, high government spending under Louis XIV, and the inability to tax nobles and the clergy had brought the French government to the brink of bankruptcy.
In 1789, Louis XVI summoned the Estates-General to Versailles to address France's problems. What was the Estates-General?
The Estates-General was the national assembly of France, which had not met since 1614. Louis XVI looked to the Estates-General to provide solutions to the government's dire fiscal position.
What three estates made up the Estates-General?
The three estates of the Estates-General were the clergy (the First Estate), the nobility (the Second Estate), and the common people (the Third Estate).
Some 96% of France's populace comprised the Third Estate, and in recognition of its size, Louis XVI provided it with double the number of representatives of the First and Second Estates.
In January 1789, Abbé Sieyès, a French clergyman elected to the Third Estate (instead of the First), published What is the Third Estate? What did Sieyès argue?
Sieyès argued that the First and Second Estates were completely unnecessary to France's well being, and that the Third Estate was the only legitimate representative of the French people.
Why did the Third Estate leave the Estates-General in June of 1789?
During the early days of the Estates-General, the first two estates proposed that votes should be taken by estate, rather than by head.
This meant that there would only be three votes, and the First and Second Estates would always be able to vote down any proposal from the Third Estate. Outraged, the Third Estate left the assembly and met at a nearby tennis court.
In June of 1789, members of France's Third Estate in the Estates-General took the Tennis Court Oath. What did they swear to do?
At a tennis court at Versailles, the Third Estate declared themselves France's National Constituent Assembly and swore an oath not to disband until they'd composed and adopted a written constitution.
On July 9, 1789, Louis XVI recognized the Assembly's authority.
On July 14, 1789, Parisian rioters searching for arms and ammunition attacked what symbol of royal authority?
The Bastille, which was a large fortress in the heart of Paris. The Bastille was a highly visible symbol of royal authority. On the morning of July 14, 1789, some 1,000 Parisians gathered at the Bastille's gates and demanded that the guns inside be turned over to them.
The rioters attacked, and 90 of them died before the Bastille surrendered. The Storming of the Bastille is regarded as the beginning of the French Revolution.
In August 1789, France's new National Assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a statement of principles of the new government. What did the declaration provide?
The declaration emphasized natural rights endowed in man by virtue of being human. The salient points of the declaration provided that all men were born and remain free and equal in their rights. It provided for freedom of religion, the press, speech, and guaranteed the right to be secure from arbitrary arrest and to petition the government.
What work is considered the founding document of modern European feminism?
In 1792, English authoress Mary Wollstonecraft penned A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, taking as her inspiration the freedom offered by the French Revolution.
Olympe de Gouges, another early feminist, argued in her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen that women should be afforded the same rights as French men. The government rejected her proposal.
Prodded by his wife, Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI and his family attempted to flee France in June of 1791. Where were they headed?
Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and their family were headed for Austria, where Marie Antoinette's brother ruled. They managed to escape Paris but were captured at the small town of Varennes.
Louis XVI and his family were accused of being traitors, and the French monarch's credibility as a constitutional monarch was placed in jeopardy.
How did Austria and Prussia react to the outbreak of the French Revolution?
Austria and Prussia declared that the restoration of absolute monarchy in France was in the interest of all the European sovereigns. In response, the French National Assembly declared war on Austria and Prussia, creating an army composed of citizen recruits, rather than professional soldiers.
Who were the Jacobins?
During the early days of the French Revolution, the Jacobins were those members of the National Assembly who demanded that the King be removed and a republic declared.
The Jacobins opposed burgeoning wars with Austria and Prussia and relied for support upon the Paris radicals known as the sans-culottes.
Who were the sans-culottes?
The sans-culottes were urban left-wing radicals who dominated Paris during the French Revolution. The sans-culottes included laborers, small artisans, and shopkeepers.
Sans is French for "without" and culottes were silk knee breeches worn by the upper class. Instead of silk knee breeches the sans-culottes wore pants.
In the summer of 1792, the sans-culottes seized control of Paris and intimidated the National Assembly to call for new elections to a National Convention, in which all male voters over 21 could participate. The goal of the National Convention would be to draft a new constitution for a republic. The National Convention's first act was to abolish the monarchy and declare a republic.
By the spring of 1793, the National Convention was faced with domestic unrest and surrounded by foreign enemies. How did the Convention seek to defeat these threats?
Dominated by the Jacobins, the Convention organized an emergency government, The Committee of Public Safety.
The Committee of Public Safety exercised absolute control over the government, decreeing maximum prices for food and reorganizing the army both to quash domestic disturbances and to withstand attacks by the nations allied against France.
Who was Maximilien Robespierre?
Robespierre was the head of the Committee of Public Safety and dedicated himself to remaking France.
Robespierre decreed the Law of the Maximum (a price control system), instituted the Republic of Virtue, and led the Reign of Terror. Robespierre was so dedicated to remaking France that he went so far as to create a new French calendar and a new French religion, the Cult of the Supreme Being.
Reign of Terror
Guided by Maximilien Robespierre, the Reign of Terror took place in 1793 to 1794. Directed originally at royalists, the Reign of Terror soon consumed anyone denounced as a counter-revolutionary as Robespierre sought to remake France into a Republic of Virtue.
Some 25,000 victims lost their lives during the terror, 17,000 on the guillotine, before Robespierre was overthrown in 1794.
What group followed the Committee of Public Safety as France's governing body?
A five-member moderate government, known as the Directory, ruled France after the chaos of the Reign of Terror.
Although unpopular, the Directory stabilized the military situation and brought some measure of order to France's internal affairs.
In 1799, the Directory was overthrown by a group led by Abbé Sieyès and Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte was named First Consul and soon exercised near absolute authority over France.
What reforms did Napoleon Bonaparte undertake?
Napoleon Bonaparte established free, universal public education under the guidance of the state. He also directed the completion of the Code Napoleon, the first complete codification of French law. The Code Napoleon provided for freedom of conscience and property rights.
Although he established some domestic reforms, for what talent is Napoleon best known?
Napoleon is best known as a military leader and conquered much of Europe between 1805 and 1811.
Done in by a combination of British naval power, an ill-advised invasion of Russia, and a guerrilla war in Spain, Napoleon's gains were eventually rolled back. Defeated by a six-nation army at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon was exiled.
Napoleon is also known for being short, although he was 5 foot 7 inches, which was an average height for his day.
In post-Napoleonic Europe, the major nation-states were dedicated to conservatism. What is conservatism?
Conservatism emphasizes traditions such as monarchy, aristocracy, and religion as society's bedrocks. European conservatives in the 19th century believed in gradual change and supported hierarchical rule by those whose birth, wealth, or intellects they believed made them better able to govern.
What was the Congress of Vienna?
The Congress of Vienna was a meeting of European leaders to settle the peace in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars, beginning in 1814. The Congress redrew the map of Europe, restored pre-revolutionary governments (including a re-established French monarchy), and agreed to maintain the balance of power.
What was the German Confederation?
Established at the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the German Confederation was a cooperative agreement comprising the 39 German states and was dominated by Austria and Prussia. The German Confederation was designed to coordinate intra-German policy and mutual protection.
Between 1815 and 1848, the major European powers often acted together to resolve European diplomatic and political issues. What was this system called?
Since the Great Powers acted in concert (together), this system is known as the Concert of Europe. Any of the Great Powers could propose a congress at which major European diplomatic and political concerns were discussed.
The Concert of Europe marked the first time the major powers acted collectively to ensure international tranquility.
What was Chartism?
Chartism (which got its name from the People's Charter to Parliament) was a working-class reform movement in Britain, which began in the 1830s.
Among the Chartists' demands were universal male suffrage, a secret ballot, annual Parliamentary elections, and reforms to open up Parliament to working-class membership. Although Parliament refused to negotiate with the Chartists, most of the Chartists' proposals were adopted by 1885.
Nationalism refers to a belief that a person's supreme loyalty belongs to the nation, a people united by a common language, culture, and history. Nationalists seek to establish states composed of all members of a given nation.
Risorgimento (Italian for "resurgence") was the 19th-century movement for Italian unity and independence.
In February of 1848, riots erupted in Paris, eventually leading to the abdication of the French King and the declaration of the Second French Republic. What caused the riots?
The riots were caused by many factors. Up to a third of Parisians were unemployed, poor harvests had led to increased prices for food, and many citizens could not vote.
Similar situations existed in a number of other European countries and revolution spread quickly, driven by impatience with the slow pace of change and social and economic upheavals resulting from the Industrial Revolution.
What were the only two major European countries to avoid violent uprisings in 1848?
Only Britain and Russia avoided violent uprisings in 1848.
Britain had already made reforms similar to those sought by revolutionaries in other countries. The populace had sufficient confidence in Parliament to continue the reform program, such that no uprising took place.
In Russia, the stability of the regime prevented the formation of a nascent revolutionary movement.
In 1848, revolutions took place throughout Italy. What was the primary purpose of the revolutionaries?
The Italian revolutionaries demanded a united Italy. Initially, they achieved some success, but intervention by the French and the Austrians crushed the revolts in 1849.