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French Revolution

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Chapter 1: Social Causes of the Revolution

PreвЂ"Revolutionary France had a social structure that assigned every individual their “rightful” place before God. In actuality, commoners resented the nobility and the poor resented those above them, whether noble or common. Although the Revolution destroyed noble rank, it did not attempt a social leveling. Tension between haves and haveвЂ"nots festered through the Revolution and beyond. This chapter details these social antagonisms and their political ramifications.

Chapter 2: Monarchy Embattled

From midвЂ"century until the outbreak of the Revolution, the monarchy faced one challenge after another. An attempted assassination of Louis XV in 1757 had, for example, raised questions about monarchical popularity. The philosophes became increasingly critical, and the wives and consorts of the king provided an object of scorn. This chapter details these attacks on the monarchy as well as the royal response.

Chapter 3:The Enlightenment and Human Rights

French revolutionaries, as this chapter shows, drew upon multiple traditions, including such ancient English documents as the Magna Carta, as well more recent influences like the American Revolution. But the French Declaration of Rights and Citizens made human rights even more central than the Americans. As the Revolution unfolded, the French even grappled with rights for women, slaves, and religious minorities.

Chapter 4: Paris and the Politics of Rebellion

No social group played a more dramatic part in the Revolution than the workers of Paris. This chapter describes their early activities in 1789, including the attack on the Bastille in July and their October march on the palace at Versailles. The narrative of popular action continues through the end of the Terror in 1794. This chapter also details the heroes and enemies of the working people as well as their clubs and other organizations.

Chapter 5: Women and the Revolution

Women, as this chapter explains saw the ideals of the Revolution as promising an improvement in their situation. Some even came to see a chance for real equality with men. But the male revolutionaries in charge generally were not interested in addressing women’s rights, which men argued would undercut needed unity. Although women were eventually driven from the public sphere, they did play a large symbolic role, especially as a symbol for liberty.

Chapter 6: The Monarchy Falls

This chapter chronicles the events that led to the executions by guillotine of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in 1793. Although neither was popular on the eve of the Revolution, no one could predict their dethroning, much less their demise in such a short time. Louis XVI, in particular, played a double game at first, collaborating with the revolutionaries while simultaneously conspiring with other crowned heads of Europe to reverse matters. But eventually the revolutionaries and the monarch became sworn enemies, leading first to the overthrow of the king in August 1792, his execution in January 1793, and his wife’s beheading in October.

Chapter 7: War, Terror, and Resistance

Complicating the controversy over the monarch in 1792 was the beginning of the war between France and the royal heads of state in Europe. Totally unprepared for war, the French immediately suffered losses; the popularity of the government, and indeed of the

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