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The French Revolution / King Louis Xvi

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Kristy Stanislawczyk 10/16/07

Global II Honors 9D

The French Revolution

Ð'... And so it began in the year of 1789, a revolution that would change France and all Europe forever. France was renowned for its opulent monarchy that kept stability, but cared more about its possessions rather than its people. The country was sorted by social class which was divided into three estates. The 3rd estate was the largest, consisting of 97% of the population who was poor and resided on only 65% of the total land. Above this was the 2nd estate, which made up 2% of the country's residents, the outstanding nobles. The highest level was the 1st estate. This division was comprised of the high church officials who maintained 10% of the land. It was obvious that the social conditions throughout the country lacked a sense of fairness and with France on the verge of financial collapse flames of change were bound to begin sparking.

From 1787 through 1788 France had what was called the "Bad Harvest." The prices of goods were rising along with unemployment and the country was in utter chaos. The 3rd estate's society was the only people paying the taille, or taxes, and because of this King Louis XVI was forced to call a meeting of the Estate's General for the first time in nearly 150 years. Unfortunately, the higher 3% representatives always vetoed the lower 97%. Therefore nothing changed and the poor were left with the high taxation.

The revolution, as one would know it, occurred in four brutal stages. Stage one was the Moderate Phase of the National Assembly. In the spring of 1789 the National Assembly, mostly higher 3rd estate's men, the bourgeoisies, went to Versailles to draft a new constitution, but found they were locked out. Then they headed over into a nearby tennis court and swore to not leave until their goal was met. The king plotted to fight back, but was overcome when the assembly raided the Bastille, an armory and prison in Paris. In October of that same year The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was passed providing basic liberties for all men and the royal family was moved to be captives in the city of Paris. In 1791 the National Assembly created a limited monarchy where there was still a king, but the Legislative Assembly made the laws. Only men over the age of 25 who paid taxes were permitted to vote and when this angered nearly the whole country the king tried to flee, but was caught. Tragically, then war broke out with Austria because of the fear that these ideas and rebellions would spread out into the bordering countries. Eventually, the Paris Commune rose up and took the king hostage in order to have a voice in suspending the monarchy and redressing the government.

The Radical Phase, phase two, began in 1792 when the Paris Commune was still in control. A new constitution was written and a French Republic was established. King Louis XVI's fate fell into the hands of the Girondins and the Mountains; on January 21st, 1793 he was beheaded through the guillotine. As the country was in disorder, foreign leaders tried to attain French positions, but France created a 12 person congress called the Committee of Public Safety lead by Maximillien Robespierre. This "Reign of Terror" massacred anyone who opposed the Paris Commune. There were 40,000 deaths, 16,000 of which were done by the guillotine. Again the government changed, but this time it was a democracy made of good people where slavery was abolished and people were called citizen and citizeness. Later on 1.1 million soldiers, who made the French army, beat the invaders and overtook the Austrian Netherlands. This phase ended with the death of Robespierre because he instilled fear into the National Convention.

The Directory Phase was the 3rd phase when the National Convention lowered the powers of the Committee of Public Safety. August 1795 another constitution was built. This stated that the new Council of 500 and the Council of Elders would together devise laws that would later be probed by the 5 directors of the upper council. The idea was great until it was put to action and once it was, France was still in corruption. Problems surfaced in and out of the area and no economic solution was found. The end of this phase came after a military coup d'etat and Napoleon Bonaparte began to occupy power.

The fourth and final phase was called the Age of Napoleon. In the early 1790's he worked his way up the levels of the French military and, as a General of the Committee of Public Safety, won countless battles throughout Italy and other places. In 1799 he seized power over the Directory. Bonaparte pretended to have a republic before he



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