The French Revolution: Part 1 Chapter 19 EQ: What were the causes of the French Revolution? What...
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- The French Revolution: Part 1 Chapter 19 EQ: What were the causes of the French Revolution? What were the early attempts to reform French government and why did they fail?
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- Introduction The most important fact about the French Revolution was that it was a FAILURE France was attempting to become a Republicit became a dictatorship, followed by an absolute empire, followed by a monarchy once again in 1821 For the psyche of France, it did more harm than goodit created unintended victims (WHO LOST THEIR HEADS!) The ultimate goal of the revolution was to topple Absolutism in France and create a Constitutional Monarchy The first French constitution only lasted 10 monthsthe next one only a few yearsFYI, France is currently on its FIFTH constitution France also had what was the most intricate, sophisticated and yet complicated government in France, divided by 3 groups (Estates)this complication benefitted yet also hurt French politics Who ultimately benefitted from the French Revolution? Those that wished to preserve and create individual rights Those that supported non-violent political activism Those that sought true political representation, no matter how insigniciant
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- The State of French Politics - 1789 Absolute Monarchyruled by Louis XVI, still through the divine right as extended by his great great grandfather Louis XIVunfortunately, Louis XIV was not a great absolutistthe far flung corners of the French kingdom had come to ignore the central rule of Paris The Estates General (French Parliament) Made up of 3 groups: The Church, the Nobility, the commoners Chief power was granting/approving the taxes requested by the king The ENTIRE Estates General had not met as one whole body since 1610it was now being called back together by Louis XVI to help solve his problems Parlements Law courts in France, staffed by officers whose positions were basically bought and paid for NOT elected These courts were responsible for enforcing the law, collecting taxes, etc., basically the local administrative functions of the central government
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- Social Layers Nobility Only represented 2% of the population Most were attached to Versailles/Court Those that were not at court lived on extensive land holdings There were some poor nobles! Bourgeoisie The emerging upper and middle classes that consisted of bankers/financiers, entrepreneurs, merchants, doctors, lawyers, etc. and most lived in urban areas (Paris) Peasants Rural laborers many who were still attached to those large landed estates or if not attached had very small tracts of land from which they scraped a living and paid high taxes
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- Impacts of the Enlightenment France was the home of the Enlightenment! Montesquieu and The Spirit of Law (1748) advocated a moderate checked monarchy Voltaire of course lambasted the French monarchy as ineffective and subservient to the Catholic Church, not the people Rousseau promoted his social contract, that government needed to work for the greater good of the society as a whole (General Will = EQUALITY) All of these thinkers had their works published and were well read by all branches of French society by the end of the 18 th C
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- The Sparks that Start the Fire Involvement in wars caused the monarchy to demand new taxes Louis XV had fought the Seven Years Warhis son supported the American Revolution Louis XVIs finance minister, Jacques Necker, said there was plenty of money in the budget for war! BUT, he also made the gaffe of revealing that $$$ was given out for pensions for aristocrats and court favorites (Compte Rendu) Neckers successor, Charles Calonne, actually discovered that the crown and France was BANKRUPTpeople immediately wanted Necker back, thinking Calonne was a goofbut he was virtually telling the truth! The winters of 1777-1778 and 1788-1789 Bad weather, extended winter storms prevented successful grain harvests in France, driving the prices of food upwardof course, Mercantilist policies did NOT promote importation! Add to this, economists (Physiocrats) in good weather crop seasons raised the value of wheat, thinking that more farmers would produce itthis did not happen!
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- SAVE THE MONARCHY!!! Charles Calonne was fired in April 1787 and replaced by Archbishop Charles Briennehe was a liberal reformer and considered the last savior of the monarchy Brienne enacted several non-economic reforms He proposed a revised version of the Edict of Nantes to satisfy the Protestants He reformed the criminal code to prohibit torture and give the accused rights (8 th Amendment) Briennes Economic reformsnot so good Created a real budget that was detailedit reveled a deficit, one that ended up paying interest back on war loans Louis XVI inevitably endorsed Calonnes tax reforms, instituting new types of taxes (Stamp Tax, new land taxes)the Estates General rejects the planLouis XVI dissolves parliament Result: Louis XVI goes ABSOLUTE Many Parlements and Estates General officials were arrested by the king, a royal edict was issued to curtail the power of the Estates General Louis XVI was hoping that upcoming national elections would help to purify the animus in the Estates General toward the crown
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- The Revolution of 1789 Folks, the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 was not the REAL beginning of the French Revolutionthere were several crucial events that occurred months before May, 1789 The New Estates General convenes, with the 3 rd Estate (commoners) demanding greater representation in France (cahier de Doleances)those rights are denied by the other 2 Estates (Church and Nobles)the 3 rd Estate goes on strike June, 1789 The 3 rd Estate returns again, demanding rightsthey force a roll call of officials, which stalls French government (takes 5 days to complete it!)some of the members of the 1 st Estate (clergy) become sympathetic June 17, 1789 With no relief in sight, the 3 rd Estate declared itself to be the National Assembly, declaring that the king and royalty were irrelevant2 days later, the nobles surprisingly decide to join with the commoners against the king
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- The Revolution of 1789 June 20, 1789 In response to the sudden show of solidarity, Louis XVI locked up the Parliament meeting hallno problem, the Estates General met on the Tennis Court! The members pledged an Oath (The Tennis Court Oath) which stated that Parliament would continue to strike until the monarchy agrees to allow for the drafting of a constitution for France June 27, 1789 - After several attempts by Louis XVI to force the Estates General back into session, Louis acquiesced and formally united all the bodies as one assembly (National Constituent Assembly) and charged them with the task of developing reforms
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- Paris in July, 1789 Political reform was now underwaysocial and economic reform however, seemed far from beginning Paris sweltered that July in 1789600,000 people, mostly bourgeoisie workers and peasant urban dwellers suffered from the heat and lack of foodthe nobility, they were out of town The price of bread had reached an all time high that July, and literally took 50% of the average household income to purchasethe kings minister Jacques Necker (yes, him again), had attempted to regulate the price of grain while openly protesting the kings harsh policies against mob protestinghe was fired on July 11 July 14, 1789 Mobs stormed the Hotel des Invalides (arsenal) and took weaponstheir target, the Bastille, a fortress which held many of the kings political prisoners who were taken without just cause, some for speaking out against the evils of the monarchythe mob stormed the Bastille and freed the prisoners The Result: This event demonstrated the weakness of Louis XVI to completely exert his willmany nobles left the court at Versailles to return to the land holdingsthis act also spurred on the lowest classes of French society (peasants) to begin to demand greater rights, freedoms and recognition in government
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- The Great Fear Lets not forget about the peasantsmost did not know the inner workings of the early parts of the revolution in 1789many only knew of rumor and gossipmost of them were suffering still living on landed estates owned by the nobilitythey were led to believe that the landed aristocracy was plotting against the Estates General (in reality, they had been supporting some universal rights yet they were oppressing citizens in urban areas) Rural panic ensued and a Peasant Revolt occurred in late July 1789the main targets of this revolt were rural noble estates, legal offices that held titles of feudalism (basically dictating to which estate each peasant was tied), tax records and other deeds The National Assembly refused to quell the violencemany members wished to pacify and befriend certain peasant leaderseventually they moved to abolish all feudal lawsa faction of liberals gathered together on August 3 (Breton Club Conspiracy, later the Jacobins) to cook up a plan to convince nobles to give up their feudal land rights as a symbol of self-sacrifice to please the nationthe plan worked! On the night of August 4, 1789, many nobles in the Assembly renounced their rights and titles (of course, they were already lost, taken by the peasants, it was a useless gesture)
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- The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen By the end of August 1789, getting to work on a Constitution was a serious necessitythe first questions were What will be the role of the king? and What powers will be delegated to the National Assembly? and How will the court system