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Revision notes - Causes of the French Revolution and the Development of the Revolution and the consequences of the Revolution.

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The French Revolution (1789) & Vienna Congress (1814/15) * Causes of the French Revolution and the Development of the Revolution and the consequences of the Revolution. * Napoleon Bonaparte * Rise to power * Reforms - Domestic policies * Napoleonic wars What is the French Revolution? It was a war against the absolute monarchy. The French Revolution was not one political movement which was planned and directed by a political party unlike the October revolution. This revolution was a series of development that happened period of time that started from 1789 to 95, which led to the end of the feudal institution and the way that politic was organized for centuries. This revolution was based on certain ideas which directly challenged the ideas of medieval period. Ancien Regime The organization of government and society in France before the revolution is commonly known as the ancien regime, old system. This was a feudal structure based on the medieval idea of hierarchical society, with the king at the top and his subjects in their own place according to their duties, and birth, beneath. Institutions of the Ancien Regime The Monarchy The king in France was the head of the state and ruled as an absolute monarch which meant his power was unlimited. His decision was final and had the right to imprison any one. The legitimacy of his rule originated from the medieval idea of Divine Right which was granted by the religious institution, the church. It was believed that he was the God's representative and his rights cannot be questioned. In this social organization, the political class and the religious institution went hand in hand and enjoyed all the privileges. ...read more.


Parlement Calonne's successor Brienne did nothing more than produce a slightly amended version of Calonne's plan which was no more successful in winning support. The assembly was consequently dissolved in May. Brienne then took out new loan at very high rate of interest and attempted to force his proposals through by presenting them directly to the parlements. The Paris Parlement which spoke for the provincial parlements, remained hostile to the land tax reform. It decreed that it lacked the authority to sanction his change and refused to register necessary edicts. As one last attempt to force the parlements accept the proposal: he sent Paris parlement into exile in August, 1787. The royal action merely brought renewed demonstrations of support for the parlement and the king was force to allow the members to return to the city. As news spread of parlement's stand against unfettered absolutism, supportive crowds gathered in the capital. Its legitimacy slipping away, the crown resorted to using force against the demonstrators leading to more tension. As the tension escalated, so too did calls for the Estate General. The parlementary rebellion spread to parlements through our country. In May 1788, Paris parlements made it clear that Estate General ws the only legal body to sanction any permanent taxation. By summer of 1788, the treasury was almost empty, and the king had no option but to convene the Estate General. The Estate General was a political body to which the three estates sent their representatives. On 5th May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estate General in the great hall at the king's Palace of Versailles. There were 561 deputies for the first two estates and 578 deputies for the third estate. ...read more.


On 14th July, the Parisian crowd seized muskets and cannons from a weapon store, but could not find enough gunpowder or cartridges to use them. Rumor quickly spread that there might be stores of gunpowder in the old fortress of Bastille. The crowd accompanied by some of the newly formed National Guard gathered at Bastille in search of ammunition. After a tense standoff, a full scale assault took place in which the governor of Bastille Launay was captured, decapitated and his head paraded on a pole around the streets of Paris. Fall of Bastille was a significant mile stone of the revolution. It was stormed for the ammunition and from this came the destruction of a symbol of arbitrary power of the king. What is more, the royal troops had merely stood by some defecting to the crowds. There was now no denying that the king had lost control. Until early 1789, the peasants had played little part in the events leading to the revolution. However, the catastrophic harvest of 1788, the escalating bread prices, and the lay-offs in the textile industry affected them. Food riots were not new and would probably have died out but for the events in Paris. The news of the storming of the Bastille encouraged the peasants rioting against taxes and feudal dues. In this situation of unrest and uncertainty, rumors spread from village to village that the lords of the manors had hired bands of brigands who were on their way to destroy the ripe crops. Caught in a frenzy of fear, peasants in several districts seized hoes and peach forks and attacked the chateaux. They looted the hoarded grains and burnt down documents containing records of manorial dues. Thus the peasant uprisings grew into what came to be known as the Great Fear, which spread through most of France between 20th July and 6th August. ...read more.

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