The French Revolution

   1. Causes of the revolution

   Although there were different causes for that complex event, we pointed our attention in the following:

   - The discredit of monarchy. In many monarchies the favourites were the rulers. In France, Louis XVI weakness favoured the revolution. (see Louis XVI figure)

   - The economic crisis. Large expenditures in the court made necessary raising taxes over working and middle classes, but upper classes were exempt from them.

   - Discontent of the bourgeoisie. The working classes wanted a political transformation which would allow them to participate in the government of the country, which was in the hands of the upper classes.

   - New revolutionary ideas in the encyclopaedia, which attacked monarchy, religion and society.

   - Inconsistency of the nobility. The nobles were the first to be against the monarchy, but there were also the first who died in the guillotine.

   - The revolutionary cycle. The revolution fastly spread over Europe. The Paris Commune guillotined thousands of Frenchmen: first kings and nobles, later bourgoises and last heir own revolutionary leaders. To bring order to the country a leader was needed, and Napoleon Bonaparte got the power. It was a paradox: the revolution started to erase an absolutist monarchy and gave birth to a tirany ruled by an emperor.

   2. Choose the correct causes: discredit of the monarchy, economic crisis, discontent, ideas, inconsistency or revolutionary cycle:

Presence of the favourites:

The bourgueoisie wanted to participate

Large expenditures in the court

Only the nobility could participate

Louis XVI’s weakness

The taxes were increased

A tirany was risen

The Enciclopaedia critizied the monarchy

The nobles were revolutionary

Religion and society were attacked

The guillotine killed thousands of Frenchmen

French nobles died in the guillotine

    3. Stages of the revolution

    - - ESTATES GENERAL. After the failure of Louis XVI collecting taxes, the Estates General were summoned. The king demanded new taxes, but the Commons wanted to modify how the administration was organized. Due to the imposibility of an agreement, the king dissolved the Estates. But the Commons of lower classes (the third state) denied to be dissolved and declared the National Assembly. It was the first revolutionary act.

   - - NATIONAL ASSEMBLY. The National Assembly changed its name for Constitutive Assembly, because its main goal was to write a constitution to change the organization of French monarchy. The king wanted to assault the Assembly with his troops, but the citizens of Paris stired up and captured the Bastille, the prison of the city. Many farmers burnt castles and kill the nobles. That period is called “The Great Fear”. The king tried to escape, but was arrested and the Assembly suspended him from his duties. The 1791 Constitution was passed and the Assembly was known as Legislative.

   - - LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY. Its main goal was to write laws to develop the 1791 constitution. A revolutionary government was formed in Paris. It was called Commune, and ordered prison for the kings. Revolutionary gangs assaulted prisons and kill the noblemen. More than one thousand people were killed in a month.

   - - THE CONVENTION. The next Assembly, called the Convention, proclaimed the Republic, and the king Louis XVI was guillotined at the Revolution Square. Shortly after, his wife Marie Antoinette had the same fate. The power was then in the hands of Robespierre "The Incorruptible" (see figure). In a period of time of three months, twelve thousand people were guillotined in Paris. In Lyon, the revolutionary Fouche killed his captives using cannons, and in Nantes detaineed were thrown to the river Loire. This period is called “red terror”. The revolutionaries accused between them and Robespierre died in the guillotine. The “red terror” triggered into the “white terror”, where smart young men, the dandies, killed thousand of former terrorists.

   4. Answer if the following events are related to the Estates General, the National Assembly, the Legislative Assembly or the Convention:

Its main goal was to write a Constitution

The king demanded new taxes

The peasants captured the Bastille

The third state denied to be dissolved

Many farmers burnt castles

It was the first revolutionary act

The king was guillotined

A government or Commune was constituted

1200 people died in a month

The republic was proclaimed

Robespierre the Incorruptible

The prison of the kings

    5. Napoleon Bonaparte

    - THE DIRECTORY. The riots were so numerous that a Directory, formed by five executives and a Legislative body, was constituted. The directors had some differences, and, in a coup d’ état, general Napoleon Bonaparte deposed the Directory and imposed a military dictatorship. This happened on the 19 Brumaire. (See figure).

   - THE CONSULATE. After the Directory a new government was constituted: the Consulate. The legislative power was based on the Legislative body, the Council of State and the Tribune, while the ejecutive power was held by three consuls. Napoleon was a great general who knew how to encourage his troops in a battle. He was in charge of the gobernment as First Consul, and the France proclaimed him lifetime consul first and Emperor later (1804).

   - THE EMPIRE. Napoleon had many military successes against other European countries. He was surrounded by a brilliant court and created an imperial nobility, naming princes, dukes, marquises and counts. He named his brother Joseph king of Spain; Louis was king of Holland and his little brother, Jeronimo, was promoted to king of Westfalia.
   But the expensive military costs and a tiranic governing exhausted the French citizens. In 1814, when the Empire fell, Napoleon had lost his popularity.

   6. Write if the following facts are about the Directory, the Consulate and the Empire:

The Directory was constituted

He named princes and dukes

Imposed a military dicatorship

He encouraged his soldiers

He named Joseph king of Spain

Formed by five executives

Louis was king of Holland

Named lifetime consul

Staged a coup d’état

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