French History

French History
  • Prehistory
  • Ancient History
  • The Middle Ages
  • Hundred Years' War
  • The Black Death
  • Joan of Arc
  • The Renaissance
  • The 17th century
  • The French Revolution
  • The Era of Napoleon
  • The late 19th century
  • The early 20th century
  • The Fifth Republic

The French Revolution

The early 18th century in France was a time of hardship for the people, when especially cold winters ravaged the land and harvests were poor. The wars' negative effects were also felt and all of this together led to food riots and general discontent of the French population, who began demanding political and fiscal reform. Most of the French population consisted of commoners, resentful of the privileges enjoyed by the upper classes. With the period known as the Enlightenment, came thinkers such as Rousseau and Voltaire, who began questioning the pillars of the absolute monarchy and speaking in favor of a free, equal society. The first seeds of revolution slowly began to germinate.

Finally in 1789, the climax of the crisis arrived, when in Paris a huge mob began revolting and storming the Bastille prison, which symbolized political oppression for the people. This marked the beginning of the French revolution. The Declaration of the Rights of Man, a document drafted by Emmanuel Sieyès, embodying the three essential principles of Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité (Liberty, Equality and Fraternity), was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on August 26, 1789 in an effort to end the French feudal class system.

The Revolution in France brought many changes, including the trial and execution of the king, Louis XVI, the queen and many nobles, priests and commoners. The Jacobin faction established the Committee of Public Safety which brought on what is known as the Reign of Terror.