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The French Revolution (1789–1799) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in French and European history.  - A Stan Klos Website

French Revolution

(1789 -1799)

 

The French Revolution (1789–1799) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in French and European history. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years. French society underwent an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from liberal political groups and the masses on the streets. Old ideas about hierarchy and tradition succumbed to new Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights.

The French Revolution began in 1789 with the convocation of the Estates-General in May. The first year of the Revolution witnessed members of the Third Estate proclaiming the Tennis Court Oath in June, the assault on the Bastille in July, the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August, and an epic march on Versailles that forced the royal court back to Paris in October. The next few years were dominated by tensions between various liberal assemblies and a conservative monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. A republic was proclaimed in September 1792 and King Louis XVI was executed the next year. External threats also played a dominant role in the development of the Revolution. The French Revolutionary Wars started in 1792 and ultimately featured spectacular French victories that facilitated the conquest of the Italian peninsula, the Low Countries and most territories west of the Rhine—achievements that had defied previous French governments for centuries. Internally, popular sentiments radicalized the Revolution significantly, culminating in the Reign of Terror from 1793 until 1794 during which between 16,000 and 40,000 people were killed. After the fall of Robespierre and the Jacobins, the Directory assumed control of the French state in 1795 and held power until 1799, when it was replaced by the Consulate under Napoleon Bonaparte.

The modern era has unfolded in the shadow of the French Revolution. The growth of republics and liberal democracies, the spread of secularism, the development of modern ideologies and the invention of total war all mark their birth during the Revolution. Subsequent events that can be traced to the Revolution include the Napoleonic Wars, two separate restorations of the monarchy and two additional revolutions as modern France took shape. In the following century, France would be governed at one point or another as a republic, constitutional monarchy and two different empires.


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