The French Revolution

Sometimes you just can't have your cake and eat it, too.

The French Revolution. What was it?

The French Revolution was a bloody conflict that occurred from 1789-1799.Towards the end of the 18th century, France was in an economic decline. The peasants of Paris and the surrounding areas decided to rise up and get rid of the Bourbons, a royal family who had been ruling for centuries. The French monarchy and the upper class lived lavish lifestyles filled with excess while the common people suffered with nothing. The situation got so bad that there were frequent revolts over the cost of bread. On July 14, 1789, French peasants stormed the Bastille, a military fortress. This was the offical start of the French revolution.


The head of the revolution, Maximilian Robesperrier, arrested the King, Louis XVI, his wife Marie Antoinette and many other royals, had them marked traitors to the idea of French Independence and executed them by guillotine, a machine invented by a French Doctor that sliced off the person whose was being executed head. Over 40,000 heads rolled during both the revolution and the aftermath, known as La Terrour or the Reign of Terror. The whole shebang started as a mear financial crisis but quickly rose to become a period of bloodshed.

What were some of the effects of the French Revolution?

The revolution resulted in the end of the monarchy and Bourbon rule. The Bourbon's had ruled France since the 16th century. After the revolution ended, Napoleon Bonaparte became emperor of France. Ironic right? Although it was a terrible loss of life, the French Revolution unified France and enhanced the power of the national state. It introduced France to democratic ideas but did not make the country a democracy.

How did the participants demonstrate their belief system through their protests?

The peasants that rose up and got rid up the monarchy with violence and bloodshed showed that they were done with the upper class of France living luxurious lives while they were stuck with nothing. The French decided that no single group of people should have all of the wealth. It's kinda like a 18th century Occupy Wall Street just far more violent. They decided that enough was enough and were successful in their goal, even though it resulted a terrible loss of life.

Interesting Facts:

  • The French Flag is inspired by the revolution, The blue and red for Paris, where most of the revolution was fought, the white is for royalty.
  • During La Terreur, the original head of the revolution, Maximillian Robesperrier was executed.
  • Every summer, the French celebrate "le jour de la prise de la Bastille" or the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille.
  • The Jewish and Protestant religions became legal to practice after the revolution.
  • One reason why France had such a poor economy was because they were sending money to aid the American Revolution which was a very costly endevour.
  • Marie Antoinette payed her executioner a bag of gold pieces to ensure the blade was sharp, making sure her death was clean and quick.
  • Only Marie Therese, Marie and Louis eldest daughter survived childhood and lived to be 72.

Important Players

Maximilian Robesperrier 1758-1794*

Queen Marie Antoinette 1755-1793

King Louis XVI 1754-1793

Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821


*depicted below http://www.historytoday.com/sites/default/files/Robespierre.jpg

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