The French Revolution

Jamie Shlikas

Background Information

  • France was in financial problems caused by the cost of the seven years war
  • clergy=first estate, nobles=second estate, peasants and the rest of the people=third estate
  • king had absolute power
  • third estate had to pay most of the countries taxes
  • third estate did not think it was fair for them to only have one representative in solving the issue of who was ressponsible for paying the majority of the taxes
  • in an attempt to solve the nations problems,the king called together the Estates General in 1789, for the first time since 1614
  • one day the Third Estate came to the Estates General, only to find themselves locked out, kept from having their voices and opinions heard
  • enraged, the members of the Third Estate went to the nearest location, an indoor tennis court, and swore the "Tennis Court Oath"
  • after this oath, members mostly from the third estate, and a few from the second, formed the National Assembly, the first Revolutionary Legislator in France


  • because of food shortages, people stormed into the kings castle looking for food
  • peasants killed upper classes because they were unhappy with the differences between them
  • the third estate formed their own general assembly separate from the other estates even though The King did not approve of it, they gathered on a tennis court to discuss the issues

Results of Protests

  • many people died because of how unhappy the citizens were with how some of the issues were being dealt with in the government, such as who would pay the taxes
  • the protests got rid of the king eventually and brought a republican style of government upon France, but only for a short period of time before they returned to the unequal monarchy they began with
  • people were so angry with the style of government that was in place that they were killing innocent people and rioting, eventually The King realized it was enough so he stepped down from his position which caused the short period of time that France was a republic

how they demonstrated what they stood for

  • ultimately about expression of beliefs, and the differences in beliefs from the common people and their ruling class
  • influenced heavily by the Renaissance and Enlightenment, the ideals of this time period were seen in actions taken by the revolutionaries
  • john Locke pioneered the idea of "life, liberty and property," and well as the idea of "social contract theory"
  • social contract theory stated that the people and the government had an agreement, and if the people deemed that the government failed to hold up their end of the bargain, then the people had the right to rebel
  • another belief of the revolutionaries was that everyone deserved representation in government
  • these beliefs were demonstrated very clearly in the actions of the revolutionaries and the documents they authored
  • the "Declaration of the Rights of Man" served as the French equivilent to the American Constitution. It stated the natural and inalienable rights of all men, as well as their universality