French Revolution

Claire Robinson, Annie Ruth, Thomas Rousseau, & Sydney Blaas

French Revolution

Revolution in France from 1789 to 1799. This temporarily led to the end of the French monarchy, when King Louis XVI - and then later, his wife Marie Antoinette - was executed. The Revolution ended when Napoleon Bonaparte took power in November 1799 and began his dictatorship.

Essential Characteristics

Key Players

  • Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI

The two monarchs before and ruing the Revolution, until they were overthrown. The two were unable to produce an heir, which placed the blame on the queen, even though it is believed to be Louis's fault, genetically speaking. Marie Antoinette lived in an extremely extravagant manner, and the people went so far as to call her "Madame Deficit", accusing her of being responsible for all of France's economic problems, when it was really centuries of extravagance, particularly when France was under the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King. These two were executed during the course of the revolution.

  • Napoleon

Short. He tried to become Emperor of France. He commenced many campaigns against other European states. Was exiled after a series of bad decisions. France was unable to hold onto the land it conquered. Napoleon's conquests spurred nationalism in all the countries touched by France. Especially the Latin countries of Middle America.

  • Robespierre (and his affiliates)

He was the head of the Committee of Public Safety, which decided all of the fates of those who got a trial. He also was very revolutionary and he supported the reign of Terror. He believed that terror was one facet of virtue, that terror was needed to improve the natural state of things.

  • Jacobin Club

The most famous and influential political club during the French Revolution, this organization was headed by Robespierre. They controlled the French government during the duration of the Reign of Terror, until after the fall of Robespierre, when a more conservative reaction took place, and many of its leaders were executed and the club was closed.

  • Girondists

Less radical group of revolutionaries than Jacobins. Girondists were the majority in the legal assemblies. They were less of a well-organized political party than they were a loose collection of individuals. They opposed the monarchy and agreed that France should rid itself of that institution, but condemned the excesses of the Revolution. This led to their mass executions following the opposintion of one of the factions of the Jacobin club.

The political parties in the revolution really lost their heads over the country's issues.


  • The extravagant spending by Louis XIV and the royal family created massive economic debt in the country.
  • Everyone has no money and no food
  • Then things got worse economically when they financed the American Revolution
  • People start blaming Marie Antoinette for all of the problems
The French Revolution -In a Nutshell

Course of the Revolution

  • Guillotines were the cutting edge of execution technology at the time. The guillotines were busy at work, executing a good portion of France's people. These executions were very public, and people would often sit and watch as more and more fell under the blade of "Madame la Guillotine".
  • Law of Suspects stated that anyone could write down the name of someone who they suspected as treasonous, and these people were tried for treason and often executed.
  • The Vendée revolts and other counterrevolutionary movements occurred and caused a very large number of undocumented deaths
  • The execution of Louis Capet and the Widow Capet (King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette)

The Storm of the Bastille ended before the Rain of Terror. (Reign)

Conclusion of the Revolution

The official end to the French Revolution can be described as Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup of the stratocracy of France. After the Reign of Terror, a constitution was created to establish rules for all french citizens to follow, which was known as the Constitution of 1795. Legislative, executive, and judicial bodies were created under the Directory, which was the new government for France composed of five officers. As the French army grew in power, the economy was reinvigorated. Despite the success of turning the economy and society for the better, the Directory that governed France was beginning to abuse its power. Napoleon Bonaparte, the leader of the French army, was asked by an ex member of the Directory to perform a military coup, which is a sudden seizure of power. Napoleon inflicted a military dictatorship with himself as the first consul/emperor, therefore ending the French Revolution.

Impacts and Effects

Short Term
  • Declaration of the Rights of Man ( inspired by The American Declaration of Independence, and Constitution, and the English Bill of Rights. These were the natural rights that man was born with which is liberty, property, and security. All citizens have the right to help in the making of laws
  • Execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette
  • Western and Eastern Europe at war (France vs. Austria and the Prussians)
  • Reign of Terror murdered a high percentage of the elite and noble class of France
  • Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, who would eventually become one of the most threatening and dominating forces in Europe

Long Term

  • Changed france from a monarchy to a republic. (The assembly created a constitution, which limited the monarchy; there would still be a king but a Legislative Assembly would be in charge of making the laws).
  • Sparked a growth of nationalism and the creation of national symbols
  • Establishment of the Congress of Vienna
  • Revolution of Greek ideals and values
  • Inspired revolutions and wars within and outside of Europe


  • "French Revolution." - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.
  • "French Revolution." Abc-Clio. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.
  • "French Revolution." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.
  • Spielvogel, Jackson. "Glencoe World History, Glencoe, 2000." Glencoe World History, Glencoe, 2000. Glencoe McGraw-Hill, n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.
  • "French Revolution." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
  • "Robespierre and the Terror." Robespierre and the Terror. Marisa Linton, 8 Aug. 2006. Web. 18 Mar. 2015.
  • "The Reign of Terror!" The History Project. University of California, Irvine. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
  • Nadis, Fred. "Causes of the French Revolution (Overview)." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.