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The Old Regime (Prior to 1789)

The privileged estates – First Estate was clergy; Second Estate was nobility

The Third estate – bourgeoisie (urban middle class), city workers, artisans, rural peasants

Growing Discontent

Increased population and cost of living

Bourgeoisie wanted liberty and equality

The Financial Crisis

Assistance to United States during American Revolution led to France’s increased debts

Louis XVI tried to raise taxes, hoped a meeting of all three estates would approve new taxes

Banks refused to loan French government
more money

The Meeting of the Estates General

The three estates had previously met separately

Third Estate wanted representatives to vote as individuals

The Spread of the Revolution

Capture of Bastille prison led to formation of a new government

Peasants developed “Great Fear”

The End of the Old Regime

The Declaration of the Rights of Man – basic human rights and political powers, applied to men only

Émigrés and royalists – forced Louis XVI and family to return to Paris

Reforms in government


The Constitution of 1791

Limited powers of king

Divided government into three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial

The Legislative Assembly and War

Executive branch was weak

Legislature was inexperienced; divided into conservatives, radicals, and moderates

Legislative Assembly united to wage war
on Austria

The End of the Monarchy

Louis XVI plotted with foreign powers to overthrow Constitution of 1791

Legislative Assembly ended

National Convention drew up new constitution

The National Convention

Universal manhood suffrage – every adult male could vote

Three main groups – Girondins, Jacobins, and delegates who had no definite views

Exporting the Revolution

Committee of Public Safety – adopted the draft

Opposition – European monarchs formed an alliance against France.

The Reign of Terror

Evolutionary Tribunal – tried to suppress all opposition and revolts within France

Work of the National Convention

Abolished slavery

Planned public education

Adopted metric system

The Directory

Governed by five individuals from the government’s executive branch

Eliminated universal manhood suffrage

Weak, corrupt rulers

Napoléon Bonaparte

Rise of Napoléon – strong military leader, gained control of all northern Italy for France

Napoléon takes power – coup d’état due to unstable government

Napoléon as Dictator

The Consulate – Napoléon gave himself unlimited power

Accomplishments in government – Napoléonic Code, Band of France, public education, concordat

Napoléon as Emperor

French people voted to become an empire

Napoléon crowned himself

Defeated Austria and Russia

Blockade of British Isles

The Reorganization of Europe

Increased nationalism – Napoléon placed members of his own family as monarchs of countries he conquered; loyalty and patriotism

The Peninsular War – Spanish and Portuguese revolt against French rule

Catastrophe in Russia

The Grand Army – marched to Russia, but were defeated through lack of proper housing and supplies, Russian winter

Final defeat – Western European countries allied against France

The Hundred Days

Napoléon led army into France and ruled for one hundred days until Britain, Prussia, and Netherlands were victorious and forced him into exile.

The Congress of Vienna

The principles of the Congress of Vienna – compensation, balance of power, legitimacy

Compensations – countries were reshuffled

Reactionary Alliances

Restored balance of power

Emphasized conservative view to prevent revolution

The Age of Metternich

Secret police

Military suppression

Underground resistance