Chapter 15: French Revolution and Napoleon Flashcards Preview

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Peasant Life in the Old Regime

Peasants comprised a large part of the French population. They had to pay a lot of taxes, and lost over half of their income to taxes. The rising price of bread (due to grain shortages) led to a lot of peasant discontent.


Government Debt under the Old Regime

Louis XIV and Marie were very unpopular rulers with lavish lifestyles, which the government doubt only grew. Especially with the 7 Years War and American War for independence.


Bad Rulers of the Old Regime

- Louis XV was weak and indecisive, especially after the strong Louis XIV.
- Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were especially unpopular.
- Parlement took more power away from the royals, as they could approve or disapprove the king's decrees.


Estates General

Composed of the three estates: the clergy, nobles, and every body else. Had to be called under Louis XVI because the government faced bankruptcy with the terrible tax system (and the nobles refused to pay taxes).

First estate, clergy: Paid no direct taxes.

Second estate, nobles: Paid no taxes, but owned a lot of land.

Third estate, everybody else: composed a large large percentage of the population. Paid taxes, and often resisted aristocratic privileges.


Tennis Court Oath

1789. The Estate General had a very unfair system of voting to the third estate, to which the third estate protested and demanded equal rights. However, on the meeting day, the third estate was locked out of the court room, and met at a nearby tennis court, proclaiming themselves the true National Assembly. Here, they drafted a constitution, and marked the beginning of the French Revolution.


The Storming of the Bastille

Mobs were congregating in Paris due to the soaring prices of bread. Louis XVI added fire to the fuel when he sent a mercenary army to Paris, to which the protestors responded by storming the Bastille and infiltrating their weapons and gunpowder.


Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen

1789. Claimed all men were born free and equal, as well as giving men freedom of speech, arbitrary arrest, religion, and petitioning the government.


Olympe de Gouges

Wrote "The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Citizen," where she added the word 'woman' to the clauses of original document.


Mary Wollstonecraft

Wrote "Vindication on the Rights of Women," and argued the inequality of gender was a result in the lack of education.


Women's Rights Around 1789

- Women did not get the right to vote.
- They did receive greater rights to inherit property and divorce rights.


Women's March to Versaille

1789. Women marched to Versaille and demanded cheap bread and the royal family to move to Paris.


The Civil Constitution of the Clergy

1780. Passed by the National Assembly. Stated that all clergy members were to be elected and must take a "loyalty oath," and all church lands of the Catholic Church were to be confiscated.


Reforms of the National Assembly

1. Constitutional Monarchy
2. France is divided into 83 departments run by an elected government official.
3. Metric system
4. Abolished internal tariffs.
5. Abolished guilds.

It did not...
1. Give women the right to vote.
2. Abolish private property.


Legislative Assembly

Members were split into three sections: conservatives, moderates, and the radicals.

The radicals were the Jacobins and the Girondists.



French radicals that wanted the revolution to overthrow the monarchy and to take up a republic.



French radicals that wanted to involve France in a war that would ruin the monarchy and spread the revolutionary ideas further.


Declaration of Pillniz

Issued by Austria and Prussia, stating that the restoration of absolutism of France was in the best interest of all the other sovereign European countries.

This caused the Legislative Assembly to call war against Austria and Prussia. However, the poorly equipped France was in no shape to fight a war as Austria and Prussia advanced on Paris.


Second French Revolution

The rejuvenated French forces saved the Revolution after pushing back the Austro-Prussian army. The sans-coulottes (a radical group) took control of the Paris Commune, deposed Louis XVI, and called for a National Assembly.

The sans-culottes then went around with the "September Massacres," killing many priests, bourgeoisie, and aristocrats.


Execution of Louis XVI

After the Second French Revolution, the National Convention declared France a republic, and abolished the monarchy.

They then decided to execute Louis XVI.


Reaction to the Revolution

At first, liberals supported the revolution and the fall of the Old Regime.

However, people like Edmund Burke predicted the mob revolution would lead to anarchy and a military dictatorship.


The Reign of Terror

Led by Maximilian Robespierre, the Committee of Public Safety underwent the "Reign of Terror," which resulted in the killings of many due to their suspicion as "dangerous" people.


Thermidorian Reaction

The Committee of Public Safety and Robespierre eventually crushed internal dissent and the First Coalition (international powers). However, with his fanatical pursuit of the "Republic of Virtue," the National Convention executed Robespierre in fear for their lives and political stability.

The reaction against Robespierre is called the Thermidorian Reaction.



The Directory, a two legislature government dominated by rich bourgeoisie, took control of France. However, they were soon replaced by Napoleon due to its unpopularity, corruption, inflation, and food shortage.



Quickly took command of the government. As "first consul," he exercised complete control, and was also quite popular because he restored order to France, brought prosperity, and crushed the Second Coalition.


Napoleonic Code

Napoleon consolidated lots of little law codes into a uniform legal code. Promised freedom of religion, equality, private property, and abolishment of privilege. However, this code gave less rights to women and made men more important in the family as well.


The Concordat of 1801

Napoleon realized the importance of restoring the good relationship between the government and the Catholic Church. The Concordat of 1801 stated the pope regained its right to confirm church authorities appointed by the government, and the Church and to recognize the French government and accept its loss of lands.


Napoleon as the Emperor

Napoleon suppressed all dissenting views and exercised censorship of the press. However, France was supportive of Napoleon because France was stable, prosperous, and protected.


Napoleon's Military Genius

Napoleon won a long series of military battle and received lots of international empires and lands. He controlled the area between Spain and the North Sea, Italy, Austria, Russia, and Prussia by 1808.

His defeat by Lord Nelson in Trafalgar was the only thing stopping Napoleon from controlling the seas and invading Great Britain.


Napoleon Reorganizing Germany

Napoleon was able to dissolve the Holy Roman Empire because he controlled so much of it. He turned Germany into part of the French empire, and started a wave of German nationalism that eventually posed a major problem to his continued reign.


Fall of Napoleon

1. Continental System: Napoleon closed all European trade with the British, which he hoped would fuck British economy and make France prosper.

2. Guerilla warfare in Spain: Napoleon deposed the Spanish Bourbon ruler and replaced him with his brother Joseph. The Spanish people were outraged, and a group of Spanish fighters called the guerrillas continuously attack the French, causing Napoleon to loose a lot of men.

3. Invasion of Russia: Because of the Continental System, Russia could not trade with Britain. However, Russia needed this vital trade, and refused to submit to Napoleon's demands, which caused him to invade Russia. However, Czar Alexander I of Russia refused to surrender, to which Napoleon had to retreat and lost many men due to the cold weather and diseases.