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On July 14, 1789, 3rd Estate rioters searching for arms and ammunition attacked what symbol of royal authority?

The Bastille, which was a large fortress in the heart of Paris. The Bastille was a highly visible symbol of royal authority. On the morning of July 14, 1789, some 1,000 members of the 3rd Estate gathered at the Bastille's gates and demanded that the guns inside be turned over to them.

The rioters attacked, and 90 of them died before the Bastille surrendered. The Storming of the Bastille is regarded as the beginning of the French Revolution.


What reforms did Napoleon Bonaparte undertake?

Napoleon Bonaparte established free, universal public education under the guidance of the state. He also directed the completion of the Napoleonic Code, the first complete codification of French law.

The Napoleonic Code provided for freedom of conscience and property rights and was based on many Enlightenment ideas.


Although he established some domestic reforms, for what talent is Napoleon best known?

Napoleon is best known as a military leader and conquered much of Europe between 1805 and 1811.

Defeated by a combination of British naval power, an ill-advised invasion of Russia, and a guerrilla war in Spain, Napoleon's gains were eventually rolled back. Defeated by a six-nation army at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon was exiled.

Napoleon is also known for being short, although he was 5 foot 7 inches, which was an average height for his day.


What factors caused the French Revolution?

Enlightenment ideas of representative government and natural rights spread to France.  Economic inequality between the 3 estates created issues. 

The burden of taxation fell exclusively on the 3rd Estate and inflation created a food shortage for the lower class.

Successful previous revolutions set the stage that change was possible (The American Revolution and English Civil War) and were used as models.


By the spring of 1793, the National Convention was faced with domestic unrest and surrounded by foreign enemies. How did the Convention seek to defeat these threats?

Dominated by the Jacobins, the Convention organized an emergency government, The Committee of Public Safety.

The Committee of Public Safety exercised absolute control over the government, decreeing maximum prices for food and reorganizing the army both to quash domestic disturbances and to withstand attacks by the nations allied against France.


What is a Coup d'etat and how was it used by Napoleon to assume power?

Napoleon utilized the Coup d'etate method of a quick and sudden takeover by military leaders of the weak Directory government to assume power amongst the chaos of the French Revolution. 

People were particularly scared as a result of the Reign of Terror and looked for a return to stability and order, which Napoleon provided. 


What was the Estates General?

The Estates General was the national assembly of France, comprised of nobles, the Church, and the common people.

In 1614, the Estates General dissolved after giving up the right to tax and handing it over to the French monarchy.  This strengthened the French monarchs, helping them to establish an independent power base.


What three estates made up the Estates-General?

The three estates of the Estates-General were the clergy (the First Estate), the nobility (the Second Estate), and the common people (the Third Estate).

Some 98% of France's populace comprised the Third Estate, and in recognition of its size, Louis XVI provided it with double the number of representatives of the First and Second Estates.


What fatal strategic military mistake was made by both Napoleon and Hitler?

Both individuals made the mistake of trying to invade Russia during the Winter.  The harsh Russian weather and scorched earth tactics which aimed to deplete invading forces of shelter and resources were extremely effective.


What were the primary complaints of the French peasantry in 1788?

French peasants had many complaints. They complained of the high cost of bread and the high taxes they bore supporting both the French Crown.

A further source of irritation was that the nobles owned the land on which the peasants farmed, but didn't pay any taxes. 

Although the French peasants made up 98% of the population, they had little political power.


What was the French government's financial position in 1788?

The French government was in serious financial stress. Expenses from the Seven Years' War and support for the American Revolution, high government spending under Louis XIV, and the inability to tax nobles and the clergy had brought the French government to the brink of bankruptcy.


What was a long term impact of the French Revolution?

The Declaration of the Rights of Man was created as the foundation of democratic thought.  Napoleon also inadvertently spread Enlightenment ideas as he conquered new territories and spread the Napoleonic Code.


Who were the Jacobins?

During the early days of the French Revolution, the Jacobins were those members of the National Assembly who demanded that the King be removed and a republic declared.



Who was Maximilien Robespierre and what role did he play in the French Revolution?

Robespierre was a radical revolutionary who led the Reign of Terror.  This was an extremely dangerous and chaotic time in France in which individuals in all Estates were accused of treason, tried, and executed by Guillotine publicly.

Accusations were rarely backed by substantial evidence.  Things got so out of hand that Robespierre himself was eventually executed.

Robespierre was the head of the Committee of Public Safety and dedicated himself to remaking France.

Robespierre decreed the Law of the Maximum (a price control system), instituted the Republic of Virtue, and led the Reign of Terror. Robespierre was so dedicated to remaking France that he went so far as to create a new French calendar and a new French religion, the Cult of the Supreme Being.


Describe the achievements and success of Napoleon's rule.

Napoleon improved economic conditions by controlling prices, supporting new industry, and improving the infrastructure by building roads and canals.  He enhanced education by establishing a government-supervised public school system. 

His greatest achievement, however, was the Napoleonic Code - a legal Code that included many Enlightenment ideas. These ideas, like legal equality and religious tolerance, spread as Napoleon conquered much of Europe.


Identify the factors that ultimately led to Napoleon's Fall.

Conquered peoples viewed Napoleon as an oppressive ruler and called for independence.  His occupation reignited feelings of Nationalism which ultimately led to revolt. Napoleon's decision to invade Russia in 1812 during the winter proved to be a catastrophic mistake.


What was the National Assembly?

Since the 3rd Estate made up 98% of the population but had almost no power, they declared themselves the National Assembly. Adopting this new name was taking a symbolic stance against the monarchy. The National Assembly wrote the Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen and went on to lead the Revolution. 


Describe the Reign of Terror.

Guided by Maximilien Robespierre, the Reign of Terror took place from 1793 to 1794. Directed originally at royalists, the Reign of Terror soon consumed anyone denounced as a counter-revolutionary as Robespierre sought to remake France into a Republic of Virtue.

Some 25,000 victims lost their lives during the terror, 17,000 on the guillotine before Robespierre was overthrown in 1794.


In August 1789, France's new National Assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a statement of principles of the new government. What did the declaration provide?

The declaration emphasized natural rights endowed in man by virtue of being human. The major points of the declaration provided that all men were born and remain free and equal in their rights.

It provided for freedom of religion, the press, speech, and guaranteed the right to be secure from arbitrary arrest and to petition the government.


In June of 1789, members of France's Third Estate in the Estates-General took the Tennis Court Oath. What did they swear to do?

At a tennis court at Versailles, the Third Estate declared themselves France's National Assembly and swore an oath not to disband until they'd composed and adopted a written constitution.

On July 9, 1789, Louis XVI recognized the Assembly's authority.


What group followed the Committee of Public Safety as France's governing body?

A five-member moderate government, known as the Directory, ruled France after the chaos of the Reign of Terror.

Although unpopular, the Directory stabilized the military situation and brought some measure of order to France's internal affairs.

In 1799, the Directory was overthrown by a group led by Abbé Sieyès and Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte was named First Consul and soon exercised near absolute authority over France.


Why did the Third Estate leave the Estates-General in June of 1789?

During the early days of the Estates-General, the first two estates proposed that votes should be taken by estate, rather than by head.

This meant that there would only be three votes, and the First and Second Estates would always be able to vote down any proposal from the Third Estate. Outraged, the Third Estate left the assembly and met at a nearby tennis court.


What work is considered the founding document of modern European feminism?

In 1792, English authoress Mary Wollstonecraft wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman," taking as her inspiration the freedom offered by the French Revolution.

Olympe de Gouges, another early feminist, argued in her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen that women should be afforded the same rights as French men. The government rejected her proposal.


In January 1789, Abbé Sieyès, a French clergyman elected to the Third Estate (instead of the First), published What is the Third Estate? What did Sieyès argue?

Sieyès argued that the First and Second Estates were completely unnecessary to France's well being and that the Third Estate was the only legitimate representative of the French people since they paid all of the taxes, owned the majority of the land and were 98% of the population.