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France's traditional assembly with representatives of the three estates, or classes, in French society: the clergy, nobility, and commoners. The calling of the Estates General in 1789 led to the French Revolution.

Estates General


1% consisted of the Roman Catholic Church. Always voted with the 2nd Estate. Did not pay taxes.

1st Estate


Nobility (wealthy) less than 2% of population, but owns 25% of land. Paid no taxes, held highest offices in government. Always voted with the 1st Estate.

2nd Estate


Common people, which included between 97 - 98% of the French Popul, paid heavy taxes, rented land they worked on, paid tithe

3rd Estate


Queen of France (as wife of Louis XVI) who was unpopular her extravagance and opposition to reform contributed to the overthrow of the monarchy; she was guillotined along with her husband (1755-1793)

Marie Antoinette


- King of France (1774-1792). In 1789 he summoned the Estates-General, but he did not grant the reforms that were demanded and revolution followed. Louis and his queen, Marie Antoinette, were executed in 1793.

Louis XVI


financial expert of Louis XVI, he advised Louis to reduce court spending, reform his government, abolish tarriffs on internal trade, but the First and Second Estates got him fired.

Jacques Necker


French Revolutionary assembly (1789-1791). Called first as the Estates General, the third estate came together and demanded radical change after the original Estates General was "deadlocked." It passed the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789.

National Assembly


French Revolution document that outlined what the National Assembly considered to be the natural rights of all people and the rights that they possessed as citizens. (Applied to all men, no ladies)

Declaration of the Rights of Man


Medieval fortress that was converted to a prison stormed by peasants for ammunition during the early stages of the French Revolution.



Bastile Day. The day the people stormed the Bastille Prison which was also an armory that stored all the guns and powder. Similar to our 4th of July. Celebrated today as Independence Day in France.



The panic and insecurity that struck French peasants in the summer of 1789 and led to their widespread destruction of manor houses and archives of documents that made them serfs. Also called the "August Fear."

Great Fear


Demonstrations in Paris from bread shortage scare. March to Versailles by the women, called the "Women's March," where they forced the royal family back to Paris. Signifies power of mob and will of the French people.

October Days


On October 5, 1789 an angry mob of Parisian women stormed through Versailles demanding Louis XVI end the nationwide food shortage and that the royal family return to Paris with them.

Women's March


King Louis XVI and his families attempt to escape paris; made it only to Varennes where they were arrested and put on house arrest. End of French Monarchy

Flight to Varennes


Where the royal family (Bourbon - Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette) was living under house arrest during the Revolution because it was IN France.

Tuileries Palace


Louis's imprisonment was followed by the September massacres. Wild stories seized the city that imprisoned counter-revolutionary aristocrats/priests were plotting with the allied invaders. As a results, angry crowds invaded the prisons of Paris and summarily slaughtered half the men and women they found.

September Massacres


A machine for beheading people, used as a means of execution during the French Revolution. Invented to make execution more "equal."



French nobles who fled from France during the peasant uprisings. They were very conservative and hoped to restore the king to power.



Radical republicans during the French Revolution. They were led by Maximilien Robespierre from 1793 to 1794.



Leader of the Committee of Public Safety. One of the most influential figures of the French Revolution; instrumental in the period of the French Revolution known as the Reign of Terror, was eventually arrested and executed.

Maximilian Robespierre


A moderate republican faction active in the French Revolution from 1791 to 1793. The Girondin Party favored a policy of extending the French Revolution beyond France's borders, but also did not believe that the King had to die to save the revolution.



In the French Revolution, a radical group made up of Parisian wage-earners, and small shopkeepers who wanted a greater voice in government, lower prices, and an end of food shortages. ("without knee-pants")



The National Convention voted by one vote to execute Louis XVI in 1793; caused European nations to invade France.

Execution of the King


A national draft in France in 1794, created under the Jacobins, of a citizen army with support from young and old, heralding the emergence of modern warfare.

Levee en Masse


French revolutionary and radical journalist - called people to action via his newspaper, "The Friend of the People." He was murdered in his bath.

Jean Paul Marat


A Girondist who killed Jean Paul Marat in his bath tub because she thought that killing him would stop the violence.

Charlotte Corday


A radical supporter and close ally of Robespierre who was eventually declared a traitor; he was executed the guillotine.



A proponent of democracy, she demanded the same rights for French women that French men were demanding for themselves. In her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen (1791), she challenged the practice of male authority and the notion of male-female inequality. She lost her life to the guillotine due to her revolutionary ideas.

Olympe De Gouges


(1793-94) during the French Revolution when thousands were executed for "disloyalty."

Reign of Terror


A reaction to the violence of the Reign of Terror in 1794, resulting in the execution of Robespierre and the loosening of economic controls.

Thermidorian Reaction


A religion based on deism devised by Maximilien Robespierre, intended to become the state religion after the French Revolution. Changed Notre Dame Cathedral into a "Cathedral of Reason."

Cult of the Supreme Being


Created by the National Convention, it established after the French Revolution - day one was the first day of the French Republic. Eliminated religious references, 10 day weeks (no Sundays) and 3 week months.

Revolutionary Calendar


During the Terror, The Catholic Church was linked to real or potential counter-revolutions. Religion was linked with the Ancient Regime, and Superstition, and so the Committee of Public Safety enacted measures to reduce its influence.



Group of five men who created a new sort of oligarchy style government after the Revolution. Napoleon saved it in 1795, then disbanded it in 1799.