The nobles and Church were controlling everything. Society was divided into three estates, the first estate was the Church, the second estates were the nobles, and the third estate was everyone else. The third estate was comprised of bankers, traders, businessmen, and everyone else. They were mainly comprised of the middle class or bourgeoisie. This class tried to gain political power, as they grew wealthier. When Louis XVI came to power France was a mess because of the 15 th and 16 th centuries' economic instability.
Louis hired a finance minister, Turgot, to balance the budget. He was dismissed after about two years because of France's unwillingness to cooperate. In 1789 the monarch became bankrupt. In order to rectify this situation Louis called a meeting with the Estates General or medieval representative assembly of the three estates. The first and second estates voted together.
This made the third estate mad so they formed the National Assembly. Louis mobilized his troops to surround Paris because he was scared by the third estate's size. This advice came form his bother and wife, Count Artois and Marie Antoinette. The three estates decided to come together as one unit or the National Constituent Assembly.
The Tennis Court Oath was when the National Constituent Assembly took an oath and said they would not disband until a constitution was formed. National Constituent Assembly issued the Declaration of The Rights of Man and the Citizen. This was a document based on the Enlightenment's idea of civil liberties. The National Guard is what the troops of shopkeepers called themselves when they invaded the political prison where some weapons were stored, or Bastille.
This sparks the revolution. The National Guard then appoints Lafayette as the leader of their battle. He also, begins the cockade. This was a symbol of resistance. When the women got enraged because of high bread prices and marched to the king's palace, Versailles, and dragged him back to Paris it was known as the Women's March. The National Constituent Assembly wrote the Constitution of 1791, it forbidden workers to organize and instituted Assignats.
It also, secularized the Catholic Church with the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, where farmland was used as collateral and turned France into a farming country. This Constitution is made unchangeable for ten years and everyone agrees not to seek reelection. The new members were divided into the left liberals and the right conservatives. The artisans were unsatisfied with this constitution.
The 'emigr " es, nobles who fled the country during mob times, threatened France. The Declaration of Pilznit was where Prussia and Austria agreed to invade France and restore the king if the rest of Europe agrees. The Legislative Assembly of 91-92 was led by the Girondists and declared war on Austria. The Girondists accused the king and queen of sympathizing with the enemy. The sans-culottes, or wage-earning people, went to the Council of Paris and asked if they could rule. They formed the Paris Commune and replaced the government of Paris.
The Prussian Duke of Brunswick supported the 'emigr " es and demanded the revolutionaries lay down their arms in the Brunswick Manifesto. The Paris Commune went on a killing spree known as the September Massacres. They executed all nobles or sympathizers. On September 21 st the Legislative Assembly created the National Convention, yet another attempt to write a constitution. The Jacobins and sans-culottes dominated it. They were known as "The Mountain" because of their high placement in the assembly hall.
Maximilian Robes Pierre called for an execution of the king. The other European nations got frightened and formed a coalition to defeat the revolutionaries, but were distracted by their efforts to partition Poland. Robes Pierre convinced the mob to turn on the moderate Girondists. In January 1793 the revolutionaries executed Louis XVI as Citizen Capet, because no titles were used now. The Jacobins' dictatorship expanded. They lead the executive committee of the Assembly, Committee of Public Safety.
It started revolution tribunals that tried and arrested "enemies of the state." The Law of 22 Prairial was passed, it said you only need accusation to execute someone as an "enemy of the state." This was the beginning of the Reign of Terror. The Assembly begins levee en masse, a system that requires everyone in France to serve in the army in someway. This was an army bulk up movement. Robes Pierre renames France the "Republic of Virtue" and tries to convince people that war is virtuous.
He begins the dechristianization of France and strips Notre Dam and names it the Temple of Reason. He institutes The Cult of Pure Reason where the concept of reason was worshipped. To get more people interested he renames the cult The Cult of the Supreme Being. The Thermidorian Reaction was the reaction of the French to the excesses of the revolution. The White Terror began when the conservatives killed people for being too revolutionary.
The Bands of Jesus beat up revolutionaries. The Jacobin Club was forced to close and the Girondists took their seats back in the National Government. Catholicism remained under state control but people were allowed to attend services. The Constitution of Year III or 1795 made the Legislature bicameral.
The executive branch called the Directory had five members chosen by the Council of Elder from a list approved by the Council of 500. In 1795 the French army had a huge success and Prussia, Netherlands, and Spain withdrew from the war. In 1796 Napoleon beat Sardinia. In 1796 Napoleon beat Austria. The Directory began a partnership with Napoleon in order to expand their power but it backfired because they could not control him.