The Age of the French Revolution, 1789-1815

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Transcript The Age of the French Revolution, 1789-1815

The Age of the French
Revolution, 1789-1815
The West
The Beginning of the
• Financial crisis led to a constitutional
• Formation of the National Assembly by the
Third Estate, and lower nobility and clergy
• Breakdown of public order, caused by high
price of bread, fueled public paranoia
• National Assembly began to legislate the
Old Regime out of existence
The Creation of a New
Political Society
• Abolition of noble, clerical, provincial and
urban privileges
• Declaration of the Rights of Man and
Citizen, August 26 1789
• Reorganization of the church into a
government department
• Promulgation of a new constitution formally
ended the absolute monarchy
Responses to the French
• Opposition within France from certain
priests, nobles and Catholic extremists
• Welcomed by political reformers in other
European states
• Vehemently opposed by conservative
politicians and absolute monarchs across
Europe, and by the papacy
The Establishment of the
Republic, 1792
• Growth of the radical Jacobin party
• Attempt by Louis XVI and his family to
flee France
• Military defeats by Austria and Prussia
fueled paranoia and led to social disorder
and the imprisonment of the royal family
• September 22, 1792 - abolition of the
The Jacobins and the
• Jacobins became the major political force
after the establishment of the republic
• Split within the Jacobins, between the
radical Mountain and the Girondins
• Execution of Louis XVI and growing
foreign opposition to the Revolution
deepened the political divide
• Purge of Girondins from government
The Reign of Terror, 17931794
• Formation of special courts and legal
procedures to try enemies of the Revolution
• The Committee of Public Safety became a
revolutionary dictatorship
• Ca. 37, 000 people were executed or killed
without any trial
• Indiscriminate state terrorism has become
closely identified with the Revolution
The Directory, 1795-1799
• The end of the Terror resulted in a new
• Executive power was granted to a five-man
• Widespread social discontent caused by
economic crisis and military defeats
• Coup d’état, 1799, established a military
dictatorship under Napoleon Bonaparte
The Transformation of Cultural
• Collapse of educational system, due to
reorganization of the Church
• Abolition of scientific and artistic
• Formation of the National Library
• Establishment of a museum at the Louvre
• Destruction of royal tombs and monuments
Creation of a New Political
• All forms of cultural expression were subordinated
to revolutionary goals
• Significant linguistic and symbolic changes
• Emphatically secular, even anti-Christian, in
• Belief that the popular sovereignty should
permeate all aspects of daily life
• Concern for standardization and national
Napoleon and the Revolution
• Used the language and institutions of the
Revolution to conceal his dictatorial rule
• Supported and confirmed legal equality of
all men, but not women
• Continued the centralization, rationalization
and expansion of state power
• Continued the military mission of the
Napoleon and the French
• Achieved a resolution with the Catholic
Church, via the Concordat of 1801
• Promulgated six new law codes; most
importantly, the Civil Code of 1804
• Laid the foundations of a modern,
• Established a new, non-hereditary nobility
Napoleon, the Empire and
• Created a massive European empire, via a
huge and well-disciplined army
• Napoleon’s status as a military genius is
controversial, despite his success
• Formation of the Empire fueled nationalist
ideologies, especially in Italy and Germany,
against French rule
The Downfall of Napoleon
• Dissent within France increased after the
birth of a son and heir to the imperial throne
• Catastrophic failure of the invasion of
• Military defeat led to Napoleon’s abdication
and exile, and restoration of the monarchy
• Congress of Vienna redrew European
borders to preserve the balance of power
The Legacy of the French
• Huge economic and demographic cost, in Europe,
from the revolutionary wars
• Delayed industrialization of France and retarded
economic growth
• Drove an enormous growth in the competence and
power of the state
• Promoted the concept of popular sovereignty and
the practice of active political participation by all
The French Revolution and
Western Civilization
• Development of a new, secular political
authorities and traditions
• Export of revolutionary culture prompted
legal, political and social changes across
Europe and the Americas