French Revolution

The French Revolution (French: Révolution française [ʁevɔlysjɔ̃ fʁɑ̃sɛːz]) was a period of radical political and societal change in France that began with the Estates General of 1789 and ended with the formation of the French Consulate in November 1799. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles of liberal democracy,[1] while phrases like liberté, égalité, fraternité reappeared in other revolts, such as the 1917 Russian Revolution,[2] and inspired campaigns for the abolition of slavery and universal suffrage.[3] The values and institutions it created dominate French politics to this day.[4]

French Revolution
Part of the Atlantic Revolutions
The Storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789
Date5 May 1789 – 9 November 1799 (1789-05-05 1799-11-09)
(10 years, 6 months and 4 days)
LocationKingdom of France
Outcome

Its causes are generally agreed to be a combination of social, political and economic factors, which the existing regime proved unable to manage. In May 1789, widespread social distress led to the convocation of the Estates General, which was converted into a National Assembly in June. Continuing unrest culminated in the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July, which led to a series of radical measures by the Assembly, including the abolition of feudalism, the imposition of state control over the Catholic Church in France, and extension of the right to vote.

The next three years were dominated by the struggle for political control, exacerbated by economic depression and Civil disorder. Opposition from external powers like Austria, Britain, and Prussia resulted in the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in April 1792. Disillusionment with Louis XVI led to the establishment of the French First Republic on 22 September 1792, followed by his execution in January 1793. In June, an uprising in Paris replaced the Girondins who dominated the National Assembly with the Committee of Public Safety, headed by Maximilien Robespierre.

This sparked the Reign of Terror, an attempt to eradicate alleged "counter-revolutionaries"; by the time it ended in July 1794, over 16,600 had been executed in Paris and the provinces. As well as its external enemies, the Republic faced internal opposition from both Royalists and Jacobins and in order to deal with these threats, the French Directory took power in November 1795. Despite a series of military victories, many won by Napoleon Bonaparte, political divisions and economic stagnation resulted in the Directory being replaced by the Consulate in November 1799. This is generally seen as marking the end of the Revolutionary period.


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