French Revolution

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Global 10
October 26, 2011 DBQ The French Revolution The French Revolution is considered a major turning point in world history. In 1789-1814 which included Napoleon’s reign, this revolution led to major changes in France and other nations and regions around the world. These changes both helped and changed society for better and for worse.

The main source for the French Revolution was Louis XVI and his over control of everything. King Louis XVI was an absolute monarch that ruled by the divine right theory, the right t to rule from god. He got to choose all civil officials and military officers, created and enforced laws. Had the power to declare war and make peace. He taxed everything and spent people’s money on what he saw fit, controlled the thoughts expressed by a strict censorship of speech and press. He had the power to imprison anyone without trial for an indefinite period. During his rule he lived in his magnificent palace at Versailles, completely oblivious to the rising tide of popular discontent.

While Louis XVI was hidden in his palace peasants became unemployed and starved. They tended to wonder out of boredom and anger. There started to be mass vandalism and looting. The National Assembly, renamed Third estate, got together and discussed what to do. The Declaration of the Rights of Man was created. Louis XVI didn’t want to accept these reforms. Nobles didn’t accept it either because they enjoyed their status. When a mob of woman peasants went to Versailles in search of food the royal family was taken hostage. They remained prisoners for a few years. The National Assembly had achieved their victory over the king. After dealing with the Nobles the National Assembly turned its attention to the clergy. The church was placed under state control. The Pope’s power was gone. In 1790 the clergy was forced to accept that Priests and Bishops now became salaried state officers. The Pope and peasants became annoyed.

By the end of 1791 the National Assembly was busy making a new government. A Limited monarchy was used to replace the absolute monarchy. Law makers were voted into office by eligible men only. The National Assembly also mad the government more efficient, limited the church and turned France into an 83 departments instead of ancient provinces. This constitution seemed to have completed the French Revolution. Many Foreigners thought that France had pulled a successful enlightenment based revolution like the Americas. Meanwhile Marie Antoinette and many others had urged Louis XVI to escape from their humiliating situation. In June of 1791 Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and the royal children disguised themselves and fled towards the border. Someone in a town along the way saw Louis’s face on a piece of currency and blew their cover. Soldiers escorted the royal family back to Paris. To many, Louis’s fleeing showed that he was a traitor to the revolution.

Events taking place in France started debates all over Europe. Supporters of the Enlightenment like the changes the National Assembly made. They saw this reform as a dawn of a new age for justice and equality. European rulers and Nobles denounced the French Revolution. They increased border patrol to stop the spread of French travelers. Fueling the fears of having these travelers spread throughout Europe were horrible stories told by the émigrés, Nobles, clergy and others who fled France and its revolutionary forces. They told of the changes in their privileges, religion, property, and their lives. Even the rulers who were “enlightened” turned against France. In 1791, the King of Prussia and the emperor of Austria - Marie Antoinette’s brother - issued the Declaration of Pilnitz. This document says that the two monarchs threatened to intervene to protect the French monarchy....
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