French Revolution


The French Revolution , also known as the Revolution of 1789, was the revolutionary movement that shook France between the years of 1787 and 1799 and reached its first climax in 1789. Hence the conventional term “Revolution of 1789”, which denotes the end of the Old Regime in France and which also serves to distinguish that event from the subsequent French revolutions of 1830 and 1848.

  • When was it:  From 07/14/1789 to 11/09/1799
  • Where was it:  France

What was the French Revolution?

It was a revolution that marked the end of a historical epoch and the beginning of the contemporary age , it marks a dividing line between the Old regime and the French Revolution : the monarchical absolutism that governed feudal society.



The French Revolution ended the system of absolute monarchies in European countries, which was based on the principle that all powers resided in the king , who was the source of all power by divine right; such a right was the legal and philosophical basis of their sovereignty.


The French Revolution separated these powers, making the legislative power belong to an Assembly or Parliament; executive power to the king and his ministers, or in a government in the republics; and the judicial in the courts of justice.

Ultimately, it would seek to eliminate the monarchy or to let it be absolute to become a political system in which they would control each other. It was also understood that sovereignty came only from the people, who delegated the exercise of power to freely elected rulers in periodic electoral processes .

Characteristics of the French Revolution

The main characteristics of the French Revolution were the following:

  • He created a new model of society and state .
  • With it came the illustration that gave a new faith to reason and progress.
  • Men’s rights were affirmed .
  • The popular participation of the people began to take place .
  • The looting and destruction of castles occurred.
  • Tax extensions were eliminated .
  • The ideals of liberty , equality and fraternity were formulated .
  • The feudal system and the privileges of the clergy were eliminated .


There were several causes for the French Revolution to occur, among them are:

  • Economic : the main causes within the scope of the economy were the fiscal deficit, the economic crisis , the debt that the State had and the rise in prices without control of the products.
  • Social : there was an opposition to the privileges that the tax reform had and the bourgeoisie wanted to access power. The popular classes began to emerge as an opposition force in these situations. The most privileged were strongly opposed to paying new taxes and for this reason they rebelled against the increase.
  • Policies : Enlightenment and its ideals began to be generated , and it was sought to follow the example of independence that the United States had .


The main objectives of the French Revolution were:

  • End the monarchy .
  • Eliminate the feudal system and excessive privileges and inequalities.
  • Build a more modern state .
  • Declare the rights of man and citizens.
  • Create the French Republic .
  • Separate the powers of the State and establish sovereignty


The French Revolution lasted 10 years and its phases were as follows:

  • Meeting of the States General in 1789 : the monarch Louis XVI summoned the representatives to an assembly . The clergy, the nobility and some representatives of the people discussed aspects such as misery, crisis, poor harvests and hunger.
  • National Assembly and revolt of 1789 and 1791: the people and members of the bourgeoisie requested an individual vote without results and when rejected, they constituted the National Assembly as the highest representation of the nation.
  • Storming of the Bastille in 1789 : on July 14 of that year, the Bastille, which was a prison, was taken by the people due to the danger that the bourgeoisie would eliminate the assembly. With this fact, the French Revolution officially began. The National Assembly became a National Constituent Assembly abolishing feudalism and its rights and privileges. The rights of man were published with the ideals of equality, fraternity and freedom.
  • Legislative Assembly of 1791 and 1792 : the people continued discontent and the ideas of revolution stronger.
  • The convention and the republic : the French monarchy falls when the people attack the Tuileries Palace, finding a series of documents that prove their betrayal. The first elections are held by universal suffrage , in which only men participated.
  • The Directory : the council of elders and the Five Hundred are created by popular election. These chambers were dominated by the conservative bourgeois class and implemented policies that annoyed the people so Napoleon Bonaparte carried out a coup , and was later appointed first consul.

Most important facts

Among the most important facts we can mention:

  • The monarchies were eliminated .
  • The separation of church and state occurred .
  • It went from monarchical absolutism to the parliamentary monarchy and the Republic .
  • There was the creation of the executive , legislative and judicial powers .
  • The storming of the Bastille and the declaration of the rights of man in 1789.
  • Constitution of 1791 and the flight of the king.
  • The coup d’etat of Napoleon in 1799 that gives an end to the revolution.


The abolition of the absolute monarchy in France was a direct consequence of the process which managed to put an end to the privileges of the aristocracy and the clergy. The servitude , the feudal rights and tithes were eliminated; the properties were disintegrated and it was possible to introduce the principle of equitable distribution in the payment of taxes.

The principles of freedom of worship and freedom of expression written in the Declaration of Human Rights were established, freedom of conscience and civil rights for Protestants and Jews began.

The first Constitution was formed and ecclesiastical assets were eliminated so that they passed to the nation to solve economic problems.


Among the most important achievements of the revolution we can mention that important changes were made in the politics of Europe , it was a social model that transformed the economy and the role of social classes . Enlightenment ideas triumphed over the monarchy and the United States was born creating a new political system .

Impact of the French Revolution

Its impact was enormous, its ideas, values ​​and the model that emerged from it spread worldwide and are still being practiced. It influenced human rights , democracy and the configuration of the world today . The new policy that he created based on political change through voluntary action and the movement of the masses reached different countries that were already fighting colonialism to achieve independence .

Leaders and characters

  • Louis XVI of France , who was the King of France and who was overthrown and beheaded.
  • Marie Antoinette : Queen of France who exercised great influence ignoring the misery of the people.
  • Carlos X : younger brother of Louis XVI.
  • Anne-Robert Jacques Turgot : French economist and politician who enshrined economic and social reform.
  • Jacques Necker: one of the most notable bankers of the time.
  • Voltaire : writer and disseminator of the secular creed that guided the theorists of the Revolution.
  • Maximilien de Robespierre : politician who established the Terror regime.
  • Marquis de la Fayette : French military and politician who exercised a liberal political ideology.


The most used symbols during the French Revolution were:

  • The Phrygian cap : it was a symbol of freedom and was consecrated as a symbol of freedom and republicanism.
  • La Marseillaise: current French anthem that began as a song of revolutionary war and freedom.
  • The guillotine : machine used for decapitation.
  • La Cocarde : symbol that represents the union of the people and the king.

Women during the French Revolution

His was very intense, although this story is not told. She fought for feminist demands and her social condition because they knew what food cost and the difficulties they had to raise their families. Their struggle had its fruits in the summer of 1793 when they achieved political equality in the sections, assemblies and popular societies. Some of them were:

  • Olympe De Gouges
  • Mary Wollstonecraft

Social classes during the French Revolution

  • Clergy : it was the first social class and had enormous wealth and influence over France. It was divided into high and low clergy.
  • Nobility : they were descendants of the feudal lords and had large areas of payment of which they did not pay taxes by exploiting the peasants.
  • Plain State : known as the Third Estate and was made up of the vast majority of the population of France. They had no privileges, paid a lot of taxes, and suffered from hunger and misery.
  • Peasant : workers who worked in the fields for the feudalists, worked hard and earned very little.


Among the most recognized phrases that emerged during the French Revolution we mention:

  • When the people are rebelling not know how you can return to calm , and when it is quiet do not understand how revolutions can occur.
  • The revolution does not choose its paths: it took its first steps towards victory under the belly of a Cossack’s horse .
  • An oppressed people have the right to rise up and break their chains whenever they can.
  • All men recognize the right to revolution, that is, the right to refuse obedience and rise up against the government when its tyranny or incompetence is great and intolerable.

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