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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

Flag of France

- World History -
The French Revolution and
The Napoleonic Era

The French Revolution

What had Louis XIV done to make the country be financially insecure? What about France's absolute Monarchy?

The Old Regime
It was called this after it disappeared. It was the old way of thinking - The king still wanted and expected power.

King Louis XV (1715 - 1774)
Louis XV was the great grandson of Louis XIV. He was lazy, unskilled, and unaware of the problems in France. He insisted on keeping and expanding privileges at the expense of the peasants. Nobility demanded more rights. Louis XV spent a lot of money on wars and extravagance.

King Louis XVIMarie Antoinette
Left: King Louis XVI. Right: Marie Antoinette.

Louis XVI (1775 - 1792)
Louis XVI was married to Marie Antoinette. He tried to make some financial reforms, but he realized that he couldn't solve France's problems alone. He asked the nobles to be taxed, but they refused. Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates General.

marquis de Lafayette
The marquis de Lafayette recommended that the king call a meeting
of the Estates General to solve the taxation issue.

The Estates General
The Estates General was obsolete because the three-class system no longer coincided with the real system of influence, property, or productive activity. They had last met in 1614 to advise the King. The Estates General represented three classes:

The First Estate - The Clergy
The First Estate was dominated by bishops and archbishops from the noble ranks. They were generally wealthy and exempt from taxes. They owned 10% of the land.

The Second Estate - The Nobility
The Second Estate was exempt from direct taxes. They owned 20% of the land.

The Third Estate - 98% of the Population
The Third Estate was made up of peasants, the middle class, and urban workers. The peasants paid high taxes. Many owned the land they farmed. They were not as concerned with political rights, but they wanted relief from taxes.

Clothing of the three estates
Traditional apparel of the members of the three estates:
The Second Estate, the Third Estate, and the First Estate.

The middle class (The Bourgeoisie) was better off than the peasants, but more discontented. They wanted fairer tax distribution and a share of the political power. They resented the nobles.

The urban workers (Proletariat) were powerful in Paris, but they were a relatively small group.

Members of Second EstateThird Estate Cartoon
Left: Members of the Second Estate enjoyed economic and societal privileges.
Right: A period cartoon illustrates the common complaint of the Third Estate - peasants felt that they carried the financial weight of the clergy and nobility upon their backs.

Marie Antoinette, big hair Big Hair
Left: Marie Antoinette's big hair.
Right: An engraving satirizes the french nobility's penchant for big hair.
(Marie Antoinette even wore small figurines that reenacted scenes in her hair.)

Distribution of Power
In July 1788, the King declared that the Estates General would have the following representation:

First Estate - 300 reps
Second Estate - 300 reps
Third Estate - 600 reps

Le Petite Trianon
Le Petite Trianon, the country home of Marie Antoinette. She had spent a fortune
remodeling the home so that it would resemble a self-containing country village.

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The French Revolution
1. The Old Regime and the Estates General

2. Tennis Court Oath / Storming of the Bastille

3. The Reign of Terror and the Guillotine

The Napoleonic Era
4. The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte

5. Napoleon's Problems /
Results on Europe of the Napoleonic Era

Related Information
Marseillaise, the National Anthem of France

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Historical Periods of
World History Class Study

| Prehistory | Mesopotamia & Phoenicians |
| Ancient Egypt | Greece | Rome |
| Medieval History | Renaissance and Reformation |
| Exploration | National Monarchies |
| The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment |
| Colonial America and American Revolution |
| The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era

Cool Clicks & Related Links:
(Hit your "Back" button to return to this page)

France History Resources
France History Guide
Napolean Bonaparte Handwriting Sample
Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution: Links
Napoleon's Invasion of Russia
Marie Antoinette - Queen of France
Waterloo 1815 - Visitor's Center

The list of links will grow with student participation!
Please e-mail pertinent URLs to Mr. Sedivy at:



Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000

Mr. Sedivy's History Classes
| Colorado History | American Government | Modern European History | Advanced Placement European History | Rise of England | World History |
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