Clergy, Exempt from the Taille, a divided group in the 18th century France, as higher clergy were aristocrats and shared interests with the mobility, while parish priests were often commoners.
Nobility, also somewhat divided during the French Revolution period. Nobility of the sword were descendants of the medieval nobility, offices, military officers, and royal law courts.
Commoners, Overwhelming majority of society, included peasantry and growing Bourgeoisie. Their discontent was a powerful force during the French Revolution.
Marquis de Lafayette
French officer who assisted General Washington during the American Revolution. He returned to France with American ideas of liberty and republicanism, and became a member of the Society of Thirty: an influential group in the early stages of the French Revolution.
Harvests of 1787 and 1788
Bad harvests in France that resulted in food shortages, rising prices for other necessities, and urban unemployment. The resulting misery was a contributing factor to the French Revolution.
Rising middle class of merchants, industrialists, bankers, professionals, (lawyers, doctors and writers.) This group was often excluded from social and political privileges that the nobility enjoyed.
Essential Law Courts, these 13 government agencies were responsible for registering (or making official) royal edicts. Subdued by Louis XVI, they frustrate attempts by the monarchy to solve economic problems, choosing to serve their own interests under the label of defending liberty against the arbitrary power of the monarch.
"Vote By Order or By Head?"
By design, the Estates General voted by order (social order) in the Estates General. Each order had 1 vote, ensuring aristocratic control over any proposed reforms. The "lovers of liberty" and Society of Thirty factions supported voting by the head, which would make the larger Third Estate far more powerful, at the expense of the other 2 estates. The body was hopelessly divided, and action on voting by the head was blocked.
Society of Thirty
A club composed of people from the Paris Salons, they were "Lovers of Liberty," and embraced enlightenment and American ideas of individual liberties, republicanism, and popular sovereignty. Lafayette returned from his duties during the American Revolution and joined the club.
Clergyman who wrote the pamphlet, "What is the Third Estate?" which stoked discontent by arguing that the Third Estate (97% of the people) was the will of the Nation and that the Noble Class should be simply abolished.
When no agreement on the issue of voting by head or by order in the Estates General could be reached, the third order voted to form a governing body and decided to draw up a constitution. (6/17/1789)
Tennis Court Oath
3 days after the formation of the National Assembly, the Third Estate arrived at their meeting place and found that they had been locked out. They met instead on the nearby Tennis Court and swore an oath that they would continue to meet until a constitution had been written.
Mobilization of the Common People
Once the King attempted to stop the National Assembly. Urban and rural uprising began to occur in the July and August 1787, saving the National Assembly. The most famous of these uprisings was "The Fall of the Bastille."
Fall of Bastille
A royal armory and state prison, it was attacked by commoners in the uprising. It was a symbol of Royal Despotism, and had been rumored to contain thousands of political prisoners. (In truth, only 5 forgers, and 2 mentally ill prisoners were inside.) It became a popular symbol of triumph over monarchal Despotism and the power of mob violence. Paris was abandoned to the insurgents; Louis XVI was informed that he could no longer rely on French troops to enforce his will. Louis XVI was forced to confirm Lafayette as the commander of the new "National Guard," and the national assembly was saved.
Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen
Adopted by the National Assembly on 8/26/1789, it provided an ideological foundation and an educational device for the nation. It contained enlightenment principles and raised the question whether women should be included within "Equal rights for all men."
Olympe de Gouges
A playwright and pamphleteer, she refused to accept the exclusion of women in the rights of equality in the declaration, and wrote a "Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen" and insisted that women have the same rights as men. The national assembly ignored her.
"We are bringing back the baker, . . ."
Angry over high bread prices, the women of Paris marched on Versailles, broke into the Queen's bed chamber, killing several royal guards. They forcibly bring the King and his family back to Paris where they are held virtually as prisoners. These actions by women intended to protect the revolution are known as "October Days." The King was forced to accept and approve the decrees from the National Assembly.
Civil Constitution of the Clergy
After the pope condemns the revolution, this required all priests to swear an oath of loyalty to the revolution. Church lands are seized, and the revolutionaries make a fateful decision to take on the Catholic Church inside France, sowing the seeds for counter-revolution.
A citizen's club formed to discuss issues and agitate for change. This club grows in influence and later produces most of the important leaders of the radical phase of the French revolution.
Escape to Varennes
The Royal Family attempts to escape France to the Queen's homeland, Austria. Typical of Louis XVI's ineptitude, they attempt to travel across France with as many royal trappings as they could carry. They are discovered here and brought back to Paris—this time as traitors who had attempted to abandon the nation.
Declaration of Pillnitz
Concerned that the revolution might spread to their countries, Leopold II of Austria and Frederick the Great of Prussia issued this declaration inviting other European monarchs to do what they could to strengthen the French monarchy, but suspicion among them prevented any action.
Radical Parisian political group that controlled Paris politics, these radicals were the first to call themselves the sans-culottes. They were instrumental in forcing the National Assembly to suspend the monarchy and form a new National Convention using universal male suffrage.
"without fancy breeches." A term referring to the knee pants that nobles and aristocrats wore, and a term used to express the pride of the revolutionaries that they did not have them. The term is rarely used to signify poverty or working-class status, but rather used to indicate revolutionary patriots.
Leader of the Paris Commune, the dominant force in French politics until the National Convention was chosen. He was the new Minister of Justice, and was the sans-culottes-in-chief. He was instrumental in a period of revenge against those citizens who had assisted the king and had resisted the "public will." Thousands of presumed traitors and prisoners were slaughtered during this time, but even more would die when Robespierre succeeds him.
Once radical Parisians were in charge, they demanded that this governing body be elected using universal male suffrage. It was the replacement for the National Assembly.
Girondins and the Mountains
Two major factions within the National Assembly and later in the National Convention. One group represented the provinces and feared the power of the Paris radicals, and the other represented those radical interests and would eventually win the power struggle between them.
A challenge to the revolutionary government in Western France, where counter-revolutionaries objected to the new military draft. It bloomed into counter-revolutionary violence, and the National Convention gave broad powers to the Committee of Public Safety to deal with the uprising. The uprising was quashed by slaughter.
Committee of Public Safety
Organizing arm of the National Convention, led by Danton and Robespierre, its power increased as it successfully provided the leadership necessary to wage war and put down counter-revolution. On 8/23/1793, the committee ordered a universal mobilization of the nation.
"A nation in arms"
The result of the universal mobilization ordered by the Committee of Public Safety, the mobilization of 650,000 troops—the largest in European history up to that time. It was the term used to describe the first "peoples' army' and fought the first 'peoples' war' with appalling consequences. It is viewed as the precursor of 20th century war in which there are no innocents.
To meet the domestic crisis of the Vendeean Rebellion and its spread, the National Convention and the Committee of Public Safety established the 'Reign of Terror.' During that period this man authorized the executions of Marie Antoinette, former Girondins (including Olympe de Gouges) and thousands of others. Originally opposed to the death penalty, he changed his mind in an effort to enforce compliance with the 'Republic of Virtue.' He is said to have "not a hair nor a phrase out of place."
Reign of Terror-
Period of reprisal and vengeance, and a general coercion to force compliance with the edicts of the Republic of Virtue, organized and enforced by the Committee of Public Safety. The end of this period is called the "Great Terror."
A humanitarian device, meant to express equality under the law—even in death. It was quick, and a convenient symbol before, during, and after the Reign of Terror.
Law of General maximum
Price controls placed on necessities by the Committee of Public Safety in an effort to curb inflationary prices. It did not work well.
The National Convention and the Committee of Public Safety tried to secure the Republic of Virtue by gutting the power of the Catholic Church. Seizing church property, removing street signs on streets named after saints, establishing a secular revolutionary calendar, and the "Cult of the Supreme Being" were all efforts to sap and strangle the power of the Catholic Church's strength among the French population. It proved to be a disastrous misstep by the radicals.
Temple of Reason
The new name given to the cathedral of Notre Dame by the revolutionaries during dechristianization.
Replacement for the Christian calendar, with 12 months, 3 10-day weeks, with the 5 days left over reserved for a festival time when the virtues of the revolution would be celebrated—Virtue, Intelligence, Labor, Opinion, and Rewards. This new calendar faced intense opposition, and many Frenchmen covertly organized their lives according to the traditional calendar.
A son of African slaves in San Domingue (Haiti), who led a slave revolt to a successful conclusion. Napoleon later rescinded the abolition of slavery, captured L'Ouverture, returned him to a French prison where he died shortly after. Napoleon's troops are so wracked by disease in Sam Domingue that the slave revolt eventually triumphs again.
Named for the revolutionary calendar month, revolutionary fervor began to subside during this period. The National Convention was able to curtail the power of the Committee of Public Safety, shut down the Jacobin club, open churches for public worship, and abandon economic regulations like the Law of General Maximum in favor of Laissez Faire policies. This period results in the new transitional governing body, the Directory.
5-man council of elders from the reorganized and reestablished National Assembly, intended to be a transitional governing body but was marked by corruption, stagnation, and economic opportunism.
Appalled at the misery of the common French people, this left-wing radical wanted to abolish private property and eliminate private enterprise. His "Conspiracy of Equals" was crushed, and he was executed in 1797.
A fast-rising military man, whose successes in the Egyptian and Italian campaigns propelled him supreme commander of the French army. Returning to France as a national hero in 1797, he would head a successful coup d'état in 1799 and become a virtual dictator of France.
Italian and Egyptian Campaigns
Showcases for Napoleon's leadership talents, these successes elevated him to hero status throughout France.
First Consul and Emperor
The executive branch of the new, post-directory French government was comprised of 3 consuls, but the constitution expressly stated that the decision of the first consul "would suffice." Napoleon took that first consul position for himself, and added the title Emperor for good measure.
Arranged by Napoleon and the Pope in 1801, it was a deal made to reestablish recognition of Roman Catholicism within France after the dechristianization period. The Pope's part of the bargain was to recognize the accomplishments of the revolution. Catholicism was NOT reestablished as the state religion however, as napoleon was a child of the Enlightenment and believed in religious toleration, and that religion was useful in providing a moral structure for humanity.
The Civil Code
A consolidation and codification of the many new laws that had come into existence, preserving many of the gains of the revolution: recognizing the equality of all men under the law, the right to choose one's profession, religious toleration, and the abolition of serfdom and feudalism. The rights of women—won during the liberal phase of the revolution—were curtailed sharply once again in this,
Germain de Stael
prominent writer, believer in Enlightenment ideals, refused to accept Napoleon's increasing despotism. She wrote novels and political articles denouncing Napoleon. Her books and writings were banned and she was exiled to France. She returned to her beloved France 2 years before her death in 1817.
Location in Southern Germany where Napoleon defeated the Austrian and Russian armies under Alexander I. This defeat of the Third Coalition against Napoleon enabled him to establish a new European order in which enlightenment and revolutionary ideas were spread.
Location of Great Britain's defeat of the combined fleet of France and Spain in 1805. This signaled Great Britain's overwhelming superiority at sea. Eventually Napoleon's land forces would suffer a defeat at the hands of the combined land forces of Great Britain and Prussia at Waterloo (in what is now known as Belgium).
The Grand Army
Napoleon's army, the continuance of "a nation in arms" and totaled nearly a million soldiers—not all of which were Frenchmen.
An island off the coast of Tuscany, where Napoleon was first exiled. He did not stay—he returned to France where he attempted to complete what he had started.
a forlorn island in the South Atlantic where Napoleon was exiled the second time, this time for good.