After the Estates General met, the Third Estate demanded more representation. When it was denied, they formed a legislative body, along with a few members of the first and second estate, known as the National Assembly. They made an oath to write a new Constitution for France and to reform the administrative, constitutional, and economic state of the country. Their members were the main leaders and driving force of the revolution.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen
written by the National Assembly, proclaiming that all men were "born and remain free and equal in rights." The natural rights were "liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression," and the government existed to protect those rights. It pointed out the abuses of the old monarchial and aristocratic regime, but could also be applied to other European countries.
Civil Constitution of the Clergy
document released by the National Assembly that completely transformed the Catholic Church in France, making it a mere branch of the secular state. The clergy from now on would be elected by the people and paid by the state. This was a major mistake of the assembly, making relations between the French church and state very bitter. It also further divided the French people between those for and against the document.
Estates General (1789)
was called because of the deadlock between the French monarchy and the interests of aristocratic institutions and the church. A large struggle which came up was the argument on voting. They thought it should be done by order rather than by head, meaning each estate would have one vote rather than each individual member. This would mean the first and second estate would almost always outvote the third estate.
dominant figure on the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror. He favored a republic and the Jacobins were his base of power; also relied on the support of the sans-culottes; among the first of a succession of secular ideologues of the left and right who, in the name of humanity, would bring so much suffering to Europe in the following centuries, particularly because of the policies associated with terror in the name of republican virtue.
Spirit of the Laws
written by Montesquieu. He knew that no set of laws could be applied to all set of circumstances, but believed a monarchial government limited by various intermediary institutions (division of power). He talked about the inferiority of women to men, but still believed in. He wrote on Islamic society in its passivity of the people subject to political despotism.
written by Hobbes. He aimed to provide a rigorous philosophical justification for a strong central political authority. Because of his belief of humanity's egotistical and selfish ways, he thought absolute authority in a single body would protect the people of the country.
written by Rousseau. It outlines the kind of political structure that Rousseau believed would overcome the evils of contemporary politics and society. He advocated rule by the general will, or looking out for the good of the community of individuals instead of the individual alone.
written by Voltaire. A satire attacking war, religious persecution, and what he considered unwarranted optimism about the human condition. He thought human society should be improved, but was uncertain how that should happen (pessimistic undercurrent of the Enlightenment).
Tennis Court Oath
when the members of the National Assembly were locked out of the Estates General, they gathered on a tennis court and swore not to leave until they had written a new Constitution. Some members of the first and second estate defected to the National Assembly, seeing their conviction and rising power. Their oath marked the beginnings of the revolution.
Committee of Public Safety
carried out the executive duties of the government and enjoyed almost dictatorial power. Those on the committee believed their role was to save the revolution from mortal enemies at home and abroad and were willing to take out anyone who interfered with their goals. Their influence gave France a reign of terror for a period of time.
Storming of the Bastille
on July 14, large groups of Parisians stormed the Bastille to get weapons for the militia. Many of the revolutionaries were killed by the guards, but after they stormed the building, the Parisians killed the guards and governor and let the prisoners go free. This was a very symbolic moment because it was the fall of one of France's military and legislative centers.
a French word used to describe the middle class or anything associated with it in France. This could also be considered the Third Estate during revolutionary France.
a movement of rumors that swept through the French countryside that royal troops would be sent into the rural districts. The peasants, now terrified, intensified their disturbances and rebelled demanding their food supply and rights due to them.
a Swiss banker who became the new royal director-general of finances. He reported that a large portion of royal expenditures went to pensions for aristocrats and other royal court favorites. This greatly angered court aristocratic circles, and he left office shortly after. His financial sleight of hand made it difficult for government officials to raise taxes.
the most famous and most organized club of revolutionaries established by the Third Estate. They were also the most advanced group in the National Constituent Assembly and had pressed for a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy. They drew much of their beliefs and goals from the Enlightenment thinkers, particularly their emphasis on equality, popular sovereignty, and civic virtue.
a group of Jacobins named because many of them came from the department of the Gironde in southwest France. They were determined to oppose the forces of counterrevolution. They even passed one measure ordering the emigres to return or suffer their loss of property and another requiring the refractory clergy to support the Civil Constitution or lose their state pensions.
aristocrats that settled in countries near the French border who sought to foment counterrevolution. At times they still tried to keep their spot in the National Assembly to influence the acts and reform from the inside.
a group of Jacobins who had their seats high up in the assembly hall in the National Assembly. They were the most powerful and influential group of people in the assembly.
writers and critics who flourished in the expanding print culture and who took the lead in forging the new attitudes favorable to change, championed reform, and advocated toleration; they sought to apply the rules of reason, criticism, and common sense to practices and policies; the most famous include Voltaire, Montesquieu, Diderot, D'Alembert, Rousseau, Hume, Gibbon, Smith, Lessing, and Kant
king of France during the French Revolution. He lacked the character, resolution, and political skills to resolve the financial and social problems arising in France. He was out under a great deal of pressure because of the demands the aristocracy and the middle-class were making. He was put on trial and was convicted of conspiring against the liberty of the people and the security of the state. He was beheaded January 21,1793.
wife of Louis XVI who attempted to assist her husband in the counterrevolution. Hers was among the first of the many executions during the Reign of Terror in October 1793.
philosophe who stressed the importance of the community over the importance of the individual; believed that alone, humans could achieve very little, but together could live in a prosperous society; thought government should be ruled by the general will (individuals should be obedient to be free)
influential philosophe who offended many social aspects of society with his politically and socially irreverent poetry, essays, and plays; his satire and sarcasm attacked the evils of French and European life; he had one of the more pessimistic views in the Enlightenment; one of his important works was the Candide
French philosophe who saw the need for reform even while he lived comfortably and happily; wrote Spirit of the Laws in which he held up the example of British constitution as the pinnacle of regulating power in government; noted that no political setting could apply to every situation and the best fit depended on many variables; his greatest contribution was his division of power in government seeing that power was split between king (executive), Parliament (legislative), and courts (judicial); failed to see, however, flaws of the English system: corruption allowing aristocrats to have great governmental influence and the corruption in the cabinet system
one of the main leaders in the writing of the Encyclopedia; wanted to educate the people of Europe of the movements in the Enlightenment and the possibilities available to them solely through their human reasoning and liberty; was strongly hostile to slavery and greatly looked down on those who practiced it