24 terms

French Revolution Terms

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Estates General
Legislative body consisting of representatives of the three estates, before making any changes.
Olympe de Rouges
In 1791, Olympe de Gouges, a journalist, demanded equal rights in her Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen.
Louis XVI
Ruled as King of France from 1774 until 1791, and then as King of the French from 1791 to 1792. Suspended and arrested during the 10th of August 1792 Insurrection, he was tried by the National Convention, found guilty of treason, and executed on 21 January 1793. He was well-meaning but weak and indecisive.
Old Regime
In 1789, France still clung to an outdated social system that had emerged in the Middle Ages. This is referred to as the ancien regime, or Old Regime, where everyone was divided into one of three social classes, or estates.
Bourgeoisie
Middle class. Included prosperous bankers, merchants, and manufacturers, as well as lawyers, doctors, journalists, and professors. The bulk of the third estate consisted of rural peasants.
Tennis Court Oath
The National Assembly moved to an indoor tennis court and took the Tennis Court Oath. The swore "never to separate and to meet wherever the circumstances might require until we have established a sound and just constitution."
Storming of the Bastille
More than 800 Parisians assembled outside the Bastille, a grim medieval fortress used as a prison for political and other prisoners. The crowd demanded weapons and gunpowder believed to be stored there.The Bastille was a symbol to the people of France representing years of abuse by the monarchy. The storming of and subsequent fall of the Bastille was a wake-up call to Louis XVI.
Night session of August 4th
On this night, the National Assembly congregated and took power away from the nobles. Both contemporary observers and modern historians note that the nobles gave up nothing they had not already lost. Nevertheless, in the months ahead, the National Assembly turned the reforms of August 4th into law, meeting a key Enlightenment goal--the equality of all male citizens before the law.
National Assembly
The National Assembly was a group of congress members made up of the third estate.
Declaration of the Rights of Man & Citizen
In late August, as a first step toward writing a constitution, the Assembly issued the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. The document was modeled in part on the American Declaration of Independence, written 13 years earlier. All men, the French declaration announced, were "born and remain free and equal in rights." They enjoyed natural rights to "liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression."
Women's March on Versailles
On October 5, about 6000 women marched 13 miles in the pouring rain from Paris to Versailles, demanding to see the king.
Civil Constitution of the Clergy
Under the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, issued in 1790, bishops and priests became elected, salaried officials. The Civil Constitution ended papal authority over the French Church and dissolved convents and monasteries. Many bishops and priests refused to accept it, and the pope condemned it. When the government punished clergy who refused to support it, a huge gulf opened between revolutionaries in Paris and the peasantry in the provinces.
Jacobins
A revolutionary political club, the Jacobins were mostly middle-class lawyers or intellectuals. They used pamphleteers and sympathetic newspaper editors to advance the republican cause.
Sans-Culottes
Working-class men and women who pushed the revolution into more radical action. They were called this because they wore long trousers instead of fancy knee breeches that the upper-class men wore. By 1791 many sans-culottes demanded a republic.
Committee of Public Safety
To deal with the threats to France,the Convention created the Committee of Public Safety. The 12-member committee had almost absolute power as it battled to save the revolution. The Committee prepared France for all-out war, issuing a tax that required all citizens to contribute to the war effort.
Robespierre
The government battled counterrevolutionaries under the guiding hand of Maximilien Robespierre. He was a shrewd lawyer and politician who quickly rose to the leadership of the Committee of Public Safety. His enemies called him a tyrant.
Reign of Terror
Robespierre was one of the chief architects of the Reign of Terror, which lasted from September 1793 to July 1794. About 300,000 were arrested during the Reign of Terror. 17,000 were executed. Many were victims of mistaken identity or were falsely accused by their neighbors. The engine of the terror was the guillotine.
Directory
The Constitution of 1795 set up a five-man Directory and a two-house legislature elected by male citizens of property. The middle class and professional people of the bourgeoisie were the dominant force during this stage of the French Revolution. The Directory held power from 1795 to 1799.
Napoleon
Napoleon Bonaparte was a popular military hero who had won a series of brilliant victories against the Austrians in Italy. The politicians planned to use him to advance their own goals. Before long, Napoleon would outwit them all to become ruler of France.
Civil Code of 1804 (Napoleonic Code)
Among Napoleon's most lasting reforms was a new code of laws, popularly called the Napoleonic Code. It embodied Enlightenment principles such as the equality of all citizens before the law, religious toleration, and the abolition of feudalism.
Continental System
With an invasion ruled out, Napoleon struck at Britain's lifeblood, it's commerce. He waged economic warfare through Continental System, which closed European ports to British goods.
Guerrilla Warfare
Spanish patriots conducted a campaign of guerrilla warfare, or hit-and-run raids, against the French. Small bands of guerrillas ambushed French supply trains or troops before retreating into the countryside.
Congress of Vienna
After Waterloo, diplomats and heads of state again sat down at the Congress of Vienna. They faced the monumental task of restoring stability and order in Europe after years of war. The Congress met for 10 months, from September 1814.
Balance of Power
A balance of power is an equal amount of power between nations, so that one nation does not have more power than another.