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Long term causes of the French Revolution

The wide social and economic gap between the third estate and the first and second estates. The unfairness of the tax system (first and second estates were exempt), frustrated ambitions of the growing middle class to receive social advancement, the influence of ideas of the Enlightenment (fair government, equality, civil rights). Add also political ineptitude of the last two absolute monarchs of France (Louis XV and Louis XVI) and a long-standing financial crisis in France

Financial Crisis in France

bankruptcy of the French government in the mid-to-late 1780s. Caused by America's revolution and inability to tax the rich First and Second Estates. 1787-inflation, unemployment, poor harvest, rising prices

The Estates General and the beginning of the French Revolution

1789-National Assembly created consisting of Third Estate (half) who were mainly lawyers and civil servants. Louis XVI and First and Second Estates did not agree. Third Estate turned to people of Paris (lower class radicals) who rioted for several days- July 14th 1789 Bastille Day. Other large cities rose up in the countryside, peasants revolted.

Phases of the French Revolution

1789-1791 Moderate Period, 1792-1794 Radical Period, 1794-1799 Conservative Backlash

The Moderate Phase of the French Revolution

Goal was to create a Constitutional Monarchy. Marquis de Lafayette issued the "Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen". National and Legislative assemblies abolished noble privileges and nationalized lands belonging to the Catholic Church. Assemblies were unable to solve France's problems

The Radical Phase of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror

in April of 1792, France went to war with Austria and Prussia. September 1792 rioting and street fighting in Paris led to fall of Legislative Assembly. A new legislature, the National Convention, was elected and led by Jacobins. Reign of Terror-30,000 to 50,000 people put to death, mostly by guillotine.

Thermidor and the Third Phase of the French Revolution

Thermidorian reaction or anti-radical backlash 1794-1799. Political power was given to government body known as the Directory. New constitution was less democratic. Directory was overthrown in 1799 bringing end to French Revolution

Other Atlantic Revolutions

Against absolute monarchies or foreign domination: Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Haiti and Latin America in general

Napolean Bonaparte

Reign 1799-1815. Formed coup that overthrew the Directory in 1799. Created institutions that exist today: Bank of France and the Civil Law Code. His wars lasted for years: overambitious invasion of Russia in 1812 led to his downfall. Battle of Waterloo was his second and last defeat

The Congress of Vienna

1814-1815. Consisted of Austria, Russia, Prussia, and Great Britain. They redrew the map of Europe and shrank France to its pre-revolutionary borders. Wanted to achieve balance of power in Europe. Klemens von Metternich created Congress system.

Reactions in Early Nineteenth-Century Europe

For three decades political controls tightened in most European nations. Kings were brought back, including France. Freedom of expression, civil rights suffered.

Great Britain

3 major reform acts would change Britain's electoral laws throughout the century. The First Reform Act would change Britain's electoral laws. The First Reform Act was passed in 1832. It widened suffrage only slightly, but did much to improve districting and general operation of the voting system. The First Reform Act was the 1st step on Britain's long road toward democratization.


France was placed under a Parliamentary monarchy with the family of Louis XVI back on the throne. French overthrew monarchy in 1830.

Central and Eastern Europe

Austria's emperor was advised by Metternich, the architect of reaction and the Congress system. Prussia developed a law-based state and the crown shared power with the legislature. Prussia remained militaristic and authoritarian for years. In Russia, the tsar continued to be all-powerful

The Revolution of 1848

Causes: Impatience with 3 decades of reactionary rule, the social and economic effects of the Industrial Revolution, growing strength of nationalism, economic downturns. In the end, except in France, all of the revolutions were crushed or faded away.

Reform and Democracy in Great Britain

Democracy meant meaningful vote for all adult males. Two major parties in Parliament: Conservative and Liberals. Was accomplished by means of the Second (1867) and Third (1885) Reform Acts. During the early 1900s the Labour Party displaced the older, more middle class Liberals as the primary anti-conservative party.

Democracy in France

1851: Napolean III made himself emperor of France. During his twenty-year reign, he helped to industrialize and modernize France. 1870-1871 France lost the Franco-Prussian War against the neighboring Germans; Napolean III was deposed.

The Unification of Italy and Germany

Unification of Germany and of Italy occurred during the 1860s and early 1870s. 1870-Italy became a constitutional monarchy under Victor Emmanuel II. Germany defeated Austria in 1864 in a war for leadership of the German states. Germany joined together in 1871 following its decisive victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War.


Austria, a multinational empire, also had to make certain concessions to the dozens of ethnic minorities-Czechs, Poles, Slovaks, Croats, Serbs, Italians, Hungarians. Hungarians forced the Austrian government to grant them equal status within the empire. The Augsleich (Compromise) turned Austria into the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Germany became an industrial powerhouse and its working class grew larger. The government, even after Bismarck's dismissal by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890, continued to be quite conservative.


Had no constitution and until 1905 had no elected body with which the tsar shared power. Crimean War (1853-1856) Tsar Alexander II attempted to modernize Russia with a series of Great Reforms. One was emancipation of the serfs in 1861 and others included lightened censorship, local government powers. He was assassinated in 1881 by radical terrorists. The tsars that followed him (last tsar Nicholas 1894-1917) abandoned his reforms.


late 1700s and early 1800s. Backlash against the logic and reason oriented outlook of the Enlightenment. Based on emotion and passion, self-realization of the individual, heroism, and love of the natural world. Writers, poets: Beethoven, Tchaikovsky.


1840s and 1850s. Critical view of life, everyday existence, poverty, social hypocrisy, and class injustice. Authors included Dickens and Zola.

Charles Darwin and the theories of Evolution and Natural Selection

Darwin explained the biological process of evolution with his theory of natural selection. 1859 book-On the Origin of Species. 1871 book-The descent of Man (natural selection to human beings and that humans and apes share a common evolutionary ancestry)

Economic causes of Imperialism

large-scale industrial production made Western economies hungry for raw materials, the West had immense wealth and could afford militaries, transportation, and the West needed markets.

Military causes of Imperialism

New weaponry like steam powered fleets, machine guns, long range artillery. Western nations needed to maintain bases, coal stations, and ports for repair. The West seized ports around the world

Social causes of Imperialism

Europe's rapid population growth-potential for population growth in the Americas and colonies

Science and technological causes of Imperialism

advances in transportation, communication, warfare, medicine (malaria). Cultural factors: racial superiority beliefs like survival of the fittest (Technology) and higher education

Europe's Overseas Empires

The Americas fell mainly to the United States, Southeast Asia. Dutch won Indonesia; France won Southeast Asia. India went to Britain and France. China fell to almost every European nation. Japan held its own and adopted Western science and technology. Central Asia fell to Russia and Britain (The Great Game). The Middle East was won by Britain and France. Africa was colonized by several Europe nations (Britain, France, Dutch, German, Italians, Belgians and others) and the Balkans was fought over between Russia, Austria, Italy and the declining Ottoman Empire

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