JAC Board Class 9th Social Science Notes History Chapter 1 The French Revolution
- The French Revolution started on 14th July, 1789 with the storming of the fortress prison- the Bastille, hated by everybody, because it stood for the despotic power of the King. The fortress was demolished.
- The beginning of chain of events started by the middle-class affected and shook the lower class and led to the execution of king in France followed by a revolt against monarchy.
- The French revolution is a landmark in the history of European continent and the world.
- This revolution ended the monarchical system in France.
- The slogan of French Revolution “liberty, equality and fraternity” became important ideas of the new era.
→ French Society During the Late Eighteenth Century
- In 1774, Louis XVI of Bourbon family became the king of France.
- Due to long years of war and maintenance of an extravagant court of the palace of Versailles, he got an empty treasury.
- King Louis also helped thirteen American colonies to gain their indendence from Britain.
- This war added more than 1 billion livres (unit of currency in France) to the already
existing debt of more than 2 billion livres. .
- To meet the expenses like maintaining army, court, running government offices or universities etc., the Franch government was forced to increase the taxes.
- French society in the 18th century was divided into three estates and only members of the third estate paid taxes.
- The three estates of France at that time were First Estate (the clergy), Second estate
(the nobility), Third Estate (businessmen, merchants, court officials, lawyers, peasants, artisans, ladies, labour, servants etc.).
→ The Struggle to Survive
- During 1715-1789, the population of France increased rapidly which led to rapid increase in demand for foodgrains.
- Insufficient production increased the price of bread. But the wages of the workers did not keep pace with the rise in prices.
- Situation became worse when bad weather conditions reduced the harvest. This condition created subsistence crisis.
→ Emergence of Middle Class
- In the 18th century, a new social group emerged which was known as the middle class. They had become rich by expansion of overseas trade and manufacturing goods.
- This group believed that no group of society should be privileged by birth.
- Philosophers like John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu considered that the middle class was solely responsible for the revolution.
- They spread the ideas of freedom, equal laws and opportunities for all.
→ The Outbreak of the Revolution
- On 5th May, 1789 Louis XVI called for an assembly of the Estates General to pass the proposals for new taxes.
- First, second and third estates sent their representatives.
- Peasants, artisans and women were denied entry to the assembly but they sent their demands and grievances through their representatives.
- The members of the third estate demanded that voting should be conducted by taking assembly as a whole. But King Louis XVI rejected this proposal and members of the third estate walked out of the assembly in protest.
- On 20th June, 1789, the representatives of the third estate assembled in the hall of an indoor tennis court in Versailles.
- They declared themselves a National Assembly.
- They also swore to draft a new constitution for France that would limit the powers of the monarch.
- The representatives of the third estate were led by Mirabeau and Abbe Sieyes.
- Due to severe winter, harvest was severely affected in France, which led to the increase in prices of essential commodities.
- After spending many hours in long queues at the bakery, crowds of angry women raided the shops.
- On 14th July, 1789, an agitated craud stormed and destroyeed the Bastille.
- Seeing the power of the revolt, King Louis XVI recognised the proposal of National Assembly that his powers would be checked by a constitution.
- On the night of 4th August, 1789. France passed the law for abolishing the feudal system of obligations and taxes.
→ France Becomes a Constitutional Monarchy
- The National Assembly completed the draft of the constitution in 1791. Its main objective was to limit the powers of the monarch.
- Under the new constitution, the laws were to be made by the National Assembly.
- The constitution began with a declaration of the right of man and citizen.
→ France Abolishes Moranchy and Becomes a Republic
- The National Assembly declared war against Prussia and Austria in April, 1792.
- While men were busy fighting at the front, women had to earn a living and look after their families.
- A large segment of the population was convinced to carry the revolution further, as the constitution of 1791 gave political rights only to the richer section.
- On 10th August, 1792, the Jacobins attacked the palace of the Tuileries with a large number of Parisians.
- They killed the King’s guards and held the king himself as hostage for several hours.
- New election were held and all the men above 21 years of age were allowed to vote.
- The newly elected assembly, the Convention, abolished monarchy on 21st September, 1792 and declared France as a‘Republic’.
- King Louis XVI was sentenced to death by a court on the charge of treason.
→ The Reign of Terror
- The period from 1793 to 1794 is reffered to as the ‘Reign of Terror’ in France.
- Robespierre followed a policy of severe control and punishment.
- Due to his harsh policies, his supporters left him in the end. He was finally convicted by a court and guillotined in July 1794.
→ A Directory Rules France
- After the fall of the Jacobin government, the wealthier middle classes seized power.
- The new constitution was introduced which denied the right to vote to non-propertied society.
- It provided for two elected legislative councils. These councils appointed a Directory, an executive made up of five members.
- The political in stability of the Directory paved the way for the rise of a military dictator- Napoleon Bonaparte.
→ Did Women have a Revolution?
- Women played a very significant role in the French Revolution.
- Women in France were disappointed with the constitution of 1791, as it reduced them to passive citizens who had no
- They demanded political rights, viz., right to vote to be elected to the Assembly and to hold political office.
- Finally in 1946, French women won the right to vote.
→ The Abolition of Slavery
- The most important social reform made by the Jacobin government was to abolish slavery in French colonies.
- After long debates, the National Convention passed a law in 1794. It declared slavery illegal and freed all the slaves in French overseas colonies.
- After two years, Napoleon reintroduced slavery.
- Finally, slavery was abolished in the French colonies in 1848.
→ The Revolution arid Everyday Life
- After 1789, many changes took place in the lives of man, woman, and children in France.
- One important law that come into effect after the storming of the Bastille in the sum¬mer of 1789 was the abolition of censorship.
- With the abolition of censorship and the Declaration of the Right of man and citizen, freedom of speech and expression became a natural right of people.
- In 1804, Nepoleon Bonaparte crowned himself as the Emperor of France.
- He conquered the neighbouring European countries, dispossed dynasties and created kingdoms where he placed members of his family.
- He introduced many laws such as the protection of private property and a uniform system of weights and measures provided by the decimal system.
- Napoleon was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
- The ideas of liberty and democratic rights were the most important legacy of the French Revolution.
- Tipu Sultan and Raja Ram Mohan Roy are the two examples of Indian individuals who were inspired by the ideas of the French Revolution.
→ Important Dates and Related Events
- 1774: Louis XVI of the Bourbon family ascended the throne of France and faced empty treasury and growing discontent within the society of the Old Regime.
- 1789: Convocation of Estates General, Third Estate formed National Assembly, the Bastille was demolished, peasants revolted in the countryside, Assembly passed a decree abolishing the feudal system of obligations and taxes.
- 1719: Constitution framed to limit the powers of the king and to guarantee basic rights to all human beings.
- 1792- 93: France became a republic nation. Overthrow of the Jdcobin republic, a Directory which ruled France.
- 1804: Napoleon became the emperor of France, annexed a large part of Europe.
- 1815: Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo.
- 1848: Abolition of slavery in French colonies.
- 1945: Women in France won the right to vote.
→ Revolution: As a historial process, revolution refers to a movement, often violent, to overthrow an old regime and effect complete change in the fundamental institution of society.
→ Livre: Unit of currency in France, discontinued in 1794.
→ Feudal System: This system existed in the Middle Ages in Europe In this system, people received land and protection from a Lord for which they worked and fought.
→ Clergy: Group of persons invested with special functions in the Church.
→ Tithe: A tax levied by the Church, comprising one-tenth of the agricultural produce.
→ Taille: Tax to be paid directly to the state by the members of the Third Instate.
→ Subsistence Crisis: An extreme situation where the basic means of livelihood are endangered.
→ Anonymous: One whose name remains unknown.
→ Manor: An estate consisting of the Lord’s lands and his mansion.
→ Chateau: Castle or stately residence belonging to a king or a nobleman.
→ Marseillaise: The National Anthem of France.
→ Convent: Building belonging to a community devoted to a religious life.
→ Sans-culottes: Jacobins came to be known as the Sans-culottes, literally meaning ‘those without knee breeches’. Sans-culottes men wore in addition the red cap that symbolised liberty.
→ Convention: The newly elected assembly of France in 1792 was called the convention.
→ Republic: A form of government in which the people elect the government including the head of the government.
→ Aristocracy: The highest class in some societies.
→ Guillotine: A machine or a device consisting of two poles and a blade with which a person is beheaded. It was named after Dr. Guillotin who invented it.
→ Directory: It was an executive made up of five members.
→ Treason: Betrayal of one’s country or government.
→ Negroes: A term used for the indigenous people of Africa, south of the Sahara. It is a derogatory term, not in common use any longer.
→ Emancipation: The act of freeing.
→ Militia: An organization that operates like an army but whose members are not professional soldiers.
→ Bastille: A fort in the eastern part of Paris, used as a state prison.
→ Despot: Someone, such as a ruler, who uses power in a cruel and unfair way.
→ Sous: Subordinate (a French prefix).
→ Souvenir: A thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place or event.
→ Jacobin: A political club of people which was formed to discuss the government policies and plan their own forms of action.
→ Louis XVI: He ascended the throne of France in 1774 and ruled over France during the French Revolution.
→ Rousseau: He was a great philosopher and writer of the book ‘The Social Contract’.
→ Montesquieu: A great philosopher. He wrote the book ‘The Spirit of the Laws’.
→ Abbe Sieyes: He was a priest who led National Assembly which was created in 1789. He wrote an influential pamphlet named “What is the Third Estate”.
→ Mirabeau: He also led the National Assembly. He was born in a noble family. He brought out a journal and delivered powerful speeches.
→ Maximilien Robespierre: Political leader of Jacobins who ruled over France from 1793 to 1794.