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French Revolution information


French Revolution
Part of the Atlantic Revolutions
The Storming of the Bastille, 14 July 1789
Date5 May 1789 – 9 November 1799
(10 years, 6 months, and 4 days)
LocationKingdom of France
Outcome
  • Abolition of the Ancien régime and creation of constitutional monarchy
  • Proclamation of the French First Republic in September 1792
  • Reign of Terror and execution of Louis XVI
  • French Revolutionary Wars
  • Establishment of the French Consulate in November 1799

The French Revolution[a] was a period of political and societal change in France that began with the Estates General of 1789, and ended with the coup of 18 Brumaire in November 1799 and the formation of the French Consulate. Many of its ideas are considered fundamental principles of liberal democracy,[1] while its values and institutions remain central to modern French political discourse.[2]

Its causes are generally agreed to be a combination of social, political, and economic factors, which the Ancien Régime proved unable to manage. A financial crisis and widespread social distress led in May 1789 to the convocation of the Estates General, which was converted into a National Assembly in June. The Storming of the Bastille on 14 July led to a series of radical measures by the Assembly, among them the abolition of feudalism, state control over the Catholic Church in France, and a declaration of rights.

The next three years were dominated by the struggle for political control, exacerbated by economic depression. Military defeats following the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars in April 1792 resulted in the insurrection of 10 August 1792. The monarchy was abolished and replaced by the French First Republic in September, while Louis XVI was executed in January 1793.

After another revolt in June 1793, the constitution was suspended and effective political power passed from the National Convention to the Committee of Public Safety. About 16,000 people were executed in a Reign of Terror, which ended in July 1794. Weakened by external threats and internal opposition, the Republic was replaced in 1795 by the Directory. Four years later in 1799, the Consulate seized power in a military coup led by Napoleon Bonaparte. This is generally seen as marking the end of the Revolutionary period.


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  1. ^ Livesey 2001, p. 19.
  2. ^ Fehér 1990, pp. 117–130.

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