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History in 60 Seconds - The French Revolution

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Uploaded on Jun 12, 2011

Those wacky French and their executing.

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There were a few factors leading to the French Revolution. The biggest reason was that people were starving to death due to poor grain harvests and transportation to rural areas where most peasants lived. On top of that the French economy was massively in debt due to supporting America during the American Revolution. Even though the economy was terrible, the nobility remained living lavish lifestyles practically flaunting their wealth even though they made up 5% of the population. You could also credit the Enlightenment's role of encouraging democracy and religious freedoms.

The Estates-General was called for in 1789 to figure out the financial crisis. The 3 parties represented were the nobility, clergy, and commoners and each had 1 vote. They argued for days and eventually the third estate, or common people, broke away and declared themselves the national assembly. This lead to a power struggle between the rich and the poor. Soon the Bastille, a prison and armory, was stormed and weapons seized. The commander was decapitated and publicly humiliated which would become a common occurrence. In 1971, King Louis 16th gave in and accepted the new constitution creating a legislative branch.

Other monarchs got scared and France began warring with everyone to protect its revolution. Louis 16th was executed by guillotine for conspiracy against the new French government which lead to the Reign of Terror led by Maximillian Robespierre and the Committee for Public Safety, where pretty much anyone opposed to the revolution was executed by guillotine without trial. It got so bad he began executing his own supporters and Robespierre was overthrown. With political turmoil, Napoleon Bonaparte, who had gained fame during the wars, led a coup and became ruler of France in 1799.

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