The French Revolution represents a culmination of eighteenth-century ideas, economic transitions, and subtle transformations within the European social structure. It was a direct response to the obvious abuses of what we now call the "old regime," but the influence of Enlightenment thinking, the development of modern capitalism, and the related growth of cities were all motivating forces for the upheaval. What brought on the revolution was the French financial crisis of the 1780s. This was the result of economic problems reaching back half a century.
After reading this chapter you should understand:
Chapter and AP Topic Outline Correlation
The Crisis of the French Monarchy
The Revolution of 1789
The Reconstruction of France
The End of the Monarchy: A Second Revolution
Europe at War With the Revolution
The Reign of Terror
The Thermidorian Reaction
- The Crisis of the French Monarchy
- The Revolution of 1789
- The Reconstruction of France
- The End of the Monarchy: A Second Revolution
- Europe at War With the Revolution
- The Reign of Terror
- The Thermidorian Reaction
The French Revolution (6 Days)
* QUIZ on “The French Revolution” (1 Day)
GUIDED READING QUESTIONS
Crisis and Revolution in
(Chapter 18, pg. 594-603
1. Why was the French royal government in significant debt on the eve of the French Revolution? Of what was this debt symptomatic?
2. Compare the treatment of the French parlements during the reigns of
3. Why did the new policies and tax proposals of France's minister of finance, Calonne, make a new clash between the French monarchy and the nobility unavoidable?
4. What was the Assembly of Notables? How did it react to Calonne's policies? What did it call for? Why?
5. What factors accounted for Louis XVI's decision to convoke the Estates General?
6. Describe the two varied historical interpretations of the meaning of the calling of the Estates General by Louis XVI and the turmoil that followed over the next decade?
7. List the immediate causes which Kagan identifies as having contributed to the outbreak of revolution in
8. Describe the debate which emerged in the Estates General over voting procedures.
9. What were cahiers de doléances?
10. What actions by Louis XVI prompted the citizens of
11. What was the Great Fear, and why did it sweep across much of the French countryside in the summer of 1789? What impact would the Great Fear have on the revolution?
12. What inspired the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen? What rights were proclaimed in it? For whom? Who was left out, and why?
13. What convinced the French royal family to leave
The Reconstruction of
(Chapter 18, pg. 603-609)
1. In its effort to reorganize France, what types of policies did the National Constituent Assembly pursue with regards to government, administration, economics, and religion?
2. How did the Constitution of 1791 reorganize the political structure of
3. Why did the National Constituent Assembly redraw the map of France, replacing the ancient provinces with a larger number of new, smaller départements?
4. Why did the National Constituent Assembly choose not to repudiate the royal debt, and how, ultimately, did the assembly decide to finance the debt? What were assignats?
5. In what ways did the Civil Constitution of the Clergy transform the Roman Catholic Church in
6. Why did the royal family's "flight to Varennes" end any realistic hope for the continuation of the constitutional monarchy in
The Second French Revolution
(Chapter 18, pg. 609-612)
1. As of the autumn of 1791, how did each of the following social groups in France view the revolution: aristocrats, peasants, city workers, women? How did the major foreign powers view the revolution?
3. How did the reasons expressed by the Girondists and the monarchists for supporting war against
4. What action of the revolution effectively forced Louis XVI to abandon the monarchy, bringing to an end any influence which he had over events in
5. Why was the National Convention formed in September, 1792? What was its first act as
6. Who were the sans-culottes? Describe their goals for the revolution? Why were the goals of the sans-culottes not wholly compatible with those of the Jacobins? Who among the Jacobins ultimately choose to cooperate with the leaders of the Parisian sans-culottes, and why?
7. How did opinions within the Jacobin club differ with regards to the fate of Louis XVI? What was the king convicted of having done?
8. Why, by mid-1793, had the Mountain replaced the Girondists as leaders of the revolution?
(Chapter 18, pg. 612-614)
1. How did the revolution in
2. What impact would the French Revolution have on Enlightened Absolutism in Eastern Europe, and on the partition of
3. What factors motivated the nation-states of the First Coalition to ally themselves with one another?
The Reign of Terror
(Chapter 18, pg. 615-620)
1. What was the function of the committees organized by the revolutionary government of the First French Republic on the eve of the War of the First Coalition? Why was the Committee of Public Safety unique among them? Describe the political outlook of those on this committee.
2. Describe the "republic of virtue" created by the Committee of Public Safety. Whose corruption was it intended to eliminate from
3. Describe the actions undertaken by the National Convention in their effort to dechristianize
4. Why did Robespierre believe dechristianization was a "political blunder"? What did the concept of a "republic of virtue" mean to Robespierre, and how would this understanding shape his actions during the progress of the Reign of Terror?
5. What was the mandate of the revolutionary tribunals established by the Convention during the summer of 1793? Who, during the course of the Reign of Terror, would be considered an "enemy" by the tribunals?
6. Identify the various individuals and groups who fell victim to the Reign of Terror. Why did Robespierre ultimately turn the Terror against his fellow revolutionaries, in particular the enragés and the more conservative republicans - such as Danton?
7. Why, ultimately, did the Convention turn against Robespierre? Why did his former supporters - the sans-culottes and the Jacobins - abandon him in the end?
8. Why, by the late summer of 1794, did the Reign of Terror come to an end?
The Thermidorian Reaction
(Chapter 18, pg. 620-624)
1. In what ways was the Thermidorian Reaction a tempering of the revolution? Why was such a tempering necessary by July, 1794?
2. In what ways did the Thermidorian Reaction undo the societal and religious reforms of the Committee of Public Safety?
4. The French Revolution is often considered a victory of the bourgeoisie, or middle class; yet, the property that won the day was neither industrial nor commercial wealth. Which social group in
5. How and why were the sans-culottes removed from French political life in the aftermath of the Reign of Terror?
6. How did Napoleon Bonaparte first make a name for himself in the service of the revolution?
7. What problems did the Directory face in governing