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French Revolution

Main Idea: Economic and social inequalities in the Old Regime helped cause the French Revolution.

I.                 Revolution Threatens the French King

A.   The Old Regime

1.    First Estate: The clergy of the Roman Catholic Church

2.    The Second Estate consists of rich nobles, who own 20% of the land and pay no taxes

3.    Third Estate: the other 98% of the people—heavily taxed and discontented

B.   Forces of Change

1.    New ideas about the power of the people take hold: Enlightenment ideas

2.    Instability: Heavy taxes, Poor harvest and high bread prices, Government debt

3.    Desire for privileges

4.    Gap between rich and poor

5.    Poor leadership: Louis XVI & Marie Antoinette

a.   Calls meeting of the Estates-General to deal with crisis

C.  Revolution

1.    Third Estate delegates in the Estates-General demand more rights

2.    In the first deliberate act of revolution, the Third Estate delegates vote to establish the National Assembly

a.   Tennis Court Oath

3.    Peasants overthrow the Bastille on July 14, 1789, and the Revolution begins in earnest

D.  Great Fear

1.   A senseless panic leads to great destruction in the French countryside

2.   Women’s March: Women angered by the price of bread march on Versailles and compel the royal family to move to Paris