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The “Ancien Régime” (Old Regime) under the Bourbon kings had ruined France’s economy. There was widespread hunger. The people were starving and malnourished. Louis XV had practically bankrupted the country due to the many wars (such as the Seven Years War, etc.) fought under his reign. Also, the French had greatly helped the Americans in their revolution in 1776, which was expensive. It was the age of Enlightenment, so when the French people saw what happened in America, they thought that they, too, could throw off their monarch. The famous Frenchman Lafayette, in fact, was a great help to the Americans in their own revolution, and he brought back some of the revolutionary ideas to France.
The French people had already been fomenting. They were tired of monarchs like Louis XVI and his frivolous wife, Marie Antoinette, wasting money on parties and jewels and clothing, while the people were starving. Louis XVI even tried to raise money by taxing the land of the nobles and the clergy. That had never been done before. So, not only the poor people were against the king, but the other “estates” as well (nobility and clergy). Republicanism soon became widespread. There were revolts everywhere. Finally, in 1789, a French mob stormed a military prison in Paris, the Bastille. The French then passed their own Declaration of Independence, called “The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.” Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette tried to escape, but they were apprehended, brought back to Paris, and eventually sent to the guillotine. A republic was declared in 1792 and Louis was executed in 1793.
The French Revolution was much bloodier than the American Revolution, however, and not as successful because it was followed by years of chaos. In the aftermath of the Revolution a series of extremely radical “citizens” were in power, notably the brutal Reign of Terror under Robespierre, followed by more radicalism under the Jacobins and a group called the Directory, which held power until 1799. Finally, Napoleon Bonaparte had to come in and take power. He became emperor of France, which was a different type of monarch, but France did not become a true republic until much later (late 1800s) after a restored monarchy, etc.
I think that you can build off of the previous response to explain the French Revolution to suggest that there are times in revolutions when "everything old is new again." The French Revolution started because the French people genuinely believed that a centralized form of government such as the monarchy of the ancien regime is not receptive to the needs of the people. A call for greater democratization of power where individuals possessed a greater sense of control and political autonomy was heard and the overthrow of the monarchy was an example of this. With this new spirit of freedom and zeal, the power of the people quickly devolved into chaos, mob rule, and a form of government that could not govern effectively with the demands of exercising effective political power. It is in this light that the rise and seizure of power by Napoleon ended up resulting in a form of singular political power. The "new boss" was fairly similar to "the old boss." Between Peter Allen and The Who, you might be able figure out how the Revolution actually ended up transpiring.
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