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The French Revolution lasted around ten years, from 1789 until 1799. Discontent began inmid-1789 when the French government, which was headed by King Louis XVI (1754–1793) was in danger of falling into bankruptcy. The situation intensified as increasing unrest among the peasants (farm workers and other laborers) and the prosperous middle class (businessmen) created a crisis that quickly grew into a reform movement. Ultimately the monarchy (government headed by a single ruler) was overthrown, a constitution (a document specifying a country's laws) was established, and the new revolutionary government set about ridding the country of the remains of the old regime. The Revolution ended in 1799 when French general Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) seized control of the government. Although democracy (a form of government based on individual freedom and rule by the majority) had not been established in France, the Revolution had ended the supreme authority of the king. It also strengthened the middle class and had shown the rest of Europe that French men and women were ready to die for the ideals of liberty and equality.
Further Information: The French Revolution. [Online] Available http://www.altern.com/felix2/english/revfre.html, October 25, 2000; Hibbert, Christopher. The Days of the French Revolution. New York: Morrow, 1999; Rude, George F. French Revolution: Its Causes, Its History, and Its Legacy after 200 Years. Grove/Atlantic, 1991.
The French Revolution proper lasted from 1789-1799, but many people consider the age of Napoleon (1800-1815) to be part of the revolution, too.
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