French Revolution (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: At issue: Control of France, commoners’ rights. Result: The supporters and the opponents of the revolution were in an almost constant state of warfare, with both sides committing many atrocities. Fear of renewed violence and disorder was one of the main reasons that many Frenchmen welcomed Napoleon’s seizure of power in 1799.
The French Revolution began after King Louis XVI announced a meeting of the Estates-Général, a representative institution, to deal with the government’s financial crisis. The institution was historically divided into three estates: clergymen made up the first estate, noblemen the second, and the rest of the people the third. When the assembly met at Versailles on May 5, 1789, representatives of the third estate insisted that the three estates should meet as a single body, with each representative having one vote.
After the king and the first two estates refused, the representatives of the third estate met in a tennis court and pledged not to disband until France had a written constitution. Faced with the Tennis Court Oath, the king grudgingly allowed the three estates to gather in a national assembly. The king began to gather troops to disband the assembly, but a wave of uprisings in cities and the countryside interrupted his plans. On July 14, 1789, an angry mob in Paris assaulted the Bastille, a large fortress, and tore it...
(The entire section is 1226 words.)
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