The French Revolution was a revolution in France from 1789 to 1799. It led to the end of the monarchy. The Revolution ended when Napoleon Bonaparte took power in November 1799 and began his dictatorship. King Louis XVI was executed. Before 1 789, France was ruled by the nobles and the church. The ideas of the Enlightenment were beginning to make these ordinary people want more power. They could see that the American Revolution had created a country in which people had power, instead of a king. The government before the revolution was called the Old Regime.
Causes Many problems in France led up to the Revolution: 1. Under the Kings Louis XV and Louis XVI, France had been supporting the American Revolution and been part of the Seven Years War. (They did not support the American Revolution in support of democracy, but out of desire to weaken the British, their longtime adversaries). This had made the country very poor with a huge national debt. 2. The high price of bread caused the ordinary people to suffer from hunger and malnutrition. This made them dislike the rich nobles who had the money to eat well and build huge houses. The Roman Catholic Church, which owned the most land in France, put a tax on crops called the dime (tithe) which hurt the poorest and hungriest people. 4. Ideals of the Enlightenment. Many people disliked absolute rule by the royalty and the nobility. They could see that in other countries, such as in the new country America, people like them had more influence on the government. They also wanted freedom of religion. 5. France was divided into three Estates. The First Estate was the Clergy (the church) and made up 1 % of the population.
The Second Estate was the Nobility and made up 2% of the population. The other 97% of the population was in the Third Estate. Representatives of the people from all three estates together made up the Estates-General. The members of the Third Estate were angry that they were being taxed the most when they were the poorest group of people 6. Since the First and Second Estates would not listen, The Third Estate decided to break away and start their own assembly where every member would get a vote. On 10 June 1 789, they started the National Assembly.