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The French Revolution

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The French Revolution, as a period in the history of France, covers the years 1789 to 1799, in which republicans overthrew the monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church perforce underwent radical restructuring. While France would oscillate among republic, empire, and monarchy for 75 years after the First Republic fell to a coup by Napoleon Bonaparte, the revolution nonetheless spelled a definitive end to the ancien régime, and eclipses all subsequent revolutions in France in the popular imagination.

Timeline of the French Revolution (opens in another window)

Causes

Prelude 1770s

From the meeting of the Estates-General to the storming of the Bastille May 5, 1789 - July 27, 1789

From the abolition of feudalism to the Civil Constitution of the Clergy August 4, 1789 - July 12, 1790

Towards a Constitution

Toward the Civil Constitution of the Clergy

The anniversary of the Bastille July 14, 1790

The Constituent Assembly continues

Work on a constitution continues

Turmoil in the military

The Legislative Assembly and the Fall of the Monarchy 1791-1792

The Paris Commune 1792

The Convention 1792-September 26, 1795

The Directoire September 26, 1795 - November 9, 1799

Causes main article Causes of the French Revolution

Many factors led to the revolution; to some extent the old order succumbed to its own rigidity in the face of a changing world; to some extent, it fell to the ambitions of a rising bourgeoisie, allied with aggrieved peasants and wage-earners and with individuals of all classes who had come under the influence of the ideas of the Enlightenment.

As the revolution proceeded and as power devolved from the monarchy to legislative bodies, the conflicting interests of these initially allied groups would become the source of conflict and bloodshed.

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