Essay, Pages 2 (476 words)
The French Revolution was an interesting event in European history that began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the rising of Napoleon Bonaparte. During this time, the French citizens destroyed and redesigned their country’s landscape. The disruption was caused by widespread discontent with the French monarchy and the poor economic policies of King Louis XVI. Although it failed to achieve its goals, some say the French Revolution played a role in shaping modern nations by showing the world the power inherent in the will of the people.
The French Revolution was caused by extravagant spending by King Louis XVI and his predecessor, who had left the country in bankruptcy. After two decades of poor harvests, drought, cattle disease, and expensive bread prices, the peasants couldn’t survive. The people of France failed to provide any relief for themselves by rioting and striking, but yet they continued to do it anyway. In the fall of 1786, King Louis XVI’s controller general proposed a financial reform package that included a universal land tax, from which the privileged classes would no longer be exempt.
When the National Assembly continued to meet at Versailles during its work on a constitution, fear and violence consumed the capital by raging townspeople. Parisians grew panicked as rumors of an impending military coup began to circulate. A popular insurgency culminated on July 14 of 1786 when rioters stormed the Bastille fortress in an attempt to secure gunpowder and weapons. Many people consider this the start of the French Revolution.
The wave of revolutionary fervor and widespread hysteria quickly swept the countryside. Peasants began to burn the homes of tax collectors and landlords for their own reasons. As the French Revolution got more and more out of hand, a group of Jacobins attacked the royal residence in Paris and arrested the king on August 10, 1792. On January 21, 1793, King Louis XVI was condemned to death for high treason and crimes against the state. He was beheaded, and his wife, Marie-Antoinette, suffered the same fate nine months later. After the royal couple’s execution, the French Revolution went on and got more violent over time. Some say this was the worst time of the French Revolution after it was given the name of the Reign of Terror.
Over 17,000 people were executed in the Reign of Terror, and an unknown number of others perished in prison. On August 22 of 1795, executive power was put in the hands of a five-member Directory that was appointed by parliament, and the Reign of Terror was put to an end. People protested, but were quickly silenced by the army, which was now being led by a new general, Napoleon Bonaparte. On November 9, 1799, Napoleon Bonaparte staged an event to be marked at the beginning of the Napoleonic era, and the end of the French Revolution.