The French Revolution

The French people overthrew their ancient government in 1789. They took as their slogan the famous phrase "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite"--Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Equality, or doing away with privilege, was the most important part of the slogan to the French revolutionists. For equality they were willing to sacrifice their political liberty. They did this when they accepted the rule of Napoleon I. Fraternity, or brotherhood with all men, was also sacrificed. However, they did win equality before the law.

Why the French Wanted Equality

The French had good reasons for wanting equality. Before 1789 inequality was typical of the old government. The nobles and clergy were the ...

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and economic inequalities as well as political ones. The peasant suffered under the burden of out-of-date feudal dues. These were collected with renewed vigor by the nobles in the latter part of the 18th century. Rabbits might destroy the peasant's garden and pigeons eat his grain, but he must not kill them. They were protected for the lord's hunting. The peasant's fences were broken down and his crops trampled in the chase, but he could claim no damages. In addition to the dues to the king and the nobles, the peasants had to pay dues to the church. These and other obligations seemed senseless and unreasonable in an age when people were coming to believe in the rule of reason.

The conditions were no worse in the latter part of the 18th century than they had been earlier. Neither were they as bad in France as in some other parts of Europe. Now, however, the people were beginning to think. The writers of the time helped stir up thought and discontent.

Final Steps Before the ...

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them. They changed the name of the gathering from Estates-General, which represented classes, to National Assembly, which represented the people of France. When the king shut them out from their usual place of meeting, they took the famous Oath of the Tennis Court (June 20, 1789), pledging themselves not to separate until they had given France a constitution. When the king sent a messenger to remove them from their hall, the fiery Mirabeau cried out: "Go tell your master that we are here by the will of the people, and that we shall be removed only at the point of the bayonet."

Paris, 11 miles away, was alarmed by rumors of the troops gathering about Versailles. A Paris mob stormed ...

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Added: 7/28/2012 07:05:12 PM
Submitted By: JStud23
Category: European History
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2217
Pages: 9

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