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STUDY GUIDE FOR THE FRENCH REVOLUTION The French Revolution With its ideals of liberty , equality, and fraternity , the French Revolution became the pivotal event of the eighteenth century. Origins The reasons for the Revolution go beyond dissatisfaction with an unjust government or the Enlightenment ideas of the eighteenth- century philosophes. Historians focus on the roots of the crisis facing the monarchy, but they differ in their interpretations of this crisis, which turned into the French Revolution. Some argue that it was a revolution of the bourgeoisie (middle class) demanding political and social power to accompany their already acquired economic power. Others argue that it was the revolution that made the bourgeoisie. Another possibility is that this was a revolt of the talented young. The Revolution was precipitated by the impending bankruptcy of the French monarchy in 1789, a time of poor harvests. This financial crisis was based upon a historical inability to tax privileged groups ( ancien regime ). Louis XVI and His Finance Ministers . The efforts of Maupeou under Louis XV and of Turgot under Louis XVI to effect fiscal and constitutional reforms failed. Succeeding ministers ( Necker , Calonne, and Brienne) were equally unsuccessful. Their efforts, however, provoked the Parlement (a court) of Paris and the nobility into opposition to the king, forcing him to surmmon the Estates General to convene in May 1789. The Estates General and the Constituent Assembly . The King, desparate for funds, allowed the Estates General to assemble (it had not done so since 1614). Each estate then drew up its cahier de doleances , or list of grievances. Insulted over voting rights the Third Estate withdrew and assembled at the Tennis Courts where they drew up the Tennis Court Oath (never to disband until they had written a constitution for France). Unable to pursue a consistent policy, the king had failed as a leader. Now recognized as a National, or Constituent, Assembly (June 24), the delegates empowered themselves to give France a constitution. The king ineptly provoked open insurrection in Paris, best symbolized by the fall
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