In 1789, the French people were being unfairly treated and revolted in order to get the changes they wanted. But they had to go over many challenging obstacles to achieve this.
When the financial situation in France took a turn for the worse, King Louis XVI called a meeting of the Estates-General to decide on how best to tax the people. The Estates-General was made up of the three estates of the political system of France, which was called the Old Regime. The first estate consisted of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. They owned ten percent of the land and paid two percent of the taxes. The second estate was formed of the rich nobles, who owned twenty percent of the land and paid ...view middle of the document...
The third estate and their supporters agreed to Sieyès’s idea and voted to become the National Assembly.
Unfortunately, the National Assembly was immediately faced with a challenge. They arrived to their meeting room to find it locked. Not so easily stopped, they broke down the doors to the indoor Royal Tennis Court and vowed not to leave until they had made a new constitution and had the King’s promise that he would enforce it. This vow was called the Tennis Court Oath.
In response to the uprising of reformers, King Louis XVI had an army of Swiss guards brought in around Versailles. The people were worried by the rumors that the King intended to have the military forcibly disband the National Assembly, or that the French citizens were going to be annihilated. They began to get together weapons they could use to defend themselves against these foreign troops when a mob got the idea to raid the prison, the Bastille, for gunpowder. When the commander of the Bastille saw these thieves he fired on them and killed many. The fear of losing the National Assembly, or their lives, was pushed further by this and the mob grew incredibly violent. They broke through the guard and took control of the Bastille, hacked some of the guards and the prison commander to death and paraded their heads around on pikes. The people felt empowered by this triumph and took the Bastille apart brick by brick.
The National Assembly wrote their constitution, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. It listed all the rights the National Assembly thought should be given the French citizens. Included among these were the end of special privileges for nobles and clergy, taxes are paid according to one’s ability to pay, equality for all people in theory including the rights to liberty, property and resistance to oppression, most men could vote, and that the church becomes part of the state and all church land is sold off to help pay for France’s debt. Revolutionary leaders used these proposed rights in their slogan; “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.” This right to equality did apparently not extend to women, as a declaration of the rights of women was published and rejected.
The revolutionaries still debated amongst themselves of what to include in their constitution for two years. Finally in 1791 they finished and King Louis XVI agreed to it, albeit grudgingly because in face of so much resistance there was nothing he could do. Part of this new constitution created a limited monarchy that took most of the power away from the king and gave it to the Legislative Assembly, France’s new legislative body. The little power left with the king was that of executive power to enforce laws.
Even with this new government and social system, France’s old problems were still in existence; food shortage and debt. Unfortunately, the Legislative Assembly was not in agreement with how to deal with these issues. They split up into three different groups. The Radicals...