- The French Revolution took place from 1789-1799.
- For centuries, the quality of life in Europe had been determined by the status that a person or family held. This status could not be earned, but was determined by the family to which someone was born. If you were born to a poor family, your life would be one of poverty. No matter how hard an individual worked, it was impossible to rise above this fate.
- 97% of Europe’s people struggled to survive while the remaining 3% lived a life of wealth and comfort.
- This gap between the wealthy and the poor created resentment. Those at the bottom saw the wealthy grow increasingly richer, while the poor got nothing while working the hardest.
- In 1776. a group of people at the bottom of society rebelled against those who were at the top, and they won. The British Colonies in America declared their independence and then enforced it by beating back the most powerful military on Earth. This gave the French people a great deal of inspiration.
- The American Revolution sent shockwaves throughout Europe, and gave hope to many poverty stricken peasants, who wanted to see the powerful aristocracies of Europe fall.
- The lower classes decided to rebel, and create a new, more fair society.
- The changes for reform were based on the desire for democracy, citizenship, and undeniable rights.
- During the Reign of Terror, everyone was afraid they would be accused of being a traitor. The penalty for that was being beheaded in the guillotine.
- The French Revolution, though it seemed a failure in 1799, and appeared nullified by 1815, had far-reaching results. Feudalism was dead and France was unified. The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars tore down the ancient structure of society and government of Europe.
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